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Top Ten Tuesday | Top 13 of 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week we list our top 10 book-related things. This week, we’re talking about:

Top 13 Books of 2013

Have I talked about these books enough yet? No? Well, I should. Because they were so damn good. (Oh, after doing this up I realized I missed out one of my favourites of this year: I Have the Right to Destroy Myself by Kim Young Ha. Love it.)

Here are my top 13 books of 2013:

1. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) By Mindy Kaling

I am obsessed with Mindy Kaling. I loved her in The Office, I loved her in The Mindy Project. And well, I love Mindy Kaling. Needless to say I fell in love with her more after reading this book. I kept secretly reading this at work because I just couldn’t help myself. I need more Mindy, please!

2. The Program By Suzanne Young

Ughhhh, I feel like I haven’t raved about this enough. The Program was one of my most anticipated of 2013 and certainly did not disappoint. I love dystopian books and this is right up there along with Divergent and The Hunger Games.

3. The Bling Ring By Nancy Jo Sales

OK, this book is a hit or miss with many people. Some may argue that it wasn’t a very good book and it didn’t touch on the more “important” things like why they did it blah blah blah. Now, The Bling Ring is one of those non-fiction books that I simply could not put down. I read this in between work, I read it at work, during work, on the way home from work…. you get the picture. Strangely, I became obsessed with these kids. I wanted to know more, needed to know more. I would recommend this, if you’re willing to read more of what happened or some background on the case. Otherwise, the movie adaptation by Sofia Coppola is a succinct version of the book. (I am a huge Cappola fan too!)

4. Bridget Jones’s Diary By Helen Fielding

Have I talked about Bridget Jones enough? I’m so damn late to the Bridget Jones party… I wish I read it earlier. Please be my friend, Bridget. You are so fabulous.

5. Lovely, Dark and Deep By Amy McNamara

The title of the book is an apt reflection of why I love this book. This book doesn’t get enough love. I urge everyone to read this book: it is poetic and beautiful.

6. Dangerous Girls By Abigail Haas

Two words: the. ending. You will keep reading, re-reading once the ending comes around. All round excellent mystery novel with a very interesting plot.

7. Love & Misadventure By Lang Leav

Love & Misadventure will continue to be one of my favourite volumes of poetry. What I love about it is its simplicity. You don’t need to be a poetry major to understand it. I met her this year a few months ago and got my book signed. She’s so adorable and is always a sweetheart on twitter. I hope she releases more volumes soon!

8. Ready Player One By Earnest Cline

This is another book I couldn’t put down. I even read it at work. (I’m starting to sound like a misfit… I read when I’ve done my work, I promise!) I loved that it was all about video games and alternate reality. It has such an interesting premise and I’ve never read anything like it before. What a wonderful experience it was to be submerged into the world of video games.

9. The Fault in our Stars By John Green.

This book lives up to the hype. No, seriously, I wasn’t cynical too but no, this book is brilliant. Don’t hesitate. Pick it up. Now. Please prepare some tissues. It might get ugly very quickly.

10. Easy By Tamara Webber

This was my first New Adult book and it was also one of those books that was crazily hyped over. Again, I was cynical especially when it came to contemporaries and people falling in love. But I really enjoyed this book. It lived up to the hype of it being addictive and good.

11. Prep School Confidential By Kara Taylor

Please. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I do nothing but rave about it. I will hard-sell this book to anyone who is willing to listen. A debut novel that is unlike a debut novel. Fantastic book.

12. The Outsiders By S.E. Hinton

One of my new favourite classics. I’ve been hearing so much about it for so long, but never bothered to pick it up until I read an except of it in Fangirl. I loved how easy it was to read. I have a bad track record with classics: it’s so hard for me to read it from start to finish but I whizzed though this. I spent hours reading this through the morning.  I fell in love with the characters that I couldn’t put it down nor stop thinking about it. It’s one of those books that will stay with you forever. Stay golden, Ponyboy.

13. Before I Go To Sleep By SJ Watson

This should be a no brainer. I absolutely loved this book. I kept thinking about it for weeks after reading it. It was so exciting and incredibly exhilarating.

What are you top 13 books of this year? I’d love to see if any of the books from above made your list!

