Wednesday Wonderings

When people say they don’t read it makes me feel sad. They are missing out on so much. Films and TV are great, but there is nothing quite like having your own input into the story. Inventing the characters, the world and relationships. It’s a wonderful thing!

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Book & Movie review – The Duff

Author-Hazel


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Book or movie? This question always comes up when a film (or sometimes book) adaptation comes out. But is it always as simple as choosing one or the other? I don’t think it is. Sometimes they can be very different but equally enjoyable. And that is the case for The Duff…

 

 

The book

This book had been on my radar for a while and when I heard it was being adapted into a film, I bumped it up my TBR pile. I loved it! It was gritty, realistic, funny and at some points, dark. The story was fast paced and never boring. The writing was brilliant and engaging and it felt that the author had a very good and realistic grasp on what it is to be a teenager. The unique way they speak and respond to each other and situations is sometimes difficult for a an adult to pull off but Kody Keplinger did it very well. When I researched the author, I found out she was only 17 when she wrote this book! I think that’s a very impressive feat for such a young person and to do it so well too is fantastic. I’m definitely going to check out some of her other work. So after reading this and loving it, I had high hopes for the movie.

The movie

At 31, this kind of film is really a guilty pleasure for me (especially as there was a reference to 30 being old). It was a lot of fun, a light-hearted feel good movie with a good moral message. Plus Robbie Amell, shirtless – need I say more!

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The basic plot was the same but it had many differences. Some of the heaviness of the book was replaced with humour and light-heartedness.

 

 

 

 

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience of reading the book and watching the movie. Luckily I’m not a stickler who expects the adaptation to be exactly the same as the book. I appreciate that the story is being presented in a different medium and from a small collection of people’s perspectives. In conclusion, the book was great and the film was a lot of fun. They were different but equally enjoyable. I recommend checking both out if you enjoy YA Contemporary stories, you won’t be disappointed. Happy reading 📖:)

 

 

 

Friday Favourites – Standalones!

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Author – Hazel

This was a tricky one. I discovered that I tend to read books that are part of a series. But having said that, if I could, I would choose Standalones over books in a series. I like the excitement of delving into a new book. I like the story being wrapped up in a 400 page novel as opposed to sometimes having to get through several or more books to get to the conclusion.

Here are my favourites.

Pretty Girl Thirteen by Liz Coley

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This was one of my Book Club picks of 2013. It’s a young adult psychological thriller that kept popping up in various recommendation pages and the synopsis sounded like the story might spark some interesting discussions. Although the story was gripping and easy to read, the content was heavy and upsetting. Liz Coley did a great job of weaving a disturbing and unpleasant story in a way where younger people can read and appreciate the complexity and understand the distressing situations, without having to read graphic scenes of a horrible nature. I found the psychological aspect of the story fascinating.

Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan

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This book was recommended to me by someone on Goodreads. It’s a new adult novel about a girl running away from her past and a guy living with a disability. They meet and a beautiful romance begins. I loved this book, I couldn’t put it down and it gave me all the feels. And this book had a happily ever after ending.

My other favourites have already been mentioned in Kiera’s Standalone Favourites, or they already have a review on our blog.

Happy Reading 📖😊

Book Club Review – The Darkest Park of the Forest by Holly Black

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Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

Laura

I have to say, “well done me”, I picked a corker this month! I’ve had my eye on this release for a little while, and although I haven’t read anything by Holly Black before she is a firm favourite with some of the other Bookspa ladies, so I knew there was a good chance we were going to love it.

This book is fabulous. Never too complicated that you have to re-read whole sections of text, but never too boring that you skip them either, the story flows along at a good pace, weaving in and out of Fairfold and taking you in unexpected directions before reaching it’s rather epic final showdown. It feels sort of beautiful, and reads like a dark fairy tale – I kept thinking of The Labyrinth, especially during the faerie revelry. The colours and descriptions are vivid, and the variety of characters, both fae and human, only add to the magic and romance of the story. I loved Hazel and Ben, and the bond between them that is central to the book. I also loved that Hazel was a bit of a badass and didn’t need a knight in shining armour to save her.

I could write loads of gushing praise for The Darkest Part of the Forest, but all in all I think this is one of the best books I’ve read for a long time, and I give it 5 stars *****.

 

Hazel

I really enjoyed this book. I thought the pace was great, I was never bored. Holly Black weaved a magical tale with lots of little twists and turns that kept you wanting more. I didn’t anticipate any of them which made the story even more magical. Her characters were well fleshed out, I loved the relationships between the characters, especially Ben and Hazel’s. The romance was sweet, I loved Jack. Above all, I felt warm and fuzzy whilst reading this book even though some parts got pretty dark and scary, it reminded me of the fairy tales I read in my youth. Wonderful pick Laura 😀

Kiera

I’m going to start by quoting you one my favourite lines from the book. For me this just sums up everything I loved about it.

