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Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn | First Five Star of 2016

Thursday, January 28, 2016 Geraldine 0 Comments

The Breakdown

General Info:
     Title: Firsts
     Author: Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
     Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
     Publisher: St Martin's Griffin
     Release Date: January 5, 2016

          - Flawless writing style - easy to read
          - The characters
          - The ending came to a full circle and gave me a sense of closure

    Things that could have been better:
         - Portrayal of high school

Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon

Initial Thoughts

Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time- the kind Mercedes never had herself. 

 Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy- so far. Her absentee mother isn’t home nearly enough to know about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won’t even say the word “sex” until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn’t bank on Angela’s boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn- or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed. 

 When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her reputation and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, FIRSTS is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.

The Portrayal of the Sex in High School Was Unrealistic

Maybe it's because I went to an Australian school. Maybe it's because I went to a school where academics were REALLY valued. I don't know, but in my whole high school experience, none of my friends have ever faced huge dilemmas with boys and sex. We've talked about it sure, but we never really made a huge deal out of first times, whether it would hurt, etc. Or else, maybe my friends and I are just the forever alone types....But yeah, I personally didn't have the same experience as Mercedes and the other characters of high-school, and as a result, I found it a bit hard to believe that everyone is this obsessed about sex in high school. Anyways, this is a small complant, because I think it's just me as a reader. 

Firsts Was Easy To Read

Okay, now that I've gotten the compulsory "what's wrong with this novel" part done with, let's chat about the writing style. The writing is so simple, and it wasn't cheesy at all. Laurie Elizabeth Flynn doesn't mess around - from Chapter 1, we know exactly what Mercedes does. There are also so many quotable quotes which I LOVE because they hit so close to home. 

"In five years people will still remember who ruined their lives"

“The people you love and need the most never need you back,”

"It’s scary not knowing what comes next.
But not knowing might also be the best part."

I'm not one for collecting quotes, but I just couldn't help, but stop and admire some of the stellar quotes that Laurie Elizabeth Flynn has in this book. 

The Characters Were So Infuriating But Amazing

Mercedes was just...she was such a well developed character. I love how we see what kind of person she is at the very start, and her confusion throughout the book, and I love how, by the last sentence, we really know that Mercedes has come a full circle, with the various analogies towards chemistry, towards letting go, being made. Mercedes is one of the best crafted characters that I've read in a long time. 
Charlie...what do I say about him? I absolutely hated him. Laurie Elizabeth Flynn did such an amazing job of making him utterly despicable. The only time I stopped reading this book was to gasp and to hide behind my pillow at how disgusted I felt about Charlie. Laurie Elizabeth Flynn did a fantastic job at creating such an antagonist. 
Faye and Zach were also some of the best characters out there. I loved how supporting they were of Mercedes, and even though it did seem a bit far-fetched how far they were willing to go for Mercedes sake, I still fell in love with them, because of how well Laurie Elizabeth Flynn wrote them. 
Angela...although she didn't really appear too often in this book, I loved how she stood as a symbol of what Mercedes could have been to me. 

The Plot Twist Was Unexpected...But Totally Believable

From the very start, we knew that Mercedes didn't have a great past. But the plot twist with Luke was so unexpected! Totally believable though...Still it made a lot of sense, and I loved how Laurie Elizabeth Flynn foreshadowed everything, how she made little hints here and there, and how it all eventually MADE SENSE TO ME. 

Final Thoughts

Firsts is a novel that's really hit or miss. Depending on your views, you might like Firsts. It really reminded me of Easy A in a way...But yeah, me personally, I loved this book so much. A lot of people have talked about how it deals with sex in a unique way, but for me, I loved how Laurie Elizabeth Flynn dealt with stigma and teenage issues in a relatable way. This was the kind of book where I had no idea what I was thinking at the end - I was blown away by how phenomenal it was! 5 stars :) 

Keep reading and loving books!

