Sketching in snow

Between Shades of Grey ~ Ruta Sepetys

Heyy bookworms. Today I’m doing a review on Between Shades of Grey (it is actually Gray, but I’m a proud Brit so yeah) by Ruta Sepetys! The wonderful Alyssa recommended this on her blog, and if you read her review, you’ll notice that our opinions on Lina are very controversial… but that’s only inevitable because I’m Gryffindor and she’s Slytherin, but she’s a fabulous watermelon so there is only peace between us. Moving on, this really was an excellent book that just had to tug at my heart strings so that by the end of it… let’s just say I was a bit of a mess. But I’m recovering and currently not so feels-crushed that I can’t write a review for y’all.

WWII is raging and innocent people from the Baltics – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – are being deported to Siberia and forced to work in labour camps. Trapped between the two leading powers, Russia and Germany, the Baltics are helpless and vulnerable under Stalin’s tyrannical rule over them that the rest of the world is oblivious to. Among the deportees from Lithuania is Lina and her family, torn from their comfortable home and loving father onto a train to a fate worse than death: a life of starvation, ridicule and ruthless treatment. Lina and the deportees’ only hope is the thought of freedom, returning home, feeling the sun on their faces once again and reuniting with their loved ones. But in this world of darkness, can there be any hope, any light between the shades of grey? With nothing left to do but obey orders and stay silent, what can a passionate girl like Lina possibly do? Within the prison she is kept in, her only hope is to draw and note down everything she encounters, so that some day she can find her father and be free at last.

Wow, so this book kinda left me speechless. Well, not actually speechless because I’d probably sit in a dark hole and weep forever if I couldn’t talk. Let’s just say I had few words. I can’t remember if I actually cried at any point in the book? Maybe once or twice, but it’s not really a book to cry about. It’s more of a book that you’d swallow in one gulp and just sit for around 12 minutes just whispering ‘woah’ to yourself repeatedly. This is a really ‘woah’ book, I’ll put it that way. The history is so so terrible and it’s such a moving tale of friendship and family and love and hope and having faith even in the darkest of times. It was just… woah.

I really liked the characters. Jonas was adorable and squishy and I find it so sad just how much he was forced to mature due to everything that was happening. For a 10-year-old to go through everything he did is just so so sad. Lina and Jonas’ mother was alright, but she wasn’t my favourite of the adult characters. I liked how Miss Grybas softened throughout the book, and although it took him a lot longer to soften, the bald man was actually one of my favourite characters. Sure, he was bitter and resentful to almost everyone, but he felt very realistic and I liked that. Andrius felt like every teen boy ever, very ordinary, but his character became increasingly complex as the story continued which I enjoyed. I admit, the romance was so predictable from the minute he was introduced but he was a good character.

The writing was utterly beautiful. It reminded me a lot of The Book Thief, as the style seemed very similar. The only problem with this book was that, even though it was written in first person, Lina’s voice lacked much emotion. The writing was beautiful, but Lina seemed a bit like an angry pebble: she was very relatable, yes, but she expressed her feelings, which were pretty strong, mostly through her actions, rarely going deep enough to actually describe the complexities of the emotions occurring inside her. When there was a twist in the story or something shocking happened, I only ever saw the description of the event, hardly ever how Lina actually felt inside. Basically what I’m saying is that the book felt more like a third person narrative. The aim of first person is to really get inside the narrator’s brainforest (best word ever, I know), but for me, there wasn’t much to explore. Her brainforest was a barren land of empty with maybe a few lonely shrubs.

This book is so educational too. Before reading it, I didn’t even know that this had happened to the Baltic states. The whole situation must have been completely drowned out by the rest of the war at the time, which is why it’s so so important that we now know what really happened, even if it was so long ago. This novel is based on real memoirs told by survivors of what happened, which just makes it even more moving. I just thank the author for bringing this to light, because there really is a lot to be learned from this book, which is why you must read it immediately, or else I will grill you and eat you with BBQ sauce.

Clover count: ♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣ (8/10)

The last revolution

Crannig Castle ~ Morgan Elizabeth Huneke

WHY AM I SO BAD AT POSTING???

I’m so sorry, children. I’ve been an awful mother to you the past 2 months or so with the pathetic amount of posting I’ve done. My excuse? Um, well I was on holiday for a bit. I… had to do some stuff. Crazy busy, as you can see.

