Review: Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen

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“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Classics, Fiction, Romance

Reading Challenge: 27 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

Jane Austen's first novel—published posthumously in 1818—tells the story of Catherine Morland and her dangerously sweet nature, innocence, and sometime self-delusion. Though Austen's fallible heroine is repeatedly drawn into scrapes while vacationing at Bath and during her subsequent visit to Northanger Abbey, Catherine eventually triumphs, blossoming into a discerning woman who learns truths about love, life, and the heady power of literature. The satirical novel pokes fun at the gothic novel while earnestly emphasizing caution to the female sex.

My Thoughts —

So, first off, Northanger Abbey is the first of Austen’s novels to be prepared for publication (even though it didn’t come out until after she died). I think that’s what makes this book less of a hit with me, compared to her later works - like my personal fav, Pride and Prejudice. But that’s definitely not to say that the writing in Northanger Abbey is immature! Jane Austen was always wise beyond her years and I still think Northanger Abbey is a great novel, just not one of the best. You know?

I thought it was quite clever that Jane Austen used Catherine’s love for Gothic novels almost as a flaw in her character. It was a really tongue-in-cheek jab at Ann Radcliffe. Catherine’s imagination and obsession with the novels gets her into quite a lot of trouble, which is a fairly amusing storyline.

The one thing that irks me though is that Henry Tilney, for the majority of the novel, is quite annoying. He’s presumptuous and condescending. Most of his time spent with Catherine, and his sister Eleanor for that matter, is by berating her for her interest in Gothic novels and how her perception of things is wrong. Blah blah blah. He does get less tiresome throughout the last half of the novel. THANK GOD.

All in all, it was a pretty good read! I might not read it again, though.

Are you a Jane Austen fan? Do you like Northanger Abbey?

Felicia x

Review: My Lady Jane - Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

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“She delighted in the smell of the ink, the rough feel of the paper between her fingers, the rustle of sweet pages, the shapes of letters before her eyes.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult

Reading Challenge: 26 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

Edward (long live the king) is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown…

Jane (reads too many books) is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended…

Gifford (call him G) is a horse. That is, he’s an Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated). Every day at dawn he becomes a noble chestnut steed—but then he wakes at dusk with a mouthful of hay. It’s all very undignified.

The plot thickens as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads?

My Thoughts —

First and foremost, let me start by saying that I love the Tudor era and everything about it. Which is ultimately why I decided to pick up this novel. Except this is no ordinary historical fiction. It tells the story of Lady Jane Grey, otherwise known as the Nine Days’ Queen. But this time around, it’s far less tragic and a lot more mystical.

If you’re unfamiliar with the history, here’s how it goes. Jane Grey was a teenaged English noblewoman who was married to Lord Guildford Dudley. When King Edward VI fell terminally ill, he wrote into his will that succession would fall to Lady Jane and her male heirs. But when Lady Jane took the throne, support grew in favour of Mary Tudor - a Roman Catholic - and eventually, Jane was deposed and executed for high treason. Yikes. This version of the story is a little different in that it includes humans that can turn into animals. And poisoning. The usual stuff.

This book was wild from start to finish, and I actually loved it. I thought the addition of fantasy elements, including the E∂ians (aka the animal-morphing humans), was quite exciting and ridiculously creative. I’ve not been huge on fantasy novels since my early teens, but this has definitely made me reconsider the genre. My Lady Jane was an extremely amusing and cleverly-written story, with enough real details to make you forget sometimes that people in the 1500s weren’t actually part-animal.

There were lots of twists and turns to this novel so, keeping with the spoiler-free promise of this review, I won’t reveal too much about the plot. But I did think it was interesting how they played out the Jane Grey vs. Mary Tudor situation. In real-life, Mary deposed of Jane and that was that. Jane’s existence was a threat because she was a Protestant queen. But in the case of this novel, I found it interesting how the role of religion paralleled the storyline of E∂ians and the Verities (aka the people who remain permanently human). The E∂ians being the Protestants, and the Verities being the Roman Catholics. There was definitely an interesting similarity there, that I’d really encourage you to look out for if you’re reading the book!

Most of all, what drew me into this book was Lady Jane herself. I loved Jane. I thought she was an incredible and complex character, the perfect bookish female lead. Books with a strong female lead always capture my heart and My Lady Jane was no exception. Jane showed undoubtable strength and defiance from the very start of the novel, constantly questioning decisions that she didn’t agree with or proving her intelligence by her extensive knowledge of life through reading. I think her relationship with Gifford was extremely interesting also because it forced her to come out of her world of just books and court, and apply her strength to real-life situations (i.e. the villagers early on in the novel). I was really rooting for the two lead characters and never more have I wanted a happily ever after in a novel!

After reading this, I’m so eager to read the follow-up book, My Plain Jane, which is a retelling of the classic Bronte novel, Jane Eyre. I think that these three women are spectacular authors and I would probably read anything that they published as a team. This is definitely the sort of young adults novel that I’d recommend to not only teens, but also adults!

Have you read My Lady Jane? Lend me your thoughts in the comments!

Felicia x

Review: The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

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“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Reading Challenge: 25 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

My Thoughts —

This book really hit me hard. I was heartbroken, angry, empowered, and inspired - all at once. I cannot begin to imagine being in Starr’s place. As I read about her experience of Khalil’s death and the ramifications afterwards, I felt sick to my stomach all the way through. It’s already a horrific thing to see your own friend to be killed; but to have to fight to prove that the killer was actually at fault is something else entirely.

I truly feel like this might be one of the most powerful stories I’ve read in a very, very long time. Obviously the major problem in this book - police brutality and shooting of unarmed POC - is something that we are facing in modern day society every. single. day. It’s so frustrating to see this sort of thing happen all the time and there’s no justice for the victims whatsoever. That’s exactly what this book is about. I wholeheartedly believe this book should be a mandatory read in high school. The classics are great and all, but it’s time for a book like The Hate U Give to make an appearance in school curriculums and draw attention to major social issues.

Read this book. Take a stand against what’s wrong, stand for what you believe in. And go see the movie, too. This is the sort of thing that needs attention y’all.

Have you read The Hate U Give? What are your thoughts?

Felicia x

Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

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Title: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Authors: Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

Publisher: The Dial Press

Release Date: June 1st 2009

Pages: 248

My Rating: ★★★★ (4/5)

Goodreads | Amazon


"Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers. How delightful if that were true."

By now, chances are you know how much I love historical fiction. I've said it before and I'll likely say it a million times more. I like how it puts you in the middle of all the action. And when a novel about the world wars comes around, then I'm really hooked. Especially when it's post-WW2 Britain. No wartime story shall go unread!

