BOOK REVIEW: What Light – by Jay Asher

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Title: What Light
Author: Jay Asher

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: October 11th 2016
Publisher: Razorbill
Finished reading: December 23rd 2016
Pages: 272
Rating 2,5qqq

“People think what they want. That’s what I’ve had to accept,” he says. “I can fight it, but that’s exhausting. I can feel hurt about it, but that’s torture. Or I can decide it’s their loss.”

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I realized the other week I had been completely neglecting my Holiday themed reads this year, so this is me making up for that. I didn’t have too many Christmas themed stories on my TBR pile, but I’ve seen What Light around and I decided to give it a go. I read Thirteen Reasons Why last year and I was thoroughly impressed by it, so I had high hopes for this story as well. Unfortunately, I ended up being quite disappointed by What Light even though I should have known the purpose of this story would be completely different. I couldn’t help but feeling What Light was basically a whole lot of cheesiness, cliches and drama wrapped in shiny paper and Christmas lights to make it appropriate for the Holiday season. I liked the idea of the Christmas tree lot and the family returning to it every year. The prose was also easy to read and the pace is quite fast. But there was just SO MUCH DRAMA everywhere! It almost felt like an overdose, and not in a good way. Part of the problem might just be me though, and I’m sure contemporary romance fans will probably enjoy the story a lot better than I did. Just make sure what you sign up for…

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Sierra’s family runs a Christmas tree farm in Orgeon, and every year they pack up and move to California to sell their trees during the season. Sierra spends most of her time in Oregon along with her two best friends, but whenever she is in California her life is completely different. She has another best friend there and it means that leaving one place always means missing the other… And this particular Christmas, something else will complicate her situation even further. Sierra meets Caleb at her Christmas tree lot, and even though her best friend had initially encouraged her to date, she doesn’t seem to approve of Caleb… Are the rumors around Caleb’s past true?

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If you are looking for a sappy and drama-filled Christmas read, you will probably enjoy What Light a lot better than I did. It is quite fast-paced and easy to read, but I personally found there was just too much drama going on for it to be a feel-good Christmas read. It just all felt a bit too exaggerated and I’m not sure up until what point it was actually credible. I have to confess I didn’t connect to the characters either… It might have just been me, but unfortunately I wasn’t a fan of this story.

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BOOK REVIEW: My True Love Gave To Me – by Stephanie Perkins

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Title: My True Love Gave To Me
Author: Stephanie Perkins 
Genre: YA, Romance, Contemporary
First published: October 14th 2014
Finished reading: December 29th 2015
Pages: 336
Rating 3,5qqq

“He says presents aren’t important, but I think they are – not because of how much they cost, but for the opportunity they provide to say I understand you.”

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Another Christmas read I end up reviewing in January… Although I’m finally starting to catch up with my reviews! Since My True Love Gave To Me is actually a collection of twelve Holiday themed short stories, I’ve decided to to this review slightly different from my normal format and discuss every story separately. As a whole this bundle edited by Stephanie Perkins is without doubt an entertaining read and perfect for the Holiday season, although I did like some stories better than others. If you haven’t read this one yet and like themed reads, put this one on your December 2016 TBR! On to the separate stories…

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell. (4,5/5)
This is such an adorable little story to start the collection with, and also very Rainbow Rowell! Without doubt one of my favorites… Midnights is basically story about what happens between two teenagers on various New Years Eves.  It’s funny, it’s awkward, it’s adorable and very well written as well.

The Lady And The Fox by Kelly Link. (2,5/5)
Meh I didn’t particularly like this one. It was without doubt an original story with a touch of magical realism, but I can’t say I was put under its spell. This is one of those stories that might have worked better as a longer novella… Because I felt it lacked proper explanation and character development.

Angels In The Snow by Matt De La Peña. (3/5)
This one was better than the second story, but I can’t say I was a fan of the prose. The story itself is quite funny where the main character is cat sitting and doesn’t have money for food, and the only other person in the building is a girl his age with a broken shower… You get the idea. The story itself sounds interesting, but like I said, I didn’t particularly like how it was told.

Polaris Is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han. (4/5)
Such a cute little story! I love the idea of a human being ‘rescued’ by Santa and living with the elves. I also like the fact that this story was different from the others and the fact that it took place on the North Pole. Original, interesting and adorable!

It’s A Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins. (4/5)
I enjoyed this story! It was sweet but not too sugary, and that is just how I like my Holiday themed reads. It’s about a girl who wants to ask a favor of a guy who sells Christmas trees and ends up buying a tree she doesn’t have room for… And he offers to help her organize her home.

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan. (3,5/5)
This story was quite entertaining and I liked the glbt angle. I wasn’t 100% convinced by the prose, but I have had problems with his work in th epast. It’s a cute story though and perfect for the Holiday season; a boy who dresses up as Santa so he can convince his boyfriend’s sister that Santa is real.

Krampuslauf by Holly Black. (3,5/5)
This one was interesting enough, although not amazing. I liked the fantasy element in the story and the prose and descriptions… I have a feeling it would have worked even better as a longer story, because the characters sound interesting.

