Friday, 4 July 2014

Book Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell


Goodreads synopsis: 
Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

328 pages
4.21 average rating on Goodreads
Published: 2013
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

I LOVE this book! I had heard so much hype about this book and I was worried that it wouldn't live up to my expectations, but it completely surpassed them! 

Eleanor has grown up in some unfortunate circumstances, and has just been allowed to move home after her stepfather kicked her out (for a year!). Park is a nice boy who has been raised with everything he wants at his fingertips. The two first cross paths when Park tries to save her from bullying and humiliation on the bus. 

It becomes routine that the two sit together and they SLOWLY (almost too slow for my liking) form an unlikely friendship by bonding over comic books and music. The two start spending more and more time together and soon realize they're falling for each other. 

Eleanor knows she can never tell her mother, as her stepfather would kill her (literally), but she is desperate to be with Park. Park wants to help Eleanor but she won't open up to him about her life at home.

One day when things take a dramatic turn for the worst, Park helps Eleanor one last time.

The book ends quickly after this - there is no real closure. You never get to see Eleanor and Park together in the same place again, you never hear another conversation, you never hear what becomes of Eleanor's mom or siblings or stepfather (though no one cares about him). I would love there to be a sequel or even an epilogue so that we could see more of the relationship that we saw the beginning of.

This book was funny, witty, emotionally gripping, and I give it 5/5 stars, though I do wish there had been more answers at the end. I cannot wait to read more brilliant works by Rainbow Rowell.

If any of you have read this please let me know what you thought of it !! 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Book Review: In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner


Goodreads synopsis: Rose is a thirty-year-old attorney with a secret passion for romance novels. She's going to start exercising next week, and she dreams of a man who will slide off her glasses and tell her she's beautiful. Maggie is twenty-eight and drop-dead gorgeous. Although her stardom hasn't progressed past her hip's appearance in a music video, she dreams of fame and fortune. These two sisters claim to have nothing in common but DNA, a childhood tragedy, and a shoe size, but when they're forced into cohabitation, they may just learn that they're more alike than they thought

421 pages
3.73 average rating on Goodreads
Published: 2002
Genre: Adult, Romance, Comedy, Contemporary

Rose is a quite relatable character for me - chubby, smart, plays by the rules, and just hopes that she won't die alone. Her younger sister Maggie likes to think she's a superstar, but Rose wishes she'd just grow up and make something of her life already.

When Maggie gets evicted from yet another apartment Rose is forced to let her sleep on her couch, much to both of their disdain. And so ensues the cycle of Maggie messes up, Rose gets angry, then ends up feeling sorry for Maggie and gets her out of her mess. This continues until Maggie makes a mistake of epic proportions and Rose kicks her to the curb.

Enter Ella Hirsch, a sad old lady who lives at Golden Acres Seniors Complex in Florida. We've seen sketches of her story throughout the book and know that she has lost a daughter and is estranged to her two granddaughters. Is it a coincidence that Rose and Maggie had a mother who died when they were little, and have never known their grandmother who so desperately tried to keep in touch with them? I think not. 

When Maggie's last ditch attempt to evade homelessness fails, she finds a box of letters in her stepmothers closet from the grandmother she never knew existed, and decides to contact her. Maggie hopes that with her grandmother's help she can finally do something with her life, and also make things right with Rose.


I found it interesting to read about the dynamics between these two sisters, a foreign concept to me as  an only child. I really enjoyed Rose's character and thought it was very well-developed. Although I didn't like Maggie, she was a very funny and fascinating character, and it was interesting to see inside her mind. Even the secondary characters (Amy, Sydelle, Ella) were developed and you came to feel as though these were real people that you knew.

Overall I give this book 4.5/5 stars, simply because I don't think I'll be reading it again, but I did thoroughly enjoy it while I was reading it.


If you've read this book or anything else by this author please feel free to share your thoughts :)

Monday, 23 June 2014

Books I've Read Lately

Because I'm so behind on book reviews, and honestly can't remember the in-depth details of some of these, I've decided to just do a quick little cumulative review of the books I've read recently:

1. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien 

To be quite honest, I didn't get into this book until it was almost over. I know this book and The Lord of the Rings series are quite popular, but I just couldn't see what the hype was about. Perhaps if it were read as a children's bedtime story as Tolkien originally intended, it wouldn't be so bad, but I didn't enjoy it much at all. Now that I've finished it I don't think it was quite so bad, but for a book of its size it took me quite some time to get through simply because I wasn't interested in it. Definitely don't think I'll be reading this again unless I decide to someday attempt TLOTR series.

Overall rating: 2/5 Stars


2. The Choice by Nicholas Sparks

This book was quite a fast read, and a typical cutesy, contemporary love story as I've come to expect from Nicholas Sparks. While maybe not one of my favorite books by this author, I did enjoy it and finished it pretty quickly.  It was well paced, the characters were relatable, and of course the dramatic twist near the end makes you think and put yourself in the situation. A few tears were shed over this book but not many.

Overall rating: 4/5 Stars

3. Sweet Misfortune by Kevin Alan Milne

I've actually had this book sitting in the bottom of my bookbag for the entire school year, untouched, and when I found it last week I considered not even reading it, as the premise sounded fairly predictable and nothing I'd be interested in anymore. That being said I decided to attempt it anyways, since it was fairly short, and ended up really liking it. Sophia Jones, the main character, comes Fran troubled past and is quite different from most characters I've read about lately. I found her blunt pessimism oddly refreshing, and the general cutesy plot of the book wasn't bad either, although I didn't particularly like the main male character. I probably won't read it again but it was a quick, easy and enjoyable read that I'd recommend for Summer simply because it's something slightly out of the ordinary. 

