17 Jun 2014

Review: 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen

17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen
June 17th, 319 · Harper Collins
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC
Page Count: 319
No matter how many boys Claire kisses, she can’t seem to find a decent boyfriend. Someone who wouldn’t rather date her gorgeous best friend, Megan. Someone who won’t freak out when he learns about the tragedy her family still hasn’t recovered from. Someone whose kisses can carry her away from her backwoods town for one fleeting moment.

Until Claire meets Luke.

But Megan is falling for Luke, too, and if there’s one thing Claire knows for sure, it’s that Megan’s pretty much irresistible.

With true love and best friendship on the line, Claire suddenly has everything to lose. And what she learns—about her crush, her friends, and most of all herself—makes the choices even harder.

In her moving debut, Rachael Allen brilliantly captures the complexities of friendship, the struggles of self-discovery, and the difficulties of trying to find love in high school. Fans of Sarah Ockler, Susane Colasanti, and Stephanie Perkins will fall head over heels for this addictive, heartfelt, and often hilarious modern love story.
17 First Kisses jumped onto my TBR list late last year, but I have to admit that while I liked the sound of it, I was on the fence. And then I read Blythe @ Finding Bliss In Books review and any hesitation I had flew out the window. I was not disappointed.

I love how layered a character Claire was. She loves soccer and kissing boys; can’t wait to leave her hometown to study medicine and has big dreams. She’s definitely one of the most honest, real characters I’ve come across in a long time.

For some, hearing that 17 First Kisses includes slut shaming will be a turnoff. I do not condone or support slut shaming, but whether we like it or not, it’s a real part of reality, especially in high school. One of the things I loved most was that the author doesn’t do the thinking for you or try to send a message. She lays it out on the page and it’s up to you what you take away from it. For instance, she doesn’t include slut shaming, then to weave in how it’s a problem and that you shouldn’t go around doing it. Rather she lets the reader think about how it’s a vicious cycle (like growing up in a household full of swearing. It’s just a matter of time until you pick up those habits) and how easily the S word is branded on a girl, yet guys mess around and are considered cool. It wasn’t until I had time to reflect and ponder that I realised the full extent of how powerful a move this was.

Friendships aren’t perfect and though I think it’s important to showcase strong, healthy relationships, it’s also important to include flawed, rocky ones, like Megan and Claire’s. I think the author perfectly nailed the messiness of complicated friendships while growing up, who at their core, are still just trying to figure out who they are. That isn’t to stay that they didn’t get under my skin though, they did. But again, that made them even more (frustratingly) realistic. Who hasn’t been annoyed by someone’s choices and actions in the past?

I’ve seen this recommended to Courtney Summers fans and while I’ve only read one of her books so far, I can see why. It’s not sugar coated and it doesn’t make apologies for being real, nor is it afraid to broach the big issues. Along with slut shaming and complicated friendships, there's also problems at home, as Claire tries to put her family back together. There's lots going on and being addressed, but I found it never took a turn for depressing. There's a lovely balance; sweet and swoon; light and dark.

I finished 17 First Kisses with the overall feeling of having really, really liked it. Then I saw down to write this review, did some more thinking and spent half the time looking into thin air, grinning like an idiot. This book will not be for everyone (heck, what book is?) and I can see it being quite controversial – the kind you love or hate. Me? I loved it.


12 Jun 2014

Mini Reviews: Six Impossible Things + Wildlife by Fiona Wood

Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood
August 1st, 2010 · Pan Macmillan Australia
Source: Swapped
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 263
What’s it about?
Fourteen-year-old nerd-boy Dan Cereill is not quite coping with a reversal of family fortune, moving house, new school hell, a mother with a failing wedding cake business, a just-out gay dad, and an impossible crush on the girl next door.

His life is a mess, but for now he's narrowed it down to just six impossible things...
My thoughts:

Once I got through the first few chapters (which brought back bad memories of a terrible reading slump last year, when I first picked this up), I finally understood why I’ve heard such great things about this from other Aussie readers, over the past few years. It’s so unbelievably GOOD. The kind of good that you want to savour, yet read in a few sittings. I didn't want it to end and tried to put it off as long as long possible. Of course, that lasted all of about 20 minutes...