What immediately got me interested in this book was the title. Some might see The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society as a nuisance; I see it as a mystery, one I'm dying to uncover. What is this club? Who created it? What in the world is a potato peel pie - and why does it deserve a society? The fact that I hadn't even opened the book and I was already enthralled said a lot about what I was in for. 

TGLAPPPS picks up in 1946 as writer Juliet Ashton tries to get her life back on track in post-war London. Her home has been flattened by a bombing, there are rumours floating about her almost-marriage, and she's struggling to figure out what she should write about next. Her life is changed when she receives a letter from a man named Dawsey Adams who has in his possession a book that once belonged to Juliet. From there, they start up a whirlwind correspondence that introduces Juliet to a little Channel island, Guernsey, and the members who make up the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. 

I loved so many things about this book. First and foremost, I loved the characters. What an extraordinary and odd bunch of people. I felt an instant connection to all of these lovely people - except for Mark, but more on him later. Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows did an incredible job of making these people feel like friends to the reader. I loved how passionately they spoke about books and authors. I wanted nothing more than to be in the room with them during their book club meetings, talking about the Brontë sisters and Charles Lamb. 

For a mostly lighthearted book, TGLAPPPS deals with a lot of heavy topics. After all, it is set just after the second World War. War leaves it's mark on many things - marriage, families, businesses, children, towns, countries. Especially in Guernsey. For five years starting in 1940, the island was occupied by Germans. The people of Guernsey endured absolute horrors during WW2 - and I'm actually sad to say that I'd never heard of the island, or their part in the war. But what was so gripping about this book was how the characters found happiness, even in the hard times. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society began as a clever ruse eventually turned into a safe haven, a place for book lovers to come together and be a united front in the face of hostility. 

Overall, I just loved this book. Although it talks about serious topics such as war and death, it is still lighthearted. It focused on family - by blood and by circumstances - and the love we feel for one another. And above all, it spoke on bravery, especially in the character Elizabeth McKenna. Watching these characters pick up the pieces of their lives after the destruction was incredibly inspiring. 

Go buy this book! Read it a dozen times. Cry over it. Hold it close to your heart. Make your friends read it and then talk about it to your heart's content. Just fully devour it. It's divine. 

What wartime or post-war novels do you love? Let me know in the comments!

Goodreads Challenge: 24 out of 50

Felicia x

Back to Hogwarts

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All aboard the Hogwarts Express, it's time to go back to Hogwarts! If you've read the books or seen the films, you know that September 1st is a big day for the Wizarding World - it's the day that students pile into Kings Cross Station, cross that barrier onto Platform 9 3/4, and make their way back to that fabulous castle for another year of classes!

Harry Potter was a substantial part of my life growing up. Although I was only about a week old when the first book was released in North America, it very easily became a staple in my life. When I was a very little girl, my godmother brought the first film over to my house on VHS (#tb) and my family watched it all together. From then on, I was hooked. My parents bought me all the available books in the series and I used to (try to) read them out loud to my parents every night before bed. Very quickly, Hermione became a role model for me. There's even a video of me at 5 or 6 years old, opening a Christmas present of a Hermione doll wrapped in Harry Potter wrapping paper. OBSESSED, MUCH?? 

In honour of this magical day, I thought that today I'd do the Harry Potter Tag which I've seen a bunch of other bloggers do over the past couple years. I've always wanted to do the tag and what better time to do it! 


1. What house are you in?

I'm in Hufflepuff! Originally, when Pottermore first opened, I was sorted into Gryffindor, which never seemed right to me. Flash forward to this past year when I took the Pottermore test again and was sorted into Hufflepuff! I feel it suits me quite well. Maybe I've changed over the past 8 years? Who knows. 

2. What is your Patronus? 

According to Pottermore, my Patronus is a Wild Rabbit. (Cute, right?) 

3. What is your wand? 

Silver Lime wood with a Phoenix feather core 10" and Slightly Yielding flexibility.

4. What would your boggart be?

This is a great question. I think that if the boggart could turn into something like a question mark or an empty space, to symbolize the unknown, then that would definitely be my boggart. I have a major fear of the unknown and am constantly plagued with "what ifs". 

5. What position would you play in Quidditch?

Uhh, the position of a spectator? I'm already bad enough at sports, and I feel like that wouldn't translate well to Wizard sports. Boring answer, I know. 

6. Would you be a pure-blood, half-blood, or muggle-born? 

I don't even know how to begin to answer this. I really have no idea. 

7. What job would you want to have after leaving Hogwarts?

Hmm, I'd love to be a professor at Hogwarts. Maybe I'd teach History of Magic? I am minoring in History, after all. That seems like it'd be up my alley! I think it would be incredible to work inside Hogwarts all the time and as a professor, you'd get to know all the secret things that students aren't allowed to know/see. 

8. Which of the Deathly Hallows would you choose?

I'd definitely go for the Invisibility Cloak. It seems like it'd be the most useful. Besides, the other ones are just too risky for me. I'm not looking for almighty power or whatever, haha. I just want to sneak around a little bit. 

9. Favourite book? 

This is so tough. It's like choosing between children haha. But I guess if I had to choose one, it'd have to be Prisoner of Azkaban. I really love Sirius and Remus, so having them introduced in the novel makes my heart happy. I also really like the whole time-turner bit - that might be one of my favourite bits of magic. 

10. Least favourite book? 

Order of the Phoenix. It's not that there's anything I specifically don't like. It's just I like it a little bit less than the others!

11. Favourite film? 

Half-Blood Prince. For a very specific reason. For whatever reason, I decided in like 2008 that I didn't like Harry Potter anymore. I think it was just that I wasn't big on the Order of the Phoenix film and thought I was ~too cool~ for Harry Potter now that I was a whole 10 years old. My parents dragged me to see Half-Blood Prince in theatres and that was it. I was back in love. So HBP will always have a special place in my heart, for that reason.

12. Least favourite film?

I don't love Order of the Phoenix. Maybe it's just that it's too difficult to take the longest book of the series and put it into a fairly short film.

13. Favourite character? 

Obviously, Hermione is my favourite. Being a bookworm and kind of annoying as a kid, I totally got her. 

14. Least favourite/most hated character? 

I hate Umbridge. But don't we all? 

15. Favourite teacher at Hogwarts? 

This is definitely a tie between Professor McGonagall and Professor Lupin. I love them both for different reasons, but I doubt I have to explain why to anyone haha. 

16. Least favourite teacher at Hogwarts? 

Umbridge. Again, reasons are quite obvious.

