Review: Shearwater by Derek Murphy

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“I watched the colored lights and sparkles coming off of Sebastian in the dark water, as the ocean began the process of rebuilding his tail. I longed to join him in the water, to wrap my arms around him and let him carry me under the sea; but I wasn’t ready. For him, the ocean was a home; for me it was death. Without being able to transform, the ocean depths would suffocate me, the pressure collapse my bones and flesh.”

After her parent’s accident, Clara is shipped off to live with a grandfather she never knew, in a town she can’t pronounce. In Ireland, she soon discovers that her mother’s secret past is filled with tragedy. Trying to track down the truth, she begins going through changes of her own, until she’s not sure just who – or what – she is anymore.

Then she meets the mysterious Sebastian, who won’t leave her alone, and Ethan, who apparently can’t stand to be near her. Both of them seem to have supernatural powers, and she’s not quite sure whether they want to kill her or kiss her. Just when things are getting interesting, someone attacks her, and she gets a revelation that destroys everything she thought she knew about the world, humanity, and herself.

Goodreads

I love mermaids. I’ve aways loved them. When I was a kid, my favourite Disney princess was Ariel. Hands down, The Little Mermaid was my favourite movie. I really don’t know what it was about mermaids that drew me in. I guess I was always drawn to the magical feeling of being able to explore the sea and live in a castle underwater and to play in shipwrecks. Funny how I’m now deathly afraid of the ocean huh?

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And yes I am now listening to The Little Mermaid soundtrack. Don’t judge.

But anyway, I think mermaids would have to be one of my favourite supernatural creatures. Unfortunately, majority of supernatural books only really deal with vampires or wizards. Go figure. So when I heard that Derek was coming up with a book on mermaids that was comparable to Twilight, I immediately knew that I was going to absolutely love it.

Overview

The book started out and ended amazing. I absolutly loved the pace even though it was slower then I’m usually used to. There was this addictive feel to it that books either have or don’t. The writing was easy to follow yet complex enough to make me feel like I was really there. I flew through the book and I would have actually finished it much earlier if I didn’t have to put it down to review another book.

Characters

I loved Clara. I thought she was such a strong willed person and she wasn’t some little loser that suddenly got popular because of her looks and the guys she was hanging around. Instead, she got to town, made friends with the pretty people and then continued  to stay grounded despite everything that happened. I don’t know if you get what I mean but it was very refreshing. The only thing I thought was bad was that she seemed to have very little sense of self-preservation. I mean you know Ethan is bad news and yet you let him take you out alone to an isolated place that is technically closed. And then you let him know that you know about the mermaid thing? I mean girl you need to get some sense!

Sebastian was not as strong a character as I wanted him to be. I kept getting these vibes like he was coddling Clara and making her out to be unable to function without him when in actual fact she obviously could. I don’t know. He was probably the most ‘Twilight’ character. He was basically Edward Cullen.

Ethan. I honestly don’t know what to make of him. He started out being your typical bad boy. Then he suddenly morphed into this cool guy who took Clara around and talked to her. Quite frankly I didn’t know what to make of him.

Bad Points

I probably only have two gripes with this book. Firstly it was marketed as comparable to Twilight. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise that this meant that it would pretty much copy Twilight. There were so many things in this book that were present in Twilight. And I am a huge twi-hard so yes, I did see every little thing that was done in reference to Twilight. So while I did enjoy the story overall, I really felt like there was no reason to copy Twilight. The story is strong enough enough to stand on its own two feet. The author himself is good enough to not be copying from anyone.

My second issue was with the history aspect of the book. Now I don’t know if this makes me dense but I feel like a lot of the history bits went right over my head. Now okay. I appreciate the fact that Derek is trying to weave actually history and mythology in the story. I respect that. But I think it could have been done in a much more engaging way. I felt like I was reading a history book and without meaning to, I found that I was skimming.

So yes. Only two major gripes with this book. Other then that, I just really wish that this was a complete novel. I mean I kind of understood why he chose to publish it in two parts but wanting feedback is not an excuse to release half a book. Derek, that’s what beta readers and editors and ARC copies are for. I will certainly be reading the second part of this but I am annoyed. I mean I read books like I drink water. I don’t want to have to wait for part two and then perhaps forget some little detail or part. It’s just frustrating. I mean you’re not Colleen Hoover bro. Calm down.

That said though, I think this book was an absolute gem and everyone should read it and go show him some support and love.

