Wednesday, 26 April 2017

All the Review Copies? ~ My Hoarding Catastrophe & Giveaway!

Good morning everyone!

My Hoarding Catastrophe is a monthly meme here on Olivia's Catastrophe which is a book haul. I'll be showing you all the books I've received in the past month. 


Physical Books:

I've been a very good girl when it comes to book buying again. I only bought one of the books in this pile. It's also a book I've already read and reviewed on my kindle. But I loved it so much - it's one of my favourite standalones - that I wanted to buy a physical, hardcover edition.

I also received three of the BEST books as presents! Thanks so much Lekeisha for Stars Above and Americanah! And a friend got me a sequel to a novel I really loved as well :)


Fallen Angel by Helen Raven (For Review)
A Moveable Feast by Ernst Hemingway (Won in a giveaway from @ thenobbylife)
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Gifted by @ Lekeisha the Bookworm)
Stars Above by Marissa Meyer (Gifted by Lekeisha the Bookworm)
The Good Daughter by Alexandra Burt (Won in a giveaway from @ sobookinggood)
Hellworld by Tom Leveen (For Review)
The Golem's Eye by Jonathan Stroud (Gifted by a friend)
Private Reserve by Diana Sobolewski (For Review)

Bought: I bought an ebook. To be fair, it is a novella and only 30 pages long or so :D



Freebies: Just a few...



Shearwater by Derek Murphy 
The Mirror and the Maze by Renne Ahdieh
The Surfer Solution by Cathy Yardley 
Sweeter than Wine by Cathy Yardley 

Review Copies: Okay... here there are quite a few. For starters, Edelweiss decided to quit telling me when I was accepted for review copies for a while. I didn't realise until this month, so some of these are from a while ago. Also... when you're favourite publishers (like Harper, for example) grant you unlimited access to any of their ebooks for review. Well... that was never going to end well for me :P








God and Starbucks by Vin Baker 
Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy
The Jewish Wedding Now by Anita Diamant
A New Model by Ashley Graham
Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Venturess by Betsy Cornwell
The Make Believe Husband by Julia Quinn
 Invisible No More by Andrea J. Ritchie
The Wonder of Us by Kim Culberston 
The Fold by An Na
Chasing Days by Deirdre Riordan Hall
 Things That Happened Before The Earthquake by Chiara Barzini
Impossible Views of the World by Lucy Ives
Stone Cold Past - Shea Berkley
Love Story - Karen Kingsbury 
Monstrous - Thomas E. Sniegoski
Hunger - Roxane Gay

Giveaway! A review chain company I run is hosting a giveaway... and I thought it might be a nice idea to share it with you too! Enter to win one of three e-copies of Poisoned Iris by Cindy Mezni


Olivia's Question: What new books have you recently bought/acquired?

Olivia-Savannah x

Monday, 24 April 2017

Lola and the Boy Next Door [Book Review & Giveaway!]

Hey there, everyone!


Title: Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss #2)

Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton Books

Published Date: 28th September 2011

Rating: 4 Stars


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Synopsis: Lola Nolan is a budding costume designer, and for her, the more outrageous, sparkly, and fun the outfit, the better. And everything is pretty perfect in her life (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood. When Cricket, a gifted inventor, steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

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Review: I was so excited to start reading this book! You can read all about how much I read and loved the first book in the series, Anna and the French Kiss here. After that fabulous book I strongly believed that Stephanie Perkins could do no wrong and that I would love this one just as much as the other. I did enjoy this one almost as much, but I had quite a few issues with the beginning. Let’s cover those before we get onto the wonderful rest of the book.

In the beginning we are gradually introduced to four things that were thrown in my face a lot. The first is that Lola’s parents are both dads who are gay. We learn that her boyfriend is Max who is twenty two while she is seventeen, which isn’t usually supposed to happen for legal reasons. Then there is the fact that they are sleeping together (a sex positive book!). And lastly we meet Lola in more detail and learn about her costumes and very eccentric clothing.

Now I am not saying I agree or disagree with any of those things. But the reason I didn’t like this was because in the first fifty pages we are learning all of this in such a ‘preachy’ way. It wasn’t as if it was part of the novel, but more so the author is saying, “These are my opinions and because I can I am writing them into this book and making them okay. Perhaps it was because there were so many "controversial" topics jumbled together in the beginning, instead of spaced out throughout the novel. That might have made it seem a bit less preachy to me, and more a natural part of the novel. I'm not sure whether my issue is with it sounding preachy or just how it was factored into the novel...