17. Do you have any unpopular opinions about the series?

*Sigh*... Okay. Let me preface this by saying I'm a super empathetic person. Like, in general and especially when it comes to fictional characters, specifically villains (do you see where I'm going with this?)... I have feelings about Draco Malfoy. I think his relationship with his father and the fact that his father was, ya know, a Death Eater and a total douche certainly had a real effect on him as a person. (This is especially true in the films because the film creators seem to be huge Draco sympathizers). 

Felicia x

Review: Sharp Objects - Gillian Flynn

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“Sometimes if you let people do things to you, you’re really doing it to them.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Mystery, Fiction, Thriller

Reading Challenge: 23 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed in her old bedroom in her family's Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story—and survive this homecoming.

My Thoughts —

I’ve never been big on horror before. Aside from “The Girl On The Train,” I’ve not really delved into the whole psychological-thriller genre. I’m more likely to steer towards light-hearted novels. But I’ve heard so much talk about “Sharp Objects” in the past year or so and I’ve always had an interest in reading a Gillian Flynn novel. Not to mention, it was 20% off at Target. So, why not?!

This book made me uncomfortable. And I think that’s exactly what it was supposed to do. It’s an unsettling story about people who have unhealthy relationships and lifestyles. The characters of this story are dark and complex. Everyone has secrets lurking beneath the surface. Everyone has a disturbing past, a trail of destruction that follows them wherever they go. Each character is dealing with their own personal nightmares - and that’s what makes them so compelling, individually. Most of all, the women in this book are multi-dimensional. Here they are, in this town that makes women out to be useless, disposable, weak. But no. These women are deep, complicated people. And they’re capable of horrors seemingly unimaginable to most.

I thought this book was extremely well-written and riveting. I was hooked right from the start and didn’t want to put the book down once I picked it up - something that hasn’t really happened to me in a long time. After reading this, I think I’ll be reconsidering the genre. I’m definitely sure I want to read another Gillian Flynn novel in the future. If you have any recommendations, let me know!

Have you read Sharp Objects? Did you like it?

Felicia x

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2018

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Happy National Book Lovers Day!! x

We're officially into the second half of 2018 folks!! Can you hear my hyperventilation through the computer? How could we possibly be in the latter half of this year? Wasn't it just January? Luckily, August is a pretty good month for me, as it is my birthday month (WOO HOO) and my boyfriend's coming down to Florida so soon! 

I've never done the Mid-Year Book Freak Out tag before, both because I have only just started blogging about books this year and because I'd never heard of it until recently. I love the idea of wrapping up the first half of the year in a post and this seems to be the perfect way to do so!

Best book you've read so far in 2018...

This is a tremendously difficult question to answer. How could I choose just one? Please don't force me to make decisions! Alright, if I had to choose just one, I'd have to say Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall. After my anxiety reared it's ugly head in late 2017, I spent the better part of the first half of 2018 struggling with my mental health, which ultimately left me unable to leave my house for days on end. That's when Under Rose-Tainted Skies entered my life. I completely identified with Norah's struggles in the book; although our mental illnesses aren't quite the same, I was facing a lot of the same problems as her and it made me feel a little less alone!

Best sequel you've read so far in 2018...

I haven't read a single sequel yet this year. Isn't that crazy? I guess with trying to keep up with my reading challenge, I made the executive decision at some point to just keep series out of it - at least for the first bit of the challenge (I do have a hankering to re-read the Harry Potter series...). 

A book you haven't read but want to...

So. Many. Books!! My TBR is getting longer as the year goes on... I'm quite positive that's the exact opposite of what's supposed to happen. Obviously I'm not about to go and list every individual title on my TBR, but one book I'm eager to read is The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I've heard really good things about it and can't wait to get to it.

Most anticipated release for the 2nd half of 2018...

What If It's Us!!!! 100%.

Biggest disappointment of 2018...

Where'd You Go, Bernadette. I was really looking forward to reading it after all the high praise but I just didn't like it at all. It was so bummed out.

Biggest surprise of 2018...

Oddly enough, the biggest surprise for me so far was The Alice Network. I mean, usually I can be pulled in by any half-decent historical fiction. But considering I grabbed this one off the shelf with absolutely zero idea what I was going into, I was just expecting an interesting story about the world wars. But it was actually incredible. It was such a powerful story about women and their role in history. 

New favourite author...

Becky Albertalli, Kate Quinn, Louise Gornall, Gail Honeyman... Just to name a few!!

Newest fictional crush...

Hmm... I'd probably have to say Levi from Fangirl or Simon from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. They're both adorbs!

Newest favourite character...

Eve Gardiner from The Alice Network. Hands down. She's so fascinating and I loved seeing her go from a somewhat timid young woman to a total badass. 

Book that made you cry...

None so far that I can remember! But I've been reading pretty light-hearted books lately. 

Book that made you happy...

Fangirl! It was so cute, even though Cath went through a bunch of tough things, in the end it was a feel-good read. 

Favourite book to movie adaptation...

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, EASILY.

Favourite review you've written...

I don't think there was any one review that I enjoyed writing over the others. I loved all my reviews equally!

Most beautiful book you've bought this year...

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. It was honestly so amazing. No words can describe how beautiful - and heartbreaking - it was. 

Books you need to read by the end of 2018...

There are so many (I do have 25 books left on my reading challenge). But to name a couple... Dumplin', Little Fires Everywhere, What If It's Us, I'll Give You The Sun, and Bachelor Girl.


I hope you guys enjoyed reading this post!! If anyone can let me know a way to slow down this year, let me know in the comments, haha. 

What are your favourite books of 2018 so far?

Felicia x

Review: Crazy Rich Asians - Kevin Kwan

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“Just because some people actually work for their money doesn’t mean they are beneath you.”

My Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Genre(s): Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Women’s Fiction

Reading Challenge: 22 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.

When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn't know is that Nick's family home happens to look like a palace, that she'll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia's most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back.

Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor beyond imagination, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick's formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should--and should not--marry. Uproarious, addictive, and filled with jaw-dropping opulence, Crazy Rich Asians is an insider's look at the Asian JetSet; a perfect depiction of the clash between old money and new money; between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese; and a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazily rich.

My Thoughts —

I’m sure that the majority of you guys have heard about Crazy Rich Asians before, either because of the hype surrounding the book or because of the movie adaptation. You can find it on just about every “Must Read” shelf or display table in any bookstore.

This had been on my TBR for a very long time before I actually got around to reading it. It was one of those books where I’d always pass it by in the store and think, “Aw, I’d love to read that” but then I go pick up something else, usually something not on my TBR lol. But when I heard that there was a film adaptation coming out this summer, I bumped it on my list because I insist on reading the book before seeing the film. #bookwormproblems

All in all, Crazy Rich Asians was a fun read. The characters are really interesting - Nick Young’s family is straight-up crazy. Nick and Rachel’s complicated love story is totally addicting. And there’s no denying that it’s well-researched and extremely detailed. But being someone who completely devoured books like the Gossip Girl series before, which deals with its own share of rich people drama, I thought I’d enjoy this more than I did.