A Cure for Madness by Jodi McIsaac| No Cure For This Madness

Tuesday, January 26, 2016 Geraldine 0 Comments

The Breakdown

General Info:
     Title: A Cure for Madness
     Author: Jodi McIsaac
     Genre: Thriller, Mystery
     Publisher: Thomas and Mercer
     Expected Release Date: January 19, 2016

          - The premise
          - The writing - easy to read

    Things that could have been better:
         - Everything was too conveniently set - Clare's reactions, the problems conveniently                created drama - to the point that it was unrealistic/unbelievable
         - The characters - but Wes actually grew on me
         - The ending was way too perfect

Rating: 2 stars
Goodreads | Amazon

Initial Thoughts

I requested this book as an ARC from Thomas and Mercer on Netgalley, intrigued by the mystery of a new, unknown disease, plus the choice that the main character, Clare Campbell, would have to go through with. 

Clare Campbell has worked hard to create distance between herself and her troubled family. But when she receives news of her parents’ murder, she’s forced to return to the quiet town of Clarkeston, Maine, to arrange their funeral and take legal guardianship of her unpredictable and mentally ill brother, Wes. 

While Clare struggles to come to grips with the death of her parents, a terrifying pathogen outbreak overtakes the town. She is all too familiar with the resulting symptoms, which resemble those of her brother’s schizophrenia: hallucinations, paranoia, and bizarre, even violent, behavior. Before long, the government steps in—and one agent takes a special interest in Wes. Clare must make a horrifying decision: save her brother or save the world.

The Premise Intrigued The Doctor In Me

The premise of the novel really interested me. I mean "a terrifying pathogen outbreak overtakes the town"?? Who could resist that? As a hopeful doctor, I'm really drawn into this concept. However, I don't think that this concept played out well in the novel. 

The Plot Was A Little Too Convenient

Suddenly meeting an old flame at the hospital? This old flame willing to help Clare? Just finding out about having been exposed to the infection right before Clare leaves? A sudden roadblock preventing Clare and her brother from travelling out of town? 

I don't know how much research Jodi McIsaac has done, but it really seems like very little, because I think that lots of the plot events are unrealistic and consequently unbelievable. For one, at one point, McIsaac reveals that the CDC hasn't been wearing protective suits until recently, and personally, that sounds a little off to me - wouldn't they rather take precautions rather than risks with an unknown disease? 
Add to that the convenient nature of some problems and resolutions, this makes for a really unrealistic plot. I mean. suddenly meeting an old flame at the hospital? This old flame willing to help Clare? Just finding out about having been exposed to the infection right before Clare leaves? A sudden roadblock preventing Clare and her brother from travelling out of town? 
The whole plot is sustained with convenient, coincidental plot events like these, which I don't think would happen in real life. 

The Writing Made It Easy To Read

It was really easy to understand what was going on, everything was clear-cut and not overly descriptive. Some parts were also really dramatic and sounded great, adding to the pressure of the moment. 
"Under the law, your cooperation is appreciated but not required." 
Despite this, there are some moments where Jodi McIsaac focuses her writing on Christianity. Not being a Christian, I found it to be a bit overbearing, and sometimes difficult to handle. However, it 

The Characters Grated On My Nerves

I can't really pin down why almost all the characters got on my nerves. To be specific, Clare, the main character got on my nerves the most. Clare's lack of compassion for her brother and her self-serving nature got to me, and her past couldn't excuse her current actions for me. Kenneth also irritated me, because I felt he was a filler character, someone to fill in as Clare's partner, and someone to fill in so that certain plot events could happen. Uncle Rob was non-existent throughout the book, and I could hardly believe it when he appeared at the end again - I'd forgotten all about him because he wasn't mentioned in a large capacity throughout most of the book. The only person I could actually put up with was Wes, and even then, I didn't like him at the start of the book. He only grew on me as I kept reading, after hearing his backstory and why he was arrested. 

