Monthly Round-Up – February

collage febWhat I got up to in the month of February:

February went pretty quickly which was both a good thing (as the nicer weather is hopefully drawing nearer) and also a bad thing as my mum has cancer and the doctors have advised she may not have much time left.

I have been pretty busy at work which has helped take my mind off things a little and blogging has also been a big help for that too. I feel like I have a lot of pent-up emotions that I cannot really release as I have to try and keep things together to make sure my mum is being well cared for and all business is also taken care of. I am fortunate to have such a supportive partner but some days really are a struggle.

Blogging has helped keep my mind focused elsewhere for a bit and as usual reading is a much-needed escape now and then. Still, I feel as though I have not had as much time for leisure activities recently.

I have still managed to get through a small amount of my ever-increasing TBR pile though. I have fallen a little further back on actual reviewing (been having a lot of fun completing memes and challenges!) but I hope to get caught up soon.

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book stuff

ari and danteI managed to complete a few of my challenges for this month. As part of the Monthly Motif challenge, I had to read a book hat has won recognition or a literary award. For this February challenge I decided to finally buy and read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and I am so glad that I did as the book has become one of my favourites. If you haven’t already read it I urge you to do so – you will not regret it as it is a fantastic book! REVIEW

red sheetI also took part in the Jumble Your Genres challenge. I read several contemporary books this month but the one I showcased for this challenge was The Red Sheet by Mia Kerick mainly because the book simply blew me away. I am unsure what I was expecting from this – don’t get me wrong I have read Mia Kerick’s other books and thoroughly enjoyed them but the premise of this book seemed a little silly. I was glad to be proven utterly wrong though. This book contained a very realistic depiction of bullying. I strongly recommend this book. REVIEW

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books read feb

purchased febYikes – that is a lot of books I have added to my already towering stack of books sitting unread and unloved (well maybe not unloved!). I really need to cut back on the book buying until I have caught up more. This is a goal for March – stop buying so many books and get reading the ones I have already got!

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5 Star Reads:

5 star reads

4 Star Reads:

4 star reads

3 Star Reads:

3 star reads

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top bookAristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz!!

ari and dante

top coverThis is a tough one but I am going to have to go with: Unhinged by A.G. Howard

unhingedIt’s just so pretty and eye-catching! I hate to admit but I was seduced by the pretty covers for this series – luckily the books in this series get pretty rave reviews so I am hoping I will enjoy both Splintered and Unhinged.

I managed to keep up with posting this month and have met some amazing bloggers through taking part in weekly memes and challenges. Getting to know other bloggers has probably been the best part of this month for me.

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posts

This month my most popular topics have again been my ‘which character are you’ or ‘what type are you’ quizzes (gives me a great excuse to keep doing them – I am addicted!). The most popular has been What Kind of Reader Are You by a significantly large margin!

My meme posts such as Stacking the Shelves, WWW Wednesdays, and Top Ten Tuesday posts were also fairly well visited.

My other popular posts this month have been in order of views:

Thanks to everyone who stopped by and/or commented. I really appreciate it!

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other stuff

Outside of book-reading and blogging, I have also spent quite some time catching up on watching movies and TV shows.

Cover of "Stir of Echoes (Special Edition...

Cover of Stir of Echoes (Special Edition)

What movies I watched this month:

  • Carrie (the remake – not as good as the original but still watchable)
  • The Town
  • Stir of Echoes (I had forgotten how good this film was – very underrated horror movie!)

What television shows I watched this month:

  • I caught up on Once Upon a Time (I love Hook!)
  • My Mad Fat Diary is back!! I love this show and so far series 2 has been just as good as series 1
Tegan And Sara

Tegan And Sara (Photo credit: yonolatengo)

What I have been listening to:

  • Heartthrob by Tegan and Sara (amazing album!)
  • Been on a bit of an old-skool kick listening to some of my favourite 80s/90s bands like The Stone Roses, Weezer, The Smiths etc
  • The Frozen soundtrack

It was Valentine’s Day this month and on top of getting me some fab books, my wonderful fiancé also bought me this beautiful pendant (from Heathergems):

pendant1

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Well, that’s my wrap-up for February. What about you guys? What were your favorite books this month? Favourite posts? Favourite articles? Other fun stuff you have done? What did you get up to in the month of February?

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Top Ten Books That Will Make You Cry

top ten tuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by the Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is:

~Top Ten Books That Will Make You Cry~

I hate to admit it but I am a really big fan of books that will make me cry (though to be fair I can even cry at sad TV advertisements!). I am a bit of a softy and tend to get weepy over even the slightest little thing (to this day the scene in the Disney film ‘Dumbo’ where baby Dumbo is reunited with his mother still makes me bawl).

