Thursday, 31 March 2016

Monthly Wrap Up ~ March 2016

Hi guys!

Welcome to my wrap up post for March.

So much happened in March! I started to tutor another child which means I am earning a little more money to go towards books and traveling and other fun things. 

It was also basketball season. So we played three practice matches and we lost all of them! The first one we lost 41-5, then 45-10 and then 22-6. So we were improving. 
Then we had the ESSL basketball tournament where there are international teams that play and compete. And yes, I'm about to give you our scoreboard of how everything went. Our first game was rather easy and we won it 21-0. Then we won our second game 18-2. But we lost our third game 33-4. I got elbowed in the face for that game and had a massive nosebleed so I was out for the majority of it. 

Our fourth game we lost 22-6 and I got the maximum amount of fouls that you're allowed in basketball (whoops!) and had to sit on the bench for the entirety of the game. Next one we also lost but it was 14-13! So CLOSE! The other team scored last minute which is sooo annoying but fair enough. Then we were playing for third and fourth place. My dad came to watch us play. We lost and came fourth place. 

BUT the good news is that I made the all star team! Which means I was one of the top five players in the whole tournament, which made me incredibly happy. 

Even though my birthday was in January, I had my joint birthday last week with a friend. It always reminds me of what epic friends I have, and I was so happy. Easter was good and full of so much chocolate that I never want to eat chocolate again. 

For the first time ever I got my hair done in colours so now it is red, brown and black. It's a big change for me! Although I do love my writing website and have been active on there since I was 12, this month I chose to leave it. I've been doing too much and spreading myself too thin so that there wasn't enough time for it. I truly think it's better this way, but I will always be grateful to the time I spent improving my writing there. This doesn't mean I won't be writing though!

Oh, and on Monday I went to see Batman v Superman. It was okay. Review to come!

12 books! Not bad, I'll say ;)

 The ones I have already reviewed are: The Rubber Fence by Diana Stevan, Gabrielle and the Swallows by Esther Dalseno, The Rearranged Life by Annika Sharma, 29 by Nancy Pennick, Thanks PG! by John Isaac Jones, Shylock is My Name by Howard Jacobson and also Liars and Losers Like Us by Ami Allen-Vath.

I also finally finished Emma by Jane Austen. Even though it has taken me this long to read, I actually really enjoyed it. I really loved the whole match making concept and how deep into the lives of the characters we got. 

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo was a bit slower than the first book, but just as intense when it came to the ending! I'm loving this series. It was so much fun buddy reading it again, and I am looking forward to when I buddy read the final book. 

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins was a read I hadn't intend to get to this month at all. I buddy read this one too, and loved it. It was so cute and just the perfect way to wrap up the series. Yes, sometimes there was eye-rolling because of how cheesy it was, but I didn't mind too much. 

The Assault by Harry Mulisch was a classic read for school. It was just meh. Not much to say there >.>

Dissension by Adrienne Monsoon was another good read! But I'm reviewing it at the beginning of April so I won't so much now. 

You know me - it's over ambitious like it always is! But I want to read a lot in April too, so here it goes. Oh, and I've started The Wrath and the Dawn and like it so far. Hopefully I'll be able to finish it next month. 

Popsugar 2016 Challenge:18/40
2016 #BustleReads Challenge: 4/20

Olivia's Question: How was March for you? What did you get up to? What was your favourite read of the month?

Olivia-Savannah x

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

We Were Liars (Book Review)

Hi there!

Title: We Were Liars
Author:  Emily Lockhart
Publisher:  Hot Key Books
Published Date: 13th May 2014
Rating: 4 stars

 Synopsis: We are liars. We are beautiful and privileged. We are cracked and broken. A tale of love and romance. A tale of tragedy. Which are lies? Which is truth? You decide.

Review: I wanted to read this book so much because I had seen a lot of positive reviews for it and there was quite a big hype. I was also a bit anxious, but as soon as my friend gave it to me for Christmas, I started reading it straight away. I am glad I did!

The first thing I noticed about it was the style of writing, which was different to me. It was nice enough, but sometimes it felt a little dry because it was so simplistic. It was straightforward and not very embellished, so sometimes it was almost poetic. It certainly made the story even more unique. 