As well as that, in the first fifty pages we also have a build up to something which fell entirely flat for me. Lola keeps going on about the boy next door (Cricket) who she really hopes isn’t moving in. But she seems him. And at that current moment in the novel we don’t know what has happened in the past between them that is such a big deal which gets her to react so strongly in such a negative way. However, within the first fifty pages (I am SO thankful this wasn’t dragged out any longer. I was afraid it would be...) we get to see what happened in their past. It was a great big… nothing. Well, it was a bit of an ordeal but it was nothing as huge as I was imagining from the way Lola was acting and it made it all seem like a mighty exaggeration.

Anyway, now it is time to get onto the good stuff! Because once you get through the beginning this novel turns out to be WONDERFUL.

We have the lovely Cricket who is the boy next door. He is science-y, geeky and definitely a shy and awkward person. He was one of those people who are just filled with so much energy their body is buzzing with it. And he was a good person; as in good-natured, supportive and generally kind. I don’t think he is the kind of person who is harmful to anyone who hasn’t deserved it. I loved him!


When it comes to the romance element in this novel, Stephanie Perkins has it down. There are plenty of cute and adorable moments with romance involved. There are a lot of awkward and funny ones too that had me cracking up out loud. There is only one word for this kind of romance novel: perfection.

Another thing which surprised me quite a bit was how much Anna and St. Clair who were the main characters of the previous novel were featured. I knew that they made cameo appearances from reading other reviews, but I didn’t know they would be so present. I really did love having them around and it was so interesting to see Anna when we weren’t in her point of view, and likewise for St. Clair. Loved their involvement completely ^.^


There are a lot more themes in this novel too. Stephanie Perkins is the master of having a hard running romance and yet touching on other themes along the way, such as finding your own identity, coming of age, family history, drugs and drinking as well. It was an interesting book, a great continuation to the series and I can’t wait to read more. I just hope final book and I get off to a better start!


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Gif Summary:

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Quote: It’s a person’s imperfections that make them perfect for someone else.

Links: Goodreads and Amazon!

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Giveaway! A review chain company I run is having a giveaway at the moment... and I thought it might be sneaky cool if I shared it with you too! So enter for a chance to win a $20 Amazon Giftcard :)


Olivia’s Questions: Have you ever read a preachy novel? How did it affect you?

Olivia-Savannah x

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass & Sylvie and Bruno [Mini Reviews]

Hey there!

Three mini reviews coming your way...

Title: Alice in Wonderland (Alice #1)
Author:  Lewis Carroll
Publisher:  Macmillan
Published Date: 1865
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis: One day, a young girl named Alice is sitting on the riverbank with her sister, when she sees a curious looking white rabbit. She soon after falls into the magical world of Wonderland, where she meets a series of strange creatures.

Review: I was so excited to be reading the original! It was about time, especially after all those retellings like Insanity by Cameron Jace amongst many others. Reading this, I quickly realised that those retellings took the elements they wanted from the story and changed a few, leaving quite a lot of it out.

It was an easy book to read even though it was a classic. No complicated language in this one. It was humorous and I liked the twists on words and word play that there was quite a lot of in this one. I liked Alice’s curiosity and the way she thought about things.

I was pretty confused throughout the majority of this though. It was so nonsensical! I am sure there is a lot of meanings you can read into this fuddle of a story, and maybe some that we choose to read into it that Carroll never meant to represent. But I, for one, couldn’t understand which made this story seem like a lot of nonsense jumbled together. I hate confusing stories and that bothered me a lot.

The Chesire Cat Ring is from Inspire Fandom.

The descriptions were short but essential to the story for understanding (or what little of there this is.) I did like how there were a few life lessons scattered along the story, which were nice to see.

Quote: “And what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversations.”

Links: Goodreads and Amazon!

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Title: Through the Looking Glass (Alice #2)
Author:  Lewis Carroll
Publisher:  Macmillan
Published Date: 1871
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis: Nothing is quite what it seems once Alice journeys through the looking-glass, and Dodgson's wit is infectious as he explores concepts of mirror imagery, time running backward, and strategies of chess-all wrapped up in the exploits of a spirited young girl who parries with the Red Queen, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, and other unlikely characters. In many ways, this sequel has had an even greater impact on today's pop culture than the first book.

Review: Oh dear, I disliked this one even more than the first one. It was just as nonsensical, but even more so if that was possible. Unlike the first book this one was harder for me to follow, and because of that I got bored in some places and it was pretty hard for me to work my way through this book as short as it is.

I loved the poetry though. I have to say, even if I am not one for Lewis Carroll’s stories, I definitely love his poetry. There were poems scattered throughout this story all the way and in those I could deem a meaning and possibility things he was referring to. But in the story itself? I couldn’t find any meaning at all…

I don’t really have much to say. But it was a good to experience the originals of this story. I will be trying some more Lewis Carroll in the future hopefully.

