Book Review: Everything, Everything | Wordy Wednesday

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Back to regular reviews! Today I’ll be reviewing Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon.

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My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

I discovered this book after someone did a review of it (maybe Cait from Paper Fury?) and I thought it looked interesting. So I reserved it and read it while I was on camp.

So. What’d I think?

I really enjoyed it. There were multiple styles of chapters, which I liked. I found that it was both light and fluffy and dark and heavy at the same time, if that’s possible. Maddy, for me, was a good character, as was Olly. I saw them grow and change throughout the story. There was some suspense that kept me interested, because it didn’t reveal the whole back story to begin with.

But what I liked most about it?

I WAS NOT AT ALL EXPECTING THE ENDING.

I have a problem with being extremely good at predicting endings, or plot twists, that kind of thing. But this one? Did not see that coming. And that makes me so happy. It had been a long time since I had been so surprised by a plot twist. Ahh it was amazing.

It wasn’t perfect, but the issues I had with it were minor. Just a couple of pet peeves of mine; nothing huge. All in all, I really enjoyed it, and would recommend it. Although it is a romance, so maybe not if that isn’t your cup of tea.

There we go. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. A great book.

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann

(I Am) Sixteen Going On Seventeen | Motley Monday

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Ahh I so should’ve done that song for Song Of The Week on Saturday.

It’s my birthday tomorrow! I’m turning 17! (In case you didn’t get that from the post title).

I have no idea what this post is actually going to be about, so please brace yourself for an onslaught of randomness.

When it comes to birthdays, I’m like a child. I have literally been counting down the days for weeks. I cannot wait to go to bed tonight, so that I can wake up tomorrow and be 17. And yes, unless I wake up ridiculously early, I will be 17 when I wake up. I was born at five in the morning.

But honestly? 17 sounds so old. I thought 16 was old, but 17? My brother graduated high school when he was 17, and some of my friends will as well. I’m one step closer to adulthood; one step closer to having to be mature and sort out my life.

But at the same time, I can’t wait. I can’t wait to grow up and start forming my own path, living my life. Turning 17 brings a little bit closer to doing that.

Ack I have no idea what I’m saying here.

I heard something somewhere the other day. Growing up and growing old aren’t the same thing. Everyone grows older. It’s inevitable. Except for tragic circumstances which we won’t mention because I’ll cry. But most people grow older from the day they are born, unless their name is Benjamin Button. That was his name, right? But we don’t have to grow up. I am so childish, it isn’t funny. I still take a large unicorn to bed, and I still have a lot of childish possessions. I want to stay this way, young at heart. Because I think that things are so much better when we see things through the eyes of a child. To some extent, anyway. Maturity does come in handy at times.

Basically, all of this is to say that tomorrow, I may being growing older, but I don’t plan on growing up. Because honestly? Being excited to open presents is a great feeling, especially now that I’m old enough to properly appreciate them. Looking forward to spend a chunk of time with my friends that is just about me is something to enjoy. Not being able to get to sleep the night before is awesome, because it means I have something to look forward to. So I am sitting here, just about bursting with excitement about tomorrow.

You have to grow old. You don’t have to grow up.

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann

Blink | Song Of The Week

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Whoops. Completely forgot to post that play yesterday, what with all of the end-of-term-ness (GUYS I’M ON HOLIDAY) and the fact that I forgot that I was actually posting again. Oh well. Next week, I promise.

In other news, I got excellence on the Bible assignment, which is my last one for the year (hooray!), and I just finished an English thing that was supposed to be due yesterday, so I’m hoping the teacher doesn’t look at when I updated the document. Oh, the joys of having teachers who know how to use Google Drive.

Anyways. This post is about a song.

This is week’s song is Blink. I hadn’t heard this song in ages, although it used to play on the radio a lot, about three years ago or something. I was listening to my Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify the other day (which is a playlist that gets updated every week with suggested songs based on what you listen to), and this song was on it. And then I started obsessing.

I don’t think I ever had a particular love of this song back when it was on the radio a lot, but right now it is my jam. I was listening to it the other night, and I was just so into it. I’m pretty sure I listened to it about ten times, and each time it got to the chorus, I would be jamming out on my air drums. I was so into it. It’s kinda strange, but whatever.

So the song is about not taking things for granted and not wasting your life, because it could all be gone in a blink. Which is a pretty good message, in my opinion.

Here you go. Blink by Revive. Tell me I’m not crazy for loving this at the moment.

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann

Mini Reviews: Historical Fiction | Wordy Wednesday

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I’m baaaack!

Camp was amazing. I got my assignment done yesterday – on time and without too much panicky last minute stress, which is nothing short of a miracle. I get the grade back tomorrow, I think.

I must say, I enjoyed my break, but I am very glad to be back.

