Book Review · Books

Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth [BOOK REVIEW]

Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth [BOOK REVIEW]

Before I dive into the lengthy review of Divergent by Veronica Roth, I have to say one thing. I truly need to stop watching the movie adaptations before I read the books. It happened with the Divergent series. Then it continued with Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. It also happened with The Hunger Games and Harry Potter. I need a special app that won’t let me watch a movie adaptation, unless that book title is on my “Read” shelf in Goodreads.

About The Book:

Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth [BOOK REVIEW]


Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s

Pages: 487

Format I read it in: Paperback

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

★★★★★

Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Tris is forced to make a terrible choice. In a divided society where everyone must conform, Tris does not fit.

So she ventures out alone, determined to discover where she truly belongs. Shocked by her brutal new life Tris can trust no one. And yet she is drawn to a boy who seems to both threaten and protect her.

The hardest choice lies ahead.

My Thoughts:

Even having watched the movie first, Divergent was such a fun experience. I loved diving into this dystopian world, getting to know Tris. I wish I read it sooner. This book just proves that Young-Adult fantasy is still a favourite genre of mine, no matter how much older I get.

The factions were really interesting to me, and I was curious to see which faction I would belong to. Funnily enough, I am pretty sure I am a Divergent. And also, I think actually, all of us are too. You can never really fit into just one faction. We all carry a little bit of every trait, one more than the other. Humans are also curious by nature. We want to explore different things, learn new things. Our choices, wishes and goals in life also change all the time. And I loved how Veronica Roth took this topic, this ideam and expanded it into its extreme. By that, giving us a dystopian world with a brave female lead.

“Working together, these five factions have lived in peace for many years, each contributing to a different sector of society. Abnegation has fulfilled our need for selfless leaders in government; Candor has provided us with trustworthy and sound leaders in law; Erudite has supplied us with intelligent teachers and researchers; Amity has given us understanding counselors and caretakers; and Dauntless provides us with protection from threats both within and without.”

I especially loved Tris’s journey with the Dauntless. Also her dilemmas, and the need for her to make a choice of what feels right and what people expect of her to do. I was also very in love with Four. He is my book crush right now, and I cannot help, but adore him.

“We believe in the ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.”

Everything about the book, from storylines, to world building, to character development was so well executed. Every little thing had its own meaning, nothing felt excessive or out of place. It gripped me from the very beginning and kept me hooked until the very end. I still have to buy and read the rest of the series, and I cannot wait to start the next book.

I definitely recommend you pick this up if you love dystopian fantasies. Divergent is popular for a very good reason, and definitely deserves the hype.

About The Author:

Veronica Roth is the #1 New York Times best-selling author of the Divergent series (DivergentInsurgentAllegiant, and Four: A Divergent Collection), the Carve the Mark duology (Carve the Markthe Fates Divide), The End and Other Beginnings collection of short fiction, Chosen Ones, and many short stories and essays. She lives in Chicago.

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Blog Tour · Book Review · Books

The Stepsisters by Susan Mallery [BLOG TOUR]

I am so excited to be part of the blog tour for The Stepsisters by Susan Mallery! Huge thank you to the team at Mills and Boon, for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

About The Book:


Publisher: Mills and Boon

Pages: 385

Format I read it in: Paperback

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

★★★

Synopsis:

When Daisy’s dad married Sage’s mum, Daisy was thrilled to get a new sister. Except Sage was beautiful and popular, everything Daisy was not, and she made sure Daisy knew it.

As a young girl, Sage found herself living in a palatial home where she didn’t belong. Intimidated by her new sister’s intelligence she used her popularity to put Daisy down. After their parents’ divorced, the stepsisters’ rivalry continued until the final straw: Daisy married Sage’s first love, and Sage fled to Europe.

Years later, Daisy never expects – or wants – to see Sage again. But brought together by an accident involving the little sister they have in common they must learn to put aside their differences. Slowly the stepsisters begin to view the past through one another’s eyes and long buried secrets are revealed. Until their fragile truce is threatened by one careless act that could have devastating consequences…

My Thoughts:

When I heard about the author, I knew I have heard that name before and I thought I have read some of her books. It turns out, I have “The Friendship List” in my library, but I haven’t read it yet. As soon as I finished “The Stepsisters”, I was full of regret that I haven’t read the other one as well. That is about to change soon.

The Stepsisters is such a relaxing novel, in the sense that it provides a certain sense of comfort while you’re reading it. I found myself flying through the pages. The stories intrigued me and every chapter ended with me wanting to read a little bit more. The beginning was a bit hard for me to get into. It felt like a lot of characters were introduced very quickly. However, as soon as you get through the introductory part, everything goes smoothly.

Even though the synopsis focuses on the two sisters, Sage and Daisy, we also have the third sister – Cassidy. All three sisters have different qualities, and even though for some time, they were all living in the same household, they all have different experiences growing up. Sage and Cassidy were always close to each other. Sage bullied Daisy, which led to Cassidy also hating Daisy, with no real reason. And all of these feelings somehow stayed with them in the years to come, creating a very complex and fragile relationship between the three of them. Throughout the book, circumstances will make them cross paths again. This will give them a change to rekindle their relationship and either change or stay the same.

