SUMMER LOVIN’: Books I’ve Devoured!

Summer Lovin Collection

With Fall approaching (I’m not even sure if it’s already here!), I’ve decided to compile a short list of the books that I feel were stand-out to me in the season of Summer! I’ve read more than three books, mind you, and while I did like a lot of them, I feel like these three were simply engrossing and they are the books I still think about, weeks after reading them. I’ve done a proper review for only one of these so naturally, I won’t yap on and on about that particular book but for the other two, I have yet to write reviews so I’m going to treat this post like a collection of mini FIVE-STARRED reviews 😉

1. Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Insurgent Cover

Blurb provided by GoodreadsOne choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

MINI REVIEW

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Fun, fun, fun. This book was an absolute blast, and I cannot for the life of me understand why it’s the least favourite of so many people?! This was the best instalment in the trilogy, in my opinion. It had so many conspiracies, new characters and twists and turns and it was just so enjoyable to see Tris transform into someone I never thought she would. Granted, her actions and mentality were a little annoying because of what happened in Divergent but I thought they were warranted for and it created a more vulnerable side to Tris.

Another reason why I thought this book was infinitely better than the first and third was the constant appearances of Uriah. Yes, Uriah. I. Love. Uriah. I think I even love him more than Four? Described as the devilishly handsome jokester, he lightens the scene with his easy humour and grin. How could you not love Uriah, right? To sum it up, this was definitely a blast to read as it kept me up late at night and was definitely the strongest in the only trilogy I read this summer! 🙂

2. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Jellicoe Road Cover

Blurb provided by Goodreads: Taylor is leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs – the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again.

And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor’s only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother – who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road.

MINI REVIEW

I’ve been saving this book for years. And when I say ‘saving’, I mean I bought it several years ago and kept it on my shelf, hoping for that one special day where I felt ready to crack it open. I know, I’m making reading sound like some kind of invigorating religious experience BUT I KID YOU NOT, this book was a very big deal to me because 1) I have never read a single bad review of this book and 2) I loved loved loved Melina Marchetta’s previous book, ‘Saving Francesca’.

To get straight to the point: I loved this book. This was grief, loss, love and friendship done right. It was realistic, heartbreaking and raw. A story within a story; I was so, so, so engrossed with the tale of Taylor Markham and her Jellicoe school friends and their intriguing “turf war” games with the Cadets and Townies, intertwined with the mystery and history of the five friends twenty years ago who shaped the dynamics between these friends and Taylor’s broken family life.

This book touched me to the point where 30% in, I promised myself I would re-read it again before the year ended because even though I flew through this masterpiece, I know there is more to absorb and savour. Having re-read ‘Saving Francesca’ a couple of times, I know I won’t have trouble re-reading Jellicoe Road as Marchetta writes beautiful prose. This book definitely made my Top 5 favourite books of all time.

3. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Me Before You Cover

Blurb provided by GoodreadsLou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

MINI REVIEW

I’m going to try and write this mini-review/gushy commentary without crying. This was the last book I finished and I swear to God, I spent so many hours upon finishing it, just thinking about everything that had happened. I was a Jojo Moyes virgin, and now I am not. And my God, reading her book was a magical experience. This was my first chick-lit in a while and I’ve only ever been exposed to Sophie Kinsella and the odd Cecelia Ahern. I didn’t realise how much I missed reading from a perspective of an adult since starting this book.

It’s about a 26 year old girl, Lou Clark, who is pretty much going nowhere. Sounds harsh, no? But she’s pretty content with what she has–the semi-detached seven year relationship with her boyfriend Patrick and her job in a cafe. Until said cafe closes down and Lou is out of a job and in a scramble to help out with her family. So, she takes a job as a carer to a 35 year old quadriplegic, Will. Will, who is so incredible infuriating, and thoughtful and intriguing. I have to say, Will Traynor is one of the most interesting characters I have ever read in my entire life. In this book we explore the beliefs and attitudes of people, people who were comfortable with what they had until what they had was gone. Will has only been a C5/C6 quadriplegic for two years. Before that, he was a rich attorney living in London, with a gorgeous supermodel-like girlfriend and a love for travelling and extreme sports until they day of his accident… Everything changes, obviously. Not only in his environment but something in himself changes and he can’t seem to shake it off.

I’ll just say that I started this book with the knowledge of what was going to happen in the end, but it didn’t stop me from crying and loving everything Jojo Moyes had done. This book is not a conventional romantic love story, heck, I don’t even think it should be described as one! This book is a story about choices and how we see ourselves and how we have the power to choose what defines us. This book will remain with me for a very, very long time.

 

And so, that was a cluster of mini reviews on the books that I’ve enjoyed the most this summer! I’m not sure if this will be a seasonal thing, seeing as it’s summer all year round where I live but, hey! Who knows right? School has just started and I’m trying to get back into the swing of things–studying, reading, reviewing and more 😉

BOOK REVIEW: Divergent (#1) by Veronica Roth

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Star Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Short Reaction: Um, WHAT WAS I WAITING FOR??
Published on/by: February 2nd 2012 by HarperCollins Children’s Books (first published January 1st 2011)
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 489 pages
Synopsis provided by Goodreads: In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

STORY TIME ON THE EVENTS LEADING UP TO ME READING THIS:

Yes, why the HECK am I reviewing this book? Everyone and their grandmother have had the pleasure of diving into this roller coaster of a book…so why am I so late to the party?

Yeah, let me explain…

I bought Divergent (the UK cover was only available to South East Asia at the time) in 2012 because even back then, it was all the book blogosphere could talk about. Flash forward to two years later where it still sat on my shelf, bound by its plastic wrapping. Yes. I deserve to go to book prison. There should be a book prison. Heinous crimes like these do not deserve to go unpunished.

Now, what actually pushed me to finally read Divergent? Firstly, it was my best friend. She, like me, had put off this trilogy for as long as she could remember. However, she had a school holiday (we go to different schools) and she decided to finally marathon the series. She slept at 6 am for three nights finishing this series. Secondly, it was the movie. My best friend still had ‘Allegiant’ to go and she was not excited for the movie adaptation at all. Please see why here: Vampire Academy movie. By the end of the movie, I was sold. My BFF, however, was not. (She’s hard to please). Sure, it was a little ‘lol, yeah right’ in soooo many parts, but I found that if you just shut up and nod and take what they give you, you will have no choice but to enjoy the story as it is: a huge roller-coaster (ferris wheel, wink wink) of fun!

Now, let’s ignore the part where I took another four months to pick up ‘Divergent’. I just wasn’t in the mood to commit, okay?!

AND FINALLY, MY NON-SPOILERY BOOK REVIEW:

This book was GREAT. It was just so, so much fun. I loved the world, I loved the characters, but most of all, I loved that I was able (eventually) to separate the actors of the movie with the book. Soon, I was able to form a hotter and younger Four (very important) in my head and also, take things into perspective a little bit. Upon tackling this book (and movie), I had to remind myself of what a fellow reviewer said on Goodreads, which is that the Divergent world is ultimately a game compromising of rules that seemed to be made up by 11 year olds. If you start to question them, things will get loud. But if you just play the game as it is, you will be rewarded. And the reward? Just a plain ol’ fun bucket of fun! Cos that’s what Divergent really is! A huge big sack of action and fun.

I instantly liked Book Tris better than Movie Tris, and well…I also instantly developed the fangirliest crush on Book Four. Granted, I knew the events that would unfold, but the story told in this medium, for me, was ultimately better. I understood interactions clearly this time round (even though I watched the movie twice– the second time put me to sleep, I DON’T KNOW WHY, DON’T ASK ME TO EXPLAIN!) as well as developed a better feel and appreciation for the romance.

Even though the faction system was silly, in my opinion, this whole process of transferring and adapting in new communities and environments was really fascinating to read about. I especially loved Tris’s newfound friends like Christina, Will and Uriah and how different they all were in their mindsets. The initiation process was the best part of the book (apart from Four’s godly presence) as it was incredibly fun to read about. The pacing was on par and the atmosphere created put me on the edge of my seat.

Now, to explain why I did NOT give this a full five stars. You would think it’s because I read this after watching the movie, thus eliminating the factor of surprise, but that is definitely not the case as I was able to read ‘The Help’ by Kathryn Stockett after watching the movie (oh, about 8 times) with fervour, giving it a well-deserved 5 stars. The reason for a 0.5 deduction is because even though I’m trying hard not to make noise over the silliness of the faction world, it’s still a little weak, if I were to nit-pick critically. This whole ‘Divergent’ aspect was interesting, but again, I was super confused (even after watching the movie twice). I had way too many questions when I reached the end of the book that I believe should have been addressed in the first book of a trilogy.

All in all, I have little complaints because this world gave me the beauty that is Four. That is all.