I think the main reason that I wasn’t so big on this book is because it seemed like it dragged out for too long. If about 100 pages were chopped off, I think I would have enjoyed it more. There were a few scenes that just didn’t seem to add much to the plot that could’ve been cut without taking away from the plot. It just made the plot sort of slow, so I found it sort of hard to get really into. Of course, 90% of people say that they loved this novel to death so I’m probably in the minority here haha. So take my review with a grain of salt. I’ll still see the film though because the film nerd part of me can’t not give it a chance. (Update: the film was amazing and I loved it!).

Did you read Crazy Rich Asians? What did you think?

Felicia x

July TBR

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Hello hello hellooo!

God, things have been crazy lately. It's already a few weeks into July and I'm just posting my TBR for the month. How typical. What have you all been up to lately?! I spent the first bit of this month with my boyfriend here in Florida which was so much fun. I can't wait for our vacay together in August!! 

You may remember that this year, I set a goal for myself to read 50 books which I've been keeping track of on Goodreads. Well, now I'm about halfway through the year and my Reading Challenge tracker has recently informed me that I'm three books behind schedule... I've gotta quickly get back on track with my reading!

So, without further ado, here are the books that I'll be reading in July...

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan - Rachel is an average American-born Chinese woman, working as a professor at NYU when she meets Nick Young. But when he invites her to his best friend's wedding back home in Singapore, where she's introduced to his uber rich and very judgmental family, Rachel's life gets flipped upside down. I'm sure a lot of you have heard the buzz surrounding this book, especially now that it's coming out as a film next month! This book has been on my TBR since last year and now I've got all the more reason to bump it up on my list!

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn - This is another book that's been getting a lot of attention as of late. You may recognize Gillian Flynn as the author of the highly successful novel, 'Gone Girl' which was made into a movie awhile back. 'Sharp Objects' was actually her debut novel, which is about a woman who has to return to her small hometown to cover the deaths of two young girls, all the while fighting the demons that she's been trying to escape ever since she left home the first time. I'm not usually big on thrillers, but for this, I thought 'why not'!  

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas - I'm so eager to get started on reading this book. Young adults novels often get a lot of criticism for not being 'heavy enough'. But this is a definite exception to that judgment. It's all about a sixteen year old girl who witnesses the murder of her childhood best friend by the hands of a police officer. The novel tackles crucial topics such as racism and police brutality, which are so important to talk about - especially among teens. It's a great conversation starter and I'm eager to read it! (It also has a whopping 4.56 star rating on Goodreads).

The Last Tudor by Philippa Gregory - I've been binge-watching Reign for the past month and I've also recently enrolled in a Tudor/Stuart era course at uni, so it's safe to say that I'm currently in the midst of a major Tudor obsession. So when I saw this bad boy at Indigo, it was an easy impulse buy. 'The Last Tudor' is a historical fiction all about Lady Jane Grey, the 'Nine Days' Queen' of England, and her sister, Katherine. I know that Philippa Gregory's books have faced a lot of criticism in the past, so I'm very interested to see what I think of this! 

Talk to you all very, very soon!

Felicia x

Review: How To Stop Time - Matt Haig

Title: How To Stop Time

Author: Matt Haig

Publisher: Viking

Release Date: February 6th 2018

Pages: 325

My Rating: ★★★ 1/2 (3.5/5)

Goodreads | Amazon


“The longer you live, the harder it becomes. To grab them. Each little moment as it arrives. To be living in something other than the past or the future. To be actually here.”

So, today’s read is a bit different in that it’s a bit sci-fi I suppose. I picked this up because although it had that fantasy element which is a bit unusual to my taste, it’s very saturated in history which, you probably know by now, I love.

How To Stop Time is the bizarre story of a man named Tom Hazard, who may appear outwardly as an average 41-year-old man but is really several hundred years old. He’s walked through history alongside people like William Shakespeare and has experienced the world as it’s advanced to become what it is today. But nobody knows. Except for the Albatross Society, a secret society of people like Tom who work together to keep their condition a secret - even if that means killing those who threaten their existence. Then, one day, Tom begins to fall in love - which is strictly prohibited.

I’m a bit iffy on this book. I didn’t hate it by any means. I just didn’t love it either. Overall, it was well-written and evidently well-researched. It had everything it needed to be a great book. But it just lacked a certain je ne sais quoi. I felt like the climactic event wasn’t all that climactic and I kept waiting for the shoe to drop, so to speak. The big moments were simply brushed over and resolved very quickly, and they didn’t have any repercussions at all. It was very simple and to the point which wasn’t exactly what I’d hoped for.

The concept, however, was very interesting. A man who’s lived through history, who’s witnessed major historic events first-hand, is now living in the 21st century. Sounds like a cool concept. It was fun to see him placed in history. Especially when historical figures were included, too. But constantly flipping between present day and some-hundred years ago was a bit confusing and muddled after a few chapters. After awhile, I started to wonder if there was a need for so many flashbacks or if it was just for the sake of reminding you that, hey look, this guy is really really old.

How To Stop Time was a fun read, but not really a meaty one. It didn’t take me very long to get through this one and because of that, I think it’d make a great beach read.

Have you read How To Stop Time? What did you think of it?

Goodreads Challenge: 21 out of 50

Felicia x

5 Websites for Book Lovers

If you're a total bookish freak, like myself, then you probably use all of your free-time doing book-related things. Whether it's reading a new book, re-reading an old fave, or re-watching Pride and Prejudice for the umpteenth time (we've all been there). But one of the other common things to do if you're a literary enthusiast is scroll through literary articles online. These websites make it easier to find like-minded people, people who want to spend as much time chatting about books as you do. Here are my favourite bookish websites to scroll through, when I'm not reading!

Books on Bustle - Bustle is one of my favourite websites for book-related content. It's an online magazine that mostly surrounds things that affect women including beauty & fashion, lifestyle, wellness, and of course, books. They post a bunch of fun articles that range from "must read" lists, advice for readers, and author interviews. Most of the articles are short and sweet, perfect for reading a few during your morning cup of coffee! You can also follow their Facebook page, Book-Lovers on Bustle, to get updates straight to your feed which is very cool. 

BookstrBookstr is an online community for literature lovers to come together and enjoy the joy that comes along with books and reading. I think of all these sites, this might be the most abundant and diverse as it has hundreds of posts, with something for everyone. In addition to just articles, they also have a specific category just for lists and another for quizzes. 

