Review: My True Love Gave to Me – Various Authors

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On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me …This beautiful collection features twelve gorgeously romantic stories set during the festive period, by some of the most talented and exciting YA authors writing today. The stories are filled with the magic of first love and the magic of the holidays.

As this book is full of little stories, I’m going to review them all separately! This was such a fun read and it was perfect for the festive season.

Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell – 5 out of 5 stars
Let’s start this on a high! I’ve read this short story before and it’s honestly brilliant, 26 pages flies by with this year-by-year tale. It’s so simple but focuses on the characters which I adored, the ability to build characters in such a short amount of time is incredible. Perfect for New Year, as it’s set on New Year’s Eve hence the title!

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link – 2 out of 5 stars
Honestly, this one really didn’t do it for me. The only real positive is that it did have a Christmassy feel, but otherwise it was downright confusing and a little weird. I’m all for a little weird, but I just didn’t know what was going on. At all.

Angels in the Snow by Matt De La Pena – 4 out of 5 stars
This story was so cute! I’m all for Christmas fantasy, but adorable festive contemporary romance is where its at. This story is one of Shy and the girl upstairs over Christmas, and it manages to not only be cute but be raw and honest and kind of beautiful in such a short amount of pages.

Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han – 4 out of 5 stars
This story was so overwhelmingly Christmassy! You can’t get much better than a story set in the North Pole for Christmas, surrounded by elves. I liked the protagonist, Natalie, who was the only human to ever live in the North Pole. It made such a unique story which was so fun to read!

It’s a Yuletide Miracle… by Stephanie Perkins – 5 out of 5 stars
Perkins does it again! I remember this from Summer Days and Summer Nights – if anyone can write an amazing short, it’s Perkins. This story was unique, with likeable characters and a beautiful backdrop. I would read a whole book about these two happily.

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan – 4 out of 5 stars
I always find levithan a little hit and miss, but I really enjoyed this story! It’s about a guy called Connor who asks his boyfriend to dress up as santa to keep Christmas magic alive for his little sister. It was a really cute contemporary with a cast of different characters who I enjoyed reading about, however I do feel like too many conversations with different characters were fitted into a very short story!

Krampuslauf by Holly Black – 3 out of 5 stars
I’m really not sure how to feel about this one. Build up a quirky contemporary with a group of friends and a New Year’s party on a trailer park, throw some drama in and then sprinkle it with magic. I think the magic was my main issue, because it just felt forced and like a last minute edition. It threw the story off kilter and threw me off too. Very weird.

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman – 4 out of 5 stars
Contemporary romance definitely suits festive short stories better than contemporary and a weird mix of fantasy. I’m still holding out for a full on fantasy though? Anyway, Forman really brought out holiday cheer with carol singers and pie and a little twist with Hannukah which I loved! It’s the story of (surprise) Sophie Roth, a college student who isnt yet home for Christmas. Its about new discoveries and making mistakes, and although it wasn’t perfect, I damn well enjoyed it!

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire – 3.5 out of 5 stars
I can’t say I disliked this story, it was Christmassy enough and enjoyable. But I just found it strange and I felt so disconnected to the characters! It followed a guy who had to do community service for a church at Christmas, which was an interesting concept but it just wasn’t all there for me!

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten white – 5 out of 5 stars
Yes! I didn’t think I would find another story to match Stephanie Perkins, but this one sure did. It follows the story of a girl who lives in Christmas, CA and their Christmas traditions. It was heartwarming, heartbreaking and heartfelt. All in 40 pages.

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter – 4 out of 5 stars
Another story, another Christmassy town ! I really enjoyed this one too, although it lacked the depth that made me love Welcome to Christmas, CA so much. Still a unique and heartwarming tale of a girl trying to escape her life and ends up finding a family of her own.

The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – 2 out of 5 stars
This was so weird?? I don’t even know what was going on? I stand by the fact that fantasy doesn’t work as well as contemporary in these kinds of situations usually – world building just isn’t possible in 30 pages. I didn’t properly understand the world or the story, therefore I didn’t enjoy it. The pages were used to explain the town rather than the characters, and I related only to the protagonist. It didn’t feel Christmassy either! It did have a satisfying ending, however.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and it was perfect to start the New Year with. Although the stories are very mixed, it’s great to give new authors a chance with books like this one. Sure, I didn’t enjoy a few but that’s bound to happen. And I loved a number of stories enough to rate this book highly! I’ll definitely be giving some of these a re-read next Christmas.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Beautiful Quotes #107 / The Upside of Unrequited

Beautiful Quotes is a weekly meme hosted by me, where I post some of my favourite quotes. Any other bloggers are welcome to join me in this and just link my blog!