Overall rating: 4/5 Stars






If anyone has read or is planning to read either of these books I'd love to hear your opinion

Happy Reading! 
Xo 

I'm Back!

Hello Everyone,

After a regrettably long break from book blogging due to a multitude of tests, a new job, and then final exams amongst other things, I am happy to announce that I am officially back! 

I wrote my last final exam this morning and I am excited to be starting a relaxing summer, with hopefully many blog posts! 

I have three book reviews that will hopefully be up in the next couple of days, as well as a book haul (yay!)

I hope everyone is well and has a nice relaxing summer of reading ahead of them as well. 

Xo

Monday, 12 May 2014

Book Review: Pregnant Pause by Han Nolan


Goodreads Synopsis: A thought-provoking and courageous new novel by National Book Award winner Han Nolan. Nobody gets away with telling Eleanor Crowe what to do. But as a pregnant sixteenyear-old, her options are limited: move to Kenya with her missionary parents or marry the baby’s father and work at his family’s summer camp for overweight kids. Despite her initial reluctance to help out, Elly is surprised that she actually enjoys working with the campers. But a tragedy on the very day her baby is born starts a series of events that overwhelms Elly with unexpected emotions and difficult choices. Somehow, she must turn her usual obstinance in a direction that can ensure a future for herself—and for the new life she has created.

340 pages 
3.74 average rating on Goodreads
Published: 2011
Genre: YA, Fiction, Drug Abuse, Teen Pregnancy, Family Drama

May I just start by saying that I find the topic of teenage pregnancy and the associated trials and tribulations fascinating to read about, so I was semi-sold on this book just by reading the synopsis.

Eleanor Crowe is the sixteen year old daughter of two missionaries who seem to favor taking care of the AIDS babies in Africa instead of Eleanor. Eleanor is defiant, stubborn, pregnant, and married to the dope-head father of her child, Lam. Lam's parents own and run a summer camp for overweight children, and Eleanor begrudgingly lives and works there during the summer of her pregnancy. Her marriage, her relationship with the campers and with the other counsellors experience many ups and downs, and on the day Eleanor delivers her baby, a tragedy back at camp leaves her reeling. Suddenly Eleanor is faced with a dozen adult decisions that could be life changing for her and her baby.

I really enjoyed this plot as it had a lot of different aspects that worked nicely together. Eleanor and Lam seemed like two typical teenagers, and many of the emotions and thoughts that Eleanor had were very realistic in my opinion. Lam's parents, whom Eleanor refers to as the MIL and FIL are quite harsh and hard to like, as are Eleanor's parents and sister, Sarah. 

Eleanor's experiences as a young married teen at a camp surrounded by many more normal teenagers were interesting to read about: her feelings for someone other than her husband, her husband cheating on her, etc. I also liked reading about how Eleanor felt about the baby growing inside her, as she was deciding what to do with the baby once it was born. 

I was very pleased with the ending of this book because though the climax was dramatic and the ending unexpected, everything seemed to work out for the best. 

Overall I give this book a 5/5 stars, because I can find no fault with this book and would definitely recommend it to anyone. 

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Bout of Books TBR

Hello Everyone!

I apologize for my absence this past week but between school, working four shifts, and getting a friend ready for graduation my free time has been 0.

Anywho, today I talk about Bout of Books 10.0. Are you guys excited? Of course this would be the week that I have 1000 other things to do but I'm going to try my best to read two books this week, both of which were in my original TBR: The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien and The Choice by Nicholas Sparks.

I'll hopefully post daily updates if not here than on my twitter (@_withsugarontop) or Instagram (@_withsugarontop) so look out for those.

What will you guys be reading this week? Let me know!

Best of luck to everyone for a successful reading week :)

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Top 10 Tuesday: Books to Get Mom for Mother's Day

Hello Everyone! 

With Mother's Day coming up this Sunday I'm sure lots of you are looking for last-minute gifts for the woman who birthed you, and who has been dealing with your crap (sometimes literally) ever since. I personally think it's very important to thank my Mom for everything she's done for me on Mother's Day, since her work goes unappreciated far too often.

What busy Mom wouldn't appreciate a bubble bath complete with a nice candle, some chocolate, and of course, a good book?! Here are my top ten picks to get your Mom this Mother's Day!

1. Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
A typical Sparks romance with a dramatic edge. When "Katie" moves to a new tiny town across the country to escape an abusive husband at home, she soon falls for a widower and his two young children. Bonus points if you also get Mom the movie adaptation with Julianne Hough.

2. Belong to Me by Marisa De Los Santos
This book is about a woman who moves to the suburbs with her husband and befriends a woman of kindred spirits who has a young son. I'm not exactly sure what this book is about beyond that little tidbit, but I've heard great things.

3. Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham
Uhm, hello, the author of this book is none other than Lorelai Gilmore from Gilmore Girls. That is all the reasoning you need to buy this book.

4. Just One Day by Gayle Forman
This book has possibly the cutest premise I've ever heard - this girl who is usually very decisive and organized meets a guy on her European vacation and agrees to join him on a spontaneous day trip to Paris. Their day together changes her life supposedly, but still they end up going their separate ways. Just FYI, everyone is reading this book right now. And I do mean everyone. 

