Summer Bookish Bingo Wrap Up/Sign up for Holiday Bingo!

This summer I took part in Summer Bookish Bingo hosted by Great Imaginations. I’m thrilled that I completed the card! It really gave me chance to knock off some books from my TBR list, so I’ll definitely be joining in again!

  1. Thirteen Reasons Why- Jay Asher
  2. The Girl Who Walked On Air– Emma Carroll
  3. Two Boys Kissing– David Levithan
  4. The Summer I Turned Pretty– Jenny Han
  5. Rebel Belle- Rachel Hawkins
  6. More Than This– Patrick Ness
  7. Don”t You Forget About Me– Kate Karyus Quinn
  8. Siege and Storm– Leigh Bardugo
  9. Kira-Kira– Cynthia Kadohata
  10. Rooftoppers- Katherine Rundell
  11. Ruin and Rising– Leigh Bardugo
  12. Rump– Liesel Shurtliff
  13. Fire and Rain– Diane Chamberlain
  14. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August– Claire North
  15. Salvage- Keren David
  16. On The Fence– Kasie West
  17. She Is Not Invisible– Marcus Sedgwick
  18. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making– Catherynne M. Valente
  19. Ten– Gretchen McNeil
  20. The Snow Queen– Alana Albertson
  21. Open Road Summer– Emery Lord
  22. Unhooking The Moon– Gregory Hughes
  23. Belle Epoque– Elizabeth Ross
  24. Wake– Amanda Hocking

Here is the card for the Holiday bingo! Will you play along?

Click on the bingo card to get to Great Imaginations!

Click on the bingo card to get to Great Imaginations!

Talking About ‘The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August’

21890857

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

The extraordinary journey of one unforgettable character – a story of friendship and betrayal, loyalty and redemption, love and loneliness and the inevitable march of time.

Harry August is on his deathbed. Again.

No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes.

Until now.

As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. ‘I nearly missed you, Doctor August,’ she says. ‘I need to send a message.’

This is the story of what Harry does next, and what he did before, and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.

Thoughts:

CHRISSI: What did you make of the writing style?

BETH: I wasn’t sure I was going to get on with this book at all when I first started. Although I thought it was written absolutely beautifully, each chapter was relatively short and the time frame kept jumping about quite erratically. I felt like I really had to concentrate on the book to figure out what was going on (which was a bit difficult on a hen weekend…). However, about a third of the way in, I started to really appreciate what the author was trying to do. As Harry got older/more lives in, things seemed to move at a steadier pace and I started to love what I was reading and care about what was going to happen.

BETH: Do you think it is human nature to want to change the world?

CHRISSI: I definitely think it’s human nature to want to change the world. Many of us want to make an impact on the world. I think we’d all want to live in a world that’s a good, peaceful, happy place.

CHRISSI: What do you think that Harry learnt through the process of living his life over and over again?

BETH: I think that he learned a lot about human nature i.e. why we do the things we do, why we love, why we hate. I was expecting him to get slightly bored especially when he has to live the early part of his life over and over again – watching his father being buried, going to school and re-learning things he already knows but he seems to find a way to deal with this. For example, going into a different profession like law and learning something new for a change, or escaping his adoptive parents at a young age to live with people of his own kind. I think he also learns to be a bit more tolerant and understanding of others even when he doesn’t agree with them, you can definitely see this in his relationship with Vincent.

BETH: What would you do if you had to live your life over again?

CHRISSI: I try and think that everything happens for a reason, but I guess if I had the chance to live my life over again then there are some things that I would change or do differently. I don’t want this to turn into a depressing answer, so I’ll think of a few examples! I think my career would’ve happened sooner than it has, I would have tried harder at school and I would not let some people treat me the way I did. I wouldn’t change my sister though… I guess she’s ok! 😉

CHRISSI: What does the novel tell us about the nature of good and evil?

BETH: I feel like sometimes good and evil get a bit mixed up in this novel and perhaps the line between them is slightly blurry. One of the evil components in the story is a man called Richard Lisle who gets his kicks by murdering prostitutes. Harry as the “good guy,” cannot bear to see this occurring so life after life, he finds Richard Lisle before he has even started his killing spree and kills him himself. But what does that make Harry, good or bad, if he too turns to murder? Another is Victor Hoeness, who uses his knowledge of the future to build more advanced technology that is strictly against the rules of the Cronus Club and in return, on each life he returns to, the Club tortures him in a disgusting manner so that he will remember it in his next life before going on to abort him while still in the womb (this is the only way to kill a kalachakra). They argue that it is for the greater good, but isn’t what they are doing also evil. Hence my point that the line between good and evil is often blurred. There are many other characters I can talk about that blur this line, Franklin Phearson and Vincent Rankis but this answer would turn into an essay!

BETH: What did you think of Harry as a character?

