Following Ophelia by Sophia Bennett

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Following Ophelia by Sophia Bennett
Release Date: March 9th 2017
Publisher: Stripes Publishing
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4star

Following Ophelia intrigued me enough to want to request it for review, however I wasn’t sure how I would go considering I know next to nothing about art in general, let alone anything about the Pre Raphaelite brotherhood. Thankfully, for fellow readers like myself, Following Ophelia is not only fascinating, but very well written and I didn’t find it confusing in the slightest!

This book explores the life of Mary Adams who moves to London to become a maid and to follow her cousin Harriet’s footsteps. Mary soon realises that she isn’t a very good maid and hates her job, but thankfully, she ends up stumbling into the London art scene by reinventing herself as Persephone Lavelle and she becomes an artist’s muse after being inspired by Lizzie Siddal.

From the very beginning, you start to fall in love with Mary as a character. She’s young, a little naive, and just absolutely in love with the world. Once moving in with the family who hired her, she finds her world expanding beyond the small village she grew up in with her abusive father and siblings. While not exactly a fan of being a maid (who could really say they would be though tbh), she becomes a “new” woman, Persephone, and ends up going to parties, meeting new people and going new places around London. Despite becoming Persephone and being exposed to more of the world, Mary never loses her charm or her kindness and while she learns more about herself, she doesn’t lose other parts of herself either, which is quite frankly, one of my favourite things about her character. I also loved how much she questioned the patriarchal society and how frustrated it made her. The arrogance of the men surrounding her frustrated ME although I know and understand that’s just how it was back in the 1800’s.

While you don’t see a lot of it, the relationship between Mary and her cousin Harriet is one of my favourite things about this book and I also really love the growth of the relationship between Mary and the other maid, Annie. I won’t go into too much detail into the relationships between them as I really think it’s something you should read yourself if you end up picking up this book!
The romantic relationship between Mary and Felix on the other hand, was something I could totally get on board with, but struggled to *really* get behind. I just wish we had seen more of the two interacting beyond stolen glances and Felix painting as Mary modelled. We know they kiss lots, but we don’t often see many of the pair’s interactions as they happen, rather we hear about them from Mary’s perspective after the fact (this might really appeal to some readers though!).

The world was portrayed beautifully, and this is really a product of excellent writing. Sophia Bennett describes each location with enough imagery, but not in *too* much unnecessary detail! The art is described so vividly and beautifully, I ended up intrigued enough several times while reading, to look up each of the art pieces mentioned just so I could learn more about them and see what they actually look like!

The plot itself was much better than I anticipated (admittedly, I wasn’t sure what to expect given the synopsis), it’s very much character driven, however with the well developed characters and relationship growth between so many of the characters, Bennett delivers a compelling plot which had me feeling an array of emotions.

Overall, Following Ophelia was an excellent and surprising novel with an unexpected plot twist! The characters were easy to love (even the ones you disliked!) and the way Sophia Bennett writes both her world and her characters is wonderful, fun and incredibly vivid. If you like historical fiction and don’t mind character driven novels, I definitely recommend Following Ophelia!

(I also just discovered the sequel comes out really soon and I’m SO HAPPY I don’t have to wait too long!)

Thankyou Hardie Grant Egmont for sending me this book to review, this in no way affected my review or rating

Four Weeks, Five People by Jennifer Yu

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Four Weeks, Five People by Jennifer Yu
Release Date: May 2nd 2017
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
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4star

Apologies in advance for the nonsensical, badly written review! It’s 1am and I can’t really express my love for this book AND write about it in well-written sentences.

Put simply, Four Weeks, Five People follows five teenagers attending a summer wilderness therapy camp. Stella has severe depression, Andrew has anorexia, Clarissa has OCD and anxiety, Mason has Narcisstic Personality Disorder, and Ben has Depersonalisation disorder (and I think he also has Bipolar disorder, although I can’t be sure!). Having only suffered from Depression myself and having not dealt with any of the other disorders represented in the book, I can’t speak for the representation, however I felt all of it was handled sensitively, realistically and mental illness in this book was NOT romanticised (yay!)

Four Weeks, Five People was SO EASY to read! While I *technically* started this book at the end of April, I really didn’t have time to read at the time, so when I picked it up again, I read the entire book in almost one day. No joke, I read about 150 pages in one sitting and it felt like no time had gone by at all, it was completely unputdownable and each of the characters had me entirely captivated.

