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The Reading Gypsy

A Short History of the Girl Next Door

4.5 Stars

A Short History of The Girl Next Door by Jared Reck is a humorous and heartfelt debut novel. Full of teenage hormones, basketball, and a good dose of angst thrown in.

15 year olds Matt and Tabby are best friends. Have been since they were babies. But Matt’s feelings for Tabby have changed and he is agonising over the fact that he can’t seem to bring himself to tell her. The only place he can express his inner turmoil is through his poems in English class. And the only place that helps him get out of his head is the basketball court. Soon Matt has to deal with the new feeling of jealousy as Tabby begins to date a senior – a popular, good looking, and just plain great guy senior.

There is a big omg moment half way through the book that I won’t mention here, but it caught me off guard and had me desperately wanting to keep reading to see what happened next.

I adore all the little brief minutiae about Tabby that Matt loves. Her complete undying obsession for nerds, her signature move in class. Even though they met as babies it really was kind of love at first sight as he followed her everywhere and would do anything for her from the get go. It was adorable and sweet and heartfelt, but also tender and a little heart-shattering.

It has a very human voice. It’s a thoroughly relatable setting. Dealing with heightened teen emotions like anger, loss, jealousy and first love, it is beautifully told. It is a brilliant work of YA fiction.

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RoomHate

5 stars

Title: RoomHate

Author: Penelope Ward

Review:

** spoiler alert ** Brilliant! Absolutely loved it. It is a romantic drama with a serious amount of angst mixed with a terribly sweet love story. 
I am not usually a fan of second chance romances but this one was quite different to the usual. I love the childhood moments they shared and the fact that they were both in love as teens but too boneheaded to notice that the other was too and admit their feelings. Ahhh first love and teen angst – what a combo. 
The writing flows effortlessly and keeps you hooked all the way through. I love that the minute Justin enters the room, even though it has been a decade since all the drama that had her running, it is just like Boom! instant tension that just leaps off the page and smacks you in the face. 
So….. he is there with his girlfriend, which is cause for some awkward moments, and when she goes back to NY for auditions Amelia and Justin have time to reconnect. I love that this didn’t follow the usual pattern of oops we fell into bed together and i just cheated on my girl but i couldn’t resist you rubbish… those stories pi** me off. Justin did the right thing and did not disrespect either Amelia or Jade by cheating. That was refreshing.
Justin was the perfect mix of sexy and broody and even when he was being a juvenile ass it came across less jerky and more cheeky/cute. His anger was justified after the way she left, but then he was just as much of a boneheaded jerkface by sulking and refusing to talk to her the following year after she came to her senses and tried to apologise.
I wasn’t too keen on the bombshell at the end of part one at first, but as the story progressed it grew on me and i have to admit that Justin with Bea was kind of swoon-worthy. I could just imagine all the women seeing him with Bea singing on stage….their ovaries must’ve been wanting to reach out and grab onto that one. 
I love how crazy jealous he gets every time Amelia has a date even though he had no right to act that way at the time. 
The revisit to the movie theatre was classic. 
Adam was a tool and i am glad he never came back on the scene. 
This book has much less steamy scenes than most of the romances i have read but i have to admit i didn’t even really miss that. The story was engrossing enough on its own and their was plenty of steam between the two of them without adding tons of sex scenes. 
There were times i was a little frustrated at how stupid and stubborn they were both being – so much time wasted. But they got their sh** together in the end. I think it ended well and i like that it didn’t turn into some ongoing series with no end. 
Touchingly sweet and steamy in all the right places. I love Justin Banks (even when he is being a childish angry roommate). Definitely worth picking up and i am glad i moved it up my tbr pile.

 

September Wrap Up

Hello everyone! How was your September? Did you discover any fabulous new books this month? I managed to knock off 18 books from the tbr shelf which for some reason seemed like not that many. I felt like i was reading far slower than usual. A good chunk of those 18 were novellas, and short stories too.