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Confessions of a Hater By Caprice Crane

Confessions of a Hater By Caprice Crane
Published Aug 27th 2013 by Feiwel & Friends
Rating: 4/5

Goodreads

Summary: Mean girls are always the haters – Right?

Hailey Harper has always felt invisible. Now her dad has a new job and the family is moving to Hollywood. Just what Hailey needs: starting a new high school.

As she’s packing, Hailey finds a journal that belonged to her older sister, Noel, who is away at college. Called “How to Be a Hater,” it’s full of info Hailey can really use. Has Hailey found the Bible of Coolness? Will it help her reinvent herself at her new school? Will her crush notice her? Will she and the other Invisibles dethrone the popular mean girls? After all, they deserve it. Don’t they?

Caprice Crane’s funny–and deeply felt–observations about high school, bullies, popularity, friendship, and romance will leave teens thinking…and talking.

Review: I absolutely adored this book. I must admit, I initially picked this book up because of it’s cover but after reading the synopsis I was sold. I have never read Caprice Crane’s adult books and this is her first young adult novel and I must say it was a hilarious read.

The book itself was hilarious. One of the blurbs put it aptly, it sounded like it was written by one of my friends. I really loved how up-to-date it was with all the latest social media sites and familiar songs. It allowed me to greatly resonate with Hailey because of the similarities.

The plot was really interesting. It reminded me a lot of the movie Mean Girls, except the Burn Book is actually a guide to help you become a “hater” (which essentially is what popular girls are). The main character Hailey had a lot of spunk. She was different than most protagonists and I loved how she refused to conform to what popularity should be.

One of the main things I truly enjoyed was the relationships in the book. From friendships to relationships and even within the family, it all brought out a different dynamic to the story. I loved the friendship between Hailey and the girls and how they developed together and depended on each other for support. I also loved that the book was the reason for Hailey and Noel to rekindle their estranged relationship with each other.

One of the things I didn’t particularly enjoy was towards the end, when Hailey decided to self-destruct. I don’t truly understand why she decided to do that what everything was seemingly fixed. It felt like she created the problem, just for the sake of it and not because there was a particular reason that truly provoked her.

In that retrospect, the book dragged on a lot longer than it should have. It felt that the impact of her self-destruction was very minimal to the story and in some ways took the spark away from the book.

Overall, Confessions of a Hater was a surprise. It was an easy funny read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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The Duff By Kody Keplinger

The Duff By Kody Keplinger
Published Sept 7th 2010 by Little Brown/Poppy
Rating: 4/5

Goodreads

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.
Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

Review: I’m so glad I finally picked this up after almost two years of putting it off. I read The Duff as part of The Chick Lits book club on goodreads and this was their choice for December. The Duff is one of those books that’s not overly-hyped about but at the same time it’s one of the popular picks.

I really enjoyed The Duff. I must say I was surprised that I would enjoy this so much. I had some problems with the book at the start, but the more I put it down the more I desperately wanted to know what happened to them.

What I really liked about The Duff was how relatable and real it was. I enjoyed the characters a lot, they were somewhat typical yet also very refreshing. Bianca is a pessimist and in her own way a realist. She doesn’t believe in instant love (rather believing that it takes years for you to truly understand what love is) and is an intelligent young woman.

I really grew to like Bianca and Wesley’s relationship. It was formed in a manner that was questionable and unfathomable to me, but I ended up rooting for them both. I enjoyed that they went into this as “friends with benefits” and later genuinely becoming friends. The manner in which their relationship developed was realistic and that is what I liked about it most.

I have my own dislikes with this book. I didn’t understand why Bianca would choose to use Wesley as a form of escape. In the beginning it made no sense that she would choose to kiss a guy that she really hated. I later understood that this was a play on The Scarlet Letter, where Bianca would be promiscuous as a way to distract herself from her problems.

I don’t necessarily understand why she had to distract herself considering she had two best friends, one of which she’s known her entire life. Her own best friend had family issues. It was portrayed that she had such a great relationship with her friends that she could have easily confided in them. Instead she used Wesley for sexual gains because she couldn’t tell her friends that she was the group’s ‘duff’. I can’t entirely wrap my mind around Bianca’s “issues” (namely her inability to confide in her best friends) over the fact that she might be somewhat self-conscious of being ‘the duff’. I had expected that at least the problems she was having with her family would be shared with her friends before anyone else.

