All Things New by Lauren Miller: Review

All Things New is a story all readers of YA fiction will be ready and raring to read this August and it does not disappoint. It’s a charming page turner with a poignant message and a cute little love story to boot – pick it up August 1st.


 Title: All Things New

Author: Lauren Miller

Publication date: August 1st 2017

Pages:

Blurb:

Seventeen-year-old Jessa Gray has always felt broken inside, but she’s gotten very good at hiding it. No one at school knows about the panic attacks, the therapy that didn’t help, the meds that haven’t worked. But when a severe accident leaves her with a brain injury and visible scars, Jessa can no longer pretend that she’s okay–now she looks as shattered as she feels. 

Fleeing from her old life in Los Angeles, Jessa moves to Colorado to live with her dad, but her anxiety only gets worse in the wake of the accident. That is, until she meets Marshall, a boy with a heart defect whose kindness and generous spirit slowly draw Jessa out of her walled-off shell and into the broken, beautiful, real world–a place where souls get hurt just as badly as bodies, and we all need each other to heal.


Firstly, a very big thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

And, I’ll start at the beginning, on opening the first page. This book was incredibly easy to get into; Lauren Miller really understands the importance of a fierce opening. We are instantly drawn into Jessa’s life: a lonely LA adolescence tainted by the anxiety she hides from the world. The event that changes everything is described in a way that commands the reader to keep going and follow Jessa on her recovery journey. It’s a recovery not just from the accident but from a lie she’s been living and truths she’s been constantly overlooking.

I’m a wee bit biased about this book because I found so very much of it so easy to relate to; Jessa is a likeable underdog and represents so much – most importantly she is a vessel for exploring mental health. Miller literally takes that slogan “what if we treated all illness like it was physical” and plays about with it on the page in this gorgeous little novel. The way she plays with truth using medical fact is thoroughly engaging and keeps the message upfront and easy to comprehend.

The only thing I would potentially criticise is that I certainly could have read more of it. The narrative seemed to end quite suddenly given the time Miller took to build the story’s concepts and I think there was definitely more story left to tell. That being said, forcing a story beyond its natural length is a sure way to ruin a book so perhaps it was just right left where it was. I’ve seen it compared to The Fault in Our Stars and other popular YA books but felt it more in the region of Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by Julie Israel myself. Overall I found it to be an enjoyable and accomplished YA novel with some interesting themes.

I haven’t read Parallel or Free to Fall, Miller’s other books, but if they’re anything like this I’m sure to find time for them. I’d dub this a worthwhile read for any YA reader.


 3 out of 5

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If you liked All Things New, try Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index.


  – Cat –

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by Julie Israel: Review

Thanks to Penguin Random House at Netgalley for allowing me to read this gorgeous book for free (in exchange for an honest review)! This book was released by Penguin on June 2nd 2017 and it doesn’t have nearly enough buzz surrounding it. For me it was better than ‘Me Before You’, ‘Everything, Everything’, ‘The Fault in Our Stars’, ‘Fangirl’ and other popular bestsellers from overlapping genres and I would definitely recommend giving it a read.


Title: Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index

Author: Julie Israel

Date published: 2nd June 2017

Pages: 352

Summary: 

It’s hard to keep close a person everyone keeps telling you is gone.

It’s been sixty-five painful days since the death of Juniper’s big sister, Camilla. On her first day back at school, bracing herself for the stares and whispers, Juniper borrows Camie’s handbag for luck – and discovers an unsent break-up letter inside. It’s mysteriously addressed to ‘You’ and dated July 4th – the day of Camie’s accident. Desperate to learn the identity of Camie’s secret love, Juniper starts to investigate.

But then she loses something herself. A card from her daily ritual, The Happiness Index: little notecards on which she rates the day. The Index has been holding Juniper together since Camie’s death – but without this card, there’s a hole. And this particular card contains Juniper’s own secret: a memory that she can’t let anyone else find out.


Let me start by saying I didn’t expect much from this book when I first began reading. I had never heard of Julie Israel, never used Netgalley and had not heard of the book prior to receiving my copy. That being said, I’m so glad I stumbled upon this little gem and it completely outdid all of my expectations.

