Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me.

Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me.

Title: Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Jusr Me.
Author: Lily Collins.
Series: N/A
Publication: 27th March 2017 by Harper Collins
Genre: Biography

My Thoughts (2)

Goodreads

In this groundbreaking debut essay collection, featuring never-before-seen photos, actress Lily Collins—star of Mortal Instruments and the upcoming Rules Don’t Apply—is opening a poignant, honest conversation about the things young women struggle with: body image, self-confidence, relationships, family, dating, and so much more.

For the first time ever, Lily shares her life and her own deepest secrets, underlining that every single one of us experiences pain and heartbreak. We all understand what it’s like to live in the light and in the dark. For Lily, it’s about making it through to the other side, where you love what you see in the mirror and where you embrace yourself just as you are. She’s learned that all it takes is one person standing up and saying something for everyone else to realize they’re not alone.

By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Lily’s honest voice will inspire you to be who you are and say what you feel. It’s time to claim your voice! It’s time to live your life unfiltered.

My Thoughts

I have been wanting this book for a while and finally caved and bought it. I started reading it in the bath and didn’t stop until the water turned cold.

This isn’t a biography with a sequenced timeline but is more of a collection of essays, or personally life experiences under a set header – a bit like Anna Kendrick’s book. I imagine this is because it’s more aimed at Young Adult audience.

Lily opens up about a lot of different things; her family, her relationships, her battle with anorexia, her tattoos. She discusses overcoming every day obstacles and issues that many of her audience would experience. It was refreshing, eye opening and relieving to read. Her brutal honesty, especially with her abusive relationships and anorexia, was unexpected and eye opening, and I imagine would come as great support to many of her readers.

As it was done by topic headings rather than being her timeline, it did mean that some things were repeated a few times, her relationships being one of them. However, I absolutely loved the chapter on her tattoos. I love knowing people’s stories and meanings behind their tattoos and Lily has one behind all of them – plus we got to see photos, that’s always great.

I liked Lily before I read this but came out liking her even more afterwards; we’d make great friends discussing Harry Potter over tea. Mine would be hot, yuck to cold tea.

My Thoughts (1)

4-stars

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Title: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Author: Gail Honeyman
Series: N/A
Publication: 4th May 2017 by HarperCollins
Genre: Fiction

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge – A book with a strong female character

This counts towards my ARC August challenge.

Advanced Reading Copy provided, in exchanged for an honest review, from the publishers.

My Thoughts (2)

From Goodreads

Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

My Thoughts

This is the best book I’ve read so far this year.

This book first came to my attention whilst I was waiting for the tube. Yes, advertising really does work. Doesn’t that cover just grab your attention? But honestly, the book wasn’t what I was expecting, it was so much more.

Eleanor is one of those well developed and interesting characters who are truly memorable. She is socially clueless to the point where everyone just finds her odd. It can be very painful yet hysterical. She sticks to her routine; working at the same job for nine years, starting work at 8:30, breaking for an hour lunch during which she reads the newspaper cover to cover and does the cross word and leaving at 5:30. She then goes home and listens to the Archers and watches TV for a little while then off to bed at ten. The only day her routine changes is Wednesday when receives a phone call from Mummy. Throughout the weekend she drinks two bottles of vodka so shes consistently in the state where she’s neither drunk or sober. No one comes to visit her and she doesn’t go out to visits anyone else.

She is completely 100% fine with her life. Until she see the one on stage. Then she is on a mission to meet she. She first decides she needs to have a complete make over before she meets him, which is both shocking and hilarious.

When her computer breaks down she meets Raymonds from IT. He wears jeans and t-shirts with ‘childish slogans’ on. Raymond is intrigued by Eleanor but she’s not interested because she’s getting herself ready for the man of her dreams. But after work one day, Eleanor and Raymond come across a man who has fallen. Together they help the man and begin a friendship with him and his family that changes Eleanor’s routine and life.

Eleanor’s social awkwardness and seemingly lack of verbal filter can be hilirous, but I never felt like I was laughing at Eleanor.