Before I begin, I need to inform you of my two executive decisions.

1. I will not be using pictures in this post. That’s half of my technology problems, and it’s too stressful this late at night.
2. I will not be doing mini reviews on the children’s books I read in August. I have nothing interesting to say about them, and I’d rather move on to the books that I’ve been reading this month.

Alrighty. On with the reviews! Today I’ll be reviewing: Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster, which is about an orphan girl sent to university by a mysterious man, told entirely in letters written to him; The Poetry Girl by Beverley Dunlop, which is about a Kiwi girl in the 1940s who moves around a lot; On The Night Of The Seventh Moon by Victoria Holt, which is about a German girl and the effects of what happened to her on the night of the Seventh Moon; and Rachel by Vivian Schurfranz, which is about a Polish girl who moves with her family to America and begins working in a shirtwaist factory.

Daddy-Long-Legs

Had I read it before? Yes, but years ago, so I didn’t really remember it.

Why did I read it? What challenges did it complete? Mainly a book that I had forgotten was on my shelf. Also I’m pretty sure I read it in a day.

What did I like about it? I love the main character. She has such an awesome personality. And I love the way it is written, with the letters. It’s creative and different. I really enjoy it. Plus, it is a nice light read. Short and sweet.

What didn’t I like about it? Not much. It is a really good book. Maybe parts of it were slightly boring, if I remember right.

Would I recommend it or read it again? Absolutely. I love it.

The Poetry Girl

Had I read it before? Nope. I has walked past it thousands of times, but never read it.

Why did I read it? What challenges did it complete? It was the only at all decent book that I could find that was set in New Zealand. Seriously. Someone needs to write more of those.

What did I like about it? Um. Not much. I liked the fact that it was set in New Zealand and that when they listed place names, I knew where they were talking about. Otherwise, zilch.

What didn’t I like about it? Well, there was nudity in the first ten pages, if that tells you anything. It was just weird, you know. And the plot seemed to finally build up to this one big, character-defining moment, and then it just dropped off, as if it hadn’t even happened.

Would I recommend it or read it again? Nah.

On The Night Of The Seventh Moon

Had I read it before? Nope.

Why did I read it? What challenges did it complete? I needed a red book for my book rainbow. Our copy of it is entirely red, other than the faces of the pages. Also, I didn’t read the blurb before reading it, which was one of the challenges. And it could possibly be considered a romance.

What did I like about it? It was so different from anything I’d read before. I was hooked in the whole way, mainly because I was so confused by everything that I needed to keep reading to answer all of my questions. But yeah, it was just so different, in such a good way. And I liked all the German in it. It made it feel more authentic.

What didn’t I like about it? Bits of it were quite creepy, and, like I said, I was confused by the plot basically until the very end. Maybe it’ll make more sense if I read it again.

Would I recommend it or read it again? Yup and yup. It was strange, but good. The concepts and the plot were so different to anything I’d read before.

Rachel

Had I read it before? Multiple times.

Why did I read it? What challenges did it complete? It’s a romance, so there’s that. In fact, the series is the Sunfire Romance series. Also, it has a character name in the title. And I probably read it in one day.

What did I like about it? Aha wow I’ve read it so many times that this is difficult. Ok, just a head’s up – all of the books (except one) in the Sunfire series are set in a different historical setting, and feature a girl who has to choose between two guys. Right. Now that we’re clear on that. I liked Rachel as a character, and the way that she grows. I also liked the way that I learnt about history without feeling like it was being shoved down my throat.

What didn’t I like about it? I didn’t really like a couple of the characters. They just didn’t sit right with me.

Would I recommend it or read it again? Well, since I’ve read it multiple times, then the answer to that is probably yes. But you must be warned that it is a romance, so I wouldn’t recommend it if that isn’t your cup of tea. Although this one isn’t as romancey as some of the other ones in the series.

There we go! A selection of historical novels that you should maybe look into.

For next week’s Wordy Wednesday, I’ll start doing regular long reviews again, with one of the books I read on camp. Which should be good fun.

It’s good to be back!

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann

I’ll Be Back

This is just a very quick, late night post to let you know that my promised Flashback Friday will not be going up tomorrow, and there also won’t be a Song Of The Week. As well as that, there is a slight chance that I won’t be posting on Monday.

Today has been extremely busy, and I’m leaving on youth group camp straight after school tomorrow. I don’t get back til Sunday, and, when I do get back, I’ll have assignments and homework galore to do, which will probably pour over onto Monday, since my Bible assignment is due Tuesday. Another Bible assignment. I seem to always be doing those.

All of that is to say that you probably won’t be hearing from me for about a week. I would have scheduled posts, but what with the busyness and the technology issues I’ve had, it hasn’t been possible.

