Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

First off, I just need to state that I don’t go deliberately looking for authors who have surnames that begin with the letter ‘B’. It just so happens that I have a grand total ten books in the ‘B’ section of the index, and hardly any for any other letter.

‘Alex, Approximately’ is the first book I’ve read that’s written by Jenn Bennet, and I have to admit I Iove the cover. Or, at least the UK cover (I think that’s the cover with the vespa/ scooter on it?) I love minimalistic covers, and more often than not they are the ones that draw me in.

This, much like ‘We are Young’ was another book I picked up from the library. And, after ‘We are Young’, I quite fancied a light-heartened young adult contemporary. Which to be fair this book delivered, but for me it didn’t quite click and I found myself yelling in frustration at some parts. Maybe it’s because I’m too old, and maybe I am growing out of YA*, but I found myself struggling to connect with the book. That’s not to say it’s a bad book, it was enjoyable but it just wasn’t for me.

I found that the cover, the blurb and the premise really played into the cute summer romance. The novel is also somewhat of a retelling of the 1998 rom-com ‘You’ve Got Mail’ starring Tom Hanks and Megan Ryan. Although, in this book the real-life dislike between the characters dissolves after about twenty pages.

The premise of the novel is that Bailey (Mink) and Alex are cyber friends who bond over their mutual love of classic films (and I’m not just talking cult classics from the 80s). The novel begins with Alex asking Bailey to go to a film festival with him. However, what Alex doesn’t know is that Bailey is going to live in California with her dad, who happens to live in the same town as Alex. Bailey avoids telling Alex about the move, and instead opts to sneakily find him with the few clues she’s accumulated online.

I enjoyed the premise of the book. However, I would’ve liked to read more of the online conversations between Bailey and Alex. I found that once other characters were introduced, the frequency of the conversations took a dip. It seemed more of a case of ‘well, I don’t have anything else going on, so I may as well message Alex,’ and not ‘I need to message Alex, because we have a deep meaningful connection,’ which I originally thought it would be.  

I also liked the movie quotes at the top of the page, and I thought they were pretty neat, as in some instances they related to the events in the chapter. Or, at least the Jaws one did. I would’ve liked to have seen some of the movie quotes make their way into everyday conversations though. Just a character saying “I have a bad feeling about this,” would’ve been awesome.

Bailey was an alright protagonist. Honestly, I found her oblivious to pretty much everything. (And her dad calls her a good detective!) But I found that neither her nor Porter (another MC) stood out to me. I also wasn’t a fan of the tragic backstories that seemed to mandatory for every character. I know I probably seem harsh here, but do we need a tragic backstory for every character? For some it added to the story but for some just didn’t seem necessary. I also didn’t like the fact that it was implied that trust means telling someone everything.

I did like Lana and Grace (or at least what we saw of them anyway). And, I wish they got a few more scenes in the book.

Before I finish, I would just like to include my favourite line of this book: “I like your brows. Glamorous.” This line is said when one character is introduced another character, and all I could think of was Regina George’s mum from Mean Girls going “I’m not a regular mom. I’m a cool mom.” In all seriousness though, who comments on someone’s eyebrows upon introduction of said person?

Overall, I would give this novel approximately 3/5 stars. I liked the premise, but I didn’t really like the main characters (mainly Bailey). I did appreciate that the characters had flaws, such as Bailey being the artful dodger and avoiding confrontations. And I also liked how the characters actually ate, since food rarely seems to get mentioned in books, although it did make me pretty hungry…

*While I do think I’m growing out of YA, I still enjoy reading a lot of YA, I find now that I prefer books that have representation to just YA contemporaries.

United as One by Pittacus Lore

Hey everyone! So, the original plan was to review all the books in the series, but I kept forgetting to write a review, and when it came down to it, I kept getting confused between books. So, here is a book review on the last book in the series. Also, spoilers for the rest of the books in the series.

United as One is it the end of the Lorien Legacies series. Now, I can finally update my Goodreads status and read another series… Although according to Goodreads this might be end of this particular series, but there’s a spin-off series and a load of novellas related to this series to read, so maybe this isn’t the end.

Anyway, this is a review of the final book of the Lorien Legacies series by Pittacus Lore. Please note that whilst there won’t be spoilers for this particular book there will be spoilers for all the other books. If you haven’t read any of the books you can check out my review of the first book ‘I am the Number Four’ here.

The novel picks up directly from the last part, and deals with grief, in the last novel John’s girlfriend Sarah dies (because how unrealistic would it be for everyone to live when there’s an alien invasion on earth?) So, a lot of this book deals with how John is coping after her death. I thought this was done particularly well, and to me it seemed like a lot of his actions were driven by his grief. As well as his determination to beat Setrákus Ra once and for all.

