An ARC review: Countless – Karen Gregory

I think I’ve gotten to a point a lot of book bloggers can relate to; I let my NetGalley ARC’s build-up and just sit there, on my shelf. It’s terrible, I know they’re there, but when they’re somewhat hidden on my kindle, and I can see all my physical books sitting pretty on my shelf, you know what is more likely to get picked to be read next.
But May is the month I tackle those ARCs! This journey begins with Countless by Karen Gregory.

For those sensitive to eating disorders, especially anorexia, here’s a warning as those are the strongest themes in this book.

Goodreads Synopsis

CL-KGIs there anything that’s concerning you?’ Felicity says. ‘College, home, boyfriends?’ Though she’s more or less smiling at this last one.

I don’t smile. Instead, I feel my face go hot. Silence stretches as wide as an ocean.
When I look up, Felicity has this expression on her face like she’s just seen Elvis. Slowly, she leans forward and in a gentle voice I’ve never heard her use before she says, ‘Have you done a pregnancy test?’

When Hedda discovers she is pregnant, she doesn’t believe she could ever look after a baby. The numbers just don’t add up. She is young, and still in the grip of an eating disorder that controls every aspect of how she goes about her daily life. She’s even given her eating disorder a name – Nia. But as the days tick by, Hedda comes to a decision: she and Nia will call a truce, just until the baby is born. 17 weeks, 119 days, 357 meals. She can do it, if she takes it one day at a time …

Heartbreaking and hopeful by turns, Karen Gregory’s debut novel is a story of love, heartache and human resilience. And how the things that matter most can’t be counted. Perfect for fans of Lisa Williamson, Non Pratt and Sarah Crossan.

Apprehensiveness aside, I was really surprised by this book. Surprised by the heart-breaking realness of this book. It doesn’t gloss over any aspect of the harsh realities that surround these incredibly taboo subjects. Both eating disorders and teen pregnancies come with a stigma – ones that author Karen Gregory explores within the pages; she does not shy away either. She tries and tries to show to us, the readers, that there is more than just what we see on the surface. And I for one, came away from this book with a greater knowledge and understanding that I didn’t have before.
To say I enjoyed the way Karen Gregory never beat around the bush seems like a bad word choice – more like I was in awe of it. Never once did shew romanticise or glorify the situation Hedda, our main character, was in.

Hedda was a very torn character. From the very first time we meet her, you know this book is not going to sunshine and rainbows. She lies, she plays up to the character she’s made for herself, and yet, we see the insecurities that plague her, the numbers she counts for comfort and control.
I don’t think I’ve read such an honest insight – it was genuinely heartbreaking to read. To go through Hedda’s struggles and internal arguments, her battle with her eating disorder that she calls Nia. This entire book from beginning to end is Hedda struggling and as bleak as that sounds, it’s also very, very real. Nothing, not even a potential love interest, nor her own child will magically fix Hedda because that is real-life. Only you can fix you, and you need to want to fix you.
Hedda showcases a kind of strength, I personally don’t see often in YA. Sure, she has no superhuman abilities, she’s not heading to war, nor does she have the fate of a nation/kingdom/country/world on her shoulders. But it’s a strength that is so real, so tangible, you can almost see it. It’s the kind of silent strength that’s underappreciated. She’s t r y i n g, and that in itself is half the battle. I was so invested in Hedda, I was rooting for her the whole way through.
There is genuinely so much more I could write about Hedda, but you truly should experience her story yourself.

The impact of this book still had me reeling long after I’d finished it, even when I’d moved on to another book. It definitely is a book that doesn’t leave you, not for a while – it’s one that has me talking about it constantly. A book that, despite it’s bleakness, I believe it’s one that many should read. Just to get into that headspace, which yes, is completely terrifying but is one that is nothing but complete and utter reality.

This book is something very different; there is barely any romance, there is not much of a happy ever after, there is no big hallelujah moment. And that is why this book makes the impact it does. because most lives do not have those things by 17, mine sure didn’t. You don’t magically get better, you have to fight, and struggle and fall down and pick yourself up again.
I, wholeheartedly, recommend this book.

 

 

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A review: Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer was one of the first books I received via my workplace as an advanced copy – so there was lots of excitement from me upon getting my hands on this absolutely stunning book!