I really enjoyed the story as a whole.

The relationship between the stepsisters really intrigued me. I loved how their differences were explored, alongside with their opinions and past and current choices in life. However, there were a few things I didn’t enjoy, such as the random racist accusation that was thrown, and how both stepsisters handled this issue. It left me very confused. The other part was Sage’s story, and how it ended. For what she did and the people she hurt in the process, forgiveness shouldn’t have been served to her on a plate. There should have been a bigger road to redemption, and it’s just not a reality that I believe in.

To conclude, The Stepsisters is a very good choice of a book to dive into this summer. The variety in characters and their storylines, as well as the relatively small chapters will definitely keep you hooked and entertained.

About The Author:

SUSAN MALLERY is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of novels about the relationships that define women’s lives—family, friendship, romance. Library Journal says, “Mallery is the master of blending emotionally believable characters in realistic situations,” and readers seem to agree—40 million copies of her books have sold worldwide. Her warm, humorous stories make the world a happier place to live.

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Book Review · Books

The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex [BOOK REVIEW]

There were two things that ultimately drew me to read the Lamplighters by Emma Stonex. Firstly, it was the part about the lighthouse. There is something about lighthouses that always draws me in and intrigues me. And secondly, the fact that this story is based on an actual true story, where men did go missing and we still don’t know how.

About The Book:


Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Pages: 368

Format I read it in: Hardcover

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

★★★★

Synopsis:

Cornwall, 1972. Three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse, miles from the shore. The entrance door is locked from the inside. The clocks have stopped. The Principal Keeper’s weather log describes a mighty storm, but the skies have been clear all week.

What happened to those three men, out on the tower? The heavy sea whispers their names. The tide shifts beneath the swell, drowning ghosts. Can their secrets ever be recovered from the waves?

Twenty years later, the women they left behind are still struggling to move on. Helen, Jenny and Michelle should have been united by the tragedy, but instead it drove them apart. And then a writer approaches them. He wants to give them a chance to tell their side of the story. But only in confronting their darkest fears can the truth begin to surface…

My Thoughts:

The Lamplighters is a mix between a mystery thriller and historical fiction. We follow a story about three men that guard a lighthouse, who go missing. At the same time, we follow the lives of three women, twenty years later.

Emma Stonex has the ability to make a mundane daily routine seem interesting. Her writing in this book is truly spectacular, and I really enjoyed it. I especially loved that she chose to give these three women a voice that they wouldn’t have before, and let them tell their stories. There was slight flaws with the characters themselves, as they were all written in a similar tone, so it was hard to tell to them apart. But aside from that, the idea was very well executed.

I enjoyed the men’s story as well – although, sometimes, it would get too repetitive for my taste. What I did enjoy though, was the slow psychological games between them. It was very cleverly written, and even I at times was confused on what some people’s intentions were.

In regards to the mystery itself, I found it quite interesting, although somewhat predictable. There wasn’t a big twist, more like a slow wave coming toward you. You wait for it to come, and when it does, you still end up surprised a little, even though you were expecting it.

In summary, the Lamplighters was a delightful read. Never dull and always intriguing. If you love the sea, lighthouses, mysteries and lovely storytelling – definitely check this one out!

Favourite Quotes:

“People will believe anything, and given the choice they prefer lies to the truth because lies are usually more interesting.”

“Neither of us came from a happy background and that’s what bonded us in the first place.”

“If we all had a tower to be on and a couple of people to be with, just to be, without expectation or interference, to put in the light at night and extinguish it at dawn, to sleep and be awake, talk and be silent, live and die, all on our islands, couldn’t we avoid the rest?”

About The Author:

Emma Stonex is a novelist who has written several books under a pseudonym. THE LAMPLIGHTERS is her debut under her own name and has been translated into more than twenty languages. Before becoming a writer, she worked as an editor at a major publishing house. She lives in the Southwest with her family.

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Book Review · Books

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead [BOOK REVIEW]

I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to participate on the readalong for the Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead. Huge thank you to the team at Tandem as well as the publisher DoubleDay for sending me a copy of the book to read and review!

About The Book:


Publisher: DoubleDay

Pages: 602

Format I read it in: Hardcover

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

Synopsis:

I was born to be a wanderer. I was shaped to the earth like a seabird to a wave

In 1920s Montana, wild-hearted Marian Graves spends her days roaming the rugged forests and mountains of her home. When she witnesses the roll, loop and dive of two barnstorming pilots, she is determined that one day, she too will take to the skies.

In 1940s London, after a series of reckless romances and a spell flying to aid the war effort, Marian embarks on a treacherous, epic flight in search of the freedom she has always craved. She is never seen again.

