February

Before I begin this post, let me just start by apologizing. To my readers and followers, and also to my blog. It’s been nearly a month since I last updated, which just isn’t right! I vow to not let that happen again anytime soon, so expect some good things to come!

Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo

The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancey

A Sense of the Infinite, by Hilary. T. Smith

Vengeance Road, by Erin Bowman

All the Rage, by Courtney Summers

The Story of Owen, by E.K Johnston

February was an odd sort of reading month for me. We began required reading in my English classroom, so what you see above is an assortment of my personal choices and necessary lit.

I began the month strong with Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. I took so much from this book, because when I put it down it was like someone had messed around with my heartstrings. If I honestly had to sum up this book in a few words, it would be SO. MANY. FEELS. Just…. so many. I don’t really think I’m going to say much more as I have a special review for it coming up, but all I have to say is this is a definite favourite of mine at the moment.

The next book I read was The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, which was as good and addicting as other reviewers have said. I felt that at times it could be a bit ridiculous, but there was such a strong cast of characters, and a plotline that was so crazy it just worked. It was a novel that really made you THINK about the bigger picture, considering this was a book where aliens took over Earth and wiped out a huge chunk of our population. And come to think of it, the plot wasn’t so crazy as one would think. I mean there could be a chance that one day… Ah, nevermind. I told you this book made you think too much. (But really, I loved it!)

A Sense of the Infinite was the first of my school’s required reading. It was a contemporary novel about best friends, and how sometimes relationships don’t always work out, especially when one half of it is more controlling than the other. I liked the story enough that I continued to flip pages in anticipation, because it didn’t feel required to me. I believe I could’ve picked this book up on my own, and overall it made for a quick read.

Erin Bowman’s Vengeance Road was one of the originals I had chosen at the beginning of the year that were put on my MUST READ list. And rightfully so. Who’d’ve thought I’d fall in love with the gritty plains of Arizona, 1877? Yes… that was my attempt at the dialect featured in the novel, which made the experience all the more amazing! This Western exceeded my expections and more. With such a strong-headed protagonist who is definitely a new heroine in YA literature, addictive writing that never failed to set the time and place perfectly in my mind, and a riveting conclusion that kept me turning the pages until the very end, following Kate down the road of vengeance was a thrilling journey for sure! More Westerns, please! 😀

All the Rage was also on the school’s list, but the thing was, I had heard of it before. In the end though, it didn’t matter how I ended up picking it up- on my own or because of class- because what mattered was that I got the chance to read it either way. This was a book that tells the story of a girl in a small town who got raped, and the aftermath of it all. Evident by the title, it was dark, serious, and made readers feel, just as I felt anger along with the protagonist. This was certainly a powerful novel that I believe everybody needs to read.

I finished off the month of February with E.K Johnston’s The Story of Owen, which I was conflicted about. For me, it started off really slow, and I wasn’t into it at all. (If you haven’t guessed it yet: This was also required reading). It picked up though towards the middle, and made for an interesting urban fantasy. Not something I would pick up in a store or library myself, though.

Well there you have it! As I promised at the beginning, I’m going to be better now. More updates, more news, and more reading!

Your fellow bookworm,

Zoie 😉

September

Is it November already? Huh… well, this seems like a good a time as any to tell you my September reads, which are long overdue!

Here we go:

P.S I Still Love You, by Jenny Han

Like it Never Happened, by Emily Adrian

Playing with Matches, by Suri Rosen

Mosquitoland, by David Arnold

Velvet, by Temple West

Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard

Oh, I loved all of these books! There were some that really stuck with me, others that were just a delight to read, and others that were a bit different…

Since I’ve kept you all waiting for a full month now, I’m going to do this month’s reads in a new way, by categorizing them in the three ways I mentioned above.

