Review: Gifted – J.A George [PLUS Exclusive Interview with the Author!]

[I received a paperback copy of this book in return for an honest review]

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Synopsis: There is no chosen one in this story.

29915954Avery Gray was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and happened to make a decision that altered her future forever. It happens to all of us every day.

Avery is a size twelve university student with a penchant for dry humour, and she’s as normal as they come. Up until now, the biggest choice she’s had to make was glasses or contacts? At the moment, it’s stay and save, or leave and be saved.

Allow me to explain. One rainy afternoon, Avery had to make a choice: go through the alleyway or around it. Two possible options. One would have had her future continue on as planned, the other would ensure that her future never remained the same again. She unknowingly went with the latter.

But change is not always bad. Avery meets Theodore-James Connors, an enigmatic young man who takes her to Hayven, a city separated from the rest of the world, where only gifters – ordinary people with extra-ordinary gifts – can go. She soon finds herself in a close-knit group of friends she’d never have imagined herself in. Friends who are diverse in every possible way, from their ethnic backgrounds, to their personalities, from their gifts, to their life stories. Friends who make her laugh, who make her cry, who make her think and who make her…her.

However, change is not always good. The beautiful, golden city of Hayven has its dark side – Cliders. Gifters turned rogue, aka, Cliders are determined to aid fallen Clider, Madrina, return to rule Hayven. They will stop at nothing to make that happen, including harming those Ava has grown to love.

Again, Ava is faced with a choice: spend her days finding a way to inhibit Madrina’s return, or walk away. After all, she isn’t the chosen one. Yet, there exists a third option – rig the future itself and make it work for her.


Before I get into my review, I’d just like to say a big thank you to Jessica for sending me a copy of her novel for me to read and review. Not only did she send me a paperback, but it was also beautifully wrapped in tissue paper with a cute little tag with a hand-written note. It was just so thoughtful! I always feel humbled when authors contact me asking for me to read their books, I know how daunting it must be especially as a new author, to have people post their opinions all over the internet!

Now, onto the book. This was a little gift – I swear I didn’t know I was writing the pun until after it happened… I really enjoyed reading this! I absolutely flew through it. With very little time to myself, it only took a total of 4 days, which at the moment is very good going against my work schedule. It was fun, light hearted, easy to read, and had just enough mystery to keep me intrigued. Oh, and the cover is sooo pretty too!

Although at times I found it to be a bit expositional – there were points where we were just told a lot of information – I was interested to read about the world, characters and all of their unique gifts. In most novels you only find a few select “powers” that people possess due to their family, or what-not, but here each character had their own power, and a specific skill or development of that, be it telepathy, weather control, fire yielding etc. Along with this, cultural diversity was at the core of the characters, which made for a refreshing change, but could sometimes seem as though there was no specific reason for it beside to make sure that each denomination is represented. Thoughtful, and obviously fair, but was it essential? I don’t know, perhaps more themes such as race will be tackled in the coming installments.

I also want to know how the relationship between Ava and Theo is going to plan out. There was a little hint of something, but then nothing really kicked off. The superficial part of me is hoping for a romance, but the other part likes that it’s not obvious!

Overall, I would definitely recommend this to anyone who loves a bit of magic, adventure, mystery and teen fiction –  I know I’ll be reading the second book when it’s released!


A little interview with the author, J.A. George:

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

My author name is J.A. George and my full name is Jessica George. I’ll leave the middle name a mystery. I like to read, write, bake, socialise with my friends and watch movies at the cinema. I’m the author of GIFTED – The Hayven Series and I am a chocolate fiend. Seriously, it’s gotten to the point where I may need to seek professional help about it. My perfect day would involve all of the above and perhaps an hour or two spent at a food market. I can’t wait to adopt a dog, but I also want a pet pig…

How did you come about writing the book?

