Wednesday 24 August 2016

Book Review: Reconstructing Amelia

Title: Reconstructing Amelia
Author: Kimberly McCreight 
Publisher: HaperCollins
Release Date: April 2013
Pages: 405
Service: Bought
Format: Kindle
Buy: Amazon
Author Twitter: @kimberlymccreight

'Stressed out single mother and law firm partner, Kate, is in the meeting of her career when she is interrupted by a telephone call to say that her teenaged daughter, Amelia, has been suspended from her exclusive Brooklyn prep school for cheating on an exam. Torn between her head and her heart, she eventually arrives at St. Grace's an hour late, to be greeted by siren wailing and ambulance lights blazing Her daughter has jumped off of the roof of the school, apparently in shame of being caught. 

A grieving Kate can't accept that her daughter would kill herself. It was just the two of them and Amelia would never leave her alone like this. And so begins the investigation that takes her deep into Amelia's private world, into her journal, her email account and the mind of a troubled girl. 

Then Kate receives an anonymous test simply saying: AMELIA DIDN'T JUMP. Is someone playing with her, or has she been right all along?

I had so many mixed feelings about this book. There were points where I loved it but towards the end I was left feeling disappointed. 

McCreight had such an amazing way to connect with the reader. She managed to write heart wrenching descriptions of Kate's grief and you couldn't help but to feel that emptiness as you tried to understand what she was going through. The chapters would interchange between Kate investigating her daughter's death and Amelia's life in the weeks leading up to her death. Between the alternating point of views, we got given the chance to be able to try and piece together what we thought had happened to Amelia before reaching the ending. 

What I loved about this book what that at every point where you thought that you were sure of something, McCreight would add a little piece of information that changed the way you thought about the entire case. It really kept me on my toes when I was reading and I was desperate to find out what was going to happen at the end. 

The ending, however, made my excitement about the book die out. There was so much more that I wanted from it, so much more that I think would have given the book the justice it deserved. But in the end, it left me feeling a little deflated and I put the book down wishing that there was an alternate ending.  

There were subjects in the book, relating to mental health, that were only ever suggested to. I would have loved to see a slightly more in depth description of how it related to the plot of the story. It was briefly skimmed over in two separate cases and I feel that there was a lot more scope to really tie it into the story and really thicken the plot from it.

I feel like the epilogue to the book didn't really tie up all the ends that it needed to. I completely understand writers wanting the reader to be able to come to their own conclusions but there were things left in the middle of the story that just needed to see some closure and we really didn't get it. 

Overall, I did enjoy the book but there were so many things that I was still waiting for when I had put my tablet down. 

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Friday 19 August 2016

Looking Back At: Year 12

Displays have been taken down, chairs are up on tables, summer is well and truly underway and I have officially finished year 12. The past academic year was filled with so many new experiences and meeting a load of new people. It's been such a great school year and here's what's been happening. 

I decided to go to sixth form instead of going to the local college and that meant me changing schools and not having any of my old friends who had opted for college or a more popular sixth form. It was daunting to start in a new place along with having to start A Levels but I wouldn't change it for the world. After a week or so, I managed to settle in pretty quickly and find people in my classes that I got along with. 

It would be a lie for me to say that A Levels started off pretty easily for me. Whilst it wasn't difficult for me to settle in to sixth form life, I did struggle adjusting to the pace of my lessons and the amount of work that was needed. My first mock exam in my maths class was so disappointing for me but it gave me a push in the right direction and I was more determined than ever to make sure that my January mock exams were better. Thankfully, I managed to turn my maths grade around in two months and my maths teacher was more than happy with me. 

It's been a year that has gone by so quickly but if I'm completely honest I've enjoyed it so much more than any of my years in secondary school. It's been the first time where I feel like I've completely enjoyed all of my classes, I've loved the challenge of my lessons and I feel like I have a group of friends that I feel comfortable with and fit in with. 

This entire year has been a little bit hectic with everything going on. However, towards the end of the year, I had the chance to apply for the senior prefect team and managed to get a place on there as well as becoming the Head of the Year 12 Prefects. I've gone to HE+ meetings, had the chance to visit Cambridge and had some amazing evenings with my friends. 

Results topped what has been an amazing year so as Year 13 dawns, I'm going in a little more confident compared to what I started last year with, a spring in my step and a new determination to get through sixth form and apply to university. 

Good luck to everyone that is going to be starting a new school year. I would love to hear what your favourite parts of the year were! 

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Thursday 2 June 2016

Book Review: The Versions of Us

Title: The Versions of Us
Author: Laura Barnett
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Release Date: June 4th 2015
Pages: 401
Service: Bought
Format: Paperback
Buy: Book Depository 
Author Twitter: @laura_jbarnett

'What if you had said yes?... Jim and Eva are nineteen and students at Cambridge, when their paths first cross in 1958. Jim is walking along a lane when a woman approaching him on a bicycle swerves to avoid a dog. What happens next will determine the rest of their lives. We follow three different versions of their future - together and apart - as their love story takes on different incarnations and twists and turns to the conclusion in the present day.'

