January 2016 Wrap-up!

Hey guys! As you can tell by the title, this post is my January wrap-up! I am super proud of myself as this month I read loads of books, eleven books to be exact and I have reviewed all of them. I started an arc two weeks ago and I still need to finish it, but recently my eyes have been hurting me because I have been looking at screens to much, but more on that later. All books are linked with their Goodreads pages and my review is linked beside it. Without further ado, here are the books I read this month!

 

1. Animal Farm by George Orwell -(My Review)

My first classic and book of the year and it was really brilliant! Though you need to understand some Russian history to truly appreciate the novella, it’s not hard to work out that this is commentary on communism and how it can never work. I recommend this book to everyone.

2. Cinder by Marissa Meyer -(My Review)

This series gets a lot of hype and I was happy to finally start this series. Though it read like an average YA, I enjoyed it and loads of people have been telling me that the series gets better, so I can’t wait to read Scarlet next month.

3. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J.Maas -(My Review)

This sequel was a killer! I loved it, loved it and loved it! I just hope Heir of Fire just builds on this book and is even better.

4. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness -(My Review)

A Monster Calls was heart breakingly beautiful and everyone needs to read it. A huge shoutout to Jim Kay who illustrated the drawings in the book, they really helped me immerse myself in the book.

5. Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate -(My Review)

Surprisingly, this book was enjoyable and a great debut for Redgate. Even with the seven characters, the novel didn’t seem untidy with intertwined plots. I look forward to whatever she releases next.

6. The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh -(My Review)

I didn’t give this book five stars unlike many readers. I only gave it 4.5 but that doesn’t mean I didn’t love it, it just didn’t feel like a five stars. The one thing I adored about this book is the atmosphere Ahdieh created, it was so rich.

7. Da Vinci’s Tiger by L.M Elliot -(My Review)

Da Vinci’s Tiger was a little dissapointing for me which is sad because it was my first historical fiction of the year. There was just so much info dumping especially at the start which is a complete turn off.

8. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz – (My Review)

So like everybody I loved this book so much! It’s beautiful, lyrical and so down to Earth. And guys…I JUST FOUND OUT IT’S GETTING A SEQUEL! OH MY GOSH YES! It’s going to be called There Will Be Other Summers and I am happy dancing right now!

9. Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon -(My Review)

This book was a solid debut for Nicola Yoon. The protagonist was likeable and the story rolled on smoothly. However, I wished there was more page time dedicated to the protagonist and her mother and less of the insta-love.

10. An Ember In The Ashes by Sabaa Tahir -(My Review)

I can see why this book got so much hype. It’s a brilliant book and Tahir’s writing is very engaging. Individually the characters were all strong and the action was amazing. But I was not a fan of the romance at all. It read awkward and kind of typical of YA.

11. Legend by Marie Lu -(My Review)

I am more than happy with Legend! I actually really enjoyed it and though I kind of got a whiff of insta-love, I romance was likable along with the characters. Day read as a young Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows.

I am also like a quarter of the way through of Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstorm which was kindly given to me by NetGalley.

Those are all the books I read in January and what a strong month it has been! I think during the last week of January I could of read one more, but oh well! What have you read this January and what do you think about the books I read? Comment below and I’ll be sure to comment back!

I’ll write soon.

-Astra

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Review: Legend by Marie Lu

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Title: Legend

Author: Marie Lu

My rating: 4/5

Goodreads rating: 4.20/5

Genre: Dystopian, Young Adult

Publisher:   Putnam Juvenile

Summary (Goodreads):

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

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January 2016 Book Haul!

My first book haul post of 2016! I think this is probably my second book haul of posted in general as well. So this is a mix of books I bought and books I’ve borrowed from the library because libraries are amazing! So let’s get on to books I borrowed from the library first.

As you can see I borrowed four books and they are all very different to each other. I decided to pick up The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness as I just saw it on the shelves and I wanted to have it in possession just encase I feel like reading it during February.  I also picked up Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins because I want to see whether I like this book or not. I hear mixed things about it whenever I bring it up, so I hope I’m on the it’s-such-a-cute-contemporary-side.

I picked up Red Rising by Pierce Brown on Friday but I think I might be returning it soon because I ordered the book from Amazon just yesterday. Then I just wanted to have Anne Frank: The Diary of Young Girl just encase I wanted to read it during February. Another book that is not pictured here that I picked up was The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky as it seemed like it would be a quick read.

Now onto the books I bought!

I got Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by  Jane Austen, Seth Grahame-Smith and Philip Smiley as a partnership thing in my head. I’m planning to read both of these novels in 2016, but more on that in my February TBR post. I also got Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte which is a classic I really want to read this year, if not next month.

