So Much CRINGE // “She Says, She Says”

Do you ever look back on the books you used to love and just cringe? Do you ever think about the crushes you used to have on characters – the crushes that you wouldn’t admit to anyone – and wonder why you ever liked those people in the first place? Did you enjoy reading some pretty questionable books when you were younger?

Well today, my friend Casey and I are going to be talking all about the cringe-worthy books we loved as tweens and the characters we swooned over! Find out who was on #TeamEdward and #TeamJacob, whether we shipped Katniss with Peeta or Gale, and what qualities we looked for in a potential bookish crush. Oh, and there’s a pretty horrific story about an infinity tattoo inspired by The Fault in Our Stars

Enjoy laughing at our embarrassment!

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The Potion Diaries – book review

The Potion Diaries

The Potion Diaries is an alluring and magical book, written by Amy Alward.

When Princess Evelyn accidentally poisons herself with a love potion meant for her crush, she falls crown-over-heels in love with her own reflection. What could just seem as extreme and unusual narcissism has disastrous consequences. The longer the Princess goes untreated, the more destructive her powers become. So a nationwide hunt is called to find the cure, with competitors travelling the world for the rarest ingredients, risking death at every corner.

Samantha Kemi, an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent, is the daughter of once-respected alchemists who have fallen into hard times. Winning the hunt would save their reputation, but does Sam even have a chance against the dazzling powers of the ZoroAster megapharma company? And how close is Sam willing to get to Zain Aster, her dashing former classmate and enemy, in the meantime? With the whole world watching, Sam must save both her family’s reputation and the Princess’s life… before it’s too late.

*

For the most part, I really enjoyed reading this book. It was fun and exciting and just light, easy read. The thing that was most enticing about this book was how it is described as ‘The Hunger Games meets The Princess Diaries’. Seeing as I love both of those, I though that was a promising beginning. Although when I started reading this book, I found it hard to see the similarities between The Potion Diaries and the other two titles mentioned. I guess everyone is dubbing new books as ‘the latest Hunger Games’, and while I loved The Hunger Games a lot, I was pleased to read something new entirely. This book is different to anything I’ve read, probably because I don’t really read a lot of books about magic and making potions and all that jazz. But I can definitely say it was a really enjoyable book to read and I’m very happy I picked it up.

The thing I liked most about this book was the adventure. I loved being taken to all different parts of the world on Samantha’s travels and that enabled me to learn more about the world she lived in and the types of people and things that could be expected. The adventures she went on were by far the most exciting parts of the book, however this is where my biggest criticism lies. I think it may be possible that Samantha went to too many different places. Sometimes I wondered why we were going to this new place and whether it was really necessary. Some of the things Samantha did felt unimportant and as though those scenes were just there to fill space. At times, reading these scenes did feel as bit tedious because there seemed like there was no real purpose to them. However, I enjoyed the majority of this book and I’m pleased with the way things worked out, so I’m still smiling.

For the most part, I really loved spending time with all of the characters and getting to know them. Samantha was by far the one I felt most connected to. She was so invested in the hunt to find the ingredients to make this potion and that made me want her to succeed. She was such a devoted and fun character to get to know and I’m looking forward to spending more time with her in the books to come. Princess Evelyn, on the other hand… Don’t even get me started on that spoilt, ignorant brat. I understand that she had to behave and think that way because of how she was poisoned or maybe just because she was a princess, but I really hated her. This book is told in dual point of view, Samantha’s and Evelyn’s, and I really resented reading from Evelyn’s point of view. Her chapters were often repetitive and she was just really annoying. I know that it was important to get to read from Evelyn’s point of view to understand just how much this potion had affected her, but I think this book would have benefited from making the Princess just a bit more likeable. Honestly, I couldn’t care less what happened to the Princess, as long as she didn’t intrude on Samantha and her love interest.