'The Versions of Us' was a book that I had heard a lot about from people around me and it was always one of the front facing books whenever I walked into Waterstones but one that I never seemed to pick up. Eventually, whilst I was away in Cambridge for a trip, I ended up deciding that I was going to buy it and see what everyone was raving about. 

We end up following three different versions of Jim and Eva's life from when the first met each other in university to much later in their adult life. We see how the smallest changes in the decisions they make impact their lives and the routes they end up taking. 

For a while, I was put off of reading any kind of book that heavily involved romance. I couldn't find one that worked at the right pace for me, was somewhat realistic and that I was able to enjoy at the same time. Ultimately, I thought I would just give them a break which was why I ended up putting of reading this book for so long. 'The Versions of Us' managed to draw me back into the world of romantic literature and showed how beautifully and elegantly they could be executed. Barnett wrote the story in such an amazing way that I became emotionally attached to the characters very quickly. Every feeling of anger, heartbreak and happiness felt by Jim and Eva was also felt by me. 

I did find that it wasn't the kind of book that I was able to put down and easily pick up  from where I left off. For me, it took me a little bit of time to be able to recall what happened in each version of the story so I knew exactly what was going on in each chapter. So, I'd definitely say to read this book when you know you have a lot of time because exam season is definitely not that time!

There was such a good pace throughout the book as you moved across the years with Jim and Eva. Laura Barnett put them both through trials that everyday people have to go through which made it all the more enjoyable to read. It was nice to be able to get my teeth into a book where the characters all have flaws that they need to deal with but not in a way that made them unrealistic and hard to relate to. 

The novel was heartbreaking and I was holding back tears as I finished the last chapter and shut the book. It ended up giving me a lot to think about long after I had put the book down but those are the kind of books, A lot of emotions were invoked and it lead me to winder the different versions of my own life had I decided upon things differently.

This is definitely a book that I will be recommending to anyone I know! 


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Wednesday 30 March 2016

Book Review: Binge

Title: Binge
Author: Tyler Oakley
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Release Date: 20/10/2015
Pages: 307
Service: Bought
Format: Hardback 
Buy: Book Depository 
Author Twitter: @tyleroakley

'Pop culture phenomenon. social rights advocate, and the most prominent LGBTQ+ voice on YouTube, Tyler Oakley brings you his first collection of witty, personal, and hilarious essays. 

For someone who made a career out of over-sharing on the Internet, Tyler has a shocking number of personal mishaps and shenanigans to reveal is his first book: experiencing a legitimate rage blackout in a Cheesecake Factory; negotiating a tense standoff with a White House official; crashing a car in front of his entire high school, in an Arby's uniform; projectile vomiting while bartering with a grandmother; and so much more. In Binge, Tyler delivers his best untold, hilariously side-splitting moments with the trademark flair that made him a star.  

Tyler Oakley's 'Binge' was a book that managed to evoke a lot of emotions inside of me. It's hard to write a review of this book without giving too much away and that's the last thing I want to do. Tyler one of the few YouTubers that I follow and I love his videos. His sheer honesty about everything is something that makes me go back to watch every new video. His book was something that I was pretty excited for as soon as I heard about it and knowing that they were going to be essays about his life, I wondered what else he had to tell us that he hadn't already shared. 

Trust me when I say that there's a lot. There were chapters that I balled my eyes out to, ones where I physically laughed out loud but these stories remind you that Tyler is just a regular person. He dealt with the troubles of High School like we all have, cope with love and heartbreak and shows us how fame was not something that he's used to but something that he's learning to deal with and love along with the way. 

 I loved how he didn't decide to put these essays into chronological order just to make it into autobiography. It's just a collection of his essays in the most Tyler Oakley way possible. And whilst YouTubers books are ones that I don't have the tendency to read, I'm so glad that I decided to pick up this one. Some of the messages that were sent across in this book were ones that I know will help me when days are going so well and some of them will just remind me to laugh when things go horrendously wrong. 

Definitely a book to pick up if you want to know a little bit more about Tyler and laugh out loud! 

Rating: ★1/2
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Saturday 26 March 2016

Book Review: The Queen of the Tearling

Title: The Queen of the Tearling
Publisher: Bantam
Series: The Tearling Trilogy #1
Release Date: 16/07/2015
Pages: 512
Service: Bought
Format: Paperback
Buy: Book Depository

'Kelsea Glynn is the sole heir to the throne of Tearling but has been raised in secret by foster parents after her mother – Queen Elyssa, as vain as she was stupid – was murdered for ruining her kingdom. For 18 years, the Tearling has been ruled by Kelsea’s uncle in the role of Regent however he is but the debauched puppet of the Red Queen, the sorceress-tyrant of neighbouring realm of Mortmesme. On Kelsea’s 19th birthday, the tattered remnants of her mother’s guard - each pledged to defend the queen to the death - arrive to bring this most un-regal young woman out of hiding...

