Review: How to Bake a Chocolate Soufflé by Carly Ellen Kramer

blogthingMy Thoughts: 

How to Bake a Chocolate Soufflé  is a book about three college friends and how their lives grow apart and find each other again after college. I found that the moral of the story was that life may not always end up how you seem, but if you keep the people who love you around it will always be a good time.

The three protagonists are all completely different people – a science major, music major, and a business major – but their friendship is something that is unbreakable. What I loved about the book was that even though they drifted apart over time their true friendship came out when they all reunited after 18 years without seeing each other.

This is the first time in a while where I can honestly say I didn’t have a least favourite story line – all three girls (Annie, Audrey, and Maddie) all had compelling storylines that intrigued me and I always wanted to know more.

I did have a few issues with the formatting of the book; I didn’t like that you only got a little of each character’s lives every couple of years – it certainly left me with a lot of questions that I desperately wanted answers to right away. It just made it seem almost jumpy, especially when things are being referred to before they fill you in on what was missed. It is something you have to get used to, but I just would have preferred more! A lot of the time I just wasn’t ready to let the chapter to end when it did.

One cool thing about this book was that it included recipes at the end of most chapters. As someone who doesn’t cook I liked that they were there, but I personally won’t try the recipes. On the other hand, for people who read this book and love to cook it will give them some great recipes to try out (if anyone wants to make me the chocolate soufflé I wouldn’t say no).

All in all, I did enjoy reading this book; it was fun, emotional, and a great book about friendship and growing up. I just wish I got to know more about their lives!

My Rating: 

3.5 out of 5 stars.

Favourite Quote: 

“Human  nature  is  complex,  Audrey.  If we only study the easy parts, the safe beauty and the accepted wisdom, and avoid the complex, ugly interpretations and the challenges to accepted boundaries of good and evil, we fail to try to live up to our divine potential.”  

Books on my TBR Bookshelf

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As we can all clearly see, this post – though promised for Thursday – did not end up happening on Thursday because well, I honestly forgot. A LOT has happened this week, so I was a bit overwhelmed. But hey, better late than never right?

So without further ado, these are all the unread books I currently have on my bookshelf (listed in no particular order):

  1. The Queen of Tearling by Erika Johansen
  2. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  3. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
  4. Where She Went by Gayle Forman
  5. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
  6. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
  7. A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
  8. A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
  9. City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
  10. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
  11. City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
  12. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  13. The Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
  14. The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
  15. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
  16. Emma by Jane Austen
  17. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  18. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  19. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  20. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  21. The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
  22. Belle Teale by Ann M. Martin
  23. Lost Souls by Michael Collins
  24. The Crimson Ribbon by Katherine Clements
  25. The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan
  26. Nation by Terry Pratchett
  27. The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
  28. The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
  29. The Wives of Bath by Wendy Holden
  30. The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin
  31. The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom
  32. Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill

And that’s it! Let me know which book on this list you think I should read next!

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Book Details:
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Pages: 404
Published: August 2nd 2012
Goodreads Rating: 4.17

Blurb:

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass–and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

My Thoughts: 
You know that moment when you start a series and there comes a point where you realise you care more about the characters and what is going to happen  than your own life? Yeah, that’s what happened here.

I honestly haven’t read too much fantasy – Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings aside – so I was a little worried I wasn’t going to get into this one despite the amazing reviews I had seen and been told, but boy was I wrong. I, very quickly, became invested in the characters lives; I wanted to understand them, get to know them better, see love and happiness for them, and just see what the heck was going to happen with their story lines.

Celaena Sardothien is a complete badass who still cares for shoes and clothes; she is such a great female character and I think all girls should get to know her. I wanted to be her and I wanted to be her best friend.

Second to Celaena my favourite character is Captain of the Guard, Chaol Westfall. I love him. So much. His character development and thought process throughout the novel was so interesting. So many feelings…but those will be looked at further in my Crown of Midnight review.

The Crown Prince (Dorian) and the Princess of Eyllwe (Nehemia) were also fantastic and engaging characters.

Basically, all the characters in the series are fantastic which is always something I look for in books, but especially in series.

There is no pure good in this story – though I think it is fair to say that the bad guys are pretty bad. All the characters have these amazing layers you can’t wait to dive into.

