Sunday, 27 April 2014

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay (If I Stay, #1)Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, admiring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. In an instant, almost all of that is taken from her. Caught between life and death, between a happy past and an unknowable future, Mia spends one critical day contemplating the only decision she has left. It is the most important decision she'll ever make.

If I Stay is the first book I've read by Gayle Forman, and after waiting for months to buy this book and finally read it, I certainly wasn't let down.

Mia is an incredibly talented cellist who loves her life. She has a wonderful family and boyfriend, and she's going to attend a renowned Music College. Then, whilst on a car journey, Mia is involved in a car crash, in which she is the only survivor. Mia has to chose whether she wants to continue to live, or die.

This is a book which is very hard to write a review about. It was brilliant, but the brilliance is so difficult to describe. The characters within this book were exceptionally likeable, you could see where they were all coming from with their points of view as they witnessed the aftermath of the accident. Additionally, all of them, even the minor characters, like the nurses who look after Mia whilst she's unconscious were so well developed that you could be convinced that they were as prominent as Mia in the story. And Forman didn't spare any gruesome details when describing this part either.

Mia and Adam... gah! Mia and Adam's relationship was written beautifully as was the entire novel, but this in particular. A lot of people would dislike the idea of a high school romance as in a lot of cases in fiction, they aren't destined to go anywhere, but I loved this. You could see the clear connection between Mia and Adam and the thing that pulled them together - music. They were so deeply and truly in love with each other that even in the darkest moments of the book you get the reaction that you'd have to a light contemporary and sort of feel warm and happy inside. Their love was something that is one of the most memorable parts of the book and something that will probably stick with me for a long time.

The writing as I've already mentioned was stunning throughout this book, especially when handling the subject of death. You can't help but feel sorry for Mia as her whole life is turned upside down and at times, you just want to hug her. I think one of the reasons the writing really appealed to me was because of the countless musical references. As someone who plays the cello and is a cellist, violinist and pianist themself, I really enjoyed the way that that was panned out. Like there was a scene between Mia and Adam, which was discretely played out covered by musical references, and things like that throughout the book were really enjoyable to read.

So basically this book was just phenomenal, and I can't get it out of my head. It definitely exceeded my expectations and I feel very pleased to say that I've read this.


Holly x

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Interviewing Cat

Today I'm interviewing the lovely Cat from Through A Cat's Eyes. I've been meaning to post this for quite a while, but wanted to fit it in somewhere in April, given that then it's a year since Cat interviewed me over on her blog, so I felt it fitted in some way. Anyway, here it is:

1) Welcome to A DayDreamer's Thoughts! Could you begin by telling s a little about yourself and Through A Cat's Eyes.
Thank you for having me! I'm Catriona (Cat for short); I'm a 16 year-old, vertically challenged, Scottish Nerdfighter, with a passion for all things pretty and a growing book-hoarding problem. Through A Cat's Eyes was born almost 7 years ago (my old posts are deleted though to prevent major embarrassment) and it's my pride and joy. It's a bit of a mixed bag... I blog about books, beauty, decor and general lifestyle stuff - new posts every Wednesday and Saturday!  My blog is my baby. ^_^

2) How did you come up with the name?
It actually started out as "What I've Done Today" *head-desk* but I changed it to "Life Through a Cat's Eyes" a few years ago, and to "Through A Cat's Eyes" about a year ago.I'm known as a Cat by friends and family so I kind of took it to mean, like what life looks like from my perspective. I also just really love cats and have always wondered what life is like on their end, s it kind of has a double-meaning.

3) I discovered you and your blog through Shout Magazine back in 2012 - How did being featured in that come about?
Oh, I'm happy to hear that! I was having a look on the Shout! website and I realised that there was nothing about blogging on it, even though blogging was starting to become more popular. I contacted them raising the issue, not expecting any response, but they replied within a few days asking fr my blog URL. They had a look at my blog and emailed me back asking if I'd be interested in being interviewed for the magazine! I still can't quite believe that it actually happened...

4) Interesting! Do you have a favourite book? If so what is it?
That's one hell of a question... I don't think I have one all-time favourite book but there are a few that are tied for the top-spot: Paper Towns by John Green, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, Starter For Ten by David Nicholls and The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks. There are way too many books to pick on favourite!