The Ending Was Ridiculous

So I can't spoil too much here...but the ending was too perfect, and wasn't consistent with the story. There were facts that were laid out about a specific part of the ending, that were blatantly ignored, and that ruined the ending for me. 

Final Thoughts

I feel like this review has just been a huge rant. A Cure for Madness isn't a bad book to read if you want a quick read. However, if you critically read through this book, you're sure to find a lot of plot holes, which can ruin the book and the suspense for you. I'd rate it 2 stars, just because the premise hooked me in, and the writing style was easy enough to keep me reading. That being said, if anyone likes to just read without thinking about the logistics of the world that Jodi McIsaac has created, then this book would be a great read for them. 

Keep reading and loving books!

Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley in return for an honest review. This has, in no way, affected my review of the book. 

All Book Reviews Are Biased

Thursday, January 21, 2016 Geraldine 0 Comments

All book reviews are biased. That's my opinion at least. Why? How? That's what this post is for!

Recently, I've heard some drama about #bloggerconfessions. Nick and Nereyda of Nick and Nereyda's Infinite Booklist have posted a couple of blogger confessions, which included things like how the below:

  • I hate when bloggers/readers uprate a book they didn’t like or didn’t like as much simply because they are big fans of the author.  You can be the biggest fan and it’s still okay to not love one or more of their books.  Doesn’t make you less of a fan. Yes it happens.  A lot.
  • - Nereyda
  • Inflated ratings are EVERYWHERE. It makes me want to punch people in the face

  • - Anonymous

It made me realise that I'm a HUGE culprit of this. And, it also made me wonder, are all book reviews biased to some extent? After thinking about it for some time, I believe that all book reviews are biased.

With book reviews, there are so many ways to be influenced nowadays, especially with the huge influence that the Internet has on us, From Goodreads, Twitter, to even just plain old word of mouth, we go into reading books with a LOT of expectation.

Reasons Behind Bias in Book Reviews


From Goodreads to Twitter, to even just plain old word of mouth, we go into reading books with A LOT of expectation nowadays. Even just picking up a book., and looking at the back, sometimes we see recommendations from authors - especially the authors we love- and feel compelled to give a great review of the book.
Twitter and Bloglovin' have definitely helped bias my reviews. I see reviews from other bloggers who love a book, read a book, and feel more compelled to write a great review of the book. Heck, I sometimes subconsciously find more good things about a book just because it's super hyped up! An example is Truthwitch (see my review here!) - I read it, and felt compelled to find loads of great things about it, like the friendship and the world-building, emphasing that over how much I hated the beginning, how info-dumpy the beginning was and how I disliked what felt like instalove between Merik and Safi (I mean winds being whipped up? Lots of dramatic flair that really didn't appeal to me).


Now personally, I've never had that much experience with this. I've heard bloggers complaining about how hard it is to review a book when they are friends with the author, because it's hard to negatively review a friend's book and then still be able to talk to them afterwards. As such, they sometimes hype up their reviews. Personally, the only time I've hyped up a review because of an author, is when I see that author writing a new book from a series I love. If I didn't like that book, I'll try to positively bias that review, because of my loyalty to that series.

The Deep DEEP Reason We Bias Book Reviews? 

I think it's peer pressure. We all feel pressured to see a book a certain way because of how x blogger has blogged about it, y author has written it, z person has raved about it. For me, especially if I ADORE/HATE the blogger or author, my reviews will get more and more biased, in many different ways. Some of which, I'll outline below.

Ways to Bias Book Reviews

Ratings Inflation

Raise your hand if you've been guilty of this at least ONCE in your life! I know that when a book is super hyped and I feel pressured to give a good review because everyone else is, I'll add one star or so to my review. Similarly, if the book is by an author I love, and the book is terrible, I'll go on and rant for quite some time about how bad the book is, and lower the rating by at least one star.