Goodreads Synopsis

STD
The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Continue reading “A review: Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor”

The Sunshine Blogger Award

Award tag time! I love doing awards as it brings with it a nice cosy feeling of appreciation that your blogging is being read, by one person at least!
Side note; I really like the name for this award, very fitting with the season and the fact we are actually getting some sunshine here in England as of late – even if it means consistent hayfever, that is a price I am willing to pay.

I was tagged by the lovely Jacquie over at Rattle The Stars, one of my favouritest blogs (yep, so loved that deserved that made up word!), so I feel supremely lucky to have been tagged by them.

R U L E S

1. Answer the 11 questions from the nominator.
2. Nominate 11 blogs.
3. Ask them 11 questions.

Q U E S T I O N S 

O N E – How often do you update your blog?

I aim for three times a week, with one of those posts being a Top 5 Wednesday, this is generally achievable unless I am behind on my reviews!

T W O – What’s the last book you bought because of its amazing cover artwork?

Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor. It has the most dreamy (completely intentional, I am not sorry), artwork I’ve seen on both a dust cover and actual hardcover and inside page, I’ve seen in such a long time.

T H R E E – Favourite historical time period?

I really love reading about Ancient Greece, or anything influenced by that. Or Medieval – Tudor/Stuart Britain also.

F O U R – Most disappointing read so far in 2017?

Snotgirl, was undoubtedly my least favourite, it just wasn’t something that I particularly enjoyed.

F I V E – What did you do on your last vacation?

I went to Side, Turkey with my boyfriend! It was our first holiday together, so we just enjoyed the lovely weather and free bar, it was a great little getaway for us.

S I X – Pirates or Assassins? 

But what if they were both akin to Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag? I’ve read better books about assassins, watched better films and shows about pirates. If I were to choose, it would be assassins.

S E V E N – A series you used to love but don’t anymore?

I used to really love The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini, but that’s definitely faded in the last few years.

E I G H T – What’s the longest book that you own?

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling. It comes in at 870 pages, I believe this is the biggest book I own, unless I’m missing one!

N I N E –  Which book do you plan on reading next?

I’m very much a mood reader, but as I’m reading a contemporary right now, it will most likely be one of a different genre; so it will be between
– The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
– Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor
– This Savage Song by V. E. Schwab

T E N – Unicorns or Mermaids

Ah, a much easier choice! Mermaids, as I’ve always wanted to be one!!

E L E V E N – Least favourite genre, why?

Uh, most smart-thinking types; sociology, psychology, philosophy. And the self-help/spiritual types. They are just not really my cup of tea. I read to escape – and these are far from escapist.

M Y    Q U E S T I O N S

  1. Are you a Harry Potter fan? If so, what house are in?
  2. What is your current read, and what are your thoughts on it so far?
  3. What is your favourite colour, and why?
  4. Are you a Disney fan? If so, what is your favourite Disney song?
  5. What songs are your current favourites?
  6. What do you think your next book purchase/borrow will be?
  7. Do you have a favourite flower? Or one that you just find pretty that popped into your head when you read this question?
  8. Do you have a pet? Alternatively, do you want one/more?
  9. Modern or historical settings?
  10. What books have been on your TBR list the longest?
  11. Tea, coffee, neither?

N O M I N A T I O N S 

  1. Hilary @ Ravishing Tales
  2. Ali @ I Wuv Books
  3. Chanda @ Chanda Reads
  4. Mish @ Bibliophile Mish
  5. Angie Elle @ Books and Beauty Are My Bag
  6. Breanna @ Pages Bound Together
  7. Angie @ The Bookish Feels
  8. Joanne @ YA Guitarist
  9. Karina @ Afire Pages
  10. Savana @ The Biblio Life
  11. Books Are All You Need

A review: Holding Up The Universe – Jennifer Niven

As soon as I’d finished All The Bright Places, I knew that whatever Jennifer Niven released next was a guarantee insta-buy. Although Holding Up The Universe came out last year and it’s taken me this to get round to finally reading it, I can easily say that this book did not disappoint!

Not an inherently perfect novel, this book has flaws, just like the characters we read about inside. Thankfully, for me anyhow, this did not detract my enjoyment of the novel by any means, but I can definitely see why these might for others.

Goodreads Synopsis

HUTUEveryone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for every possibility life has to offer. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. 

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

This review will be spoiler free!

Continue reading “A review: Holding Up The Universe – Jennifer Niven”