‘I have loved you from almost the first moment I saw you, wild and fierce and brave, running through the woods, your lips stained purple from blackberry juice.’

I knew from the moment Laura mentioned this book that I would enjoy it. I love the way the Holly Black writes, and she is up there as one of my favourite fantasy authors. It reminded me a lot of The Spiderwick Chronicles, but as a more grown up version – sounds good, right? It was! Reading about all the different faerie creatures and the awful things they got up to was fascinating, and having Jack’s perspective in the mix being fae but in human society was a really interesting view point. The relationships between the characters was such a massive element throughout the story, and really kept the plot moving. The way that you had to unravel the mysteries of the story was so satisfying and I was never disappointed by the outcome. All in all a story of childhood and whimsy and love and magic and imagination. Completely brilliant.

Friday Favourites – Standalones!

Author – Laura

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So. Standalones. This was a surprisingly hard list to write. It turns out I read A LOT of series, not always intentionally but it seems to be the way of things. A lot of the storylines in the books I read are so epic that to do them justice the books would have to be bigger than my head, so I’m not complaining.

Here is my humble little list of my favourite standalone novels.

The Railway Children – E. Nesbit

“Daddy! My Daddy!”

This is one of my childhood favourites. I love the simplicity of life, the slightly grubby outdoor playtime and the strength of the familty unit.

It was the first time I remember being sad reading a book, and the relief when Bobbie’s Daddy arrives at the railway station still gives me goosepimples. I sometimes use this phrase when I see my own Dad; even though I’m (mostly) a grown up, the feeling of coming home is something that just can’t be matched.

A Gathering Light – Jennifer Donnelly

This is a beautiful and sad book. I might have stolen it from my sister, but we won’t mention that. Sharing is caring. I’m not exactly sure what genre you would put this book into; it’s a YA historical horror romance. However you want to describe it the story is powerful and it feels like an understated epic. A must read.

IT – Stephen King

I read this book as a kind of ‘kill or cure’ treatment. When I was far too young to know better I watched the movie, and for months (ahem, years) afterwards I was terrified of clowns and washing lines. I decided, not that long ago actually, to get over it and read the book that the film was based on. I’m really glad I did, because not only is it a fantastic read (if a little trippy), it’s also less about The Clown and more about a group of friends overcoming their childhood fears. I love it. Not so much the film though, even now it gives me the creeps!

The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

If you haven’t read this I’d be surprised. It’s one of those books that appears on a lot of Top 25 lists on Goodreads. I read it because the movie was about to be released and I have a thing about wanting the full story before I watch the film, just so I can fill in the gaps myself. It’s definitely worthy of its plaudits. Beautiful and horrifying, you feel like have to keep reading and almost hold Susie’s hand until it’s all over.

Good Omens – Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

I have written about this book before. It’s my most favouritest book in the whole entire world. You can read my review here. I love the characters, the humour and I love how the fate of the world hangs on an 11 year old boy who doesn’t really know what all the fuss is about. Amazing, amazing book.

NB – Not forgetting The Night Circus, The Prince of Mist and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. All of which have been reviewed here on The Bookspa Blog.

Book Review – The Breeders by Katie French

Author – Laura

Sixteen-year-old Riley Meemick is one of the world’s last free girls. When Riley was born, her mother escaped the Breeders, the group of doctors using cruel experiments to bolster the dwindling human race. Her parents do everything possible to keep her from their clutches – moving from one desolate farm after another to escape the Breeders’ long reach. The Breeders control everything – the local war lords, the remaining factories, the fuel. They have unchecked power in this lawless society. And they’re hunting Riley.

When the local Sheriff abducts the adult members of her family and hands her mother over to the Breeders, Riley and her eight-year-old brother, Ethan, hiding in a shelter, are left to starve. Then Clay arrives, the handsome gunslinger who seems determined to help to make up for past sins. The problem is Clay thinks Riley is a bender– a genderless mutation, neither male nor female. As Riley’s affection for Clay grows she wonders can she trust Clay with her secret and risk her freedom?

The three embark on a journey across the scarred remains of New Mexico– escaping the Riders who use human sacrifice to appease their Good Mother, various men scrambling for luck, and a deranged lone survivor of a plague. When Riley is shot and forced into the Breeder’s hospital, she learns the horrible fate of her mother—a fate she’ll share unless she can find a way out.

So there are a couple of things to note about this review. For starters this is the very first YA Dystopian story I’ve ever picked up and read by choice. The second thing is that I read it in two sittings.