As there are five viewpoints, I was admittedly a little worried at first, however Jennifer Yu did a wonderful job of making each character’s voice unique and I found it easy to switch between characters as frequently as the book did. Each chapter was incredibly quick/easy to read and I enjoyed almost everyone’s point of view (except for Mason, who I just did not like in general).
I absolutely adored the rest of the characters and I found Stella to be particularly refreshing as she was so outspoken, snarky and generally pissed off at the world. Admittedly, Stella did say some pretty shitty/offensive things, they were quickly challenged by other characters in text which I REALLY appreciated, and despite being incredibly stubborn, Stella was incredibly understanding of others and apologised when she messes up.

Andrew was probably my other favourite character and I wanted to hug him/be his friend so badly.  We see the very beginning of his eating disorder recovery and while I’ve never had an eating disorder, it felt authentic and was incredibly emotional to read (I admit, most of my tears were caused by Andrew).

As this is a book about recovery, I wasn’t too sure what to expect because let’s be real, recovery doesn’t just happen in four weeks or less. It’s a long road, full of ups and downs and you might have lots of good days, but also just as many bad days. It’s not straightforward, and as someone who considers themselves recovered from depression, my mental health is still something I work at EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. This book didn’t try and pretend the characters would be 100% better by the end, it’s repeatedly drilled into you that four weeks is NOT a very long period of time and I was completely okay with this! If you’re expecting a shit tonne of character development or recovery from them in Four Weeks, Five People, you’ll be disappointed. The characters certainly experience growth and learn things, but at the end of the day, they are still all in recovery and this therapy camp just happens to be a part of their recovery, not the end of it.

There was also a little bit of romance, which while I was okay with, I’m glad it didn’t overshadow everything else. As a result of said romance, there’s also a big part where Stella basically says romance is not a cure for mental illness and you shouldn’t rely on romance to help you. DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I LOVED THIS PART??? I was half cheering her on when she was saying this (although a lot of what Stella says comes across as an attack, I STILL LOVED EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS – also Stella is still pretty awesome in general tbh)

While I loved this book overall, I do wish we got to see some things from other people’s perspectives, instead of seeing certain events unfold from another’s eyes (I won’t go into detail, because spoilers!). However, I think this just made me want more from the story as a whole and I’d love to read the backstories (or futures) of a lot of the characters because I felt so attached to them!

Four Weeks, Five People at it’s core is a story about recovery and all that can encompass it. Beautifully written with memorable characters, I absolutely loved this book so incredibly much and flew through it in a day.

Thankyou Harlequin Australia for sending me this book to review, this in no way affected my review or rating

A Court of Mist and Fury

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A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Release Date: May 3rd 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury
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4-5

I want to quickly mention that I’ve procrastinated writing this review for A WHOLE YEAR. I am really shit when it comes to writing reviews about books I enjoy and I just put it off completely. I also want to mention this review contains LOTS OF SPOILERS!! I normally write spoiler free reviews, however this one is most certainly not one of those.

Okay, onto the actual review…

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with Sarah J Maas’ books. I for one enjoyed A Court of Thorns and Roses a lot more than Throne of Glass, and while I loved certain aspects of the ToG series, I also despise some of the sequels for various reasons. I originally went into A Court of Mist and Fury very hesitantly due to this love-hate relationship and due to my scattered thoughts in regards to her other sequels. Thankfully, I was not disappointed and ended up enjoying this installment even more than the first one!

In ACOTAR, I didn’t particularly care for Tamlin or Rhysand, I only cared about Feyre and what was happening to her. In ACOMAF, I completely fell in love with Rhysand as a character despite the shitty things he did in ACOTAR and I loved getting to know him as a character and I found him incredibly caring and selfless in addition to being arrogant and charming. Despite being utter trash for Feysand, I do have one huge glaring issue with Maas’ books that I need to point out. Sometimes, I really despise how she treats her characters. In order to get us to fall head over heels for a new love interest, she completely demonises the other without allowing any sort of in between feelings. Like, I get that we should get used to the new love interest, and it can be of the MC’s development etc etc, I really do understand that. However making one character be a complete piece of shit just to place another on the pedestal, kinda pisses me off. I just feel like Maas gives us no choice in who to ship and sometimes things feel unnaturally shoehorned in for the sake of this.
THANKFULLY, I didn’t give a shit about Tamlin in the first place (Chaol in ToG is A WHOLE OTHER STORY – my poor baby), however to this day, I still don’t 110% hate him. What Tamlin did was undeniably shitty, however I also won’t blindly hate his guts just because that’s what the narrative told me to do.

*ahem* MOVING ON.