This novel is very clearly a set up novel that will allow the world and the story to grow as the series continues (as we will look at in future reviews).

Only one thing stood out to me as a negative; I found that there was a lot of repetition of titles. There is only so many times I need to hear that Celaean is Ardalan’s Assassin. Repeated way too many times.

Overall, the book was so great – a world set up book, but amazing nonetheless.

My Rating: 
4.5 out of 5 stars. I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a good fantasy series that has an extremely strong female lead.

Favourite Quotes:
“Libraries were full of ideas–perhaps the most dangerous and powerful of all weapons.”

“No. I can survive well enough on my own— if given the proper reading material.”

“My name is Celaena Sardothien. But it makes no difference if my name’s Celaena or Lillian or Bitch, because I’d still beat you, no matter what you call me.”

“Sometimes, the wicked will tell us things just to confuse us–to haunt our thoughts long after we’ve faced them.”

Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Book Details:
Author: Gillian Flynn
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Phoenix
Pages: 466
Published: January 3rd 2013 (first edition: 2012)
Goodreads Rating: 3.94

Blurb:
Who are you?
What have we done to each other?
These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy’s friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn’t true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren’t made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone.
So what did happen to Nick’s beautiful wife?

My Thoughts:
Much like with More Than Thisthis review is going to be completely spoiler free; simply because it is worth it going into Gone Girl completely blind.

I’ll admit, I have this problem where I like to read ahead – not the last page per say…though that is what it is most of the time, but even just flipping through the pages until something catches my eye that makes me want to either read what is happening or slap the book shut to avoid insane spoilers. That being said, I went into this book blind, but I definitely wasn’t blind all the way through.

The one thing that everyone talks about with this book is  the huge twists and turns of the plot, and the ending – some people love it and other hate it. I was..indifferent. I didn’t think it was as shocking as everyone said it was, but it was really intriguing and worked perfectly with the characters involved in this story. I personally thought it was the natural progression of the characters. This, of course, may have been a result of my previously mentioned reading ahead problem…but sh.

I can say with 100% certainty that I much hated almost all the main characters in this book, with a few exceptions of course (Go). They were just so messed up, but they were entertaining. I flew through the book without even realising it after a slow start.

There was quite a bit of humour that was intertwined in the plot, and I always appreciate a good joke of any kind. I think with the subject matter there needed to be some lighter moments that made you laugh out loud – which I did on a few occasions.

The book was, for me, over-hyped. I was expecting a lot more than what I got, but I still enjoyed it and I think as long as you go into this book not expecting it to be “the book to rule them all” it will be enjoyable to you too.

If you are looking for a psychological thriller/mystery this is definitely the book for you.

I also watched the movie so look out for a adaptation report coming later this week!

My Rating:
3.5 out of 5 stars. It was good, but I was expecting more. It also took me a bit to get into it – it definitely picked up though.

Favourite (non spoiler) Quotes:
“It’s a very difficult era in which to be a person, just a real, actual person, instead of a collection of personality traits selected from an endless Automat of characters.”

“Tampon commercial, detergent commercial, maxi pad commercial, windex commercial – you’d think all women do is clean and bleed.”

“Sleep is like a cat: It only comes to you if you ignore it.”

“A lot of people lacked that gift: knowing when to fuck off.”

 

Getting Through the Pile One Book at a Time: September Wrap Up

Wrap Up

We are already six days into the month of October and I still can’t quite believe that it’s here already. Time just moves so quickly I can’t deal with it. My reading game wasn’t too bad this month; it could have been better and could have been worse. I managed to read almost all the books on my September TBR and I’ve become obsessed with a new series (like Hunger Games and Harry Potter level of obsessed), but more on that later.