And so begins her journey back to her kingdom’s heart, to claim the throne, earn the loyalty of her people, overturn her mother’s legacy and redeem the Tearling from the forces of corruption and dark magic that are threatening to destroy it. But Kelsea's story is not just about her learning the true nature of her inheritance - it's about a heroine who must learn to acknowledge and live with the realities of coming of age in all its insecurities and attractions, alongside the ethical dilemmas of ruling justly and fairly while simply trying to stay alive...

Wednesday 23 March 2016

My A-Z of advice

When I saw this writing prompt I was really interested in it and wanted to use it as a post. So, I decided why not! I'm going to do a whole A-Z list of advice, some which might be serious, some a little more light-hearted. 

Always have code names ready, you'll never know when you're going to need them. 
Bubbles are a great way to stop feeling stressed.
Cake can solve everything if you let it. 
Don't end on a bad note with people. 
Eventually, everything will fall into place. 
Fancy food is not always the best food. 
Generic advice is sometimes the best advice.
Heavy objects should not be handled alone if you can't carry them. 
In times of doubt, dance it out! 
Jokes that are corny are the best ones to make. 
Kit kats are worth taking a break for.
Love without holding yourself back 
Movies are great to curl up and watch when you aren't feeling well. 
Never insult a Hufflepuff.
Oranges are hard to peel but are worth the struggle! 
Photos can be a huge pain sometimes but take a lot of them. You won't regret it. 
Questions aren't stupid if you're want to know more. 
Risks are sometimes worth taking. You just need to know which ones you want to take. 
Smile at everyone, no matter how bad your day is. 
Travel the world and see everything that you want to see. 
Underline titles or teachers will spend ten minutes telling your class the importance of it. 
Vicks is great when you have a blocked nose. 
When in doubt, flip a coin. You'll know what you want the result to be. 
Xylophones are very respectable instruments. 
Yell when you need to but not at the people you love. 
Zebra crossings are there for a reason. 

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Saturday 19 March 2016

Top Ten: Book Series' I'm Dying To Finish (#1)

Books are an amazing thing but the only problem that I have with them is that half of the time when I pick a book up, I don't actually realise that it's part of a series. And sometimes I have to wait a while to get the next book in the series. Here are the top ten book series' that I am dying to finish. 

                                                      1) The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness

I've only read the first book in the series and I loved it. My sister has the other two books but I haven't gotten around to borrowing them off of her yet. But hopefully I'm going to read them soon. The first book had me completely take in. 

2) The Anna and the French Kiss Series by Stephanie Perkins

Yet another trilogy where I have only read the first book. I've only got it in ebook version and I really want the three books in hardback. I cannot stop raving about 'Anna and the French Kiss' so I can't wait to see what the next two books in the series hold. 

3) The Eve Summer Sequence by G&P Gallacher

The next book hasn't come out yet, so I'm only able to read the first book. The next one should be coming out soon and I can't wait to read it. It was such a nice read that had me hooked from the very start and there are so many more things that I want to know about so book two, please come along soon! 

4) The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien 

I was dying to read the first book and I fell in love with it instantly. 'The Fellowship of the Ring' was so well written and I loved all the settings. I knew it was a book that I had to pick up after reading 'The Hobbit' and now I just need to get my hands on the next two books. 

5) The Cirque Du Freak Series by Darren Shan 

This is a slightly longer series, but one that I still want to finish! 'A Living Nightmare' was ever-so-slightly creepy but still really enjoyable. It's a story that I still really want to follow and finish.

6) The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini 

I've got all of the books in the the house and I've read and reread Eragon and gotten halfway through 'Eldest'. I have no idea why I ended up putting it down but I'm really looking forward to reading the whole series and seeing what happens to Eragon. 

7) Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard 

This book series is quite big (there are a few more books than the picture shows) so it might take me a little while to finish off but I am determined to get to the end. My sister got me the first book after we watched the show and I wanted to see what the book was like. I ended up getting the second one but I'm in the debate at the moment since wherever I look I can't find the last few books in the covers that I have, which is bugging me a lot. So, I'm going to have to see what happens with the covers with those before I get them. 

8) The Percy Jackson Series 

I got the first book from my uncle at Christmas and now I'm hooked. One of my friends loves the series and talks to me about it and it's made me want to get the rest. As well as that, I love learning about Greek Mythology and the books teach you some parts of it. 

9) The Discworld Series by Terry Pratchet

There are currently 41 books in the Discworld series, and I only have two books. I love the world that Terry Pratchett has created and the books I've got are in the middle of the series Even though you can read the books as stand alones, I want to get the first book and work my way slowly through the whole series. 

10) The School for Good and Evil Trilogy by Soman Chainani 

I really did love the first book, since it took fairy tales in a completely new twist. But the first book left it on a bit of a cliff hanger so I'm dying to find out what's going to go on at the schools. I've heard a few things floating around the place but I want to find out before I get any spoilers. 

So, those are the top ten book series' that I am dying to finish. What are yours?

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