The Duff was an overall great book and the good out-shined the bad. Though I had initial difficulties, I am glad I pushed on and ended up changing my perspective about Bianca and Wesley’s relationship.

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Dash & Lily’s Book Of Dares By David Levithan & Rachel Cohn

Dash & Lily’s Book Of Dares By David Levithan & Rachel Cohn
Published Oct 26th 2010 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Rating: 3/5

Goodreads

Summary: “I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

Review: Let me first begin by saying that I have read several David Levithan books and am a fan of his work. When it comes to Christmas time books, this is one of them. It’s usually hyped up around this time of the year and generally well-hyped (I’m just making words up now)

I, unfortunately, didn’t get the hype. While I liked it, I was also left somewhat disappointed. I wanted more, I expected more and maybe that’s why I tend to stay away from hyped books just in case expectations are not met.

The plot itself was very interesting. It was something different from most contemporaries. The concept of leaving clues and written notes to someone you don’t know in a bookstore sounds amazing. The book was mostly plot-driven and a lot of it was because of the notebook. Up till the part where they met, it was fantastic and after that I felt less and less. The magic was over. The jig is up.

I didn’t find either characters particularly memorable – Dash being that snarky grouchy type and Lily being the girl that likes Christmas too much. Between the two, Dash made more of an interesting character because he was snarky and there was a sort of ‘persona’/character to him. Lily was little boring and gets annoying at times with her over-enthusiasm about everything.

The book alternates between Dash & Lily’s perspective so my feelings towards Lily didn’t help the cause and her chapters seemed so draggy and boring that I started finding it tough to pull through.

I didn’t particularly liked the way Dash & Lily met. It felt a little odd and out of place like they could have met in better circumstances. As fiction goes, some parts of the book are unbelievable – one being the whole thing that happened in the park.

It was a little disappointing but I did like it, just not as much as everyone else and as much as I hoped I would have been.

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Top Ten Tuesday | Books From Santa

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week we list our top 10 book-related things. This week, we’re talking about:

Top 10 Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing Me

(Another late TTT, sorry! I’ve been so busy, I’m getting right back on track now!)

I’ve chosen a diversity of books for books I’d like for Santa (or anyone, ahem!) to gift to me. There’s some graphic novels, young adult fiction, adult fiction, memoirs and I even cheated to include some 2014 releases.

I can’t wait to get my hands on these books. They’ve piqued my interest recently and I hope I get to read them soon. I’m especially keen to read The Rosie Project after reading all the rave reviews about it.

What are you hoping Santa gets you this year?

1. The Nao of Brown By Glyn Dillon
2. A Whole Lot Of History By Kimberly Walsh
3. Roomies By Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando
4. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before By Jenny Han
5. The Treatment By Suzanne Young
6. Juvie By Steve Watkins
7. The Silent Wife By A. S. A. Harrison
8. The Whole Golden World By Kristina Riggle
9. Attack of the Theater People By Marc Acito
10. The Rosie Project By Graeme Simsion

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The Program By Suzanne Young

The Program By Suzanne Young
The Program #1
Published April 30th 2013 by Simon Pulse
Rating: 4/5

Goodreads

Summary: In Sloane’s world, true feelings are forbidden, teen suicide is an epidemic, and the only solution is The Program.

Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.

Review: The Program is so damn good. It’s funny how it was one of my most anticipated 2013 releases and it took me so long to get to it. I read this while I was on holiday and boy did I fly through it.

The Program is a dystopian novel, but it isn’t complicated. The writing is simple and because The Program is essentially a program to cure depression, there isn’t that much of a need for ‘world building’. Rather, it takes us into an interesting look at the facility that attempts to cure depression.

I really loved the premise. It was about curing depression through removing memories. It wasn’t realistic and it might be a little hard to buy but once you get into the book, it’s pretty easy to look past this. The book is written in the perspective of Sloane, and we get to see things first hand from pre-Program, during Program and post-Program.

I thoroughly enjoyed the whole book, especially when Sloane herself underwent The Program. I appreciated that although she wasn’t receptive of the treatment or she did put up a fight, The Program was bigger than her and that she couldn’t escape The Program. It sold the plot and the idea and I really liked that aspect of the book.