But I’m back! Let’s throw a party!! Ok, party over, let’s move on to what you’ve all been waiting for… *drumroll* …a review of Crannig Castle by the utterly fabulous Morgan Elizabeth Huneke! I’m telling you guys, she’s a genius. I’m pretty sure the link on her name above takes you to her blog? So yeah, go explore after this review…

The Time Captives have reunited, freed the rightful king of Calhortz and now they have one last mission to complete in order to defeat the strytes: gather an army. Five groups set out to unite slaves, kalicans, merpeople, elves and the people of Briznom. However each group must face their torturous pasts, and reconcile with people they had longed to forget, so as to recruit a big enough army to end the reign of the strytes. No one said it was going to be easy, but the Time Captives have only one chance to save this world they have discovered and finally return home. But with the cruel and powerful Toarna in their way, and the fear of facing the ghosts from their pasts that have haunted them for so many years, will the Time Captives ever succeed? What if no one is willing to fight? Will they be trapped as 12-year-olds in this world forever?

I’m so upset to be finishing this series!! I don’t read much Christian fantasy, but this has definitely encouraged me to find some more. The story was constantly twisting and turning, never losing the reader’s interest. I liked how everything was neatly tied up at the end, but I feel like I could have had more feels. It was just a little too perfect? A little more battle would have been nice, and I know the Time Captives’ weapons were basically enchanted to fight perfectly, but I think it’s a teensy bit unrealistic for there to have been next to no deaths. And there was so much probability of there being a death because there were so many characters. I felt like ten Time Captives was enough for the story, but then there was Adriel, the king of Calhortz, his family, a handful of elves and then darling little Peetur who I felt was completely forgotten about? He was adorable, but also slightly irrelevant to the story. There were just too many characters, which made it difficult to actually connect with all of them. Most of the less important characters were totally forgotten about and there would have been no change to the story if they just weren’t there. Also there were fewer past chapters, which were my favourite chapters in the previous books. And just a lil question, what does everyone look like? There was little description, even of hair colour, so it was hard for me to picture the characters because imagery is one of the most important things for me in a book.

And George my darling boy. I was hoping him and Cam’s (Camthalion is too long a name for me I’m sorry) little reconciliation would be more… I don’t know, deep and full of feels and maybe if there was more shouting at each other… basically just more because George and Cam were alone for 40 years, people, 40 YEARS, and yet their reconciliation was just “hey, I forgive you, it’s cool.” 40 YEARS, children. It was a lil disappointing.

Yes, I know it sounds like I hated the book and it was so disappointing and you should throw it deep into a damp pit, but as you can see, I’m literally nitpicking the negatives because it was an excellent book overall, it really was! I loved the Theodore backstory and just Theo in general. I adored the little letters at the end! I honestly cried so much reading them. SO MUCH PEEPS. Even if you hate the book with all of your cold, stony heart, those letters will make you give it five frickin stars. They were the best touch, so thank you Morgan. The sibling love in this was the cutest, by the way. And all the love basically. Eleanor’s story crushes my soul. Adriel’s story melts my squishy heart. Not really a fan of Adriel and Jill? I know nothing actually happened between them, but I totally ship Adriel and Emily…

THE SCENE WHEN EMILY SHOOTS (spoiler) AND SAVES (spoiler)’S LIFE AT THE END WAS MY FAVOURITE THING EVER. I think I actually cried because throughout the whole series the sibling rivalry was so hot and then there was this scene of perfection and argh. I love the sibling relationships in this so much. Bit upset that the two didn’t talk about it or properly reconcile or hug or anything afterwards? But I guess saving each other’s lives is a normal sibling thing in this trilogy. Oh well, I shall weep silently.

Another thing I really liked was just the style of the story. It felt very C.S. Lewis with a hint of J.R.R. Tolkien, but at the same time the story was so original. I loved how there were classic fantasy elements like dragons, pirates, merpeople, but also unique new ones like strytes, kalicans and, of course, Time Captives. At times it did feel a smidgen cliché, but the mix of old and new was a nice touch. I feel like there’s more to say, but I left this review too long so yes throw eggs and tomatoes at me for my procrastination. But basically this trilogy is my favourite.

Clover count: ♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣ (8/10)

Fact File: C.S. Lewis

Heyy bookdragons.

I know what you’re going to ask. “Simi, where hath you been?? It’s actually quiet for once around here” and ya know what? That’s a great question that I can’t even think up an excuse for. I’ve fallen ill with laziness? Will that suffice?

