Review: “Tell me Three Things” by Julie Buxbaum

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved? (Goodreads synopsis)


As far as YA books go I actually really enjoyed this one! I’ve seen a lot of bad reviews for this book on Goodreads for the cliché nature of the plot as well as the simplicity of the storyline but I think it was something that actually made it more accessible as a novel. The best way I could describe the plot of the book is it’s likeness to the film ‘You’ve got mail’ but for the millennial age. Jessie and SN engage in increasingly intimate conversations about the trials and tribulations both at high school and in their personal lives via instant messaging. This then develops into a search for the true identity of SN (I was very happy when I found out who it was! I was physically grinning at the result)

Being the nosy person I am, I always love a good dual narrative in a story and though I didn’t get to hear the voice of SN via chapter alterations I enjoyed the communication between the two unfold via the messages (If you like this element too, Emergency Contact by Mary H.K Choi does this really well!).

Not only does this book explore the intense rush of first love, it also deals with feelings of loss as well as homesickness. These opposing feelings leave us as the reader aching for Jessie, alternating between grief and her romantic endeavours with all her possible love interests. For these reasons I think the novel has more substance than other readers have found it having.

I really recommend this YA novel to read at this time of year, stories set in schools always manage to capture me.

Happy reading

Charlotte xxx

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Autumn Reads 2018

It is a truth universally acknowledged that book lovers and Autumn are a match made in heaven.

Autumn is by far my favourite season and September has been my favourite month of the year for as long as I can remember. Aside from it being my birthday month, I’ve always loved the atmosphere of back to school, purely because I love stationary more than any sane person (yes, I am a notebook addict/hoarder). As well as this, September has the perfect in-between kind of weather I love and I feel most at home wearing cosy cardigans, knitted tights and corduroy skirts.

To accompany the cosy atmosphere of the colder days and ever darkening evenings, books as equally as heartwarming are definitely on the agenda. I thus present some of my favourite autumnal reads:

  1. The Secret History by Donna Tartt: Despite only discovering and reading this novel for the first time back in April of this year, I WISH I had read it during Autumn. I’m a lover of stories set at school/uni anyway, but this books lyrical language and addictively degenerative plot definitely makes it the perfect read for long autumnal evenings.
  2. The Time Travellers Wife: I first read this book in France 3 years when we went away for my 18th birthday. One of my favourite things to do was to watch the mists over the hills in the early morning while snuggling down with my book for a couple of hours. I loved this book on first reading it despite not being my typical type of read. The span of Clare and Henry’s relationship made me completely invested in the characters outcomes and the jumping between narratives and time periods kept me interested until the end.
  3. Any of the Harry Potter’s: Pretty much a staple at this time of year along with their movies and the soundtracks. The whole Harry Potter universe makes me very nostalgic and emotional. I love that so many people have investment in this series of books/films and to me they sometimes seem like a welcome relief to reality, especially during darker colder days.
  4. Frankenstein: This year I’m studying a Gothic module at University from September-December which is going to make the darkening days even spookier for me. Frankenstein is by far one of my favourite texts I’ve ever studied. After reading it in one sitting on my 17th birthday, I was captured by Mary Shelley’s writing style and the history of both her and her mother’s lives. (I’ve also recently being watching the Frankenstein Chronicles starring Sean Bean which is an adaptation based off Mary Shelley’s monster  –  another good way to get into the spooky Halloween atmosphere later in the season).
  5. Pride and Prejudice: My love for period dramas has been instilled from my parents watching them for as long as I can remember, the most longstanding of these being the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. This is overwhelmingly nostalgic for me and I’m definitely due for a re-watch/re-read very soon.
  6. There’s Something Inside your House: Anyone who reads this blog will know of my undying love for Stephanie Perkins. When she released “There’s Something Inside your House” this time last year I ended up putting it off for 10 months purely because I really can’t stand Horror. Despite this, I did end up reading the novel over Summer and it’s definitely a perfect read for Halloween week. This teen Thriller/Slasher novel reminds me a lot of the Scream films and the book had me on the edge of my seat a lot!
  7. Oliver Twist: This perhaps might be edging over into Christmas a little more than Autumn but Dickens’ melancholy tale of orphan Oliver has been really appealing to me the last couple of weeks. I’ve had the beautiful mustard Vintage Classics edition sat on my shelf for a few months and with a bit of luck I’ll be able to read it over the coming season in amongst my Uni texts.

    Hopefully I will manage to make my way through some of these over the next few months! What are some of your favourite books to read in Autumn?

Happy reading!

Charlotte xxx

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Review: “Circe” by Madeline Miller

 

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child–not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power–the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love. (Goodreads synopsis)


This was a book that was talked about A LOT during 2017. I actually saw a synopsis of the story on an Instagram post by @Bloomsbury in mid 2017 and instantly put it on my tbr list for 2018. It’s very unlike the usual stories I tend to gravitate to – though I am trying to expand the type of genres I read.

