Holiday reads!

I don't know about you but holiday for me is all about the books! I love making a big pile of what I want to read and I end up reading books not on the pile and getting distracted by food and puppies and barely managing to read a couple. 

For a change, that's exactly what I'll do for this holiday! Above is the pile of books I'd like to read and you'll be able to see the pile of books I've actually anded up reading at the end of it. :)

Enjoy the sunshine!

Caro xx

Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor is the new girl in town, and she's never felt more alone. All mismatched clothes, mad red hair and chaotic home life, she couldn't stick out more if she tried. Then she takes the seat on the bus next to Park. Quiet, careful and - in Eleanor's eyes - impossibly cool, Park's worked out that flying under the radar is the best way to get by. Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall in love. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you're 16, and you have nothing and everything to lose. Set over the course of one school year in 1986, Eleanor & Park is funny, sad, shocking and true - an exquisite nostalgia trip for anyone who has never forgotten their first love.


I don't think I need to introduce this book, it's been rocking the YA world for the past year and it seems EVERYONE has already read it. There has been SO MUCH hype about this book that I wondered if I would like it. I rarely do when hype is concerned, but I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I can understand the hype surrounding it and even if I didn't completely LOVE it, I did think it was a great book.

The story brings together two characters. Eleanor has just moved back with her mother and step dad and sleeps in the same room as her three other smaller siblings. Things are very tough for her. She has no privacy at home and has to watch what she does in front of her step father. She is big with bushy red hair and second hand clothes. Not the popular girl type. Then there is Park, he is half-Korean and listens to a lot of (mostly alternative) music and reads comics. He doesn't feel 100% comfortable in his own skin and even though his parents are great, he feels his father would rather Park be a bit more like him (strong, masculine, white? ...). On her first day at school, Eleanor seats next to Park on the bus and from then on, they start getting to know each other and slowly falling in love. They don't fall in love immediately, they actually don't like each other very much, but they gradually fall for each other.

It completely passed me by that this was set in 1986. You'd think cassette tapes and no mobile phones would be a big hint but it just didn't register, I was whole-heartedly hooked to the story and to Eleanor and Park's emotions that this could have been set in 2013. This is such a universal story (first love) encompassing deep themes (racism, poverty, abuse...) that are sadly still alive and kicking today.

Eleanor and Park get to know each other through comic books and music. I am such a believer that art can soothe the soul and bring people together that I have loved seeing Park patch Eleanor up little by little with songs. 

So why didn't I LOVE the book, as everyone else seems to have? Well, I felt there were parts of the story that were either too present or too scarce. Eleanor's home life is heart-wrenching and horrible and I would have wanted to read more about her and her sibling and what happens to them. I also didn't see a lot about Park's life aside from his feelings from Eleanor and I really wish I had, especially about him being half-Korean. I felt the questions raised in the book (race, poverty, abuse, bullying...) could have been explored more thoroughly and sensitively. I know real life is never as neatly tied up as books are and sometimes things don't make sense but I would have liked more on these subjects to be able to completely fall in love with the book. 

A lot has been written about this book, some praising the love story and the writing, and some critising some aspects of the book and I think one should read the book as well as what others feel about it so do head over [here] to read John Green's review of it but also [here] to read Renae's review over at Respiring Thoughts for her thoughts on race in the book as well as Ellen Oh's opinion of the book as a Korean American [here]. And most importantly, head over to the comments to let me know what YOU thought about this book!

Recent YA novels I've read...

... and don't have time to review individually!

The Midnight Club, Christopher Pike
Rotterdam Home, a hospice where teenagers with terminal illnesses went to die, was home to the Midnight Club--a group of five young men and women who met at midnight and told stories of intrigue and horror. One night they made a pact that the first of them to die would make every effort to contact the others . . . from beyond the grave.
My wife is obsessed with Christopher Pike and read most of his books when she was a teen so she made a little pile of her favourites for me so I could discover him and The Midnight Club was the first one I've read. I absolutely loved it. The story is really compelling and the characters felt so real. I loved the plot and the writing is brilliant. 


Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell
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?
I'm guessing everyone has read this book by now! I read Eleanor & Park first and I liked it but didn't love it (I'll probably write a post about my thoughts soon) so I wasn't sure what I would make of Fangirl but I actually LOVED it. Part of the reason I loved it is the irrational feeling that this book was about my life at Uni. I've never written (or read) any fanfiction but I was a complete Potter fan (still am) and the book really reflected what I was feeling at the time. The love story was utterly adorable and I loved the characters.


A Boy Called Hope, Lara Williamson
I'm Dan Hope and deep inside my head I keep a list of things I want to come true. For example, I want my sister, Ninja Grace, to go to university at the North Pole and only come back once a year. I want to help Sherlock Holmes solve his most daring mystery yet. And if it could be a zombie mystery, all the more exciting. I want to be the first eleven-year-old to land on the moon. I want my dog to stop eating the planets and throwing them up on the carpet. And finally, the biggest dream of all, I want my dad to love me. A Boy Called Hope is a brave, bold and funny debut about family in all its shapes and sizes.
This is younger YA / older middle grade book and it is funny and heart-warming and sweet. I really loved it and I thought it's such a thoughtful book and I loved the characters and the writing. I went from laughing out loud to crying my heart out reading this book and I can't wait to read Lara's next books!


The Fiery Heart, Richelle Mead
Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets - and human lives. In The Indigo Spell, Sydney was torn between the Alchemist way of life and what her heart and gut were telling her to do. And in one breathtaking moment that Richelle Mead fans will never forget, she made a decision that shocked even her. . . 
But the struggle isn't over for Sydney. As she navigates the aftermath of her life-changing decision, she still finds herself pulled in too many directions at once. Her sister Zoe has arrived, and while Sydney longs to grow closer to her, there's still so much she must keep secret. Working with Marcus has changed the way she views the Alchemists, and Sydney must tread a careful path as she harnesses her profound magical ability to undermine the way of life she was raised to defend. Consumed by passion and vengeance, Sydney struggles to keep her secret life under wraps as the threat of exposure — and re-education — looms larger than ever.

I love all of Richelle Mead's books and after the end of Vampire Academy, I was so happy to read the Bloodlines series with Sydney and Adrian as the main characters. I love where the story is going and I can't wait to see how the series continues.


Half Bad, Sally Green
Half Bad by Sally Green is a breathtaking debut novel about one boy's struggle for survival in a hidden society of witches.

You can't read, can't write, but you heal fast, even for a witch.
You get sick if you stay indoors after dark.
You hate White Witches but love Annalise, who is one.
You've been kept in a cage since you were fourteen.
All you've got to do is escape and find Mercury, the Black Witch who eats boys. And do that before your seventeenth birthday.
There was so much hype about this book that I was excited (and slightly wary) to read it. I've read many good things about it and I liked the idea at the start but it sadly didn't quite work for me. I wasn't sure where the story was going and I wasn't rooting for many characters. I'll be interested to see how the sequel goes so I'll wait for reviews for this one.


Divergent, Veronica Roth
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

The big new YA franchise everyone is talking about. I wasn't keen on reading it when it first came out but I just wanted to give it a chance and I thought it was entertaining enough but I didn't quite see the point of this dystopian world and it didn't make a lot of sense. It's the case with most dystopian YA these days but I wasn't passionate enough about the characters or the writing to suspend disbelief like I've done for other books. I don't think I'll bother seeing the film but I've heard the dystopian universe actually makes sense in the sequels so I may give them a go next time I want a fast pace read.