The Chesire Cat Ring is from Inspire Fandom.

Links: Goodreads and Amazon!

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Title: Sylvie and Bruno (Sylvie and Bruno #1)
Author:  Lewis Carroll
Publisher:  Macmillian
Published Date: 1889
Rating:  2 stars
 
Synopsis:  Carroll's last major work: bizarre adventures of 2 young children, combining Carrollian nonsense, linguistic play and philosophical reflection. 46 illustrations

In this novel, Carroll set out to write a children's morality tale that was more typical of the style of children's fiction of his day.

Review: I think that synopsis kind of got this book down to pat. Sylvie and Bruno were two kids who this man seemed to meet in his dreams whenever he fell asleep and believed were faeries. I am not entirely sure what this book was about, and it seemed to just be a collection of stories about what happened when he was asleep and going on adventures with the two children. I know that this is supposed to be childrens literature for his time and I can respect that, but it was a bit hard for me to follow myself.

I think it would’ve been nicer if it simply stuck to being about tales of a man and the two children. Instead we see glimpses of his real life when he is awake and not simply imagining which is a bit annoying because it is hard to tell when he is switching from real life to the dream life. It happens suddenly and well, sometimes I got a bit lost as to when the transitions were happening.

This book was still nonsensical like the rest of his works. I don’t entirely understand them, but I understood this more than Alice in Wonderland.

The Chesire Cat Ring is from Inspire Fandom.

Links: Goodreads and Amazon!

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Olivia’s Question: Do you like reading the original stories which fuel many of the retellings?


Olivia-Savannah x 

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Article Three [Book Review]

Hello everyone!

Title: Article Three (The System #1)
Author: Anna Jakobsson Lund
Translator: Clare Barnes
Publisher: Tredje Principen
Published Date: 3rd March 2015
Rating: 3 Stars

*Thanks to the author for the review copy*


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Synopsis: Trust will get you killed – and trust will keep you alive

In a world where the System governs everything, Ava’s a rebel – one who can control other people’s thoughts with her mind. As part of a resistance movement preparing for war, this is a useful skill. 

Levi stopped believing in the struggle for freedom when it snatched his parents from him. Now he’s just trying to live a quiet life and control the voices that threaten his sanity. 

One night Levi’s sister is arrested. To free her, he has to break old promises and get involved with people he swore he’d never associate with. Ava’s ordered to help him and, together, they leave on a rescue mission. She says he has to trust the rebels. But should they?

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Review: Article Three is a novel written by an author who I became friends with through Instagram. Of course I was happy enough to review her novel for her when she asked me to. What’s so interesting about this novel is that it wasn’t originally written in English. I actually read this novel right in the middle of my reading slump. It didn’t pull me out of it, but it made me realise that it was lack of time and not lack of enjoyment when reading that was the issue. Because I managed to race through this one and I really enjoyed it.

The writing style is very simple and straightforward, but it never gets too simplified that it steals the enjoyment of reading. I think the best novel I could compare this to would have to be The Hunger Games when it comes to that direct writing style. Personally, I think that kind of writing style worked better for this novel than that one, because here one of the main characters has that way of thinking. Because the writing style really matches her way of thinking, it drew me even closer to the character.

I also really liked the world building. Lund has managed to find the perfect balance between giving us just enough detail so that we can understand how the world works, and the characters role in this world, and not overflooding us with too much unnecessary information. What we needed to know, we knew with time. I liked that. And some of the descriptions were done in detail too, so they sounded beautiful. But it was never overdone. Lund did that perfectly.


When it comes to the main characters, there are two perspectives we get to see from. One of them is Ava. Ava kind of reminded me of Dean from Supernatural a little bit in the fact that she was so used to getting orders and always following them. She’s entirely dedicated to the cause of the rebellion, but she also has her own secret motive. We get to slowly see that motive as the story plays on. The best thing about seeing her character development was that as it became clear that they couldn’t trust anyone anymore, she had to learn to be more independent. She could no longer simply follow orders. As we slowly see her move away from that, her character flourishes. It took me a while to really appreciate her, but when I did, I loved her.

Levi was someone I appreciated right from the beginning. He’s very impulsive, and honest. It’s hard for him to keep from acting out on his emotions. Maybe because he was the complete opposite to me in that aspect, it made me like him all the more. He wants no part of being in the rebellion, but he is doing it to help rescue his sister. It’s clear how strong their relationship is, and as family was his driving force it made me like him all the more. Levi also has his own secret. The reader gets to know it, but the other characters don’t. I liked that this secret was presented differently from Ava’s, where the reader doesn’t know. The author played on us having more knowledge than the other characters well.