This list ended up being a little easier than last week to compile (last week was my first ever Top Ten Tuesday post!) mainly because sad books are a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. Here is my list (in no particular order):

park1. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – a tale of first love and all the pain that comes with it. What really makes the book so hard-hitting is Eleanor and her dreadful home situation. Alternately neglected and terrorized at home (and at school by the local bullies), Eleanor really has it tough and my heart was breaking for her. Luckily she meets fellow misfit Park and a lovely, heartfelt connection grows between the two, nurtured by a shared love of comics and music. I really loved this book and it is the type of story that will bring both sad and happy tears to your eyes.

if i stay2. If I Stay by Gayle Forman –  this was a real, honest to goodness, tearjerker of a book. It is a story of how life can change in a split second and one young girl’s choice about whether she will move on from this or give in. It is devastating, heartbreaking and yet irrevocably hopeful at the same time. The sequel Where She Went is even better though not quite as much of a sobfest.

jellicoe3. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta – this book gives me all the feels. It is a beautiful and terrible story. So many little tragedies occur within the book’s pages it hard to pick one that is the most upsetting, but for me (given my own situation at the moment) I would have to say it is the fate of Taylor’s mother that gets to me the most. The story is sad without being overtly melodramatic. As hard as some of the characters have it, you never feel like you are being emotionally manipulated. A devastatingly good read and one of my all-time favourites.

sweet4. Sweethearts by Sara Zarr – a truly gut-wrenching novel. This book absolutely captivated me and even though I read it for the first time a year ago, I have thought about it often since. It covers a lot of bleak issues such as bullying, abuse, and neglect but still manages to feel hopeful as well. It does not have a happy ending as such, but it is by no means a sad ending – merely a little bit bittersweet.

suicide5. Suicide Watch by Kelly York –  this books topped my list of favourite reads last year and it definitely deserved to be at that number 1 spot. This book could be described as depressing but that really isn’t doing it any kind of justice. It was sad and bleak without a doubt – it broke my heart on numerous occasions – but it also managed to make me smile. The characters are so broken but when they find each other it is truly beautiful to witness.

crush6. Crush by Laura Susan Johnson – this was a hard book to read. Many times I found myself tearing up or finding it difficult to swallow. The characters are really put through the ringer in this book – that they are in any way functional is a minor miracle unto itself. Jamie and Temmy really stole my heart. I really loved both of them and wanted only good things for them. Unfortunately the suffering these poor boys went through during the course of the novel was extremely unsettling and difficult to read. I almost wanted to purge my brain afterwards yet there was a lot of beauty in their story too which cannot be overlooked. I would say this is one of the most emotionally draining books I had ever read.

teeth7. Teeth by Hannah Moskovitz – Rudy and Teeth (the fishboy) broke my heart. I was gutted (terrible pun I know – just trying to inject some humour!) by the things that happened to Teeth in this book. I found this to be one of the most heart-wrenching stories I have ever read (yes I know that one of the main characters is essentially a merman!). A hard-hitting tale that really hit all my buttons, Teeth manages to be whimsical and utterly brutal at the same time.

tied man8. The Tied Man by Tabitha McGowan – what can I say – stories of abuse hit me right in the feels. The difference with this book is that the one being abused is the hero and it is the heroine who is desperate to save him. I loved Finn and Lilith but their story almost broke me – my heart felt battered to the core by the end of this book and at one point I actually had tears streaming down my face. A beautiful and terrible story of love and desire and how these things can be twisted beyond all recognition.

left drowning9. Left Drowning by Jessica Park – I didn’t think Jessica Park could top her last book Flat-Out Love in the sadness factor but she really managed to outdo herself with Left Drowning. The characters in this book have been through so much – devastating loss, terrible abuse – it is not surprising just how messed up they all are. Blythe and Chris took centre-stage but I found myself more caught up with Sabin and the inner pain that he hides behind an jovial, jolly exterior. A brilliantly sad novel that tore at my emotions – it definitely belongs on this list.

warchild10. Warchild by Karin Lowachee – one of my favourite books EVER. The entire series is devastating and brutal but it was Jos who really stole my soul (he is the POV character in Warchild – the two subsequent books follow different characters but in the same setting). Jos goes through some of the worst abuse you could think of (none of it described in much detail – thank goodness) and although he is fundamentally damaged, there is still hope that he will eventually recover, if he can survive the war-torn universe  in which he resides. This book is dark – really dark – but it is one of the best books I have had the pleasure of reading (probably my number 1 Science Fiction read at the very least). The reader is taken along on a psychological journey in the mind of this young man who is only 8 years old when his life is changed forever. Jos must adapt to some truly horrific situations. There is just something about him that makes me want to gather him up in a hug and tell him it will all be OK (although he would probably kick my ass if I tried!).

