Book Review: Breathing Under Water by Sophie Hardcastle

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Right now I am in Sydney, on holiday with my fiance and his parents and back in my home country after being away for most of the last three years. I finished this book yesterday and it’s been the perfect book for me to read while back in Australia as it took me back to my roots in the bush and on the east coast. The setting and the details that I could relate to, such as Native Australian animals, the blue of the ocean, the gum trees and the mentions of Tim Tams, were definitely one of my favourite parts of Breathing Under Water. It made me smile because it felt like a breath of my childhood and I really want to thank Sophie Hardcastle for writing in such a way that made me feel comforted and at home.

While at times I was smiling while reading this book, I was also saddened by the story and the bleak, dark turns Sophie made in her exploration of grief and loss. The sorrow and the complex feelings of grief washed over me like a wave and I felt in Sophie’s writing how the characters were feeling. It was truly a breathtaking and heartbreaking read.

To give you a little summary, Breathing Under Water is a story about Grace and her twin Ben, who are best friends and share a connection no one else understands. They do everything together, including sharing their love of surfing. Grace has always felt like she’s one step behind her brother, the golden child, but Ben is always looking back over his shoulder, waiting for her to catch up. When the unthinkable happens and the world begins to feel unstable and dark, it will take a lot of courage to find the sun again.

I was completely blown away by this novel. The writing is poetic and raw with its truths and story, and Sophie does a brilliant job in depicting the different layers of human emotions in life. I loved each and every character and the roles they played. I loved the rise and fall of their feelings and the way they developed with each turning tide. I can’t say more because I don’t want to go on too much, but I adored reading this book and the path it took me on. I will not forget the feelings this book gave me, unlike any other.

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Have you read this book? I would love to talk about it if you have! If not, please read it and pass it on to more readers.

Best,

Jasmine @ Thesepaperwords

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ARC Review: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennet

After enjoying Jenn Bennet’s YA contemporaries Night Owls and Alex, Approximately in recent years, I was so excited to hear about Serious Moonlight and then to get accepted for an ARC on Netgalley was just the cherry on top. Serious Moonlight is my first read of 2019 and I am so happy about that.

Serious Moonlight is about Birdie, a girl who dreams of becoming a private detective and fears the moment she might come face to face with Daniel, the boy who loves magic with whom she shared a rather embrassing encounter the first time they met, again. Birdie has lived a sheltered life with her grandparents and Aunt Mona (not really her Aunt, but her mother’s best friend) on an island town, and spends her free time dreaming up mysterious to solve and spending hours at Moonlight Diner in the big city across the river. When she gets her first job at a big hotel in the city and ends up working alongside Daniel, she has to figure out what she wants and how to find the courage to face her desires. Daniel suggests they work together to solve a mystery, but it turns out Birdie has a lot more to solve in her own life and that is the harder than she ever expected.

I really enjoyed this book as it felt quite different to other YA contemporaries I’ve read, while still having familiar and relatable content relating to first love/identity stories. The relationship that builds between Birdie and Daniel throughout the book is compelling and exciting, especially as it allows for Birdie to explore her sexulity, her love of mysteries and the complications that come with not completely knowing yourself or understanding your connection to another person. Birdie is often confused by her relationship with Daniel and finds it difficult to understand or know what she wants. I really enjoyed Jenn Bennet’s portrayal of self-esteem discovery in her depiction of Birdie. This book is very much about Birdie finding herself as well as it’s about her finding the courage to love. She has lost so much in the past so figuring out Daniel’s place in her world is a struggle and until the very end of the novel I was enthralled by the way Birdie dealt with her personal issues and grew to understand herself and the people she loves.

While I didn’t always engage with the mystery Daniel and Birdie spend their time trying to solve, the storyline concluded in such a way that excited me and by the end I was impressed by how each event came together. The mystery plot is a really interesting device for exploring the many layers of both Birdie and Daniel’s individual identities and their relationship as a whole.

The characters are memorable and unique, which was definitely a highlight for me as I enjoy stories that are character driven. While Birdie’s love of mysteries is used as a backdrop, Jenn Bennet’s exploration of the characters and their relationships is the most prominent aspect of the novel, and certainly the highlight. Birdie is a fantastic main character who readers will relate to in many ways and Daniel is an intricate character who I loved learning more about as Birdie did. Not to mention, Aunt Mona is a colourful character, Birdie’s Grandad brings in his own flair and as does Daniel’s family. Each character has an integral role in the story and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing how all their pieces added to the whole picture.