First, the ones that were a delight to read! (Because everyone needs books like that in their life):

P.S I Still Love You was one of those light reads that I grabbed immediately upon finishing its previous book, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, which I read in August. I felt that the sequel was a necessary read if you loved the first, and thought it summed up Lara Jean and Peter’s love story quite well. For any fans of Jenny Han, her latest book did not disappoint!

Another YA I read this month that was just as compelling and wonderful was Emily Adrian’s Like it Never Happened. She has such great writing that resulted in me never wanting to put it down. I vaguely recollect myself late into the night reading this book, eyes drooping with the desire to sleep, but always telling myself “just one more chapter!”. Warning- you may read this novel in one sitting.

The last book in the category of “Books that were a delight to read,” is Playing with Matches, by Suri Rosen. I really liked this book because the writing was just straightforward, yet still with the whole show-don’t-tell thing going on, making it easy to follow. The story line was actually really interesting, with teen matchmaker trying to set up her older sister without her finding out that it’s her, and is also set in my home city, which was just super awesome. (Don’t you love when that happens? They mention a location or franchise you’ve heard of and you’re just like “I know where/what that is!! I’ve been there!” Ah, jolly times.)

Next category, please! Here we have “Books that were a little different.” And guess what? There’s only one book listed…

And it’s debut YA author David Arnold’s Mosquitoland. Even the name appeals to me, despite describing such a land being one of my worst nightmares- but don’t worry; besides some face paint and references to Mississippi, there’s not much of the pesky blood-sucking insects! This novel is listed as a little different as it took a while for me to get into it, if only because of the writing. At times it felt overwhelming, with it being full of witty sentences and large adjectives. Think of it like this: When you start an old classic (say Pride and Prejudice), you notice that all the old English can be a bit hard to follow and understand at times, but after a while you get so used to it that the rest of the book reads smoothly and you almost don’t notice it anymore. That was what my experience with Mosquitoland was like- after you got used to the fancy-ish writing, it was a truly enjoyable book. In fact, I appreciated the writing that made the book up, and besides the unforgettable bold protagonist Mim, was one of the reasons I really liked this novel.

And now for the books that stood out with me, my favourites of the month of September!

First of all, I’ll mention Red Queen. You may or may not have read my blog post on it, where I may or may not have fangirled over it. Why? Because it was just AMAZING. A must read for any fans of YA, Dystopian, Fantasy, Science Fiction, or all of the above! There’s so much I can say about it, but I feel my last post summed up all my feels in a more elaborative format, so check that out if you’re interested 😉

And lastly, there was Velvet by Temple West, which, (wait for it), was a vampire romance. I know, I know! I was totally dubious going in, because the first thing I thought of was Twilight, and I just had mixed feelings. But I am not ashamed to say how much I sincerely loved this book, and that it has become one of my favourites! It just goes to show that you always have to give things- whether novels or otherwise- a chance, or else you’ll miss out on a whole lot of awesomeness. Also, a lot of books I was hesitant to read have become new favourites of mine, and Velvet was just another example of a skeptical Zoie being proven wrong, and boy, was I glad!

Those were all the reads for September! I realize now that October’s reads will need to be uploaded pretty soon, so stay on the look out for that, too. I also have some really exciting posts I can’t wait to share with you all that will be coming in random intervals in the next month or two to come!

Until then, keep on reading!

Zoie 🙂

Red Queen: Why You Should Read It

Dear readers,

As I write this, I’m sure you are wondering why I’m creating an open letter about why you should read Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, and not post a review in its place. The answer for that is simple. Red Queen was an amazing read, leaving me consumed by my own emotions, conflicted as they were. I have so much to rave and rant about, but alas, a rant about a book is not a review, and I would be a fool to sell it as one.