The story centres around a girl named Juniper Lemon and this lost index card (65). Juniper (in memory of her recently lost sister) writes a number for each day on an index card – a sort of indication of how she rated the day. 65 days after her sister’s passing Juniper loses index card 65 whilst at school and her journey begins with the simple task of finding it. Initially the book reminded me of Fangirl (Rainbow Rowell) in terms of its tone and voice but it quickly became clear that this was more than just a coming of age story. Israel opens up a whole complex and compelling narrative from simply a lost card and really makes it into something special. The ‘underdog vibe’ and diversity of high school characters (the typical bad boy, renowned nerd, new kid and bitchy female bully) kind of toys with the line of being cliché but most of the characters are actually explored beyond that surface level and, ultimately, Israel balances this out really well.  

I really liked the way she introduced characters in such a natural way (despite the circumstances under which some of them meet). In particular the friendships between Juniper and the characters she bonds with because of Camilla are simply beautiful. I loved the individuality she gave her characters and Kody and Camilla were the kind of believable, ridiculous friends one really hopes to have in high school. There were moments with them where she (Juniper) suddenly seems to relax and recover a part of herself and that was wonderful to read.  I often read parts on the brink of happy tears (though the rest were definitely sad ones.) It really deals with loss in a clever way by telling us of its unbearable qualities and difficulties and sneaking in the positives gently so we actually perceive Juniper’s healing.

The ‘You’ aspect keeps the narrative from stagnating and as I was reading I was a little conflicted that this might take away from the message. Pleasantly, I was wrong and Israel expertly kept the thread from swinging too far away from her harrowing and important subject matter; the ending is perfectly nuanced to both celebrate Camilla’s life but also to bring closure to Juniper’s. Throughout the book she expertly weaves humour and grief together. Everyone has their own coping mechanisms and this little book has so much to teach about love, loss and understanding. It was beautiful to read and actually, I believe, almost restorative. Sometimes it was simply the way Israel talked about grief that had me brimming with tears; and it’s such a realistic demonstration of it. Grief affects people not just when something directly related happens but during the everyday moments in which the person lost is absent. This book really made me feel that.

It also was a nice sized book from a casual reader’s standpoint. It didn’t take too long to read and left me feeling bookishly satisfied. The only real thing I was disappointed by was my own choice to read a digital copy! Both covers (US and UK) are so cute and would’ve made gorgeous #Bookstagram pictures!

But anyway, it was a thoroughly good read and I’m glad it came into my life.

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4 out of 5


Buy it on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com


If you liked ‘Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index’  try ‘Fangirl’ by Rainbow Rowell

If you have any other suggestions or insights feel free to message me or leave them in the comments section below!


– Cat –

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas: Review

It’s over. I’ve read them all… and this (the aptly named ACO-WAR) was a fabulous conclusion full of twists, savagery and endless fae fabulous-ness. Whilst this post will be free of spoilers from this book, it may talk about the events of the first and second. I will also be releasing a second ACOTAR series discussion post so I can have a big ol’ spoiler-riddled discussion about everything that happened. That post will be out Monday (and you’ll be able to link to it here!)


23766634Title: A Court of Wings and Ruin                  Author: Sarah J. Maas                         

Date published: May 2nd 2017

Pages: 699

Summary: 

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit—and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well. As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords—and hunt for allies in unexpected places


So, in my reviews for ACOTAR and ACOMAF I mentioned how a book should give you the feels – it should influence you emotionally if it’s doing its job properly; well, this one had tears streaming down my face for the entire last 10%. There were happy tears and sad tears and the entire damn thing took over my consciousness for the 10 days or so over which I consumed it.

It’s a young adult fantasy novel but unlike YA’s like Fangirl I feel like, because of the more diverse subject matter, as an adult it’s so easy to get immersed in the story – particularly as it takes place within a completely new world. The novel explores issues on a personal level and even goes so far as to introduce younger readers to really tactical approaches to war and conflict. Maas draws inspiration from all over, the Oroboros springing out of Egyptian mythology and other references popping up throughout (the Myrmidons from the siege of Troy, remodelling the ancient Greek ‘Illyrians’ and other references from the bible, Greek mythology and Russian folktale.) This weaving together of fantasy and history adds richness to the text and is part of the reason I found the second and third books so much more interesting to read. #NerdAlert – sorry, not sorry. And, actually, the way Maas wove plot elements from the first and second books into the key events of this third instalment was fabulous in itself. The plot was definitely interesting enough (and full of enough twists and turns) to keep me hooked from chapter one until the very last page.

