Saturday, 13 January 2018

Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index, by Julie Israel || First Four (and a half) Stars of 2018

Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index
It's hard to keep close a person everyone keeps telling you is gone.

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

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

I received Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index for Christmas last year (thanks Mama!) and to be perfectly honest I'd heard absolutely nothing about it before then. But I jumped straight into it and I'm happy to say that my first read of 2018 has been one that I have thoroughly enjoyed!

Initial thoughts...

"I've never heard of this."

"I like the cover."

"Contemporaries scare me, but I'll give it a go."

"The cover really is quite nice."

In the beginning...

I had no idea what to expect from this book because I'd never heard anything about it. At first I was a little wary. I have a fear of average contemporaries because a couple of years ago I felt like every single contemporary book I read was just average. Not amazing. Not bad. Just average. And there's nothing worse than a book that's 'meh'. I never know how to review them.

In the middle...

Once I got past my first initial fears I could not put this book down. I think I knocked the whole thing out in just two sittings and it's been a while since I've done that. I loved everything about it.

I loved the characters and how Juniper befriended a bunch of lonely misfits who helped each other become stronger and although they were all so different they were such a cool bunch of friends when they were together. And the dialogue between them! I could have just read a collection of their conversations and been satisfied. Novella idea?

I loved the way the characters grief was portrayed and handled.

I loved how perfectly it portrayed that something that is small to you (such as sitting with someone who's alone at lunch) can actually be a huge deal to them. It's so easy to throw a little kindness out here and there and it can mean so much to the people you give it to.

And I loved how really it wasn't a story of Juniper finding out who her sisters mystery lover was, but really it was a story of the relationships she formed along the way and how friends are so important and you are so much stronger when you let other people into your life.

In the end...

The ending... Ohmygosh the ending!!! It wasn't the sort of ending that was a huge twist and left me reeling, it was just the perfect ending... I won't talk about it because I like to keep my reviews spoiler free, but can someone who has read it please talk to me about it!! (And if you haven't read it then please do because I really need someone to talk to).

Did you like the format of this review? Have you read this? Or even heard of it? If not, does it sound like something you might like?   


Tuesday, 9 January 2018

My Most Popular Posts of 2017 || (Because I like Lists)

I always find it interesting to see which of my posts are the most popular so I thought I would share with you my five most popular posts from 2017! I've based popularity on page views... I thought about doing it by interaction (AKA comments), but nah, maybe next time!

1. My review of Radio Silence, by Alice Oseman (feat. a speech I wrote)

WHY? My most popular post this year has by far been my raving review of Radio Silence which included a speech I wrote in high school. It may have been particularly popular because Alice Oseman (the author) retweeted my tweet about this review (it probably was), but I'm also very proud of the speech I included in this and I like to think that people connected with that speech.

2. My review of Nerve, by Jeanne Ryan and why the movie was better

WHY? Funnily enough, I find that in general (not including number one on this list), negative reviews do better than positive reviews. I think that's because critical reviews can be funny and I like to think that this review was slightly funny for people to read! Also I just remembered that the Nerve  movie had just been released when I read this so that may have helped to... Timing, people. It's all about timing.

3. A list of my favourite YA mysteries (please recommend me more!)

WHY? I love lists! Other people love lists. They're easy to read because they're lists... Lists require no brain power! Also bookish people are a sucker for bookish lists, especially the ones that might increase the length of your TBR. (also please recommend me more mysteries)

4. I asked myself why I had six books on the go at once

WHY? There's something interesting about reading about other peoples bookish issues and this one of those posts (and it's in list form so that's cool too). Having too many books on the guy is something it seems that a lot of people could relate to! Update: I finished two of the books on this list, but I'm currently reading five books so I've improved, but not really.

5. My introduction back into blogging

WHY? This is the proof that social media does matter to a certain extent because this was my first post on my new blog so I shared and shared and shared on Twitter AND spent a lot of time commenting on other peoples blogs. Much love to all the people who gave my blog a chance!

So how did 2017 go?

I started my blog in August and only published fifteen posts in 2017, but I'm super proud of all my efforts in this blog and I'm very excited to continue with it in 2018! I have so many plans and I can't wait to keep talking about bookish things with this amazing community. Happy new year, everyone!

What was your most popular post of 2017? Link me to it so I can check it out! Why do you think some posts do better than others? What's your favourite type of post to read, I'm curious!!


Saturday, 6 January 2018

Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green || My Thought Spirals

Turtles All the Way Down
Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.

John Green strikes again! I can't imagine the huge pressure he must have felt after the success of The Fault in Our Stars, but John Green has stuck again and has not disappointed in any way. In fact, if I had to chose between TFiOS and Turtles All the Way Down - well, Turtles wins for sure!

Something that I was beginning to feel with John Greens previous novels is that they all had a very similar vibe... And sliiiightly repetitive storylines (even if it was subtle) and I was so afraid that this one was gonna be the same sorta thing again but Turtles had a totally different vibe! And I loved it. I think this novel may have been different because it was an own voice novel for John Green, but I'm not totally sure.