One of the things I love about Aussie YA are the underdog characters, who you can’t help but cheer for; Dan is just that. He’s loveable and awkward; his voice authentic and fresh. This book has great character development (definitely a strong point!) and features a gang of friends that’ll slowly, but surely, weave their way into your heart – I loved Estelle, Fred and Lou <3

This book is a gem; it’s funny and sharp; sweet and heartfelt. I don’t say this often, but I can definitely see myself reading this again in the future. Until then, it will sit proudly on my shelf, along with other Aussie favourites.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely, especially if you’re a fan of Aussie YA or you're anticipating the US release of Wildlife (it's already out in Oz). It’s a companion, so not necessary, but I really advise it!


June 1st, 2013 · Pan Macmillan Australia
Source: Library
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 384

What’s it about?

Life? It’s simple: be true to yourself.
The tricky part is finding out exactly who you are…

In the holidays before the dreaded term at Crowthorne Grammar’s outdoor education camp two things out of the ordinary happened.
A picture of me was plastered all over a twenty-metre billboard.
And I kissed Ben Capaldi.

Boarding for a term in the wilderness, sixteen-year-old Sibylla expects the gruesome outdoor education program – but friendship complications, and love that goes wrong? They’re extra-curricula.

Enter Lou from Six Impossible Things – the reluctant new girl for this term in the great outdoors. Fragile behind an implacable mask, she is grieving a death that occurred almost a year ago. Despite herself, Lou becomes intrigued by the unfolding drama between her housemates Sibylla and Holly, and has to decide whether to end her self-imposed detachment and join the fray.

And as Sibylla confronts a tangle of betrayal, she needs to renegotiate everything she thought she knew about surviving in the wild.

A story about first love, friendship and NOT fitting in.
My thoughts:

Straight after finishing Six Impossible Things, my goal in life became getting my hands on this book. It took a week, but as you can see, I succeeded. While I didn’t love it like I wanted to or the way everyone else seems to have, I did like it.

There’s great character growth from both girls; Lou’s dealing with grief, loss and how to fill her gaping heart, while Sib is navigating sex for the first time, love and a sticky friendship. Though both girls are dealing with their own problems, it was nice to watch them come together and eventually form a friendship. Everyone needs a good, true, reliable friend by their side and I’m glad these two found each other.

Set in the wilderness, I enjoyed the change of setting and the different opportunities that arose because of this. Expect hiking, camping, crappy food (except for the redskins which left with a craving and sage advice: snap before you buy!) pranks, talent shows and mischief.

Wildlife is honest and not afraid to tell it like it is, whether it’s addressing sex or death (these are the two biggies), and it’s one of the many reasons why I can’t wait to read Wood’s next book. Whatever it’s about you can count me in.

Do I recommend it? If you're after an authentic, raw story, I think you'll enjoy it. So, yes.


10 Jun 2014

Links of Awesome from Around the Blogosphere

1 comment:
There are so many great blogs to visit and new posts being published all the time, but there is only so much time in the day. So, that's why I've compiled a list of recent-awesome for you to check out! From cool posts, to bookish events and more, I hope you find something that catches your eye! 

(P.S. I was thinking of making this a regular thing, so let me know if you'd be interested in that or not. I aim to entertain. OK, bye.)
Fans of TFIOS will want to check this out – but I warn you, hide your wallet.

Sweet Summertime Reads hosted by Ginger is on again. Perfect for Summer readers or those trying to escape Winter.

Why We Believe In YA Romance – debuts authors dish on their very own real-life YA Romances

My True Love Gave To Me anthology has a cover! It’s so pretty and HOW did I only find out about this books' existence last week??  Stephanie Perkins is an author! And Jenny Han! And more! I’m so excited.

The votes are in – YA Highway announces YA Web Award Winners

Jaz discusses the disconnect in the Book Blogging Community. Have you noticed it?

Need a holiday? Escape to a hotel for book lovers! (I may or may not be dreaming about their collection of books...)

Author Christa Desir on When Books Start Great Conversations - take my advice, read it. Also, there’s talk of mouth eating love. Yes.