I started off writing Gifted because I wanted to read it. I wanted to read a contemporary YA fantasy novel that didn’t feature instant-love, a chosen one or a girl growing up in a dystopian society. I just wanted to read about someone normal, someone I could relate to. Someone who worries about the way she looks, but never says it out loud, has a sense of humour, thinks about the small stuff. Then I wanted to take her and place her in a world she never thought existed. I wanted to explore real young adult relationships, friendships and modern-day topics such as, body weight issues and cheating in relationships. Gifted is a lot less sombre than it sounds, I promise!

What are your inspirations?

There are many but I’ll list the main two. I am inspired by the opportunities and possibilities writing Gifted can bring and I am inspired by ordinary people who are extra-ordinary in some shape or form.

Any challenges you’ve overcome?

Yes, and that’s trying not to write for other people. Like I mentioned above, I wrote Gifted because I wanted to read it. Somewhere along the to year line I lost that and began crafting a book I thought readers would like and buy, dismissing my feelings entirely. In my second edition (the one that’s currently published), I happily returned to writing the book I want to read.

What plans do you have for the rest of the series?

There are three more books in the series and the POV will alternate. I am so excited for this! Things get a lot more serious in book two and onwards, and the group won’t always be together. So you’ll see what’s happening from each of the seven main character’s POV’s and maybe an additional extra or so.

This sounds so exciting! I know I for one, cannot wait for book 2…


“Where can I get a copy?!” I hear you say… why, just click the links below:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

You can find out more about Gifted here:

Blog

Twitter

Goodreads

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Review: Me Before You – JoJo Moyes

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

28813854Synopsis: Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.


Let me start by saying that this book crushed me. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much reading a book in all of my life. I cried during – the first time about half way through, and then constantly for roughly the last 100 pages – and I cried after. For a good half an hour. Like, ugly cried.

I’ve heard some people say that they feel it’s unoriginal, predictable and, disagreeably, boring… Okay, I have to agree that it was a bit predictable, we all knew what was inevitably going to happen in the end. But let’s face it, nothing could have ever prepared us for the emotional turmoil that it was going to put us through, and I for one did not think it was boring in the slightest. I loved reading about the relationship between Lou and Will – it was so incredibly honest and realistic, not of the typical “mushy” romance that you would expect. They bickered and acted like real human beings and it was the portrayal of this that had me hooked from the beginning.

I found all of the characters to be extremely well rounded, even the supporting characters like Will’s parents and Lou’s family – can I just say, for those of you who’ve read it, one of my favourite parts was when Lou’s Granddad said “birthday cake”… ❤️

Lou was fun, quirky and interesting. FINALLY a female character who isn’t your typical girly girl, or tomboy. I loved that she has a unique fashion sense, it was so much fun to picture each of the outfits and told us so much about her fearlessness and confidence in herself.

Will… Where do I begin? I couldn’t ever imagine what it must feel like to be in that position. But he showed Lou what it meant to live. Most people think this is a story about Lou helping Will, but I actually found it more to be the opposite way round. Will makes Liu see that she is worth so much more than she gives herself credit for, and it’s this out of view that really struck a chord with me.

My ultimate favourite moment in this book was their trip to see the symphonic orchestra. The writing at this point was simply magical:

Oh, and the epilogue. But I can’t reveal any of that because it’s SERIOUSLY spoilers, but let’s just say that it was very difficult for me to read for all of the watery mess spilling from my eyes…

This is one of my favourite reads this year, and it’ll definitely be on my list of all time favourites. No matter what anyone says, this is so much more than your typical romance novel!


So there’s a sequel, “After You” – has anyone read it, and is it worth reading? I’m slightly apprehensive, as I don’t want it to not be as good and be disappointed…

I really want to see the film too now, but I’m scared to go on my own to the cinema as I know I’ll be a blubbering mess… Maybe I should just wait until the DVD comes out and watch it in the safety of my own room…


View Me Before You on Goodreads

Review: All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Synopsis: From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

All the Light We Cannot SeeMarie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.