For those of you who haven't read Turtles (READ IT), it's a novel about Aza, a girl who suffers from OCD and not in the stereotypical way that is normally portrayed in books and movies. John Green has OCD and describes it as thought spirals he gets trapped in and can't get out of. That is how it is portrayed in this novel; Aza does have certain physical compulsions, but the majority of it happens inside her head and I think it's so important that this book exists. Mental illness isn't always something that you can physically see. A lot of times symptoms do portray themselves physically, but just because they don't doesn't mean someone doesn't have a mental illness. It's called mental illness for a reason.

I love the way John Green writes about relatable imperfectly perfect characters. They're beautifully flawed; they're real and the stories are real. Even if you're not a fan of his previous books I'd still recommend this one to you. It's not a happily ever after story, but it is real and I do like the message it has. Things don't always get better straight away, but it's not the end. There's so much more in life to look forward to and to work towards.

I can't wait to see what John Green comes up with next!

Are you a fan of John Green? Have you read Turtles or any of his other books? What did you think? Also what are some other good #ownvoice novels? Let me know!   


Tuesday, 2 January 2018

My 2017 Reading Statistics

2017 was an interesting year! I read 25 books in total, but I started the year in a HUGE reading slump and didn't think I'd even read 10 books so I'm pretty okay with my final book count of 25 books. I thought I'd break that number down and have a look at some of my bookish stats from 2017. So here goes!

Pretty self explanatory... Reading peaked massively when I started blogging (also I think I read at least two novellas in November so that is definitely why that was higher... not cheating). Also I'm pretty happy with how many four and five star reads I had this year. Especially because I only read 25 books, I didn't waste my time with any one star reads! Wahooo, go me!

Two graphs that I'm not so proud of.... I'm pretty annoyed that I don't even have an author from my own country there?! I definitely want a little more diversity and balance in these two graphs in 2018 so send me some recommendations from non US/UK authors!!

Neither of these graphs really surprise me. I normally read more series than standalone (I actually have a bad habit of starting series and not finishing them) and because of blogging I read a lot of new-releases... Partly because I receive ARCs and review copies, but mainly because new releases get talked about more so those are the books I hear about.

The one "adult" novel I read was Saga, by Brian K. Vaughn which I don't even think I'd class as an adult novel, but Goodreads did so there you go! Also novellas and graphic novels are a good way to hit your Goodreads target (not that you'll really be needing that now that it's the beginning of 2018).

I'm very pleased with the wide range of genres I've read this year! I'm kind of surprised at the number of fantasy novels I've read because I'm not always the biggest fantasy fan.. I think it's because I binged Renee Ahdieh's books. And the reason paranormal is so high is because I reread the Vampire Academy series.

A few more stats from Goodreads

As you can see here, one of the 25 books I read this last year was 11 pages.... Is that cheating? I think not! I still had an average length of 320 pages so that's alright!

I feel like I'm too nice with my ratings... I wish Goodreads let you vote in half stars because sometimes I feel like a book deserves 2.5 stars so I'll round up instead of down and then I just feel like I'm being too nice. I hardly ever give a book 1 star... Should I be more harsh?

I'm pretty happy with my reading this year! Tell me about some of your stats... How many books did you read? Is there any stats that you think I missed??


Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Which 2018 Reading Challenges Will I Be Taking Part In?

This year hasn't been a huge reading year for me. I was in a bit of a reading slump for half of the year and although read 23 books (so far) for my Goodreads reading challenge, I have managed to read 100 books in previous years. 2018 is going to be a big reading year. I can feel it! So to motivate myself I decided to link up to a few challenges.

The Goodreads Reading Challenge (obviously)

The Goal: Read 50 books.

Can I do it? I've read 23 books this year and I spent the majority of the year not reading so I think I've got this! And if I don't I'll cheat and just read a bunch of novellas.... shhhhhhh!

The A - Z Challenge 

The Goal: Read a book for every letter of the alphabet.

Can I do it? Some letters are going to be really easy, but some aren't... How am I going to find a letter that starts with Q... or Z... or X???? Someone help me!

The 2018 Pop-Sugar Reading Challenge 

The Goal: Read a book for every single prompt on this list.

Can I do it? Pretty sure there are 50 prompts on this list... That's a lot! Maybe my goal should be to complete at least 20 of the prompts instead of all of them, but I'm going to keep it open and see how I go!

The Beat the Backlist Challenge

The Goal: Read 20 books released prior to 2018.

Can I do it? I think this one will be easy for me. I read a lot of backlist releases anyway and there are so many books that came out in 2017 that I want to read, but haven't had a chance to yet!

Wanna stay updated?

You can track my progress on these challenges here!

What challenges are you taking part in during 2018? Did you complete (or attempt) any challenges this year - which ones?? Do you have any advice for me?