Overall, I thought Serious Moonlight was an exciting and clever novel about love, family and having the courage to know and understand yourself. It was a breath of wisdom and adventure, and I think it will be a story I will remember for a long time. I definitely recommend picking up a copy when it’s released in April. Follow Birdie and Daniel and get to know their dreams and thoughts. If you’re like me, you’ll find something to relate to in both of them.

ARC Review: To Best The Boys by Mary Weber

~~ I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own ~~

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When I first saw Mary Weber’s To Best The Boys on Netgalley, I immediately requested it because the summary of the book excited me in it’s description of a fantasy world heavily crossed with social/cultural aspects of our world today.

To Best The Boys is about a Rhen, a Lower girl who lives in the small kingdom of Pinsbury Port, a place that holds the annual competition for of age males to win a place at the prestigious Stemwick University at the highest importance. Tired of the traditional gender role values and the divide between the Lower and Upper (poor and rich) that hinder her dream of becoming a scientist and desperate to find a cure to the disease that is killing many of the Lower population including her Mum, Rhen decides she finally needs to take action and enters the Labyrinth to prove that she is just as good as any of the male competitors. But the people in the city are not quite ready to change their traditional social views…

Mary Weber’s portrayal of gender roles and the heirachy of the populace in terms of its social structure and value of the wealthy is even more compelling wihin the fantasy setting of Pinsbury Port, which includes magical/supernatural creatures such as ghouls and Basilisks and a touch of other magic, particularly in regards to Mr Holm, the overseer of the competition. The balance between the fantasy aspects in the setting and the social issues that are relevant in our society is compelling and entertaining.

As is the story and it’s characters. Rhen’s narration is readable and snappy. She is a witty and engaging character to follow as she sets out to make changes to her place in the world and to understand the needs of others close to her. Her cousin Seleni and the differences between them were really great to read. I found their relationship enjoyable because it showed how despite having different values, perspective and dreams, people can work alongside each other and support each other and that’s a really important element of a working society. Rhen’s relationship with a number of male characters was also really interesting and fun parts of the story. In particular, I enjoyed the scenes between Rhen and a certain character; their relationship was certainly a highlight for me.

For the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I liked the slow build of the novel as Weber set up the world and introduced the characters and I really enjoyed the events of the competition and the aftermath. However, I felt that because most of the novel is only set over a couple days, there wasn’t quite enough set up and some elements of the plot felt rushed. I felt like I could’ve done with more build up, even more development of character over a longer period and perhaps even a lengthier version of the story. I just felt like I wanted more!

That said, To Best The Boys is a great read and very entertaining. I was enthralled by the story and always excited to find out what might happen next. I would definitely recommend picking up this book when it’s published and I plan to do the same.

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Until next time,

Jasmine @ Thesepaperwords

My Favourite Reads This Year

I’ve read 71 books this year, which is literally one book more than the last couple years. I probably would’ve read many more of I hadn’t become an ARK addict the last month! Actually, I am taming a Dino on my laptop as I write this post on my phone so…

Now that 2018 is over I wanted to put together a list of the books I enjoyed the most. They have all appeared on my blog in memes or reviews, but each and every one deserves multiple mentions and they are all incredible and I recommend all of them so much! 😁

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A Place for Wolves

by Kosoko Jackson

Emergency Contact

by Mary H.K Choi

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

by Emily M. Danforth

Record of a Spaceborn Few

by Becky Chambers

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Moonrise

by Sarah Crossan

Starfish

by Akemi Dawn Bowman

The Changeling Series

by James Fahy

 

Illuminae Files

by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristofff

Echoes of the Fall Series

by Adrian Tchaikovsky

 

Children of Time

by Adrian tchaikovsky

 

The Shadow of the Apt Series

by Adrian tchaikovsky

Radio Silence

by Alice Oseman

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So there you have it! Let me know if you’ve read any of these, I’d love to know.

Happy reading and Happy new year!

Best wishes.