The worldbuilding in ACOMAF was undeniably beautiful and was easily one of my favourite aspects of the novel (apart from the smut because I do like the occasional smutty scene). Delving into other areas of Prythian, imagining the wonder of the Night Court and learning about other more, despicable beings was an absolute joy and added so much depth to the story that I didn’t know I craved from the first one. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the worldbuilding in ACOTAR, however I found ACOMAF added so many more layers I didn’t realise I wanted to read about, until they were there.

I also loved the new characters introduced. The Inner Circle was an absolute joy to read about and each of them are also so distinctive to one another. Cassian alone is one of my favourite characters, I loved his arrogance, his banter with the others, how much he cares for EVERYBODY else, and I love his snarky attitude. Cassian is honestly a breath of fresh air despite seeming like another typical, arrogant fae. I also adore Amren, and Tarquin. Tarquin in particular because he is so different to the other characters we’ve come across, AND I MAY HAVE CRIED WHEN HE SENT THE BLOOD RUBIES. I just want the Summer Court and the Night Court to be friends so badly and Tarquin is totally underrated as a character.

The plot in ACOMAF is honestly, a little non-existent although that’s not to say that nothing happens. Plenty of things happen, and I still found it to be an incredibly entertaining and enthralling installment. There is essentially a bunch of filler type events that occur rather than a solid plotline, although as I said, I’m totally okay with this as I still found it SO MUCH FUN to read!

Overall, while it seems like I have a lot to complain about, I really did love this installment. I didn’t expect to enjoy it more than ACOTAR considering I found ACOTAR to be leagues above TOG in the first place, I am so incredibly glad this exceeded my expectations because I loved every second. (Also THAT ENDING UGH)

A Court of Wings and Ruin theories!

Earlier on in April, I decided it was time to reread A Court of Thorns and Roses, and A Court of Mist and Fury in preparation for the new novel, A Court of Wings and Fury which comes out very soon and I am SO excited for it!

After not being able to think of much else for a week afterward, I decided to make a theories video because I have SO MANY THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS about what might possibly happen in ACOWAR (tbh I am very scared and I’m not sure I’m going to be okay afterward??)

Obviously not all of these are going to happen and a lot of it is just wishful thinking because I want the very best for all of my faves ❤

Sorry this video is SO incredibly long, I’ve included time stamps for you below so you can select which parts you’d like to watch 🙂

Ships: 1:15-4:28
Night Court: 4:29-6:27
Other Courts: 6:28-10:29
Humans: 10:30-12:24
Random: 12:25-16:30

March Wrap up and April TBR

I didn’t have the greatest reading month in March (I was hoping to read at least 4 books or so but instead I read TWO.) due to a couple of reasons, the main one being my mental health taking a bit of a dip! However, I did make my mental health and feeling reasonably better a top priority, and thankfully I am in a much better headspace now than I was a month ago!

As for my TBR, I dare say it’s a little ambitious, however I’m DEFINITELY in much more of a reading mood (I was pretty much in a reading slump last month as well) and there are SO MANY BOOKS I want to read. I look at my bookshelf, say “I’m going to read this one next” and then change my mind soon afterward because there are SO MANY BOOKS BUT SO LITTLE TIME

PS – Apologies for the large amount of fangirling and over the top emotion you’re about to witness:

What books did you read in March? Is there anything in particular you’re hoping to get to in April??

The Secret Science of Magic – Author interview and review!

TSSoM blog tour

Hello everybody!

Today I am very excited to present The Secret Science of Magic to you! I have an exciting little interview with the author (who is #LoveOzYA AND has great taste in TV shows) as well as a review at the end!

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authorinterview

Q: The title is such a perfect fit for the book and the characters, how did you come up with The Secret Science of Magic ?

I wanted a title that reflected the connection between my two main characters, these two mysterious, disparate people who by all accounts shouldn’t have anything in common, but of course, share a lot of commonalities! It was always supposed to be a working title, but in the end my publishers and I decided that nothing else was going to fit as well.

Q: I absolutely loved reading about Sophia as she had such a unique voice. Did Sophia’s genius character (see what I did there?) come to you in full? What was the process like in creating Sophia?

Thank you! Sophia actually had quite a long development time, and I think, out of all my characters so far, he voice was the trickiest to get right. I felt like I knew her right away, and had such a lot of affection for her, but I also knew that her character could possibly be a bit alienating for a reader, particularly one like myself whose maths knowledge is woeful! I also knew that she was incredibly warm and good-hearted, but that her interactions with people would probably be considered somewhat cold or insensitive. So she needed lots of redrafting, and juggling elements of her character to try and make her come across on the page as clear as she was in my head.