There was nothing to tempt me from the choice of desserts, so I opted instead for a coffee, which was bitter and lukewarm. Naturally, I had been about to pour it all over myself but, just in time, had read the warning printed on the paper cup, alerting me to the fact that hot liquids can cause injury. A lucky escape, Eleanor! I said to myself, laughing quietly. I began to suspect that Mr. McDonald was a very foolish man indeed, although, judging from the undiminished queue, a wealthy one.

The book isn’t all funny and not at all light. It is also a dark book. Something awful happened to Eleanor as a child, and throughout the book we get hints as to what it is.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was packed full of emotion and I can wait to see what the author produces next.

My Thoughts (1)

5-stars

Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan

Age of Myth (The Legends of the First Empire, #1)

Title: Age of Myth
Author: Michael J. Sullivan
Series: The Legends of the First Empire #1
Publication: 28th June 2016 by Del Rey
Genre: Fantasy

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge – A book from a sub genre of your favourite genre.

My Thoughts (2)

Since time immemorial, humans have worshiped the gods they call Fhrey, truly a race apart: invincible in battle, masters of magic, and seemingly immortal. But when a god falls to a human blade, the balance of power between humans and those they thought were gods changes forever.

Now only a few stand between humankind and annihilation: Raithe, reluctant to embrace his destiny as the God Killer; Suri, a young seer burdened by signs of impending doom; and Persephone, who must overcome personal tragedy to lead her people. The Age of Myth is over. The time of rebellion has begun.

My Thoughts

I’d like to start by saying, if you haven’t read a Michael J Sullivan book before, you’re really missing out! He publishes his books a little differently to most in that he writes the whole series before it gets published. This means that not only do you not have to wait ages for the next book to be released but the books are all fantastic. You don’t get that issue where a book half way through the series looses it’s way or the inconsistencies. You get some great links, foreshadowing and worldbuilding. If you haven’t guessed yet, Michael J Sullivan is an auto-buy author for me, simply because his books never let me down.

Age of Myth is set 3000 years before The Riyria Revelations but it is meant to be read separately and doesn’t have any spoilers. There are some characters and locations that are mentioned  in both but certainly no spoilers.

I loved the characters in this book; Suri, Raithe and Persephone in particular. As the booked flicked between the different character’s POV, I found myself sad when each of their parts finished. My particular favourite was Suri was because she was wild, innocent and lovely, although she did remind me slightly of Auri from Name of the Wind in the way that she spoke to animals and understood the world around her differently to othersThe characters were what really made this story for me; there was natural banter, character progression and you become emotionally attached to them because they’re so relatable and likable.

Like his other novels, this book was fast paces, easy to read with action, interesting characters and some unexpected twists.

My Thoughts (1)

5-stars

Mr Katz is a Zombie by Margaret Lesh

Mr. Katz is a Zombie (Goethalsburg Ghost Squad, #1)

Title: Mr Katz is a Zombie
Author: Margaret Lesh
Series: Goethalsburg Ghost Squad #1
Publication: 14th October 2014 by StoryRhyme.com Publishing
Genre: Children’s Fiction

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge – A book that you’ve owned for a while but haven’t gotten around to reading.

This book counts towards my ARC August.

I received a free ARC via NetGalley

My Thoughts (2)

Catastrophe looms in North Goethalsburg!

When twelve-year-old J.D. is tricked into taking possession of a book of spells, his best friend turns their teacher into a zombie. The zombification of Mr. Katz creates general chaos and a not-so-terrific time for near-genius J.D.

Teamed with his best friend Rodney, twin troublemakers, and an obnoxious ghost, J.D. must figure out how to change Mr. Katz back from one of the undead before he:

1. Escapes the janitor’s closet;
2. Eats their brains;
and
3. Wears J.D.’s spleen as a hat.

Can four boys armed with a slingshot, two boxes of jelly
donuts, and a handy zombie guide battle their mindless teacher and live to tell?

Probably not.

You’ll have to read to find out.

My Thoughts

I’m going to go right ahead and say I am not the target audience for this book. I’m probably double the age that you’re suppose to be (8 – 12 year olds). That said, I really enjoyed this book! And I think that if it is entertaining for those older than the age range then it is the mark of a great book, .

This book was really entertaining and enjoyable. They children manage to turn their teacher into a stinking, groaning, but ultimately non-threatening, doughnut eating zombie. It’s not overly silly but equally, it’s not going to give the children who read this nightmares.