Calling all teens: Want advice from YA Author’s? Check out this upcoming Advice Column and submit your questions.

36 Times Jess Mariano Completely Melted Your Heart On "Gilmore Girls” – Jess fans, this post is for you. There are GIF’s. Guarantee you’ll swoon.

And not to toot my own horn but... 

Save the date for the Behind the Scenes Twitter Party next week!

5 Jun 2014

Review: Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler

Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler
June 24th, 2014 - Spencer Hill Press
Source: Edelweiss
Format: ARC
Page Count: 328
High school senior Ally Duncan's best friend may be the Vanessa Park - star of TV's hottest new teen drama - but Ally's not interested in following in her BFF's Hollywood footsteps. In fact, the only thing Ally's ever really wanted is to go to Columbia and study abroad in Paris. But when her father's mounting medical bills threaten to stop her dream in its tracks, Ally nabs a position as Van's on-set assistant to get the cash she needs.

Spending the extra time with Van turns out to be fun, and getting to know her sexy co-star Liam is an added bonus. But when the actors' publicist arranges for Van and Liam to "date" for the tabloids just after he and Ally share their first kiss, Ally will have to decide exactly what role she's capable of playing in their world of make believe. If she can't play by Hollywood's rules, she may lose her best friend, her dream future, and her first shot at love.
If you follow Dahlia on Twitter, you'll understand why I was a fan even before I got my hands on her book. She's fun, honest and refreshing. All words I'd also use to describe to debut, Behind the Scenes. Did I enjoy it as much I hoped I would? Heck yes.

I liked Ally a lot. She was loveable, strong and flawed. One of the things I enjoyed most about her was watching her overcome insecurities and self-doubt and realising that she is good enough; something a lot of young people struggle with, especially teenagers, due to the pressures of media and Hollywood.

I loved the friendship between Ally and Vanessa. They've been best friends since they were young (I love those kind of friendships) and though they face some ups and downs in the book, they know they can count on one another and I think it’s great to showcase this kind of friendship in YA. The kind that don’t end after a fight or a guy comes along. Speaking of guys... Liam makes a great love interest, both for Ally and the reader. He's sweet, caring, supportive and more than easy on the eyes (Dahlia paints a lovely picture, this I assure you). I can definitely see readers falling in love with him.

This was the first Hollywood-esque book I’ve read before and I went in expecting to be entertained and for drama to ensue. I was and it did, but there was also depth with Allys’ dad sick, that grounded the story. Movie premiers, interviews and expensive wardrobes aren’t the norm for most, but family or money troubles? I think everyone can relate with that in one way or another.

A delightful debut; Behind the Scenes is perfect if you're looking to escape with a book that delivers sharp, realistic characters, swoon and a whole lot of fun.


3 Jun 2014

Debut Delirium: Changes & Exciting News

I love reading debuts and getting to know the authors behind them. It's why I started the feature Debut Delirium in the first place - to showcase the wonderful new authors and books soon to be gracing our shelves.

So far this year, I've connected with some great authors and had the pleasure of having them on my blog. But for the past month, you might have noticed I didn't post any Debut Deliriums. I thought about it, even tried drafting an email, but ultimately, I just wasn't excited about it. So I took a step back, tried thinking of how I could do things differently and get the passion back, all while making it fun for the authors participating, plus readers and bloggers stopping by. After some consideration, I decided on a tired and true method (since it must be tried and true for a reason): The Interview. It's not a new idea by any means, but I'm excited about the kind I hope to post. Think thoughtful, personal and fun :)

As for that exciting news I mentioned? Well, I'm glad you asked! Last month I read Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler and really enjoyed it! And love interest, Liam? I think you're going to love him. I even heard on the grapevine that a dedicated fan has started a fan club dedicated to his abs - guys, I couldn't make this stuff up even if I tried! So, in a couple of weeks I'll be hosting a Twitter party to celebrate the debut. What can you expect? A Q&A (come and ask Dahlia ALL your questions), giveaways, fun and probably some craziness. The best part: everyone's invited! Find out the rest of the details below:

I hope you'll be able to join for the chat, I'd LOVE it if you stopped by. And if you have ANY questions, don't be afraid to send me an email, Tweet @readingwishes or tag #BtSParty.