More than half a century later, Hadley Baxter, a troubled Hollywood starlet beset by scandal, is irresistibly drawn to play Marian Graves in her biopic, a role that will lead her to probe the deepest mysteries of the vanished pilot’s life.

My Thoughts:

I thought I would struggle reading this book because of its size. But it was so easy to read. Descriptive, but full with action. Amazing stories of multiple characters, through many years – summed up in compact chapters.

It took me a while to get started at the beginning. I wasn’t sure what exactly was happening, and I felt like a school girl meeting my school friends for the first time. Overwhelmed with many characters, struggling to remember their names. Very soon though, things started to make more sense, and I started enjoying this book so much, that I was unable to put it down.

My favourite character was Marian.

I loved her ambition, bravery and determination to do whatever it takes to achieve her dream of flying. Her competitiveness was also an attribute that I shared with her, and it was so easy to put myself in her shoes. Her longing for freedom and independence is amazingly shown throughout the whole book.

“I was born to be a wanderer. I was shaped to the earth like a seabird to a wave. Some birds fly until they die.”

I also liked James’s point of view. It was nice to see the world from his eyes, as a twin, growing up beside Marian.

“Jamie found he liked how the people he drew gave him permission to look closely and without hurry at their faces. He liked how people became vulnerable when they were about to be drawn, revealed more than they intended with their little adjustments.”

The character I liked the least was Hadley. I simply couldn’t connect with her, although I did enjoy when her character would connect to Marian’s story. Especially when we would get a hint of history through a letter, or a person she meets. However, as a character, she didn’t impress. And the way her story ended led me to believe her character served one purpose only – to help Marian’s story.

I loved the diversity in characters, and how vividly they were all described.

When you met a side character, you felt like you really knew them, even though they wouldn’t be too present in the grand scheme of things. This is something now many authors can manage to successfully accomplish. I admire Maggie Shipstead for being able to do it.

Great Circle is also full of so many amazing facts about history, aviation, historical figures… You can notice how much research has put into this book. So many times while I was reading I would forget Marian was a historical figure. I would have to keep reminding myself that she is a fictional character.

The ending was underwhelming for me, but I think it was because I expected some big twists to happen. The ending just serves as a reminder that not all endings end with a big BOOM. Some go quietly, unnoticed, tiptoeing their way out.

Great Circle is one of the most exciting and emotional historical fiction books I’ve read in a very long time.

Rating:

★★★★

About The Author:

Maggie Shipstead is the New York Times-bestselling author of the novels Seating Arrangements, Astonish Me, and Great Circle, and the winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize and the L.A. Times Book Prize for First Fiction. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, a former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford, and the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Book Review · Books

Letters of Note: Grief by Shaun Usher [BOOK REVIEW]

I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to participate on the readalong for Letters of Note: Grief. Huge thank you to the team at Tandem as well as the publisher Canongate Books for sending me a copy of the book to read and review!

About The Book:


Publisher: Canongate Books

Pages: 130

Format I read it in: Paperback

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

Synopsis:

Letters of Note started as a website where Shaun Usher was sharing people’s letters. Now it is a collection of the world’s most inspiring, compulsive and powerful letters, curated into different books based on their topic.

My Thoughts:

When I signed up for the readalong, I didn’t know which topic I will get, and when I got grief, I was a bit let down. I thought to myself – “another book that is sad”. Now, looking back, I am grateful I have read this book, as it allowed me to get closer to my grief and feel emotions I deliberately refused to feel. It also gave me a bit of comfort, an unexpected hug, one of those that you didn’t know you needed.

Through the 31 letters, I felt different people’s sadness of losing someone. I read words of sympathy, empathy, love and joy. For such a short book, it made me feel so much!

My favourite letter is Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s letter to his grandma, when his grandpa died. My grandpa’s death is still so painful to me – even though it’s been a couple of years now. He died on Christmas Eve, and I never got the chance to say goodbye. On my last visit, I was certain I would see him again. A year later, my grandma passed away as well, and the pain stacked itself on top of the pain I was already feeling.

Is that how grief works?

We just keep stacking pain on top of each other like tower blocks through the years… waiting for it to collapse on us? Does it ever go away, or do we always carry it with ourselves? I guess only time will tell…

“It seems to me, that if we love, we grieve. That’s the deal. That’s the pact. Grief and love are forever intertwined.”

I am very grateful for this book. Being able to dive into how other people feel helped me understand my emotions better. Even though, we are never quite ready for grief, and we never fully heal. But without knowing painand sadness, how will we ever really know happiness?

Rating:

★★★★

About The Author:

Shaun Usher was born in St. Albans in 1978 and currently lives in Wilmslow with his wife and two sons. He is the sole custodian of the popular blog, Letters of Note, a much-anticipated book of which is to be published in October 2013 following lengthy periods of hair-pulling and despair. His obsession with correspondence is particularly interesting given that he regularly receives–and more often than not doesn’t reply to–abuse from exasperated friends and family due to his apparent inability to return their calls, emails, and, on very rare occasions, letters. His second book is underway.

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