Until I picked this up off the “Buy One Get One Half Price” table in Waterstones a few months ago, I had heard nothing about this book. I picked it up, read the blurb and bought it based on the principal of the fact that it was set during the war (this setting always fascinates me). I also saw that it had won the Pulitzer Prize.

HOW HAD I NOT HEARD ANYTHING OF IT?

It wasn’t until I actually started reading that I started to see people talk about it. A woman on the train even commented when she saw me reading it, saying how amazing it was. At this point I was only about 50 pages in, and had been struggling to get into it due to being in the biggest slump of all slumps know to readers. It was hard. But the comments of others kept me pushing on.

I am SO glad I persevered with it, because it was totally worth the hype, and rightly deserved to win that award.

“Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.”

The writing all the way through was absolutely stunning, and I honestly cannot fault it. It flowed from pages to page, and I love that it’s written from two different perspectives – both the voice of Werner and of Marie are honest, raw and youthful and totally unique from one another. I found myself longing for them to meet the whole way through the book, and then… well I can’t give anything else away, because well, spoilers and all that, but it was both magical, heartbreaking and utterly frustrating all at the same time, and I can’t get over it!

One of the most significant things about the narrative of this book for me, was reading from the perspective of the blind girl, Marie-Laure. It was fascinating to experience the world from someone who cannot see any of it. Everything was so incredibly detailed and intense without having to know exactly what it looked like. Reading of how it smells, feels and sounds painted an unbelievably intense and gripping setting that a simple description of sight could not have even come close to replicating in such a stunning way.

Being taken through these characters’ entire lives, from beginning to end with such a resolute and conclusive ending made me feel as though they were a part of my own life, and I felt everything that they felt. It was incredibly bittersweet and I actually feel as though a tiny little part of me is missing now that I’ve finished it!

This book was beautiful inside and out. And I mean that because the cover is gorgeous too…

A historic fiction novel that is sure to make history – I urge anyone who hasn’t already to read this book, because it will seriously change the way that you look at the world. I know for one that I am so much more appreciative and aware of the beauties that the world around me holds.

Anthony Doerr, if by any miracle you read this, thank you for writing this book.


View All The Light We Cannot See on Goodreads.

Review: Truth (The Oleah Chronicles #1) – Michelle Johnson

[I received an e-copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review]

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Synopsis:

Oleah Chronicles: TruthWhat would you do if everything you thought to be true in your life was a lie?

Sixteen-year-old Angel Seriki must face overwhelming truths about her family when she meets Zander Black, a new student to her high school who is smart, charming and devastatingly beautiful. The revelations he uncovers to her about her family’s past changes everything, and as her relationship and feelings for Zander deepen, so do the risks involved. She must now accept her fate and face the true reality of who and what she is. Even if that means giving up everything, including being human.


Okay, so the first thing I want to mention is that the concept of this book was really cool. It was more along the lines of mythology rather that the standard supernatural themes that seem to be floating around these days, and it was nice to read something a bit different.

For me, this book started a little bit slowly, it took me a while to get into it, and I found the writing a bit disjointed in the first part. After the first 30 pages or so though, it really started to flow, and I found myself intrigued by the story. Without giving much away, it’s basically about a girl, Angel, who isn’t human, but an “Oleah” – a sort of mash-up between human and lion (I know, interesting, right?!) I’ve never heard of anything like it before, and this was the main reason why I enjoyed this book.

I found the main character very easy to connect with; she was really quite love-able, and very genuine in the way in which she deals with the changes in her life. The secondary characters in the story were slightly less developed that what I would have liked, I just wanted to know a bit more about them, but that might come in the next book perhaps, as this was predominately about Angel, and rightly so.

I’d say that this book is probably aimed more at a slightly younger YA audience, but it’s a nice, light, read that I honestly enjoyed more than I thought I was going to.

All in all, this was a really good first novel by the author, and I would recommend to anyone who wants to read something slightly different to the usual themes circulating the YA scene at the moment.


 

Sunshine Blogger Award

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It’s taken me a while to get round to doing this post, but finally, here it is! Thank you to Shannon over at CaptivatedByFantasy for nominating me for this award!