What appealed to me straight away is the representation of a ‘lesser known’ character of Greek Mythology; I having only learnt about Circe after reading The Odyssey in my first year of University . The novel is steeped in myth and legend and I really enjoyed piecing together the fragments I knew about Greek mythology (The Minotaur, Odysseus etc) in comparison to the novels narrative structure of the protagonist.

The book has got a big reputation for being a great depiction of female agency, Circe being independent, defiant and self-sufficient as well as embracing her femininity/sexuality. The book has frequently been called a retelling of The Odyssey but upon reading it I was infinitely more drawn to Miller’s Circe and she was a lot more compassionate than her traditional counterpart.

One of the biggest takeaways I had from the novel was its discussion of morality and humanity when being attributed to the divine Gods/Titans. Circe finds it difficult to reconcile her upbringing with the empathy and compassion she has for the mortals throughout the book which ultimately, I found the most compelling aspect of the story.

I highly recommend this book as a brilliant reinvention of the tales included in The Odyssey, a wonderful exploration of morality and compassion as well as an emotional discovery of self-worth and learning where you belong.

Happy reading,

Charlotte xxx

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Review: “Isla and the Happily Ever After” by Stephanie Perkins ~ Review

Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last?

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Featuring cameos from fan-favourites Anna, Étienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series. (Goodreads synopsis)


After another re-read I decided to finally do a review of this book and complete my series of reviews for Perkins romantic ‘trilogy’. I love the universe Stephanie Perkins has created in the cities of Paris, New York and Barcelona. Reading this book made me feel like I was coming home to SOAP (School of America in Paris) after being away from it in the second book. I loved being reunited with the characters from the previous books as well as being introduced to new ones. Stephanie Perkins is by far my favourite YA author purely because she captured me so much with her characterisation of Anna and Etienne along with her beautiful descriptions of Paris. Isla and Josh are no exception to this, her portrayal of the complete enamour one feels when falling in love is depicted so sincerely, I cant help but swoon for it too!

In comparison to the previous two books in the trilogy, the relationship of Isla and Josh is much more sexualised and focuses on both the physical side of a relationship as well as the loving and compassionate. As well as this, the novel revolves around the couple itself rather than the pursuit of a relationship as in the other two books which does give it a different feel, despite being in the same setting as the first book. While I do prefer the unrequited “will they-wont they” kind of love that Anna and Etienne share, I was still smitten with Josh and Isla’s story and the book finishes off the series with the perfect fairy-tale ending  ❤

Happy reading

Charlotte xxx

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10 Bookstagram accounts I love

So this post comes with inspiration from @katerisheill who very kindly mentioned me in a similar post on her blog and bookstagram account (https://www.katerisheill.com/blog/10-bookish-instagram-accounts-i-love). I see a lot of people mentioning the algorithm on their stories and feeling disheartened by it so I decided to compile some of my favourite bookstagram accounts, big and small, in attempt to promote some positivity.

Continue reading 10 Bookstagram accounts I love

Review: “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last – inexorably – into evil  (Synopsis from Goodreads)

(SPOILERS)


 

“Forgive me, for all the things I did but mostly for the ones I did not”…like not picking up this book sooner! I admit that I bought this book on a whim while on holiday about a month ago having heard relatively little about it (I had seen it featured and raved about by @thebookwormofnotredame on Instagram which made it on my radar in the first place). The only real plot points I knew was that it was a book about students at a New England college and that their morality was brought into question after a definitive event in the novel. I had no clue that the novel centred on the Classics, I hadn’t even heard of the author before, though in my opinion this actually made it a much more enjoyable and immersive read. I was a little apprehensive about all the Greek jargon and concepts (I’ll admit I did have to Google a few references!) but this was fitting with the elitist nature of the characters.


One aspect of the reviews I have read since finishing the novel is that a lot of people enjoy the descriptive writing style of Tartt’s work and that she does this in such a way that leads the reader rather than being a waffley navigation through insignificant events. I definitely agree that Tartt has control over her audience, she managed to lure me into the plot of the novel with the various unexplained events Richard was able to pick up on, and I was also shocked by the amount I was able to accept the behaviour of the characters. The whole novel flowed well and everything was so justified that it felt there was no escape from the cycle of decline, I couldn’t put the book down until I found out how it all ended.


The group dynamic was perfectly composed with each character having their own specific individual quirks and personality traits, I especially loved the characterisation of Henry. His character development throughout the novel was the most advanced in my opinion which made him more intriguing as I was reading. I also loved Bunny as a character though I have a very love/hate relationship with him!


Another thing I love about the novel is that even though it was published in 1992 it still manages to captivate a modern day audience and enamour them with the philosophical, aesthetic and cultural principles that Tartt discusses. I also love that as a stand alone novel it is encapsulated in itself and as a reader I don’t want anymore from it. It left me instead with a lasting impression and leaves me to think about the entity in itself rather than a “what happens next” scenario.


I’d recommend anyone and everyone to read this novel. It’s mingling of the aesthetic and dystopian esque downfall with the backdrop of the college setting really does make it a modern day Greek Tradegy

Until next time,

happy reading,

Charlotte xxx

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