You’re probably also wondering where those discussions I was talking about are. Well, unfortunately, they got on the wrong train and went all the way to Alaska instead of the UK, but they say they’ll be here within the next couple of weeks – which here means “I am slightly avoiding writing a discussion post because I don’t know what to write about or how to write it and I am struggling but will hopefully conquer my fear soon and stomp on it violently (but not too violently because I’m a calm person, obviously) and actually write a post, for Zeus’ sake.” After all my laziness with posting, you guys deserve these discussion posts. I will try to post one soon but I’m not making any promises because I’m a nasty and unpredictable bookdragon.

(If you have any ideas or advice for my discussion posts, please giveth!! T’would be very appreciated.)

Moving onward, I have very kindly wrapped with a silk ribbon a lovely fact file on C.S. Lewis for all you Narnians because The Chronicles of Narnia are everyone’s fave. Enjoy 🙂

Clive Staples Lewis:
Gender: Male
Age: 64 (deceased)
Occupation: writer, literary critic, theologian
Famous for: Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters
Comment:
Lewis was born in Belfast, Ireland in 1898 and fell in love
with animals and stories at a young age. As he grew older,
his tastes changed to poetry and mythology. He grew up as a
Catholic, but abandoned his faith in his teens soon after the
death of his mother. During his time at university, he was sent
to fight in World War I, which confirmed his atheism. However,
in his early adult years, he converted back to Christianity and
wrote The Pilgrim's Regress, followed by other Christian fiction
that has named him one of the greatest British writers of all
time, beloved by millions. In 1963 he died of kidney failure,
but his works are still affecting the world to this day.

To learn more about C.S. Lewis, click here.

A story of sisters

The Two Princesses of Bamarre ~ Gail Carson Levine

Halloo peoples. YES I KNOW I’VE BEEN AWFUL WITH POSTING. Time flies, children. It’s already March for cryin’ out loud. But!! I have made it up to you by rereading a book because I NEVER do this. Like never. Be proud. I admit, I didn’t like this book as much as I did the first time, but that’s inevitable because I’ve read a lot of books since then and my reading taste has definitely changed. I think 5 or so years is enough time for my taste to mature a lil bit, right? But I still loved this book because argh amazing.

Princesses Meryl and Addie live in a world of dragons, sorcerers, spectres, gryphons and unexpected heroes. However the deadliest characteristic of this world is the Grey Death, an illness that has no known cure. First comes the weakness, then 12 days of sleep, 3 of fever and finally… death. Safe from the dangers of the kingdom, Meryl and Addie are as close as sisters can be – Meryl courageous and outgoing, Addie timid and fearful. Meryl has always stood up for Addie, always been there to fight her battles, but when she is struck with the Grey Death, it’s Addie’s turn to be bold and aid her sister by searching out the cure. With the help of Rhys, a young sorcerer, Addie begins a hazardous journey across the kingdom to a land that is yet to be found. But time is running out for Meryl, and Addie is no closer to discovering the cure. Can she save her sister and rid the kingdom of the illness before Meryl is gone forever?

So, um, wow this book. I’m in loooove and I 100% think that this should be an actual fairy tale because it’s so beautiful. You can sort of tell it’s a children’s book because the writing is very simple, but there were some fighting scenes that were pretty graphic. Obviously, being a teen, I wasn’t too bothered by this; in fact, it made the tale a lot more gripping. There was constantly something happening, and it was told in such a beautiful manner. I loved the little poems throughout too, and argh the ending!! I was so so shocked and completely broken and yet I guess I was supposed to be slightly happy? But I was just in tears because it’s such a bittersweet finish, written excellently, similar to the rest of the book. Although I have to admit that reading the beginning felt like walking through caramel, but I think the author was trying to develop Addie and Rhys’ relationship a little more so that, by the end, it didn’t feel like they were rushing into anything. But I still felt like the actual quest took up a pea-sized slice of the book? Can we be a bit more generous here?

So onto the characters: Rhys is the cutest, sweetest, squishiest lil guy ever and ah so adorable. He and Addie fitted really well together and they both helped each other in many ways throughout the book. There wasn’t a lot of Meryl, with her being ill and all, but I liked her motherly character and her bravery through everything. Um, their dad?? Did he even care about his daughters a smidgen? His behaviour towards them was actually so awful like what is this parenting. He is king, I know, and the princesses have Bella and Milton (my darlings) to care for them, as well as Rhys to protect them, but that’s absolutely no excuse for him to just ignore them?? I swear he doesn’t even care that one of his daughters is dying and the other is going on a super dangerous quest alone at the age of, like, 18 or however old she is. Especially as they don’t have a mother like what is this man I want to strangle him. But at least he wasn’t evil or anything. And there were so many amazing and really caring and adorable characters that were so squishy and I love them all. Not to mention Addie and Meryl and their absolutely unbreakable bond, and I just love how this book is shaped around their love for one another. Addie is so shy and afraid of almost everything, but when it comes to saving her sister, she’s willing to face her fears no matter the cost. I adore the themes of this book, how Addie’s love for her sister is what causes her to discover her courage and realise that fear can be conquered by love. And it’s so so original because it focuses on Addie’s love for Meryl, and not any kind of romance, which is so refreshing (although there is a teensy bit of romance sprinkled in nonetheless).