Hi everyone! As the Christmas festivities are in full swing, I’ve been looking back on the books I’ve read so far this year. I’ve also been celebrating the festive season!

  • Over the weekend, my boyfriend and I went out with my family to a Christmas food festival. I had one of the little marshmallow teacakes I love so much!
  • I’ve spent all evening wrapping presents in preparation for the big day.
  • I finish uni this week for the holidays, so I’ve been working on my project which is due in the New Year!

So here’s a quote from one of the books I enjoyed this year!

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“Something like that. But you know, there’s an upside here. Because when you spend so much time just intensely wanting something, and then you actually get the thing? It’s magic.”
― Becky Albertalli, The Upside of Unrequited

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Songs About a Boy (#3) by Chris Russell

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Just as Charlie allows herself to succumb to Gabe’s charms, the explosive revelation about her mother’s death threatens to pull them apart. Meanwhile, a media circus has exploded around the future of Fire&Lights – when they announce a US tour to show the world that they are stronger than ever, Charlie gets the opportunity to accompany them. New York City, here she comes! But it’s not all fun and games. Charlie is still feeling all kinds of awkward around Gabe and knowing that her mother’s last days were in America touring with her band, Charlie uses the opportunity to uncover some more truths about her mother’s death.
As Fire&Lights try to win over the world again, and as Charlie and Gabriel uncover the true story that links their pasts, will Charlie finally be able to follow her heart?

I can’t believe the thought ever even crossed my mind to dismiss these books as cheesy, trashy fanfic. They are so much more than that. I picked this 400+ page book up on Sunday night, and I had finished it by Tuesday. For me, that’s absolutely insane. And I’ve not exactly been at home all that time – I’ve been looking after the flat, going out and going to uni. But this book just absolutely flew by for me, and whenever I had a spare minute I would pick it up and dive right in.

That being said, I can’t totally dismiss the cheese or the trash. Because honestly, it does have those elements. It’s a bit like looking back on High School Musical. You can’t believe how cheesy it is, but you would watch it with your girlfriends any day of the week. It’s unrealistic, dramatic and far fetched. But goshdarnit, it is good.

This is for sure a complete guilty-pleasure read, but I can’t deny that it’s very well written. Every single character in this book holds their place and has a lot of depth, and that’s just so hard to do! To be able to build such individuality into so many people – especially the band, the management team and even Melissa’s family – is so impressive.

Being 19, I’m definitely way out of the target audience for this series. But the 13 year old inside me couldn’t put this down, and made me reminiscent of the simpler way I used to read. It’s perfect nostalgia for those years, of loving the sweet teenage relationships and band obsessions.

Unfortunately, I can’t put enough emphasis on the far-fetched concept of this book. Charlie is a 16 year old girl flying around the world photographing a band, with little to no equipment or professional photography training. As I’m studying photography at uni, this was a little hard to get out of my mind. No one around me would even dare to dream of having an opportunity like this, and most of those people are already starting their professional careers.

Overall, I would definitely say go for these books! Just make sure you clear your mind beforehand, and understand that this is going to be a drama-filled, unrealistic but wonderful rollercoaster. Sit back and enjoy the ride!

★★★★
4 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Beautiful Quotes #105 / Songs About a Girl

Beautiful Quotes is a weekly meme hosted by me, where I post some of my favourite quotes. Any other bloggers are welcome to join me in this and just link my blog!

Hello my lovely readers! A lot has happened in the past week and I’ve been busy. I didn’t manage to get much reading in until I finally picked up Songs About a Boy last night and suddenly I can’t stop reading! I’m already 150 pages in and the pages are speeding by. So what’s kept me so busy?

  • I had my good friend Amy over for a couple of days last week! I showed her my city and we went to the local Christmas market and to a concert.
  • My boyfriend and I went to Comic Con yesterday! Near us, we have one in March and one in November, and we try to go to each one. It was extremely busy but a lot of fun!
  • I’ve almost finished my Christmas shopping, and I managed to get some deals on Black Friday. I think I might start wrapping presents this week once we have our Christmas tree up!