Finding More Good/Bad 

When lots of people praise a book, I actively try to find good things about it if I find it's terrible or not to my tastes at least. When I hear lots of hate for a book, I try to find bad things about it, even if I enjoyed reading it. Case in point - Twilight. I've never actually reviewed in on my blog, but I recently talked to a friend about how bad Twilight was, with how Mary Sue Bella was, and how unrealistic it was, etc. Personally, I remember when I first read Twilight and enjoyed every second of it. Once the negative reviews came out though, I changed completely, found more bad things about Twilight and toned down my opinions on the good things about it.

What do you think? Do you think that all book reviews are biased? Why? Why not? Do you agree with the points I made? What else do you think adds to bias in book reviews? Does it all boil down to peer pressure? Let me know in the comments below!

Keep reading and loving books,

The Keepsake blog tour!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016 Geraldine 0 Comments

Welcome to my stop for The Keepsake blog tour, hosted by YA Book Bound!

I've been seeing this book on Netgalley, and when I saw that YA  Book Bound was also hosting a tour on it, I thought that it was a sign for me to sign up! The cover looks gorgeous, the concept sounds amazing...what more did I need?

Firstly, let me just say... the cover is flawless! This cover is one of the best covers I've seen so far this year - although it has an actual person (which usually makes covers look funny), it manages to look ethereal, and it really captured my eye!

Secondly, doesn't the concept sound beautiful? It's part of a series, but yeah a "magical locket"? "An empress?" Doesn't that sound great?

 In this second Empress Chronicles book, Liz and Sisi continue their intertwined journey through time. On the heels of discovering a magical locket in the empress diary, Liz comes to understand its very special power: the wearer must speak the truth. Not only that, but it turns out that there are three lockets, each with their own magic and power.

Meanwhile, Sisi realizes that she’s communicating with a girl who lives 150 years in the future. A girl who knows what awaits her if she marries the emperor: lack of personal freedom and a legacy that will refer to her as the "reluctant empress."

With the world's future hanging in the balance, the two heroines must work together to thwart Lola, whose ambition to rule the Habsburg Empire will rewrite history, and lead to a terrifying new version of reality

Finally, these promo pictures - I love the graphics! They're so minimalistic, and I like the clash of green and pink. Pink represents Sisi and green Liz. I especially love the one about girl power - it's definitely a concept that is reiterated in this book! 

And finally...what's a blog tour without a giveaway? Enter here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What do you think? Does this sound like a book you'd like to read?  What do you like about the cover or the synopsis? Let me know in the comments below! 

Keep reading and loving books,

About the Author

Suzy Vitello is a proud founding member of a critique group recently dubbed The Hottest Writing Group in Portland, and her short stories have won fellowships and prizes (including the Atlantic Monthly Student Writing Award, and an Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship).

Suzy's young adult novels, THE MOMENT BEFORE and THE EMPRESS CHRONICLES are available wherever books and ebooks are sold.

An e-chapbook of some of her stories, UNKISS ME, can be found here

Author Links:
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Disclaimer: This is a promo post and whilst it reflects my honest opinions, it is not a review of the book.

Inked by Eric Smith

Monday, January 18, 2016 Geraldine 0 Comments

I'm excited to be reviewing a book for a blog tour hosted by YA Book Bound - Inked, by Eric Smith! Thoroughly enjoyed this quick little read, and would recommend to anyone interested in fantasy. 

The Breakdown

- The entire concept - the world is easy to understand and very interesting
- Good for light reading


- Plot may be a bit predictable

Rating: 4 stars

Goodreads | Amazon

The Review

I picked up this book because the premise sounded interesting. Nowadays we have tattoos, but what if these tattoos moved? That really hooked me in. Have a look below at the synopsis

Tattoos once were an act of rebellion. Now they decide your destiny the moment the magical Ink settles under your skin. And in a world where Ink controls your fate, Caenum can't escape soon enough. He is ready to run from his family, and his best friend Dreya, and the home he has known, just to have a chance at a choice. But when he upsets the very Scribe scheduled to give him his Ink on his eighteenth birthday, he unwittingly sets in motion a series of events that sends the corrupt, magic-fearing government, The Citadel, after him and those he loves. Now Caenum, Dreya, and their reluctant companion Kenzi must find their way to the Sanctuary, a secret town where those with the gift of magic are safe. Along the way, they learn the truth behind Ink, its dark origins, and why they are the only ones who can stop the Citadel. Eric Smith takes you on a high-octane fantasy adventure, perfect for anyone who has dreamed of being different… only to discover that fate is more than skin deep.