5. Just One Year by Gayle Forman
Alas, the companion novel to the aforementioned Just One Day - this book is the story of the year following the couple's day in Paris, and Willem (the guy's) journey to find the girl with whom he spent said day, and the obstacles he faces along the way.

6. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
By now most people have, if not read this book, seen the movie adaptation with the super awesome Emma Stone. This book is about a white journalist's attempt to revolutionize the southern states of America and make coloured people of equal standing to white, and all the drama and oppression that ensued during this time of terrible prejudice in the USA. This book is super important and I think that everyone needs to read this at least once. That being said, the intense topics and the quick wit oft he characters make it anything but a boring read.

7. The Pact by Jodi Picoult
This book is SO good, and so thought-provoking as well. The book involves two teenagers who grew up together as their parents were best friends and neighbours. When they try to take their relationship to the next level (may as well considering everyone expects them to get married anyways) thinks get tricky and they begin to crack under the pressures of their parents. I highly recommend this one!

8. How to Love by Katie Cotugno
A story about a girl who gets pregnant and gets left behind in a dusty little town by the love of her life, the baby's father. When the baby is born she does her best to move on and swears she wants nothing to do with her baby daddy, but when he comes back to town she just can't help falling for him all over again.

9. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
This book is a real heartbreaker, as is the movie version starring Sandra Bullock. It's the story of a young boy who goes on a quest to find a lock matching a key he found in his father's things after his father is tragically killed in the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre. 

10. The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow by Rita Leganski
This book's synopsis reminds me of the movie August Rush, although I have no idea why. The story is of a young boy born with a remarkable sense of hearing, and who can even hear the voice of his late father, who died before he was born. I haven't heard much about this book but the synopsis just sounds so intriguing to me.


I hope everyone found a suggestion here that they liked, but if anyone has any additional suggestions of books your Mom might likes for Mothers Day, by all means post them in the comments below! 

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Book Review: Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult


Goodreads Synopsis: One miscarriage too many spelled the end of Max and Zoe Baxter's marriage. Though the former couple went quite separate ways, their fates remained entangled: After veering into alcoholism, Max is saved in multiple senses by his fundamentalist conversion; Zoe, for her part, finds healing relief in music therapy and the friendship, then romantic love with Vanessa, her counselor. After Zoe and Vanessa, now married, decide to have a baby, they realize that they must join battle with Max, who objects on both religious and financial grounds.

466 pages
3.73 average rating on Goodreads
Published: 2011
Genre: Adult Fiction, Drama, Romance, Controversial

My Review:

When I picked up this book I expected an in-depth, multi-viewpoint account of some controversial issue, with quick-witted characters and raw emotions. Jodi Picoult did NOT disappoint.

Max and Zoe Baxter have been married for nine years, and have dug themselves into quite a hole of debt and despair with infertility treatments - the result of which has been two miscarriages and a stillborn. When Zoe says she wants to try again, Max decides he's had enough, and they divorce. Max moves in with his straight-arrow brother and his wife, and finds his way out of the bottle and into the arms of Jesus. Zoe finds her way into the arms of Vanessa, a counsellor at the school where Zoe sometimes works as a music therapist. Though Max and Zoe have gone very separate ways, they must deal with each other once more, in court, to determine what will happen to their remaining embryos, waiting in a freezer at the in-vitro clinic.

I really enjoyed the beginning of this book, which talked in-depth about Zoe and Max's fertility treatments. I hope to one day become a fertility doctor, so I like reading anything involving that branch of medicine.

As usual with Picoult's books, I fell in love with the characters immediately, especially Zoe. You can feel how deeply she wants a baby, and become so connected with her that you feel each injection, each miscarriage, each implantation, along with her. From page one, I was rooting for her to get what she wanted. Vanessa seems to be a super open-minded individual, and she seemed willing to do anything to make Zoe happy. Although Max was a slimeball at times, I generally liked his character as well and kept hoping for things to work out for him.

Is it just me or do all of the books by this author end up with someone in a courtroom? This doesn't actually bother me, but Angela, Zoe's lawyer in this novel, and her attempts at hilarity grew old fast in my opinion, and she got on my nerves quite a bit.

This book's plot is pretty fast-paced; there's always some new issue arising, and thus the plot was never boring. I was really pleased with the ending, although it was a bit abrupt and I wouldn't have minded it being extended, or even a sequel book. I'd like to know what happens to Max's brother, Reid, and if later on in life all of the characters are happy with the decisions they've made.

Overall I give this book 4/5 stars. I really enjoyed it and it will probably be put on my "for keeps" shelf, but I would've liked a longer ending.

If anyone else has read this I would love to know what you thought of it!

May TBR

Good morning everyone!

Today I'm showing you the books I intend to read in the month of May. I'm setting my goal at three books this month. I'd love for it to be more than that but with the school schedule I have coming up I don't see it being possible. I cannot wait for school to be over (57 more days, but hey, who's counting) so that I can have more time to devote to reading. 

So, with that being said, here are the books I plan to read this month! 

1. Pregnant Pause by Han Nolan

This book is one I've had for a while, but have never gotten around to reading. I haven't heard much about it, but I believe the general premise is that a teenage girl from a religious family gets pregnant, and has to decide what to do with the baby, and her life. This somehow leads to her working at a camp for overweight kids until there's a tragedy of sorts? I look forward to reading this book because I don't know much about it and therefore have no idea what to expect. 

2. The Choice by Nicholas Sparks

This is another book I've had sitting on my shelf forever and never picked up to read. Although I am well versed in most Nicolas Sparks books, I have no idea what this one is about, and so this will be another blind read for me this month. According to Goodreads, the book is about a bachelor named Travis who quite enjoys his lifestyle and sees no need for a woman to "cramp his lifestyle" until his new redheaded, not-single neighbour moves in. Travis decides he has to have her, and so ensues the typical guy-pursues-already-taken-girl-and-drama-unfolds plot. I mostly look forward to reading this because of the way Nicholas Sparks writes, and how he makes you fall in love with the words even moreso than the characters saying them. 

3. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien



I believe I may be the last person on the earth to have never read any Lord of the Rings books or seen any of the movies or be able to tell you the general plot without doing either of the aforementioned things. That, my friends, is going to change this month! 
I bought this book in the fall of 2013 with intentions to read it as a novel study for my English class, but I ended up reading another book for that purpose, so I figure I will read this now. I am told that this book is not exactly a part of The Lord of the Rings series, but more of an accompanying novel, but please correct me if this is not the case. I'm not even going to look this up on Goodreads, because I think it's super fun that I'm going into such a popular book without a clue of what happens in it. 
I'm sure I'll be watching the movie immediately after finishing the book, if only to affirmate that the book is always better, but I will likely post a comparison/review post of both the book and the film.


Although I may not have much time for reading this month, I'm glad I've picked three very different books, none of which I know what about, so that the reading I do fit in should be pretty interesting. 

What are you guys reading this month? Let me know below or tweet me @_withsugarontop ! 
Thank you for reading, and have a wonderful day! 

Pin of the Week: Sprite Gummy Popsicles



Are these not the CUTEST things ever? I would've loved these as a kid - wait, who am I kidding? I'll love these now! 

I found these Sprite Gummy Bear Popsicles (DIY) on Pinterest, from In the Corner 's blog, and I am now impatiently waiting for warm temperatures (defined in my province as anything above 0 degrees C) so that I can give them a try! I'm sure if you don't like gummy bears that any other gummy candy would be delicious as well. 

Thanks for reading! I hope everyone is having a good weekend :)



Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Bout of Books 10.0


Hi Everyone!

Tonight I'd just like to share that I will be participating in the upcoming read-a-thon, Bout of Books 10.0 !

This week long read-a-thon runs from May 12 to May 18, and from what I understand the only goal is to beat your normal number of books read in a week. I'm sincerely hoping that since I have about a dozen tests this week in school, that read-a-thon week will be a light week for school work so I can get in as much reading as possible. I hope to read at least three books, if not more, throughout that week. Not sure what I'll be reading yet but I will of course be posting when I decide.

Here's the official blurb that sums up what the read-a-thon is about, found on the site:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 12th and runs through Sunday, May 18th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 10 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

Here's where you sign up! It's super simple, just make a post announcing that you'll be participating, and leave a direct link to your post on the website. You can also participate through only Twitter or Instagram as well, and the directions for that are also explained on the webpage.

If you need more information, here's the Bout of Books home page. I hope you'll consider participating in this read-a-thon, and if you do, please leave me a comment or a tweet, letting me know that you're participating, or what you'll be reading throughout the week!

Thanks so much for reading :)

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Book Review: Impulse by Ellen Hopkins


http://ellenhopkins.com/YoungAdult/

Goodreads Synopsis: 
Sometimes you don't wake up. But if you happen to, you know things will never be the same.

Three lives, three different paths to the same destination: Aspen Springs, a psychiatric hospital for those who have attempted the ultimate act -- suicide.

Vanessa is beautiful and smart, but her secrets keep her answering the call of the blade.

Tony, after suffering a painful childhood, can only find peace through pills.

And Conner, outwardly, has the perfect life. But dig a little deeper and find a boy who is in constant battle with his parents, his life, himself.

In one instant each of these young people decided enough was enough. They grabbed the blade, the bottle, the gun -- and tried to end it all. Now they have a second chance, and just maybe, with each other's help, they can find their way to a better life -- but only if they're strong and can fight the demons that brought them here in the first place.

666 pages.   

4.30 average rating on Goodreads

Published 2007

Genre: YA, Drama, Realistic Fiction

 My Review:

This book is yet another tragic story written beautifully in prose poetry by the infallible Ellen Hopkins. Three troubled teens, Tony, Vanessa, and Conner all come from very different upbringings, but meet and become friends when they are all admitted to Aspen Springs, a psychiatric centre for young people.

I really liked that parts of the story were told from the perspective of each of the young people. I love when books are written from more than one perspective, so that you get to see the intimate details of the past that make each character who they are.

Tony, raised by a mother who never wanted to raise him, and ignored by a father who never bothered to know him, turns to pills to deal with his feelings. He is unsure of who he is, who he wishes to become, and how to love other people. Tony is an incredibly nice, friendly person, and we get to see him open more as he learns to forgive his father and figure out who he is.

Vanessa was raised essentially by her grandmother, since her military father was usually absent and her bipolar mother preferred the pill bottle to her children. Vanessa now finds that she herself shows symptoms of bipolar disorder, as well as depression (likely brought on by guilt of a rather dark portion of her past). She cuts herself for no reason other than to feel alive. In this book we see her seeking a close relationship with someone who truly cares about her (unlike her ex-boyfriend, Trevor, who just wanted to get in her pants), and affirmation that she has made good decisions in her life.

Conner, raised with his twin sister in a seemingly perfect household, with two perfectionist parents and a nanny, finds himself finally cracking under the pressure to be nothing less than the best. Conner has grown up starving for attention from a mother who never showed him any, and finds himself drawn to older, female authority figures. Though Conner desperately wants love and approval from his mother, he needs his parents to slack off the pressure and accept his depression, and if they don't, the consequences may be fatal.


I enjoyed reading this book but I wish there would've been more time to get to know each of the characters. Some of the plot twists didn't make sense to me (ahem, Tony and Vanessa), but the ending was a complete surprise that I thought was a perfect fit! I also thought Ms. Hopkins did a great job describing each of the characters' thought processes, giving them their own quirky personalities. 

Although I enjoyed this book and plan to read the second one, Perfect, I probably wouldn't consider it a favorite, and likely won't reread it. However, Crank and Glass by Ellen Hopkins, I do consider favorites! See my review of Glass here: http://with-sugar.blogspot.ca/2014/04/book-review-glass-by-ellen-hopkins.html  

Overall I give this book 3/5 stars, simply because it wasn't as amazing as I'd hoped for. If you are new to Ellen Hopkins books though, I definitely encourage you to read it as you will probably think it's fantastic. 

Thanks for reading! :)




                                        



Sunday, 27 April 2014

Readathon Recap

Hello Everyone!

I am very excited to have participated in my first readathon yesterday, Dewey's 24-Hour Readthon! Although I definitely did not read for 24 hours straight, I read more pages than I planned to, and it's the most reading I've done in one day for a long time.

Readathon in my time zone started at. 8:30 a.m., at which time I turned off my alarm clock and went back to sleep (oops). When I woke up at 11:00 a.m., I began by finishing my first book of the day, Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

This book tells the story of three teenagers who have attempted suicide, and how they help each other in the struggle to recover while in a psychiatric treatment centre.

I read the last 366 pages of this book fairly quickly, finishing around 1:00 p.m., as this book is a pretty quick read, given how few words there are on the pages. 

I took a little break and had some lunch, then relocated to my bathtub to start reading Night by Elie Wiesel


This book is the real-life experiences of a man who survived the horrors of Auschwitz as a teenage boy, during WW2 when the extermination of all Jews was top priority in Germany. Wiesel bravely recounts every gruesome detail of his experiences, so that people of the future do not allow history to repeat itself.

This book was only 115 pages, and took me only an hour and 10 minutes to read. 

I then took another break and went out to supper for a friend's birthday. When I came home, I started reading my third book of the day, Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult.


This book is about a 40-year-old music therapist who has been battling infertility for years. When her husband finally decides he's had enough, they divorce and she now finds herself trying to make a new life for herself, the one she had always pictured having recently gone to hell. 

I'm particularly enjoying that, as always with Picoult's books, we get to read from three different points of view: Zoe, the infertile music therapist, Max: Zoe's (ex-) husband, and Vanessa: Zoe's new friend.

It took me about 3 1/2 hours to read the first 202 pages of this book, and I hope to read a great deal more of it today.


SO all in all, I spent a total of 6 hours and 40 minutes reading yesterday, and read a grand total of 683 pages yesterday, which I personally think is pretty awesome for myself, considering my goal was 500 pages. 

I really enjoyed my first readathon, and connecting with other readathoners via Twitter and Instagram. Please leave a comment telling me what goals you accomplished yesterday, or what books you read, or you can always tweet me at @_withsugarontop ! 

Thanks for reading, and I hope everyone else enjoyed the readathon as much as I did! 

Friday, 25 April 2014

Series Quick Reviews: The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare


Hello everyone :)

For today's post I will be briefly sharing with you my opinions on each of the first five books in Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series, which has become a new favorite series of mine.

The sixth and final book in the series, City of Heavenly Fire is not released until next month, but having already marathon-read the first five books, I can't wait to get my hands on it! 

1. City of Bones

This is the book where Clary first discovers the world of Shadowhunters, meets Jace, the Lightwoods, and discovers the secret her mother has been keeping her from "for her own protection" throughout her entire life. It took a very short amount of time for me to fall in love with Clary and the other characters, as well as their quick wit and dry humor. Though this book was a little slow in the beginning, due to character development and what not, I still gave it 5/5 stars and would recommend it to anyone!

2. City of Ashes

In this book, Clary is struggling to find a way to bring her mother, Jocelyn, out of her magically induced coma, placed upon her by Clary's astranged father, who just happens to be the 'uber-villain' of the whole entire magical world, a detail that never came up much throughout Clary's childhood. Clary's best friend, Simon, has been turned into a vampire.On top of that, Clary has to deal with her infuriatingly charming and handsome brother, Jace, whom she desperately wishes was not her brother. I have nothing but good things to say about this book as well, and also gave it 5/5 stars.

3. City of Glass 

In the third instalment of the series, Clary travels to the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters in an effort to save her mother. This means breaking the law, several laws to be exact, which is punishable by death. Simon has been thrown in prison because of his weird abilities, and Jace is pushing her away for reasons she does not know or understand. Clary finds herself oddly drawn to Sebastian, a somewhat shady character who is a relative of friends of the Lightwood family. All of this going on in a young girl's life naturally makes for some drama, but WAIT: SPOILER ALERT : turns out, Clary and Jace are not siblings, so she no longer has to feel guilty about lusting after him, but must now try to figure out how he feels about her. Oh, and then there are her new supernatural powers to learn to deal with - talk about stress! I gave this book 4/5 stars because although I loved it, it was a little more dragged out than necessary and just not my favorite of the series. 

4. City of Fallen Angels

In this book The Mortal War has ended, Jocelyn is no longer comatose, and Clary has begun her official Shadowhunters training at the Institute in NYC. With the majority of the drama temporarily on the back burner, I loved getting to see Clary develop as a Shadowhunters, and to see the relationship between her and Jace continue to grow (though of course, it's never less than complicated). Soon Jace begins to pull away from her and she doesn't understand why - until she discovers that some of her actions could lead to the loss of everything she holds dear, especially Jace. I LOVED this book - it was probably my favourite of the series (thus far), and I gave it 5/5 stars.

5. City of Lost Souls

At the end of the fourth book, Jace and scumbag Sebastian went missing after the greater demon Lilith's return to power. In this book, we see Clary go about her tirelessly pursuit to find Jace, but once she does, she finds Jace is not how he used to be. Turns out he and the evil Sebastian have been bound together, so that one cannot be harmed without harming the other. Clary needs to find a way to bring her Jace back to her before it's too late, and, given that The Clave is searching everywhere for Sebastian, intent on killing him she doesn't have much time. This book shows how truely Clary loves Jace, and the lengths to which she is willing to go to save him. Again, a sucker for romance, I much prefer the interpersonal aspects of these books to the action and adventure scenes. I also gave this book 5/5 stars. 


I have to say, I just LOVE that these books are set in New York City. I visited there in November; it's a beautiful, mysterious city, the perfect setting for these books. Also, can we talk about how beautiful the covers of these books are? I love each and every one of them, and I regret that my entire series is not hardcover as it would look much nicer on my shelf. Alas, while in the beginning I was skeptical about reading these (I generally don't enjoy books about angels/vampires/werewolves) the characters in this series stole my heart and I think The Mortal Instruments is one of the best series I've read in a long time. I absolutely cannot wait for the final book to be released in May!


If you've read these books please tell me what you thought of them and which one was your favorite. Also if you've read the Infernal Devices series, also by Cassandra Clare, I'd love to hear your thoughts on those as I've not yet read them.

Thanks for reading ! 

Pin of the Week: Cute and Easy Kitchen Decor



For this week's Pin of the Week I have chosen these super cute framed kitchen puns. These are available on Etsy from Blue Moon Designs for just $23! 

I think these would be SO adorable in any kitchen, especially in young people's first homes, and I'll definitely be looking to get these for my apartment when I go away for school. 

Check them out here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/121588183/kitchen-collection-set-of-four-8x10s 

Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon


Hello everyone! 

As I was surfing YouTube last night I stumbled upon a video posted by Catriona (LittleBookOwl) about the worldwide readathon happening tomorrow, April 26th. 
The point of the readathon is simply to read for 24 hours straight. Of course if you wanted, there are challenges to complete and prizes to be won, but I will simply be reading because I want to, with no particular goals in mind.

Marissa Meyer, author of The Lunar Chronicles, will be reading for charity during this readathon; she offers more insight and information in this blog post: http://www.marissameyer.com/blogtype/24-hours-of-reading-for-charity/
As well, here is the link to the website, where you can sign up to read: 

http://24hourreadathon.com/tag/april-2014/

Of course, you don't need to sign up, but it's completely free and it's nice to feel officially included.

For this readathon, I will be finishing up Impulse by Ellen Hopkins, which tells the story of three teens in a treatment centre who have all tried to "off themselves". I'm currently about halfway through this book, and though I can't say I'm loving it, it's an okay read. 


Next, I will be reading Night by Elie Wiesel, which I have to read for my English class. This is the recounting of real events that Wiesel experienced as a young Jewish boy in Auschwitz as well as a number of other concentration camps during Hitler's power trip. 


Lastly, since Night is such a short read, I am hoping to possibly start reading Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult. I've read a number of books by this author but it's been awhile since my last. I always love her books but they are long, tedious reads with lots of information to swallow and retain. I believe this book the story of a middle-aged woman and how she uses music to cope with the difficulties of life? That may be wrong, it's been a long time since I read the synopsis for this book.


Anywho, thank you for reading, as always, and I hope I've encouraged you to consider participating in tomorrow's readathon! If you do decide to participate, please be sure to comment here and tell me what you'll be reading, or tweet me at @_withsugarontop , and I promise i will reply. 

Happy reading everyone!

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Spring Book Haul (#1)






Hello everyone! Today I would like to share with you the books I have bought/received in the past little while :)

1. The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine
Not gonna lie, I bought this book mostly because the spine is in my favorite shade of pink, and for the cutesy couple photo on the cover. From what I gather, the book is about a girl who saves this boy Grayson's life, and then they fall in love - sounds interesting maybe? Whatever, the cover was cute.

2. The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
Another book that caught my eye because of the cute couple on the cover - I am shallow, yes, but I'm over it. I first heard about this book when I was looking at The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by the same author, which I intended to get this weekend but couldn't find at Coles...sad times ensue. This book is about a couple who meet by chance when an elevator gets stuck, and then continue to pursue a long distance relationship as they move elsewhere in the world. I've heard good things so my expectations for this books are quite high!