Buzzfeed BooksAlthough I don't typically like to read Buzzfeed posts that often, I do find myself clicking on their Buzzfeed Books posts. They have a slightly slim selection in comparison but they still have some good, informative posts and they have great lists of recommendations. They also have posts that are more opinion-based, which can either be good or bad, depending on how you see it!  

Refinery29 Books - Refinery29 is very similar to Bustle, in that it's an online magazine that is targeted for women. I love scrolling through their posts, especially ones like "The Best Books of 2018" - I'm always in search of a new book, and posts like these are perf for that!! Although Refinery29's website isn't really targeted towards book-related posts, they still have a good selection to read anyway.  

The StrandYou've probably heard of The Strand before, even if you think you haven't. The Strand is a massive indie bookshop in New York City, along with several mobile kiosks placed around the city that sell new and used books. It's a major staple that has been featured in shows like Sex & the City and Gossip Girl. Aside from their official website (which sells books online) they also have a book blog which features many recommendations and other book-related posts.

What are your favourite bookish websites?

Felicia x

Review: Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell

“The whole point of fanfiction is that you get to play inside somebody else’s universe. Rewrite the rules. Or bend them.”

My Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Genre(s): New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Fiction

Reading Challenge: 20 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan..

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words... And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

My Thoughts —

I have NO IDEA why I didn’t read this sooner!! Before this, I’d read - and loved - two books by Rainbow Rowell: “Attachments” and “Eleanor and Park.” But “Fangirl” just never really stood out to me. The only reason I ended up picking it up was because I had heard so many good things about it as I became more involved with the book blogger community and I finally gave into the hype. Needless to say, I was not disappointed.

I really resonated with Cath and I think that’s what got me hooked so early on. Like me, she’s in university and also is an English major. She suffers from anxiety which makes her pretty reclusive, something I totally understand for my own experiences. A lot of people criticize Rainbow Rowell’s decision to give Cath anxiety in their reviews on Goodreads, because apparently her “awkwardness” around people reinforces the “socially inept fangirl” stereotype. But I actually found Cath to be more relatable because of it. I hate when people use words like “socially inept” to describe people with anxiety. Grr…

MOVING ON.

I loved Cath, even when she made mistakes (which we all do sometimes) and I thought her story was really interesting. She’s someone who’s come from a difficult past that she has to find the strength to conquer every day. That’s pretty bad ass, if you ask me. And, of course, the romantic storyline in this book was lovely and adorable and it hit me right square in the feels.

I’ve also got to give Rainbow Rowell major kudos for being able to include excerpts from the Simon Snow novel. I mean, Simon Snow is not a real series. It exists only in her head. She basically had to write two stories for the price of one, didn’t she? That’s insane and she deserves a lot of respect for that. I definitely wouldn’t be able to do that! I thought the little excerpts were a lovely addition and that they added a lot of depth to the storyline.

Overall, this was a farm and fuzzy sort of book, the kind I’d want to reread when I’m having a bad day. For me, those are the best kinds of books.

Have you ever read a Rainbow Rowell book? Which is your favourite?

Felicia x

Review: Confessions of a Prairie Bitch - Alison Arngrim

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Title: Confessions of a Prairie Bitch

Author: Alison Arngrim

Publisher: It Books

Release Date: June 15th 2010

Pages: 302

My Rating: ★★★★ (4/5)

Goodreads | Amazon


“By making me a bitch, you have freed me from the trite, bourgeois prison of ‘likeability’. Any idiot can be liked. It takes talent to scare the crap out of people.”

Y’all probably know by now how I’ve got a bit of an undying love for Little House on the Prairie. Yes, I know it’s extremely outdated and at times super offensive. But my love for it stems from the fact that it was a huge staple of my childhood. I watched it with my mum, but mostly my grandmother who took care of me as a kid when my parents worked. We bonded over this show about this little pioneer gal and her family, particularly the perpetually shirtless Pa. I read the series of books approximately a hundred times, bending On The Banks of Plum Creek into despair, and even wrote my own stories about Laura Ingalls when I was 9. So I guess it’s not much of a surprise that I practically bolted to my car and took off to the bookstore the minute I heard Alison Arngrim had released a memoir.

If you don’t know, Alison Arngrim is the actress who brought Nellie Oleson to the small screen. Nellie Oleson is the epitome of mean girl - in fact, sometimes she can be downright evil. I spent my childhood tucked in front of that tv, watching Alison Arngrim flawlessly have temper tantrum after temper tantrum, making Nellie a character you love to hate.

As it turns out, a fair chunk of Alison Arngrim’s story is actually quite grim. Despite living in Hollywood as a child and brushing elbows with all sorts of great stars, including Liberace, she did not have a good childhood. Behind those bouncy blonde curls, Alison was really struggling. Her childhood was plagued with sexual abuse from her older brother. The stories she told about the abuse were extremely difficult to read. It’s so sad to imagine that behind the scenes of such a happy-go-lucky show like Little House, someone was dealing with such horrible things. Her story of overcoming the abuse and going onto work for the National Association to Protect Children was so powerful and I respect her immensely for her courage.

I know what you’re probably all thinking - can a child star from the 1970s really write a good book? The answer is, yes. Very much so. Alison’s writing was so clever and witty, it actually had me laughing out loud a few times. I read the majority of this book on a plane beside my mum, and I had to keep leaning over to read her funny excerpts. My personal favourite part was when she described with brutal honesty each of the main characters in the novel.

Of course, a large chunk of this book was about her time spent on Little House. It’s not called Confessions of a Prairie Bitch for nothing! Her stories about Little House are, fortunately, far more light-hearted than the other stories in her book. She speaks about her memories of the show and the people involved very honestly. While she had a good relationship with most of the cast - particularly with Melissa Gilbert (Laura Ingalls) and Steve Tracy (Percival Dalton) - she didn’t with others. The stories about Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary Ingalls) were blatant and so amusing. That whole portion of the book would really appeal to Little House fans looking for a little behind-the-scenes gossip.

This was a short, but great memoir. I really enjoyed reading it and would totally recommend it to anyone who’s watched and loved Little House as it really gives a nostalgic feel for those good ol’ pioneer days (or at least, the sort of pioneer days that Michael Landon envisioned lol).

Did you watch Little House on the Prairie? Did you love it, too?

Goodreads Challenge: 19 out of 50

Felicia x

Bookish Problems: Hardcover vs. Paperback

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Ahh the age old question. Which is better: hardcover or paperback books? Every time I browse my local bookshop, I come to this question. Which edition should I go for? Honestly, it's one of the toughest book-related decisions a gal has to make! When it really boils down to it, there's a bunch of things I consider when I'm choosing between the two. So today, I thought I'd talk about a few of the advantages of either type of book!