By the way, proceeds from this book will be going into oceanic conservation. How cool? Also, the author has a huge giveaway going. You can enter it here.

Buy the book here: http://amzn.to/1UsChmM

 

My-Rating-4-Stars

 

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Best Young Adult Book Blog Winner 2015

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Guess what guys! I won a blogging award!

So last year, UrbanEpics put out this award and invited people to nominate their favourite book bloggers. So the nominations were gathered and the sites were reviewed and for some weird reason, I actually won. I know. I’m still in shock.  This is exactly how the winners were chosen:

Winners were chosen based on site design, authority/traffic, nominations and unique voice/contributions to the genre. These sites are book bloggers or reviewers who mainly deal with YA books, and were updated frequently throughout 2015.

UrbanEpics

I am so excited mainly because this is my first real award. I mean I’ve gotten tagged for awards before but I have never got an award that was based on nominations and site contributions and things. This is really the first time that people have read my content and liked it so much that they thought it would be cool if I got an award for it.

So thank you so much. Thank you to UrbanEpics and thank you to you my beautiful readers. Blogging to me is still very much a hobby and to see the number of doors this little space has opened for me is just amazing. I am so grateful for this community. I’m grateful for you.

So thank you for this. I mean to see myself standing next to the likes of Paperfury and Epicreads is just mind boggling. Do head on over to UrbanEpics to check out some the other winners. They all have awesome blogs that I’m sure you will love.

 

I hope that if you are reading this, you are having a good day. Lots of love!

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Review: Scarred by Joanne Macgregor

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“Life leaves you scarred. Love can make you beautiful.”

Seventeen year-old Sloane Munster is trying to reboot her life after a serious car accident left her badly scarred and emotionally traumatized.

Starting her senior year at a new school, she’s delighted to see Luke Naughton, a swimmer whom she once crushed on, in the class in front of her. But when he glares back at her with disgust and revulsion, she’s shocked and hurt, and assumes it’s because of her appearance. Despite misunderstandings, the chemistry between them sparks and love grows against a background of guilt, secrets, and mounting tensions at a school where bullying is rife and Sloane is not the most deeply scarred person.

Sharp with bittersweet humor, Scarred is an intense, beautiful, compelling story of life, death and fighting for love against all the odds.

Goodreads

*This book was given to me to read and review by the author however, all opinions are my own*

This little book popped out of absolutely nowhere and blew me away.

Okay this is one of those reviews where I have no idea where to start so I’m just going to jump in headfirst.

Overview

This book told the story of Sloane. Sloane is a teenager who was involved in an accident that left her badly injured and with a scar all the way down her face. So when she finally can go to school again, she decides to go to a new school. There she meets Luke who seems absolutely horrified by her and her face. In fact he is absolutely repulsed by her. So it gets very testy when they are assigned to be partners for a project. Then the story gets interesting but because of spoilers, I’ll leave you with that.

So the book started out slow and I’ll be honest, a little irritating. There was a lot of mystery surrounding the accident. In fact we were not even told that it was an accident or why she was living alone or anything till well into the book. While I appreciate some mystery, I have mentioned in other reviews that I don’t like it when it is dragged out and I did feel patronised to some extent.

In chapter 15, we finally get to hear the story of the accident and we get told about why she lives alone and how she got her scar and why Luke hates her and everything. CHAPTER. 15. 15 chapters before we are clued in. Okay. That’s just great. There was this guy that once said that when writing fiction, you should give your readers all the information they would need early on. Give them so much that they could end the story themselves if they wanted to. But okay.

From that point, the story seemed to pick up its pace and I started to get really into it.

Anyway, I loved it. It had just the right amount of mushy gushy love and angst and drama for me. I really enjoyed it. I thought it had loads of really awesome elements in it and it was executed quite well. The book also touched on many important topics like driving while texting (never never never ever do anything but drive when you are driving please. It’s so not worth it) and bullying. There was so much bullying going on in this book and I think it was so important that it was brought to light.

Characters 

I also really really enjoyed the characters. Sloane was so funny and sarcastic and smart. That girl knew what was up. She was not stupid. She was not clingy. She stood up for the people that couldn’t stand up for themselves. She wasn’t overly shallow (admittedly we teenagers are all a little shallow aren’t we?) And she was believable. That’s something that was so important. She didn’t go off sprouting Shakespearian quotes or anything dumb like that. She was a good character.