So onto this weeks Beautiful Quote. Have you read this series?

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“It was unnerving, the way people moved in herds. Especially when you were the prey.” 
― Chris Russell, Songs About a Girl

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Where She Went by Gayle Forman

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The stunning sequel to Gayle Forman’s international best seller, If I Stay – Now a major film starring Chloe Grace Moretz. If you had a second chance at first love …would you take it? It’s been three years since Adam’s love saved Mia after the accident that annihilated life as she knew it …and three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life forever. Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Julliard’s rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia’s home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future – and each other. Told from Adam’s point of view in the spare, powerful prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

Sure, I enjoyed this book. I’d go as far to say I liked it. But loved it? Eh. Unfortunately, this book felt so flat and unoriginal to me. I actually really liked the concept of If I Stay, just because it’s not very often we’ll see a book written from the perspective of a ghost girl. But I felt like I’d read Where She Went way too many times before.

“But I’d do it again. I know that now. I’d make that promise a thousand times over and lose her a thousand times over to have heard her play last night or to see her in the morning sunlight.”

I really liked reading this from Adam’s perspective – it shook the series up and really worked. But I have to say, I had some problems with both characters. I didn’t appreciate how Mia treated him and I didn’t appreciate Adam’s attitude to most things, to be honest. I know we’re all flawed, but if so then this should have been more realistic overall and less like a fairytale. I felt flickers of emotion and warmth towards the couple, and I am happy with how it ended, but in the end I could have probably put this book down and never picked it back up again. It was predictable, and I just didn’t feel invested in the story.

“Or even without that. Just to know that she’s somewhere out there. Alive.”

Having said all this, I did enjoy reading this book. It’s quick to read and heartfelt from both characters. I did connect and feel emotion for them in parts, but overall I just felt…mediocre.

★★★
2.5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

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Everybody has to make choices.
Some might break you.
For seventeen-year-old Mia, surrounded by a wonderful family, friends and a gorgeous boyfriend decisions might seem tough, but they’re all about a future full of music and love, a future that’s brimming with hope.
But life can change in an instant.
A cold February morning . . . a snowy road . . . and suddenly all of Mia’s choices are gone. Except one.
As alone as she’ll ever be, Mia must make the most difficult choice of all.

This book has been on my shelf for way too long, and I’m glad I finally picked it up. I actually really enjoyed this book, I found it so easy to read and ended up getting through it in a few short days.

“And that’s just it, isn’t it? That’s how we manage to survive the loss.”

I’ve never read a book quite like If I Stay. It switches between the MC being in a coma and ghost-like state, and flashbacks of how her life was before the accident. I actually really enjoyed the flashbacks, and it made the pages speed by! I found this book quite comforting in a way, and the flashbacks made me feel so close to Mia, her family and her friends.

The only criticism I have is that she didn’t seem very real? I know, I know, she is literally a ghost. But it wasn’t that that bothered me. I just found her dialogue/thoughts really strange for her age sometimes, especially in the flashbacks when she was still a child. I can’t remember an exact example, but one piece seemed so odd that I actually read it out to my boyfriend. Staying on this theme, the book was so cheesy that it came out with some really weird fantasies – including Mia playing her boyfriend like a cello, and even going as far to run her cello bow over his body. If anything, this made me feel so embarrassed and awkward?

“Because love, it never dies, it never goes away, it never fades, so long as you hang on to it.”

But my complaints are only small. I did enjoy this book, it just wasn’t perfect for me!

★★★★★
4 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Beautiful Quotes #98 / Love, Simon

Beautiful Quotes is a weekly meme hosted by me, where I post some of my favourite quotes. Any other bloggers are welcome to join me in this and just link my blog!

Hi readers! I’m very happy to say I finally got around to watching Love, Simon the other day. I’ve wanted to watch the movie since, um, it was announced, yet here I am, having only just watched it. I kind of felt like it was my duty, since I’m meeting Becky in a couple of weeks!

I had my issues with the movie (full discussion coming Friday), but I did still really enjoy it! It’s so great to see such brilliant books come to life on the big screen, and it rekindled my love for this book. So here I am today, sharing a beautiful quote from Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda.

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“People really are like house with vast rooms and tiny windows. And maybe it’s a good thing, the way we never stop surprising each other.” 
― Becky Albertalli, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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