I loved the whole family were involved in a business together and how the parents helped the children find the answer – they weren’t just completely unaware of what was going on but were really supportive.

I personally really enjoyed this and I’ll be interested to see if I find this in the school library at any point.

My Thoughts (1)4-stars

This Secret We’re Keeping by Rebecca Done

This Secret We're Keeping

Title: This Secret We’re Keeping
Author: Rebecca Done
Series: N/A
Publication: 7th April 2016 by Penguin
Genre: Fiction

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge – A book you meant to read in 2016

This counts towards my ARC August challenge.

Advanced Reading Copy provided, in exchanged for an honest review, from the publishers.

My Thoughts (2)

A pupil and a teacher. Is it ever right to break the rules? Jessica Hart has never forgotten Matthew Landley. After all, he was her first love when she was fifteen years old. But he was also her school maths teacher, and their forbidden affair ended in scandal with his arrest and imprisonment. Now, seventeen years later, Matthew returns to Norfolk, with a new identity and a long-term girlfriend and a young daughter, who know nothing of what happened before. Yet when he runs into Jessica, neither of them can ignore the emotional ties that bind them together. With so many secrets to keep hidden, how long can Jessica and Matthew avoid the dark mistakes of their past imploding in the present? From debut author Rebecca Done, This Secret We’re Keeping is a powerful and provocative novel about the ties which can keep us together – or tear us apart.

My Thoughts

This book is a controversial novel about a relationship between a teacher and his fifteen year old pupil. It is told with two narratives; Matthew’s (teacher) POV in 1993 and Jess’ (student) story in the present. We get to see how the relationship comes to be and how the scandal came out and affected both of their lives.

This book gripped me. As in, I locked myself in my room for hours reading. I was brushing my teeth and still reading. I was up way past my bed time reading. And in the end, it left me speechless.

The author took a very difficult subject and did it really well, leaving me feeling very torn. It was a very well written story that left me feeling very morally drained. It was very character driven, both of whom were very likable and well developed. It was very hard not to get emotionally involved in their lives. Whilst in the past your screaming that having an affair with a vulnerable fifteen year old student is wrong, I couldn’t help but root for them in the present.

I would have given it five stars had it not been for the muddle in the last few chapters.

A very interesting read!

My Thoughts (1)

4-stars

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon
Series: N/A
Publication: 13th July 2017 by Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance.

Advanced Reading Copy provided, in exchanged for an honest review, from the publishers.

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge – A book written by a person of colour.

My Thoughts (2)

A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

My Thoughts

When Dimple met Rishi… she threw a drink in his face and ran away.

I have seen this book literally everywhere, and with good reason. This is one of those cute summer contemporary romance novels, plus it is diverse and did I mention totally adorable?

Dimple fierce, ambition and into  web development. She is all set for Uni and can’t wait to escape from her mum trying to find her the “Ideal Indian Husband”.  So she’s not too thrilled when Rishi pops up with;

“Hello, future wife,” he said, his voice bubbling with glee. “I can’t wait to get started on the rest of our lives!”

Although the blurb and synopsis seems to suggest the focus is on the arranged marriage, and this does have a major part, I would say that the focus is more on their developing romance and on the web design course.

If you’re into cute romances, this is for you.

My Thoughts (1)

4-stars

Truth or Dare by Non Pratt

Truth or Dare

Title: Truth or Dare
Author: Non Pratt
Series: N/A
Publication: 1st June 2017 by Walker Books
Genre: YA, Contemporary.

My Thoughts (2)

A powerful and moving novel about bravery from the Guardian’s “writer to watch” Non Pratt, perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell, John Green and Holly Bourne. How far is too far when it comes to the people you love? Claire Casey hates being the centre of attention. But if it means getting Sef Malik to notice her, it’s a risk she’s happy to take. Sef is prepared to do anything to help his recently disabled brother. But this means putting Claire’s love – and life – on the line. Because when you’re willing to risk everything, what is there left to lose?

My Thoughts

You know those books where you put them down and you find yourself thinking about them? This is one of those books. I was halfway through and almost got hit in the face by a tennis ball because I was thinking about this book.