Luke was not as great but he still was very well written. He was good, kind, not obsessed with himself. And he, like Sloane, was very smart. He knew how to listen to advice even if it was from a poster:

“When you forgive, it doesn’t mean you condone or approve. It means that you put down the resentment and bitterness you’ve been holding onto. It means that you let go of the hope that the past can be different.”

He knew what he was doing. I only got annoyed that he was so over-dramatic about everything. Also I just wanted to smack him for that thing with Juliet.

I also actually liked LJ’s character. Even though he was the creepy guy and the so-called villain of the story, he just had such a tragic backstory. And even though I was nothing like him in terms of what he did and how he acted, I felt like in the bullying and academic sense, I could relate a lot to him. I understand not wanting to do school work because you know you will fail no matter what. I know what it’s like to be ridiculed and hated by a teacher day in and day out. I know how difficult it can get when people call you names. So I just really felt for him. Of course that does not excuse what he did. I mean we all choose how our situations will ultimately impact us. We choose if we want to let it break or make us.

“We’re all victims of victims of victims, each of us scarred by life. What makes one person swallow their pain or turn it back on themselves, and another decide to take it out on the world? ”

The reason why the book lost two stars from me was firstly because of the vague first 15 chapters, the fact that the writing felt disjointed at some points and what Sienna said about gender rules.

Now I’m not that sensitive. The fact that Sienna told Sloane that she should not ask Luke out and she should not pay and that it was a travesty if she even tried to make any move whatsoever first did not bother me as much. But it did irk me. I mean its 2016. Even if women don’t end up making the first move, shouldn’t we be encouraging them to have the freedom to do so if they wish? Why place emphasis on these irrelevant gender rules? And I feel very strongly that the guy shouldn’t have to pay all the time. I mean like Sloane mentioned, (thank you for redeeming yourself) the guy is going to go broke very quickly if his girlfriend doesn’t pay for anything. He’s your boyfriend. Not your debit card.

Overall

Overall I really enjoyed this book but I think it has the potential to be better. I liked the characters, the plot and the important issues it dealt with. I thought the little bit of psychology that was inserted into the story was very well done and interesting. I simply enjoyed it and while I will recommend it, it isn’t one of those books that I will go on a roof and start screaming about.

 

My-Rating-3-Stars

Buy The Book:
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I Passed My Driving Test!

I’m speechless.

Literally words have been stripped from me.

I just passed my driving test. I passed my freaking driving test!!!!

I’m a licenced driver. I am a licenced driver. I can’t. I have to say it over and over because I just can’t believe it.

I AM A LICENCED DRIVER!!!

Oh guys. I can’t even believe this. You know on the 17th of January 2015 I registered to learn to drive. It’s been just over a year since then and it’s been such an emotional and physical journey for me.

I remember how terrified I was before both my theory tests. I remember how hard I was shaking when I first stepped into my car. I remember how my heart nearly burst with joy when my instructor let me drive my first round around the circuit on my first day. I remember how upset I would get when I got shouted at. How miserable I would feel after screwing up royally during a lesson. I remember the panic when I kept mixing up the brake and the accelerator and I nearly slammed into an carpark gantry and almost hit a bunch of pedestrians.

And then I remember registering for my first test. I was so confident. I knew what I was doing and had no doubt that I would pass. I failed. I got 16 points and then one immediate failure when I scrapped the kerb while positioning my car for parallel parking.

My second test came and I knew I was going to pass this time. Everyone knew that you always failed your first and passed your second. I had this. I failed again. This time I got 30 points.

By the time I registered for my third test, something in me had broken. I was no longer as confident.

I actually wrote this little piece yesterday on the bus when I was feeling my absolute worst. I wasn’t going to publish it but now I’m thinking why the heck not.

I don’t know how to say this in words so I thought I would write it down.

My driving test is tomorrow. It’s been 2 weeks since I failed my second test and since yesterday, I have been experiencing the most crippling anxiety and fear that I have ever experienced possibly in my whole life.

Last night I lay in bed and I started to pray for my driving. I wanted to talk about the fear that was gripping me so intensely. That very quickly turned into tears and then a full meltdown. I cried my heart out in the dark.

When I was about to go for my very first driving test, I remember how confident I was. I knew I could do it. I failed. The second time I was less confident but I still had it under control. I failed again.