Paperback

Compact & easily portable - Of course, the first thing I'd have to say in favour of paperbacks is that they are far easier to travel around with. Being the sort of person who constantly has a book in their purse whilst on-the-go, I can tell you from first-hand experience that it is much easier to tote around a paperback than a hardcover. Not only is it far thinner but it's also a lot lighter because of the thin binding. 

Cheaper - Paperbacks are typically a lot cheaper than hardcovers. When I go into a bookstore, chances are I'm going to pick out a paperback book that costs $15-$18, rather than a hardcover that costs $23-$26. Buying paperbacks makes it cheaper to buy more books at once, instead of having a heart attack over buying just one book - and being someone who reads very quickly, that's hugely important to me. 

Easier to hold - I can never find a comfortable way to hold a hardcover book!! No matter how I position my hand, I either get tired or am in pain after five minutes. Paperbacks are definitely far easier to bend back and forth, as well as get a good grip on. I can easily hold it with one hand and then I have a free hand to hold my coffee which I very much enjoy. 

No dust jackets - Don't get me wrong. Dust jackets do make for a lovely addition to hardcovers. But my god, are they a pain in the ass. Most of the time, I end up just taking the thing off and then it's a matter of keeping track of the jacket whilst also making sure that it doesn't get damaged. With paperbacks, you have nothing to be worried about as it's all attached. 

Hardcover

Released first - Often, paperback editions aren't released until a year after the initial book release, as it brings in more profit for people to purchase hardcover books. This means that if you're really dying to read a book, you're probably gonna cough up the 25 or so bucks to read it as soon as possible. I don't do this so often, but the majority of the hardcovers I own are because I couldn't force myself to wait a year for the paperback. 

Sturdier -  If you've ever tried to carry around a paperback book in your purse or backpack before, then I'm sure you know how easily paperbacks can be damaged. The binding cracks, the pages get crinkled, and worst of all, the cover bends *shudder*. Hardcovers are really durable, as the cover is extremely sturdy and acts as a protective layering around the pages of the book.

Looks good on shelves - I think we can all agree that hardcover books look so good on bookshelves. I think it's something about how thick they are and also that they sort of remind us of the old-fashioned impressive look of bookcases. Although I don't have a ton of hardcovers (I'm cheap y'all), I do love looking at the ones I do have sitting up on my shelf. They're gorg!! 

Personally, all considered, I much prefer paperbacks over hardcovers. Not only just for the price - although that is a pretty big part of it, if I'm honest. For me, the lighter the book the better, as I really don't have the energy to be lugging around a massive, heavy book all day long, wherever I go! 

Which do you guys prefer: hardcover or paperback?

Felicia x


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Review: Leah on the Offbeat - Becky Albertalli

“I swear, people can’t wrap their minds around the concept of a fat girl who doesn’t diet. Is it hard to believe I might actually like my body?”

My Rating: ★★★

Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, Romance

Reading Challenge: 18 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

My Thoughts —

Oh, look! Another Becky Albertalli book. Are you surprised at all? If you’ve been around awhile, you’ll remember my review of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in which I sung Becky Albertalli’s praises like Julie Andrews on the hill in Austria. So, here we are again, but this time with the spin-off of Simon! Excited? Let’s dive in.

As much as I loved Simon, I wanted to love this book. I truly went into this book with the expectation that I’d love it. But I just didn’t.

In Simon, we didn’t really get a close-up, in-depth look at the personalities of the secondary character because obvs it was about Simon, his sexuality, and his super adorable quest for finding his one true love. Despite that, I liked Leah. I thought she was a complex character and a take-no-shit kind of gal which I respect. Unfortunately, when it came to this spin-off novel, I just didn’t like Leah Burke. At all. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m an extremely empathetic reader. I find the best in even the worst characters sometimes. But I don’t know… Leah was just mean. She treaty the majority of the characters pretty terribly, especially her mom - and for what reason? Her mom was really supportive and caring, despite the fact that she was majorly preoccupied with the fact that they were struggling financially and that she had to work so much to support Leah. But Leah was just really rotten to her.

Without giving away the plot, I gotta say I wasn’t huge on how picture-perfect everything seemed. Like, I found in Simon that I could really believe that these characters were actual teenagers living in Georgia and going to high school and living ordinary lives. But this just seemed to me like it followed a really idealistic storyline. Like it followed every book cliche ever. I guess that’s just not what I had expected or even wanted out of this book.

I think that maybe my point of view would’ve been entirely different if I hadn’t just read Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda before reading this one. Maybe I should re-read this in a few months or something to see if my opinion changes at all. I’ll keep you guys updated! All that being said, however, it has to be pointed out that this book does have a bisexual female character which is HUGELY important. Representation in novels is key my friends! So definitely check this book out and don’t let my bitterness over teen angst deter you from reading this!

Have you read both books? Did you like Leah on the Offbeat?

Felicia x

Review: The Immortalists - Chloe Benjamin

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“But I think magic holds the world together. It’s dark matter; it’s the glue of reality; the putty that fills the holes between everything we know to be true. And it takes magic to reveal how inadequate reality is.”

My Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Genre(s): Fiction, Fantasy, Contemporary

Reading Challenge: 17 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?

It's 1969 in New York City's Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.

The prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in '80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

A sweeping novel of remarkable ambition and depth, The Immortalists probes the line between destiny and choice, reality and illusion, this world and the next. It is a deeply moving testament to the power of story, the nature of belief, and the unrelenting pull of familial bonds.

My Thoughts —

It was such a pain for me to get this book. It was completely sold out at my local Indigo (bookshop), which is thirty minutes from home. After trying the same shop another day to no avail, I ended up going an hour out to another Indigo, where I eventually found a copy of this book. Can’t beat the rural life, folks. I assume the fact that it wasn’t available is a testament to how much people want to read this book? Regardless, I was very eager to read this by the time I got my hands on it.

First and foremost, I have to say that I thought the concept of this book was extremely interesting. I loved how the author toyed around with the idea of fate and free will by showing these young adults growing up with these looming prophecies and deciding ultimately how it’d affect their lives. This novel absolutely poses a ton of questions about life, destiny, and the power of mind. I thought that the exploration of these topics was really well done.

As for the stories… If I’m honest, I much preferred the first two - Simon’s and Klara’s - over the latter two, which were Daniel’s and Varya’s. I thought that Simon’s story was the most interesting because a) it took readers into the LGBT community in San Francisco during the 1970s and 1980s and how Simon fit into it, and b) it was sort of a kicking-off point for the rest of the story, as the three other characters were largely affected by several events that occurred during Simon’s story.