Also, before you go! Have a question up your sleeve you'd like to ask a debut author? Feel free to leave your questions and if I decide to use it (and you leave your name!), you'll even get credit. Don't be afraid to think outside the box :)

P.S - Time zones confusing you? Don't fret, just visit this handy time zone converter site.

11 May 2014

Bout of Books 10: Sign Up & Goals

Bout of BooksNot yet acquainted with the read-a-thon, Bout of Books? Find out all about it below (there's still time to sign up, it begins Monday!) and my goals for the week: 
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 12th and runs through Sunday, May 18th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 10 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team.
The last time I signed up for Bout of Books, it ended in a bit of a flop. But I’ve been getting back into reading lately (yay) and putting my slump behind me (double yay), so I decided to sign up. Plus, who doesn’t love the idea of a week full of reading? :)

BoB goals:
- I plan to read 3 books and while titles are TBD, here’s a snapshot of some of my TBR books on the shelf, that I plan to read soon. Let me know if there's a book you'd like my thoughts on!
- I probably won’t do any of the challenges, but I hope to join in a Twitter chat, if possible.

Have you signed up? Tell me what you’re hoping to read next week - participant or not - and feel free to suggest/recommend what I should bump up on my list.








9 May 2014

The Fault in Our Stars: Mini Movie Review (Spoiler Free!)

On Monday night, I was lucky enough to be invited to attend a pre-screening for The Fault in Our Stars, all thanks to Bookworld. Now, I'm sure you're all anxious to see the movie for yourself when it releases but until then, I thought I'd share my (spoiler-free!) musings on what I thought about the film. Shall we?

- I recently saw Divergent (where Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort also star) so I briefly thought it could be rather weird (and creepy) seeing them go from siblings to then dating each other, but it wasn't in the slightest. They had great chemistry.

- Ansel was charming as Gus and Shailene made a great Hazel. I thought the acting was fantastic and every role, main or minor, was deserved and worked well together.

- The movie was funnier than I expected. While I remember there being some fun, smiley book moments, I didn’t expect to laugh as much as I did in the movie, which I really liked.

- I love going to the movies, but I can’t remember the last time I watched a movie and my mind didn’t wander. I was completely and utterly captivated and for two hours, my mind was on nothing but the movie itself.

- I laughed, I cried and overall, I loved it. It was such a strong book-to-movie adaption and I felt like it captured the book perfectly. Two thumbs up! I hope you enjoy TFIOS movie as much as I did :)

The Fault In Our Stars opens in Australia June 5th/US June 6th. 

2 May 2014

Review: To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before #1) by Jenny Han
April 15th, 2014 · Simon and Schuster
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Page Count: 368
Lara Jean's love life goes from imaginary to out of control in this heartfelt novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them... all at once?

Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren't love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she's written. One for every boy she's ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean's love life goes from imaginary to out of control.
You might have heard I’m a fan of the Summer series. If so, you’ve heart right. For years I’ve been waiting for a new contemporary by Jenny Han and I remember squealing in delight when I first found out about this book. It was ABSOLUTELY worth the wait and has further cemented the fact why I'm such a fan of the author.

I loved the Song sisters, especially Kitty, the youngest sister; you can’t help but love her. Lara Jean was such a great character, and right from the start I related and saw bits of myself in her. She possessed so many thoughts and feelings I have as a teenager and female, and the author expressed them all so well. Not only has the author managed to write a new, great YA character but a rich, diverse one (Lara Jean is half-Korean), which has certainly come at the right time with the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign going on.

This book has everything I love about Jenny Han; it’s full of heart; humour that makes you laugh out loud; an amazing bunch of characters; swoon; and standout writing. To All the Boys I've Loved Before is such a sweet, lovely and honest read; perfect for snuggling up with a hot chocolate on a rainy day or lounging outside in the sun, ice cream in tow, depending on your whereabouts. Basically, it’s an anytime, anywhere read; just make sure you don’t read this on an empty stomach!

As soon as I finished, I pulled myself together, so sad I had finished, and checked the release date for P.S. I Still Love You (these titles win my heart) and then proceeded to die on the inside when I read 2015. So until then, I'll be recommending you read To All the Boys I've Loved Before because it is fabulous and you deserve fabulous books in your life.