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For more Top Ten Tuesday topics, check out the host site: the Broke and the Bookish

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Top Reads of 2013

I must apologise once again for not having posted in some time. I have been going though some tough times in my personal life which has not given me any real time for blogging. I am hoping to rectify this at some point but for now, here are my top reads of 2013.

10: Angelfall by Susan Ee

angelfallSo many people have raved about this book I half-expected it to be a complete disappointment. Luckily (for me) it turned out to be an exciting, adrenaline-filled rush of a book – one I simply could not put down. Penryn was a great protagonist and I really ended up loving Raffe, the ‘fallen’ angel who becomes her companion when Penryn has to save her younger sister Paige from the clutches of a group of angels intent on harming her. 

9: The Tied Man by Tabitha McGowan

tied manThe Tied Man was an enthralling, unnerving and intense read. I felt positively battered when I got to the end of this book but it was well worth the emotional turmoil it put me through. This was a very dark read but was also incredibly emotionally satisfying.

8: Speechless by Hannah Harrington

speechI thoroughly enjoyed Speechless and thought its overall message was a positive one. Protagonist Chelsea learns the hard way the damage passing on a seemingly harmless piece of gossip can cause. Seeing her go from being a rather thoughtless, unlikable character to one with remarkable strength and courage was a joy to read.

7: Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

sweetThis book gutted me. I think it is one of the most heart-breaking books I have ever read. Managing to be both bleak and yet somehow hopeful – this book has stayed with since I first read it. This was my first Sara Zarr novel – it will definitely not be my last.

6: If I Die by Rachel Vincent

if i dieI loved the whole Soul Screamers series but this entry (book 5 of 7) was my favourite. This is where the stakes are truly raised for protagonist Kaylee Cavanaugh. When Kaylee discovers what fate awaits her, she finds herself turning to an unlikely source for help and comfort (and as a total fangirl of this pairing I couldn’t help but squee at this development!!). This was my favourite book series read this year and If I Die was the most exciting and emotional installment.

5: Dark Space by Lisa Henry

dark spaceLisa Henry is a new author for me. I was totally blown away by Dark Space – a truly fantastic space opera saga (and I am overjoyed to find out a sequel is now in the works!!). It was creepy and intense and had an almost claustrophobic atmosphere (being set primarily in a space station on the edge of alien territory) yet at the same time it managed to convey a sweetly compelling love story. The protagonists Brady and Cameron are two very different young men but the bond that grows between them was lovely to behold, even if there was an overwhelming sense of impending doom clouding their developing romance.

4: Sins & Needles by Karina Halle

sinsKarina Halle was another new discovery for me this year. Sins & Needles was the first book written by her that I read. I immediately tore through Karina Halle’s entire back catalogue once I had finished reading this.  Although overall I think I may prefer her Experiment in Terror series, I was totally sucked into this book and I loved the main character Ellie Watt. Her flaws made her seem all the more real and relatable to me (also Camden is one of the hottest love interests I have ever read – definitely my book boyfriend of the year – move over Adrian Ivashkov!!).

3: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

jellicoeI had a bit of a Melina Marchetta book fest last year. I read all of her catalogue – except for this book – which I had heard from reliable sources was the best of all her works. I could not convey eloquently enough in words just how brilliant this book is. I would urge anyone who has not already read this to seek it out. It is a fantastic, beautiful, if somewhat initially confusing read. I saved it for a time when I most felt I needed to read it – and the book did not disappoint.

2: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

wanderloveI adored this book with the strength of a hundred fiery suns. I stated in my original review that it is probably one of the best, if not the very best, YA novels I have ever read. I loved the story of Bria, a young girl who finds herself on a journey through Central America, and her friendship and eventual romance with Rowan, a young wanderer she meets on her travels. An evocative and inspirational book – I could not put it down. When I finished reading I almost wished I hadn’t read it yet so I could discover it all over again.

1: Suicide Watch by Kelley York

suicideThe number one spot was a close call for me but in the end I had to go with Kelley York’s Suicide Watch. This book has left a lasting impression on me and I have actually re-read it several times already this year. This book made me feel – it completely and utterly captivated me. It manages to be both depressing yet completely uplifting at the same time. Suicide Watch is a truly beautiful story that will haunt me for a long, long time.

Honourable mentions:

These books just fell short of my top ten but were exceptional reads that I would wholly recommend:

Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz
Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff
Crush by Laura Susan Johnson
Know Not Why by Hannah Johnson
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater