5 June 2015

Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Title: Between Shades of Gray
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Published: April 1st 2011
Source: Audiobook
Pages: 344
Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously--and at great risk--documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.


Like most books set during the war, I was expecting a lot of grit but this was very toned down, probably because it is aimed at a younger audience. This would have been better, darker, more realistic if it were written for adults. I was looking for a lot more 'realness' in the story (eg. prostitution, rape, torture etc.) This was rather tame compared to other historical fictions, a lot of these issues were glossed over by telling the reader that these things may have happened instead of showing.

The writing style was very detached, it was a little too simplistic for a book dealing with such a serious topic. Even when something really bad happens, all we get is a one sentence reaction from Lina and that's it. It was a little strange and it kinda ruined the moment for me. Furthermore, this is written in first-person so I was expecting a lot more emotion and I wanted to connect with the characters but I didn't feel for the characters. Even when people died, I was shocked/slightly sad (for like 2 seconds) but I did not FEEL heart broken. I felt like I had a heart of stone, which I swear I do not! (I tear rather easily when reading)

There were some shocking moments but it dragged a lot inbetween and I felt like the writing perpetuated the poor pace of the story. The book definitely got better towards the end when things picked up.

It was however rather interesting to read from a different point of view since a lot of WWII stories are from either the Germans' or the Jews' pov.

The romance was cute and I loved how it gave her hope. That's what love is isn't it? When all else fails, you'll have love! I really liked that this was the book's message, it is a very romantic way to look at obstacles. :) Romance was not the main focus of the story though but it did help the main character go through tough times.


This is a good introduction for teens to historical fiction or to history in general. Do not go in expecting a dark account of WWII and you will not be disappointed. I could not visualise a lot of the scenes due to the simplistic writing style and I am a visual person so this was not a memorable read for me. In general there was more telling than showing and because of that I did not feel emotionally connection with the characters and their situations.

I would recommend this if you are looking for an introduction into the genre.

Plot: 3/5 
Pacing: 3/5
Originality: 3.5/5 
Writing style: 2.5/5
World Building: 2.5/5
Characters: 2.5/5 
Feels: 3/5
Enjoyment: 3/5
Cover: 3/5
Overall rating: 

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4 June 2015

Do You (try to) Read a Book Before Watching Its Movie Adaptation?

You hear about an upcoming movie adaptation of a book you've not read (but have always wanted to), what do you do?

1. Sit tight and wait for the movie because you're too busy to read the book/plain lazy/the movie would be a good substitute.

2. Run out and buy/borrow the book asap and read it before watching the movie adaptation.

3. I don't watch movie adaptations, books>movies.
If I am really interested in a book, I usually try to read it first before its movie adaptation is out because:

A) I want the full experience that the movie might not be able to give. After watching the Harry Potter movie franchise, I was so glad that I actually read the books first. The movies just did not do the books any justice (I still love the movies though) and I don't blame people who have seen the movies and are not inclined to read the books. I might have been one of those people had I not stumble on those books before the movie deals were discussed :O Since then, if a book to movie adaptation (that I am interested in) is due in the theatres, I try to read the books asap! There are just some emotions and inner monologues that can never be properly translated from paper to screen, you know?

B) Its fun to compare the book to the movie. I can even annoy whoever is catching the movie with me by saying nerdy comments like "Omg they totally skipped that awesome scene in the book!" & "Urgh the book was so much better. #booknerd4lyfe" Admit it, you do this too! :P

C) Its hard for me to get into a book AFTER I've watched its movie adaptation. I recently read (or rather listened) to The Giver by Lois Lowry after I watched the movie and since it was so similar to the movie, I felt like I did not get to enjoy it as much as I would've had I read the book first. Its one thing to watch your imagination come alive on the big screen but it takes away something from the reading experience when you already have visuals while reading the book. Does anyone feel the same way?

If I happen to watch the movie adaptation before I read a book (because I am a cheater), there is a high chance that I will not read the book anytime in the near future. I will usually wait a few months/year(s), when I've forgotten most of the movie, before attempting to read the book. (and by then I would've most likely forgotten about the book. heh.) But of course there are some movies that I felt were good enough on its own and/or I just don't feel like reading the book after watching the movie adaptation because it sucked.

Does watching a movie before reading the book affect your reading experience? or would you even read the book after watching its movie adaptation?

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3 June 2015

Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa tahir

Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Published: April 28th 2015
Source: Hardcover
Pages: 446
Series: An Ember in the Ashes #1
Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.


How I felt as I went through the book: I LOVED the first 40% (4 stars) and then it got draggy all the way till the last 100 pages. (3 stars) It was so exciting! But then I soon realised that there were only 50 pages left and there was no way that that one giant loose end was going to be tied up by the end of the book. (2 stars)

This book was marketed as this interesting standalone fantasy novel and I picked it up thinking that that was really rare and hard to pull off. I decided to read it solely based on that fact. And needless to say, I FELT CHEATED. You can't create hype based on a lie! BLEAGH. This left a bad taste in my mouth. If this was wrapped up well enough with just a tiny bit of loose ends that had the potential to be expanded into a sequel, I would have been perfectly fine with it but what annoyed me was that this was OBVIOUSLY not meant to be a standalone. There were a buttload of things left unexplained and the ending made it seem like this was a 800 book that got cut right in the middle, it was abrupt and did not address the whole "their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself" as stated in the synopsis. Nothing the characters did in this book is actually going to affect the empire. 