5) Do you have any blogging goals?
I'd love to reach 400 GFC followers by the end of 2014 (I hit 300 at the very beginning of the year!) and it would be awesome to be featured somewhere else this year as well. As fr long-term goals, I'd love to hit 1000 GFC followers at some point in the future and maybe even be able to make blogging into a career.

6) Are there any other blogs that inspire you and inspire what you write?
I try not to let myself be influenced by other blogs so I can keep my content pretty original but there are a lot of blogs I really love and a lot of bloggers I admire. Obviously there are the bigger bloggers like Zoella, Lily Melrose, Vivanna Does Makeup, Sprinkle Of Glitter, and Essiebutton (I absolutely love them!) but I also really admire bloggers like Amber from The Mile Bookshelf because she has done so well for herself, and Lexie from Oh Pink Candyfloss for coming so far since she started blogging.

7) What are you currently reading?
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides - my friend Jenni recommended it; I'm half-way through and loving it so far.

8) What is at the top of your TBR pile?
Perfume by Patrick Suskind, and Everybody Sees The Ants by A.S King. They're a couple of my newest books but they went straight t the top of my massive TBR pile - they sound amazing!

9) Now for a question that I answered for an interview on your blog a year ago - Where do you see yourself in ten years time?
I feel bad for asking this question now that I need to answer it; it's impossible! I'm not even kidding when I say I have no idea what I want to do with my life. In ten years I hope to have a good steady job that I enjoy, be living in a cute little apartment with a couple of cats (and hopefully a boyfriend), and maybe even be doing something music-wise that isn't just busking with my friend. My dream job would probably be a creative director or editor for an amazing fashion or interior design magazine.... we'll see where that goes. :D

10) Finally, do you have any advice for new bloggers?
Ignore what everyone else is doing and just do what floats your boat. Oh and enjoy it! Blogging isn't all about numbers.

Thanks to Cat for letting me interview her. Cat is one of my favourite bloggers and I hugely admire her, so it was great fun to do this. Remember to check out her blog!

Holly x

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Bookish Paradise

The thing that I want to talk about today is not a book specifically. This isn't a review or a feature or a tag or anything like that. This is a ramble of delight about the book blogging community.


I'm writing this at 9pm on a Friday night and after turning my laptop on I had a little brainwave. For the past year apart from Cat's blog Through a Cat's Eyes, I've not actually read any blogs that aren't book blogs. So why not have a look around at some other blogs?



So I went and had a look around. I'm 15 years old, and I'd say that I've held on in childhood for a little longer than a lot of the girls I know. A lot of the people I know from the age of 12 have been covering themselves in make up, dressing like adults and have tried (unsuccessfully) to act older than they are. I don't like people like that - that's why I'm not one of them. But I would like to learn how to do my make up or learn a little more about make up. I immediately went to look at some beauty blogs like Zoella and Sprinkle of Glitter and judging by this post, you can probably tell that that didn't go too well.


The fact is that when reading blogs like those, I feel pretty uncomfortable. Those people who write about make up and clothes and whatever else know what they are doing. I don't have a clue when it comes to make up, not a clue. They talk about this foundation and that blusher and this liquid eyeliner and I feel so uncomfortable because it feels like those people are on another planet to the one where I am. A planet without books. I don't feel like I have a place when reading blogs like that because they talk about stuff that isn't compatible with who I am.


I love the book blogging community. That's the reason I wrote this post. I feel like I do have a place here, a secure place where I've never been made to feel uncomfortable. I admit there have been a few slip ups here and there  but other than that, I feel ironically safe on the internet. I've made friends here and I'm so glad I've gotten to know people who love books just as much as I do. 



Everyone wants a place somewhere, and I think I've found mine here.


Holly x

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Looking for Alaska by John Green


Looking for Alaska
Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (Fran├žois Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. After. Nothing is ever the same.

When you've read a book and absolutely loved it *coughs TFiOS* sometimes you create an expectation in your head that the other books that author has wrote will be just as good in different ways. Looking For Alaska didn't live up to that expectation.

Looking For Alaska follows Miles, who has decided to move away to a boarding school in Alabama. Whilst there he meets the Colonel (his roommate) and Alaska, the Colonel's friend. Slowly he falls in love with Alaska.