The reason that I didn’t rate this higher was simply because, despite having a very intriguing concept, the actual story itself was sort of lacklustre in my opinion. I found that certain parts just didn’t grip my attention like others, and I found myself a bit bored at times. But don’t get me wrong! Overall, it was quite good. I just don’t really know if this is the sort of book for me. Although I’m sure many, many others would love it.

Have you read The Immortalists? Did you love it or find it so-so?

Felicia x

Review: The Alice Network - Kate Quinn

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Title: The Alice Network

Author: Kate Quinn

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Release Date: June 6th 2017

Pages: 503

My Rating: ★★★★ (4/5)

Goodreads | Amazon


“What did it matter if something scared you, when it simply had to be done?”

The Alice Network is all about a young - and pregnant - American socialite who enlists the help of an ex-spy and a Scotsman with violent tendencies to assist her in finding her cousin, Rose, who went missing during World War II.

I’m truly a sucker for books set during the World Wars. The first half of the 20th century is one of my favourite eras of history to study and the historical-fiction set in that time period always has me hooked. But at first, I wasn’t sure that I’d like this one. I was finding it sort of difficult to get myself totally immersed in the story. Although I do love me a good dual-narrative, I was finding each chapter pretty short so it felt a bit like whiplash going from one woman’s story to the other’s. But I got into the flow of it just after the first thirty or so pages. Considering the length of this book, it ain’t no thang.

I have to say, out of the two stories, I preferred the 1915 one over the 1947. I think that Eve was a total bad-ass and she went through some crazy stuff in her lifetime. From the moment her character was introduced, I wrapped up in her story. I wanted to know all about what made her the cold woman that she was in her old age. Charlie, on the other hand, came into the story “fresh”, so-to-speak. Aside from being pregnant out of wedlock, she didn’t have much of a backstory to get me invested in her story. The way that I saw the novel was that it was Eve’s story and Charlie was there to help the plot move along.

Oh, and Kate Quinn knows her shit, you guys. She’s a graduate of Boston University with a Bachelor’s and a Master’s in Classical Voice, so you can bet that this book is full of details.

The one thing that really irked me about this book - and I do mean really irked me - was that there were a handful of words that were repeated throughout the novel that I found so cringe-y. Like, they were constantly used, over and over. For example, Eve calling Charlie a “Yank” or Charlie referring to her unborn child as the “Little Problem” or, worse, “L.P.” *shudder* I don’t know why, but it just drove me crazy. Don’t get me wrong! It didn’t make me dislike the book. It just made me cringe a bit whenever I came across one of the words.

I loved this book. And if you’re looking for an incredible, fast-paced novel about bad-ass women during the second World War, you’ll love it too. The women in this novel are seriously inspiring and the female friendships are so important. It’s also worth noting that the 1915 story is actually based on real-life events! The Alice Network was very real and it was led by Louise de Bettignies, aka Lili. Kate Quinn actually explains the inspiration for the novel at the end of the book so if you’re curious about that, make sure to look out for it!

The Alice Network is a remarkable story, about unsung heroes and I just adored it. Also, Reese Witherspoon included this in her book club a while back! How cool is that? If you’re curious to know what Reese had to say about this book, you can view her online book club site here.

(Somewhat Spoiler: I should mention that there is mention of a particularly gruesome abortion, as well as some rape and assault mentions. Keep that in mind before/while you read!).

Have you read The Alice Network? Did you like it as much as I did?!

Goodreads Challenge: 16 out of 50

Felicia x

YA Novels Every Teen Should Read

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Growing up, I was massively into reading. Ever since I was very very little, I've been most happy whenever I have a book in hand. So, being an avid reader, that meant that the majority of my life lessons came from novels. I learnt a lot from books, and so it's no surprise that there are many books that have over the years become hugely influential in my upbringing.

What's great about novels is that they give a look into the lives of people from many different walks of life; it gives you a real, up-close look into a world that you might not know - which makes you more empathetic and understanding - or show you that you aren't alone in how you're feeling.

These books are some of the major ones that not only got me through high school, but also kind of shaped me into the person I am today. They're, in my opinion, some of the best books for teens to read before leaving high school. So, I thought I'd give a bit of a run-through of what each book is all about, for you guys. Also, I included trigger warnings, where applicable.

PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER - STEPHEN CHBOSKY

Hands down, my favourite young adults novel. I read this when I was a young teenager, probably about 13 or 14 years old. Perks of Being a Wallflower is all about this kid called Charlie who's writing letters about his experiences in freshman year to an anonymously pen-pal. He goes into grade nine, dealing with the aftermath of a number of traumatic events, with no friends, feeling completely lost in the world. Enter two senior students, step-siblings Sam and Patrick, who take him under their wing. It really speaks to teens who feel like outcasts, without playing on that 'math nerd' stereotype that's found so often in YA novels/films. What I like most about this book is how it shows the bookends of high school - on one hand, you have the freshman, who's timid and trying to find their place in high school, and on the other hand, you have the senior, who's basically got their toes at the edge of their future. You can read this book either entering or leaving high school, and you'll still be able to relate to it in some way. It also depicts struggles with mental illness in a very serious way, too. Even if you've seen the film adaptation - especially if you've seen the film adaptation - you should still read this book.

Trigger Warnings: suicide, sexual assault, some violence

SPEAK - LAURIE HALSE ANDERSON

Okay, so the content of this book is extremely harrowing and that's exactly why I've put it on this list. If you're 18 or older, you've probably already read this one before, as it was extremely popular throughout the 2000s. It's all about a teenage girl who busts a summer party just before her freshman year of high school after an unspeakable (literally) incident occurs. She then spends the majority of the year in silence, as she faces rejection and backlash from her peers. Obviously, I won't give away what the incident was, as that's a huge spoiler. But it's definitely not for the faint of heart. The content that Laurie Halse Anderson tackles in this novel is both shocking and real. Speak takes on a number of really difficult topics and is a huge eye-opener.

Trigger Warnings: sexual assault

UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES - LOUISE GORNALL

I only just read this book a couple months back and the first thing I thought of after finishing it was, "I so could've used a book like this when I was in high school." Unfortunately, this book was published long after I graduated - but that won't stop me from encouraging current high schoolers to read it!! Under Rose-Tainted Skies focuses first and foremost on mental health, which unfortunately hasn't been such a common main theme in YA novels in the past. It's also an #ownvoices book, which means that this story of mental illness comes from someone who, herself, suffers from mental illness. I think it's worth mentioning because it really makes the depiction of mental illness more raw and genuine. The main character in this book suffers from agoraphobia and OCD, which leaves her mostly unable to leave her house. She's faced with a bunch of challenges throughout the course of the novel, as she tries to find the path leading her to health. I think mental illness, although it's far more talked about now than even 5 or 6 years ago, is still plagued with stigma, and a lot of people who don't suffer from mental illness don't understand it well. Under Rose-Tainted Skies would be an amazing choice of book for students to read in high school classes (perhaps arguably better than some of the current choices...) as it would be a great conversation-starter.