This book really intrigued me with the description, and it really delivered. Instead of being overly flowery and making a complicated world, Smith pushes out the basics and made it easy for me to comprehend the book and what was going on. Every tiny detail mentioned in the book becomes relevant later on, and I really liked that - it's something that J.K. Rowling and other great writers do, and it kept me hooked onto the novel, enjoying every word. 

The main fault that I have with this book is its predictability. It does follow some tropes of fantasy, like the long journey, finding unexpected friends/allies, as well as the unexpected enemy/opponent. However, despite it being somewhat predictable, I appreciated Smith's attempts at foreshadowing, because I felt it really enriched the book, and made it more engaging for me personally, as I wondered what might happen next. 

Inked is a nice short read, perfect for anyone who wants to get out of a reading slump. It jumps right into the action, and keeps the reader hooked. I really enjoyed Inked, and would rate it 4 out of 5 stars. 

Eric Smith
About the Author
Eric Smith is the author of THE GEEK'S GUIDE TO DATING, out now via Quirk Books, and INKED, a YA novel out with Bloomsbury Spark.

His writing has appeared locally in the Philly Weekly, The Inquirer, and on He's written for the Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Boing Boing, and is a regular contributor to BookRiot and Geekosystem.

His essays have appeared in the Bygone Bureau and The Apiary, and his first published piece will appear in THE ASTEROID BELT ALMANAC with the Hand & the Hand Press in April 2014.

He's the co-founder of Geekadelphia, a popular hyperlocal geek blog in Philly, and the Philly Geek Awards, a ceremony honoring local geeks in his city.

Eric holds a BA in English from Kean University and an MA in English from Arcadia University. He currently lives in Philly. You can find him on Twitter at @ericsmithrocks and @geekadelphia.

Author Links:
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Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Wednesday, January 13, 2016 Geraldine 0 Comments

The Breakdown

General Info:
     Title: Truthwitch
     Author: Susan Dennard
     Genre: YA, Fantasy
     Publisher: Tor Teen
     Release date: January 5th, 2016

          - The world-building
          - Relationships between characters

    Things that could have been better:
         - The exposition - felt like I was being thrown into a whole new world with no guide
         - Safi and Merik's relationship and characters

Rating: 4 stars
Goodreads | Amazon

Initial Thoughts

Truthwitch is one of the most anticipated books of this year. I had heard so much about it, and I absolutely could not wait to finally read it - so when I finally got it, I was really excited and started reading it immediately!

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others. In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well. Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires. Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness. Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch

The Relationships Between Characters

I really loved how Safi and Iseult's relationships were built up, and how there was a recurring theme of loyalty, and always being there for your Threadsister. That was really nice, and a great message to send out. Same with the bromance between Kullen and Merik. Even some relationships, like Safiya and her uncle Eron, which I thought was distateful at first, eventually surprised me, and I loved the plot twists in these relationships. 

Safi and Merik's Relationship Felt False and I Didn't Like Them

Safi's hot-headedness and Merik's arrogance grated at my nerves. Safi sacrificing everything and everyone for the sake of one person? Merik challenging Safi to a dance? Locking Safi up for doing something that he didn't think was right? I dunno, I just didn't see how Safi and Merik's relationship really worked out because of their characters. Personally, I thought the relationship was a bit insta-lovey. There was immediate attraction, and whilst it developed over the course of the book, it still felt a bit rushed by the end.