I am excited to finally discover, and get started on, the books by Robin Hobb. And i have officially run out of Demonica stories by Larissa Ione until next year, which makes me a little sad. But it was a good reading month.

So here is a rundown of all the stories I dived into this month.

aa1.jpg Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb – book 1 in the Farseer Trilogy – 4 stars – a well plotted, character driven work. It only lost a star because at times I felt the pace was a little too leisurely.

az Azagoth by Larissa Ione – Demonica book 10.5 – 5 stars – I adore this series. Part of the Demonica, Lords of Deliverance and Dark Knights series. Hellishly hot. I just wish this was a full length book instead of a novella.

mt Mama Tandoori by Ernest van der Kwast – 2 stars – I won this in a competition and really wanted to like it. I know we are supposed to find the mama brandishing the rolling pin funny, but I found her to be just plain awful and bordering on abusive. The poor husband. If it was a man treating his wife that way it would be called abuse. She belittles him constantly and physically whacks him with the pin occasionally too. This was a DNF for me sadly.

rev Revenant by Larissa Ione – Demonica book 11/ Lords of Deliverance book 6
– 4 stars  – another wickedly good instalment in one of my favourite paranormal romance series.

Revenant Epilogue by Larissa Ione – Demonica 11.1 – 4 stars – a short story available on the authors website.

lh.jpg The Last Hours by Minette Walters – 4 stars – I was gifted an ARC of this book due out in October. It was very well written and paced, great character development. My only complaint was that it ended right when I was desperate to know what happened next. Sequel in the making no doubt.

hades Hades by Larissa Ione – Demonica 11.5/Lords of Deliverance 6.5/Dark Knights 18 – 4 stars – Loved every word. Hades is hot hot hot. But he totally had enough substance for a full length novel (just like Azagoth did).

crg China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan – Crazy Rich Asians book 2 – 4 stars – not quite as addictive as the first book, but great character growth. The level of ostentation is at times a little vulgar, but I am sure it is supposed to be. Loving the journey so far, looking forward to book 3.

Into Eternity by Larissa Ione – Lords of Deliverance book 6.6 – 4 stars – another compelling short story in a rather addictive series.

lohs Living on Hope Street by Demet Divaroren- 5 stars – I was gifted a copy of this Australian gem by the author herself and I loved every word of it. A touching story, Gritty and heartfelt. An Aussie gem.

bi.jpg Base Instincts by Larissa Ione – Demonica 11.6 – 4 stars – paranormal romance done right. Ms Ione never disappoints.

z Z by Larissa Ione – Demonica 11.7 – 4 stars – another addictive addition to the Demonica series.

365 365 Ways to Live Happy by Meera Lester – 2 stars – nothing I haven’t seen before sadly. Also, suggesting framing a photo of yourself that has been photoshopped/augmented to make yourself look better…. I doubt that would make someone feel happier – if anything it would make them feel worse about themselves.

DLT.jpg Dirty Little Things by Lilith Lies – 3.5 stars – an interesting work of Erotic Poetry – one poem is repeated with a different title though – how did that slip through editing? An tantalising little poetry read though.

razr Razr by Larissa Ione – Demonica 11.8 – 4 stars – i’m sad because i have run out of this series now. Hopefully there will be more soon.

MOS.jpg Master of Solitude by Cherise Sinclair – Mountain Masters & Dark Haven book 8 – 4 stars – finally a new Sinclair book to rock our world. Plenty of heat, good character development. It wasn’t quite as intense as previous works though.

WC Wilder Country by Mark Smith – Winter book 2 – 3 stars – a great aussie dystopian. Reminded me a little of Marsdens works.

SU Strung Up by Lorelei James – Blacktop Cowboys book 7.5 -4 stars – a solid instalment in the Blacktop series with some serious steam.

There was almost another addition this month but the wonderful Elantris by Brandon Sanderson it taking me a little longer than usual to get through. Quite a meaty read with very small writing. I will definitely have it finished on day 1 of October though, so I have a head start on next months wrap-up.