CHRISSI: If I’m honest, I wasn’t immediately connected to Harry. I did appreciate that Claire North made Harry a flawed character. We all make bad decisions and mistakes at times. His mistakes definitely gave him more of a ‘real’ feel. I felt like Harry was an incredibly complex character that is interesting to try and make sense of.

CHRISSI: Would you want to live your life over and over again?

BETH: Definitely not! I can’t think of anything more hideous. Obviously we all have events in our lives that we regret or wouldn’t want to experience again and I think that part would be unbearable. Having the knowledge of our future however would be pretty amazing and would certainly influence some of the choices I have made in my life so far.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I think it would depend on the subject! I liked the writing style, but I wasn’t blown away by the story.

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Yes!

Kira-Kira

89731

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

kira-kira (kee ra kee ra): glittering; shining Glittering. That’s how Katie Takeshima’s sister, Lynn, makes everything seem. The sky is kira-kira because its color is deep but see-through at the same time. The sea iskira-kira for the same reason. And so are people’s eyes. When Katie and her family move from a Japanese community in Iowa to the Deep South of Georgia, it’s Lynn who explains to her why people stop on the street to stare. And it’s Lynn who, with her special way of viewing the world, teaches Katie to look beyond tomorrow. But when Lynn becomes desperately ill, and the whole family begins to fall apart, it is up to Katie to find a way to remind them all that there is always something glittering –kira-kira — in the future.

Thoughts:

I’m taking part in the Summer Bookish Bingo game and Kira-Kira was one of the suggestions for a book with an Asian character. I have to admit that this book isn’t something that I’d necessarily pick up but I’m really glad I read it. It’s nice to read outside of your usual picks at times!

Kira-Kira follows a Japanese-American family. It is narrated from the point of view of Katie who we find out is the youngest daughter. Lynn, her elder sister teaches Katie the word Kira-Kira. It means glittering in Japanese, but unfortunately Katie’s life becomes less glittery than ever. Katie and her family have to move to Georgia when the family shop goes out of business. Katie finds herself being shunned by her local community. Her only real friend is her sister. Katie and Lynn look after their baby brother Sammy, which is a struggle but life is about to become even harder for the family.

I didn’t expect this story to be so sad. Yet, it will still easy enough and quick to read. I really believed in Katie as a narrator. She’s young, but has to adapt to some incredibly adult situations. She managed the situations as well as she could given her age. I felt my heart-breaking for Katie as she experienced the things she did.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

I’m not so sure that this book would appeal to every young adult fan. It can be slow at points and the story is quite simple, but its simplicity is really what made the story for me. 

Fire and Rain (Mini Review)

12824036

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Synopsis:

Into the drought-weary California town of Valle Rosa comes a stranger who promises he can make it rain. All he asks for is a place to stay and complete privacy. But he is too charismatic to maintain a low profile . . . and the adobe cottage he’s given to live in is owned by an investigative TV reporter struggling to revive her career. Fire and Rain is a love story filled with mystery and heart.

Thoughts:

I have read several of Diane Chamberlain’s books in the past, I’m trying to make my way through some of her earlier books because I’ve enjoyed her writing. This book is a perfect example of how much a writer can develop as their career progresses. I thought Fire and Rain was a good read, but it certainly took me a while to get into it.

Fire and Rain follows several characters Jeff, Mia, Carmen and Chris. As with many Diane Chamberlain books, these characters are complex. They all have their separate issues and it takes a while for their problems to unfold. I did find the whole rain plot a little far-fetched, but it wasn’t too far-fetched that it became a book that you constantly rolled your eyes at. I liked the mysterious elements, but as I’ve mentioned Diane’s writing has come on so much since this book, which is 20 years old!

Whilst this isn’t my favourite read from Diane Chamberlain, I still think Fire and Rain is an imaginative, intriguing read!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!- if you’re into women’s fiction!

Fire and Rain is a good read for women’s fiction fans if it’s a little slow to start!

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making

9591398

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.

Thoughts:

I have heard so many wonderful things about this series of books by Catherynne M. Valente. I found myself  with a lot of time to spare so I decided to finish this book off. I thought The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making was an easy, fast-paced middle grade read which didn’t take me long at all to devour. I did enjoy this book, but I’m not overly sure if I’ll continue with it-mainly because I’m trying to commit to less series and finish ones off that are pending! If, however, you’ve really enjoyed this series, please let me know and I shall continue!

I’m going to state the blatantly obvious now and say that this is a beautiful, magical trip into Fairyland. Everything about it is magical. I thought that the writing was beautiful. It’s not too descriptive, yet you can really picture what Fairyland is like. I found some of the writing utterly quotable which such wonderful sentiments.