The Exposition Was Too Abrupt

For the first 40 or so pages, I was reading this book on auto-pilot. I had no idea what world I had stepped into, what Threadwitches really did, what Threadstones were, how a Bloodwitch works, what a domna is...yeah I felt like there was a lot that wasn't explained. However, as the book progressed, it finally began to make more sense. I think the first few pages would have been easier to read if there was more explanation - Dennard really relies on the reader to figure out what individual terms mean. 

The World Building

First of all, wow. I love how detailed this world is, how much thought was put into making all the different lands and attitudes. Although it was a whole different world, I loved how the inherent parts of human nature were maintained - such as friendship, loyalty, love, and prejudice. I loved how Kullen and Merik had such a great friendship going on. I loved how Safi and Iseult were loyal to each other. I loved how Safi demonstrated that love means doing things for the ones you love. I loved how the prejudice against the Nomatsi group was reflective of the prejudice against several ethnic groups in the world today. 

The Ending

I loved the ending! It was really well done, I felt. It wrapped up this book amazingly and still left me wanting more, anticipating the next book's release. There were some plot-twists - but nothing major - but still enough to leave me grasping on, wanting more. 

Final Thoughts

Truthwitch is certainly a great first novel for this series. I'll be keeping an eye out for the next book in the series! I'm rating it 4 stars, mainly because of how much the first 40 or so pages confused me, and also because of the insta-love between Safi and Merik.Ultimately, I think Truthwitch is a good book, but definitely not one that will stick around long after you've read it, and that it's just really hyped up. What do you guys think? Have you read Truthwitch? Any other recommendations for me after Truthwitch? 

Keep reading and loving books!

Last Year's Mistake by Gina Ciocca

Saturday, January 09, 2016 Geraldine 0 Comments

The Breakdown

General Info:
     Title: Last Year's Mistake
     Author: Gina Ciocca
     Genre: YA Contemporary
     Publisher: Simon Pulse

          - The writing - really kept me hooked, was easy to read, flowed well
          - The flashbacks were spectacular - built to the suspense

    Things that could have been better:
         - Some characters were 2D
         - Cheesy lines 

Rating: 4 stars
Goodreads | Amazon

Initial Thoughts

I picked up this book, a bit hesitant about starting a contemporary YA romance novel, after having finally finished with all the high school drama. The synopsis really intrigued me though...and I was rewarded for picking up this book!

Before: Kelsey and David became best friends the summer before freshman year and were inseparable ever after. Until the night a misunderstanding turned Kelsey into the school joke, and everything around her crumbled—including her friendship with David. So when Kelsey's parents decided to move away, she couldn't wait to start over and leave the past behind. Except, David wasn't ready to let her go... 
 After: Now it's senior year and Kelsey has a new group of friends, genuine popularity, and a hot boyfriend. Her life is perfect. That is, until David's family moves to town and he shakes up everything. Soon old feelings bubble to the surface and threaten to destroy Kelsey's second chance at happiness. The more time she spends with David, the more she realizes she never truly let him go. And maybe she never wants to. 
Told in alternating sections, LAST YEAR'S MISTAKE is a charming and romantic debut about loving, leaving, and letting go.

The Writing Style Blew Me Away

Firstly, can I just Gina Ciocca wrote so well! Before I knew it, I was immersed into Kelsey's life. I never felt confused as I read the book, because the writing style just hooked me in, and Ciocca made sure to include relevant information only. I loved how she didn't bore me with unnecessary information - I savoured every word that Ciocca wrote as a result! 

Flashbacks Built The Suspense

The alternating time periods really worked for this book. As Kelsey's senior year progressed and new events with David happened, there were always flashbacks to explain why each event was so important. At times, the flashbacks would abruptly cut, and leave me for more - such as when Kelsey revealed that something was medically wrong with her. Sometimes, alternating storylines don't work out well - but that's certainly not the case in this novel! 