So have a great weekend, and I’ll catch you all sometime next week!

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann

Mini Reviews: YA | Wordy Wednesday

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Ack I’m so mad. I was actually prepared and did Top Ten Tuesday yesterday, and then the post deleted itself. Twice. This better not be a common occurrence.

Anyway, this week, as promised, I’m reviewing the five YA books that I read in August. Due to my somewhat mixed opinions, this should be interesting.

The first book I’ll be reviewing is By Any Other Name by Laura Jarratt. It’s about a girl who, along with her family. is in the witness protection program.

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  • By Any Other Name

Had I read it before? Nope.

Why did I read it? What challenges did it complete? It was the book from the “count along a shelf at the library” challenge. It was also a book I read in one day, and a book by an author I hadn’t read before.

What did I like about it? It was different. My only other experience with the witness protection program was in a different situation in a completely different book. I had never heard of the book, so I went into it with zero expectations, and was therefore pleasantly surprised. It was a great book.

What didn’t I like about it? It was a bit predictable. Maybe I’m just too good at guessing.

Would I recommend it or read it again? Absolutely. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The next book I’ll be reviewing is Paper Towns by John Green. In case you live under a rock, it’s a book about a guy named Q, who’s life is flipped upside down after a night of mayhem with a girl named Margo.

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  • Paper Towns

Had I read it before? No.

Why did I read it? What challenges did it complete? I had been meaning to read it for ages, and had reserved it a couple of months before I even knew about the challenge. As for challenges, it completed a few: read a book in a day, a book your friend has been begging you to read for ages, and a book by the same author as a book you read this time last year.

What did I like about it? Mmm, not much. I liked that the ending wasn’t quite what I was expecting.

What didn’t I like about it? It didn’t click with me. I had really high expectations, because everyone raves about it, but it wasn’t that great. Which I actually kind of expected. Also, I have a problem with John Green’s portrayal of teenagers as philosophical and metaphorical, especially around people they’ve just met or barely know. We aren’t like that. Trust me. And it bugs me that he writes us like that. I don’t know why. Also, the book in general didn’t really do much for me. It seemed to lead to this one massive event, and then just drop off.

Would I recommend it or read it again? Nah. It doesn’t live up to the hype.

The third book on today’s list is Things I’ll Never Say: Stories About Our Secret Selves. This is a collection of fifteen short stories by different authors, put together by Ann Angel. All of the stories are about secrets in some way, shape, or form.

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  • Things I’ll Never Say

Had I read it before? No.

Why did I read it? What challenges did it complete? I chose it because of the cover, because that was one of the challenges. It was also by authors I’d never read before.

What did I like about it? The first story was good.

What didn’t I like about it? Everything else. Seriously. They were awful. I normally try and finish bad books, but after three and a half really bad stories, I gave up and returned it. After returning it, I looked it up, and it has pretty good reviews, which surprised me. I also discovered that one of the stories that makes no sense to me is part of a series, which would have made it make more sense. It was still bad though. They were just really weird. And the fifth one in the book was boring, so I gave up. Also I don’t even like short stories that much in the first place.

Would I recommend it or read it again? If I had the opportunity to read the rest of the stories, then I might, but otherwise, no way. Ergh.

Review number four. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. It’s about a boy named Charlie who tells about his high school experiences through letters to some mysterious person.

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  • The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

Had I read it before? No.

Why did I read it? What challenges did it complete? I had been meaning to read it for ages, and, like Paper Towns, it arrived at the library for me during the challenge. Like I said, it was one I had been meaning to read. I also read it in a day, and it was by an author I’d never read anything by before.

What did I like about it? I’m generally a nice person, right? Especially when it comes to books and movies and that kind of thing. I can generally see good in things. Not this time.

What didn’t I like about it? It was awful! I don’t understand why this is such a popular book! Ergh it makes me so mad. Again, I had fairly high expectations, because it is so popular, and it didn’t meet a single one of them. The whole book was just chockablock with sex, drugs, and drinking, but when you took all of that away from the main character, you were left with a 16 year old who seemed like he was 12. Or younger. And taking that away from the plot left it with no plot whatsoever. Also, I again looked up the book after I finished, and found out that there were some extremely key plot points that I’d somehow missed. I went back to the book to see where one of them was, and discovered that it was explained in one tiny sentence in a huge paragraph. And the sentence could have been interpreted a multitude of ways. I’m telling you, this piece of information was so important to the story and the character and everything, and I missed it. I don’t see how any could pick up on it, unless they were over-analyzing every single sentence.I’m just mad because this was such a bad book, and everything I’d heard about it had been good.

Would I recommend it or read it again? Absolutely not. No way.

Now that that’s off my chest, time for the final review! This one is Born Ugly by Beth Goobie. It’s about a girl called Shir who is a total outcast.

