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January Wrap-Up

How is it February? Where did January go! I swear I say that every month, but it is never a false statement, it always takes me by surprise, especially now that it being February means that I have to go back to work next week! I am not ready for that at all! But what I am ready to do, is share my January Wrap-Up with you all! This month I read 6 books! I think I read 2 off of my January TBR which can be found HERE if you are interested!

Lets get started! Books are listed in order of reading, not in order of how much I liked them or anything like that.

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Freshmen by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

Published June 12th 2018 by Delacorte Press

Book Depository

GoodReads

3/5 Stars

 

This book jumped out at me, from the library shelves. It was just what I was looking for. A bit of light-hearted fluff. The book itself is well written and laugh out loud funny.
The characters didn’t really have much of a progression, they didn’t grow as people or learn any lessons. Up until the ending. You go Phoebe!

All in all, well written, funny and current. Perfect if you are looking for something light, with a sarcastic edge. But don’t go looking to this book for any real substance, it is purely something light hearted and easy to read.

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Within These Walls by Robyn Bavati

Published April 1st 2016 by Scholastic Australia

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GoodReads

3/5 Stars

 

I picked this book up at the library, on a whim.
I have always been drawn to books that have the WWII content matter. I can’t tell you why, other than I tend to find them, even in the biggest stacks of books.

This book is well written and easy to read, which is fantastic considering its target audience is middle-school aged children. And although it talks about dead bodies and starvation and people being executed, I think it is a pretty tame interpretation of the time.

I also feel that up until the last few chapters, there is a disconnect between the characters and what is happening around them. Maybe they had to be objective and ignore the horrors to be able to live, but it just felt stiff and emotionless.

I did enjoy the plot, how it went from life as normal, to living in fear of Germans, to the invasion, to the Ghettos, to the Ghettos being boarded up and then the Russian invasion and saving.
The way it travels through each aspect is fantastic.

I knew it was a younger reader book before I borrowed it, but I still found it a little monotonous to read and a little beige for me. Hence the low star rating. However, I think it is a great way to show younger readers what The Holocaust was like for children their age. In a safe and not so confronting way.

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Calm The F**k Down by Sarah Knight

Published December 31st 2018 by Quercus

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GoodReads

5/5 Stars

 

I was so kindly sent a finished copy of this book, by Hachette Australia. I requested it from them because, not only does it combine dealing with anxiety and stress, something that we all can relate to, but it also sounds hilarious, which, according to me, is also what you need when reading a book about anxiety and how to deal with it.
Firstly, I was a little weary about reading and reviewing a self-help book. But honesty time here, I have suffered from my fair share of stress and anxiety, last year alone, I had eight weeks off of work because of it. So I think I am one of those people who, this book fell into their lap for a reason. So off I go…
This book starts off by asking you three questions, three questions that you have to be honest about before you can continue, and like me, I am sure so many people answered Yes to all of them. It is hard hitting this book, it makes you realise that you aren’t alone. That just because you are going though your own patch of anxious misery, there are people who are going through a similar thing, with some of the same thoughts as you. It is both confronting and comforting.
Everything Is A Tarantula – this chapter speaks to me on a deep, deeeeep level. Not only because I am particularly adverse to spiders. But Knight has so perfectly summed up the feeling of how anxiety builds. When you first see the spider you go into good ole, flight or fright, then the heart rate speeds up, sweat sets in and finally the inner monologue begins. I love this comparison, and when, in my life, my tarantulas pop up, I’ll know how to deal with them better.
I am loving this book, I didn’t expect to, but I am, it is giving me so many more coping mechanisms than I expected and it is keeping it light-hearted. The last thing I want, as a stress headed anxiety sufferer, is a heavy, scientific word loaded, text book. So this book is perfect. I can’t say it enough, It is such a good read.
I also love that this book has an index, got a particular problem? Look it up and read about it. Address your problem and deal with it. This book covers everything, from going over embarrassing conversations in your head until you have blown them up, out of proportion to acting out what you are going to say to people, while you are in the shower… knowing full well, you would never be as brave as you are in your personal pantomime.
I also love the Choose Your Own Adventure section in the back of the book. It gives you senarios and you choose which emotion you feel and it tells you which chapters to read, to overcome that anxiety, sadness, stress, anger or whatever other feeling you may be experiencing. I think this is a great way to assess just what emotion you are feeling, as sometimes, this is the hardest part, identifying how exactly you are feeling and why.