28 Apr 2014

Debut Delirium: Tess Sharpe, author of Far From You

As with all Debut Delirium spotlights, I'm featuring a book I'm extremely excited to read and lucky for me (and you!), the wait is over! Yes, I'm talking about Far From You, which released last month. I was already looking forward to this debut, but I was even more so after reading the facts Tess sent through. Have a read for yourself:
Nine months. Two weeks. Six days.

That's how long recovering addict Sophie's been drug-free. Four months ago her best friend, Mina, died in what everyone believes was a drug deal gone wrong - a deal they think Sophie set up. Only Sophie knows the truth. She and Mina shared a secret, but there was no drug deal. Mina was deliberately murdered.

Forced into rehab for an addiction she'd already beaten, Sophie's finally out and on the trail of the killer - but can she track them down before they come for her?

10 facts about debut author, Tess Sharpe

1.) I have a dog who looks like a cross between a dire wolf and a polar bear. She comes off as scary, but is in fact scared of EVERYTHING. Especially mailboxes.

2.) I once chopped part of my finger off when I worked as a baker. I got it stitched back on, though.

3.) I started writing when I was ten because my older sister had been working on a novel and I wanted to do everything she did.

4.) I am very fond of Shakespearean insults. My favorite: “More of your conversation would infect my brain.” is from Coriolanus.

5.) Far From You was written because of this 57 word paragraph about kissing I couldn’t shake. It basically bugged me into creating a book around it so I could understand why everyone was so sad.

6.) All of my tattoos are book-themed. The biggest one is Babar the Elephant doing yoga on my back.

7.) I live in a place where finding bears and mountain lions in your yard is kind of expected.

8.) I’ve done everything from run through the woods barefoot (do not recommend) to locking myself in a car trunk (remember to use the buddy system) in the name of book research.

9.) My favorite time to write is from 10-2 at night.

10.) I collect a lot of things, including vintage scarves, wind-up toys, plushies of children’s book characters, and anything elephant related.
Born in a backwoods cabin to a pair of punk rockers, Tess Sharpe grew up in rural Northern California. Following an internship with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, she studied theatre at Southern Oregon University before abandoning the stage for the professional kitchen. She lives, writes and bakes near the Oregon border. FAR FROM YOU is her debut novel. 

27 Apr 2014

Hi there,

...so, that was an unexpected hiatus.

If you’re wondering where I’ve been, I’ll keep it short and sweet. I’m not well and I haven’t been for a while, hence the disappearance act. If you’ve been following for some time now, you’ll know that I sometimes take unexpected hiatuses – like this one – and it’s usually due to this reason. Plus, it also hasn’t helped the situation that I was approaching an epic book slump before all this.

Over the last month and a half, I haven’t not just been blogging but I haven’t read much either. I’ve basically been vegging on the coach, trying to do school when I can and watching Friday Night Lights (which btw, is amazing. Fully recommend. Also, Tim Riggins.) So, why am I back? Apart from missing you all, I saw Divergent on Friday (apart from a few small things, I loved it.) and it just reminded me how much I loved the book and that I really want to finish the series, and then that led back to blogging, how much I’ve missed it, this community and BOOKS. Yes, my brain is a whirlwind.

This isn’t a promise or guarantee I’ll be back for good or always consistent. But it is a promise that I’m going to be present when I’m up to it and most importantly, I’m going to get back into reading. Slump, no more! (Hopefully)

For now, I’m off to start a book. Hopefully it’s amazing and loves me back and we get along like a house on fire. If not, watch out because I’ll be coming to y’all (FNL has gone to my head. Texas forever!) for recommendations because one way or another, my head’s going to be buried in a book.

So tell me, how are you? I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to – what have you been reading, writing, watching, listening to? If I missed a post you think I’d like, link me. Have you seen Divergent? Were you as pleased as I was? Let’s chat! 

*Some bloggers are very personal, some not so much, and for multiple reasons I’m the latter. I love talking books and connecting with you guys, but when it comes to talking about myself, I struggle. So while this post might not seem like much, it does to me. Baby steps.