I have some stellar books lined up for this months tbr stack including The Fifth Room by AJ Rushby, The Tower of Dawn by Sarah J Maas and Archangels Viper by Nalini Singh. I also have to try to throw in at least one non fiction and one classic if there is time (never enough time)!.

What is on your October line-up?

Wishing you all a fabulously spooky Halloween and pumpkin season. Bring on the pumpkin spice lattes:-)

 

 

 

 

 

Living on Hope Street by Demet Divaroren

5 STARS

A great work of Australian Literature. I was extremely lucky to win a copy of this wonderful book from the author.
I loved every word of this story. It was both realistic and sincere. An Aussie gem.
Set in an average Australian suburb in Melbourne, this is the tale of the people of Hope Street. A multicultural neighbourhood that, at first, seems a little disconnected.
We have Kane, who is determined to protect his brother and mother from an abusive father at any cost, even if it means becoming a version of his father to do so. Mrs Aslan, the immigrant next door who watches over the boys while her own family is splintered. Mr Bailey, a veteran who is leery of the refugees who have moved in next door. Scatter in a few tattooed car loving boys and the odd grump and you have a wonderful cast of authentic Australian characters.
It is gritty and edgy and completely compelling. At its core, it is a heartfelt story of community and connection.

While this is a work of YA fiction, it could easily captivate an adult audience. It certainly had me glued to the page. I could easily see this book becoming an Australian classic. The writing is thoroughly engaging, the story is honest an absorbing, the characters feel authentic.

Highly recommended.

August Wrap Up

August was a month filled with prequel stories and novellas for me. But i managed to knock a few full novels off the list too. I got my classic of the month done, and only just scraped in at the last minute with my non fiction of the month. The months tally came to 27… not too bad.

My standouts for August were both fantasy books. Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend which kids are going to go mad for, and The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen which was a return to some of my favourite characters. But Holding Up The Universe was also high on my list of recommendations for anyone that loves YA with heart.

Here is what i knocked over in August:

swallowdale.jpg Swallowdale by Arthur Ransome – 5 stars – I have no idea how this author escaped my youth. Awesome clean kids adventure story.

ptcom.jpg Please Look After Mother by Sook Kyung-Shin – 4 stars – thoroughly enjoyable.

DR1.jpg Dark Rooms by Sionna Fox – 3 stars – a decent addition to the bdsm genre.

SWIT.jpg Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami – 4 stars – wonderfully weird and well written. I felt like it was less of a love story and more a story of loneliness.

dof.jpg Depth of Field by Riley Hart – Last Chance book 1 – 4 stars – Another great m/m read from this consistently good author.

mco A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman – 3.5 stars – I honestly didn’t find it as funny as everyone else seems to. I felt it was a somewhat sad story.

The Beautiful Thing by Tiffany Reisz – The Original Sinners book 0.75 – 3 stars – a great little prequel story.

assistant.jpg The Assistant by Tiffany Reisz – The Original Sinners book 0.85 – 3 stars – I do love little prequel teasers.

rectified.jpg Rectified by Tiffany Reisz – The Original Sinners 0.45 – 3 stars – another solid short but i’m not loving the characters.

siren.jpg The Siren by Tiffany Reisz – The Original Sinners book 1 – 3 stars – I love Nora but I really struggled to find any reason to like Soren, or hope for any kind of future between them. I am hoping the series sees her go in a different direction.

df.jpg Dirty Fling 1-4 by Lucia Jordan – 2 stars – a little flat and disappointing.

hutu Holding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven – 5 stars – fantastic YA book that had me laughing and hanging onto every word.

silence Silence by Shusaku Endo – 3 stars – it was brilliantly written, but I struggled to become engaged in the story.

telling.jpg Telling by Claire Rye – 4 stars – A great new Australian romance with a mysterious twist.

seduction.jpg The Seduction by Lisa Renee Jones – Rebeccas Lost Journals 1/Inside Out book 1.1 – 3 stars – a compelling teaser short.