This book is a fantastic read, read it in its entirety, or read chapters as you need them, it is perfectly designed for both choices. It is easy to read, easy to understand and it is fun. It doesn’t make you feel like an idiot for reading a self-help book, it makes you feel light-hearted and gives you so many ideas and things to try, when you are having a hard day. I think that this is a book that everyone should have on their bookshelf, even if you only pick it up a handful of times throughout your year, that is enough. I guarantee it will help you each time you pick it up and flip through is sweary and helpful pages.

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You by Caroline Kepnes

Published September 30th 2014 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books

Book Depository

GoodReads

4/5 Stars

 

I picked up this book purely because I sw it on Netflix and knew I had to read the book before I watched the adaptation. And wow, am I glad that I did. What a read!

I really enjoyed this book, it has a completely unique way of telling the story, which I love. It is raw and gritty and crazy. It makes you see the world from how a serial killer/stalker sees the world. It lets us in, lets us see how Joe justifies his actions, his stalking, his collecting. And that in it’s own way is so psychologically thrilling, let alone the addition of the plot.

I loved Joe’s character, crazy I know, but there was something intriguing and almost romantisized about him, I wanted him to be happy, to get the love and happy ending that he was after. Carolone Kepnes has written the perfect anti-hero. We know he is the bad guy, a murderer, a stalker, but we want him to be happy. It is such a strange feeling. I think I was more in Joe’s corner, because I didn’t like Beck from the get go, I found her manipulative, easily lead, shallow and extremely vain. But I think her chacter needed to have personality traits that people wouldn’t like, so that Joe would be seen. And he is definitely seen!

Well written and engaging from the first page, this book has been a thrill to read.

My full, spoiler filled review can be found HERE… But only if you have already read the book!

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What The Woods Keep by Katya De Becerra

Published September 18th 2018 by Imprint Macmillan

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GoodReads

3/5 Stars

 

 

Well, honestly, I am a little dissappointed.
This book was so easy to read, it has a fantastic premise, a wonderfully spooky feel and all the makings for a creepy, current YA novel. But the entire book felt like it was building up to something… and then nothing really happened.. Yes, I will give it credit, that the last few chapters were more intense than the rest of the book, but I just felt the build up was bigger than the big reveal, so to speak.
As I mentioned before, it is well written, the characters are well rounded, even if the whole way through the book I was highly suspicious of Dell, because who is that cool and calm with being thrown into a supernatural war? I also found the love interest to be suspicious too. The writing style was fantastic, scenes flowed well, there was no choppy-ness to the transitions.

It just wasn’t for me unfortunately. The best part of it was buddy reading it with the lovely Rose (Seventyeight.Sundays).

For my full, spoiler filled review click HERE. If this is one of your favourite books, probably don’t click the link…

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Only A Breath Apart by Katie McGarry

Published January 22nd 2019 by Tor Teen

Book Depository

GoodReads

4/5 Stars

 

I was granted an e-copy of this novel from NetGalley and the Author in exchange for an honest review.

Sooo I may have devoured this book in one day. I didn’t plan to, but it is just so easy to read!
McGarry has an incredible writing style, it flows with ease and even with the intense subjects that this book deals with, it is still free-flowing, not forced and easy to read. It definitly doesn’t feel like a chore.

I love the magical intentions throught this book. The connection that Jesse has with the land, the way that Glory can keep Jesse and his family connected through her psychic abilites. And the way that Scarlett intwines with both Jesse and Glory within the realms of their individual magical connections with land and spirit.

I feel as though this book was a much darker novel from McGarry than usual, and I think it is important to say that if you have your own demons surrounding familial and/or spousal abuse, physical and psychological, then this book isn’t one for you. Scarlett has an incredibly controlling father, who doesn’t have limits when it comes to enforcing his control and rule. It is incredibly intense and at times it is hard to read. So be prepared for that.