The Minor Things That Could Have Been Better

Although I really liked the book, I couldn't help but be a bit let down by Isabel Rose as an antagonist in the book. To me, she was cast as the stereotypical 'jealous girl', and her actions in the book reflected that. Same with Ryan. From the very start of the book, you could tell that Ryan was the boyfriend who wouldn't last. Another aspect of the book that probably could be improved upon would be the cheesy lines - during high school, I never heard people saying things like "majorly" and calling people nicknames like "Candle Wax" (maybe it's just because I went to school in Australia and not the US?). Apart from these small things though, I loved the book!

Final Thoughts

All in all, I really loved reading Last Year's Mistake.It was sweet and a fun read that gave me tingly feels ^_^ The only reason why I'd give it 4 stars instead of 5 is because it's not a read that changed my life. or spoke to me on a really deep level. A stunning debut novel that really shows off Gina Ciocca's beautiful writing style! 

Keep reading and loving books!

When should I mark a book as DNF?

Wednesday, January 06, 2016 Geraldine 0 Comments

DNFs (did-not finishes). 
They're what we book bloggers don't like to talk too much about. I especially dislike marking books as DNF, usually attempting to read through the whole book in hopes of it getting better. 

Recently, I've been reading a book that I might mark as DNF  I'm really reluctant to give up reading this book though, really hesitant to mark it as DNF. 

Going by the difficulty that reading this book has become for me, I should probably mark this book DNF by now. However, isn't this a bit subjective? What if the book really does get better as it progresses, and you just gave up too early? That's why I asked myself, isn't there another method, perhaps a more objective one, to mark a book as DNF? 

I've heard of the 50 rule - to stop reading a book and mark it as DNF by the time I've reached 50 pages or 50% of the book. To me, this seems like a great empirical method to mark books as DNF - but within this, there are also limitations. For one, if you decide to mark a book as DNF at 50 pages, couldn't you potentially be missing out on a great book because you didn't have the stamina for just fifty pages? Or, if you chose to stop at 50%, isn't there a sense of disappointment of sorts at giving up, when you have persevered so far into the book already? All these are definitely things to consider when using the 50 rule to mark a book as DNF. 

In addition to asking ourselves when we should mark a book as DNF, we should also ask ourselves, when is it appropriate to mark a book as DNF. Is it appropriate to mark a book as DNF when it's an ARC that you received from the publisher? I know that for me, I'd feel guilty, because I feel like there's a contract of sorts between me and the publisher, once the publisher has sent me my ARC.

All in all, I think marking books as DNF is an extremely complex issue that probably varies from person to person. For me personally, I go with my feelings, and mark a book as DNF when I get too tired of reading a page over and over again because I've dozed off. Only if others say to persevere with a book, that it'll get better, will I keep going with a book that I don't like. 

What do you think? When do you decide to mark a book DNF? And what do you think about marking ARCs as DNFs? Let me know in the comments below!

Keep reading and loving books!

Help needed! Choosing a new blog logo

Monday, January 04, 2016 Geraldine 0 Comments

With the new year here, I kinda want to revamp up this blog. I've seen so many beautiful blogs, with beautiful logos, it's really motivated me to change from this template that I've had since 2012... xD

Changing from my current blue checked template means that I will need a logo though, because otherwise it just won't look good enough to me.

I'm stuck between five different options that I made today.
Option A, B and C share the same overall graphic, but I've made changes to the font and I've added some overlays to Option C.
Option D and E also share the same overall graphic - they just differ because Option E has butterflies.

I know I'm probably being REALLY meticulous about this, but please let me know what you think by commenting your top three preferences in order at the comments below! 

Option A

 Option B

Option C

 Option D

 Option E

Thanks so much for your help guys! As always, keep reading and loving books! :D 

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Sunday, January 03, 2016 Geraldine 0 Comments

The Breakdown

- Rowell's writing is really beautiful - she has a way with words!
- Park's mother's characterisation - really developed! 