3. I'll See You Again by Jackie Hance
This book was recommended to me by my mother, who read the ebook version last year. This is the tragic memoir of a mother who lost her three young daughters in a car accident, with her sister-in-law behind the wheel, and how she found the strength to forgive, accept, and move forward. I'm sure this book will mean several cry-fests, but I can't wait to read it.

4. Pride Over Pity by Kailyn Lowry
As a long time lover of the show Teen Mom 2 on MTV, I am familiar with the glimpses of Kailyn's life that are aired on the show. This book, her memoir, shows a deeper look at how she made it to where she is today - from lonely, unstable, and pregnant teen to thriving young mother and wife. I fell in love with this girl on Teen Mom 2 and I can't wait to fall in love with her again while reading this! (special thanks to the boyfriend for getting me this for Easter)

5. Baby Bumps by Nicole Polizzi (formerly known as Snooki)
Who in this world is NOT familiar with this amazing woman? Former party girl and ring leader in the crazy escapades of the crew on MTV's Jersey Shore, Nicole has come full circle and is now a devoted and loving mother to her sweet baby, Lorenzo, successful businesswoman, and is the healthiest she's ever been. Her no-holds-barred approach on life, her determination, and her passion for leopard print make me wish to be like her, and I can't wait to read her account of becoming a new mom! (Again, thanks boyfriend for getting me this book<3)

6. How to Love by Katie Cutugno 
Again, I mostly wanted to buy this book because of the simple but adorable cover (oops, sorry not sorry). From what I can tell this book is about a girl who gets left behind, alone and pregnant, in a small town after her boyfriend ditches her. When he returns to town she claims to want nothing to do with him, but quickly ends up falling for him all over again. I haven't heard much about this book but I'm hoping I'll enjoy it.

7. Family Pictures by Jane Green
I've heard nothing about this book but my mom picked it up at walmart for me, so I'm willing to give it a try. What I gather from the synopsis on the back cover is that two girls,who come from homes with ever-travelling dads and unhappy mothers, meet at university and become fast friends, only to find out some abhorrent secret that affects both families. It also says something about not being able to trust your loved ones, so I wonder if maybe the secret is that this guy lives a double life? Not a clue, but I look forward to finding out!

8. Heaven Is for Real by Todd Burpo
Another incredible real-life story, this book is a father's account of his young son's experience with angels and Heaven. After the little boy nearly dies during an emergency appendectomy, he later recounts to his parents his encounters with the angels, Heaven, and possibly God himself ? This story sounds so so inspiring and fascinating to me, and I cannot wait to read it before the movie adaptation is released. 

9. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I feel this book requires no little explanation or synopsis. If you are not familiar with this book, your English or Literature teachers have failed you. I read this classic last year for school and fell in love with the way it made you think about the type of person you are and wish to be, and about how you treat others. I feel that absolutely everyone needs to read this, and own it so they may reread it as necessary. HOWEVER I will suggest you never watch the movie as it's actually quite crappy and, as is usually the case, does not begin to give the book due justice.

10-14. The Game of Thrones Series by George R. R. Martin
These books came as a boxed set (yay!) from Chapters, where I was fortunate enough to order them for just about $35! In order they are:
1. A Game of Thrones
2. A Clash of Kings
3. A Storm of Swords
4. A Dance with Dragons
5. A Feast for Crows
I believe this series may actually not be called Game of Thrones, but rather Songs of Fire and Ice or something similar? Anywho, I really have not the faintest idea of what these books are about, other than that a lot of people die. I have, however, heard nothing but praise for both the books and television series (which no, I have not watched). A friend recommended these to me after she finished reading them, and said that since I loved the Harry Potter series so much I would probably like these. Given their length I think I'll definitely take a while to get through them (this summer maybe?) but I am excited to see what all the hype is about!


As always, thank you for reading. If you have read any of these books PLEASE let me know what you thought, good or bad. 

Good night and happy reading! :)

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Book Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green

http://johngreenbooks.com
http://fishingboatproceeds.tumblr.com

Goodreads Synopsis:
Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (Fran├žois Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.
After. Nothing is ever the same.

221 pages
4.23 average rating on Goodreads
Published: 2005
Genre: YA, Realistic Fiction, Sob Continually Throughout because The Feels

May I just start this review by saying, WHY DID NO ONE PREPARE ME FOR THE FEELS THIS BOOK WILL CAUSE YOU TO EXPERIENCE - WHY?
Looking for Alaska is the first John Green book that I've read, and woah....mind = blown. This book is beautifully written, with just the right amount of quirk and comedy to balance the heavily dramatic topics that are present in this book. If you ask me, John Green has introduced us to a whole new style of writing and I LOVE IT. 
The characters in this book are so realistic and so well-developed that you feel as if you know them personally, as if they are your friends....and more than once throughout you wish they were your friends. I got strongly emotionally attached to all of there characters in this novel early on; I love that Alaska was such a strong, independent female character - witty and impulsive, she took crap from no one, - the type of girl everyone wishes they could be.
This book requires solitude and a plethora of tissues, which nobody warned me about (how did I manage to never get spoiled about the plot?). I spent the first half of the book mildly irritated that there were no chapters but rather "x days before"....like what the hell did the before mean? Before what? Then I finally turned the page to after, and immediately wished I could go back. I was NOT prepared to deal with what happened, and in fact I am still far from ok with it. That being said, this book makes you both laugh and cry, often within the same paragraph, so thank you for that John Green.
This book makes you think differently about the world and about the people you choose to face it with. It changes your perspective on life, and makes you want to live in the moment, and to go chase your own Great Perhaps.
In short, this book will both elate and depress you, make you laugh hysterically and sob uncontrollably. Looking for Alaska is a realistic book about teens and personal growth as they leave home to become their own person, and to discover their own Great Perhaps. 