contract.jpg The Contract by Lisa Renee Jones – Rebeccas Lost Journals book 2 / Inside Out book 1.2 – 3 stars – it was a good short but needed more heat.

his sub His Submissive by Lisa Renee Jones – Rebeccas Lost Journals book 3 / Inside Out book 1.3 – 3 stars – had more heat, but felt too easy.

my master My Master by Lisa Renee Jones – Rebeccas Lost Journals book 4 / Inside Out book 1.4 – 3 stars – I liked the way it ended, but again it was less steamy than I expected from this series.

FOTT.jpg The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen – The Queen of the Tearling book 3 – 5 stars – a fantastic final instalment to the series. The ending didn’t totally sit well with me though, but I understand why it had to happen that way.

MAD.jpg My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent – 4 stars – a compelling and somewhat disturbing read.

nevermoor2 Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend – The Trials of Morrigan Crow book 1 – 5 stars – what to read when you’ve run out of Harry Potter books. Magically wonderful.

Rowan by Nalini Singh – A Psy Changeling short story – 5 stars – i am always up for more of the psy changeling world. Kaleb was one of my faves so this was a lovely surprise in the August newsletter.

PYP2.jpgPick Your Pleasure 2 by Jayne Rylon – 4 stars – a very grown up version of a choose-your-own-adventure book. Love the concept.

EE.jpg Eternity Embraced by Larissa Ione – 4 stars – A Demonica short story

OK.jpg Overkill by Larissa Ione – 4 stars – a collection of Demonica short stories.

AP Apocalypse by Larissa Ione – 3 stars – a Lords of Deliverance compendium.

SND The Slave Next Door by Kevin Bales – 4 stars – a harrowing and well researched book about Human Trafficking and the modern slave trade.

 

I have quite a long list to try and get though in September. What are you hoping to read this September?

I am going to try and finally start reading Robin Hobb and maybe some Brandon Sanderson. I have been meaning to try them both out for years now! Have any of you read their books? I’m starting with The Assassins Apprentice which sounds amazing, and if i get time to add it… Elantris which i’ve been told is the first and best place to start in a complicated twisted of series of books.

Hope you all had a wonderful August. Happy Spring/Fall wherever you are in the world. Happy reading!

Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend

5 Stars

If you’ve run out of Harry Potter books to read, never fear, Nevermoor is here. Well, it will be in October 2017.

I was thrilled to be selected to receive an Advanced Reader Copy of this gem of a book. Thank you to the publishers for that awesome bookmail day!

Nevermore is the story of Morrigan Crow. A cursed child, born on a luckless day, with an untimely end approaching. But, just as the death knell is tolling, a slightly mad ginger called Jupiter swoops in and carries her off in his Arachnipod to another realm. Here, she is to be a contender to become a member of a respected and admired organisation. But first she must pass the trials.

This book is an absolute joy to read. It immediately fires up the imagination and makes you want to get lost among the pages. With things like cursed children, the Dangerous Wildlife Eradication Force, Wunder, Sniggles Snake Emporium, Magnificats, magical hotels and friendships in the making, how could you not fall in love with this story?

I absolutely adore Jupiter – my favourite line is his…… “Don’t be alarmed, I’m ginger”. Definitely got a few giggles out of me. It was a frolicking fantastical Wundrous world to spend time in.

The only downside for me is that I feel as though the trials needed more body, perhaps a little more difficulty. It felt a touch too easy.

The side characters are great, I particularly like Jack and Hawthorne, but I feel like the rivals (especially Noelle and Cadence) needed a little more fleshing out (or maybe just a bit more of a presence). They felt more like a petty annoyance than an actual threat or challenge. Plus beefing those up would mean more pages that I can read, so more time in Nevermoor.

I could absolutely see this being made into an enchanting film. It is very visual and would translate beautifully to the screen.