I found myself highlighting so many passages out of sheer love of what was written (don’t worry I was reading using kindle so I didn’t deface any books!), I really enjoyed Maas’ writing, more so than I did in the first and second books. Plot wise, ACOMAF still remains my favourite because the whole Feyre- Rhysand escapade was just perfect and I totally shipped them in book one (sorry Tamlin!) They just made so much sense and the way they respected each other and even went so far as to make each other better really stood out as a winning trait for an already likeable and bad-ass pairing.

“the male who had always presented me with a choice not as a gift, but as my own gods-given right.”

I didn’t find their relationship as compelling in this third book however. The whole mating thing is something I’m a bit conflicted about. I mean, on one hand it’s totally sweet and it’s like their souls are connected and whatever and it makes for interesting writing (where there’s a mating bond but someone doesn’t want to accept it) but I don’t know. It kind of just belittled the idea of ‘love’ and really reminded me of the imprinting thing in Twilight. Feels like it’s going that way too: Feyre’s going to get pregnant with a crazy, super-strong, night court baby and Azriel’s going to imprint *cough, sorry* have a mating bond with it or something. Whilst it’d be cute to see Rhysand all cute and protective I just don’t wholly like it – the mating thing is something I can’t decide if i like or not.

But that’s not the only reason their relationship is less rivetting: there was no “will they, won’t they” so much of their interaction was a bit dull (except that tense scene near the end – omg). The sex scenes in particular were a little unnecessary and awkward and I’m definitely glad there were less than in the second book. (They often felt a bit over-written – like, they had sex, I get it, she doesn’t need to be shining like a beacon or making the mountain tremble. I mean really, *eyeroll*. But then, this book wasn’t as much ‘about’ them – it was about saving the world which *I GUESS* is kind of important too… I still love them though. On a complete tangent I actually still like Tamlin (not for Feyre, obviously) and think he’s a complex and interesting character to read about – he’s flawed like anyone else but ultimately shows his true colours in this, the third book .

The third book really doesn’t disappoint – whilst much of the ‘action’ happens in the last 10% of the book every focal character had a difficulty they were facing and their own issues to contend with along with the main plot and this made them far, far more interesting than they may otherwise have been. And Maas deals with PTSD well – she does not pretend that the hardships faced by her characters does not affect them but also reminds us that it does not make them weak – an important message. I adore every member of the night court not only for their love of one-another but for the sheer selflessness they all exude. It promotes such a healthy message (though I wont deny a little selfishness from someone might’ve made the characters a bit more diverse and believable.) Actually, there were mistakes made by night court members but it was mostly just Feyre who made mistakes and had regrets. A lot of her choices in the first 10% of the novel were definitely up for contention but I think ultimately, they reflect (and are a result of) her suffering in the previous two books and the plot simply builds her character and extends those emotions beyond just telling us how she feels. But, that’s the night court for you – secret guardians of peace in Prythian (with a handful of misbehaviour and more than a sprinkle of sass).

They weren’t the only court I liked though! Learning about the other courts was great fun and made me just want to get out the pencils and paints and try my hand at some fan art. The series does really have a great way of inviting fandom (as well as both bad and good discussion) – it’s a series readers want to talk about with other people, to write fanfiction on and to continue experiencing in every way possible – and that really is a testament to Maas’ ability to generate characters we care about. Even characters who were ugly, mythical and somewhat disturbing became lovable in this novel. I cared about the Suriel, learned to understand The Bone Carver and became attached to a creature so terrifying and gruesome it even sent Cassian screaming in fear. Maas frequently takes our expectations of characters and flips them on their heads and it’s really well done throughout the ACOWAR.