The biggest problem for me was Laia as a character and her storyline. She did not make any progress at all towards saving her brother. I don't get it. I felt like she did not really add any value to the story other than being the damsel in distress 99% of the time. I could've skipped most of her chapters and the book would still make sense.

Elias was okay I guess. He was kind but not really swoon worthy/ memorable.

I was surprisingly okay with the love triangle/square that everyone is hating on. It played a part in the plot but it didn't overshadow it. Anyway I guess I just don't really care for the characters in general so I am not invested enough in the romance to be annoyed by it. :P This was probably an attempt at forbidden love but tbh, I don't even know why Elias finds Laia attractive, it seemed more like pity to me.

World building was poor to say the least. Everyone keeps talking about how this is set in ancient Rome but I didn't get that from the book at all. There were little to no descriptions of the buildings, the people, the surroundings. The only setting I got from it was that it was some dirty castle surrounded by a desert!? Is that what Ancient Rome was like?

The writing style is simplistic and very easy to get through but it just doesn't work for high fantasy, imo.

There was also a lot of offhand mentions of rape and some random sexist comments that were so jarring, I had to put the book down for 2 days.
"She can't turn into a girl on me now" - referring to a character's emotions 
"She screams, a girlish shriek I know I should never ever mention." - may I know what a girlish shriek is? 
My issue with it was that the female character let it slide and she did not say anything about it, making it seem okay

I would not have read this had I known that it was going to be a series and false marketing is just disgusting, so I am not continuing with this series.

The only reason I am not giving this less than 2 stars is that I did not think of DNF-ing it even at the boring bits so I guess Tahir did something right?


This does not live up to its hype. Even if the publishers did not falsely market the book, I would still have given this 2 stars because the synopsis was misleading, resulting in a totally different set of expectations on my end. Nothing is worse than a book that ends crappily.

I would recommend this to anyone who is curious or hasn't read the synopsis. ;)

Plot: 3/5 
Pacing: 2.5/5
Originality: 2.5/5 
Writing style: 2.5/5
World Building: 1.5/5
Characters: 2.5/5 
Feels: 2.5/5
Enjoyment: 2/5
Cover: 3/5
Overall rating: 

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2 June 2015

Top Ten Tuesday #10: 10 Books I'd Love to See as Movies/TV Shows

10 Books I'd Love To See As Movies/TV Shows

If I had my way, every book should have an accompanying movie/tv show. Imagine getting to see all the hot and gorgeous characters 'in the flesh'. How awesome would that be?
p.s. click on the covers to go to their Goodreads pages

Eleanor & Park/Attachments: I really enjoyed these two books and being a sucker for contemporary movies, I would love to see this translate to the big screen!

On the Island: It would be interesting to actually watch T.J and Anna go through all the obstacles they face when they were on the island! I love movies/shows were characters are stranded. :P

Fallen: I think I am too old for this series now, it just doesn't appeal to me anymore. Also, the summary makes the book sound so predictable. Meh.

The Princess Diaries series: Yes there are already 2 movies out there but they were not that good and it would be so amazing if there was an entire tv series about Mia and Michael <3 Haha pardon me but I am just such a die-hard fan of this 'kiddy' series.

1 June 2015

May Wrap Up

I can't believe an entire month has passed, where did all the time go? I spent a lot of time on the blog this month to prove to myself that even though this is a hobby, I can be good at it! I've been a little dejected at the traffic and engagement of the blog for a few months and then I realised that I cannot simply expect more readers when I am not actually putting in an equal amount of effort! So I started by changing up the blog layout a little, did more research about blogging, putting in more effort to create quality posts, interact more with other bloggers, networking etc. And lo and behold, my hard work has paid off! I have a better stream of readers now and I am actually enjoying blogging more!

31 May 2015

Weekly Bursts #2: Book sale, Armchair BEA & maybe a Readathon?

[I am linking this post up with Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews & The Sunday Post by Kimba @ Caffinated Book Reviewer.

Sorry this post is late! I was at a book sale the whole of yesterday (there was also a Body Shop sale and Food Expo there) and my boyfriend came over to my place so I didn't have time to post. I had a great time at the book sale and I managed to get 3 books for a total of only $14 (usd$10)!! Scoreeeee! I was expecting to get more books but the sale mainly consisted of old stocks and a TON of the divergent series. There is going to be another book sale next weekend and I am hoping to get more books then.