The idea of this book is that the main character has been through something traumatising and needs to remember it. It made me think of the book Silver Linings Playbook. If you liked that one you might like this.

The four main characters, who call themselves the Liars were nice enough. I didn’t feel a deep rooted  connection to any of them because for some reason the writer keeps us distant. We don't connect to them because we never sink really deep into knowing them. It was enough to keep me reading through the fairly slow paced beginning until I got to the plot twist everyone was talking about.

Although I did love this book in the end, the most shameful thing is that I had to wait till the end to love it. I wasn't feeling the romance in this one at all because it was so non existent and flimsy. I basically ignored the romance altogether. And the rest of the story was okay - but it wasn't wonderful. 

So how did I give this one a four star rating?

The ending had this amazing plot twist, which makes it hard to review this without spoiling it. I will admit that it is not predictable at all, so when it hits you, you’ll be shocked. It was good, surprising, and then things I didn’t even know were out of place suddenly fell into place. The author does a brilliant job of leaving clues throughout the whole book, and once you know of them you can read it again and go OH in all the places she mentions them! But beforehand... they were all incredibly invisible to me.

The only reason his got four of five stars is that I wish I didn’t need to wait so long for the plot twist to come. I know some readers might’ve lost interest by then. But not us ones who like to endure :D

Links: Goodreads and Amazon!

New Video! Discussion post about Supernatural season one!

Olivia’s Question: Where’s your favourite holiday destination?

Olivia-Savannah x

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Liars and Losers Like Us (SST, Review & Giveaway!)

Hi there!

Title: Liars and Losers Like Us
Author: Ami Allen-Vath
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Published Date: 22nd March 2016
Rating: 4 Stars

*Thanks to SST for the review copy*

SynopsisFor seventeen-year-old Bree Hughes, it’s easier said than done when gossip, grief, and the opportunity to fail at love are practically high-fiving her in the hallways of Belmont High.

When Bree’s crush, Sean Mills, gives her his phone number, she can’t even leave a voicemail without sounding like a freak. Then she’s asked to be on Prom Court because Maisey Morgan, the school outcast nominated as a joke, declined. She apologizes to Maisey, but it’s too late. After years of torment and an ugly secret shared with their class’s cruel Pageant Queen, Maisey commits suicide. Bree is left with a lot of regret…and a revealing letter with a final request.

With Sean by her side, Bree navigates through her guilt, her parents’ divorce, and all the Prom Court drama. But when a cheating-love-triangle secret hits the fan after a night of sex, drinks, and video games, she’s left with new information about Sean and the class Pageant Queen. Bree must now speak up or stay silent. If she lets fear be her guide, she’ll lose her first love, and head to prom to avenge the death of the school outcast—as a party of one.

Review: Liars and Losers Like Us is a book I wanted to read because the premise sounded like it addressed a lot of important topics. Topics like depression, suicide, popularity and other issues teenagers have to face in a single book. And while all that is going on as well, there’s a massive fuss about prom. I was a little nervous because I wondered how this book was possibly going to cram all of that into its pages, but somehow it managed it, and managed it perfectly.

At the beginning of the book, I did struggle quite a lot. The main character isn’t exactly a nice person. Bree can be mean, and really annoying sometimes. But that’s the way it is supposed to be. The point is that just like everyone else, even the popular people can be cruel and hurt and have emotions too. Even though there were times when I didn’t like her (which I struggled with at the beginning) in time I also came to really like her, and she develops into a better person as well. I was worried I was going to be the black sheep here but if you find her character trying, I think it’s worth pushing through this one.

But as well as knowing that Bree is mean, there are other mean girls in this novel, and mean guys too. But for every time a character is mean, Allen-Vath also then goes to show us why and we can’t help but feel for these characters over. The truth is, things are tough all over and people are just trying to get by. Maybe we don’t all agree with the means by which they do that. But that’s for you to make up your mind about as you read.

Divorce is a big theme in this book because Bree’s parents break up. Although it isn’t the spotlight of the book, it isn’t in the backseat either and I think that the book did a brilliant job of portraying just enough light on the subject for us to understand the situation and what was happening because of it. Another important theme was bullying. Bree falls into the character of a bystander. We can hardly blame her for it because it’s the position that most likely, we would fall into ourselves in such a case. But when the bullying pushes the victim into committing suicide, the tables turn. Bree really feels the backlash from the situation and it gets her thinking and putting a lot of things into perspective. Her outlook on life changes and it’s very deep. It really did speak to me.

As well as that, there is a very cute romance to keep readers entertained that was handled perfectly. There wasn’t any insta love or silly drama that could annoy us. There was a lot of drama about prom but something I loved about Bree was that she didn’t care whether she got a crown or not. She didn’t need that to justify herself in the slightest.

When a novel handles all the difficult topics perfectly.
Cheating is something that happens quite a bit in this novel. Cheating really bothers me and it’s something horrible to do to someone who really cares about you. It broke my heart to read about it, and even made me angry at times – but the point is that it really does back up the theme of the novel that all comes together in the end.

And my is the end the perfect summary to the novel.

Reading the author’s note (which is something I recommend you ALL do) lets us know she was a victim of some of the same abuse that the girl who commits suicide went through. It’s a very serious matter and the fact that she is writing about it and spreading awareness on what must be such a personal issue for her really does reach out to me. Which is why I would recommend this book to everyone and anyone.

About the Author: Ami Allen-Vath is a YA author living and writing along the shores of New Jersey. She loves great and terrible TV, ice cream, books, and vacations. Ami loathes cilantro, live birds, and when guys do cartoon impressions. Lars and Losers Like Us is her first novel.

Giveaway Time!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Links: Goodreads and Amazon

Olivia’s Question: Did you go to a prom? Did you dream of being prom queen?

Olivia-Savannah x

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Nail Extravaganza ~ Stripin' It!

Hey everyone! Hope you are all having a good Easter Weekend.

Nails Extravaganza is a nail art meme I made for Olivia's Catastrophe because as well as my love for books, I have a love all of things nail polish. As usual, this one includes a video tutorial for if you want to try this design yourself. 

This nail art design is pretty simple. It's basically stripes with a half moon of another colour at the base of the nail. I was just experimenting and throwing something together while I was filming the whole process and watching Doctor Who. This is what my results were. 

The only thing I would change would be my colour choices (if I had properly planned this design like I usually do.) Why is that, you may ask? Well, because once I showed it to my dad, who I have trained to become my most valued nail art commentator, he said, "Aren't those the Colgate colours?"

So yes - although involuntarily - I have managed to make my nail art resemble a brand of toothpaste. So if you DO end up trying out this design, you might want to switch up the colours a little. Oh, and I have a collage now too!

Video! The tutorial!

Olivia's Question: What series do you like to watch?

Olivia-Savannah x

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Thanks PG! (Book Review)

Hi there!

Title: Thanks PG!
Author: John Isaac Jones
Publisher: Self-published
Published Date: 12th September 2014
Rating: 3 Stars

*Thanks to the author for the review copy*

Synopsis: Thanks, PG!:Memoirs of a Tabloid Reporter recounts the life and adventures of reporter Billy Don Johnson during his twenty years (1975-1995) working for the fictional tabloid The National Insider. After his dreams of becoming a crusading journalist with daily newspapers are dashed, Billy throws himself into the wild world of diets, household tips, ghosts, UFOs, weird history, and celebrity scandal, all of which is designed to please Padrone Gallione (PG), the wonderful madman who was editor of the magazine. Like the tabloid industry itself, this book is a combination of fact and fiction. Within these pages, you will find untold stories from the lives of many famous people, get an inside look at how tabloid stories are created and examine the origins of celebrity scandal in American journalism. Ultimately, this book is a tribute to the genius of Generoso Pope Jr., founder and publisher of the National Enquirer.

Review: I wanted to read Thanks PG! because I have read and previously enjoyed one of John Isaac Jones’s books before, and I was eager to try another myself. I might not want to be a journalist in my future as a career, but I have always had an interest in journalism myself, so I was eager to read a bit more about it.

This one follows the story of Billy Don as he works his way through several newspapers until he finds a job working for PG. PG seems to have a reputation around him as being slightly whacky… but nonetheless a genius. His paper sells, he has money and he knows how to get the big inside scoops and hires the best investigators. Billy is lucky to have his job, and then has to continuously prove himself by finding plenty of cool stories and writing about them. He has to go to interesting lengths to get some of his information and we learn all about it.

What I liked about the beginning of this novel was the inside it gave into the journalism world. There’s a lot more that goes into publishing a newspaper than some people could begin to imagine, and it was interesting to follow along with Billy as he slowly learns how everything works. He works quite a few smaller jobs before he joins ranks with PG, so he gets to learn quite a bit. We get to see the point of view of many of the different jobs required to make a paper come together.

However, that does make me think that this book might not be for you if you have no interest in journalism. I knew I was enjoying it because I have an interest in journalism myself, and that might not be the case for those who tend to find it boring.

There was such a wide variety of news stories that Billy got to look into! And we get to hear about all the most interesting ones here. My favourite had to be when he had to go to China (which is my favourite country) and look into a story revolving around the historical figure of Chiang Kai-Shek (who I know about because we’ve studied him and China in history this year). But there are so many more… some revolving around Elvis, others around celebrities that I had no ideas about. Billy really does travel as he writes his stories too, so you’re never caught up in the same place for too long.

What made me think about this novel was that it really did push some of my morals. I couldn’t agree with everything in this book. There are no vivid descriptions, but there is a mention of sex at certain times and also the use of drugs. Then there is also the issue of exploiting celebrities for the sake of news. Things like bugs and hacking come into play, and sneakily taken photographs through what is supposed to be private affairs. Don’t get me started on stories that cover murder issues or the issues of deaths of celebrities. The families weren’t given peace, and I felt like sometimes they weren’t always as respectful to the deceased as they were dying as should be. But the thing is that, that’s how the journalism world goes. It really got me thinking about the way we idolize celebrities and take them off the pedestal that sees them as just another human as well. It also had me thinking about how we sometimes will do anything to get what we want. Now, this isn’t any criticism of the book itself – you’re not always going to agree with everything you read – but this book is thought provoking in that sense.

One thing that I wanted more of in this story is how the profession affected Billy’s life. It’s strictly all work and it makes it seem like his life was work and nothing else. Once he leaves his family, there is little mention of him ever going back there and visiting them. He goes through some girls but there is no mention of him wanting to ever settle down with one. And while this does focus on the journalism side of things, I wanted to see how his career bled into his normal life and what it cost him to be so focused on his work. I was hoping to see more of that.

All of this aside though, John Isaac Jones knows how to write. The story caught me in from beginning to end and I was intrigued all the way through!

Links: Goodreads and Amazon!

Olivia’s Question: Do you have any interest in journalism? Do you think we sometimes will go to any measures to get the information we want?

Olivia-Savannah x

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

29 (Book Review)

Hi there!

Title: 29
Author: Nancy Pennick
Publisher: Allison-Hayes Books
Published Date: 3rd November 2015
Rating: 3 Stars

*Thanks to the author for the review copy*

Synopsis: Allie Sanders thinks life in a small town can’t get any more dull and boring. She plans to escape after graduation. After a bad break-up, she wants to sail through junior year without distraction. Then the mysterious loner sits down in front of her in AP English. He’s the guy she noticed last year desperately trying to stay invisible. She wants to know his secrets.

Suddenly her much older military brother, Doug, makes a rare appearance. He takes a special interest in her life. Suspicious of his motives Allie holds back, never really trusting him. Doug wants what she wants—the boy she has come to love. No way would she let that happen. She’d go against family and friends to protect him—and his secrets—even if it ends up breaking her

Review: 29 by Nancy Pennick was one that took me by surprise. I managed to read the majority of it in a single day. It was quick read and I flew through it.

What intrigued me the most about this book was the fact that it had to do with a secret society of boys/men who were all born on February 29th, a leap year day. Those particular men were given special “powers” like super strength or brainpower or some other things. For that reason, they are wanted by the military in order to be used as soldiers whether those particular people are willing to do so or not. It was a very creative idea and I hadn’t heard of anything like it before, so of course I wanted to read more about it. The concept behind Niners was built up very well.

