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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

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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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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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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

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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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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

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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

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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

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: YOU by Caroline Kepnes

I decided to start reading this book because I saw it had a Netflix adaptation. Also because Penn Badgely was tweeting about how people are romanticising his character and they were fools to do so. So naturally I needed to read it.

As always, friends, here is your disclaimer stating, if you haven’t read this book or watched the Netflix adaptation, look away now, or head to my spoiler free review on GoodReads HERE

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YOU – Caroline Kepnes

Published September 30th 2014 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books

4/5 Stars.

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Woah, this book is the ultimate creepfest, but I am loving it. I love how it is written from the point of view of the stalker, how he knows exactly how he may look to people on the street, to the girl he is stalking and to us, the readers, he is constantly aware of every move he makes, calculating their impact and risk.  I also love how we see all the different channels and paths that Joe takes to find Beck, to discover everything about her life and slowly just implants himself into her world. He makes it seem so easy, a little too easy for comfort. Especially in todays technological society where everything is online for people to see!

I am about halfway in, and I think the dynamic is finally changing. Before, every chapter started with YOU, now they are starting to start with I’M or ME or something singular, relating to Joe. I also can see Joe starting to resent Beck. Starting to see her inconsistency as an attack, personally on him. How she keeps choosing Peach over him, how she lied about her father being dead, about how she wants to be a writer, but spends all of her time drinking and watching movies with Peach. The feel of the book is taking a deadly turn. Which is ironic because Joe has already killed someone, and it wasn’t climactic or brutal. He just got rid of him, to make his life easier.

I have a feeling that Joe may kill Beck in the end. I can see his obsession with her growing from love, to something a whole lot more sinister. I am intrigued though, will he kill her before he gets to sleep with her? He seems to covet sleeping with her at the moment, more than he does, wanting to be with her. It is fascinating to see his motives change as a direct reaction of what she is doing or saying.

I am so fascinated by this book. I haven’t read anything like it before, I have read plenty of crime fiction, thrillers, psychological thrillers, but they have all been from the ‘victim’s’ point of view. Never from the stalkers, and honestly, it is so refreshing. I think that is what makes this book so much better than the others. It is raw, gritty and creepy as all heck.

Joe is super intelligent, he thinks out his actions before he performs them, he never worries about getting caught because he as played all of the scenarios in his head and knows he is safe. But everyone looks down on him, because he didn’t go to college, he works in a book store, he is a recluse of sorts, not the norm in society. Yet he fits in, in high-class parties, can hold conversations with intellectuals and has read more books that Beck’s professors. He is an intellectual himself, and that paired with his obsession is what makes him truly dangerous.

Beck is an interesting character all of her own. I tend to push her into the back of my mind, her story doesn’t feel as important as Joe’s. But she is sloppy and unmotivated, cares too much what the world thinks of her, yet leaves her windows and curtains open whilst masturbating or having sex, in order to exhibit her private life. She craves attention, she needs to tell the world what she is doing in order to feel validated. I think her relationship with Peach is another of her needs, a life long friend who has money, influence and power is always helpful for an attention seeking, aspiring writer (no offence to aspiring authors out there). I find her character to be rather boring, a base-model if you will. She has all the makings of a deep and interesting character, but at the moment, we are only seeing what Joe wants us to see, as he is the narrator. I wonder if my impression of Beck would be different if there were alternate chapters for each of the characters…

So the last 100 or so pages have been rather dull. Just glimpses of Joe being Joe, doing life, seeing a psychologist, Becks psychologist, seeing someone new. It is boring, get me to the juicy bits now please!

Joe, she knows! You finally got the girl and you were sloppy! You left her old phone in your clothes at her house and she found it and knows you have been stalking her, reading her e-mails and drafts… Of course I don’t actually know this, but I know it!! Why else would there be no e-mails for a week, why else would she be starting to push him away and freeze him out!? She knows! That can mean only bad news for poor Beck!

I feel myself feeling for Joe? Like I want him to be happy? What the heck Julie, he is a psychotic murderer! Good on you Caroline Kepnes for writing such a likeable villain! But at the same time, I can see his crazy coming out. His constant need to know what Beck is doing, where she is, who she is with, what she is wearing or thinking. He can’t function without knowing what she is doing, or knowing that she is still interested in him.

I have just under 90 pages left, and as I mentioned above, I am pretty sure that she has just found him out, so I’m guessing it is only a matter of time before he kills her. He killed his last girlfriend, that he stalked, when she tried to leave him. He drowned her in the ocean… So I hate to see what happens to Beck when she does the same thing!

Wow, I didn’t see that one coming! I just thought she found Joe out and was pulling away from him so she could leave his stalkerish arse! But no! It turns out she was having an affair with the psychologist Nicky! The one person that Joe didn’t kill! Oh the irony!

Okay, so she did find him out, she found ‘The book of Beck’, where he printed out all of her e-mails, her used tampons, her underwear, sunglasses and year book. And honestly, she had every right to freak out, what the heck Joe! Keeping a used tampon!? Gross! And yep, okay, he is definitely going to kill her, he just put her in the cage.

You know, for a minute there, I thought everything would be okay, she seemed to be confessing all of her sins (so to speak) and telling the truth and they seemed to be working their problems out, maybe a little Stockholm Syndrome-ish but I thought Joe was going to let her live. But then she double crossed him, damn it Beck, you literally signed your death warrant.

10 pages to go and I am eagre to see what Joe does now he has killed Beck, I know we learnt about his previous love interest and he killed her also, but I wonder how killing another person he ‘loves’ is going to affect him in the end.

Okay, totally not how I imagined it ending, but somehow it is also the perfect ending? The ending is so incredibly Joe, he is mourning the loss of Beck, but then a new girl enters his world, Amy is the perfect distraction she may not be ‘you’ but she is here now. And I quote ‘you are gone forever, and she is here now’.

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.

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

Thanks again for reading!

Julie