I loved this book up until the last 10%. Something happens and I can’t say much about it without spoiling it (if you want to know how I feel about it and what happens, pop to my spoiler filled review which can be found HERE), so all I am going to say is that something happens that I don’t think needed to happen. It didn’t really take the book anywhere, other than giving Jesse a little more farming experience. Which is important to the storyline, but I feel that it could have been done in a different way?
So after that situation, the sweet ending, for me, wasn’t as sweet and as final as it could have been.

I did enjoy this book, the semi-ending did force my enjoyment down, hence only 4 stars. But all in all it was a fantastic read, it was so refreshing to read about a couple who each have their own demons. There was no kight in shining armour. They saved eachother.

 

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Outside by Sarah Ann Juckes

Published January 3rd 2019 by Penguin Random House Children’s UK

Book Depository

GoodReads

3/5 Stars

 

 

 

I won this book in a Giveaway from Penguin Random House and from the author, thank you so much!

I found this book to be something so completely different from what I have read before. I struggled with the language style, the cadence of it also, but the writing style was fantastic, keeping me on track and keeping the pages turning. I also loved the shorter chapters. They were just long enough to give you what you wanted, but short enough to not overwhelm you.

Being overwhelmed happens easily within this book. You can tell from the first few pages that something isn’t quite right and your mind just keeps spinning to work out what it is.

I also found that this book didn’t really take off until the last fourty pages. Once MILD SPOILER ALERT Ele escaped from the Inside, nothing really happened until the final few chapters. It felt empty and hollow. But Maybe that was the point, to show us how differently Ele would see the world.

This book is well written and engaging, it does take a little while for anything of interest to start, and is incredibly strange, until you get used to the theme and the language use. I did enjoy it and I am so greatful for the chance to have won it. My Full spoiler filled review can be found HERE

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So that brings my January Wrap-Up to an end. Obviously there were some clear winners this month, and I also got through a lot of the ARC’s and Galleys sent to me, which I am super excited about!

Usually I would do a post about books that let me down, but this month, it was really only What The Woods Keep, that made that list, if you follow the link above to my Review and Ramblings post, you will learn why.

Thank you all for reading, did you read one of these books? What did you think?

Julie

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December Wrap Up

Well, what a busy month this has been, and honestly, I read more than I thought I would get time for! Before we get started, I just want to say that I hope you have had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you a safe and happy New Year! Now, let’s get to it!

 

9780545224901_mresThe Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater

5/5 Stars!

If you have seen any of my previous blog posts about this book, you will already know that I fell head over heels for it. Lock, stock and barrel, I am obsessed with it. There is something magical about an island in the middle of nowhere, with mythical horses born of the sea. A young man, wiser than his years, with a knowledge and passion for said horses. A young woman who is filled to the top of her head with courage and a need to prove herself for her family. This book is amazing and is definitely up there as one of the best books I’ve ever read.

 

 

27268998New World: Rising by Jennifer Wilson

3/5 Stars

This book had been on my radar for a long time, I had seen it all over Bookstagram and lots of positive reviews on GoodReads. When it was sent out in an OwlCrate box, I figured it was time that I read it! However, I did have a few issues with this title, more to do with the pacing, the writing style and the un-likability of the protagonist. That being said, it is a good read and I will be reading the next book to see what happens, purely because the last 50 pages really lifted the entire feel of the book.

 

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Genuine Fraud by e. lockhart

4/5 Stars

This book intrigued me, as this year there have been a lot of releases about lying, fraudulent activity, hiding who you really are, etc. So naturally this title demanded to be read. In true e. lockhart fashion, this book was incredibly well written, engaging and fast paced. However it was hard to keep up with the constant change of perspective, with the murdering and the no consequences of any illegal actions. But I think that is the point. It is designed to be entertaining and take you on a ride. I did enjoy it, but there was a point near the end where I said to myself, ‘what the heck have I read?’.

 

51JcHGZ6ERL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_New World: Ashes by Jennifer Wilson

3/5 Stars

Well, I don’t really know where to start with this one..This book actually made it onto two lists! It also features on my Books That Let Me Down This December Post! Click HERE to read!