It is really hard to do a spoiler free review on this book, given that "After" begins halfway through the book and so much of my unhappiness rests on that second half of the book. I loved the characters, well, most of them. Miles was a character whose eyes I really enjoyed viewing life through. He was witty, clever and could recite quotes off the top of his head. Alaska... Alaska was such an interesting character with this dynamic to her which means you never know what's going to come from her next. The characters were easy to warm to but it was definitely the plot that let this book down.

Like I said without spoiling this for anyone, it's pretty hard to sum up why I didn't like this book. The first part was interesting, but not great, and it was incredibly slow paced. Then came the AFTER. The after was a huge let down. To be honest in the most strange of ways After was the part I was looking forward to most, but it was just a bit dreary. *SPOILER* I feel that the way that death was depicted in this book wasn't that accurate. I know that everyone deals with death in very different ways and that the way that Miles is in denial is apparent grief. However, I know from experience that when you lose someone you truly love, isn't anywhere near as painless as the way John Green portrayed it in Looking For Alaska. I admit the book was sad, but the emotion of someone dying just wasn't there. It felt like everything had been watered down. "After" dragged and whilst it was upsetting to find out how Alaska died, I think the how discovery of find out how it happened could have been wrote to a far more powerful level.



Holly x

Monday, 14 April 2014

Just Like Fate Tag

If by some chance of fate a book from your wish list or anything else you desire could magically fall into your hands, what would you like it to be?
If it were a book from my wishlist: Allegiant by Veronica Roth in Paperback
If it were anything else I desire: J.K Rowling's signature.

If you had the chance to go back in time and change a certain decision or choice, would you?
It depends what the circumstances of going back in time would be. One thing that I have been telling myself for the past few years is "Never go back in time". I'd never go back in time if it meant that I had to relive everything after instead of coming back to the present day . 
There are so many choices that I've made in my life that I regret and if I could change them I definitely would. The one that I would want to change the most out of all of my regrets, would be that I regret not moving schools sooner. So that would be what I'd change.

If you didn't like reading or writing, what would your alternative pastime be?
Well, if I didn't like reading or writing, as a musician I'd probably play the piano more frequently. I probably wouldn't have stopped playing the violin and cello either as I'd have the time to play them.

Are you known for worrying about the choices you make, or do you have no regrets?
I suffer from Anxiety, meaning I get very anxious over the simplest of things and I worry about everything humanly possible. I lead a life filled with What if?'s - that's just how my brain functions. 
As much as I'd like to be someone who lives by the idea of no regrets, that's just something I can't do.

If you were given the ability to see two different outcomes of your future, would you choose to look?
Absolutely! As much as one of the great things about the future is that you have no idea what is going to happen, I'd love to know what the possible outcomes could be. If I were given the ability to see two different outcomes of my future, I'd definitely look and then I'd see what I could do to get my life in the direction of the preffered outcome if that makes any sense.

Has a book ever influenced a decision you had to make?
Harry Potter has influenced the majority of decisions I've made in the past three years since I started reading the books. I would have never gone to London in 2012 and 2013, I would never own some of the things I own now, my life would be very different if it weren't for Harry Potter. I also know that a lot of the decisions that I want in my future life wouldn't happen if it weren't for those books too. Harry Potter inspired me to want to become an author and several other wishes for my future too.

Thank you very much to Amber for tagging me in this! 


Holly x

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Divided: The Final Film

So apparently, it has been announced that Allegiant (Divergent #3) is going to be split into two films. This is nothing new. 

In the past few years, quite a few series of films have wrapped up and released their final films. The reoccurring pattern in these films is that when being adapted from a book, that book is split into two films. So for example in this case we'll have Allegiant Part 1 and Allegiant Part 2.

This has now happened with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Breaking Dawn, and The Hunger Games along with Allegiant and it's kind of getting boring.
With Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it worked incredibly well, essentially because of the fact that the seventh book was rather heavy and as well as being action packed was filled with details and by splitting the final film into Part 1 and 2, those things were spread out and easier to take in. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows could never have been just one film. It just wouldn't have worked.

I'm not going to lie, I've never read Twilight and have no intention of doing so. But there is a rivalry between Harry Potter and Twilight and Breaking Dawn Part 1 was released not long after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 which (although it might not have been) looks like copying.

By splitting a book to make more films, it is a tactic to gain money, a tactic to gain attention, and a way of gaining publicity. It shouldn't be about any of those things. When deciding whether such a thing as this should happen, it should be about how that will look to an audience. 