Some people may think things like this are silly or pointless, but I actually disagree. I think these blog awards are a great idea, as they boost a blogger’s confidence. It’s a little way of saying “yeah, I like what you have to say, carry on. Let’s hear more!” And so we continue.


The rules for this award are as follows:

Thank the person/people who nominated you
Answer the questions given to you
Nominate 11 other bloggers and give them 11 questions.


Who is your ultimate OTP?
Okay, so this just HAS to be Leisl and Rudy in The Book Thief – just too cute!

What is your favourite book trilogy?
Hands down, The Hunger Games.

Do you prefer wearing jean or skirt/dresses?
Skirts and Dresses! I consider myself to be a “girly girl” when it comes to clothing. Plus I tend to find jeans a tad uncomfortable…

What is your favourite movie?
About Time, starring Racheal McAdams and Bill Nighy. It gets me EVERY FRICKING TIME!

What is/was your favourite subject at school?
I loved Music, mainly because I was good at it and had a great teacher. But then I hated it at college because my teacher was horrific, so I dropped it! But my favourite has always been English Lit.

If you could visit one place in the world, where would it be?
Italy! It looks beautiful, with so many historic places to visit. And the food… Yum! I aim to save up for a few years and go with a friend, so we can visit all of the main cities and do it properly.

What is your favourite piece of makeup?
My favourite piece of makeup would have to be my blusher. Without it, I’m pale and pastey, and might as well be translucent as a ghost…

Why did you start blogging?
I started blogging because I wanted to talk about the books I was reading. I don’t really have friends that are interested in it as much as I am, so the book blog/bookstagram community was a great place for me to voice my opinions.

What is your favourite shop?
The Waterstones in Piccadilly, London, for books. It’s huge and I can spend hours in there! My favourite clothing shop is New Look – practically my entire wardrobe is from there!

Where do you find inspiration for your blog?
Seeing other blogs that I come across, and finding what I like about them – their look, what they talk about etc. That’s my biggest inspiration. You guys are great, thank you.

Are you a minimalistic or a collector?
I’m a collector. I hoard things. I had to completely clear out my room the other day because it was getting silly, I just have no space to put things anymore!


I nominate the following bloggers:

  1. Amy @ ReadDreamLiveNow
  2. Maria @ LittleLivres
  3. Diana @ NightTrainBooks
  4. Jana & Jelisaveta @ FangirlsBookshelves
  5. Jaylin & Tamara @ TwoBookHoarders
  6. Hollie @ TheHollieBlog
  7. Mackenzie @ UnRequiredReads
  8. Milana & Alex @ ACoupleReads
  9. Georgia @ Books&OtherMiracles
  10. Darnell @ DarnelLouis
  11. Kimberley @ WhimsicalNarratives

Here are your 11 questions to answer: 

  1. What is your favourite book?
  2. If you could visit one place in the world, where would it be?
  3. What inspires you on a daily basis?
  4. Why did you join the book blogging community?
  5. They say you are what you eat. What are you?
  6. How do you decide which book to read next?
  7. Do you have an “auto-buy” author? If so, who are they?
  8. You’re stuck on a desert island, and can only have 3 items. What are they?
  9. What is your favourite season/time of year, and why?
  10. Where do you like to read?
  11. Which fictional world would you most like to live in?

I hope you all have fun answering these questions – don’t forget to pingback so I can read your lovely posts! 🙂

 

Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy – Suzanne Collins

Guys, I am so sorry I’ve been so inactive lately. It’s been nearly two whole weeks since my last post! I’ve been so busy with finishing uni, and working. I had a whole week off last week, as I went home to visit my family, but typically the internet there wasn’t working, so I had no way of posting then either!

It’s taken me a while to get this review written and posted – I actually finished the final installment of the trilogy last month.

Anyway, I LOVED this trilogy! It was exciting from beginning to end and I fully got lost in the world.