I adored every word, and it made me ignore humans until I finished the last page. I am looking forward to seeing a sequel, in 2018 hopefully!

 

July Wrap Up

Well the months got away from me and i totally forgot to do my July wrap up… better late than never though right? I managed to knock 22 off the tbr shelf (yes some of those were shorts and novellas).

The Standouts for July were The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier, and A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas. All were 5 star reads for me.

Below is my little list of discoveries for July:

hide.jpg Hide by Bailey Bradford – Spotless book 1 – 3 stars – a decent shapeshifter M/M romance

hunt Hunt by Bailey Bradford – Spotless book 2 – 3 stars – these books are enjoyable, but I am finding they are always somewhere in the middle for me. Enjoyable, but just okay.

home Home by Bailey Bradford – Spotless book 3 – 3 stars – again another consistently okay instalment.

plenty Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi – 4 stars – a great cookbook with loads of delicious options and plenty of vegetarian dishes.

plenty more Plenty more by Yotam Ottolenghi – 3 stars – not as good as the first but still full of deliciousness.

MCR My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier – 5 Stars – how did I never read this author before? Brilliantly crafted. Kept me guessing after the last word. I’m still undecided what I believe.

OOH1 Out of Heart by Irfan Master – 4 stars – a solid YA book, but it felt a little 2 dimensional in some areas.

ADJ The Adjustment by Suzanne Young – The Program book 3 – 3.5 stars – It was good, but not as engaging as the first two.

tres Tres Green Tres Clean Cookbook – 3 stars – it was okay, but nothing new.

YF Yes Forever books 1-5 by Bailey Bradford – 2 stars – I was disappointed with this series. I stuck with it til the end but it failed to really capture my attention.

nopi Nopi Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi – 3 stars – another good cookbook

we2 We: A Manifesto by Gillian Anderson – 3 stars – I wanted to love it more than I did. I love the concept, but sadly it didn’t bring anything new to the table.

dalmatia Dalmatia cookbook by Ino Kuvacic – 4 stars – great Croatian recipes that are fast becoming family favourites.

thor.jpg Thor by E.A. James – Far Hope Series book 1 – 3 stars – it is a solid Sci-Fi romance book, but not as great as others in the genre.

BC Bridget Crack by Rachel Leary – 3 stars – solid writing, but the story just didn’t totally appeal to me.

FLN Frost Like Night by Sara Raasch – Snow Like Ashes book 3 – 4 stars – it was just as great as the previous books, but it lost a star because I wasn’t too keen on the ending.

COP.jpg The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius – 3 stars – very dry, but that was to be expected. I can cross it off my required reading list.

RP.jpg The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion – 5 stars – hilarious. Loved it.

WITW.jpg The Woman it the Wood by Lesley Pearse – 4 stars – a solid mystery

HT1 The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – 5 stars – pure brilliance.

twin.jpg Twinmaker by Sean Williams – 2 stars – sadly disappointing. I failed to like any of the characters at all.

acowar A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas – A Court of Thorns and Roses book 3 – 5 stars – Nothing could beat book 2 but it is still a 5 star read for me. Totally devourable.

Well that was it for July and August has some great books on the shelf. I was lucky enough to win a few advanced reader copies that should be arriving and getting read in August.

Hope your July was full of great reads and wonderful days.

The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood – Review

5 STARS

There are some books that just leave you kind of numb and slightly reeling so that forming a coherent review is near impossible. This is one of those books.

It is less a work of fiction, more a warning. A warning to us all about the dangers of autocracy. I was surprised to find that this book was written over 30 years ago, as it really resonates with current events. The prophetic nature of the work is a little unnerving. There is a sense of foreboding that permeates the pages.

The story is that of Offred. She is a Handmaid whose only purpose is to breed. Her life is regimented, regulated and restricted. Freedom, something no one dares to even dream of. She lives in a completely repressive world. A world that is frighteningly similar to one we find ourselves in today.