The book is one story with two sides. Literally. I loved the way that you read Claire’s side first then had to flip the book over to read Sef’s side. Seeing the story from the two different perspectives really helped to understand where the characters were coming from and the choices they made.

Non Pratt just has this way with words. This book may be aimed at teenagers but it it’s definitely for all ages. Non managed to explore a huge range of different subjects – including social media, racisim and disability – without them becoming the main focus and still somehow making it relatable.

Claire and Sef’s relationship was just beautifully written. I’ve read so many books recently where the relationships have been out of the blue or really quick but this wasn’t anything like them. The entire relationship just felt so natural and realistic. I found myself smiling at so many points, and doing my foot wiggle that I do when I’m loving a book.

I really must insist that you all go and read this book.

My Thoughts (1)

5-stars

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One of Us Is Lying

Title: One of Us is Lying
Author: Karen M. McManus
Series: N/A
Publication: 30th May 2017 by Penguin
Genre: Fiction, YA, Mystery and Thriller

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge – A mystery

Synopsis (Goodeads)

One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

My Thoughts

Now here’s your assignment: connect the dots. Is everybody in it together, or is somebody pulling the strings? Who’s the puppet master and who’s the puppet? I’ll give you a hint to get you started: everyone’s lying. GO!

When I requested this book, it was described as The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars. Well what’s not to like? Simon’s blog posts reminded me more of Gossip Girl but I love that too!

I don’t read mysteries that often but it’s a genre I really enjoy, especially if I don’t guess the ending. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t guess who it was. The title lied, not only one of them was lying, they all were, and I suspected everyone. Everyone.

 The story is narrated by the four main characters – Bronwyn (The smart one) , Addy (The popular one), Nate (the bad boy) and Cooper (the jock). This meant the pace was pretty quick. Having the four perspectives meant that we got a lot more about each of the character’s backstories, which really fleshed them out and gave them growth. I ended up loving all four of them.

The only reason I didn’t give it 5* was because the ending didn’t sit quite right with me but I can’t really go into detail about that without spoilers. It was still a very enjoyable read.

A marvelous debut book, one that I’m sure I’ll still be remembering for months to come.

My Rating

4-stars

On the Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher

On the Other Side

Title: On the Other Side
Author: Carrie Hope Fletcher
Series: N/A
Publication: July 14th 2016 by Little Brown and Company
Genre: Fiction, Romance, magical realism

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge– A dual-timeline novel

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Evie Snow is eighty-two when she quietly passes away in her sleep, surrounded by her children and grandchildren. It’s the way most people wish to leave the world but when Evie reaches the door of her own private heaven, she finds that she’s become her twenty-seven-year-old self and the door won’t open.

Evie’s soul must be light enough to pass through so she needs to get rid of whatever is making her soul heavy. For Evie, this means unburdening herself of the three secrets that have weighed her down for over fifty years, so she must find a way to reveal them before it’s too late. As Evie begins the journey of a lifetime, she learns more about life and love than she ever thought possible, and somehow , some way, she may also find her way back to her long lost love . . .

On the Other Side will transport you to a world that is impossible to forget. Powerful, magical and utterly romantic, this is a love story like no other from everyone’s favourite ‘big sister’, Carrie Hope Fletcher.

My Thoughts

I picked this book up for the beautiful cover and because the premises intrigued me.

I knew the author was a youtuber, and that this is her first novel, so I didn’t go in with overly high expectations. I came out thinking that the whole thing was just a bit sillyI just had so many issues with the book, some of which probably wouldn’t bother other people but just really got on my nerves.

Firstly, those ridiculous names. Evie Snow, Vincent Winter, Colin Autumn, August Summers, Sonny Shine and Clementine Frost. It felt like a a teen who had read how some great authors use names to suggest their character and foreshadowing and had no sense of how to do with subtly.  The characters themselves felt quite two dimensional. Based on the world I don’t understand why she decided to cave to her parent’s demand to support her brother if he was disinherited. They’re both adults living in a seemingly accepting society with jobs, which Evie easily got. Also, why keep with the choice for so long if it is clearly what none of you want? It was partly hard to understand the characters choices because there was no timeline to link it to.