I’m actually sad it’s over, but I still have the films to watch, as I managed to avoid them until I’d read all of the books! Here’s what I thought of each book:


Book #1: The Hunger Games

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Synopsis: 

Winning will make you famous.
Losing means certain death.

In a dark vision of the near future, twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live TV show called the Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed.

When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister’s place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

May the odds be ever in your favour.

First of all let’s just get it over and done with. You’re probably thinking “How have you only just read this?!” I’m thinking the same. Why did I wait so long to read this book? It was amazing. I was completely and utterly hooked on it from the first chapter, and it just kept on getting more and more exciting as it went on.

I found it refreshing that Katniss was stern in her personality. It made an extremely nice change from the usual mopey female protagonist. I liked her fire, and the fact that she was not taking any (insert stronger word here) “rubbish” from anyone. Bravo Katniss. I found Peeta a tad bit mushy, but I love him anyway. His protectiveness over Katniss was inspiring, and lets be honest, we could all do with a Peeta in our lives – am I right?!

The actual action part of this book for me was the best feature. It was constant, extremely quick paced and I just did not want to put it down! It was appropriately gruesome in places, and the description made the world come alive. A brilliant piece of writing.

I took a 1 book gap before moving onto book 2.


Book #2: Catching Fire

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Synopsis:

Sparks are igniting.
Flames are spreading.
And the Capitol wants revenge.

Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol – a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she’s afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she’s not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol’s cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can’t prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

In Catching Fire, the second novel in the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins continues the story of Katniss Everdeen, testing her more than ever before…and surprising readers at every turn.

The first few chapters of this book just didn’t do it for me I’m afraid. It took me a while to get into, and I couldn’t bring myself to read past the first chapter for about a week and a half.

However, when I finally managed to get past all of the boring exposition stuff at the beginning of this book – the parts where it says how Katniss is getting on in her new house (or not), more hunting in the woods without Gale, blah. – I enjoyed it. “The Quarter Quell will select it’s tributes from the existing victors”: Now THAT’S more like it! Again, the Games were thrilling, even more so this time than the first, which I why I still managed to give this book a 5 star rating on Goodreads, although it’s probably more of a 4.75, but I rounded up. Because I’m nice.

The ending of this book KILLED me. What a great last line! I won’t spoil it for those of you who haven’t read it, if there is anyone left out there. But phew, I went straight onto the last book!


Book #3: Mockingjay

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

My name is Katniss Everdeen.
Why am I not dead?
I should be dead.

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’s family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans–except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’s willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay–no matter what the personal cost.

The final installment in this series was very different to the first two books. I really didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to. I found Katniss has lost all of her fire – intentional, maybe so, but she wasn’t a very interesting voice to narrate the book anymore. I found her weak an uninspiring, potentially the opposite of what the Mockingjay was supposed to be.

For me, it was Peeta’s development that kept me going through this one. I wanted to know if he would remember how he loved Katniss again.

One of my favourite quotes from this book is:

“You love me, real or not real?

Real.”

Can I also just say how horrible Gale turns out to be?! I really didn’t like him in this book, I thought he was really arrogant and I just couldn’t understand how Katniss could possibly even consider having feelings for him when they share completely opposite views.

Unpopular opinion? Perhaps

Aside from my negative feelings about the main characters in this book, I did enjoy it. Again, the action plot was brilliant to read, and I think that regardless of Katniss’ downward spiral and lack of personality, the journey that the trilogy has taken me on was well worth the read. The ending was also beautiful and I wish there could’ve been more, I’d really like to know more about Katniss and Peeta’s lives in the new Panem.


I’ve now managed to watch the first two films of this series, and I think they’re great. The first one changes a few things around, which I didn’t like too much, especially the fact that Madge doesn’t give Katniss the Mockingjay pin, but it was still good all the same. The second one is much more true to the book and I actually enjoyed it more than the first opposite to my opinions of the books!)

I imagine I’ll be watching the last two films in the coming weeks:)