I have Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas! This book is so beautiful as well and I am so reading this in February! I also obtained Scarlet by Marissa Meyer and Room by Emma Donoghue.

I thought I should just mention that I got Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley from my January Owlcrate. A post should be coming about that box soon.

So there we have it! Those are all of the books I hauled this month! What do you think about them? What books have you bought/borrowed this month? Comment down below and I’ll be happy to discuss!

I’ll write soon.

-Astra

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Book Fangirling Award!

Hey! I hope everyone is having a great Saturday (I’m stuck in my bedroom revising for my surprise Physics test…yay)! So I thought I should do another tag/award post as an effort to clear up the backlog of tags and awards last year. I really wanted to do this Award post as well as I am the ultimate fangirl, so I am thankful to Brittaney @ BrittaneyReads for nominating me last year.

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Rules:

  • Create a post to accept your award.
  • Answer the questions I have at the end.
  • Nominate between 5-10 book bloggers who you think also deserve this award.
  • Come up with your own 5 questions for your nominees.

1. Who is your favourite villain?

Oh there are so many villains I love! This is a surprisingly difficult question…I will go for Bellatrix Lestrange from the Harry Potter series. I just love her so much which is so weird because she is the definition of insane!

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2. Least favourite book read in 2015?

I don’t remember having a least favourite read. I think my most disappointing read would be Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. The romance was really strange and the book was marketed completely differently than it should of been.

3. Paperback or hardcover?

HARDCOVER!…BUT IT’S SO EXPENSIVE!

4. Are your bookshelves organized or a total mess?

My bookshelves are currently horizontal so all of my books are stuffed in there haphazardly and the books on my tables are pretty randomly piled up. The only books that are in order are the ones on top of my wardrobes. SO books are a total mess.

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5. If you could read any book again for the first time, which book would it be?

I would say Harry Potter, but I say that every time, so I would go with a book that was a totally knockout, The Book Thief. Aw how naive I was before reading that heart wrenching book.


 I tag…

Fadwa @ Word Wonders

Aimy @ Aimy Reads

Raihana @ Hana Reads Fiction

Alyssa @ Alyssa Is Reading

Jane @ Greenish Bookshelf

and my questions are:

  1. Who is your biggest book crush?
  2. Favourite and least favourite genre and why?
  3. What is your favourite read of 2016 so far?
  4. Are you planning to reread a book? If so, what, if not why?
  5. Are you a fan of classics? If so, name your favourite classic, if not, why?

I’ll write soon.

-Astra

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Why insta-love needs to stop appearing in YA

Hello everyone! So as you can see by the title I’m going to be talking about insta-love. Now even though loads of people talk about this common trope, I feel like this trope is still not talked seriously enough. My previous post was a review of An Ember In The Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (you can check it out here) and I said there was insta-love. I still stick to that point. The main boy just looks at the main girl and- wait here is the line:

A heated, visceral shock flares through me at the clarity of her dark gold eyes. For a second I forget my name.

What. The. Devil. Was. That.

So many things are just wrong with that line, I closed the book in a anger for a minute and then had to push myself to carry on. Just why is my question. Why the hell does he feel a ‘visceral shock’ after one look at this apparently random slave girl. And no it isn’t just because she’s pretty because there must of been pretty slave girls before here. And why would it sends a ‘visceral shock’ through him.

Don’t even get me started on the main-protagonist-having-an-unusual-eye-colour-trope.

And the last part is just so ugh. This guy forgets his name after looking at this girl. And apparently, because of her gold eyes and ‘nothing about her says slave‘ he becomes compelled by her. I swear he has at the most five encounters with the girl but already she is (in his eyes) a rival to his best friend.

I went along with this romance, hoping and praying that all he was feeling towards her was lust, but that didn’t seem like the case by the end of the novel. But with only five encounters with this girl, how can it be anything but lust! You only know the basics of this girl and you love her. No just no. I was so rooting for the best friend because it seemed like the best friend and the boy had a genuine relationship founded friendship. He was in love with her, not the slave girl. I know it might seem like I’m just hating on this relationship because the boy didn’t end up with the girl I wanted but it isn’t that. The and the slave girl’s relationship was founded on a few chance encounters and lust. And the boy doing cliche romance things like carrying her to her chamber and making sure she lives.

I could do a whole post about how Sabaa Tahir just messed up romance in An Ember In The Ashes but I won’t because I have to talk about insta-love in general.

Writers who write insta-love are being lazy.

I do not care if my book will be 150 pages longer if that means getting actually scenes when the protagonist and the love interest actually fall in love. I am not asking for the moon, sun and stars. I am asking for a realistic romance where the characters learn about each other, where the readers learn something deeper about the characters.