The Breeders is set in a future where females are scarce, thanks to a scientific discovery that affected the ability to produce female fetuses. Girls are kidnapped by the Breeders and artificially inseminated with genetically created females in the hope of repopulating the world.

Riley is a 16 year old girl who has been hidden by her parents on a farm in the middle of nowhere. Her life is lonely, but living under the ever present threat of capture by the Breeders prevents her from visiting town or seeing anyone other than her family. I absolutely loved her, and there was none of the bratty teen angst that is so common in YA literature. She is vulnerable but brave, and would risk everything to save her family. Which is good, because from the very beginning of this book the action never stops. Riley and her little brother, Ethan, are so close and the author does a great job of making sure the little moments between them are just as important and poignant as the big moments. The world-building is subtle but fantastic. Every new place they come to feels both familiar and strange, and creates a clear picture of the devastation of the land after the past events.

Considering this book is aimed at young adults it doesn’t pull its punches in the darkness stakes. There are more than a few moments of serious tension, and a couple of scenes that might make the more squeamish among us grimace a little. The premise is really sinister, and the scenes in the hospital are actually quite frightening – the author really captures a sense of the hopelessness of Riley’s situation. Having said that, with Clay’s steadying presence and the help they receive from some unlikely sources, this is an unexpectedly hopeful story which had me racing through the pages to find out what happened next.

This is a really great book, with fabulous writing and real atmosphere. I’m so pleased I stepped out of my comfort zone and chose something different to read; it was definitely worth it!

Check out The Breeders on Goodreads

Buy the book on Amazon

Friday Favourites – Standalones!

Author – Kiera

When I suggested doing standalones as a Friday favourite I thought it would be a really easy topic. What a fool I am! After having a look through my reading history I noticed that actually I read books in a series far more often that I do standalones. Once invested in a series I’m too impatient to wait and must read the next book as soon as possible. If not sooner.

So with that being said here is my little list of standalones that I have read and enjoyed.

 

My Life Next Door – Huntley Fitzpatrick

mlnd“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase’s family embraces Samantha – even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha’s world. She’s suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

 

I finished this book today. It is completely adorable. A typical Young Adult Contemporary but one that addresses a few heavier issues. It made me laugh, it made me mad and it gave me that warm fuzzy feeling. If you are in the mood for something light hearted that still has some substance then I recommend this!

 

Ugly Love – Colleen Hoover.

ulWhen Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she knows it isn’t love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.

Never ask about the past.
Don’t expect a future.

They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.

From the Young Adult to the Adult. I read this a while ago after hearing an equal amount of good and bad things about it. I might be broken, because all the things people seemed not to like in this book I loved. It is angsty and some times you just want to shout at the characters, but for some reason that keeps me reading! Plus the sex scenes are pretty damn good.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown – Holly Black.

tcgictTana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

 

 

I know we have all read a million and one vampire stories by now, but I really felt like this book put a very different spin on things! It has a very modern setting and all the outcomes feel realistic. The fact that it is a vampire book that stands alone is even better. Who has time for twenty plus book series anymore?

 

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

rpoIn the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.

But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape

 

 

If you like 80’s culture/references, treasure hunting, the internet and generally things that are ‘nerdy’ then I have to ask you – why you haven’t read this yet? I really hope we come up with something like the OASIS (not the band. Ick) soon, because I was made to live in it! Virtual reality + all day in pajamas = heaven! This book left such a clear impression in my mind. The world building is amazing and I loved the characters.

 

There are other standalones that I love – The Night Circus, Illusions of Fate and Tiger Lily are ones that I really wanted to give a little mention, and if you’re interested they all have their own reviews here on thebookspa for you to check out.

Wednesday Wonderings

This week I have been trying to read Linger, the second book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater. I’ve been really busy, so I’ve been catching a moment here and there; before dinner, after dinner, on my lunchbreak at work…

I finally finished it today, sat on a bench in the beautiful sunshine, surrounded by ducks and flowers. It sounds idyllic, but actually it was a short 30 minute break in which I also had to eat my lunch and buy some tights. Oh the glamorous life I lead.

It led me to think how wonderful life would be if there was a whole day in the week that we could spend just sitting, reading and daydreaming. It seems Lena Dunham feels the same way.

Whatever you’re doing this week, make sure you save some time to get lost in a good book. You won’t regret it!

Laura x

Eighth day

Book Review – Thoughtless by S.C Stephens

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For almost two years now, Kiera’s boyfriend, Denny, has been everything she’s ever wanted: loving, tender and endlessly devoted to her. When they head off  to a new city to start their lives together, Denny at his dream job and Kiera at a top-notch university, everything seems perfect. Then an unforeseen obligation forces the happy couple apart.