Even though we feel like we know all of Levi’s secrets… well, there is still a little bit of a plot twist that I didn’t expect.

The main themes in this novel are addiction and also trust, despite there being plenty of action and this being an espionage action novel. The best thing was how the trust was presented. Levi and Ava don’t particularly want to trust each other. But when Ava has to use her faculty (it’s kind of like a weak power), to save Levi, they become connected as Ava gets a taste of her feelings and Levi gets a taste of hers. They then know they are both keeping secrets… and the feelings that those secrets evoke. It makes an interesting twist to the novel.

There is also a secondary character, Leymah, who travels along with them. They come into contact with a few other characters too, but I don’t want to ramble on about them too much. They were all well-developed though, and had their own presence in the story, which was great.


Lastly, I want to mention the action side of the story! Lund knows how to pull up the tension and suspense. The ending had me tense in my seat and I abandoned what I was supposed to be doing in order to read the book out. It was such a good end, and left at such a point that I can’t wait to read the sequel whenever I can!

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Gif Summary:

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New Video! Tips on how to write more!


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Olivia’s Question: Do you prefer sunrises or sunsets?


Olivia-Savannah x

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Balance [Yogi Dragoness]

I wish you all a wonderful Tuesday!

Balance. Balance is something that we are always trying to perfect. Perhaps it might be trying to find balance in the large things in life - trying to balance time between working your job and spending it in family. Balancing your daily schedule so you cram in enough sleep, a social life, work, relaxation time, and exercise too (has anyone actually ever been able to achieve this?). But balance can be something you struggle with time and time again in a single day. For example, when writing a blog post I am trying to balance getting my message across and not writing too much. Balance is so important and present, that sometimes I forget that's what I'm trying to do. Sometimes we just call it 'juggling' instead, but balance just sounds so much nicer, right? It implies that everything will always be there, even if you get it wrong. With juggling, it sounds like a simple mistake can tip everything out of the balance. 


Lately in life, I feel like I am juggling more than I am balance. Now, that might just be because my exams are creeping closer. I know I already wrote a blog post about feeling under pressure, but as May 2nd creeps closer... I have to admit the nerves are mounting. All of sudden it feels like I am scrambling to study with not nearly enough time to get done what I want to get done. I am sure all of you who have ever had to sit a single test, or a single exam knows what I am thinking about. 

But the best thing about balance is something that we seem to forget. Balance is natural to us. Physically, it is, as we are always standing on two legs and walking around - yes, even you clumsy people have balance come naturally to you. We don't always need to push and prod at it, and stress about it. The most important thing is to trust yourself, to let it all go and focus on doing what you can. But most importantly, on being happy. Once you've got that down, you'll realise that balance somehow just happens to fall into place....


I'm writing those words, but they are a lot easier 'written than done,' in this case. I am really going to work on it. I know that by May 10th all my source of stress will be over and behind me. I have two sisters who are in the final year of either their bachelor's or master's degree, and both of them look back on this time and can remember that it seemed chaotic and difficult to get through, but that's it. A speck in the past. That's what it all comes down to in the end anyway. 

There is this brilliant pose in yoga called the scale pose. It's simple but takes some effort. You need to cross your legs in lotus pose, and then carry yourself. You need to lean forward a little bit, and really use your core to carry you up, and then balance. There are a few other variations to doing this (which I want to learn someday), but I wanted to push my balance. I tried to see how many books I could balance on my head while carrying myself in the air. (Bookworms will be bookworms, right?)


It took a few tries. I managed to balance more than I thought I could, and it made me so happy. You'll be able to see that in the photo. ^.^ Either way, once I was happy I had achieved it, I stopped thinking about the technical things so much - how to hold my weight, how many books I was holding - and suddenly I was able to hold the whole pose for a lot longer.

Balance is hard. But the moment you stop pushing yourself to balance more and more, and focus instead on enjoying yourself, you'll be able to balance more and actually enjoy doing it too.

If you want to see more of my yogi catastrophes, follow me on my instagram @yogidragoness!

Olivia's Question: What are two things you struggle to balance in life?

New Video! My book review of The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson.