Jasmine @ Thesepaperwords

The ABC Book Challenge: *K*

My Post (5)

Since getting back to blogging over the last couple months, I’ve really wanted to add something new to my weekly posts. And lo and behold, I’ve been inspired by fellow blogger Soffi @A Book. A Thought. (Follow her!) Soffi’s ABC Book Challenge posts were so fun, I decided I just had to do my own!  So, every week I’ll be posting my favourite, most memorable books and books from my TBR, moving from A-Z.

Previous ABC posts: A + B + C + D + FGHI+ J

(PS. Whoever came up with this challenge, I don’t know who you are but thank you!)

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*K*

Memorable Titles

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If there can only be one memorable book for K I’m glad it’s this one. The Kite Runner is a gorgeous, moving book and special to me because it’s one that I shared with my fiance. If you haven’t read it, please do. This book makes for an amazing reading experience.

 

To Be Read

Ketchup Clouds and Kids of Appetite have both been on my TBR for ages and I have no idea why I haven’t read them yet! I hope I get to really soon as they should both be incredible. Also, I kinda like that both titles are food related 😁

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And that’s it for this week’s ABC Challenge! A bit of a smaller one than my last posts, but still a good selection of books here. Send me a message and let me know if you love these/they’re on your TBR!

Until next time and HAPPY HOLIDAYS,

Jasmine @ Thesepaperwords

Top Five Wednesday: Most Anticipated 2019 Releases

My Post (5)

I always love the end of the year when I can think about the books I want to read in the new year, and wow there are so many 2019 New Releases I hope to read as soon as possible! For this week’s t5w I’ve decided to go with five YA books I’m most excited for, and they all sound amazing and have the most beautiful covers!

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1)

How To Make Friends With The Dark 

by Kathleen Glasgow

91dJU+4SNjL.jpgRelease: April 9th. Check it out on Goodreads.

2)

The Meaning of Birds 

by Jaye Robin Brown

37655502._UY1200_SS1200_.jpg Release: April 16th. Check it out on Goodreads.

3)

I Wish You All The Best

by Mason Deaver

39678923._UY1024_SS1024_Release: May 14th. Check it out on Goodreads.

4)

The Weight of Our Sky

by Hanna Alkaf

the-weight-of-our-sky-9781534426085_hr.jpgRelease: February 5th. Check it out on Goodreads.

 

5)

You Asked For Perfect

by Laura Silverman

33299465._UY630_SR1200630_.jpgRelease: March 5th.  Check it out on Goodreads.

 

Let’s talk! I would love to know if you’re also looking forward to reading any of these or if you’re adding them to your TBR! 😊

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T5W was created by Lainey @gingerreadslainey, and is now hosted by Sam @ThoughtsOnTomes. If you want to join, go to the Goodreads group by clicking here.

 

The ABC Book Challenge: *J*

My Post (5)

Since getting back to blogging over the last couple months, I’ve really wanted to add something new to my weekly posts. And lo and behold, I’ve been inspired by fellow blogger Soffi @A Book. A Thought. (Follow her!) Soffi’s ABC Book Challenge posts were so fun, I decided I just had to do my own!  So, every week I’ll be posting my favourite, most memorable books and books from my TBR, moving from A-Z.

Previous ABC posts: A + B + C + D + FGH+ I

(PS. Whoever came up with this challenge, I don’t know who you are but thank you!)

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*J*

Memorable Titles

Only a few books for J this week and I love all three heaps. Jane Eyre is one of my favourite 19th Century novels and it’s a famous novel for a good reason. If you’re wanting to delve into some classic literature and haven’t read it, Jane Eyre is the perfect book to start you off. Jasper Jones is one of my all-time favourite Australian novels. Craig Silvey is a remarkable writer and his book is easily one of the most touching books I’ve read to date. I used to be a massive fan of Sarah Dessen and Just Listen is still one of my favourite YA Contemporaries, it’s such a lovely story. I would actually quite like to read it right now, thanks. I’m in one of those cuddling under a blanket moods.

To Be Read

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Not surprising that I only have one book for this J TBR. seeing as it’s not a common title letter. Jackaby is a series I’ve wanted to read for a long time, as I really enjoy the 19th Century setting and this one comes with quite a twist! Plus, murder and mystery and paranormal themes always make for an entertaining read.

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What do you think of my choices this week? Would any of these make your list?

Thanks for reading!

Jasmine @ Thesepaperwords