I really loved the relationship between Sloane and James. Their relationship wasn’t insta-love; they’ve been in love from the start of the book and their love for each other really showed throughout the book. I really did feel that there was nothing but true love (and it felt so real too) between the two, so I rooted for them.

Realm was a character that surprised me. I loved and hated him all at once. His presence brought a different dynamic to the story and when he messed with Sloane, he was tripping me up too! I thought he was a fantastic character, though I kept going why, why, why towards the end. He has his flaws but he did at some point mean well.

The Program is such a fantastic book and I can’t wait to read the sequel The Treatment. The cliffhanger at the end was just too much. You’re too much Suzanne Collins! Excellent read, highly recommended for all dystopian fans.

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Top Ten Tuesday | New-To-Me Authors

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week we list our top 10 book-related things. This week, we’re talking about:

Top 10 New-To-Me Authors I’ve Read In 2013

I’ve read some really good books from authors unfamiliar to me this year. Kim Young Ha is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors that I’ve discovered this year, while Kara Taylor is one of my favourite Young Adult debut author of the year. I am so happy to have finally read a John Green book (finally) and to discover the wonderful world of Bridget Jones.

Here are some of my favourites from this year:

1. Amy McNamara x Lovely, Dark and Deep
2. Helen Fielding x Bridget Jones’s Diary series
3. Abigail Haas (Abby McDonald) x Dangerous Girls
4. Kim Young Ha x I Have The Right To Destroy Myself
5. S.J. Watson x Before I Go To Sleep
6. Lisa & Laura Roecker x The Liar Society
7. Ernest Cline x Ready Player One
8. Kara Taylor x Prep School Confidential
9. Lang Leav x Love & Misadventure
10. John Green x The Fault In Our Stars

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The Juliette Society By Sasha Grey

The Juliette Society By Sasha Grey
Published May 14th 2013 by Sphere
Rating: 3/5

Goodreads

Summary: In her debut erotic novel, Sasha Grey takes us inside a private, high-profile, sex society where anything and everything can happen.

Catherine, a blossoming film student whose sexuality has been recently stirred, finds herself drawn into a secret club where the world’s most powerful people meet to explore their deepest, often darkest sexual fantasies. Even as it opens up new avenues to pleasure, it also threatens to destroy everything that Catherine holds dear.

From bathroom stalls in dive bars, to private jets over St. Tropez, Catherine takes the reader with her through a sexual awakening and psychological development, unparalleled in contemporary erotica.

Review: This book is an erotica, so please pick it up at your own digression.

I wasn’t sure how I would like this book, considering the only other erotica I’ve read is 50 shades of grey and I hated it. I didn’t hate it then because it was an erotica, but simply because it lacked a storyline or likable characters. I picked this book up simply because it was Sasha Grey, so I thought she’d know her stuff better. And also because I like the cover *shallow*

Admittedly, I liked it a lot better than I thought it would. I’m not sure if this was ghostwritten or otherwise, but regardless it was written well. The Juliette Society is an erotica, but it’s not that simple. It’s about this strange society that exists for people with different fetishes and interests. It deals with feelings, thoughts well and developed rather well throughout the book.

I enjoyed how it progressed especially towards the end where there were some interesting revelations and strange twists. I don’t read much erotica so I’m not sure what they’re like but The Juliette Society seemed like a breath of fresh air. While there were sexual content, I liked that it wasn’t so heavy such that there was no plot or progress. Some bits made me a little comfortable but it all boils down to personal preferences and tolerance.

Strangely, the parties reminded me a lot of party from The Great Gatsby which made me enjoy it quite a bit. I’d say this was a pleasant surprise and it was readable (for me at least). As I rarely (or rather, this is my second foray) venture into erotica, my expectations are low. For me, this much was enough.

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Cheryl: My Story By Cheryl Cole

Cheryl: My Story By Cheryl Cole
Published Oct 11th 2012 by Harper
Rating: 4/5

Goodreads

Summary: For the first time Cheryl tells her full story, her way. Revealing the truth behind the headlines, this is the only official autobiography, giving the fans the true story they’ve been waiting for. Includes exclusive, personal photos.