Trigger Warnings: mental illness, self-harm

SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA - BECKY ALBERTALLI

Betcha saw this one coming!! I'm sure most people know about Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, or at least it's film adaptation Love, Simon by now. It's pretty much taking the world by storm and I've gotta say, I'm very happy about that. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is all about a closeted gay teenage boy who is blackmailed by another student after he's discovered anonymously e-mailing another gay student. Obvs, the reason I've included this book on the list isn't because of it's cute, fluffy storyline (although, it is mentionable) but because it features an LGBT main character and the primary storyline is about sexuality and adolescence. There are so many books out there with LGBT characters which deserve wayyy more recognition, but I'm glad to see a story like Simon breaking the barrier and paving the way for more stories like this to come to centre stage so to speak. This book is great because it deals with the anxiety of coming out to your peers and your family which - though I can't speak from experience on - must be a huge fear for LGBT teens worldwide. It gives something for teens to relate to. And for others, it's important because it shows the struggles of LGBT teens from their perspective, which can be really eye-opening to some people. The fact that this has come out as a film is great, too, because it widens the audience to all teens, as opposed to only readers.

Trigger Warnings: bullying, slurs

ELEANOR AND PARK - RAINBOW ROWELL

This is a romance novel unlike most. Although it features the story of first loves and all that, it also touches on difficult, real-life topics. Eleanor and Park is about a "misfit" named Eleanor and an average sort of boy named Park. Eleanor's family lives in a very small house of her mother's partner, where the kids are forced to share a tiny room and the family is exposed to the stepfather's abusive tendencies towards the mother and kids. Although this book is set in the 1980s, it's still very applicable to modern times in terms of the struggles that teens suffer and the experiences they go through. Although I read this as an older teen, there were parts of this that were relatable to me, and I think that the story would resonate with a lot of teens with different backgrounds. Often, YA novels - especially romances - are pigeonholed as light and fluffy, but this is certainly a book to challenge that. Don't get me wrong though, the relationship between Eleanor and Park is very cute and heartwarming!! It just also deals with serious topics, which is really important for teens to be exposed to.

Trigger Warnings: alcohol addiction, child abuse, domestic abuse, bullying

What novels were really influential to you whilst you were growing up? 

Felicia x

Review: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me - Mindy Kaling

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Title: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

Author: Mindy Kaling

Publisher: Crown Archetype

Release Date: November 1st 2011

Pages: 222

My Rating: ★★★ (3/5)

Goodreads | Amazon


“I simply regard romantic comedies as a subgenre of sci-fi, in which the world created therein has different rules than my regular human world.”

Hi friends! Welcome back. I read Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me ages ago, but never ended up writing a review on it for whatever reason. So I thought I’d finally get to it and write up a little review.

Disclaimer: I read this back in April, so I don’t remember everything. This is going to be a quite short and sweet review!

I think Mindy Kaling is fabulous. She is so funny and so talented. I absolutely loved her on The Office and thought her role on The Mindy Project was hilarious (for the short time I watched it eek!!). So I was really excited when I found out that she had written a memoir. With her work on The Office to go by, I was ready to hunker down and dive into this one.

I literally read this book in two sittings. It was a really quick read and the fact that it was funny made it even easier to read. The only thing I found was that certain parts of the book seemed like Mindy was trying a bit too hard to be funny or relatable… Sometimes it just got a little too much and I just wasn’t really into that. Like, certain parts were genuinely so funny, don’t get me wrong. It just sometimes felt like Mindy was saying “Look! I’m just your everyday average girl!” and I found it a little harder to believe it as authentic.

I did think the stuff about her experiences working on The Office were really interesting. As you may know, I’ve been into The Office for about a year and a half now, and I’m also the sort of person who loves juicy, behind the scenes tell-alls. This didn’t reach full gossip potential, however it did give a good look at what it would’ve been like working on and filming The Office which was really great!

Really, that’s all there is to say about this one. I thought it was okay - not my favourite sort of book, but definitely a fun read. I’d say it was something similar to Anna Kendrick’s book, Scrappy Little Nobody, which I reviewed earlier this year. So if that’s your cup of tea, then you’ll really enjoy this, I think!

Are you a Mindy Kaling fan?

Goodreads Challenge: 15 out of 50

Felicia x

Review: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman

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Title: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Author: Gail Honeyman

Publisher: Viking - Pamela Dorman Books

Release Date: May 9th 2017

Pages: 327

My Rating: ★★★★ (4/5)

Goodreads | Amazon


“Some people, weak people, fear solitude. What they fail to understand is that you don’t need anyone, you can take care of yourself.”

Hello guys. Welcome back! Today’s review is of one of my favourite books of the year so far, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. This was such an incredible book that I’ll probably be singing it’s praises for the rest of 2018 and beyond. So, without further ado, let’s just jump right into it!

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is about a woman named living in Glasgow who lives every day, every week, and every month exactly the same. She runs on a specifically planned, solitary daily schedule. Things start to change when an accident brings her and her office IT guy together in an unlikely friendship. Soon, she is forced to come to grips with a secret from her past that she’s been keeping from everyone, including herself.

I really, really, really enjoyed this book!!! Eleanor’s story is extremely moving. It’s one of those uplifting, ‘life does get better’ sorts of stories that really warms my heart. From the very beginning of the novel, you can already tell that Eleanor is not a happy woman and that something in her past has caused her to be that way. Right off the bat, I was rooting for this woman to find happiness in her life. She’s the sort of character that you can’t help but get attached to and you just hope the best for.

The writing of this book was particularly interesting because Eleanor is a very eloquent character. She’s very prim-and-proper, and pays very specific attention to how she speaks to others. Because of that, the novel is extremely well-written and included many a descriptive sentence. At first, I had worried that it might get sort of distracting to have the narration be so meticulous and flawless. However, I found that the sentences actually flowed surprisingly well and I ultimately found it no problem whatsoever!

All in all, I wasn’t at all prepared for this book - particularly the last half. It took me completely by surprise, which is something that I don’t usually find with novels. It was extremely difficult for me to actually believe that this book was Gail Honeyman’s debut freaking novel… like, I’m still in total shock. I’d love to read more from Gail Honeyman in the future, I’d probably read whatever she puts out honestly haha. This is the sort of book that I’d recommend to all my book-loving friends.

Have you read Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine? What did you think?

Goodreads Challenge: 14 out of 50

Felicia x