Then we have our main character, called Allie. She seems to be the one who is stuck in the middle, seeing as her boyfriend turns out to be one of those Niners but her oldest brother happens to be part of the military group that is rounding all of those particular people. You see how she has the issue of wanting to keep her boyfriend and brother far away from each other? As well as that, no one is allowed to know who her boyfriend really is for his safety… and then there is the issue of her not knowing which group is actually the good one. They’re both telling her different things, but who is really the bad, or the good? Or are the lines a bit more grey than that?

Although I really did enjoy the plot and the dilemma to this book, at times I found the writing style to have a bit of a young feel to it. In general, it didn’t deter me from reading or distract me too much. But in terms of the romance sometimes I felt like it wasn’t entirely believable. But at other points I could definitely see how some people would act like that in a relationship. I would recommend this book for the younger YA audience I think.

Nate and Ashley were Allison’s best friends. I really liked the both of them, because they were always there for her no matter what she needed or wanted. I think as a group of three, they really did have a true friendship and that was something I could admire throughout the book a lot.

I was also a bit annoyed by some of the choices that Allison made. Whenever her boyfriend was out of the scene for whatever reason, or she was experiencing some difficulties in their relationship, she seemed to run back to her ex. I can understand that, but it also made me feel like she couldn’t do without a boyfriend of some sort, or didn’t want to try and stick out the single life… which bothered me a bit.
How I felt about Doug the WHOLE time

The action was a bit want worthy in places, but the ending had a good climax where everything came to a pinnacle and some tough decisions had to be made. I really like that Allison had to be independent in that moment and really needed to ‘save herself.’ She maybe have a boyfriend who has powers, but she is also her own person and he can’t do everything for her. I liked that Pennick didn’t just turn her into a damsel in distress but made her strong too.

It was a good read!

Links: Goodreads and Amazon!

Olivia’s Question: Do you think you could leave your family behind if you were saving them by doing so?

Olivia-Savannah x

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Olivia Snaps ~ The Eiffel Metamorphosis

Hey everyone. I hope you have a good weekend. 

Olivia Snaps is a meme here where I share some of my photography with you all, even though I have no photography skills... I was thinking that it would be time to share some Paris pictures with you, and some thoughts that I had while I was there. Today, I'm going to be centering things around the Eiffel Tower.

When I went to Paris last month, it was the third time I was there. I went once when I was really small and we climbed the Eiffel Tower that time. I went once last summer and we looked at the tower but I felt kind of underwhelmed. I had no interest in climbing it again or seeing it. Maybe that's because every time I saw it, it was in the day. But this time when we went, my sister and I visited it at night. And because we visited it on the hour, it sparkled for us. My breath caught - I was head over heels captivated with the tower. And even though it's just a tower... it had my full attention. What was it about that structure that had me caught up in it? That had so many people caught up in wanting to visit?

I'm still not sure that I can really answer that question for someone. I could appeal to the side of history and say that this tower has a lot of backstory to it. Built in 1889 and yet today people still come from all corner of the world to see it. That has to make it special. Especially seeing as there are so many people who have climbed it since then. In 2010, the tower had it's 250 millionth visitor climbing it. That's certainly something.

I could decide to take the literature-student-in-me side of things and mention how it is a universal symbol. You could hold an image of the Eiffel Tower up to a young child and many of them could name what it is. It's just something people know about. It's a world wide symbol that we can all understand. And I guess for those who have visited it, at the moment you stand next to it or even climb it, you're connected to all those 250 million people plus who have visited before you. As cheesy as this sounds, you could call the tower the glue holding a loosely connected community together.

Or, you know, you can just call it a tower. With lights along it. Because really, that's what it is too. That's probably what was going through my mind the second time I saw it. And that's what makes it so nice to think about. Like a book (I'm always going to compare things to books, even towers. Bookworm that I am) it's something that everyone has access to, but no two people think of in the exact same way.

So yes, while I was there we saw the Tower a lot. It's only a walk away from my sister's place. And it sparkled, and we posed, and there were people who cheered when they saw it. It really does look magnificent and I would recommend you take the time to visit it when you go to Paris :)

My final picture below is the sequence I put together of my favourite photos of the Eiffel Tower. I call it the 'Eiffel Metamorphosis' because I like the latter word and I think it fits!

Olivia's Question: Have you ever seen/climbed the Eiffel Tower? Would you like to? And has a building/architecture ever moved you in some way?

Olivia-Savannah x