After that failure, something changed. I started to become very upset. For the last two weeks I have been feeling very depressed. I have been wound so tight. I can’t relax. I can’t sleep. I’ve had nightmares. I lost my confidence completely. Today I went for a driving lesson and my stomach was hurting like I was being punched over and over again. I had to fight tears on the way there. My hands were shaking on the steering wheel and I nearly cried with relief when it was over.

Tomorrow is my driving test and there is no way I can explain how horribly afraid I am. I feel like I’m dying. Like I’m going to throw up. I can’t fail again. If I fail I don’t think I will be able to do it again. I really don’t.

This morning, I got up at 5.45am. My warm up was at 7.25am and my test was at 8.30am. I don’t want to go too much into the mistakes I made but my biggest flaw was that I was too nervous. You see I lost that gutsy confidence and now my hands shake on the wheel and I start to panic.

I thought for sure that I was going to fail by the end of it. I couldn’t imagine how I would pass after that horrible test. But for some reason the guy passed me with 16 points.

When he told me, I started to cry and it became a full on sobbing, ugly cry thing right there in public. I was just so relieved.

Since this morning, my mom has let me take her car out and drive just two rounds around our neighbourhood. I expected to have got my confidence back. I mean I didn’t have an instructor next to me and there wasn’t a test going on. I thought I would be okay.

Turns out that was not the case. I started out okay. But when I got to the main road, I realised that I was going at like 15-20km/hr and I was just so terrified to go faster. People were overtaking me and my mom was pushing me to speed up but I just got so scared.

I held it together though because you can’t lose it behind the wheel but I have to admit that I am now very scared of how I’m going to keep driving. I have this intense fear that I’m going to kill someone. I mean it’s so different knowing that the person next to you has a emergency brake as compared to an actual car in which your passenger has no way to stop an accident if you mess up no matter how skilled they are.

Anyway, my dad will be home from his business trip on Saturday and he’s going to be forcing me on the road and forcing me to drive faster and more confidently. It’s very scary but I know it’s the only way I’ll ever properly learn. Honestly the school prepares you largely for the test. The real world is surprisingly different.

So that’s all I really have to say today. Just a quick little update. I am honestly so excited to be starting a new chapter of sorts in my life. I feel like such an adult!

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Two For The Holidays by Ekta R. Garg

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A medium gets ready for one of the biggest days in her career speaking to the dead. An elf accepts an unusual assignment and faces his past. Two stories about people tied to holiday-themed professions. Two stories about the reality of life’s hardships in the last quarter of the year. Two stories for the holidays.

The first story, “Take A Breath”: Marisa Bellini has traveled to a tiny town on Halloween to help people contact the dead. She’s built an empire on the idea that she can talk to ghosts…but can she really? Sometimes even Marisa isn’t sure.

The second story, “The Truth About Elves”: Curtis, an elf, sets the record straight. No, elves don’t have pointy ears, they aren’t three feet tall, and they don’t live at the North Pole all year long. When Curtis gets a special assignment from the big man himself, though, he learns that Christmas magic has the power to transform everything he’s known for the last decade.

– Goodreads

Guess what guys! Ekta has released the her 5th novel in the Stories In Pairs series!

So if you guys didn’t know, Ekta has this series going on where she releases 3 books a year with 2 short stories in each one. So this is her holiday edition of the series and I have to say that I think this one is the best one yet.

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In this first story, we follow a famous psychic as she goes around and basically talks to the the dead for grieving family members. We get to see how she decided to become a psychic as well as what goes on behind the scenes of her famous shows and readings.

Now I rarely read books about psychics because I don’t believe in them and their ‘abilities’. I mean everything I’ve ever heard of them has been that they are cheats and fakes. I also am a Christian and we don’t believe in this stuff. But that said, I do find people who believe in them and who practice to be quite interesting. I mean I think it really takes a type of person to be able to pay hard earned money to take a chance that someone might really have contact with the dead. It also takes a type of person to scam someone into spending hard earned money on the spouting of utter rubbish but I digress.

So I really really enjoyed this story. I found the characters to be very likeable as well as unlikable which In my opinion, makes a great character. I also loved reading about how Marisa became who she was in her life. I feel like that contributed to the book in a big way.

I don’t know. There was just something about this story that I found really enjoyable. I guess it’s because it largely fit with my belief that psychics are absolute rubbish but again, I digress.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

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In this story, we follow an elf called Curtis. Curtis is a regular old human, all elves are in this story, and he has a proper job and a house and everything. It’s just that for a few months a year, Curtis flies to the North Pole to work for a man called Mr C.

