Thursday, 7 August 2014

Book Review: Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo (The Grisha, #1)

Title: Shadow & Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha (#1)
Published: 5th June 2012
Publisher: Indigo
Rating: 4/5
Source: Library
Goodreads

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why 

can’t she ever quite forget him?

I didn't have any expectations for this book, surprising as it may seem. I was aware of generally mixed-positive reviews but when I turned the first page of this book, I knew that I would be swept up in a fantastical world of magic and blue keftas.
“This was his soul made flesh, the truth of him laid bare in the blazing sun, shorn of mystery and shadow. This was the truth behind the handsome face and the miraculous powers, the truth that was the dead and empty space between the stars, a wasteland peopled by frightened monsters.” 
One of the many things I loved about this book was the writing style. Leigh Bardugo's writing is so beautiful and wonderfully poetic but isn't hard to follow. The second was the plot, a plot so fast paced and enthralling that you didn't know you had just finished this book. It wasn't rushed but wasn't slow either, Shadow and Bone was as perfect as fast paced novels can be.

I also loved how our main protagonist, Alina Starkov, wasn't your typical female protagonist. Her character development is to be taken by example. She started out as a scrawny girl with a sharp tongue and grew into a, both physically and emotionally, strong kick-ass lead.

“And there's nothing wrong with being a lizard either. Unless you were born to be a hawk.” 

The Darkling is defiantly the character that intrigued me most. He's very dark (which is so very surprising) and mysterious and everything you'd expect with a title like his. I didn't know what his intentions were at all and that added to his image. I want to know more and more about him!

I'll be honest in saying that I didn't really enjoy Mal's character until the end, which I hated. 

At first, I found the world and it's terms hard to follow but I soon caught on to this Russian inspired culture and loved every moment. I'm glad that this novel wasn't based in the US or UK because that just wouldn't work and it's always refreshing to read a novel in a different culture. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and will for sure read Siege and Storm! 

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Book Review: Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)

Title: Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone (#1)
Published: 27th September 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Source: Library
Goodreads

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands", she speaks many languages - not all of them human - and her bright blue hairactually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. 

It did not end well.”
This book has been on my TBR List for the longest time and while on a recent trip to the library, I found it just sitting in the corner, just waiting to be picked up. Little did I know that I would be picking up a unique gem.

My first thoughts while reading this book was "wow, this world is quite extraordinary". Ms Taylor has created this fictional world so full of life and fantasy with a grungy, alternative touch. I loved how we saw the world through the eyes of the devils, with the angels being the antagonists. This fantasy world is so different to ones I've read about before.
 

 “Have you ever asked yourself, do monsters make war, or does war make monsters?”
I loved our main protagonist; Karou. She's very quirky and different. She's unlike any other characters I've read about, and I saw myself in her countless times. There's little I can say about her that's annoying, or that isn't a spoiler but I thought she was the perfect protagonist for the series and her choices aren't annoying or unjustified.

Ms Taylor's writing style and sequencing is beautiful and poetic and is a very unique way to tell this story.

 “It is a condition of monsters that they do not perceive themselves as such. The dragon, you know, hunkered in the village devouring maidens, heard the townsfolk cry 'Monster!' and looked behind him.” 
The plot of this book was very interesting to read about and I did not expect any of those plot twists. I admit, in the first few chapters I was like "woah what's going on" but Ms Taylor does a nice job of weaving it in and everything will click at the right moments.

I loved everything about this book (if that were even possible) and I will for sure continue with this series.

Hagar Manssour

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Book Review: Girl of Nightmares (Anna, #2)

Title: Girl of Nightmares
Author: Kendare Blake
Series: Anna (#2)
Published: 7th August 2012
Publisher: Tor Teen
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Source: Library
Goodreads

It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on. 

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.


Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.


I enjoyed this book, I really did, but it didn't meet the level of enjoyment I had reading Anna Dressed in Blood. I don't really know what it was, maybe it was the lack of Anna Korlov, but I did enjoy it.

The characters were hilarious yet kick-ass as ever. I laughed out loud so many times reading this - not recommended in public. I really liked the new characters we were introduced to, I think Jestine was my favourite of the newbies.

I loved how I couldn't really tell where the story was going or how the characters were going  to react. But I think my favourite thing about this book was how realistic the characters were, especially Carmel and Gideon. Nobody did anything that was unbelievably stupid, or unjustified, they all had realistic and believable reasons for their actions and I praise Ms Blake for that quality.

All in all, I enjoyed this book but not as much as I enjoyed the previous one. 4/5 stars!

Hagar Manssour

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Reading Slumps and How to Overcome Them

Reading Slumps. Two words that should not be used in the same sentence. A reading slump is where you just cannot read anything. You try to read, you really do, but all the books you own look horrible and unappealing - even if you've been waiting to read it for a long time. We avid readers hate reading slumps, and I have sadly been in one that lasted over a month - eek!
This is my own personal How-to guide to get out a reading slump that might be helpful to you.

1. Watch a movie adaption of a book you enjoyed. 
   
I, personally, find this really helpful as movie adaptions just has this affect that makes me want to read the book (again). A few favourites are Harry Potter, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Percy Jackson and City of Bones.

2. Visit your local library or bookshop.
  
I find this really helpful as I'd be surrounded by books and reminded of ones you've already read and your experiences reading them.

3. Re-read (a few chapters) of your favourite books.

Whether or not you re-read books, this tip really helps. It reminds you of your experiences reading the book, and how much you enjoyed them. I usually re-read Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and The Lunar Chronicles.

4. Read a mystery and/or action.

This tip is controversial but I find reading a mystery draws me in and gets me interested in the plot so I keep reading. You could try Agatha Christie.

5. Read a graphic novel/manga.

Maybe you can't read anything because you don't have the time but graphic novels/manga are really quick to get through and the art is amazing. They're really light and a great way to get out a reading slump. I recommend Locke & Key, Death Note and Attack on Titan.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Book Review: Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes (Falling Kingdoms, #2)

Title: Rebel Spring
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Series: Falling Kingdoms (#2)
Published: 3rd December 2013
Publisher: Razorbill
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Source: Library
Goodreads

Love, power, and magic collide with war in the second book of the Falling Kingdoms series

Auranos has fallen and the three kingdoms—Auranos, Limeros, and Paelsia—are now united as one country called Mytica. But still, magic beckons, and with it the chance to rule not just Mytica, but the world...

When the evil King Gaius announces that a road is to be built into the Forbidden Mountains, formally linking all of Mytica together, he sets off a chain of events that will forever change the face of this land, forcing Cleo the dethroned princess, Magnus the reluctant heir, Lucia the haunted sorceress, and Jonas the desperate rebel to take steps they never could have imagined.



WARNING, REVIEW MAY CONTAIN FALLING KINGDOMS SPOILERS


It has been 14 hours since I turned Rebel Spring's final page and I still can't express my thoughts in a way that doesn't make me sound like a 9 year old with a high sugar level. I loved it. All of it. If you think Falling Kingdoms was okay, please push on and read this because I must say, it was fantastic. This book was 10 times better than Falling Kingdoms, for sure.

The characters really came to their own in this book. Magnus, still being my favourite character of the series, got even more complex. Cleo didn't annoy me as much as she did in the previous book, and I came to see a bit of myself in her. We got to know the side characters better, like Nic and was introduced to several new ones; like Lysandra and that Prince from outside Mystica of whom can't remember the name of. Lysandra really reminded me of Katniss Everdeen, but I try to not compare characters from other series. King Gaius turned into even more of a cold. terrifying being - if that were even possible.
In the previous book, I didn't really feel anything for Lucia but in Rebel Spring she really became a character and she was quite enjoyable too. I am terrified for her, I must say.

The plot was just a major roller-coster ride with so many twists and turns which left me hungry for more and more. It was so thrilling and devious which I loved. I said in my Falling Kingdoms review that Ms Rhodes wasn't scared I do anything, that she had the power and grabbed it with both hands not wanting to let go. Well, Rebel Spring was no exception. Ms Rhodes proved yet again that she was not afraid to do anything she wanted to do and I highly admire that quality in an author. 

I'd recommend this series to anybody, avid reader or not. I really enjoyed this read and can't wait for Gathering Darkness (the sequel)! 

Hagar Manssour 

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Book Review: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes (Falling Kingdoms, #1)

Title: Falling Kingdoms
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Series: Falling Kingdoms (#1)
Published: 11th December 2012
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: Library
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Goodreads

In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.

As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed... and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.

The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

It's the eve of war.... Choose your side.


I read this during the last week of term/semester so while the rest of the class were watching movies, I was sitting in the back of the room reading this novel. Morgan Rhodes - you made my week bearable, well done. This book has flaws, without a doubt, but once I got past them, I really enjoyed it. 

We follow four main narratives; a princess, a sorceress, a rebel and an heir. It was really fun to see that not all of them were on the "good" side. While I did find narratives more annoying than others, I did enjoy them all and sympathise for them in their sticky situations. 
“Even paradise could become a prison if one had enough time to take notice of the walls.” 
I think I would say that the heir - Magnus - is my favourite character. He is just so complex and different and cold, it's really refreshing. I felt like I related to him the most and I really liked how he dealt with situations - even if they weren't the best solutions. Magnus goes through so much and all he really needs is a hug and a little lie down. 

I'll be honest in saying that Princess Cleo annoyed me quite a bit, she's a bit like Clary Fray! She was one of those characters that drove head first into danger and expected anyone to save her. She did have a good heart and isn't that what matters?  I did eventually warm up to her by the end - thank goodness.

The plot was quite interesting. I don't read a lot of books with magic like this book. Ms Rhodes explains the world very well and, using her fantastic skills, will make you fully invested in the world and its plot.
The plot was so expertly executed bringing 4 characters from 3 different kingdoms together. It was so fascinating to see how they clashed together and what came of it afterwards. 

The author did not hesitate to do anything in this book, its almost shocking how much she didn't. She had the power, and she used it and oh my it was fantastic.

Yes it is action packed but I really felt as though this book is just a set up for what's to come in the next few books. I did really enjoy it though and will definitely continue on with the series. Recommended to fans of Game of Thrones. 

Hagar Manssour

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Book Review: Looking For Alaska by John Green

Title: Looking For Alaska
Author: John Green
Series: N/A
Published:  1st January 2005
Publisher: Speak
Rating: 5/5 stars
Source: Bought
Goodreads 

Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (Fran├žois Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.
  After. Nothing is ever the same.


Looking For Alaska is the second book I have read by the marvelous John Green, after The Fault in Our Stars. I'd heard mixed things about this book but, thankfully, I really loved it. A definite favourite for sure. 


“Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia. (...) You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you'll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.” 
I love how real this book was and how realistic and believeable the characters were. I sympathised for the characters who we are introduced to through Miles' eyes. I found Miles' obsession over last words very interesting even though he looks at himself as uninteresting. 



“I found myself thinking about President William McKinley, the third American president to be assassinated. He lived for several days after he was shot, and towards the end, his wife started crying and screaming, "I want to go too! I want to go too!" And with his last measure of strength, McKinley turned to her and spoke his last words: "We are all going.” 

Alaska Young. We all have one of them in our lives don't we? The girl we think we know but don't. She was quite a character. She touches everyone around her, even if she didn't intend to. I loved how we had a strong yet not emotionless female lead who loves books because those are not combinations you see often. Alaska was a really thought-provoking character, with Chip second behind. 
“What is an "instant" death anyway? How long is an instant? Is it one second? Ten? The pain of those seconds must have been awful as her heart burst and her lungs collapsed and there was no air and no blood to her brain and only raw panic. What the hell is instant? Nothing is instant. Instant rice takes five minutes, instant pudding an hour. I doubt that an instant of blinding pain feels particularly instantaneous.”


“I found myself thinking about President William McKinley, the third American president to be assassinated. He lived for several days after he was shot, and towards the end, his wife started crying and screaming, "I want to go too! I want to go too!" And with his last measure of strength, McKinley turned to her and spoke his last words: "We are all going.” 

People have said before that this book is depressing. I'm not going to lie, it is sad but the humour in this story balances it out perfectly. I cannot even count the times I had a huge grin plastered in my face or how many times I laughed out loud and my family looking at me like I was crazy.  John Green has a gift in having a sad book funny at the same time *round of applause*
"If people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.” 
This book made me laugh, made me cry and made me want to quote all the lines I found inspiring in real life. It being John Green's debut, it is fantastic. Truly a masterpiece, 5/5 stars!

Hagar Manssour x


Saturday, 28 June 2014

It indeed has been a while ...

It, indeed, has been a while since I've talked to you all and I assure you that I have missed the book blog-sphere vastly.

I'm not going to go into why I haven't been posting because (a) they are personal reasons and (b) I don't want to bore you.

However, the summer has come upon us which means that I will updating this blog a lot more to make up these past few weeks!

I actually went on a book hunt yesterday and I have about 10 books to read for the summer (book haul coming soon)!

I'm currently reading Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes (sequel to Falling Kingdoms) and I'm really enjoying it! Review to come, I promise x

Have a great summer,
Hagar x

Friday, 11 April 2014

Feature and Follow #3

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow 



Feature & Follow is a weekly meme hosted over at Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.
This week's question is...
 

Tell us about a book that you didn’t like and why we shouldn’t read it (as nicely and respectfully as possible) 

 

Despite all the hype, I really did not enjoy
The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I picked it up
because I had wanted to see the movie and of course, the amount of hype.
I don't know wether it was the bad sentance structure, the unexplained "romance" or
the annoying main character. I really did try to enjoy it but I could not
hide my hate toward the book. I don't believe that you "shouldn't read it" but I suggest
going into it with caution.

*Note - I wrote a full review last month, click here to read it*

Hagar Manssour
 

Monday, 7 April 2014

Favourite Book Characters (Female)

Because of my (kinda) reading slump, I'm trying to think of my favourite things and elements about books. I then realised that I love a lot of characters so I thought I'd share my favourite females!
(Note - I have already published a post on my favourite males)
These are in no particular order.

1. Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling



2. Mara Dyer from the Mara Dyer trilogy by Michelle Hodkin




   

3. Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling

 

4. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

   

5. Crescent "Cress" Moon Darnel from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer



6. Beatrice "Tris" Prior from the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth

  

7. Violet Baudelaire from the Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

 

8. Annabeth Chase from Percy Jackson & the Olympians and The Heroes of Olympus by Rick  Riordan.



9. Theresa "Tessa" Gray from The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare



10. Cassiopeia "Cassie" Sullivan from The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey



Hagar Manssour

Friday, 4 April 2014

Book Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)

13206828Title: Cress                                   
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles
Published: 4th February 2014
Source: Gifted
Goodreads   

 Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard.

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.
                                         


I can say it now without a shadow of a doubt; I love the Lunar Chronicles. Yep, this book really confirmed my love for Marissa Meyer's fantastic series. This book is, by far, the best one so far. It has action, romance, heartbreak and moments where you are just like oh no, you did not just do that to me. Marissa Meyer was not scared to go the extra mile in this book, which I really appreciate.

We first see Cress in Cinder but really meeting her in this book was just refreshing in a way. While Cinder is strong and Scarlet is butt-kicking, Cress is a shy, sweet, naive girl that is the exaact opposite of Cinder and Scarlet but she still has that element that makes her heroic. I love how Marissa Meyer makes each character unique! You'd never expect an extremely shy and naive person to be an excellent hacker would you? I see myself in Cress the most; it's the way how she deals with situations and how she thinks upon them.

“Maybe there isn’t such a thing as fate. Maybe it’s just the opportunities we’re given, and what we do with them. I’m beginning to think that maybe great, epic romances don’t just happen. We have to make them ourselves.”
Ahh ... Thorne. How much I love Thorne and ship Thress. He really became his own in this book. If you thought you liked Thorne in Scarlet, wait until you read Cress because you will fall in love. His character development throughout this series is flawless and his interactions with Cress are just hilarious and sweet and adorable.

“If you honestly believe that," said Thorne, stowing the gun again, "then you really don't recognize true value when you see it.”
We were also introduced to Winter, the main narrarator of the next book and I thought her introduction was hilarious (in a good way)! She's a Lunar princess who hasn't used her gift since twelve, which results in her being slightly ... insane. I can't wait for Winter to come out so we can really get to know her (among other things as well, don't worry).

So much stuff went down in this book. The action was non-stop but what I really adored about the action/plot was that it was realistic. Even though it is a sci-fi and a fairytale retelling, it doesn't shy away the fact that things that happen is realistic if you know what I mean. Ms Meyer's writing left me thinking what on Luna (hah, see what I did there?) is going to happen next? 

I'm both anticipating and sort of terrified for Winter. I really don't want this fantastic series to end but I really want to know what will happen, am I the only one feeling this way? I loved Cress and, as it is a new favourite, stars cannot portray my love for this book.

Hagar Manssour

P.S -- I think the series would make a really great TV show, if done right!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Book Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (Anna, #1)

13077542Title: Anna Dressed in Blood
Author: Kendare Blake
Series: Anna (#1)
Published: 3rd July 2012
Source: Library
Goodreads 

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.


So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.


Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.


Yet she spares Cas's life.


Going into this, I didn't know what to expect. I've never really read any horror or ghost books before but there's a first time for everything, right? This book was creepy and intense and sometimes really scary. I really enjoyed this book which came to me as a surprise because I had thought how on Earth do you love a horror?

I loved Cas's character! He was so bad ass yet caring and smart and so funny. He was really just refreshing to read about because I was expecting him to either be a) OMG you make me pee my pants but I will attack you anyway for no reason whatsoever or b) I am the king of all you ghosts so I will banish you to hell. His lines would just crack me up which is good as it acted as a comic relief for whatever was going on.

The descriptions used in this book just made the scene even creepier that it was before. To be honest, I was scared more of the descriptions in the scenes rather than the scene itself if you know what I mean. I don't even believe in ghosts but this book made me feel as if there was one watching me.

WARNING: IF YOU ARE SQUEEMISH, I ADVISE YOU PICK UP THIS BOOK WITH CAUTION AS SCENES MAY BE ... GRAPHIC(?)


I also really enjoyed the little A team Cas had formed in this book because they had all brought a new dynamic to the story. They all had their own good reason for helping Cas and they all acted realistically, not stereotypically.

In the end, I really loved this book and I'd recommend this to anyone who wants to be refreshed or you know, terrified. It's a great Hallowe'en read by the way!

5/5 stars!

Hagar Manssour

Monday, 31 March 2014

Book Review: Geek Girl by Holly Smale (Geek Girl, #1)

13621089Title: Geek Girl
Author: Holly Smale
Series: Geek Girl (#1)
Published: 1st February 2013
Source: Library
Goodreads          

Harriet Manners knows a lot of things.

She knows that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear, a "jiffy" lasts 1/100th of a second, and the average person laughs 15 times per day. What she isn't quite so sure about is why nobody at school seems to like her very much. So when she's spotted by a top model agent, Harriet grabs the chance to reinvent herself. Even if it means stealing her Best Friend's dream, incurring the wrath of her arch enemy Alexa, and repeatedly humiliating herself in front of the impossibly handsome supermodel Nick. Even if it means lying to the people she loves.

As Harriet veers from one couture disaster to the next with the help of her overly enthusiastic father and her uber-geeky stalker, Toby, she begins to realise that the world of fashion doesn't seem to like her any more than the real world did.

And as her old life starts to fall apart, the question is: will Harriet be able to transform herself before she ruins everything?


I've always avioded model books. I had thought that the stories went along the lines of; 
  • Bratty model finds there is a job opening at (insert multi-million fashion line here)
  • Bratty model finds out her arch-nemisis is also going for the job
  • THIS IS FASHION WAR!
  • Bratty model falls in love with supermodel at first sight
Looking back, I don't know why I thought this but after reading Holly Smale's fantastic novel Geek Girl my opinion on model books changed - maybe they aren't all terrible. 

Harriet is a geek. She has no interest in fashion and certainly no interest in modelling but after being dragged to Clothes Show Live in Birmingham, she is scouted. One of the best things about this book (and oh there are many) is the writing. Harriet is so witty and funny and clever. Her opinion on the things going on are just hilarious! Harriet isn't your sterotypical model. 

You learn weird little facts along the way like that there are approximatly 13,914,291,404 legs in the world!

 “My name," I tell Wilbur in the most dignified voice I can find, "Was inspired by Harriet Quimby, the first female American pilot and the first woman ever to cross the Channel in an aeroplane. My mother chose it to represent freedom and bravery and independence, and she gave it to me just before she died."

There's a short pause while Wilbur looks appropriately moved. Then Dad says, "Who told you that?"
"Annabel did."
"Well, it's not true at all. You were named after Harriet the tortoise, the second longest living tortoise in the world."

There's a silence while I stare at Dad and Annabel puts her head in her hands so abruptly that the pen starts to leak into her collar. "Richard," she moans quietly.
"A tortoise?" I repeat in dismay. "I'm named after a tortoise? What the hell is a tortoise supposed to represent?"
"Longevity?”
I also seemed to think that I knew what was going to happen but that, gladly, did not happen. Geek Girl isn't really a mystery or suspense but you can't really predict what will happen next.

I really liked how eventhough there is a love interest, he's not the centre of everything going on and is not mentioned in every paragraph.

In the end, I loved this book! I give it 5/5 stars and in my favourites list!
I'd recommend this book to anybody, ardent reader or not. Its that brilliant.

Hagar Manssour

Liebster Award!










I was nominated for a Liebster Award by the amazing Alma @ Journey Through Fiction! I seriously cannot fathom how I could be nominated but thank you very much Alma!

The Rules;

  •   Make Sure you thank and link back the person who nominated you.
  •   List 11 facts about yourself
  •  Answer the 11 questions that were asked by whoever nominated you
  • Ask 11 new questions to 9 bloggers. They must have less than 200 followers on Bloglovin' (or their preferred method). You cannot re-nominate the blog that nominated you.
        Go to their blog and inform them that they have been nominated!

  11 Facts About Yours Truly 

  1.  I was born in Cairo, Egypt but moved to Scotland when I was 3 months old
  2. I am currently learning to play the piano
  3. I was in a house fire when I was 4 and since then developed a fear of fire.
  4. I have the need to correct people's grammer -- it's getting bad! I almost got detension for correcting a teacher!
  5. My favourite colours are black, red and blue
  6. I hate the colour yellow.
  7. I love watching comedies :) my favourites are probably anything Will Smith, Eddie Murphy, Laurel & Hardy or Charlie Chaplin.
  8. I take part in a lot of sports like netball, rugby and cross country!
  9. I love Friends!
  10. I spend more time reading than doing anything else.
  11. I love travelling! 





The 11 Questions That Were Asked

Q. Who are your favoruite authors?
A.  J.K. Rowling, Rick Riordan, Marissa Meyer etc

Q. If you could pick one character from a book to meet in real life, who would you pick?
 A. That's quite tough but probably Percy Jackson because he is too awesome not to.

Q. What book(s) have made you cry?
A. I am not ashamed to say that I do cry over books and when I do, it's usually hard to stop. I cried alot at The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and Champion by Marie Lu.

Q. What was the last book that you didn't expect to like, but ended up loving?
A. Probably The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson because I was forced to read it, and I really don't like being forced to read books.

Q. What book(s) do you feel are overrated?
A. The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

Q. Who is your most embarassing celebrity crush?
A. I don't even think my answer count because a) he isn't a celebrity and b) I am not embarrased but it's got to be Dan Howell from danisnotonfire on Youtube.

Q. You just won an all expenses paid trip to anywhere on the planet - where do you go and why?
A. I'd go to Tokyo, Japan because it looks beautiful and I'm really interested by their culture!

Q. Do you have any pets?
A. No, sadly :(

Q. What music do you listen to and who are your favourite artists/bands?
A. I listen to all kinds of music but I don't really like rap. Some of my favourites are Adele, Ed Sheeran, The Beatles, Pink Floyd etc.

Q. What is your guilty pleasure (not necassarily book/blogging related)?
A. When I'm bored I either re-organise my book shelves or look up fan art.

Q. Do you think you can survive a zombie apocalypse?
A. To be honest, I think I would with my traits but I might just be modest :P



           My 11 Questions for My Nominees!

  1.  If you could switch lives with any book character, who would you pick?
  2. How do you usually get your books (ie - online, library etc)?
  3. What book made you really angry?
  4. If you could live in any fictional world, which one would you live in?
  5. What book would you like seen transfered to TV/Film?
  6. What is your favourite book to movie adaptation?
  7. If you had to listen to one song for the rest of your life, what song would you pick?
  8. What are your favourite TV shows?
  9. What are your thoughts on the New Adult genre?
  10. What book/tv/movie character death did you not agree with?
  11. What is your favourite book cover?

My Nominees!



Christina @ Booksane
















Saturday, 29 March 2014

Feature and Follow #2

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow 

Feature & Follow is a weekly meme hosted over at Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.
This week's question is...


Snap it Time! A picture is worth a thousand words. Anything and anything. Just give us a pic.

Teenage section at the local library :)

So many books, so little time!

I'm surprised that there wasn't anyone but me there!

 





 Hagar Manssour

Friday, 28 March 2014

Book Review: Half Bad by Sally Green (Half Life #1)

18621194
Title: Half Bad
Author: Sally Green                                         
Series: Half Life (#1)
Published: 1st March 2014
Source: Bought from Waterstones
Goodreads             

 Half Bad by Sally Green is a breathtaking debut novel about one boy's struggle for survival in a hidden society of witches.

You can't read, can't write, but you heal fast, even for a witch.

You get sick if you stay indoors after dark.

You hate White Witches but love Annalise, who is one.

You've been kept in a cage since you were fourteen.

All you've got to do is escape and find Mercury, the Black Witch who eats boys. And do that before your seventeenth birthday.

Easy.
                          


I finished this book about an hour ago and I still cannot fully process my thoughts on this book. This book has a lot of hype so, unsurprisingly, I picked it up in Waterstones. I'm not as amazed as everyone else was but it was overall a good book.

Half Bad is set in modern day where witches live among fains (muggles basically). There are White witches; the "good witches" and the Blacks; the "bad". The witch society is ruled by a council of White witches and White hunters who hunt down and kill the Blacks. Our main character, Nathan, is a Half Code - half White and half Black, which isn't supposed to happen. His mother, now deceased, was a highly respected White witch but his father is the most evil Black. If the Council decide that Nathan is more Black than White, he will be killed instantly. There is more to this witch world but it is a lot more fun to figure it out while reading.

 The book starts off with a second person narration - talking to you; the reader and you find out that Nathan (you) are in a cage being tortured. It then goes back to when he was a child which then leads up to the point where the book started and carries on from there. I found this quite an interesting technique to be using but it fit the story.

This book is heavily based on Nathan's character development from when he was 5 to his current age; 17. It can be quite slow at points and I found myself just reading the words while day-dreaming so then I'd have to read the same paragraph over again. Half Bad might not be for you if you are looking for a fast-paced, plot-driven story. This book is more of a lead-up to the rest of the trilogy and will probably depend on the sequels for an overall good series mark from me.

The world did intrigue me though. The way that the Whites look at themselves as the "good" and "superior" ones while they may be just as "bad" as Blacks or even worse just made me wonder how this society came to be. Whites hunt Blacks but the Blacks are only trying to defend themselves. It's almost racist.

I found the relationships that Nathan had with others weren't strong or well-developed, especially with Annalise - the supposed "love interest". Ms Green focused to much on Nathan's development and no-one else's.
 

If you are squeamish, I suggest you take note that some scenes may be gruesome before picking this up.

Overall, I enjoyed how unique this book was and I hope to enjoy the sequels even more. 3.75/5

Hagar Manssour

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Book Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #2)

13206760 Title: Scarlet                                     
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles
Published: 5th February 2013
Source: Gifted
Goodreads

  Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling instalment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison--even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive. Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.                 

Wow ... just, wow. This book was a-maze-ing! It surpassed all my expectations based from it's proceeder; Cinder and kicked butt.

Scarlet is a strong and fierce red-head with a caring heart. She is not to be messed with, at all (see first 20 pages for proof). The way she would follow a debatable lead to find her missing grandmother is just heartwarming. She cares a lot for her grandmother and nothing would stop her from achieving her goal - thank the heavens she's on the right side!

Wolf ... well, he really is something, isn't he? He really is just confused about everything isn't he? I can't go into detail as there are spoilers but I enjoyed his character development very much so.

We still got to see Cinder's side of the story throughout this book which was great. You feel really sorry for her because she hadn't asked for any of this to happen. She really just needs to have a lie-down.

My favourite part of this book was probably the character of Carswell Thorne. He is a hilarious guy but he's also loyal. His lines just crack you up throughout this novel - trust me.

The romance between Wolf and Scarlet was so adorable and cute but with everything else going on, it just confuses them. There is one scene where Scarlet is on Wolf's back while he tries to jump onto a train but he stumbles but his excuse wasn't that she was heavy - it was that he was distracted. I don't know why but that line makes me all warm and fuzzy inside!

The plot was action packed and full of twist and turns. The things you discover are just so shocking and jaw-dropping. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time reading this book.

Overall, I loved this book a lot more that Cinder, which is tough mind you, so I give an infinity/5 stars!

Hagar Manssour        

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Favourite Book Characters (Male)

Today, I will be sharing with you just a few of my favourite male book characters. The characters on this list will (probably) be funny or heroic or complex. These are in no particular order.

1. Ron Weasley from the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling.



2. Percy Jackson from Percy Jackson and the Olympians and the Heros of Olympus by Rick Riordan



3. Will Herondale from The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare.

 

4. Carswell Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer



5. Noah Shaw from the Mara Dyer trilogy.

  





















Hagar Manssour

P.S -  Douglas Booth is a fangirl's favourite for English characters :)

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #1)




11235712Title: Cinder             
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles
Published: 3rd January 2012
Source: Library
Goodreads

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the centre of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future. 


Cinder is one of those books that is all hyped up by the book-lover community so you pick it up and you love it more than you thought you would. We all know the story of Cinderella (you know slave, lovely prince, ball, perfect fit of a shoe even though it falls off etc), well, Marissa Meyer puts an effortless twist to the story and you're left thinking this is a fairytale retelling?

The character of Cinder is such an interesting one. She is treated as if she were a disease, and is blamed as if she caused her sister's. She is a compassionate person but finds very few to show that love and compassion for. There are only a handful of people she loves and cares for deeply, like her sister, and is shocked when someone else feels that way for her, after all, she is a cyborg. 
 
Everyone seems to adore Kai and I'm just here like really? this guy?. I care for him and all but I didn't really fall head-over-heels in love like everyone else. I cannot fathom how he can keep his head held high because of the things that happen to him. I'm quite surprised that he didn't break down.

Even though I did see the plot twist coming, I still really enjoyed reading the plot. It was action-packed yet heartbreaking, adoreable yet grim. Ms Meyer really does a great job to set up this book for the rest of the series.

Overall, I really loved this book - 5/5 stars!

Hagar Manssour





Monday, 24 March 2014

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

19174917Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Series: N/A
Published: 10th September 2013
Source: Bought from Waterstones
Goodreads

Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they're off to university and Wren's decided she doesn't want to be one half of a pair any more - she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It's not so easy for Cath. She's horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she's experienced in real life. Without Wren Cath is completely on her own and totally outside her comfort zone. She's got a surly room-mate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words ...And she can't stop worrying about her dad, who's loving and fragile and has never really been alone. Now Cath has to decide whether she's ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she's realizing that there's more to learn about love than she ever thought possible ...

You know the feeling when you fall in love with a story? Yeah well, I fell in love with this story. I have actually read Rainbow Rowell's other book Eleanor & Park and I also loved that book too, maybe even a little more; don't tell anyone. 

Cath Avery is such a realistic character; the way she thinks and the way she reacts to situations are probably the way I would. She is so socially awkward that it just breaks your heart every time she is invited to go somewhere she rejects because she never wants to leave her own bubble but one special someone widened that bubble - Levi.

Levi was such a wonderful character to read about. His interactions with Cath were hilarious yet adorable! He smiles at everyone and easy to strike up a conversation; the exact opposite of Cath. As the book progresses, Cath opens up more to Levi and vice versa. The way he cares for Cath is so cute it made my little heart fangirl. I was actually imagining a blonde Heath Ledger as Levi, or Andrew Garfield. Maybe the two combined ...


Throughout this book, Cath was always the one trying to keep it together so her world doesn't fall apart. She even wished she could just dissapear to the World of Mages (this book's Harry Potter universe), but she didn't know that she herself needed someone to catch her when she falls. Levi had grounded her to earth and reminded her how to find herself and live a little.

One scene that I found extra cute was when she met a fan of the fanfiction she writes. It was so heartwarming to see how Cath's fanfiction really affected her readers.

The romance was also so delightful! The way Cath had thought she was supposed to feel because of the fanfiction and how Levi had blown all her expectations out the water was endaring! 

In conclusion, I loved this book so much; I'll give it 4.5/5 stars!

Hagar Manssour
 

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

15950494Title: The Perks of Being A Wallflower
Author: Stephen Chbosky
Series: N/A
Published: 1st February 1999 
Source: Library
Goodreads

Charlie is a freshman.

And while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his year yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can't stay on the sidelines forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.


The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of those books that everyone loves and raves about. I picked this book up because (a) the hype and (b) I wanted to see the movie. I was quite honestly disappointed by this book. It lacked that special something that makes a book memorable for the right reasons but I remember it now for the wrong. 

Charlie really annoyed me. He cried for no reason. He "fell in love" but didn't explain how or why. He seems oblivious to the obvious points in conversation and really dumbs down the word freshman. 

Another thing that made me want to hurl this book at a wall was the writing. The writing annoyed me immensely. It didn't flow which really grounded my gears. The grammar was terrible but some people would say "Yes, but it's written in the form of letters by Charlie so it isn't going to be perfect". I say that's complete and utter crap. 

All in all, I was disappointed by this book despite the hype. I'll give it 1/5 stars.

Hagar Manssour