What The Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? By Gayle Forman. (4/5)
Quite an entertaining story! Not the best of the lot, but definitely one of the better stories. I’m seeing a lot of race/religion/sexuality diversity in these short stories and I like it! I wasn’t completely convinced by the main characters, but it did made me crave winter food.

Beer Buckets And Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire. (3/5)
I can’t say this was a great story, but it was not that terrible either. I just wasn’t convinced by the general plot or actions… Although I know others loved this one. Somehow a boy who is in love with the pastor’s daughter and accidentally burns down the church just before Christmas is just a little too cheesy to my taste.

Welcome To Christmas, CA by Kiersten White. (4,5/5)
YESSS! Food AND Spanish?! I’m sold. If this isn’t my favorite story it would come a close second, because I really loved this one. A girl lives in a town called Christmas and works at a diner when a new chef arrives… And he is not only a great chef, but attractive as well. Cute, well written and the perfect Holiday read!

Star Of Bethlehem by Ally Carter. (3,5/5)
This was such a sad story! Well written like I would expect of Ally Carter (I loved reading All Fall Down last year) and definitely worth reading, even though it’s not one of my favorites of the bunch.

The Girl Who Woke The Dreamer by Laini Taylor (4/5)
This story confirmed to me that I really have to start the Daughter Of Smoke And Bone series soon, because I loved the prose. Very beautiful and such a creative worldbuilding for a short story. It was a little confusing and strange, but without doubt very interesting.

BOOK REVIEW: Dash & Lily’s Book Of Dares – by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

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Title: Dash & Lily’s Book Of Dares
Author: Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fiction
First published: October 26th 2010
Finished reading: August 8th 2015
Pages: 260Rating 3

“We believe in the wrong things, that’s what frustrates me the most. Not the lack of belief, but the belief in the wrong things. You want meaning? Well, the meanings are out there. We’re just so damn good at reading them wrong.”

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I know Dash & Lily’s Book Of Dares is more of a Holiday themed read, but it was chosen as this month’s read by The Book Club Of Opinionated Hufflepuffs so I decided to give it a go anyway. I ended up enjoying this read, although I still think I would have liked it better if I would have waited until December. This novel is written by both Rachel Cohn and David Levithan; writing respectatively the chapters told by Lily and Dash. I personally liked the Lily chapters better; mostly because of the prose. I also really loved all the bookish facts that are included in this novel! But some of the characters weren’t that credible OR likeable… Especially Dash and his friends. I like the weird-factor of Lily though; she sounds a lot like me at points. In short: I like the plot and the notebook that travels back and forth between Lily and Dash, but not all characters were to my taste or credible for that matter. Still, if you are looking for a nice and easy Holiday themed read, I think I would still recommend Dash & Lily’s Book Of Dares.

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Lily doesn’t want to spend her Christmas vacation alone and her brother talks her into leaving a red notebook full of challenges on a shelf in her favorite bookstore. She hopes that the right teenage boy will eventually find it and except her dares… When Dash goes to his favorite bookstore and finds the notebook, Lily’s wish seems to have come true. But is Dash really the right guy? Will they be able to keep sending dares as they pass back and forth the notebook? And will they be able to finally meet and not be disappointed by the ‘real’ persons behind their notebook versions?

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Dash & Lily’s Book Of Dares has all the signs of a feel good Holiday read that will be perfect to read just before Christmas. I didn’t like all the characters and the Dash chapters weren’t as good as the ones written by Rachel Cohn. Still, this is a short and entertaining read that is worth reading at the right time, even though it’s not perfect.

BOOK REVIEW: A Christmas Carol – by Charles Dickens

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Title: A Christmas Carol
Author: Charles Dickens
Genre: Classics, Fiction, Christmas
First published: 1843
Finished reading: December 23rd 2014
Pages: 160
Rating 4

“It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.”

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I have been wanting to read this classic by Charles Dickens for ages. This year I finally came around actually reading A Christmas Carol and I’m glad that I did. A lot of stories, series and movies have been based on this story about the three Spirits visiting Ebeneezer Scrooge, and it is nice to finally read the original version. I already knew what was going to happen, but still I very much enjoyed reading A Christmas Carol. Recommended to anyone who is or wants to be in the Christmas mood!

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Since I think most people are more than familiar with the story already, I will keep this summary short. A Christmas Carol is about a coldhearted and money loving man called Ebeneezer Scrooge, who thinks money is everything and doesn’t care about affection or charity. He hates Christmas and is reluctant to grant even his employee the day off on Christmas day, and writes off the good wishes as folly. Then, at night, his old (and dead!) partner Jacob Marley visits him with a warning: Scrooge has to change, or things will turn out badly for him.

Three spirits of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet To Come will visit Scrooge and show him what he is missing. He slowly realizes what the spirits want to show him and learns his lessons. Charity and kindness are important and will change lives, not only during Christmas but the whole year. Scrooge is determined to change his behavior and save his soul…

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A Christmas Carol is a short but sweet Christmas story with some strong life lessons. This classic by Charles Dickens is definitely worth reading and perfect to get you in the holiday mood! It is amazing that a story written so many years ago turns out to be timeless…