If you haven’t read my post that I mentioned in the above sentence, it let me down. 290 pages were literally us watching as Phoenix is tortured, forced to fight children, forced into electro-shock therapy, conditioning, you name it, she went through it. It was hard to read, and it left me feeling traumatized and stressed because of it. That being said, the last 40 pages were amazing. It picked up the pace, the characters grew, the dialogue got interesting. And then the book ended. So I’m going into New World: Inferno with no expectations, I just hope that the torture aspects are gone..

 

38464193More Than We Can Tell By Brigid Kemmerer

5/5 Stars

This book was amazing. It was refreshing as well, within YA fiction these days, books tend to overlook the issues that seem common place, and go for the out there things. This book embraces ‘common’ issues for teens. It is modern, moving into the outlook that girls can be gamers, that they can be coders and that they can create games that hundreds of people can play. This book looks at adoption and foster homes in a whole new way. We see Rev in a loving home, we know he is adopted, but that fact only comes into it when we need to hear about his biological father. Which is another aspect that is so incredibly moving. Once again Kemmerer has created a masterpiece. Her writing style is so easy to read, the pacing is always perfect and her works are always about something current and the content always hits you on a deeper level.

 

So that was my December in books! I am pretty happy with this Wrap Up, not only because of how I enjoyed the book I read, but because I read two of the books I had on my December TBR, usually I write a TBR and then read nothing on it, I tend to choose books based on how I’m feeling. I also feel a little bad, because I have a stack of NetGalley ARCS that I was hoping to get to, and didn’t. So after I finish my current read, look out ARCS!

Have you read one of the books in my Wrap Up? Comment below and tell me what you thought!

 

Thanks again!

Julie

 

 

Personal Experiences

Tumblr: Do you grow out of social media?

Tumblr used to be so important to me, sharing photos that I would spend hours setting up, hoping they would be good enough to be re-blogged. Likes weren’t enough, I needed the reblogs. It was like I had been dragged into the rabbit hole – utterly and completely immersed into the world of Tumblr.

But now looking back, my Tumblr experience was a lonely, solitude one. I have made so many new friends through bookstagram on insta, than I ever did on Tumblr. I think this is because I found Tumblr to be a place for individuals, not a place for community or for groups.. and yes I am aware that I may lose some love for this, but it is my opinion guys and gals. I have found Tumblr to be  a place where everyone shares the same opinion and if your opinion is slightly different, then you will be shamed and attacked for it.           I have also found that even though I still can see the appeal of the platform, I can’t stand it now.

Now when I scroll down through my Tumblr feed I feel a disconnect between the content and myself. Its just pictures, occasionally whitty text posts and gifs of movies or tv shows. Which is slightly annoying because I spent so much of my time in my early 20s scrolling through the endless blue sea. Which is where I think my disconnect is coming from. Tumblr is the perfect platform for bloggers starting out in the world. Finding their voice, finding their people and working out what they like talking about.  It is the perfect platform for photographers (not me), videograpghers (not me), artists (shock, also not me) and singers (definitely not me). Where as little old me, who writes fiction, writes about my experiences, about books I have read, loved and hated, didn’t really find my people or my place amongst the artists in the Tumblr world.

I honestly think I grew out of Tumblr. I used to sit on the couch with my at the time best friend, and we would pop on a movie or the tv and sit together, each on our respective laptops and browse all day. Occasionally showing each other something funny or cute, constantly building up our cue incase we couldn’t make it on in the next 24 hours. Now that idea irks me something shocking. Now I try to lose myself in Tumblr and find myself seeing the same posts over and over again, even if I follow new accounts, and search for more things that I like, but I think it was always like that? I also find it incredibly hard for any blog posts or review posts to be shared or liked or get any kind of audience, and as an aspiring blogger, that kind of makes it hard to do the thing that I am trying to do.

To me now, tumblr has turned into a fond memory of my youth, of summer days spent with best friends past and  I think that is where it will stay.

My question to you is.. Do you have a social media account that you used to live on, that now you don’t spend any time on? Why?

 

Thanks

Julie