Now I liked this story. I really did. I mean it was good. What I didn’t like though was the suspense. So you know how loads of authors do this thing where they hint at a subplot then in the next few paragraphs or next chapter or two, they reveal it?

Well this story had that element. Expect that it was dragged out for the entire story.

I felt like I was the outsider to a huge secret the whole time. And while I would usually appreciate some suspense, this time, I felt rather patronised. I guess it was largely due to the fact that it was dragged out for the entire story and the fact that the secret was hinted at at least once on every page. I just got quite annoyed really.

Other then that, I enjoyed this new spin on a classic Christmas myth. I loved how the traditional elf image was reinvented. Only thing that was missing I felt was that it was not clear how one gets recruited. I want to be an elf too!

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

I really enjoyed this book and  truly feel like Ekta’s writing has been improving with every book she puts out. I have reviews for some of her other novels in her Stories In Pairs series and you can read them below:

*A copy of this book was provided to me to read and review by the author however, all opinions are my own*

Purchase the book here

 
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How To Create New Year Resolutions

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Welcome to 2016! How has that happened so fast? Literally blinked and it was gone.

Today I want to talk to you about new year resolutions as well as to share a few of mine with you.

Now I’m sure every one of you has set some sort of new year resolution. Be it that you want to get fitter or that you want to read more or perhaps that you just want to be happier. But we all know what happens. You keep it up for a week or two then let yourself cheat on one day and that one day becomes two and then a week and then you just give up and decide to try again next year.

No.

Not this year.

I want to teach you guys how to properly make new years resolutions. Resolutions that you will keep.

Step 1: Don’t come up with an extravagant list

Keep your resolution list small. It helps you focus better on your ultimate goals and ensures that you don’t get sidetracked too easily.

Step 2:  Start small

If your goal is to ultimately start exercising more, start small. Don’t say that you’re going to go to the gym five times a week. Start really small. Start with once a week then move that up to two and three and so on. Same as if you want to start eating healthy. Start with one healthy meal a day or if you’re a fast food junkie, try limiting yourself to a meal like that once a week then once a month. Don’t immediately jump headfirst into no fast food for the rest of my life or no carbs forever and ever amen.

Setting small goals for yourself will help you achieve a routine and will ultimately help you to cultivate a habit. It also will help you to ease yourself into this new thing which actually does produce better results in the long run.

Remember, ultimate goals are not the same as resolutions. You can resolve to read 1 book a week and still reach your ultimate goal of reading 50 books a year. The idea is to take it slow.

Step 3: Find ways to reward yourself

Rewards are great motivators. And your reward could literally be anything. You could reward yourself with candy or if you’re like me, you could simply feel rewarded by seeing results. Do whatever you have to do to keep up with your habit.

Step 4: Don’t feel pressured to have resolutions

If you ask me, new year resolutions are overrated. I mean people put so much pressure on themselves to start a new year perfectly. But the thing is that you don’t need a new year to start fresh. In fact, I personally think that making up goals as you go is the way to do it. If one day you decide to drink more water, do it. Do it immediately. Don’t wait for tomorrow so that you can start on a clean slate. Don’t wait for this to happen or that to happen. Just dive in. That is really the only way to get anything done.

So if you’re racking your brains for a resolution, stop. You don’t need to have one. You don’t need to think of a new year as this big deal. It’s not really. Yes its a new year but really how different were you yesterday as compared to today? Resolutions are temporary. Work smart and create habits. Habits are what will see you through the year.

And I know that I have now bashed on having new year resolution but I have come up with a few of my own and I thought it would be nice to share.

  1. Everything happens for a reason so don’t be too upset if things don’t go your way.
  2. Remain happy 
  3. Be kinder then you have to be always
  4. Maintain the habits you created in 2015
  5. Excercise twice a week 
  6. Put in more effort into my blog posts

Well that’s it. My first blog post of 2016. I just wanted to say a massive thank you for sticking with me till 2016. I am so grateful for each and everyone of my readers and the friends I have made through this little space on the Internet. You know it doesn’t matter as much to me how many readers I have. I mean sure I want readers. But more then that I’m just glad that I have this avenue to share my thoughts and opinions about the things that I love.

So thank you for coming on this journey called life with me and I can’t wait to see what adventures we go on in 2016.

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