And that brings me nicely to the romance aspect of this book. Of course, wherever there is a love potion involved, you’re bound to find romance. I loved not really knowing the truth behind Samantha’s love interest (who shall remain unnamed as to not spoil) and what his real intentions were because it kept me guessing and made me want to keep reading. However, at times, there romance felt a little young. For example, who in their right mind would forgive someone as easily as Sam did on multiple occasions? I liked this guy, but I didn’t fall in love with him and I didn’t swoon over him. There was nothing really about him that made him stand out or seem unique, he was just there, being the same as every other love interest in the history of YA. Sometimes I just want to see someone as extraordinary as Jace. Or Will. Basically a Herondale. That’s all I want in this world: a Herondale. I really need to reread those series… But in all seriousness, some of the characters in this novel lacked depth, and I hope they have more substance in the next book.

Overall, I quite enjoyed reading this book and I’ll definitely be picking up the next one as soon as it’s available! I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens next with Samantha and I loved living in her world. I’d give The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward a score of 8 out of 10. If you like books that contain one spoonful of magic, two of intrigue, a pinch of royal drama and a generous splash of romance, give this book a try!

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!

Endgame: The Calling – book review

Endgame - The Calling

The Calling is the first book in the new dystopian series called Endgame, written by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton.

The creatures that came to Earth twelve thousand years ago gave the people of Earth rules to live by. When these creatures left, they told the people of Earth that they’d be back. And when they came back, a game would be played. That game would determine the future of the human race. It is known as Endgame.

There are twelve original lines of humanity. Each of these lines has to have a Player prepared at all times. They have trained for generations. When the game starts, the Players will have to find three keys which are all hidden somewhere on Earth. The only rule of Endgame is that there are no rules. Whoever finds the keys first wins the game. Who will survive? Who will win? This is Endgame.

*

I really didn’t enjoy reading The Calling. From the moment I picked it up, I just had a feeling it would be one of those books that claim to the ‘the new Hunger Games’ and they aren’t even half as good at The Hunger Games. I hoped this book would at least try to be original. There were some unique elements in this book for sure. Obviously, otherwise it would just be plagiarism. I had mixed feelings about the plot. This book is over four hundred pages and I didn’t find myself getting a good grasp on the concept even once the book had ended. So, aliens? Endgame? I still don’t even know what I read. All I know is that there was teenagers who had to kill one another because they’re a part of some sort of ‘game’ run by a higher power. Sound similar? It sure does to me.

The start of this book was confusing, to say the least. For the entire book, we read from different points of view. I kid you not, we read from about eight different points of view. Imagine reading The Hunger Games from the points of view of half of the kids in it. I didn’t know who I was supposed to feel in support of and who I was supposed to hate. I’m making a lot of references to The Hunger Games here, but imagine reading from Cato’s point of view and not knowing whether he was supposed to be the person you root for or not. Anyhow, I ended up rooting for Sarah. She was a girl with a bright and happy future with her high school sweetheart until Endgame began. I suppose I felt connected to her the most out of everyone in the story because she was the one I felt most sorry for.

However, I really didn’t like how Sarah kind of cheated on her boyfriend. She was supposed to be the character we liked, well, I’m assuming, but that made me not really like her anymore. She got together with another guy from Endgame and although they are kind of cute together, I was so angry that she’d do that to her sweet high school boyfriend.

So this book begins with a bang – quite literally. That made me really interested in seeing what was going to happen. But after that, I felt like not much happened or that too much happened. The scenes were either too dull and boring that I found myself trying to stay awake, or there was too much going on and I felt like I’d have to reread the scene to understand what was going on. I thought it might just take me a while to get involved in the story because of the writing style, but this book was just too jumpy and I couldn’t get a good hold on it.

This book was constantly moving locations where the story was set and that was a little hard to follow. This book was kind of like an Amazing Race type thing and this would have been cool if we didn’t have so many airport scenes or if going to different places actually affected the story. I felt like some scenes were written just for the sake of filling up space.

I got to the end of this book and I was literally thinking, What did I just read? Couldn’t have this book been finished in 200 pages? I felt like this book dragged on in too many places and it would have benefited from being a little more concise to keep readers interested and intrigued. There was also the inclusion of random numbers or phrases or letters on some pages. An example of this is: ‘The sun rises in the West’. Was that mean to be from the book that they had to read and get clues from or something? What am I even talking about? See, I don’t have a good grip on this storyline whatsoever. Maybe I should reread this book, but I doubt I will. Once was enough for me.

