My Top Ten Books Featuring Sisterhood

*Warning there will be lots of pink and gushing girliness in this post*

Phew it is hot today- I don’t know how anyone gets anything done when it’s so hot! Resisting the urge to just lounge around all day, I thought I’d follow on from yesterday’s post and talk about sisters in books!

I don’t think sisterly love gets nearly enough attention in books- so today I want to celebrate some of my favourite books that feature sisters (both real and metaphorical) in a big way!  And just a heads up, I won’t be including any creepy long lost identical long lost twins or back or backstabbing biatches here- this one’s all about the positivity (mostly 😉 ):

pride and prejudice

  1. Pride and Prejudice– how could I not include Austen? The queen of the sisterhood?! That would be madness! In fact, I was actually super tempted to put Sense and Sensibility on here as well, but let’s face it, nothing beats Lizzy and Jane’s relationship!

i capture the castle.jpg

  1. I Capture the Castle– so mostly I just want an excuse to mention a childhood favourite. But there is a strong sister relationship in this book- only trouble is, even after all these years I can’t quite put my finger on where that relationship ends up at the end of the book. Ah well, it still deserves to be on this list, partly because I have always wanted to be part of this wacky family, but mostly because I secretly want to live in a derelict castle with no heating… (says the girl that couldn’t stand the Scottish winters)

little women

  1. Little Women– apart from this book giving me the warm fuzzies every time I think about it, this book hands down has one of my favourite family dynamics in literature- and guess what? They’re all girls! Yay- girl power! The March sisters are adorable, quirky and love fiercely- but my goodness you don’t want to get in the middle when that goes awry- there are ups and downs in this book that still make me cry (and not just the obvious *ahem* unmentionable parts- seriously don’t mention it, or you will reduce me to a fluffy orange mess again…)

Sisterhood_of_the_Traveling_Pants_book_cover

  1. Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants– you knew it was coming- after my review yesterday it can’t come as a surprise. What’s especially wonderful about this series is that it has every type of sisterly relationship- it deals with the figurative, the blood relations and the “oh goodness what category are you in” type of sister. And even more importantly, it doesn’t shy away from conflict between sisters (really just an occupational hazard)- instead directly addressing the issues they have and letting the characters grow as a result.

to all the boys

  1. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before– I’ve mentioned it before- but one of the best things about this series is the *lovely* sister relationships in it. Like my previous choice, it doesn’t make them buddy-buddy all the time- but that’s a-okay with me! Because complex dynamics are so important when portraying any relationship- and especially in something as nuanced and complicated as sisters!

court of thorns and roses

  1. A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy– okay so I wasn’t actually sure whether to include this one, because initially *avert your eyes superfans* I wasn’t totally sold on the sister relationships. It just seemed to be based on the protagonist’s older sisters letting her do all the work for them. But, while I’m still not convinced of this series’ perfection- review of ACOWAR to come *very* soon– I did find the sister relationships grew on me.

red sister

  1. Red Sister– okay, so no one in this book was technically a biological sister- BUT they were all Sisters- you know, nuns. Killer nuns in fact. And let’s face it, when am I gonna pass up an opportunity to mention killer nuns? (Plus they also had developed really great bonds with each other- but to be honest my brain is still on the *deadly nuns* thing to go into detail 😉 )

the young elites

  1. Young Elites– This one is another really unusual one, because this series is so out there. And I can’t talk too much about why I love this sister relationship, because of *spoilers*. But what I can say is this relationship ends up being super integral to the plot and the story’s conclusion- and how many non-romantic relationships can you say that about really? Let alone sister relationships?

hunger games

  1. Hunger Games– and speaking of another sister relationship that is integral to a book’s plot, what about Katniss Everdeen and her sister Prim. There would have been no story if Katniss hadn’t offered herself as tribute to save her sister. And as for where this relationship ends up going… well let’s not go there shall we (seriously, it’s like I designed this post to get all teary or something!)

how i live now

  1. How I Live Now– okay, so another cheerless book about the end of the world. But there was one thing I always took heart from and that was Daisy holding Piper’s hand and leading her through the literal end of the world- they’re not technically sisters, yet this image of sisterly devotion is burned into my mind whenever I think of a moment of sisterhood in books. I just want to point to it and say *that right there* (there’s also a lot of weird shit in this book, but at least there’s family at the centre of it all)

Okay that post ended up going in a darker direction than I intended. Do you agree or disagree with my choices? What book do you think is a great representation of sisterhood? Let me know in the comments below!

And naturally, I dedicate this post to my sister the monkey baby (yes that is her real nickname and no I am not making that up)

Midnight Star Was a Sparkly Conclusion To A Bright Trilogy

midnight-starSo way back in 2015 I read Young Elites and Rose Society– then I had the horrible ordeal of waiting for the finale. The thing about waiting over a year for the final book in the series is that the conclusion can often disappoint- it doesn’t live up to expectations, the story’s gone cold while you waited or you’ve just lost interest. Luckily for me, however, this did not happen to me with Lu’s masterful series.

Now I’ve mixed reviews around for this finale, but for me it was a very satisfying ending to a unique story. Personally I thought it ended the only way it could. In fact it was so beautifully done that I was left shaking and with tears in my eyes.

New, imaginative elements were brought into the finale that were only hinted at in the rest of the series, giving it more of a mythological edge and the feeling that the story would become part of legend. This took the book to a whole new level- and was impressed that Lu was able to step it up in the last book- not many series manage to do that! Apart from being disappointingly short and a little rushed, I felt this was the perfect way to end it:

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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One satisfied Orangutan

So this was my first read this year- it’s early days but how’s your reading shaping up so far for 2017? And have you read this series? Do you like it? Let me know in the comments!

5 Books That Beat Middle Book Syndrome

After my post yesterday, I decided to do talk more positively about the books that managed to beat middle book syndrome. Actually, these books didn’t just defeat middle book syndrome, cos I’m not gonna include books that were as good as their predecessors (we’d be here all day!). Instead I’m gonna talk about the books that brought something new to the series they belonged to, raised the stakes and just knocked it out of the park! So buckle up and enjoy the ride.

  1. Crown of Midnight

crown of midnightI could easily use this post just to rant and rave about how much I *loved* this series. And, surprisingly, that love did not begin with book 1. Unusually, I started loving this series only after book 2 and then was completely blown away by book 3. Every book since the first one Maas has upped the stakes, made me love the characters more and developed the world in incredible ways! So yeah it’s safe to say this beat middle book syndrome!

Invisible

  1. The Novice

the noviceWith the Novice, Trudi Canavan didn’t just build on the first one, she made *everything* so much better. In all honestly, I hadn’t actually enjoyed two thirds of Magician’s Guild- but the last section of the book got me wanting to read more. And I’m so glad it did! Because the second book (and the third) took everything to a whole other level- the characters came to life, the world went from generic to intriguing and the plot was phenomenally gripping. After the slow world-building of the first one, I had not expected to like, let alone love the rest of the series- but somehow Canavan pulled it off, and this is now one of my favourite fantasy series of all time.

  1. Fractured

fracturedThis is a bit more of an unusual one for me to pick. Honestly, I did not think much of Slated– I wasn’t crazy about the idea, the characters and the pacing was all off- so I really don’t get how the sequel managed to impress me. But Fractured was a massive improvement on the series and because of this book I actually became invested in the story. The stakes were higher and the characters were more complex. And unusually for a YA dystopia- I actually liked how it turned out!!

  1. The Rose Society

rose societyThe Young Elites was definitely up there as one of my favourite books of last year- I just loved how dark and unexpected it was. So naturally, I picked up this book with high expectations- and not only did it not disappoint, but it actually built on the success of the first one and made me even more excited about the potential directions this series might take. I loved the twists and turns of the second book even more than the first one! You can read more in my review here.

  1. Cress

cressHaving read the whole series now, I can safely say this one was my favourite! I rated it higher than all the others- and for that reason it had to be on this list! I’m a sucker for cute romances- so I just loved Cress and Thorne’s relationship. Those characters were just gorgeous! Throw in the awesome direction the plot took and the general character development and I was all for it!

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Bonus: Catching Fire

catching fireSome people believe this book is firmly in the Middle Syndrome category- but I disagree- which is one of the main reasons why it had to be in this post. Admittedly, it is really similar to the first one, yet as I said in my last post, it had wonderful character development and really advanced the plot to set up the finale- so it definitely deserves an honorary mention.

Invisible

Hope you enjoyed that! Have you read these books? Anyone have any other books that beat middle book syndrome? Let me know in the comments below!

Top 10 Books of 2015

Welcome- and happy almost New Year! This year has been a crazy one for reading- I’ve read an insane 95 books (*say what?!?*) Amongst this windfall there have been too many terrible stinkers, a lot of YA romance for some reason (I’m thinking finishing my degree and wanting to unwind was a huge factor in that), a fair amount of fantasy, fewer classics than usual and some really incredible books! This list is dedicated to those incredible books that just lit me up from the inside out, made me laugh and had me weeping buckets.

I tried to put this in order, but let’s face it, when you’re choosing between two books you love it’s nigh on impossible to choose which one you love more. I mean- how do you measure that- by number of squeals or something? So in no particular order, I present to you, my top ten books of 2015:

1. peter pan

peter pan and wendy

Yup- I finally read this- and yup, it was amazing.

1. liars

we were liars

It was the first book I read in 2015 and boy was it a great way to start the year. I haven’t mentioned it much on this blog yet, mostly because I feel like anything I say about it will be spoilery, but it was well worth reading. All I’ll say other than that is the prose was beautiful!