A fair portion of this book covers John’s training, in the last book it is revealed he has the Ximic legacy. Allowing him to duplicate the legacy of another member of the Garde. While this is a pretty cool legacy, I felt like this made John over powered, and it resulted in making the other characters seem like his sidekicks rather than his equals.

One sub-plot I did enjoy was the human Garde. At the end of the final book it is revealed that Legacy has given a bunch of human’s legacies. And in the duration of this book we get to meet some of them, and it’s interesting to see what legacies they’ve developed. I just wish we got to see more of them in this book, but I guess that’s going to be what the new series is about. I also liked these new characters and I hope that some of them return in the new series.

The final battle was good, but in all honesty, I think it blurred into all the other previous battles (and there’s been a lot of them all). But, then again, I’m not all that into action sequences in books. I did however like the epilogue, one thing I dislike about the Harry Potter is how the epilogue paints the picture of how they all lived happily ever after. The epilogue is set one year after the final battle, and shows how the characters are coping after the battle, it’s bittersweet but realistic.

Once again, this book, similarly to its predecessors is split up into varying perspectives. Although in this one it’s just John and Six. However, after the previous six books, I’m still unsure of what font correlates to John and which correlates to Six!

Overall, I would rate this book 3/5 stars. I enjoyed this series, and I loved this premise of an alien race having superpowers. However, for me I found that there were too many action sequences, and the majority of this book focused on the build up to that. But, if you enjoy action/ fantasy books, then be sure to check out ‘I am the Number Four’.

Just Listen, Clarke Reynolds

Hey everyone! So, for this weeks Sunday style I decided to do something slightly different, instead of doing the usual collage of images, I added background colours to each of the different pieces.

Hopefully, you like this, and if you have other ways to improve it, or have any suggestions of characters I could do, leave your comments down below.

Here is the link to the collage, created using Fashmates. And you can follow me there @crayolacreation.

The Rise of Nine by Pittacus Lore

Hey, everyone so back in 2016 I reviewed ‘I am the Number Four’, and one of the novellas: ‘Six’s Legacy’, and whilst I enjoyed those books, I had no intention of reading the entire series when I already had such a long TBR. Truth be told I had nearly forgotten about the series when I found books three and four in a charity shop, I then decided that buying these books seemed like a good time to revisit the series.

Unfortunately, my copies of the first two books were at my parent’s house, so I went into the ‘Rise of Nine’, with only rough memories of what had happened in the first two books. However, this book picks up directly where the last finished, so I could more or less gather what had already happened. (Although thinking about it I could’ve just read the Wiki articles on the first two books…)

But for those of you, who are unfamiliar to the series, I’d just like to give a brief summary of the series. The Lorien Legacies series is about an alien race called Loric, who after battling with their enemies: the Mogardians, nearly became extinct. However, the Loric elders sent nine kids (each of whom were given a number) to earth, to help preserve the Loric race. A charm was placed on them, so that the only way to kill these kids were in order. The first novel takes place upon the death of number three, and is told from the perspective of number four, who knows he’ll be next.

Warning: from here on out there will be spoilers for the first two books in the series.

The book is divided into two parts and picks up where the last one ended. In the last book, Six and John (Four) have split up with Six going to Spain to find one of the other members of the Garde (Seven), and John rescuing another member of the Garde (Nine). Whilst in Spain, Six also finds an unknown member of the Garde: Ella (Ten), and they set off to find another member in the Garde believed to be in India.

The book is told from three perspectives: John (Four), Marina (Seven) and Six. Whilst, I felt like having two point of views was necessary, I would much rather just have the book told from the perspectives of John and Six. I’m also not a big fan of how the font changes to represent the different points of view, I’d find it much easier to keep track of the point of view if it was just told in the chapter heading.

One problem I have with this series is the number of characters. There were nine members (not including Ella) of the Garde originally, and six of them have met up now. I feel like one of the downsides of this, is that not all the characters get the attention they deserve, with a higher focus being on Four and Six. Which I wouldn’t mind, but the only thing Four seems to care about is Sarah, who he instantly fell in love with during the first book.

I liked the introduction of the new member of the Garde, and I liked the tests that they have to face prior to meeting him/ her. And, then we get to see the Garde re-unite (with the exception of the one missing Garde), for a fight against Setrákus Ra, I’m not big on fight scenes, but I really enjoyed this one, the Garde are fighting together, and whilst they more powerful together, it’s the first time we see what a big threat Setrákus Ra actually is. The ending of this definitely felt like the stakes were getting raised for the Garde.

Also, does anyone else picture Loki when they think of Setrákus Ra, or is it just me?

Overall, I’d give this book 3.5/5 stars, it’s a good book, and I enjoyed reading about the introduction of the new member of the Garde, and seeing more of Nine, Six and Ella.