This happened in Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon as well. The protagonist looks out the window, sees the love interest and immediently starts doing some unhealthy things like keeping tabs on his schedule. If you just want your protagonist to be attracted to the person physically then state that clearly, but don’t try to cover up insta-love with inspiring quotes and two or three cute encounters.

It especially irks me when I see insta-love in contemporaries as in contemporaries they are at least suppose to be reflecting the real world. And if I see an attractive guy I’m pretty sure I don’t forget my name, feel a shock or start keeping tabs on his schedule.

Maybe I’m just angry that two books in a row that I have read have included some degree of insta-love. Or maybe insta-love needs to be cut out of YA for good.

What is your view on insta-love? However your view, big or small please post them down below and I will be sure to respond back. This is a big topic and I would love to hear your views on it.

-Astra

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Review: An Ember In The Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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Title: An Ember In The Ashes

Author: Sabaa Tahir

My rating: 4.25/5

Goodreads rating: 4.30/5

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Publisher:  Razorbill

Summary (Goodreads):

Laia is a slave.

Elias is a soldier.

Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.


Review:

I can understand the hype of this book. I always knew this was going to be a good book, just read the summary. A book inspired by ancient Rome? I signed up straight away. And can I say the maps at the start of the book are beautiful? Well, they are beautiful. Stunning in fact, sometimes I forget about the amount of work that goes into them. I really really liked this book. But I didn’t love it (oh no, an unpopular opinion!). I think it was because of the romance, because I fully supported the action in this book.

Plot: 

This book is told by two people, Laia and Elias. Laia lived life with caution and fear after her sister, mother and fathers got killed by the empire. This was until she sees her grandparents get slaughtered in front of her and brother get taken away to be tortured. Something snaps and she does anything she can to save her brother. Elias wanted to desert the Blackcliff, but after receiving some wise words he decides to boycott his plans…only to be trapped in a deadly competition to become the new emperor.

Yep, those two sentences are pieces of rubbish, because I just can’t explain this book of the plot clearly, without letting some spoilers out. Loads of stuff happens in this book which made it very action packed. I enjoyed immensely the dual POVs and the book really did well to include both of them as they both added interesting elements to the plot. It seemed like there was loads of mystery, though when I look back at it, everything looks crystal.

There were some great plot twists in the novel and I loved how everything wasn’t all daisies and sparkles in this book. There were some twists that I didn’t want happening and some I had to close the book for. There was a moment in the book were my eyes were filling with tears! Tears! The plot was probably one of the strongest things going for this book.

Writing:

The writing in this book was superb! The world-building was so brilliant and vivid, I could see where she got the inspirations of Rome from. The descriptions were never boring or lengthy or did it feel like she was constantly info dumping on us. Everything was calm and it read very smoothly. I loved how she wrote both Elias and Laia individually. They were both very solid characters and their thoughts seemed realistic to the situation.

The part I didn’t like though was the romance. The romance just read so average and cliche. I couldn’t push myself to like it. At all.

“Life is made of so many moments that mean nothing. Then one day, a single moment comes along to define every second that comes after. Such moments are tests of courage, of strength.”

Characters:

One of the things I loved about Laia is how she wasn’t the typical tough, fight ready protagonist like Katniss or other Katniss clones. She was scared and only really spurred on because of her brother, not because she wanted to start a revolution. It was refreshing to read a protagonist that was scared. I enjoyed reading from Elias’ view as well. He was the average-top-of-the-class-solider-with-an-agenda protagonist. He had some solid characterisation and development that made him a delight. But the romance….

I don’t care what anyone says, it was insta-love.

The Commandmant was so cold, cruel and creepy! She was just horrible and is rivaling Dolores on most hated antagonist in my mind.

What I liked:

  • Plot was brilliant and interesting!
  • Writing was smooth and vivid.
  • Characters solid and enjoyable to read

What I disliked:

  • Some plot points were predictable
  • The insta-love and the two connecting love triangle (it was weird)

Verdict: This book was really good and entertaining. I can see why it has so much hype surrounding it and I will be picking up the second book in the duology which I am super excited for! But even the lovely writing and intriguing plot couldn’t cover up the insta/cliche love I saw.  I still recommend though!

-Astra

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Top Ten Tuesday- Middle Grade Books That Have Caught My Attention

Hello, happy Tuesday! Well it actually hasn’t been very happy in the UK as the weather has been horrible. Windy, rainy, cold. This is the side of winter I hate!

Anyway, this weeks TTT is a freebie week! I love this idea as there is such a variety of posts today, so you don’t see the same book coming up five or six times. I was pretty blank of what to cover this week because the field of bookish lists is enormous! But then I realised that I have never talked about middle grade books on this blog. This is probably because I just don’t read MG, but I need to widen my reading field a bit, even if it means reading these ten MG books. Harry Potter is basically half MG and half YA because of how the main character goes from 11-17. Anyway, I want to read some MG during this year and here are some that catch my eye. A reminder that some of these books can possibly fall into YA, but I personally view all of these books as middle grade.