I've not read Allegiant yet, as I'm only halfway through Insurgent now, but I've heard many bloggers disagree with the split or wonder if it'll work.


Honestly, I couldn't agree more with the points made by Amber (The Mile Long Bookshelf) and Samantha Shannon (Author of The Bone Season). Personally, I don't think it will work.

Holly x

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Belgium

I've mentioned a couple of times in the past week that I'd be writing about my trip to Belgium two weeks ago. 


35 pupils including myself left on the 27th March to go on a Battlefields Trip in Belgium. This was the first time I'd ever been abroad and so that was simply an exciting thing in itself. We travelled down from Manchester to Dover, and after being two hours late, got on the ferry to Calais. 


After travelling through France, we finally arrived in Belgium and stopped in the sunset at Lijssenthoek, which was a cemetery with one of only two graves for women who died in the battlefields. It was incredibly sunny for the evening, and rather beautiful. 



 Friday was an incredibly busy day as we went to 11 places, meaning there was a lot of getting on and off the coach. Early in the morning, we visited the Bayernwald Trenches, which were German trenches where Hitler had served at one point. It's surprising how shallow the trenches actually are when you're stood in one, never mind the fact that back in 1914 it would have been very muddy and wet. Prior to that, we had visited the Pool of Peace which was a mine in WW1 which exploded, killing all the soldiers inside instantly. 



In the evening, we attended the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate, where every day since the end of WW2, a memorial service has been held. Unfortunately, we couldn't see much but, there was a lot of music and singing, which finished the day off perfectly. After that the teachers decided to take us to a chocolate shop called Leonidas where we got a huge discount on all the Belgium chocolate (& Marshmallows) which was kind of like being in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.


The final day, Saturday, was equally exhausting. We visited the German cemetery in Langemark where we stayed. This was the only German cemetery we visited and for 8 AM it had a very cold atmosphere to it. Then we returned to Ypres where we'd been for the Menin Gate ceremony the night before to visit the markets, where we lost one member of our group of friends. Ypres really reminded me of the place I live. The streets are very similar and we also have a market so it was weirdly like being at home. After that we visited our final place in Belgium, which was a house in Poperinge where soldiers went for recuperation.


Arriving back in France, in 30C temperatures, on a Saturday afternoon, we were given 1 hour at Cite D'Europe which is essentially Calais' version of the Trafford Centre. Then after a delightful encounter with Border Control, we boarded the ferry for England. Some point into the journey my friends and I gave up trying to maintain any balance on the VERY wobbly ferry and found a carpeted spot and just sat on the floor. Later, following on from watching Marley & Me twice and getting just past London. We stopped at a service station for tea. Bearing in mind it was 10:30PM, I probably looked like a zombie to the woman who served me in Costa Coffee as I waited for my Blended Ice drink that I hoped would keep me awake. 



Holly x

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Grasshopper JungleIn the small town of Ealing, Iowa, Austin and his best friend Robby have accidentally unleashed an unstoppable army. An army of horny, hungry, six-foot-tall praying mantises that only want to do two things. This is the truth. This is history. It's the end of the world. And nobody knows anything about it. Funny, intense, complex and brave, Grasshopper Jungle is a groundbreaking, genre-bending, coming-of-age stunner.

This is possibly the most difficult review I've ever had to write. Simply because this is the first book I've ever been sent to review. 

When I received this book, I imagined loving the first book I ever reviewed as part of an agreement with a publishing house. But I didn't.

I just didn't. I really wanted to, but I didn't.

And to be completely honest, I don't think that this was down to the plot. The plot is bonkers. Not bonkers as in ridiculous bonkers, but brilliant bonkers. I liked how the plot started off, it was rather slow paced which meant you were able to take in every little thing. The idea of accidentally unleashing anarchy in the form of giant praying mantises is simply ingenious and I feel that that plot was let down by one main thing. The characters.

Austin is... well... Austin was a strange, strange character. I found it very interesting that he documented everything that happened in his life but other than that, I just couldn't stand him. There was a lot of repetitiveness in Grasshopper Jungle that gradually became less of a linguistic device and just developed into an irritating quirk of this book. This usually happened in Austin's monologues where he would repeatedly say "I'm a historian" or "This is history". I understood why it was used at first but, then the point became less and less effective. Additionally, within Austin's internal monologue, there are countless sexual references. Yes, it is very apparent that Austin thinks about sex... a lot. I'm someone who doesn't mind the odd reference here and there to sex, in fact I find it rather amusing. But this was just too much and it was a constant feature right from the beginning which lessened my liking for Grasshopper Jungle even more. 