The magical realism was also problematic for me. Firstly, I actually rolled my eyes at “Little Bird”, the white bird they wrote love notes on until it was so full it was a “black” bird. Especially how this bird lived almost fifty years because of their love.

The dove’s wings had become almost entirely black, so he’d started carrying their messages on his back and his chest, but he welcomed them with open wings. No one wanted their love to work more than he did. Their messages of love and kindness gave him strength and a purpose.

The tree was bizarre and although was explained I don’t really feel it fitted in with the book. If you’ve read it, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, just wait for that delight… I just personally feel the whole magical realism should have been removed.

Vincent was described as being bi-sexual and her brother as being gay. Although I liked this as it was inclusive and wasn’t too predominant, I was also annoyed because I had this bugging feeling that the author only added it because she knew her audience would love it. Vincent being bi-sexual also added literally nothing to the plot.

I just didn’t love this book.

My Rating

2-stars

The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida

File:The Reason I Jump book cover.jpgTitle: The Reason I Jump: THe Iner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism
Author: Naoki Higashida. Translated by K.A.Yoshida and David Mitchell
Series: N/A
Publication: 27th August 2013 by Random House
Genre: Non-fiction

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge–  A New York Times best seller

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Written by Naoki Higashida, a very smart, very self-aware, and very charming thirteen-year-old boy with autism, it is a one-of-a-kind memoir that demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds in ways few of us can imagine. Parents and family members who never thought they could get inside the head of their autistic loved one, at last, have a way to break through to the curious, subtle, and complex life within.

Using an alphabet grid to painstakingly construct words, sentences, and thoughts that he is unable to speak out loud, Naoki answers even the most delicate questions that people want to know. Questions such as: “Why do people with autism talk so loudly and weirdly?” “Why do you line up your toy cars and blocks?” “Why don’t you make eye contact when you’re talking?” and “What’s the reason you jump?” (Naoki’s answer: “When I’m jumping, it’s as if my feelings are going upward to the sky.”) With disarming honesty and a generous heart, Naoki shares his unique point of view on not only autism but life itself. His insights—into the mystery of words, the wonders of laughter, and the elusiveness of memory—are so startling, so strange, and so powerful that you will never look at the world the same way again.

My Thoughts

This book wasn’t what I was expecting. I was expecting an author to have sat down with a boy with autism after an interview or two with him and to have taken his answer and put it into eloquent paragraphs for a long book. What this was was much better. At the top of each page was a question and Naoki Higashida’s responses, as best as he could, for his own personal reactions and why he feels other people may react in that way.

If you know anyone with autism or have read about it, you know that every person is completely different and autism is a wide spectrum. Just because one person with autism does not like to be touched, does not mean that another person doesn’t either, just because one person has trouble with speech doesn’t mean that another person would. With this in mind, this book is a wonderful insight into Naoki’s mind, and elements can definitely be applicable to other people but it is in no means a help guide or a fact book.

When you read information about Autism, it is usually written by Ed psychs, psychologists and doctors that have studied it. It is based on their research and their discussions and observations. It is rarely written directly by a person who lives it. Especially by a person with limited verbal communication skills. It was therefore incredibly interesting to read why Naoki feels he reacts to certain things in certain ways. For example, many children with autism run away. Naoki explains that is not because he means to, it’s because his mind is on a certain place and before he even notices it his body is flying to that room. Similarly he explains that he feels that some people seem emotional not necessarily because they’re upset but because they’re remembering something happy.

Everybody has a heart that can be touched by something. Crying isn’t necessarily about sadness or meltdowns or being upset. I’d like you to bear that in mind, if you would.

Baring in mind how every person is different, I did find it very frustrating when the said “us” and “all” generallising all people with autism, when this is clearly not the case.

Additionally, although I found it interesting, I am skeptic of how much was written by Naoki. As a thirteen year old with limited verbal communication skills  I do find it difficult to believe that he, independently, wrote things like

We just want to go back. To the distant, distant past. To a primeval era, in fact, before human beings even existed. All people with autism feel the same about this one, I reckon.

It states that he was supported by his mother and a facilitated communication, then translated. I wonder how much was embellished.

A very interesting read, with some interesting insights, but definitely not to be read as a face-fact book.

My Rating

3-stars