Just to catch you up (in case you haven’t already read Red Queen and is the only reason you are reading this letter right now), this novel is about Mare Barrow, and her country which is divided by blood. There are those like her, the common red-blooded folk, who for as long as they remember have served the elite Silvers, who have supernatural abilities, and are nearly gods compared to the Reds. When Mare discovers that she has a special ability of her own- she can control lightning- and in front of the royal court at that, the King quickly has her act the role of a lost Silver princess, in order to hide this seemingly impossible occurrence. From there Mare is transformed into Lady Mareena Titanos, but she refuses to forget the true colour of her blood, and the way these people have treated her own. Thriving to make a change, she serves as a double agent to the Scarlet Guard, a Red rebellion that is rapidly growing.

Reason #1 on why this novel should be read by you is this: it leaves you befuddled, and you don’t know who in the book to trust anymore, not even who in the book to root for.

It sounds crazy, believe me, but it has been a while since a story has made me feel this way- torn, astounded, stupefied. As an avid reader, it’s honestly an amazing feeling. You know you have been invested in the novel if it makes you feel such emotions, and I believe that if it has managed to do that to you- melt you into a puddle of confusion and uncertainty- then it most definitely is a story worth reading.

It was just ALL THE FEELS, evoking emotions out of me I didn’t expect would be evoked. As I read Red Queen, it wasn’t rare to find me ranting on about my troubles, especially when twists that were uncalled for were thrown at me, causing me to drown in my own hopes and doubts. There was a line in the novel that was used throughout, and I can say that it was very appropriate to use in this case- Anyone can betray anyone.

Reason #2: The Characters

Oh, the characters! So many of them with unique attributes, each masterfully crafted. Victoria Aveyard managed to create a variety of them within this novel, every single one bringing front a new heroine, hero… or villain. But there was never a character that was truly evil, or even completely good. I liked that each one seemed real, whether they were Silver or Red. I loved being introduced to new ones as the plot progressed, and as the lies and truths of them unraveled, I felt like I was getting to know their true personalities, no matter what I first believed.

Reason #3: The Dystopian, Fantastical, and Science Fictional Elements

Okay, so just based on that reason, you know it’s extremely impressive that author Victoria Aveyard even managed to combine all the aforementioned elements into one novel, and managed to pull it off.

Enough said.

Reason #4: The Writing

This book read like it was extremely well planned out. Of course with dystopian novels (and fantasy and sci-fi), there has to be some amount of outlining in order for the author to know what direction they want their story to go, especially one as complex as this one, with many plot twists that managed to twist my heart as well. I thought to myself a number of times as I was immersing myself in Mare’s world that this stuff just couldn’t be onthe-spot-thinkingThere was no way that Aveyard would be able to enter such lengthy paragraphs of description and back story all in the spur of the moment. This was all carefully constructed, and the most beautiful part was, it still managed to flow smoothly, despite it being obvious that the author must have spent countless hours thinking about the setting and plot beforehand. The writing itself was enticing and addictive to read. I loved it, because it seemed like the author knew was she was talking- ahem, writing- about.

Reason #5: The Plotline

I’ve already sort of touched up on this in the reason above, but it deserves to be a reason on its own. I mean, a world divided by blood? Genius! It’s something that hasn’t really been touched upon before, if only because (as far as I know) red is the common colour of blood that pulses through our veins. Books have covered barriers among people with different genders, races, and wealth (or factions, districts, castes), but never blood. And the fact that one of the Reds contains powers and abilities only Silvers should possess is extremely appealing. I needed to see how she would turn out- what would happen to her– as she is betrothed to a prince, while secretly plotting behind the King and his nobles in a Red rebellion.

So that’s all my reasons, even though there are several sub-reasons I could come up with if I wanted. Of course, that would make for an endless letter, so hopefully you have read enough about why I believe Red Queen should be a must read on your list and read it to see for yourself. You see, my secret plan does not differ much from Mare Barrow’s. I am hoping to have a Red rebellion of my own- to convert all you red-blooded beings out there into hard-core Red Queen fans!

I’d like to finish off this exceedingly long letter by apologizing to anyone I talked an ear off to expressing the love I had for Red Queen, and all the troubles I experienced while reading it (Even now, I don’t know who to ship! It’s quite perplexing). I figured that it’d be more fair to the people I did this to if I shared my thoughts in an open letter for all of you to read! So, in a way, it worked out for us all 😉

Signing off,

Zoie, a reader who is itching to get her hands on the second book, Glass Sword.

