REVIEW: Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

Title: Girl Wash Your Face
Author: Rachel Hollis
Publication Date: February 6th 2018
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: HarperCollins India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books || Infibeam
Blurb Description: With wry wit and hard-earned wisdom, popular online personality and founder of TheChicSite.com founder Rachel Hollis helps readers break free from the lies keeping them from the joy-filled and exuberant life they are meant to have.
Founder of the lifestyle website TheChicSite.com and CEO of her own media company, Chic Media, Rachel Hollis has created an online fan base of hundreds of thousands of fans by sharing tips for living a better life while fearlessly revealing the messiness of her own. Now comes her highly anticipated first book featuring her signature combination of honesty, humor, and direct, no-nonsense advice.
Each chapter of Girl, Wash Your Face begins with a specific lie Hollis once believed that left her feeling overwhelmed, unworthy, or ready to give up. As a working mother, a former foster parent, and a woman who has dealt with insecurities about her body and relationships, she speaks with the insight and kindness of a BFF, helping women unpack the limiting mind-sets that destroy their self-confidence and keep them from moving forward.
From her temporary obsession with marrying Matt Damon to a daydream involving hypnotic iguanas to her son's request that she buy a necklace to "be like the other moms," Hollis holds nothing back. With unflinching faith and tenacity, Hollis spurs other women to live with passion and hustle and to awaken their slumbering goals.
I’ve honestly surprised myself this year by picking up self-help and nonfiction books. I typically don’t read nonfiction at all, but this being in my final year of college and with the big bad world of choices and adulting ahead of me, I’ve needed every book-shaped piece of help I can get.

When a lovely human at HarperCollins informed me that a copy of Girl, Wash your Face was coming my way, I was QUITE excited. I’ve been reading this book chapter by chapter over the last two weeks, trying to absorb all the messages within and take them to heart and now that I’m done, I’m going to try writing a review for it.

MY THOUGHTS:

1.       I believe that self-help books are personal. Some words or chapters might strike a cord with some people and others with other types of people. As such, my experience with this book might not be yours, but I’ll explain how I felt anyway:

2.       The introduction was STUNNING. The author managed to raise my hopes, make me think and had me EXCITED for what came next. As she spoke about how the only thing standing in between you and everything you want in life is YOU, and spoke about how she was going to break down the lies we’ve been telling ourselves all our life, I genuinely thought that this book would be something that would make me feel and think.
 
3.       I jumped into the first ‘Lie’ almost immediately after, and then put the book down to try and absorb it and then, the next day, picked it up again to dive into the next lie.

4.       Now, at the end I sincerely feel that Girl, Wash Your Face was this rushed book, attempting to dissemble years’ worth of self-inflicted damage in just a few pages. While the opening chapter left me inspired, the rest of the book was exactly the opposite.

5.       If this book was supposed to make you believe that YOU can be everything you want, I’m not sure it did. The phrase, “easier said than done” came to my mind more times than I can count, because through the rushed explanations that were more statements than explanations I just didn’t believe, after a while.

6.       I did take away one thing from the book, at least partially, though, and that is that only WE can control what we make of our lives.


Would I recommend this book? Like I said before, self-help books are so personal and I can’t say that a book that didn’t help me won’t help you but I’d only recommend it if you’ve read the synopsis and think it’s really something you need in your life. 
Rachel HollisRachel Hollis is a bestselling author, TV personality, in-demand speaker, and founder and CEO of Chic Media, the foremost authority on premium digital content for women. Named one of Inc. Magazine’s "Top 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30,” Rachel uses her infectious energy to empower women to take control of their lives and pursue their passions without fear.

Motivational, inspirational, and always approachable, Rachel’s tell-it-like-it-is attitude is a refreshing approach that allows her to authentically connect with millions of women around the world. Rachel has worked with top brands including Walmart, Disney Junior, JCPenney, Rubbermaid, Sprint, and Keurig to create innovative and compelling content for Chic Media’s award-winning women’s lifestyle blog. Rachel is the author of the bestselling Girls Series, including Party Girl, Sweet Girl and Smart Girl, as well as a cookbook, Upscale Downhome. Rachel resides in Los Angeles with her husband and four children. 
What are some of the best non-fiction books you've ever read that you would recommend to me?
I'd love to hear from you!
 

A Futuristic, Fast-Paced, Ingenious Book // REVIEW: Wildcard by Marie Lu

Title: Wildcard (Warcross #2)
Author: Marie Lu
Publication Date: September 20th 2018
Publisher: Penguin Books
Part of a Series?: Yes, Book 2/2 of the Warcross Duology
I Got A Copy Through: Penguin India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books || 
Blurb Description: For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn't just a game - it's a way of life. And teenage hacker Emika Chen has found herself caught up in a conflict that could change the world.
Warcross creator, Hideo Tanaka, wants to use to the game to control peoples' thoughts and feelings, effectively ending free will - Zero, a mysterious (and dangerous) hacker, wants to stop him.
Now Emika must decide who she will fight for. The game is on . . .
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu

Warcross, the prequel to Wildcard, was one of my FAVOURITE books of last year. Marie Lu managed to BLOW ME AWAY with her stunning world, the plot filled with twists and turns and mostly, Hideo and Emika. I didn’t know what to expect after the cover was so… underwhelming, but THE BOOK WAS JUST JAW-DROPPING PERFECTION.

I was so nervous going into Wildcard because it’s HARD for sequels to meet expectations, but Marie Lu is a BRILLIANT WRITER and she somehow managed to keep the pace, the romance, the friendship, the game, technology and virtual reality on par with Warcross AND ALSO managed to end it in a satisfying manner.

On another, not so zen note, I NEED ABOUT EIGHT MORE BOOKS IN THIS WORLD, CENTRED AROUND Roshan and Tremaine or Asher and Hammie with Hideo and Emika in the background because I love EVERYTHING about this futuristic world.

MY THOUGHTS:

1.       Wildcard is such a visually appealing book, especially the hardcover. I LOVE the green, black and blue combination! (Sorry. My amateur/ constantly learning graphic designer sensibilities comes out all the time now and is currently making me type this out.)
2.       There was SO MUCH I loved about this book, but especially the world-building and pace. The
descriptions of what the Neuro-Link, Warcross and Tokyo in general were so futuristic and magical that it was hard not to get sucked in and lose all sense of time and physical surroundings.

3.       I LOVED the friendship between the Phoenix Riders, Hammie, Asher and Roshan in particular. They were such loyal, all-in friends and truly amazing characters. I also ADORED Roshan and Tremaine.

4.       I went into Wildcard thinking I had all the information I needed and that there would be no twists, because almost everything had been revealed in Warcross, but I WAS SO WRONG. We learnt almost nothing of what really happened all those years ago in the prequel and as Marie Lu un-spun her tale, I kept flipping the pages in shock and awe because, trust me, if you’ve read Warcross, YOU WOULD’VE NEVER SEEN THIS COMING.

5.       I’ll just end with saying that Hideo and Emika are life, and I LOVED the way this book ended.

Would I recommend it? YES! With the duology complete, it’s the PERFECT time to dive into Marie Lu’s best series to date. A futuristic, fast-paced, gorgeously plotted novel with characters and twists that will make you remember why you fell in love reading in the first place!

5 stars to this book and this series.
Marie Lu
I write young adult novels, and have a special love for dystopian books. Ironically, I was born in 1984. Before becoming a full-time writer, I was an Art Director at a video game company. Now I shuffle around at home and talk to myself a lot. :)

I graduated from the University of Southern California in '06 and currently live in LA, where I spend my time stuck on the freeways.
Have you read the Warcross duology? What do you think of it?
Have you read any other Marie Lu books? Which one is your favourite?
 

Not Very Engaging // REVIEW: Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Title: Girl of Ink and Stars
Author: Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Publication Date: May 5th 2016
Publisher: Scholastic Inc
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: Scholastic India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books
Blurb Description: Winner of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2017, and the British Book Awards' Children's Book of Year 2017 
Forbidden to leave her island, Isabella Riosse dreams of the faraway lands her father once mapped.
When her closest friend disappears into the island’s Forgotten Territories, she volunteers to guide the search. As a cartographer’s daughter, she’s equipped with elaborate ink maps and knowledge of the stars, and is eager to navigate the island’s forgotten heart.
But the world beyond the walls is a monster-filled wasteland – and beneath the dry rivers and smoking mountains, a legendary fire demon is stirring from its sleep. Soon, following her map, her heart and an ancient myth, Isabella discovers the true end of her journey: to save the island itself.
 
I honestly didn’t know what to expect, going into this book. I’d seen it in bookstores, online and all over the internet and the cover and title intrigued me so much that I simply had to request the book when the opportunity came my way.

It was only when I actually opened and started reading it that I realised that this was a… middle grade book? It honestly threw me, because I don’t read much MG and when I do, I’m usually prepared for it. So, in all honestly, it took me a while to get over it all, but I did enjoy the read overall.

MY THOUGHTS:

1.       This was a beautiful book to read, visually. Each page had illustrations, there were maps on the inside and outside and each page was such a treat to look at.

2.       Isabella was a great character to get to know. I loved hearing the stories she’d learnt, and how much she loved being a cartographer. She was a fierce character and it was quite fun to read through her point of view.

3.       Unfortunately, that was about all I liked about the book. I thought that the conflict was kind of… uninspired. The characters were not well-rounded, except for Isabella and, honestly, nothing about the preamble or the action made me CARE for the story or the island.

4.       I was never at the edge of my seat, never really scared for the characters and not invested at all in Girl of Ink and Stars.

Would I recommend this book? Probably not. I’ve read a few MG novels recently and they were all engaging and interesting to read, but I simply didn’t feel that way with Girl of Ink and Stars. 



Image result for Kiran Millwood HargraveKiran Millwood Hargrave is an award winning poet, playwright, and author. 

Her books include the bestselling winner of the British Book Awards Children's Book of the Year and the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2017 The Girl of Ink & Stars, and Costa Book Awards- and Blue Peter Awards-shortlisted The Island at the End of Everything, andThe Way Past Winter is forthcoming in October 2018. Her debut book for adults, The Mercies , based on the Vardø witch trials, will be published by Picador in early 2020. 

She is represented by Hellie Ogden (UK) and Kirby Kim (US) at Janklow & Nesbit. Kiran lives in Oxford with her husband, artist Tom de Freston, and their cat, Luna.


Do you read Middle-Grade or Children's books? What do you think of them?
Do you have any stunning books you think I should read in these categories?

Truly Unique Writing // REVIEW: The Book Of M by Peng Shepherd

Title: The Book Of M
Author: Peng Shepherd
Publication Date: June 28th 2018
Publisher: HarperCollins
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: HarperCollins India
Blurb Description: Set in a dangerous near future world, The Book of M tells the captivating story of a group of ordinary people caught in an extraordinary catastrophe who risk everything to save the ones they love. It is a sweeping debut that illuminates the power that memories have not only on the heart, but on the world itself.
One afternoon at an outdoor market in India, a man’s shadow disappears—an occurrence science cannot explain. He is only the first. The phenomenon spreads like a plague, and while those afflicted gain a strange new power, it comes at a horrible price: the loss of all their memories.
Ory and his wife Max have escaped the Forgetting so far by hiding in an abandoned hotel deep in the woods. Their new life feels almost normal, until one day Max’s shadow disappears too.
Knowing that the more she forgets, the more dangerous she will become to Ory, Max runs away. But Ory refuses to give up the time they have left together. Desperate to find Max before her memory disappears completely, he follows her trail across a perilous, unrecognizable world, braving the threat of roaming bandits, the call to a new war being waged on the ruins of the capital, and the rise of a sinister cult that worships the shadowless.
As they journey, each searches for answers: for Ory, about love, about survival, about hope; and for Max, about a new force growing in the south that may hold the cure.

I’d heard a lot of varying opinions about this book, even before I had a copy in my hands. A lot of people found it too slow, a lot of others absolutely loved it and some even said it was too vague a book.

The synopsis, however, sounded VERY interesting and, like I’ve mentioned before, I’m trying to diversify from my usual YA list and this sounded like the perfect book to get on with that goal.

The Book of M is part dystopian fiction, part contemporary romance that answers the question: What makes you human, and what are you willing to give up be more? It took me a while to get used to the characters and the writing, but I really ended up enjoying this unique, brilliantly written book.

MY THOUGHTS:
1.       Peng Shepherd’s writing was STUNNING throughout the book, but especially as she wrote Max’s point of view. The more Max lost her memory, the better Shepherd’s writing got. It was heart-breaking as a reader and fascinating as a writer to watch how masterfully Shepherd broke down Max’s memories of the person she used to be.

2.       I also liked the way she built up and described her characters. This book was completely non-linear,
making the reader sit up, pay attention, and piece facts together from so many different parts. I loved the loyalties that were formed, the hope that something better awaited them and the cast of characters all around, shadowed and shadow-less.

3.       Just like her writing of Max, I LOVED the descriptions and feats of magic in this book. It was such subtle, underrated magic that had no spells or wands, but a price to pay in exchange and it was just SO BEAUTIFUL TO READ?

4.       At the same time, when the biggest plot twists came around, especially with Gajarajan, I was left feeling like it all wasn’t explained to me enough. I also struggled to get a physical sense of Ory, Max and the rest of the characters in terms of their age, and, most importantly, the when and how long aspect of how everything was happening. They weren’t HUGE hurdles, but they did leave me feeling a little lost in the grand scheme of things.

Would I recommend this book? YES! Peng Shepherd’s debut novel is filled with stunning writing and a plot that keeps twisting as you go deeper. The Book of M was such a different book and I really enjoyed reading it. 
Peng Shepherd

Peng Shepherd was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, where she rode horses and trained in classical ballet. She earned her M.F.A. in creative writing from New York University, and has lived in Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, London, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and New York. "The Book of M" is her first novel.


Have you read The Book of M? What do you think of it?
I'd absolutely love to hear from you!
 

A Magical Piece of Literature // REVIEW: A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Title: A Very Large Expanse of Sea
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publication Date: October 20th 2018
Publisher: Egmont UK
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: Penguin Random House India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books || Infibeam
Blurb Description: It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.
Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.
But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down. 

THIS BOOK WAS REAL AND BEAUTIFUL AND BROUGHT TO LIVE RACISM AND BIGOTRY THROUGH THE SHARP EYES OF AN AMERICAN-MUSLIM TEENAGER AND HOLY GOD. I finished it DAYS AGO and I’m still reeling at the message, the beautiful characters, their stories and just all the HOPE that made A Very Large Expanse of Sea.

Basically, I’m in love.

Things I ADORED about this book:

1.       It took me a little time to warm up to the characters in A Very Large Expanse of Sea. The beginning of the book itself was a little stiff, and I was scared that I wouldn’t enjoy this book as much as I hoped. This was also my first book by Tahereh Mafi, and I was a little nervous about whether her contemporary writing would be as good as I’d heard her fantasy books were.


2.       But, as what happens with all good books, I decided to read just a few more pages, and then, without
thinking about it, I’d read a few more chapters and within half the day, I’d finished more that three quarters of this MARVELOUS book and I regret NOTHING.

3.       There were so many beautiful things about this book (that cover included) but most of all, I loved Shirin, the main character. I see how some people might find her jaded, but to me, she was just real. I understood her through Tahereh’s writing, through her actions and I LOVED her strength, determination, and REASONING in wearing the hijab despite everything she went through.

4.       I also LOVED Shirin and her brother, Navid’s relationship. WE DON’T SEE ENOUGH GOOD BROTHER-SISTER FRIENDSHIPS in YA, unless one of them is dead and the other mourning and Shirin and Navid were the ABSOLUTE BEST.

5.       Ocean was probably the whole reason I found the book stiff in the beginning. I knew I would grow to love Shirin and Navid, but Ocean was just strange. He eventually became better, and I love that he was never influenced by ‘public opinion,’ and I ended up liking him too.

A Very Large Expanse of Sea is a magical piece of literature, fictitious and yet, so real. Tahereh Mafi’s writing made me think and feel and this book has become one of my all-time favourites.

Tahereh Mafi
Tahereh Mafi is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Shatter Meseries. She was born in a small city somewhere in Connecticut and currently resides in Santa Monica, California with her husband, fellow author Ransom Riggs. She can usually be found over-caffeinated and stuck in a book. Shatter Me is her first series, with television rights optioned by ABC Signature Studios; Furthermore, her first middle grade novel, is on shelves now, and Whichwood, its darker companion, will be on shelves November 14, 2017.

Have you read any of Tahereh Mafi's books? What do you think of them?
Have you read A Very Large Expanse of Sea, or any other book like it?
What did you think of it/ them?
 

The End to A Phenomenal Series // REVIEW: Kingdom Of Ash by Sarah J Maas

Title: Kingdom Of Ash (Throne of Glass #7)
Author: Sarah J Maas
Publication Date: October 23rd 2018
Publisher: Bloomsbury India
Part of a Series?: Yes, Book 7/7 of the Throne of Glass series
I Got A Copy Through: Enchantico and Bloomsbury India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books || Infibeam
Blurb Description: Years in the making, Sarah J. Maas’s #1 New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series draws to an epic, unforgettable conclusion. Aelin Galathynius’s journey from slave to king’s assassin to the queen of a once-great kingdom reaches its heart-rending finale as war erupts across her world. . .
Aelin has risked everything to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…
With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation―and a better world.
And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen―before she is lost to him forever.
As the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight, if they are to have a chance at a future. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever in the explosive final chapter of the Throne of Glass series. 
THIS IS A SPOILER-FREE REVIEW OF KINGDOM OF ASH

I started reading the Throne of Glass series almost three years ago. It might not seem like a long time, but I’ve grown up with each and every character in this book. I graduated high school while I read Heir of Fire, I said goodbye to my best friends as we split up for college while I was reading Queen of Shadows and I’m looking towards my last semester of college, and everything unknown, untried and untested that comes after as I finish Kingdom of Ash. I’ve grown with this series, and I’m both elated and sad that I’ve reached the end.

There were a lot of hopes I had for this book, and also a lot of wariness because I did NOT enjoy Sarah J Maas’ last finale, A Court of Wings and Ruin and basically reading Kingdom of Ash was an emotional and nerve-wracking, anxiety inducing experience because I JUST WANTED IT TO BE A GOOD BOOK, OKAY?

MY THOUGHTS:

1.       I TRIED not comparing Kingdom of Ash to A Court of Wings and Ruin, but IT JUST KEPT HAPPENING INSIDE MY HEAD. I have to say, in terms of the PLOT, this book took the cake. There was something of substance happening any every point, even though the first 200 or so pages could have been cut out and/ or condensed. There were multiple wars, happening across the continent, with different characters and it was INTERESTING, to say the least.

2.       ACOWAR, EVEN DURING THE WAR, WAS A LOVE STORY BETWEEN TWO PEOPLE, BUT KINGDOM OF ASH WAS THE LOVE STORY BETWEEN THE CHARACTERS AND THEIR DREAM OF A BETTER WORLD, AND IT WAS JUST A BETTER BOOK TO READ.

3.       Sarah J Maas’ writing, though, pretty much remained the same. There was a repetition of the same thing with different synonyms when she described an emotion or emotional experience. There were a lot of places where there periods were used that SHOULD HAVE BEEN commas, semi-colons or even hyphens being used and that’s to my UNTRAINED EYE.

4.       So, basically while the writing was mediocre, the PLOT INTRIGUED ME. Add that together with the fact that I’d been WAITING TO FINISH THIS SERIES, I managed to finish this 988-page monster in three days, and even shed a tear or two at a particular Yrene Towers scene and the king of magic she thought during that time.

5.       I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO START A PETITION STATING THAT AEDION ASHRYVER WAS THE REAL HERO OF THIS SERIES AND THAT HE DESERVED SO MUCH MORE THANKS.

Would I recommend this series? Yes! It has a lot of flaws, and it’s definitely not for younger teens, but the plot, twists and character development are absolutely phenomenal! 4 stars.

Sarah J. Maas
Sarah J. Maas is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series as well as the A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Sarah lives in Bucks County, PA, and over the years, she has developed an unhealthy appreciation for Disney movies and bad pop music. She adores fairy tales and ballet, drinks too much tea, and watches an ungodly amount of TV. When she's not busy writing, she can be found exploring the historic and beautiful Pennsylvania countryside with her husband and canine companion.
Have you read the Throne of Glass series? What do you think of it?
Which series do you like better - A Court of Thorns and Roses or Throne of Glass?
I'd absolutely love to hear from you!