Let it Snow, Jubilee Dougal

Hey, everyone and welcome to another ‘Sunday Style’. Today’s style is based off one of the outfits Jubilee wears in ‘Let it Snow’, which features short stories from Maureen Johnson, John Green and Lauren Myracle.

This is the outfit that Jubilee plans to wear for the Christmas Eve party at the start of the story. I also included the hockey stick since it’s mentioned that she plays field hockey.

Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard

Hey everyone, sorry that this blog post is slightly late. (Maybe I should rename this section something generic, since I seem to rarely update on a Tuesday…) Any-ho, onto the review of Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard. I already did a review of that book back in 2016, but that was three years ago, so consider this a re-review.

Side note: I originally bought the Zoella book club edition of this book, and the sticker obstructed part of the tagline. So, after three years I now know what the tagline is: ‘I was brave, she was reckless, we were trouble.’

Can we talk about how beautiful the cover is? I love both the Zoella and the original edition of the book. Is it bad that I want both editions?

This novel is also Sara Barnard’s debut novel, and since then she’s written ‘A Quiet Kind of Thunder’, and ‘Goodbye Perfect’. Her most recent novel is a sequel to ‘Beautiful Broken Things’ which was published in the UK last week.

Beautiful Broken Things stars best friends Caddy and Rosie, who have been friends for most their life, despite going to separate schools. However, on her sixteenth birthday Caddy wishes for something ‘significant’ to happen. And, then Suzanne, comes into her life, and her whole world turns upside down.

First of all, lets talk about Caddy and Rosie. Similarly, to the two of them, me and my best friend, ending up going to different secondary schools. And, I just want to say props to them, it’s hard maintaining a friendship when you don’t see them every day.

However, at the start of Year 11 (sophomore year I think?) Rosie befriends the new girl: Suzanne. At first, Caddy isn’t threatened, but seeing how close the two of them are, she starts to become jealous. While, her jealousy is understandable, the way she deals with Suzanne and Rosie’s budding friendship is largely built on her jealousy.

Anyhow, onto the characters. There are three main characters:

  • Caddy- Caddy is our protagonist, and Rosie’s best friend and she befriends Suzanne later on in the novel. At the beginning of the novel Caddy wants something significant to happen*. Caddy isn’t perfect, one of her biggest flaws is her jealousy. However, it seems natural to feel threatened by someone when it’s just been you and your friend for so long. She also has a tendency to treat people differently after learning more about them. Caddy is also a great friend and goes above and beyond for her friends, even if that’s not what they need.
  • Rosie- Rosie is Caddy’s best friend, and she befriends Suzanne at the start of the year. Rosie is confident, funny and straight-talking. I like Rosie’s honesty, and the fact that she doesn’t treat people any differently even when she finds out more about them. Rosie is also incredibly protective of Caddy which is really sweet.
  • Suzanne- Suzanne is the reckless part of the tagline, she is cool, confident and mysterious. She befriends Rosie at the start of the novel, and after a rocky start befriends Caddy. At the beginning of the novel there is aura of mystery around her, and later on in novel delves into her past.

I loved all the characters in the book, I think Rosie is probably my favourite, since I probably would’ve made the same decisions as her. However, I really liked Suzanne and Caddy grew on me throughout the novel. I also liked how realistic the characters were, they all felt and acted like real teenagers.

So, last time I think I rated this book 4/5 stars, and I think that I’m going to give it 5/5 stars. I loved this book, and I loved the importance of female friendship. I also love how accurately female friendships were portrayed. (Have I used the world ‘love’ enough yet?). There is very little romance, and the focus is on Caddy, Suzanne and Rosie, which makes it a pleasant change to most YA books.

Final notes: I just read my previous review and it ends with ‘I think that Sara Barnard is definitely an author to watch out for in the future,’ and I would just like to reiterate that point. Sara Barnard is most definitely an author to watch out in the future.

Also, as a Welsh person, Welsh cakes (a.k.a. squashed scones) are one of my favourite foods ever, and everyone should have some.  

* Although, my thoughts are that significant things happen when you least expect it.

The Paper and Hearts Society: Tabby Brown

Hey everyone! So by now you have probably given up hope of me updating with a character inspired outfit, and admittedly I did lose inspiration. However, after an amazing cover reveal of ‘The Paper and Hearts Society’ on Friday, I couldn’t not do an outfit for the main character Tabby Brown.

The Paper and Hearts Society is a book by blogger, YouTuber and host of the UKYA chat: Lucy Powrie. The book will be released on the 13th June 2019 in the UK and Ireland, and on the 11th June in Australia. However, you can also preorder it on The Book Depository. You can read the cover real blog post here.