ALSO DRAGONS (!!) and if that ain’t an incentive to read this, I don’t know what is.

All in all, this is an absolutely enchanting tale of two sisters’ love, undying friendship, and unspeakable courage. Sure, it’s primarily for younger children, but can be enjoyed by anyone because argh. Perfection.

Clover count: ♣♣♣♣♣♣♣ (7/10)

Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events: review

Hey y’all! Today I’m doing a review for Netflix’s fabulous A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Beware: this review contains spoilers for the books and show.

I haven’t actually read the books in around 2 years, so I honestly don’t know if the show is 100% accurate. However I could just about tell that it mostly kept to the plot, sometimes even quoting my favourite lines from the book word from word. In some areas the plot was spiced up a bit, but I think Snicket, who wrote most of the screenplay, was just snatching his chance and adding in things he didn’t think of when first publishing the books. The changes were mainly small ones, and were VERY MISLEADING at times.

One new character was Jacquelyn or whatever her face is, the badass lady who’s helping the Baudelaires. Maybe they’ve turned Jaques into a woman? I don’t really know but she seems pretty cool. I did like how some of the VFD characters were introduced earlier on, so we can follow some of their story as well, as the show goes on.

I’m sorry but I have to talk about the parents. (LOOK AWAY NOW IF YOU DO NOT WISH FOR SPOILERS.) I was so totally fooled. At first I was angry that they had completely changed the entire plot and made the Baudelaire parents actually alive. Then I very slightly accidentally read an online spoiler before I finished the season that the parents were actually the Quagmire parents and I was A-FLABBERGASTED. How could they do this to us Lemons? I was completely tricked.

Also so happy about that lil sneak peak of the Quagmires! I love these three so so much, especially Quigley. He’s probably my favourite character of this series ever ❤ I like the ending when the Baudelaires and the Quagmires are sitting back to back with their spyglasses. And I’m sorry but what was that cringy song at the end?! Bit weird. I did love the opening theme song though. Literally never knew Neil Patrick Harris could sing.

Speaking of Neil, I think the characters were cast really well. Normally child actors are awful, but these weren’t too bad. The actress who portrayed Violet did pretty well for, like, a 12-year-old. And she looks so much like Violet from the film! Also Sunny was fab.

Overall, I just really enjoyed the whole season. Yes, I binge-watched it. Yes, my family got pretty annoyed that I kept obsessing over it because none of them are Lemons 😦 I love the whole style of the show, how Snicket narrates, the music, the actors, the sly humour, even the costumes. So so hyped for season 2! Only another WHOLE YEAR to wait!

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The ACTUAL Grand Finale

Blood of Olympus ~ Rick Riordan

I CHANGED MY BLOG NAME AND DESIGN WHAT IS THIS. Yes, I am still Simi and yes, it was a Grindylow in a tank that Harry saw the first time he visited Lupin’s office at hogwarts. It’s all good. Change terrifies me, but I hope y’all like. I’ve honestly spent so long deciding on a new blog name and I feel like I’m naming a child, which of course I am because my blog is my child. Obviously. Do tell me what you think in the comments!

Moving on… I’ve just finished the Heroes of Olympus.

Yes, I’m a mess.

I’m kind of utterly broken-hearted to be finishing this series? But at the same time, I totally understand that the seven heroes may need a little break from, ya know, saving the world. However, I do still have Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard and Trails of Apollo to entertain me, so it’s all good, there’s no need to spontaneously burst into tears every 5 minutes like I am currently.

(Please note that if you never hear of me after this post, it may be because I’ve become a puddle of feels. Or a river. The River Simi perhaps. But don’t worry! The probability of this is only 107%, calm your chicken chow mein children, and get on with the post.)