I also participated in Armchair BEA this past week and it was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! I couldn't post everyday or participate in all the Twitter parties (so many were held at 6-7am local time) but I managed to make it for 2 of them and it was so fun! I got to know so many other book bloggers and even discovered a few more Singapore book bloggers (yay!). I love how I am no longer talking to myself on Twitter :P

I am thinking of joining the #TBRTakedown Readathon hosted by Shannon @ Leaninglights next week but I promised myself that I would start looking for a job next week so I am conflicted :P I guess I could do both but I wouldn't be able to finish all 5 books heh.


click the covers to go to its Goodreads page
The Goldfinch: This is an oversized paperback with an original retail price of $29 and I got it for $8 :D
Middlesex: I've been looking for an affordable copy of this book for ages but they were all around $17-$20 so I never got them and I am so glad I waited! This was $3!!! I still can't believe it :P I've never read a book about a character struggling with gender issues so I am stoked!
Freedom: I think this book got a decent amount of hype when it first came out? (I am not really sure) But after reading the reviews of it on Goodreads, it seems highly controversial and a lot of drama surrounds. This just makes the book all the more exciting, doesn't it? :P
P.S. I Still Love You: I am about a 100 pages in and it seems a little draggy and boring. I hope it gets better!
The Invasion of the Tearling: I requested this from netgalley ages ago and recently got approved! While I wasn't a huge fan of The Queen of the Tearling, I enjoyed it enough to give it 4 stars. Can't wait to see if the second book is better! Btw, this is coming out in a few days!



  • May Wrap Up
  • Top Ten Tuesday #10: Top 10 Books I'd Love to See as Movies/Tv Shows
  • Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Saba Tahir
  • Random Bursts: Do you (try to) read a book before watching its movie adaptation?
  • Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
  • Weekly Bursts #3

Share your StS or Sunday Posts with me in the comments below!

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29 May 2015

Feature & Follow Friday #12

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. Every week, 2 blogs will be featured allowing everyone to discover some new blogs!

I would really appreciate it if you followed me through GFC or Bloglovin', leave a comment below and I would definitely follow back! :) You can also follow/friend me through Goodreads or Twitter!

Question of the week: How many books have you got on your TBR list?

I am not really sure if this refers to my physical TBR or my Goodreads list of books that I would love to read someday so I shall talk about both!

My physical TBR consists of about 60-70 books. I can't seem to get this down because of all the books I borrow from the library. I am in no hurry to reduce my physical TBR but it would be nice to get to them soon! (if only I could stop myself from borrowing so many books every week)

My current list of TBR books on Goodreads stands at 393. I do go in regularly to weed out those that I am no longer interested in so this is a rather accurate gauge of books that I would love to read in my lifetime! :)

How about you? How many books do you have on your TBR?
Leave links to your Feature & Follow down in the comments below and I'll surely drop by!
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28 May 2015

Armchair BEA 2015: Day 2 - Social media

If you didn't know Book Expo America is happening from May 27th-29th in NYC but if you can't attend it, like me, you might wanna check out Armchair BEA. There will be daily blogging themes and discussions related to the topics at BEA and giveaways will also be held on the 30th!

Today's topic is Social Media
Book blogging can get really boring and mundane if you just stay in your own little bubble and wait for the occasional person to stumble upon your blog. You can promote your blog, interact with other book bloggers/publishers/authors on social media! Social media can really bring your blog to the next level. :)

Before I really got involved with Twitter, the traffic to my blog was pretty low (sometimes even no views on any of my new blog posts) but then it got a lot better once I started using Twitter! Obviously I am no pro at Twitter since I only started it 4 months ago but I've learnt some things along the way:

1. ALWAYS use hashtags. You don't have to go crazy with it but try and use the appropriate ones so that other likeminded users can find you! :) eg. if you tweet about #ArmchairBEA, use the hashtag

2. Take part in discussions, conversations, fangirling, twitter chats etc. You will get to know new people and have fun at the same time!

3. DO NOT use Twitter only to promote your blog posts/take part in giveaways. You are not using the platform to its fullest potential and it is annoying for your followers to always see these on their feeds.

4. You can link up your Bloglovin' and Instagram posts with Twitter so that every time you post something on your blog or Instagram, it would be automatically shared on your Twitter account as well. This is especially helpful if you schedule your blog posts and forget about promoting it once it is up!

5. TweetDeck and/or Hootsuite are your best friends.

There are A TON of groups that you can join, ranging from book clubs, read-a-longs, networking or even fan clubs. Use these groups to interact with others and take part in all the fun activities!

Some recommendations:
Making Connections and Blogger Lift are two great groups that can help you network with book bloggers and other authors.

YA Fiction Addiction Book Club is one of the book clubs that I am active in and we are currently picking our next book club book, feel free to join us! We are very laid back ;)

There are a ton of book clubs created by booktubers and these get a fair amount of participants so you might wanna consider taking part in them if they are reading a book on your TBR. (Examples: 1, 2, 3)

I am still very new to Instagram for this book blog (I created it last week) and I am still trying to figure it out so do share some tips with me! :)

Lastly, follow back
I know this is a touchy topic for a lot of people but for me, I follow back anyone that follows me as long as you talk about books 90% of the time! I mean, what's the point of having a social media account when your feed is empty right? I LOVE it when my feed is being constantly updated, so the more booknerds I follow the merrier! If someone thinks I am interesting enough to be followed I will for sure check out their Twitter/Instagram/Goodreads as well!

Feel free to share links to your Day 2 posts for ABEA!

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