- Unrealistic 
- Insta-love (it felt like it) 
- Ending didn't feel like a proper ending - no closure
Rating: 2 stars
Goodreads | Amazon

I picked up Eleanor and Park because I read a quote over at the Paperback Princess that sounded really beautiful...
"Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something."
Intrigued, I decided to give the book a try, because the synopsis sounded so beautiful as well!

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

Eleanor and Park was nothing like what I expected. It was definitely very moving at some points for me, very reminiscent of my first love, but at the same time, it also felt unrealistic. The quick romance between Eleanor and Park was unbelievable for me - going from reluctance to talk to each other, to being excited to see each other in the span of fifty or so pages really threw me off. Furthermore, some of the dialogue was unrealistic to me, words that would never really be spoken aloud in a teenage relationship. Finally, the ending to Eleanor and Park really frustrated me - it didn't feel like an ending, more like the novel just stopped halfway through. 

The best parts of the novel would be the quotes. Seriously, Rowell's writing is flawless, and paints a beautiful picture in my head. 
My favourite character was surprisingly, Park's mother. Park's mother really grew on me, and the most touching moments in the book all involved her, for me. She showed the most character development for me, and I really appreciated that. 

For me, Eleanor and Park only gets 2 stars. Personally, I feel like this book was overhyped, and would definitely suit those who loved The Fault in The Stars by John Green, because, at its heart, the premise is pretty much the same - boy and girl find love for the first time, boy helps out girl, relationship ends in some unexplicable manner. 

Have you read Eleanor and Park? And if so, do you share the same feelings about it as I do? Let me know in the comments! 

Keep reading and loving books!

2016 Resolutions for Corralling Books

Friday, January 01, 2016 Geraldine 0 Comments

New year, new goals! 

Every year, I love to do New Years Resolutions. Last year, I managed to tick off eight out of ten personal resolutions!
This year, in addition to my ten personal resolutions (which I have yet to organisational skills are fantastic!1!1!), I'll be making blogging resolutions. 

In the past...I've been pretty slack with blogging. Two years away from blogging is pretty slack. To avoid it this year, here are my five blogging resolutions!

Blogging Resolutions!

  1. Blog at least once a month - preferably a review~
  2. Connect with more people - I'm hoping to find twenty new readers this year!
  3. Complete the three challenges I've signed up for this year! They're Around the World, Monthly Keyword Challenges and Bookish Scene: Project 52 (click on each name for the challenge page!)
  4.  Read at least sixty books this year! Shouldn't be too hard...but then again, not too sure because university! :D 
  5. Post Seasonal Songs and Beyond the Pages features! Read below to find out more about these - they're NEW features that I want to implement! 

Did I hear you just say that you're going to be having NEW features? 

Why yes, in addition to these resolutions, I'll be starting new features! I really love Corralling Books as a book blog, but I have so many interests...So here are two features that I'm hoping to start and continue throughout 2016!

Seasonal Songs 

Seasonal Songs is going to be a feature where I post a playlist or some songs that I've really enjoyed over the past season (three months). Depending on the type of music I've been listening to, the playlist posted can either be seasonal (reflecting a particular season) or just tidbits of what I've been listening to recently! I'll accompany these playlists with why I like the songs, if they relate to any books I've recently read...etc :) 

Beyond the Pages 

Beyond the Pages is actually something that Jamie at Perpetual Page Turner does, and I love the concept! Pretty much, Beyond the Pages posts discuss real life issues that books have brought up, and made me think about. I won't be doing this feature too much - only when a book has struck a chord. Still, Beyond the Pages is such a great feature, in my opinion, because books are there to convey a message and sometimes to teach us - and Beyond the Pages is a great way to discuss these issues and bring them to light. 

What about you? Any bookish resolutions? Any blogging resolutions? What do you think of my resolutions? What about the features - anything I could improve upon? Let me know in the comments - always eager to hear from you! 

Happy New Year - here's to a great 2016! 

Keep reading and loving books,