P.S. Victoria Aveyard, if you haven’t realized this by now, you’re a mastermind.

May

Well, when it’s mid-June you begin to question whether or not I’ve forgotten to update for the reads of May. Never fear, I have not! I actually have a few posts I’m excited to share with you, but those will have to wait, because it’s time for May’s reads:

Insurgent, by Veronica Roth

Allegiant, by Veronica Roth

The Heir, by Kiera Cass

The Revelation of Louisa May, by Michaela MacColl 

Saint Anything, by Sarah Dessen 

Just One Day, by Gayle Forman 

Just One Year, by Gayle Forman 

Now, majority of these were very pleasurable reads. I don’t have many complaints.

I told you last month how I reread Divergent by Veronica Roth. Insurgent and Allegiant are the others in the trilogy, which did not dissappoint. And like I previously mentioned, as I had forgotten most of the plot and the main points, it was nice to be reminded of the genius behind it (because seriously, I love the idea!) and see the great writing style again. For Allegiant, I’ve heard many people say they didn’t like how it ended the trilogy, but for me, I found it a nice way to wrap it up. I mean, they were some parts that were… upsetting *looks this way and that and keeps mouth shut* but overall I enjoyed it.

Now, The Heir. This was the continuation of The Selection, which followed Prince Maxon’s daughter as she went through her own Selection. For fans of the original trilogy, this is a MUST READ. If you thought you hadn’t had enough of the first three, then this is meant for you. Seriously, when I heard that a fourth was coming out it just made me so happy! It was great seeing familiar characters yet exciting to fall in love with new ones.

And for all those Little Women fans? Ever wondered about the life of the beloved author, Louisa May Alcott? Well, imagine my delight when I heard about a fictional yet near-the-truth book that was recently released. The Revelation of Louisa May is hinted with mystery and romance, and definitely worth your time. Check it out!

I also read Gayle Forman’s Just One Day and it’s sequel, Just One Year. I have to say, I preferred the sequel much more than the first. But what was very unique was the way the two were written: each one had a different narrator, following their journeys as they tried to find each other.

Time to get real. Or more real than I was before. On the same date that The Heir was released, Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen was as well. And I am a HUGE fan of Dessen and her books, so it was just absolutely necessary for me to read it. It was especially precious because I knew it was a very difficult writing year for Sarah Dessen, when she put aside her latest novel after it wasn’t working for her. (Source, her website!) But then after periods of not writing, the idea of Sydney (Saint Anything’s protagonist) and the Chathams appeared, and she finished her first draft in a mere four months. Talk about talent! It was very well written and had a great story line, so for any Sarah Dessen fans, this is also a must.

Hope this helped you find your next summer reads 😉

-Zoie

April

I want to apologize for not updating in a while! It’s halfway through May and still I haven’t done my reads for April… Better move forward then. Here are April’s reads!

Looking for Anne, by Irene Gammel 

Anne of a Windy Poplars, by L.M Montgomery 

Anne’s House of Dreams, by L.M Montgomery 

Divergent, by Veronica Roth

Looking for Anne, I have to say, was a wonderful read! Written by Irene Gammel, it is the “Untold Story of a Literary Classic” as the back text suggests. For any fans of Anne of Green Gables, I strongly recommend it. This takes us to Maud’s past, where readers are able to make connections as to how Lucy Maud was able to take parts of her life and spin it into the writing of Anne. It was extremely intriguing and definitely gave me a deeper understanding of the series and the author.

But of course, I needed to continue on with the Anne stories as well! Anne of Windy Poplars took us to her life in Summerside, as she worked as a teacher. It was a new setting with new characters to meet, and was refreshing. Although I prefer Anne as a child, it was fun to see her all grown up and taking a new path in life!