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  • Born Ugly

Had I read it before? Hadn’t even heard of it.

Why did I read it? What challenges did it complete? I needed a replacement for the “pick a book because of its cover” challenge, after my failed attempt with Things I’ll Never Say. It was also one by an author I’d never read before, and one I read in a day.

What did I like about it? I had no expectations, so it had nothing to live up to. Therefore, anything was better than nothing. That doesn’t make sense. Basically, it was good. Not the greatest thing I’ve ever read, but good. It dealt with certain things in ways I hadn’t read before. I enjoyed it.

What didn’t I like about it? Mmm, some of it was a bit unbelievable. Something like that.

Would I recommend it or read it again? I probably wouldn’t read it again, but yeah, I would recommend it.

Just something I should probably add on here: most of these books feature themes that I know some Christians wouldn’t be comfortable reading. I wasn’t comfortable reading some of them, to be honest. So be wary, if you are reading these books and aren’t comfortable with a lot of YA themes. Just a warning.

Anyway. My very mixed opinions of the YA books I read in August. Next week will either be the historical ish ones, or the ones for children. Because I read children’s books. I have completely forgotten how to use apostrophes. Oh well.

Have you read any of these? Do you agree with my opinions? Let me know!

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann

Exams & Why They Suck | Motley Monday

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Until recently, I was one of those weirdos who enjoyed tests. Everyone else would be moaning and groaning, while I would be having a little party.

That is no longer the case.

Last week, I had mock exams. Five exams in three days. I have never done so badly on any assessments at school. Seriously. My brain decided to have a mental breakdown last week, causing me to fail at least three papers, if not more.

Oh, for those of you overseas, I should probably explain how NCEA (schooling in NZ for years 11-13) works. Each assessment that you do is worth credits, and you need a certain amount of credits in total to pass the year. There are internal credits, which you get from assessments that you do in class, and external credits, which you get from the end of year exams. It is possible to pass year 11 and 12 just with internal credits (meaning you could skip the exams if you wanted), but not year 13. Each school runs their own mock exams in Term Three (August or September ish) to prepare their students for the real exams, which are in November.

I should probably explain about papers too. Each subject has a different number of papers (which are the external assessments) that you sit. I sat three maths papers, two chemistry papers, three English papers, two Māori papers, and one music paper. Each paper is an individual assessment, which gets graded separately.

Alrighty. Now you know how our schooling works, it is time to have a rant about how stupid exams are.

EXAMS ARE REALLY STUPID.

Especially the way that my school does mock exams. They force us to do up to five exams in the space of three days, without giving us any study leave.

HOW ON EARTH DO THEY EXPECT US TO DO WELL UNDER THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES?

Except I did pretty well last year. But that’s beside the point.

When you think about it, though, the concept of exams is really quite bad. They’re kind of just like, “Hey. Let’s force these poor, stressed students to tell us everything they know about all of the things they have learnt this year.”

In fact, let’s pretend that my exams could talk, and had a meeting with each other to decide how to best torture me.

Maths: “So, guys, what’s the plan this year?”
Music: “Oh oh oh I know! Let’s force her to learn all of these Italian and German and French terms, and then only ask her one question about them!”
Chemistry: “That’s a great idea! I think I’ll do the same thing, and force her to learn all about the different reactions and stuff, but barely even mention them. Or I could just mention ones that she’s never heard of?”
Maths: “Brilliant! I’m going to throw in some questions that she’ll have no idea how to answer, because they are so ridiculously complicated!”
English: “We’re on a roll! How about I increase the requirements for passing by heaps, and then ensure she doesn’t get taught how to pass!”
Māori: “I think I have the greatest idea. I’m going to give her some passages to read with words that are so specific to the topic that she never will have heard them before. Then I’ll get her to write an essay, in Māori, of course, about subjects that she has never studied, so she will have no idea what to write.”
All: *cackle*

That’s a pretty accurate representation of how my mock exams went this year.

Why does the school system think that exams are a good idea? What does it prove? That we can vaguely remember things that we were taught six months ago? That we have no idea how to study properly? That Google really is lifesaving?

In the real world, there is Google. You can ask questions. And there is an extremely high chance that I am never going to need to know about alkanes and alkenes, or the difference between a homophonic and monophonic piece of music, since I’m most likely going to be a preschool teacher. That stuff generally isn’t taught at that age. And I certainly won’t ever need to know off the top of my head, unless it comes up as a question on Trivia Crack.

So. Exams. Could you please get your act together? Since you have to exist, couldn’t you at least be about stuff we actually learn, and not some random gobbledygook? I’d much appreciate it. Or you could just shrivel up and die. Actually, I’d prefer that option.

Urgh. You know what the worst part about this is?

I have to do them again in November.

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann