Family, friendship and other fluff

Where Dandelions Grow ~ Lydia Howe

Heyy all. Guess what I’m finally posting? That’s right: the eARC review of Where Dandelions Grow by Lydia Howe! Taken me awhile, I know, but it’s never too late to review a book, right? Unless it’s a review copy… which this is… *awkward cough* um, thanks for the copy Lydia! I did post a review in time on goodreads, but still this review is shamefully late, so apologies all round. But let’s not dwell too much on my tardiness and instead get on with the review.

Onward we go, to a place where dandelions grow…

(Oh snap, that rhyme was so unintentional, I couldn’t be more proud of myself.)

Determined to discover the locations of her cousins – Lexie, Teal and Kamryn – and the reason behind their separation as kids, Destiny returns to her childhood town, Swallow Ridge. 11 years after being uprooted from there by her mother, Destiny has been living by the rule that she must never speak of Swallow Ridge or her cousins again. But why? In her search for the truth, Destiny uncovers a deeper history than she imagined, but she’s confident she can finally bring peace to her family. Is it possible, though, if her mother is insistent on shunning her family forever? As Destiny begins to accept her parents and what they’ve done, she also gradually opens a doorway for God to enter her life, trusting that he will aid her on her path of mending something that should’ve been mended long ago…

Ok so, I loved this book. I’m not even saying that because it’s a review copy – I did genuinely adore it. For me, it ticked all the boxes. Destiny, the main character, was sooo relatable, I don’t think any book character has made me say ‘same’ so many times in one book. Even the smallest things like the pain of braces and having to cut up apples or growing up watching Anne of Green Gables, or praying in your mind that the person across the counter won’t start a conversation, or acting out scenes from your story before writing them… From time to time I found the inside of Destiny’s brainforest slightly odd or annoying, but then I realised that Destiny is just like me (well, very similar to me), making me like this book 64029% more than I already did because I felt such a connection with Destiny, which is really important for a reader.

I loooooved the chemistry between Destiny and her cousins too; their relationship felt so normal. As characters they were very different and unique, a rare occurrence in a book with four girls at the centre of the plot. Teal was definitely my favourite because she’s just so cute, especially with her cello, Charlie. YEP, YOU HEARD ME RIGHT. SHE NAMED HER CELLO. If she got any cuter she’d be my cat wearing a Christmas jumper. I also really liked how Destiny’s relationship with her family developed, and how at the end you know it will continue to do so. The mother-daughter relationship Destiny had with her mum was so complex but understandable, how she resented her mother but realised she had been through what Destiny had been through and the whole plot behind that was so well done. The whole family aspect really made this book the awesomeness that it is.

The writing was another ticked box: easy to read but not too simple, it just flowed so beautifully with an even mix of description and dialogue. ALSO THE ENDING WAS MY FAVEEEE. ‘Twas enough to satisfy me, being a good ending without need of a sequel or epilogue. The sprinkle of flashbacks from Destiny’s past were a nice touch, too.

I learned a lot from this book, but it was in no way preachy. And how dandelions were weaved in like that? At first I kinda thought that the title was irrelevant to the story, but with the flashbacks you begin to realise that the whole book is centred around just one, beautiful weed. Isn’t that cool? You’ll understand how if you read it 😉 Also, 10 extra points for avoiding romance as best as possible, and instead focusing on family.

But why didn’t you give this book 10/10 clovers, Simi? (As you may have caught sight of my clover count below.) Excellent question there, Frank. It may have ticked all the boxes, but as a book, Where Dandelions Grow lacked shabang – it was short and sweet and made me smile, but not sweet enough that I passed out, ya know?

I have a lot left to say for such a short book, but for now: amazing read, not too long, would recommend to anyone of all ages. Go read now please thank you and goodbye.

Clover count: ♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣ (9/10)

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Book look forward ~ 2018

So hey y’all, hope you’re having a relatively exciting start to the New Year! I’m not particularly because I have a cold and a sore throat and ALL THE TERRIBLE THINGS BASICALLY. Sad I know, but to cheer us all up, I do have some good news! I got a smol smattering of books for Christmas and today I shall list them, as well as list some of the books I still need to read from my book look forward in 2017… and a couple of others I’ve received this year that desperately need to be gobbled. And as a treat, I’m also going to be telling all you bookish people my goals for 2018, despite hardly fulfilling the ones from last year, but I can only improve, right?

And I know what’s been eating all of your brains for the past 5 or so months: Simi, didn’t you say you’d have a competition near Christmas instead of on your blogiversary because you needed to sort yourself and your blog out? Well yeah, that competition probably won’t happen until my next blogiversary, but that will be my 5th so I’ll try make it big and special!

Anywho, let’s have a peek at what this year has in store…

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (20th Anniversary Edition – Gryffindor) ~ J.K. Rowling

I have read this book before, but that was almost 4 years ago now so I think it’s around about time for a reread, of the whole series in fact. And how could I not read something so pretty?! I’m a Gryffindor (in case you didn’t realise) which I think is the prettiest of the four editions, but maybe I’m just biased… IT JUST SO GORGEOUS. The smol picture above doesn’t capture its beauty right, but you can trust me. IT BEAUT.

A Monster Calls ~ Patrick Ness

I watched the film of this in English last year and OUCH MY HEART. I love those books about an ordinary child who goes to ordinary school and does ordinary things and then BAM there’s a tree monster voiced by Liam Neeson in their back garden. The story is just beautiful and the cover is so spooky and argh I can’t wait to eat this one.

The perks of being a wallflower ~ Stephen Chbosky

So yeahhh I watched the film of this too. I had a spare afternoon, ok? But that was over a year ago now, I believe, and honestly, I don’t remember much about it other than the main character’s name. Very hyped to read this though because the bookish peeps out there in the big wide internet will not stop going on about how brilliant it is, and I feel like I’m missing out, ya know? Also I’m totally watching the film again once I read it because ’tis adorable.

Ok, this time I will actually try to blog every week…

…as well as branch out a lil more with my posts

Reach 100 followers

I wanted to change up my goals a bit from last year’s, so I’m going to read 41 books this year instead of 40 haha look at me so sneaky

And possibly even write a book for NaNoWriMo

Sadly, these wonderful two weeks of book looks is over for another year, but there’s a whole year ahead and it’s going to be amazing! Well, I hope. Happy New Year, y’all! Here’s to another year of me obsessing over the word ‘brainforest’ and trying to pretend I’m southern with my ‘y’all’s…

What books did you get for Christmas? How were your holidays? What are your goals for the new year? Is it just me who doesn’t like mince pies and felt a bit awkward at Christmas, standing in the corner with the Twiglets while everyone else was munching away at the lil mincy beasts?

Book look back ~ 2017

Greetings, bookworms.

Another year has passed, which means my second book look back has come around! Also known as a sort of link up with Top Ten Tuesday to shout about my Top 5 Favourite Books of 2017 because it’s definitely Tuesday today, and this link up definitely wasn’t two weeks ago. And yes I know you’re confuzzled that the link up is called Top Ten Tuesday and I’m only shouting about 5 books, but 5 is my favourite number, darnit. Stop complaining.

I’m also going to be looking back at the goals I set at the start of the year, so that’s going to be a lot of fun to maybe cry at.

Before we start, I’d just like to mention that these books weren’t necessarily all published this year, they’re in this post because I read them this year; neither are they in order of which I liked best, just in rough order of when I read them.

Aaaaand if there’s a lil  next to a book, it means that book was on my book look forward list for 2017 and who knows? Maybe if you click the heart, it’ll take you to that very book look forward post… 😉

So now, without further ado, lettuce begin this 2017 book look back partayyy.

(click the booky photos to go to their goodreads page)

1) The House of Hades ~ Rick Riordan

I know you’re probably sick of me going on and on about Riordan, especially as two of his books were in this list last year, but this year I’ve actually only read two of his books – the last two of Heroes of Olympus – and I read them at the very start of the year, so I haven’t been too crazed. But that doesn’t mean that I found this book any less than it is, which is excellent. I’d say it’s probably my favourite of the Heroes of Olympus series because it’s perfection, obviously.

2) Crannig Castle ~ Morgan Huneke

As I’ve probably said before, finding Christian fantasy that I actually like is kind of a once-in-a-blue-moon thing because I’m very picky about them, but this trilogy was done so well theologically, in my opinion, while also being a captivating story in an extraordinary fantasy world. And the characters! Or my lil squishies as I like to call them. Morgan is definitely one to look out for for good Christian books, just sayin’.

3) Holes ~ Louis Sachar 

I don’t know why, but I never actually reviewed this book so I don’t remember much of it… But I do remember telling myself that, if I were to write a review, I had to mention how much this book made me smile. I’ve seen parts of the film which I really enjoyed, and I’m pretty sure the book lived up to my expectations. It certainly made me smile 🙂

4) The Maze Runner ~ James Dashner 

I haven’t had the best reading year, so I think I can safely single this book out as my favourite. The twisting plot and engaging characters (AND THE MANY MANY TEARS) just stood out for me and I adored it! Sadly I found the rest of the series went a bit downhill, but maybe it’s just because I liked this book too much, and the others couldn’t top it. Sure he killed off a couple of the best characters, making me the River Simi (a river of feels), but I still do like Mr Dashner.

5) Where Dandelions Grow ~ Lydia Howe

So… this is the eARC I was telling y’all about last week. Ya know, the one I should’ve posted the review for in September? But never did? Despite having it all written out? I know, I know, I’m terrible. But I can tell you that it’s a great book, another good Christian one but more focused on family relationships and self-discovery and all that. A light read too! Definitely recommend gobbling up this one.

Blog every week ~ ummmm so this one didn’t work out quite how I planned? There have been various (lengthy) gaps in my blogging this year… why am I such a hopeless lil blueberry?

Reach 100 followers ~ I got to 80, so almost there!

Read 40 books ~ I read 21… at least that’s over 50%?

Change my blog name/design ~ I actually did this one! I went from What’s Simi reading? to Booked to Perfection and became a bookshelf in the process, as you can see by my header image. Yes, that is a picture of me.

Write a book ~ …maybe in 2018.

Knit a hat and scarf ~ I finished knitting a scarf that I’ve been working on for a few years so does that count?

Maybe these goals were a lil unrealistic… or maybe I’m just awful at working on them. Either way, I’m going to do better next year, I can feel it in me bones!

There you have it: my book look back for 2017! This year wasn’t great for reading, but I have a whole new year ahead of me and I’m determined to meet all my goals this time 😉

What were your favourite books of 2017? Do you share any of mine? What were your goals? Link me to your end of year posts!

Merry Christmas Eve Eve Eve!

So yes, I haven’t posted in awhile and no, I don’t have a reasonable enough excuse. I guess I’ve been busy with school and things, and this year I’ve been in a bit of a book slump which is sad and terrible because I’ve not completed my Goodreads challenge and definitely won’t by the end of the year so… yep, 2017 hasn’t been the best for reading or blogging for me, but that means it can only get better in 2018, right? Right…?

But never fear! Next week I’ll be posting a Book Look Back for 2017, and in the new year an eARC review that I wrote, and should’ve posted, in September but ya know, I’m quite slow with these things. To be fair I did review it on Goodreads in time, so there’s no need to call me a turnip.

That’s all I really have to say for this post, other than have a happy Christmas! Or just a happy holiday if you don’t celebrate it 🙂

5 underrated books that need some lovin’

Heyy bookish hoomans. How are you all? Reading many books? Befriending many dragons? Reading many books about friendly dragons? Sadly, I haven’t read a dragonish book in a long time and I feel a bit queasy being away from them, but I’m just about managing.

Anywho, as you probably know if you’ve been here for numerous decades, I tend to read quite underrated books. Hyped books… they freak me out a bit. But I am trying to get into some – currently I’m reading The Maze Runner series and am liking it so YAY.

But yeah we’ve established that I love me some underrated books. I like to give a fresh opinion that other people haven’t yet, so that if the book is good, it can become not-so-underrated. I’m just nice like that I know. And because I’m so nice, today I shall shareth with thou a smol list of underrated books that I love and therefore need more love. We just need to accept that sometimes my love just isn’t sufficient enough, ok? I’m only a lil blueberry in this big world.

(click the booky photos to go to their goodreads page)

1) Lascar ~ Shahida Rahman

 Lascar was written by my friend’s mum and she self-published it so it’s way too underrated and that makes me sad because it’s an excellent book. Something books don’t always do is take you on an adventure with them but this one took me on the wildest one, and I learnt so much about different cultures and about history and I loved it. It’s been awhile since I read it, but you know those books that you can’t remember well, but do remember that you really liked them? Well this is one of those books. GO READ NOW PEEPS.

2) Time Captives ~ Morgan Huneke

This trilogy is sooooo good! It’s a real struggle to find good Christian fantasy that’s not The Chronicles of Narnia, so finding this series made me as pleased as pie. The characters, the storyline, the writing… true, there were a lot of characters to fit into three short books, but I did like the main ones. The lengths of the books themselves were just right, the plot hardly ever slowing, but sometimes that meant lil aspects were rushed. If you’re into Christian fantasy though, this trilogy is definitely one to check out.

3) The Positively Last Performance ~ Geraldine McCaughrean

I AM ALL TEARS because this book is so good but no one has read it?? But the author is quite well-known? Her famous books don’t even have the best reviews, but books like this one, her lesser known works, do have high reviews, but so few of them like I just do not understand this? The writing is so enchanting and this book needs some appreciation please I beg. Just a cuddle will be enough; but you could read it too ya know, just as long as you’re giving it the love it deserves because it deserves a whole haunted theatre full of love, okay?

4) Mimi ~ John Newman

Aww this book ❤ my sister gave me a couple books to read a few years ago because she doesn’t like my taste in books (how dare she?) and I thought I wouldn’t like them but I gave this one a go because it’s short so it didn’t take long to read and actually loved it! No one really knows about it though because I think someone ate all the original copies? But my sister managed to rescue one and I’m glad she did because it so cyuteee and it’s about a family that’s falling apart and this lil girl Mimi who’s trying to stop it from falling apart. Honestly it’s the sweetest story that should be read by anyone who has a heart and wants it broken.

5) Nim at Sea ~ Wendy Orr

So y’all may or may not have read/seen/heard of Nim’s Island but what about its sequel, Nim at Sea? Also known as ‘Nim’s Island wasn’t even that great and this one is so much better but is somehow mysteriously hidden from the entire world’. This book was my childhood (well, part of it. I read other books too) and I’m still upset that it’s not as appreciated as Nim’s Island because it’s a way more developed story, especially for a children’s book. ‘Tis precious and needs a hooman to buy it cupcakes and read it (but not at the same time because that could get messy).

So there y’all have it! Some books to add to your ever-growing TBR and to please love and maybe adopt as your childlings. Seriously, why have these books just been ignored? Where is the justice in the world? Where is our humanity??

Have you read any of these? Please give them love because you have no reason not to because they are excellence.

Cake flavoured books tag and a slice of cake appreciation

Heyy bookish peoples. I’M BACK with my usual habit of stealing tags from bookdragons across the globe, today specifically Cait @ Paperfury’s Cake Flavoured Books Tag, which she stole from bookstagram so I guess we’re all thieves round here. I haven’t done a tag in awhile and this one is food related so I just couldn’t help myself. I’m hungry, okay?

I hath stolen most of the categories (questions? sections? I don’t even know) from Cait with a sprinkling of my own because I’m sorry but I do not like cheesecake – one of the original category thingies. Or tiramisu for that matter. Buuuut I did keep tiramisu in just to torture myself because I can’t spell it and yes I’ve spent 10 years in education but they don’t really teach you how to spell different deserts?? Weird, I know. One day I’ll become a teacher and put this right but for now I’ll just have to sit through the endless hours of learning about useless things like numbers and equations that won’t help with my life whatsoever unless I become a calculator when I’m older, which I don’t plan to, but you never know. Life is like a box of chocolates.

Anyway, let’s start this tea party, shall we?

(Minus the tea, add 104% more cake.)

(Huh, maybe maths might be useful after all.)

(click the booky photos to go to their goodreads page)

1) Chocolate cake (a dark book you love)A Series of Unfortunate Events

For a children’s series this one’s pretty dark, at least in my opinion. Reading this as a kid I was so cool with it, but rereading it now has made me realise just how dark these books can get. Probably because I’m a more elderly human now, the subtly-weaved in dark humour is definitely noticeable. But yeah, this be one of my favourites.

2) Vanilla (a light read)The Boy in the Dress

Awwww this book!! True, it is more of a kid’s book which is why it was a light read, but so enjoyable and it actually touched on some deep topics but still remained fluffy. I haven’t seen the film in a while but I remember really liking it and thinking it was adorable too. Great light read, très squishy characters.

3) Red velvet (mixed emotions)The Eyre Affair

Soooooo looking back on it now, I did enjoy this book overall, but it was quite slow-moving until halfway through the book when things spiced up a bit. I figure I didn’t get a long amazingly with this book because it was more aimed at adults, so there wasn’t a whole lot of excitement, no offense to adult books. Maybe I’ll like this book more when I’m wrinkly? Who knows.

4) Coffee cake (a book you didn’t finish)The Dragonfly Pool

Not too long ago, I picked up this book but it started off a little dull, which is why I ditched it. I’m pretty sure I just wasn’t in the mood for it at the time, or maybe my expectations were too high because of Star of Kazan – a brilliant book by the same author – but eh, I might throw caution to the winds and take another stab at it sometime in the near future.

5) Carrot cake (a book with great writing)The Book Thief

So this one is nonnegotiable. The Book Thief has the most enchanting writing I’ve come across in a book and the story is told in such a beautiful way that I fell in love with it by the first chapter. The unique formatting, the squishable characters… they’re all well and good, but the writing? Magical.

6) Tiramisu (a book that left you wanting more)The Two Princesses of Bamarre

When I finished reading this book the first time around, when I was about 9 or 10, I’m pretty sure I cried because I loved the story so much and didn’t want it to end, and it was made worse by the fact that there’s no sequel, so I was a distraught lil pumpkin. Fortunately I got over myself and reread the book recently, not feeling exactly the same way about the ending? But maybe that’s a good thing otherwise I’d be a mess, let’s be honest here.

7) Cupcakes (series with 4+ books) – All the Wrong Questions

THIS SERIES AHHH ONE OF MY FAVES. If I was to be 100% honest (which I am all of the time anyways, obviously) then I’d have to tell y’all that… lean in close, children, a lil closer… *whispers* I may or may not prefer All the Wrong Questions to A Series of Unfortunate Events THERE I SAID IT, THE TRUTH IS OUT. But don’t tell Sunny or else she may decapitate me.

8) Fruit cake (a book that wasn’t what you anticipated) – A Dream Not Imagined

I had such high hopes for this book… alas, it did disappoint me a lil. The writing style was good and I liked it but, the plot? I don’t know, we just didn’t get along well, so maybe it’s a ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ thing because others did enjoy the book! Which is why I thought I would, but I didn’t as much as I’d hoped. Don’t mean you can’t give it a go, though 😉

9) Lemon cake (a book that surprised you) – Theodore Boone

Ah this book!! It was sent to me by a relative and I wasn’t sure if I’d like it but I WAS WRONG thankfully because I loved it and it kinda slapped me right across the face because I wasn’t expecting to. The plot just messes with your mind but in a good way and ARGH it’s so well done, please go read now.

10) Victoria sponge cake (favourite British book) – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Of course, being a Brit, I had to throw in a lil of the bestest ever British book series (second to only Harry Potter), otherwise known as The Chronicles of Narnia. My favourite of the series is definitely The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe because the story is a kind of introduction to what Narnia has become after the whole The Magician’s Nephew ordeal, and I just love it, bless this book.

So there y’all have it: a slice of cake appreciation! Although not too much otherwise my stomach might hold me hostage and conquer my blog. Yeah I know, that sounded a lot weirder than I meant it to, I’M SORRY. I’m just a lil hungry so I’m gonna go eat some food now.

Have you read any of these books? Feel free to be a thief (A BOOK THIEF HAHA) and steal this tag like I did because I’m a great role model.

A stroll through sun and storm

The Scorch Trials ~ James Dashner

Heyy y’all! Recently I’ve been reading The Maze Runner trilogy and it’s so much EXCITEMENT. I’m also rereading A Series of Unfortunate Events, which is only the most significant series on this blog, being the first I ever reviewed. The last time I read this series was 3 YEARS AGO, peeps, and I can’t go another year without it. And also watching the Netflix show has made me miss it. I’ll probably post a review for the entire series when I’m done rereading it, so keep yo eyes peeled for that.

Also, I found this quote in a Neil Gaiman book that I only read one page of in school but the quote just jumped out at me so:

I knew how to visit the creatures who would never be sighted in the zoos or the museum or the woods. They were waiting for me in books and in stories, after all, hiding inside the twenty-six characters and a handful of punctuation marks. These letters and words, when placed in the right order, would conjure all manner of exotic beasts and people from the shadows, would reveal the motives and minds of insects and of cats. They were spells, spelled with words to make worlds, waiting for me, in the pages of books.

Beautiful, am I right? Anyways, as I said, I’m currently reading The Maze Runner trilogy and today I’m reviewing the second book, The Scorch Trials! (Here’s my review for the first book.)

After escaping the maze with his friends, Thomas thought that would be the end of the experiments, that they’d go home and live normal lives again. But after Teresa mysteriously disappears, replaced by new boy Aris and all the people who rescued the Gladers from WICKED are discovered dead, Thomas knows that their trials aren’t over just yet. And when some well-dressed, rat-faced guy appears, telling the Gladers that they have the Flare – a disease that makes you cannibalistic – and the only way to be cured is to travel across a huge desert to a safe haven in just a matter of weeks, Thomas and his friends have no choice but to obey orders and take part in WICKED’s experiments once again.

This book was very, very average. Honestly I think that’s the best way to describe it. I was a lil disappointed because it was nowhere near as good as the first book, but I guess that’s because the first book in a trilogy is always exciting, as you’re introduced to a new world and new characters, the last book is the finale so it’s gripping right to the last word, but the second book is just there to fill in the gap. Obviously sequels can be really good, and there are many great ones out there but, in my opinion, this book wasn’t really one of them.

I liked Thomas and Teresa a lot less in this book, because most of the plot was centred around them and, as a result, there wasn’t enough of my darlings Newt and Minho which means I’m a very displeased pineapple because they’re my favourite characters. They literally had 20 lines between them. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but they were always being separated from Thomas whose brainforest the whole book is told from so they were hardly in it and I’m upset.

My squishies were pretty much replaced by Brenda, the girl who Thomas meets in the crazy people town, soooooo I ended up not liking her very much. I really, really don’t like how there have been only two significant female characters so far in the trilogy and Thomas falls for both of them. One minute he likes how Brenda ‘held his hand’ or ‘rested her beautifully-scented head upon his shoulder’ and then he feels guilty about it because he still has feelings for Teresa?? But then he regrets pulling away from Brenda? Like bro, please stop. You’re being chased by crazy people who want to eat your nose, you’re separated from your friends and you have a deadline to meet but all you’re thinking about is girls. C’mon dude, this is a dystopia, not some fluffy high school contemporary. PULL YASELF TOGETHER, THOMAS.

Buuuuut I didn’t overall hate this book. Sure, there was a lot of walking which we all know I hate, but the pacing was still alright, and the writing didn’t let me down. The ending did seem pretty parallel to the first book (as did kinda the whole story, just not as good) but I’m still super hyped for book 3!! I already know two people who die because I’m the spoiler queen and I’m NOT READY. DON’T DO THIS TO MY FEELS, PLEASE JAMES DASHNER, PLEASE.

Clover count: ♣♣♣♣♣♣ (6/10)