Anne’s House of Dreams, I have to admit, has become my favourite Anne sequel! I loved meeting Leslie Moore and Captain Jim, and even Miss Cornelia Bryant! This book is about Anne’s married life, living in her little House o’ Dreams. It was such a sweet book to cuddle up to, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Now first- I have a confession to make! After Anne’s House of Dreams I did attempt to read the last Anne book, Anne of Ingleside. I made it more than halfway but soon was distracted by the world of YA. I do hope Miss Montgomery will forgive me. Maybe one day I will return to finishing it, but in my heart I know that NONE can compete with the original. And for this reason I decided to put the book down and pick up Divergent again.

Now, I have read the trilogy before and remember liking it a lot, but for all of my thinking I could not remember much of it! But after finishing it I know why I liked it so! I really do love dystopian plots and felt that Veronica Roth really made a refreshing one. In Divergent you must choose which faction you will belong to- Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the kind), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), or Erudite (the intelligent). I just admired how unlike many other dystopian novels you had a choice of where you belonged, instead of being born into a faction/district/caste. But in Divergent, one choice can transform you. It follows Beatrice Prior as she takes her journey as an initiate in a world where choices are everything.

Well, it was only four books but each was exciting and unique in their own way! Thanks for being patient with my posts. I’m sure to be back in track with them now!

Your fellow bookworm,

Zoie 📚

February

Although this month is short I still made time for reading!  Here are February’s reads:

The Rule of Three, by Eric Walters

Atlantia, by Ally Condie

Along for the Ride, by Sarah Dessen

Zomboy, by Richard Scrimger

Keeping the Moon, by Sarah Dessen

Just Listen, by Sarah Dessen

These have been the first Dessen books I’ve read in 2015, and let me tell you, they did not disappoint! Along for the Ride by far is my favourite one. It was beautifully crafted and the plot just progressed so smoothly and wonderfully that I really couldn’t believe it! Amazing! But Keeping the Moon gave it a run for it’s money- I’d say it is right up there in my Sarah Dessen list (which I do have) along with Dreamland as well. While significantly smaller in size, the novel had a message I couldn’t get out of my head. It taught me the true meaning of friendship, and had me often thinking long after I had finished. Another point, Dessen! Just Listen was also good, but I felt some parts were slow and repetitive.

Zomboy was an interesting book, and refreshing and new. It was quick-paced but a nice change from novels that are often full of paragraphs that aren’t always necessary. And Eric Walters’, The Rule of Three, was a nice book, full of ideas I found quite genius. Although slow at first, I found myself ready for the sequel, Fight for Power.

Well, that’s all for this month. Hope March brings more sunny days and wonderful books!

Zoie 📕

Atlantia

I just finished Ally Condie’s latest book, Atlantia. I read her Matched trilogy and thought I’d give this a try. I didn’t know how much I’d love it.

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Altantia is a book about an underwater city, built so that society can survive. Every year they have a Divide, when the people Below choose whether they want to stay in Atlantia or go Above. For as long as Rio could remember, she’s dreamt of going Above, to feel the sun on her face and see the endless sky. But after her mother’s death, she promises her twin sister that she will stay with her Below. So when the time of the Divide comes, and Rio forever chooses to stay, her sister Bay abandons her and is whisked away to Above.

Confused and heartbroken, Rio is left Below with no parents or sister. But with the help of her aunt Maire and new friend True, she tries to figure out why her sister has gone and raises questions about her mother’s mysterious death. She learns the truth about her world and more about her true identity- and how using your voice really can make a difference in the outcome of things.

Atlantia was amazing and wonderful and I love, love, loved it! I thought the idea of an underwater world was genius, especially when the Above still existed. This book drew me in and I couldn’t put it down! Thank you Ally Condie for this story that I could have never imagined made possible! Atlantia is definitely a story that I’d recommend to readers that love dystopian plots. Only this story has many creative and original ideas and was crafted to perfection!