A lot of readers don’t like the series, or Maas’ writing and I definitely understand that – I definitely could have swung that way after reading the first book. There are definitely a few things that annoy me about her writing and the way she does things – I haven’t read the Throne of Glass series because I haven’t managed to get through the first book yet. Maas, like most writers, has flaws but For me, this was a good story and I really connected with the characters – it let me forget the things I didn’t like so much. But if you experienced the series differently and hated it I want to hear about it too. This book is such a topic of discussion for many readers and it’s good to talk about the different issues it deals with. I really did not like Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon but lots of people loved it so I definitely know what it’s like the be on the opposing side of a fandom – reading is such an individual experience, it’s important to have your own response; your opinions are personal to you.

Overall, I really enjoyed this series and look forward to hearing more about the Court of Dreams characters in the future. The events at the end of this book temporarily broke me for the 20 minutes or so during which I inhaled the words! Ultimately, if you’re a fan of Maas and liked the second book, I can’t see why you wouldn’t like this one.


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4 out of 5


Find it on Goodreads

Buy it on Amazon (A Court of Thorns and Roses)


If you liked ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’ series  try ‘Caraval’

If you have any other suggestions or insights feel free to message me or leave them in the comments section below!


– Cat –

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas: Review

Woohoo! I’ve finished book two! (And it was so much better than book one.) I’ve just finished reading the second book in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series and my-oh-my did I have fun reading it! If, like me, you indulge in a little YA Fantasy and love a good fictional world then I’d definitely recommend this series. Complete with world map, this 626 page novel will have you completely immersed in a fierce new world of fabulous magic.

Image result for a court of mist and fury


Title: A Court of Mist and Fury                  Author: Sarah J. Maas                         

Date published: May 3rd 2016

Pages: 626

Summary: 

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.


I am officially a fan of this series! I had hoped the second edition to the ‘ACOTAR’ series would be better than the first and was pleased to discover it was! Maas’ sequel was everything I wanted to be and had me falling head-over-heels for the characters and their romantic interests.

The book continues on from more-or-less the end of the last book during which our heroine, Feyre, defeats Aramantha under the mountain and is re-born as a fancy-pants faerie. I’ll be honest, Feyre’s lack of interest in seeing her family after the events under the mountain seemed a little off. She had her reasons and obviously being all fae-like and cool would’ve been something that her family would struggle with but I feel like a little more mention of them earlier on would’ve been more in character. Particularly after she saw what happened to Clare Beddor. She develops a deeper care for them as the book goes on but it felt like this was only included to justify later events. That’s not to say that it was a big deal, there’s so much to commend about this story that I’m being pretty picky. In general everything was much better than it was in the first book.

The characters were SO much better too. Tamlin, in all his rage, actually seemed more vulnerable and flawed as a character, it was interesting to see his character arc. Nesta and Elain had so much more gumption and began to have significantly better developed characters. Feyre became someone with real drive and passion in a way we really hadn’t seen before. I mean, she defeats the evil queen and stuff all for Tamlin, but she’s made out to be very vulnerable and in need of male support throughout the first book. This totally changes in book two and Feyre grows as a character as a result, becoming more likeable and a little bit badass. There were incredible new characters in this addition too! And significantly more interesting changes in character.The second book made up for most of the things that irritated me in the first one (not that there was an awful lot!)

The final third chunk of the novel had me completely hooked and unlike the first book I felt some of the characters’ anxiousness and the tension was really palpable this time. I don’t know whether this is because I had longer to get-to-know the characters or if the relationships were just more convincing the second time around but either way it did the job much better. I laughed out loud at points and tentatively bit my nails at others; a testament to Maas’ wit and wonderful writing skills. Some of the writing I found to be a little confusing to read, purely from a structural stand point; there were a few sentence structures I stumbled over earlier on but this might have been down to my own increased reading speed due to how much I enjoyed it! I couldn’t wait to sit down and read of an evening and absolutely tore through it.

Yes, there were cliche’s and an element of reader manipulation but isn’t that (at least a little) what you want to get from a book in the first place? If it doesn’t catch you and alter your emotions then has it really been a success? This book was wonderful to read and had me buying the third immediately; I would thoroughly recommend this read to Fantasy lovers.


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4.5 out of 5


Find it on Goodreads

Buy it on Amazon.co.uk


If you liked ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses‘ series  try ‘Caraval

If you have any other suggestions or insights feel free to message me or leave them in the comments section below!


– Cat –