I give this book 5/5 stars because I ABSOFRICKENLUTELY loved it! I will however warn you that there are some pretty mature topics (sexually and otherwise) in here, so maybe if you're under the age of thirteen you may want to wait a while to read it. Otherwise I absolutely recommend this book, my favorite read of 2014 thus far!

I would love to hear your opinion on Looking for Alaska, as well as your thoughts on any of John Green's work. Thanks for reading!! 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip




Hello Everyone! Today I am most excited to share with you a recipe that I found ages ago, and made for the first time tonight; Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip! (And yes, it is every bit as delicious as it sounds).

YOU WILL NEED:
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup icing (powdered) sugar
- 1 cup mini chocolate chips
- 8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Melt butter in a saucepan over low to medium heat. Gradually stir in brown sugar; stir until fully combined and the mixture has begun to boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool. 

2. Using a mixer, beat cream cheese until fluffy. On low speed, gradually add icing sugar. Once fully combined, continue to beat for 1-2 minutes.

3. Slowly add and mix in the brown sugar and butter mixture. When fully combined, continue beating for another minute or so.

4. Using a spatula, fold the mini chocolate chips into the mixture.

5. Serve cool, with a selection of dipping options (pretzels, strawberries, animal crackers, etc).

 
Again, I owe my pitiful photo quality to my currently lacking a useable laptop.





Brought this to a baby shower tonight and it went over incredibly well! I'll definitely be making this again in the future.

Enjoy!! 



Tuesday, 22 April 2014

My Favorite Quotes from Looking for Alaska


I've spent the last two days reading this book whenever possible, being essentially unable to put it down. Looking for Alaska by John Green is not a book you read, so much as experience. 
This book caused me to think and feel things that no book ever has before, as it is so damn realistic. 
I have not as of yet recovered emotionally from the book enough to write a review, but that will hopefully be coming within the week. For now, I leave you with a list of my favorite quotes from the novel, the ones that inspired me and the ones that made me think and the ones that made me cry:

1. What is the nature of being a person? What is the best way to go about being a person? How did we come to be, and what will become of us when we are no longer? In short: What are the rules of this game, and how might we best play it? - Page 32

2. Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia...you spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you will escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present. - Page 55

3. Just like that. From a hundred miles an hour to asleep in a nanosecond. I wanted so badly to lie down next to her on the couch, to wrap my arms around her and sleep. Not fuck, like in those movies. Not even have sex. Just sleep together, in the most innocent sense of the phrase. But I lacked the courage and she had a boyfriend and I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating. So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was  drizzle and she was a hurricane. - Page 88

4. People, I thought,  wanted security. They couldn't bear the idea of death being a big black nothing, couldn't bear the thought of their loved ones not existing, and couldn't even imagine themselves not existing. I finally decided that people believed in an afterlife because they couldn't bear not to. - Page 100

5. That is the fear: I have lost something important, and I cannot find it, and I need it. It is fear like if someone lost his glasses and went to the glasses store and they told him that the world had run out of glasses and he would just have to do without. - Page 144

***SPOILERS TO THE PLOT AHEAD***

6. And what is an "instant" death anyways? How long is an instant? Is it one second? Ten? The pain of those seconds must have been awful as her heart burst and her lungs collapsed and there was no air and no blood to her brain and only raw panic. What the hell is instant? Nothing is instant. Instant rice takes five minutes, instant pudding an hour. I doubt that an instant of blinding pain feels particularly instantaneous. - Page 146

7. "You can't just make me different and then leave...because I was fine before, Alaska. 
I was fine with just me, and last words, and school friends, and you can't just make me different and then die." For she had embodied the Great Perhaps - she had proven to me that it was worth it to leave behind my minor life for grander maybes, and now she was gone, and with her my faith in perhaps. You can't just make yourself matter and then die, Alaska, because now I am irretrievably different. - Page 172

8. Everything that comes together falls apart. The cells and organs and systems that make you you - they came together, grew together, and so must fall apart. The Buddha knew one thing science didn't prove for millennia after his death: Entropy increases. Things fall apart. - Page 196

9. We are all going, I thought, and it applies to turtles and turtlenecks, Alaska the girl and Alaska the place, because nothing can last, not even the earth itself. The Buddha said that suffering was caused by desire, we'd learned, and that the cessation of desire meant the cessation of suffering. When you stopped wishing things wouldn't fall apart, you'd stop suffer go when they did. - Page 196

10. There were so many of us who would have to live with things done and left undone that day. Things that did not go right, things that seemed okay at the time because we could not see the future. If only we could see the endless string of consequences that result from our smallest actions. But we can't know better until knowing better is useless. - Page 218

11. I believe now that we are greater than the sum of our parts.... There is a part of her greater than the sum of her knowable parts. And that part has to go somewhere, because it cannot be destroyed.... We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail. - Page 220/221

12. Thomas Edison's last words were "It's very beautiful over there." I don't know where there is, but I believe it's somewhere, and I hope it's beautiful. - Page 221


If anyone has other quotes from Looking for Alaska that meant something to them, please share them with me! I would also love to hear other peoples' opinions on this novel.

Until next time, thanks for reading!