So without further ado – here are the books I finished in September:

The Death Cure by James Dashner
Quick Review:
I think this was a pretty good conclusion for the trilogy…give or take a few things of course. This book was definitely a slower read than the other two and I didn’t like it quite as much. And Thomas frustrated me to no end. To see my full review of The Maze Runner trilogy click here!
My Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

More Than This by Patrick Ness
Quick Review:
I. Loved. This. Book. LOVE IT. Like I want to climb to the top of a mountain and yell about my love for all the world to hear. One of the best books I’ve read all year. Patrick Ness has a new fan in this girl; I can’t wait to read more of his stuff. See my full review of the novel here!
My Rating:
A perfect 5 out of 5 stars

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Quick Review:
It took me a while to really get into this story, but once I did I enjoyed it. That being said, I do think that its reputation ruined it a bit for me – just wasn’t as good as I was expecting. I will have a full review of this up sometime with week as well as an Adaptation Report for the film!
My Rating: 
3.5 out of 5 stars

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Quick Review:
Kind of cheating with this one as I finished it on October 1st, but SHH. There isn’t much to say other than: I’m obsessed. Totally and completely obsessed. I’ve already finished Crown of Midnight and I can’t deal with it. A review will be up ASAP! SO MANY FEELS. AND CHAOL. Okay, I’m done.
My Rating:
4.5 out of 5 stars

And that’s that! The only book I didn’t end up getting to was The Lightning Thief (aka the first book in the Percy Jackson series), but I did just start that book as I wait for Heir of Fire to arrive in the mail. October may pan out to be a good month as I’ve already finished two books (technically 3) and it’s only the 6th!

What was your favourite book last month?

Review: More Than This by Patrick Ness

Book Details:
Author: Patrick Ness
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd
Pages: 480
Released: May 1st 2014
Goodreads Rating: 4.05

Goodreads summary:
A boy drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments. He dies.
Then he wakes, naked and bruised and thirsty, but alive.
How can this be? And what is this strange deserted place?
As he struggles to understand what is happening, the boy dares to hope. Might this not be the end? Might there be more to this life, or perhaps this afterlife?

My Thoughts:
This book. I honestly don’t know what more I can say about this book other than it is definitely one of the best books I have read this year so far.

I’m not going to give anything away in this review because I think the best way to go into More Than This is without a lot of knowledge about what to expect. I only went into the book having read the blurb on the back and with recommendations from friends – whose judgements I trust – saying the book was fantastic.

I didn’t put this book down. I couldn’t. I was so entranced by this story and the characters’ lives that I had to find out what was going to happen; I needed to know the truth.

You can definitely say I was obsessed with this story and when it was finished I can honestly say that I wanted more! I wanted to know what happened next, I wanted to know more than this (badumtis).

It’s beautiful, thought provoking, funny at times, scary in others; it is the whole package and then some. Like John Green said, “Just read it.”

As I previously mentioned, I don’t want to give anything away, just know that I am officially on the Patrick Ness fan-wagon and I could not be more excited to read more of his work.

EVERYONE READ THIS, OKAY?

My Rating:
I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars. It has definitely been added to my go-to recommendations pile because I think everyone would enjoy this whether or not you like sci-fi or novels in the YA category.

Favourite Quotes:
“A book… it’s a world all on its own too. A world made of words, where you live for a while.”

“Know yourself and go in swinging.”

“You said we all want there to be more than this! Well, there’s always more than this. There’s always something you don’t know.”

“Real life is only ever just real life. Messy. What it means depends on how you look at it. The only thing you’ve got to do is find a way to live there.”

“We have to lie to ourselves to live. Otherwise, we’d go crazy.”

 

#BannedBooksWeek: Banned Books I’ve Read

It’s that time of year again – the time to celebrate reading freedom. It is a week at the end of September that “highlights the value of free and open access to information.”

I live with the lifestyle that I, and everyone around me, should be able to read whatever they want. Reading is such a personal experience that I couldn’t imagine not letting someone read something because it may not agree with your stance on the book. I mean, I didn’t stop my mom from reading Fifty Shades of Grey even though I absolutely abhor that book and everything that is stands for. We should all be reading what we want to read – the only people who has the ability to ban someone from reading something is yourself for yourself…and then at that point it’s not so much ‘banning’ as choosing not to read it.

Most of the life lessons I’ve learned while reading have come from books that are banned or challenged, so I will always be in favour of reading freedom. Read what you like, read what you want, and don’t listen to what anyone else says.

Now that that is out of the way here is the list of the most frequently banned or challenged books I have read:

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Blues Eye by Toni Morrison

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell 

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things by Carolyn Mackler

His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling 

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov

Animal Farm by George Orwell

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

I think that is all of them…well from what I have found anyway.

What banned or challenged books have you read?