Here are two of my favourites:

“She sounds like someone who spends a lot of time in libraries, which are the best sorts of people.” 

and

“When you are born,” the golem said softly, “your courage is new and clean. You are brave enough for anything: crawling off of staircases, saying your first words without fearing that someone will think you are foolish, putting strange things in your mouth. But as you get older, your courage attracts gunk, and crusty things, and dirt, and fear, and knowing how bad things can get and what pain feels like. By the time you’re half-grown, your courage barely moves at all, it’s so grunged up with living. So every once in awhile, you have to scrub it up and get the works going, or else you’ll never be brave again.” 

I think that with these quotes you get just a snippet of the wonderful writing. Catherynne M.Valente is truly a great writer!

I loved September, who is our main character. She’s fiesty, fun and curious. I think it was important that we saw Fairyland through a twelve year olds eyes. They’re less cynical than us adults and pick up such unique and special moments/things. All of the characters are imaginative, creative and fun. Their character names are completely strange, but very fun and, I imagine, enjoyable for children to remember.

It might sound like I should be giving this book four or five stars, but I can’t. I appreciated the beautiful writing and the wonderful, imaginative characters but something in the plot didn’t particularly grab me. I didn’t really feel as connected to the story as I would’ve liked. However, I’m really glad I gave it a try!

Would I recommend it?
Yes!

Although I didn’t feel as gripped as I wanted to, I really enjoyed this magical trip into Fairyland!

Wake

10586539

How did I get it?:
It was a present!

Synopsis:

Gorgeous. Fearless. Dangerous. They’re the kind of girls you envy; the kind of girls you want to hate. Strangers in town for the summer, Penn, Lexi and Thea have caught everyone’s attention—but it’s Gemma who’s attracted theirs. She’s the one they’ve chosen to be part of their group.

Gemma seems to have it all—she’s carefree, pretty, and falling in love with Alex, the boy next door. He’s always been just a friend, but this summer they’ve taken their relationship to the next level, and now there’s no going back. Then one night, Gemma’s ordinary life changes forever. She’s taking a late night swim under the stars when she finds Penn, Lexi and Thea partying on the cove. They invite her to join them, and the next morning she wakes up on the beach feeling groggy and sick, knowing something is different.

Suddenly Gemma is stronger, faster, and more beautiful than ever. But her new powers come with a terrifying price. And as she uncovers the truth, she’s is forced to choose between staying with those she loves—or entering a new world brimming with dark hungers and unimaginable secrets.

Thoughts:

I have had Wake on my TBR pile for ages now. I’ve always wanted to read more mermaid/siren books and I have to admit, that beautiful cover immediately pulled me in. I thought the synopsis was really intriguing too. I thought it was engaging from the start. I’m not necessarily sure that I’ll read the next one in the series. It’s not that it was a bad read, because I did very much enjoy it, but it just didn’t wow me. With my reading being limited at the moment (because of university) I’m trying to get through the books I already own before adding more to my collection. That said, perhaps I shall return to this series in the future. Let me know if you think I should!

Wake follows alternative point of views from Gemma and Harper who are sisters. Gemma has caught the attention of three gorgeous girls who have got a reputation for being a little strange. The girls have invited Gemma to join their group but it comes at a price. Gemma’s life will never be the same again and she has some important decisions to make.

I really liked the characters in this book. I loved that Harper cares so much about her sister, even if she’s slightly overprotective! I also loved that there wasn’t insta-love flying around with the relationships in the book. The relationships were cute and there wasn’t a love triangle in sight. I always appreciate that!

I think the mythology in this book was very well written and I certainly found it intriguing. I was very impressed with Amanda Hocking’s writing. I’d definitely read more from her. As I mentioned, I hadn’t previously read any mermaid/siren books before. I definitely want to read books with the same topic!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

A lovely, quick read. Well worth reading if you’re interested in mythological books!

Ten

11958033

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Luna!

Synopsis:

SHHHH!
Don’t spread the word!
Three-day weekend. Party at White Rock House on Henry Island.
You do NOT want to miss it.

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

Thoughts:

I have had Ten by Gretchen McNeil on my TBR pile for a while now, so I was happy to borrow a copy from Luna. I thought it was a decent young adult thriller. It had some incredibly clichéd characters but that didn’t really affect my enjoyment of the story. It definitely had a Cruel Summer (James Dawson) and I Know What You Did Last Summer vibe.

Ten centres around ten teenagers who are invited to a remote island for a party. It’s not a weekend of fun though, one by one the teenagers are being killed off. The murderer has to be found before all of them are dead.

As I mentioned, the characters in this book are clichéd. I didn’t find many of them particularly likeable, which may have been the author’s aim. I did quite like the three main characters Meg, Minnie and T.J, but I didn’t find them overly memorable.

I found Ten to be gripping. It was a short and fast paced read which kept me wanting to find out the killer. I thought I had predicted the killer, but I was wrong! It’s not necessarily a horror read, it’s more of a murder mystery to me.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

Ten may not stand out in the genre, but it’s still a fun, fast-paced mystery!