Feeling lonely, confused, and in need of comfort, Kiera turns to an unexpected source – a local rock star named Kellan Kyle. At first, he’s purely a friend that she can lean on, but as her loneliness grows, so does their relationship. And then one night everything changes…and none of them will ever be the same.

Author-Hazel

Thoughtless is a New Adult romance novel set in Seattle. The story is told from Kiera’s perspective, the female protagonist. The story is about a young couple, Kiera and Denny, who move to Seattle, Denny for an internship and Kiera, for a college scholarship. They rent a room from Denny’s friend Kellan, and a slow but red-hot affair begins between Kiera and Kellan.

The writing of this book was gripping and addictive. I couldn’t put it down and when I had no other choice but to, I kept thinking about the story. It is a character driven novel with little world-building but the way S.C Stephens writes tension between characters was amazing. The tension between Kiera and Kellan was sizzling! I really felt it whilst reading.

Kellan was my favourite character. Drop dead gorgeous, good with his hands, cheeky, charming and funny. Some of his dialogue had me laughing out loud. He was a very swoon worthy character whom I couldn’t get enough of.

Kiera, what can I say! OK, the affair started innocently enough, but the fact that she allowed herself to get into that situation and still think that she was innocent, is beyond me. She was insanely naive and selfish, essentially bed-hopping between two men who loved her and whom she claimed she loved. Her indecisiveness was shocking and about 75% in, it started to get annoying. Kellan was what kept me reading. I just wanted to slap her. I don’t believe anyone, experienced in love and relationships or not, could lead two men on that they love, continuing to hurt them profoundly because of her indecision. It started off feeling like nativity but ended up being just downright selfish.

Eventually there was a happy ending but, I don’t feel like Kiera deserved it. The story is though provoking and made me think about what I would do in her situation, but I could not relate to her because I believe my decisions would have been different. Did I mention she was crazy clingy too?

Overall the story was good, I really enjoyed reading it and would recommend it if you don’t mind reading about infidelity.

Friday Favourites – Book Boyfriends!

Author – Hazel

So it’s my turn this week to share my favourite book boyfriends. Laura and Kiera have chosen some swoon-worthy guys and hopefully I’m adding to the best looking list in the history of lists.

Damon – The Vampire Diaries

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Honestly, I have a thing for a bad boy. I seem to gravitate towards dark, moody and brooding bad boys. Damon is at the very top of that list. I favoured him over Stefan in the books but when I saw Ian Somerhalder cast as Damon, I fell in love 😍 I’m definitely a ‘Delena’ fan and I hope Ian’s beautiful blue eyes and naughty grin keep us entertained on the TV show for a long time.

Wrath – Black Dagger Brotherhood

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It’s no secret that us Bookspa girls love J.R Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood books. Luckily, we all melt over a different brother and mine is Wrath. I fell in love with Wrath as soon as I started reading the BDB books and even with the introduction of a lot of hunky, gorgeous brothers, my heart belongs to Wrath. Again he’s dark, moody and brooding, but above all he’s the type that would pick you up, sling you over his shoulder, show you an unforgettable time and take care of you too. From the very beginning I imagined Wrath as the one and only Jason Momoa.

Cam – Wait for you 

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J Lynn (Jennifer L Armentrout) writes some deliciously sexy male leads. I’m a fan of all the men I’ve read about in her books, but my favourite is Cam. He’s gorgeous, sexy, confident but sweet, caring and loving. And let’s face it, would you say no to a sexy guy, shirtless, cooking you breakfast and baking you cookies!

Cam definitely had me at ‘sweetheart’.

Daemon – The Lux series

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OK, I lied. Jennifer L Armentrout just writes men that I like. A lot. Daemon is an alien! But there’s no little green men here. Oh no, Daemon is a glorious hunk of deliciousness (sorry all this book boyfriend talk is leaving me swooning). Daemon is arrogant. He has a cocky attitude and is downright horrible sometimes. But as another reviewer put it, he has a beautiful face, a beautiful body and a horrible attitude. The holy trinity of (in my opinion) a hot guy! I think you can see the pattern here. I like bad guys and Daemon is no exception to this.

Alcide – Sookie Stackhouse books (True Blood)

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Last but certainly not least, Alcide. When reading the True Blood books, I didn’t have a clear favourite guy until Alcide came along in book three. He’s a hunky werewolf. The perfect amount of a ruggedly rough male and a sweet and caring man. Alcide became my favourite very quickly and I absolutely love the cast of him in the TV show.

So there you have it. A pretty hot list, I think you’ll agree. Happy reading 📖:D