Then there were the other characters such as Robby and Shann, and whilst I disliked them just as much as I did Austin, I just can't bring myself to have another ramble about them both. This is the first time I have DNF'd a book that I've reviewed here on my blog and I can honestly say that I think that was for the best as contrary to what I said earlier I didn't feel like the plot was going anywhere. For around the first 150 pages which is as far as I got, it was just life. Life was just happening as if the unleashing of Praying Mantises was never going to happen. And life was dull from my perspective. The book is 400 pages, so this is little under half of the book without anything of any major importance happening.

So what I'm trying to say is that this book had so much potential and could have been so great, if only the characters were a bit more dynamic and the plot's pace sped up a bit. Although I didn't finish this, I've given it a rating from what I've read.

Thank you to Electric Monkey for sending this to me to review. This book was in exchange for an honest review and that is what I've given.

 

Holly x

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Divergent Week!



So, this week, Cat from Through a Cat's Eyes and Rachel from Booktastic Reviews have been hosting a Divergent week. And I am the leader of Abnegation. If I'm fully honest, as many people who are in my faction have said about themselves, I know I'm not the most selfless of people. If anything I'm more Amity than anything else, but I had to chose to lead Candor, Erudite or Abnegation and I'm loving it so far and I feel this week has made me more selfless than I've been before now. Without further ado, I'm going to complete some of the Abnegation challenges right now.

Why Do I Love Divergent?
There are many, many reasons that I love Divergent. Firstly, because although I've not finished it yet, this is the first trilogy I've ever read and managed to successfully make it past the first book. It sounds like nothing but this means a lot to me as I often find it hard to get into Dystopia trilogies, but this one is working for me. I love how the characters you're meant to hate you hate and those you're meant to love you love although there is a tiny part of every character, even if evil that I love. 
I love the fact that this is kind of a reality shock, as this is something that could potentially happen in the near future. And personally I hope this doesn't happen in my lifetime, nor in my children's lives. If the world becomes divided simply on how our brain functions, whether we are more peaceful or braver than others, then we are in some ways destined for disaster.

What Am I Looking Forward in the Film?
The thing I'm most looking forward to is the characters that I've grown to love jumping out of the pages. I'm really hoping that Shailene Woodley does Tris justice and unlike what a lot of people are saying, I really hope that Theo James doesn't appear too old for Four in the film.
From what I've heard and seen from the trailers, the sets look perfect as do the costumes and I simply can't wait to see it.

I think later on, I may attempt to do a fan fiction. I'm not too sure. As a Harry Potter fanfiction author already, I love writing fanfiction but I'm currently writing what to me seems like the most challenging chapter possible.

Anyway, Happy Divergent week!

Holly x
Abnegation Leader


Friday, 4 April 2014

Published in April

Sleep No More
Sleep No More
Charlotte Westing has a gift. She is an Oracle and has the ability to tell the future. But it doesn't do her much good. Instead of using their miraculous power, modern-day Oracles are told to fight their visions—to refrain from interfering. And Charlotte knows the price of breaking the rules. She sees it every day in her wheelchair-bound mother and the absence of her father. But when a premonition of a classmate's death is too strong for her to ignore, Charlotte is forced to make an impossible decision: continue following the rules or risk everything—even her sanity—to stop the serial killer who is stalking her town.
Author: Aprilynne Pike
Date: 29th April 2014
352 Pages (Harper Teen) Standalone
A Kiss in the Dark
A Kiss in the DarkWhen Alex meets Kate the attraction is instant. Alex is funny, good-looking, and a little shy – everything that Kate wants in a boyfriend. Alex can’t help falling for Kate, who is pretty, charming and maybe just a little naive… But one of them is hiding a secret, and as their love blossoms, it threatens to ruin not just their relationship, but their lives.
Author: Cat Clarke
Date: 3rd April 2014
384 Pages (Quercus) Standalone
Don't Look BackDon't Look Back
Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it's one she no longer wants any part of. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She's getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she's falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash. But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn't just buried deep inside of Sam's memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?
Author: Jennifer L Armentrout
Date: 15th April 2014 (Disney Hyperion) Standalone 

Holly x