I won’t be reading the next book in this series. I didn’t feel emotionally-invested enough for that. By the end of the book, I didn’t care what happened to the characters. Overall, I don’t think this was the type of book for me. Usually I really like dystopians. I wouldn’t recommend this one. If I really had to rate this book out of 10, I’d give it a two. If you’ve read this book, please let me know what you thought!

The Jewel – book review

The Jewel

The Jewel is a captivating and alluring book, written by Amy Ewing.

The Jewel is a place of wealth, beauty and royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Violet grew up in a poor area called the Marsh and was whisked away to be trained to become a surrogate for the royalty. In the Jewel, offspring is more important than anything.

When Violet is bought at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted by slap in the face, she quickly discovers that beneath the beauty of the Jewels façade lies cruelty, backstabbing and hidden violence that is known as the royal way of life.

Violet has to accept the brutality of her existence here in the Jewel and try to stay alive. But then Violet meets a handsome gentleman, which is the beginning of a forbidden and life-risking romance. This man’s presence makes the Jewel seem a little bit brighter, though the outcome of their star-crossed love will bring them disastrous consequences…

*

For the most part, I really liked The Jewel. In the beginning, it took me a little while to understand how things worked in this society and what the rules were. It was a while before I fully understood how this society operated. In that way, this book was a little slow in the beginning for me. However, when I got about 30 pages in, this book was full steam ahead. I absolutely loved the plot. It was grabbing and I couldn’t even fathom putting this book down! I was on the edge of my seat for a lot of this book and I loved the fact that I felt so connected to the characters and emotionally-invested in the story. This book was definitely an interesting one. The idea of having surrogates for the rich people who were unable to have their own children, and that these surrogates have other powers, was really intriguing. This book kind of felt like a mash between The Selection and Eve for me. The best thing about this book was definitely the plot. I was eager to find out what was going to happen and the majority of this book was really well paced and quite thrilling.

The one main thing I didn’t like about this book was the romance. I found it very unconvincing and somewhat forced. I felt as though the author kind of added the romance into this story as an afterthought, thinking the only way she could hook more readers into reading this is by giving it a romantic twist. I mean, Violet meets this guy named Ash for practically five seconds, and then she has a massive, all-consuming crush on him? I get that attractive people can have that affect on some people, but to this extent? It wasn’t believable and felt forced. And then they spend some more time with each other and all of a sudden, they’re in love? They hardly had any conversations and I felt as though these people hardly knew each other. And then they’re willing to risk their lives to be together? This book would have been very satisfactory without the romance in it, perhaps even better. Because I loved the plot so much, I felt as though the romance in this book stood in the way a bit and those pages could have been used for something more worthwhile to read. The romance in this book was definitely the part that I disliked most about The Jewel.

I loved spending time with most of the characters in this book. Violet was a really interesting and complex person. It was enjoyable to read about her powers and see the extent of what she could really do. Raven, Violet’s friend, was also a character I loved. I think she’s the character I felt most for in the book. I didn’t get to see her as much as I would have liked, but I felt really connected to her and loved how things played out for her in the end. Violet’s stylist, Lucia, reminded me a lot of Cinna from The Hunger Games. However, Lucia could be quite scary in parts. I loved getting to know him in the brief times I saw him and I liked learning his back-story and what motivated him to help Violet.

Some of the interactions that I enjoyed reading about was the way the Duchesses and all the other royal people conversed and held gatherings. It was interesting to see the way they acted and how they treated the surrogates. Violet’s Duchess was a very complex character. I got the feeling she often hid what she was really feeling and it was fascinating to uncover some of her true feelings as the book progressed. I had mixed feelings about Ash. He was an intriguing character with an alluring past, however the romance between him and Violet simply didn’t work. I would have much rather him been Violet’s friend until they got to know each other more, and then they could have started slowly falling for each other. I felt as though the whole falling in love thing between them just didn’t really work.

Overall, this was a very interesting book to read. It was thrilling and a little dark, which is definitely what I was looking for. The plot was gripping and I know I’ll definitely be reading the next book in this series! If you’re going to read this book, be warned that the romantic parts of this book aren’t great, however I loved almost every other aspect of this book. I’d give The Jewel by Amy Ewing a score of 8.5 out of 10. I recommend this book to everyone who is looking for a unique and intriguing read!