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As Nico, Reyna and Coach Hedge begin their journey back to Camp Half Blood to make peace between the Greeks and Romans, the seven heroes continue on to Athens to prevent Gaia’s awakening; but the road is bumpier than they think. They are forced to detour to gather the ingredients of the physician’s cure due to the goddess of victory, Nike, warning them that one of the heroes will die fighting against Gaia, and the cure is their only hope. To add to their misfortune, standing in their way of preventing Gaia’s destruction of the world, is all twelve of Gaia’s giants created to defeat each of the twelve Olympic gods, and they can only be killed with a demigod and god working side by side. But with the gods battling against their split Roman and Greek personalities, they have shut themselves off. Will the seven ever succeed alone? And will Reyna, Nico and Hedge manage to transport the Athena Parthenos, the statue which will join the Greek and Roman sides together, to Camp Half Blood before blood is spilled?

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Wow. So, I really enjoyed this book. I’d been seeing quite a few negative reviews and so was a bit wary when I dove in, but I actually LOVED it! The complaints were mostly about the ending battle and that it wasn’t as good as it should be for the finale or something like that? But I absolutely loved the ending battle. There is so much more of Reyna in this, as she has POV chapters, and her friendship with Nico is honestly the cutest thing ever and argh they just crush my squishy heart. Her ending ‘battle’ with Orion was THE BEST. She is so brave/badass/totally frickin’ awesome. And Nico!! And Will!! And the birth of Solangelo!! And the melting of my heart!!

Less Percabeth in this one 😦 but I guess they’ve had their share for, like, 8 books. This book was centered more around Jason, Piper and Leo because they were the three to kick off the series, so they’re the three to wrap it all up. And personally I love that because their friendship is so so awesome and Rick tries his best to make Leo not seem like too much of a third wheel. Speaking of Leo… I don’t want to say much because spoiler alert, so I’ll just say AZJSDFBEH I LOVE HIM SO MUCHH *cue fangirling*

Then there’s Jason. I still don’t 100% get why he didn’t die? HE GOT IMPALED BY AN IMPERIAL GOLD SWORD FOR ZEUS’ SAKE. (No, that wasn’t a spoiler because it happens at the beginning so eh.) And when is Piper gonna stop with all this badass-ness? Where does she even get it? Her cornucopia thingy? She’s just awesome.

I just want to wrap up by saying that Rick Riordan is an absolute legend. I don’t fully comprehend how he can write such an epic, page-turning, jaw-dropping, even slightly educational storyline, as well as characters that are so lovable and badass. I honestly couldn’t choose a favourite book (except The Titan’s Curse and The House of Hades) or character (after Percy, Annabeth, Leo and Nico) because they’re all amazing!! So much love for these books.

Ok, this fangirl is out.

Clover count: ♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠ (9/10)

Just a random lil update

Heyy y’all.

So sorry for not posting last week! I’ve already failed one of my 2017 goals haha. Today I’m just going to be doing a random update post because I have so many posts lined up but unfinished so obviously I’m going to go and write this whole new one. Yeah, I don’t really know either. Moving on…


  • I’ve finished Heroes of Olympus and I’m very upset so don’t anger me or I may eat you.
  • Finally got to 60 followers! My cat is so proud of me. Only 40 more to go…
  • This is obviously the time of year for rereads because I’ve just reread one of my favourite children’s books, The Two Princesses of Bamarre (review coming soon!) and I’m rereading the wonderful Time Captives series by the wonderful Morgan Elizabeth Huneke because I need to read Crannig Castle but I have a horrific memory when it comes to books, so I’m having to reread the whole series, but I don’t mind because it’s fabulous and one of the only Christian fantasy series that I actually like.
  • I’m turning 14 soon which, for me, has nothing to do with getting older but is about getting new books spending some quality time with family and friends, obviously.
  • A review for Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is coming soon! I’m a huge Lemon (my marvelous name for a Snicket fan) and I actually really enjoyed this show! And now I’m waiting in agony until, like, 2018 for the next season. Why do they torture us so?
  • Hopefully going to change my blog name soon! Ya never know, next week you could be visiting “What’s Simi Reading/Generally Doing With Her Life Because She May Or May Not Be Branching Out In Her Posts” (see below).
  • And finally… I’m going to start writing Discussion posts! Someone be proud because I’ve been blogging for 3 ½ ye2017-discussion-challenge3ars and still feel like a complete beginner. At least I can say my blog is still maturing! And just to prove that I’m actually going to do this, I’ve signed up for the 2017 Discussion Challenge, hosted by It Starts at Midnight and Feed Your Fiction Addiction (brilliant blogs might I add). Fingers crossed I’ll have the courage to post a Discussion at least once a month, so keep your eyes peeled. If you’d like to join the challenge, click the image ⇒

Thanks for reading! I hope to post a review for The Blood of Olympus soon, as well as my first discussion post! Are you taking part in the 2017 Discussion Challenge? Any ideas for discussions?

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