I love the line “better never means better for everyone… it always means worse for some”. The best intentions to make a better world can very easily make a world even more feared and hated than the one they were trying to leave behind.

The previous world was one in which sex was easy, sexual violence against women on the rise, pornography prolific. We see the world of currency has gone completely digital – no cash – just a compucard with your credits on it – a cashless society. Fertility declines due to radiation exposures. And then the men in power decide to press the reset button. Create a better world, starting by changing some laws that women had previously fought so hard for. Laws that, not surprisingly, only really effect the women. The right to choose is removed with the abolition of abortion, the right of ownership for women removed and compucards frozen, the right to work removed. None of this sounds far-fetched. The world before is so similar to the world as it is now, and the world they create is eerily similar also. Some of this has already been law in our past (the right to work, vote, own property or bank accounts), some of it is law in some countries right now (the right to an education removed, the right to drive removed, laws in regards to modesty of dress), and some countries are currently trying to pass laws that sound a lot like the themes in this book.

It is natural for cultures to have peaks and troughs throughout history. One culture is hedonistic, a century later the culture is puritanical to the extreme. Instead of learning from history that extremes in either direction never work, we seem doomed to repeat the cycle ad infinitum.

No matter the laws and rules put in place people always find a way around them. In their world only men in positions of power are permitted to have a wife, sex outside of marriage forbidden, but the pleasure dens still manage to crop up somewhere (even though they are illegal too), and of course they are frequented by both the men being denied access elsewhere, and those who have wives and handmaids at home. Yet the existence of these pleasure dens was one of the reasons for the reset in the first place. Make something that is in demand illegal and it just gets driven underground instead.

This book is a brilliant work of totalitarian dystopia with current facts infringing on future fantasy. How easy it would be for this to come to pass in some form or another. How terrifying a prospect.

Completely compelling. The writing style is engaging and the pace is unhurried. My only complaint would be that we never find out Offred’s fate. Did she find Luke? Was she ever reunited with her daughter? Did she make it out? What was out there? I usually hate books that leave you with more questions than you started with, but I find that it fits well with the theme of this book. It makes it read almost more like a journal than a novel.

I’d love to find out more about the colonies and what life was like there. Was is vastly different to their little corner of the world? I’d also love to hear some of the backstory about how the world ended up as it did. We get glimpses throughout the novel, but i’d love a prequel type story too. I know we are never meant to judge a bok by its cover, but how gorgeous is this vintage classic edition i found!

I am eager to see what the recent TV adaptation has done with this story. Has anyone watched it yet? Does it do the book justice?

Out of Heart by Irfan Master

4 stars

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this book from the publisher through a goodreads giveaway. My first impression was a bit of coverlove. I think the cover design is really eye-catching and appealing (although why a sun design instead of a heart?). The synopsis had me intrigued and I bumped it up my tbr list because I was really interested to see what the story was like.

I was not disappointed. It was thoroughly enjoyable and easy to devour. It is quite a short and easy read (I read it in one evening). The plot meanders along at a slow and steady pace.

The story is about Adam and his family. After suffering the loss of his grandfather, the recipient of his donated heart comes into their life quite unexpectedly. I loved that it seemed like it was the heart bringing William walking to that door. Each member of the family has their own quirk (mums inability to cry and truly grieve, Adams compulsive notetaking and scribbles, Farah’s muteness). I enjoyed that aspect. My only complaint is that, at times, the characters seemed a little one dimensional. I would have liked to have seen a little more depth and character development.

Some of the side characters seemed superfluous. I would have preferred it stuck to the family unit and developed them more.

At its core, this book is about grief, healing, and the meaning of family. I like that it highlights that family does not always come to you in the conventional form. There were hints as to the faith of the characters, I think that it should have been either highlighted or just left out – as it was, it felt unimportant.

I loved the art aspect of the story and found that feature compelling – I’d love to glimpse inside that notebook. And the addition of the little heart facts between chapters was pretty cool.

Overall, an engaging and heart-warming tale.

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