Q: Doctor Who and Penn and Teller: Fool Us are two of my favourite TV shows, so seeing them referenced by Sophia and Joshua was so much fun! What are some of your favourite shows/movies to watch?

Obviously I’m a Doctor Who fan (it’s always fun slipping my own fandoms in to my books, since it lets me watch TV for ‘research’). I have quite old-school TV tastes – The X Files and Buffy are two of my all-time faves. I’m really excited about the new Twin Peaks (even though the original series gave me nightmares as a kid), and the new season of Jessica Jones.

Q: You’re a children’s book editor during the day and you still manage to have three published books under your belt, impressive! Can you tell us a bit about your writing process?

I work part-time as an editor so I have a couple of full-time writing days a week, and I try and set myself a daily word goal – sometimes I manage to meet it within a couple of hours, and sometimes I’m banging my head against my desk long after the sun has set still trying to eek out words! It usually takes me a good four or five months for a first draft (though this book took a lot longer), and then another year or so of redrafting.

Q: Finally, do you have a favourite quote or scene from The Secret Science of Magic?

I think my favourite quote is from Dai Vernon, the legendary close-up magician and one of Joshua’s personal heroes – Be natural, and use your head.

Thank you so much for chatting and taking the time to answer these questions, Melissa! It’s been great 🙂

Thank you very much for having me!

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bookreview

The Secret Science of Magic by Melissa Keil
Published by Hardie Grant Egmont
Published on 1st April 2017
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I received this book for free from Hardie Grant Egmont in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

4-5

This is the story of a girl named Sophia and a boy named Joshua. Sophia is a child prodigy and a genius with debilitating social anxiety. She has no idea what she wants to do with her life once she finishes high school and becomes obsessed with Gregori Perelman, a recluse mathematician.

Although I am not a genius, nor was I a child prodigy, I found myself really being able to relate to Sophia because I had NO idea what I really wanted to do after school. I knew I wanted to go to uni, but was I going to be successful? Would I choose the right degree? What would happen to me if I hated it? Spoiler: I’m 24, have changed degrees twice, and have since learned that while I now love what I study, high school and uni is not the end of the world in any way (although, I am admittedly still a blundering mess of an adult).

Initially I wasn’t sure whether I would like Sophia as a character as she is incredibly different to read about in comparison to other teenagers in YA. However while she struggles with people/social situations in addition to living with social anxiety, she’s incredibly easy to grow attached to and I found myself constantly wanting the best for her. The depiction of Sophia’s social anxiety was incredibly well done and seeing the tensions rise between Sophia and her friends/family was incredibly painful and honestly made me feel incredibly sad for Sophia.

Joshua is a boy who also has no idea what to do with his life after high school, he’s intelligent, but he’s also obsessed with magic tricks. He is incredibly shy and complex, and I loved that he wasn’t your typical YA love interest. He is SO different from the usual mold of boyfriend you see in YA literature and it was incredibly refreshing to see! I may have also gotten a little bit excited about Joshua’s love for magic because my boyfriend is also obsessed with magic tricks (albeit, not to the extent that Joshua is, and he can’t DO the tricks but loves them all the same) and seeing all of the little references to different illusionists and magicians such as Penn & Teller made me SO FREAKING HAPPY???

The diversity in this novel is something I really want to make a point of, because it was so well done and wonderful to see as well! Sophia is an Australian with Sri Lankan descent and her best friend Elsie, is Indian. Seeing how their ethnicities were incorporated into the story and how they were written was so great!

Melissa Keil’s writing was wonderful and felt so incredibly authentic in regards to the dialogue and how she developed her cast of characters. While this is primarily a character driven novel, each of the events they experience, and the things they go through was so much fun (sometimes sad) to read about and the dialogue between various characters made me laugh out loud several times! There were geeky references in regards to science and maths as well as pop culture. Sophia’s favourite TV show is Doctor Who, and anyone who knows me knows how much I adore Doctor Who myself so seeing how much Sophia loved this show in addition to Joshua making references to magic shows, made me smile SO MUCH.

Overall, The Secret Science of Magic was written incredibly well and has a super unique and diverse cast of characters. Despite at first seeming like an “unlikeable character”, you can’t help falling in love with Sophia and Joshua and their beautifully developing relationship.

Make sure you check out all the other blogs on
The Secret Science of Magic blog tour! 🙂

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