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This or That Book Tag!

Hey guys! Look who I got a new avatar/picture thing! I was getting s but tired of the stacks of books. Whatcha think?

It feels like I haven’t did a tag in ages- probably because I haven’t- and I don’t really know why it too me so long for. I guess I just wanted to make sure I reviewed as much as I could and got my weekly memes out the way. Well there were many tags to chose from, but I chose a simple one to do today- not that tags aren’t simple, but you know what I mean (I hope).

So I was tagged by Alyssa @ alyssaisreading. So thank you Alyssa and sorry this is dreadfully late! Her blog is polished and great so go check it out!

This or That?

Audio of physical book?
Physical books! I just love (excuse my cliche) the feel and smell of them. Somehow it enhances the experience for me, seeing how far through I am physically and how much I’ve got left. I don’t venture into the world of audio a lot, I just don’t think it’s my thing, but I may dabble in it again this year.

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Paperback or Hardback?
I have more Paperback books than Hardback, mainly because they are cheaper. But I would go with Hardback, just because they are mostly prettier. I know, I know, I’m a shallow little reader, but don’t judge me because I like my shelves to be pretty!

Fiction or non-fiction?
Fiction! Though many non-fiction books interest me, I just don’t pick them up. Hopefully this year will be different.

Fantasy world or real life issues?
This is hard because my main genres at the moment are fantasy and contemporary, so how am I supposed to picked one! I will have to pick Fantasy because the thing I like most about in contemporaries are the characters and their development and if I pick my fantasies properly, then I can have those in a magical setting.

Harry Potter or Twilight?
Is this even a question? They could put the whole word on the other side and I will still pick Harry Potter…well maybe not because of I could rule the world I would hopefully be able to sort out all of the world’s issues, but you know what I mean.

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Borrow or buy?
If I had all the money in the world, I would go with buy, heck I will always go with buy if I have the money. I still love libraries though! They can be great places to read or write. 

Monster reads or short & sweet?
If its a fantasy, a monster read, a contemporary, short and sweet. Overall, I would pick a Monster read still. Think of all that character development!

Starry eyed romance or full of action?
FULL ACTION! Though I love romance, at the moment it seems to be getting on my nerves and I just want to read some full blown action. I think I am just aching to read Six of Crows again.

Curl up in your snuggle or bathe in the sun?
Bathe in the sun. Even though I love curling up in my bed to read a book, it can get uncomfortable, that’s why I love just stretching out in the sunlight and soaking up all that vitamin D. Aw I wish it was summer!

Coffee or tea?
Tea! I think I’m starting to fall in love with it now. Look at me, I’m turning into a stereotypical British person!

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All done! Yes one tag done, many more to go! I am going to tag some people down below, but if you want to do this tag as well, consider yourself tagged!

thebookorchids

Aldana @ perfectioninbooks

BookishWanderLove

Morgan @ Bookenstein

Rachel @ One Little Bookshelf

I’ll write soon!

-Astra

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Review: Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

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Title: Everything Everything

Author: Nicola Yoon

My rating: 3.75/5

Goodreads rating: 4.04/5

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Publisher:  Delacorte Books

Summary (Goodreads):

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

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Does every reader want to be a writer?

Hello guys! Not feeling like writing a review post today, so here is a discussion post instead.

So I want you guys to think whether the following statement is true or false:

Every reader wishes that they could write a novel. 

I would answer false, but I personally would love to become a professional writer. I love writing and creating stories and I am constantly weaving half formed adventures while doing mundane things. I’m a reader that wishes to be a writer and that’s how all writers start off right? Or most of them anyway.

Anyway for me, it’s hard to imagine not being in that mindset. Not wanting to create or weave or whatever. Just reading and enjoying a story and moving on. Not thinking how I would rewrite a scene or thinking about how interesting a character is and how the author constructed them or thinking how I could make my own writing better after. Maybe this is just me being weird.

But then maybe people just love immersing themselves in the story. Maybe some don’t want to be the storyteller, they are happy enough being the reader and are satisfied with their role. I’m pretty sure that writing is not everybody’s cup of tea and readers, let’s call these people Pure-bloods,  just have no interest in writing a full blown story, but appreciate the Half-bloods (people like me) that do.

So are you are Half-blood (a reader who is or wants to become a reader) or a pure-blood (a reader with no desire to write)? Answer down below and tell me your thoughts about this topic. I am more than happy to discuss down below in the comments.

I’ll write soon.

-Astra

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