3. final empire.png

final-empire

I was going to say The Shadow of What Was Lost but according to my goodreads, I finished that on New Year’s Eve in 2014, so to fill that fantasy void, I’m gonna say The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson. Which is a brilliant book anyway and probably would’ve made it onto the list regardless.

4. throne of glass

Throne_of_Glass_UK

And by that I mean the whole series. I know, I know, I’m kind of cheating, but to be honest I could put any of them on the list, so I don’t want to take up room, and I did read all of them in 2015. I always cheat in book lists anyway, so why should this be any different?

5. young elite

the young elites

I read this fairly recently, but it definitely makes it onto the list! It was a close call between this and the The Red Queen but this one *just* edged it out, because I loved it just a little bit more. Not that it was an easy decision to make- and I’m kind of thinking of changing my mind… See what I mean about choosing between two favourites! It’s just so hard! Ughh- they should both be on the list really. (Also, I’m counting this with The Rose Society cos, hello, I just said I’m a cheater)

6. darker shade

a darker shade of magic

What can I say other than that this was spectacular?

7. Vicious

vicious

Yes, I know V E Schwab was already on the list- but I can’t help it if she’s an incredible author. She just *deserves* two spaces on the list. I *love* the main character in this book and the plot is sensational and so clever! I go through phases with books, and right now this one has edged out A Darker Shade of Magic as my favourite book by V.E.Schwab- *so far*- cos let’s face it, I’m going to be reading loads more of her books in the future!

8. Memoirs of Geisha

memoirs of a geisha

This book came at exactly the right moment for me- I can’t really explain why. I’ve not read a more beautiful book in a really long time. It made a lasting impression and I’m certain I’m going to remember it for a really long time.

9. carry on

carry on

I loved this book so much and I’m glad I still had space on the list for it- heck, let’s face it, I made space for it! Check out my ten reasons to read it here

10. man's

man's search for meaning

This book was non-fiction, but it had to make it onto the list. Because it is undoubtedly one of the best books I’ve ever read. It articulated so many feelings I have about the world, to the point where I’ve gotten lazy when I answer questions about my philosophy on life, because I basically just say now: “go read Man’s  Search For Meaning- he puts it so much better than I ever could”. It’s deep, it’s meaningful and it feels like it soccer-punched my soul at some points. So go read it.

There you have it- those were my favourite reads of 2015. Did any of these make it onto your top ten? Let me know in the comment section below. 

The Rose Society Review

rose society*A bit spoilery if you haven’t read book 1*

Initially, I didn’t feel like I needed to do a review for this series. I mean- it’s pretty much exactly what I asked for after the last one: more of the same. And yet- this book still surprised me. It pulled me in directions I did not expect. Not only am I still sympathetic and invested in the main character’s plight, but I have realised she may become more than just an anti-hero- she could be on the path to fully fledged villainhood. And to me this is the most exciting thing ever. Any possible story arcs for the main character are exciting at this stage- either she continues down the terrible path she’s taking and becomes a completely evil maniac, or she changes course and she gets a redemption story. Either way, it’s a win-win for the reader. This bold choice by Marie Lu is making me impossibly excited for what comes next.

But the brilliance of the book does not stop there. One aspect of the book that is handled masterfully is the characters- they all feel like distinct and different people. Which is such a pleasant change. Even Raphael isn’t a straightforward good guy. In fact, none of the “good” guys are straightforward. All of them make mistakes. And none of them have entirely altruistic motivations. Everyone has shades of grey.

On top of that, I felt like the romance was hotting up- I much preferred the love interest in this book, because I felt like this guy actually *knew who she really was* instead of the other guy that fell in love with the idea of her. To be honest, in the first book, the romance was bordering on insta-love, but thankfully it felt real in this book.

And the twists and turns in the plot were excellent- much like the first one, it never took the foot off the accelerator. Needless to say, I’m on the edge of my seat to see what happens next.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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The Young Elites- Flash Review

the young elitesSummary from Goodreads:

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.
Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

My thoughts:

Now this is a fun book. I’m honestly surprised by how much I enjoyed it considering how I found her other series, Legend, pretty lacklustre. So when my friend recommended this to me, I was really reluctant to pick it up. But I’m glad I did because it completely took me by surprise.

As with Legend the writing style is simple. Yet fortunately the plot was engaging, interesting and really entertaining- and I found myself enjoying the ride in spite of my initial misgivings. It twisted and turned and went in directions I did not expect. More than that, it had a dark, unpredictable edge to it that made my hair stand on end.

I liked the simple set up for the world, with its direct explanation for the Young Elites’ powers and their (somewhat typical) persecution. Yet in spite of how straightforward it was, I didn’t find it tired or boring. In part it was because it was very atmospheric. But mainly it was because the characters really stood out. They were complex, disturbed and bordering on straight up evil. Which of course I loved. Because moral ambiguity is awesome.

Overall, this was a very solid start to a series, and I’m looking forward to see where Lu takes this. Naturally, I’m hoping for more of the same.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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