The nation’s sweetheart, Cheryl has achieved unrivalled success with Girls Aloud, as a solo artist, a judge on the X Factor, a fashion icon and as the face of L’Oreal. However, the path to fame is rarely easy and for Cheryl it has been a colourful journey.

From happy but humble beginnings growing up on a tough Newcastle estate, Cheryl saw firsthand the damage that drugs and alcohol can do. But this feisty Geordie never gave up on her dreams of being on stage.

With success came a level of fame no one could prepare for. As Cheryl’s career went from strength to strength her personal heartache was played out in the national media. From her divorce to her battles with malaria, Cheryl’s every move was captured by paparazzi. There was nowhere for Cheryl to hide. However, a true fighter, Cheryl emerged from every challenge stronger.

Now it’s Cheryl’s turn to set the record straight. In this heartfelt account, she opens up about all of the incredible ups and downs of her life. Told with searing honesty this is Cheryl as you’ve never seen her before.

Review: I am a huge fan of Girls Aloud, from their humble beginnings to their very last bow so Cheryl’s autobiography was something I’ve been wanting to read. Cheryl wasn’t necessarily my favourite, but I was rather fond of her because she’s honest. And that’s exactly what this book is.

I’ve always known bits and pieces about Cheryl’s life, but there is nothing like hearing it from the horse’s mouth. It’s a whole new perspective, seeing her friendship with the girls of Girls Aloud and the marriage that kept hitting headlines with Ashley Cole or even her appearance at X Factor. I never used to understand why she kept going back to Ashley or why she chose to keep her last name, but now I understand it, having seen it from her point of view and not what the media wants me to see.

I love Cheryl even more now and I’m proud of the obstacles she’s leaped through. Being in the public eye is definitely difficult and I have even more respect for celebrities who are always under constant scrutiny. The book was written pre-Girls Aloud comeback this year (2013, this book was published in 2012) so there are some bits and bobs about that as well.

I’m curious to see how Kimberly’s autobiography will play out, seeing how it’s gotten so much press. It’s been said that Kimberly threw Nadine under the bus for why Girls Aloud split up, so it’ll be interesting to read Kimberly’s side of things.

Anyway, if you’re a fan of Girls Aloud or curious about Cheryl Cole, this would be a good read for you.

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Want To Go Private? By Sarah Darer Littman

Want To Go Private? By Sarah Darer Littman
Published Aug 1st 2011 by Scholastic Press
Rating: 4/5

Goodreads

Summary: Abby and Luke chat online. They’ve never met. But they are going to. Soon.

Abby is starting high school–it should be exciting, so why doesn’t she care? Everyone tells her to “make an effort,” but why can’t she just be herself? Abby quickly feels like she’s losing a grip on her once-happy life. The only thing she cares about anymore is talking to Luke, a guy she met online, who understands. It feels dangerous and yet good to chat with Luke–he is her secret, and she’s his. Then Luke asks her to meet him, and she does. But Luke isn’t who he says he is. When Abby goes missing, everyone is left to put together the pieces. If they don’t, they’ll never see Abby again.

Review: Want To Go Private? is such a heartbreaking, raw and eye-opening book. It is an incredible story about Internet Predators, how they work and how easy one can be coerced and manipulated into doing something.

The story begins with Abby meeting a guy online on a website similar to Second Life and how she found her ‘soulmate’ who later turns out to be her predator. The book is split into three – how Abby met her predator, to her going missing and how her family and friends are coping with the news and later to present day.

Though the story is written simply and almost in a juvenile manner, with it’s OMGs and WTFs, it works perfectly in this case where the protagonist is merely 14 years old. The writing allows you to get into the mind of a 14 year old, a tender age where a girl begins to look at things differently. Boys, make up, popularity.  Though juvenile, the language is coarse and the content is disturbing, staying true to the dangers of Internet Predators.

I flew through this book, each page bringing more worry and a sense of helplessness. Want To Go Private? shares a strong and important message, through the eyes of a victim. Though some will say that Abby is stupid for having done what she did, I believe that her story can teach us something.

Internet Safety is important and through Abby’s story, you learn that no matter how you think it will never happen to you, it could if you’re not careful. This is happening in the real world and Abby’s story is only one of the many.

An incredible story from start to finish, I highly recommend you pick this up.