Olivia-Savannah x

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Beauty and the Beast [Movie Review]

Happy Saturday! I hope you're all excited for Easter :)

I wanted to give a movie review of Beauty and the Beast. Everyone was completely hyped over this movie. I am a Disney fan of myself, so it didn't really take me too long to get wrapped up in all the hype. I love the song by John Legend and Ariana Grande, and even though Beauty and the Beast was never one of my favourites as a child, or one I watched over and over again, as a bookworm, we all can identify with Belle somewhat. And was I disappointed when I went and saw the movie? Not at all! I loved it. But I can be pretty critical when I watch a movie - so do bear in mind that when I am ranting about what I didn't like, overall I did love this movie a lot. 

Also, if for some reason you don't know what movie I am going on about (where have you been?) here is the trailer to check out before reading my review!


I'm going to start with what I liked. What I really liked about this movie has to be the story. It's a 'tale as old as time,' and one a lot of Disney lovers and children enjoy. I love the idea of all this talking furniture, and a girl who loves her father so much. Actually, if you're someone who watches the youtube channels CinemaSins or Honest Trailers, they point out all the mistakes in the original movie which don't make any sense. But this remake actually slightly altered the faults - and made little corrections which didn't change the story we all loved, but made them make sense. If you have watched the movie already, you could go click those links and see what mistakes the original movie made. It's pretty interesting to see the changes they made to correct those little plot holes. So kudos to the movie for making sure those issues were all dealt with!

Now, as this movie includes a whole bunch of talking furniture, the movie has to rely heavily on graphics for making the movie work. But they did this flawlessly. The furniture definitely had that slightly human element to it, so that we could identify with their loss and sorrow, but also see them as furniture as well. I think the moment where I most had to give it to them for this was in the song Be Our Guest. It's a Disney classic, and they did it spectacularly. I mean, the candlestick even dabbed at one point. DABBED YOU GUYS.


As this was a modern remake, there were some modern social changes they wanted to make a few edits. I have to give it to Emma Watson for wanting to insert some feminism into the movie. I like that she said no to wearing corsets. I mean, why should she need to? And as well as that she made Belle an inventor, who was good with all things technical. But of course, the original also had a lot of feminism in it - I mean, Belle is refusing Gaston the whole time. 

There was also representation of the LGBTQ+ community. They decided to change Le Fou's character to being gay, and there was also briefly, a cross-dressing character. But I feel like it wasn't really much representation. It was kind of quickl thrown in, and wasn't given a lot of light. Sure, they added a lot of humor and that was a very good element. But for something substantial like that, I was ready for there to be more of it. The best thing though, is that at least they tried. 

I was pretty satisfied with the diversity in the mix of cast... It especially stood out to me at the end of the movie. 


There is also the family element discussed in this book, which remains true to the original movie. We see that Belle is so dedicated to her father, and loves him so much. I really like that we got to see them working together at a point, because they spend the majority of the movie separated. And we can see the deep love that her father truly had for her mother. When it comes to Disney movies, there seems to be a lot of discontent in families? Evil stepmothers, deceased parents, or parents who simply aren't present or just don't understand... It's a refreshing change to have a family who support each other and stick together. 

It's now time for me to talk about the thing I disliked MOST about the movie. It's the music. After falling in love with the John Legend and Ariana Grande song, I was so ready to love all the music. But aside from the Be Our Guest song, I really didn't like any of the others. In fact, sometimes I wanted the songs to end >.> I don't mean any offense to Emma Watson, but personally I don't think she is the best singer. It wasn't that her singing is bad. It was mediocre. But I am one of those people who when it comes to musicals, I get very very annoyed when I can actually hear the autotune that is in the songs. I mean, for musicals you kinda need people who can sing >.> I would have preferred if someone else sang her songs, to be honest, and she mouthed along. I don't mean any offense, but I was really annoyed about that. I also did not like the singing of Tale as Old as Time. As that's pretty much my favourite song in the movie, I was sulking a little bit in my cinema seat. So yes, the music really disappointed me here.


One of the main reasons I went to go and see the movie, is to go and see the ballroom scene. As a young child, we had a Beauty and the Beast computer game, and one of my favourite parts of the game was preparing and enacting the ballroom scene. So I was so ready to see it, and the beautiful yellow dress. I loved it so, so much. My heart pretty much exploded. Her hair was beautiful, the dress was simply GORGEOUS and the jewelry... honestly, I wish I could wear a dress like that. I wouldn't take it off - ever!

Overall, I loved the movie. I would change the music if I could, but that's really it. The casting, acting and the story line was done so well. The roses, costumes and the most important scenes were handled so well. I'm gonna be honest when I say this - I much prefer this real life version of the movie to the original. I pretty much stand by that statement 100 times over. 

So if you haven't seen it yet, and you like Disney movies, then get to it! ;)



Olivia's Question: Have you seen this movie? What did you think? Do you want to see it?

Olivia-Savannah x