UPPERCASE BOX // BOOK REVIEWS

Simply Nicollette reviews - books, movies, television shows, etc. with slight spoilers. I try my best to review without giving away too much of the story.


Last month I wrote a review on Uppercase Box, which is a subscription box for all the 'Young Adult' book readers out there. I was happy to share all about it because I'm still enjoying my subscription with Uppercase a lot. I didn't share a review on the actual books that I received those past 3 months in the previous post, and I really wanted to do a separate review on them for you now.


One of the many reasons why I enjoy my subscription with Uppercase Box is because you never know exactly what kind of book will be the new month's pick. All of these books are so different from one another, and I love that. They have challenged me to step out of my comfort zone - I used to only read either popular books, or most YA dystopian stories, and that's it. Now, my mind is open to almost anything - such as fantasy or a memoir. I've really been able to find the beauty in reading since I opened up my mind to new worlds and experiences.
So -
I hope that you enjoy my thoughts on each of these books, and if you've read any of them I hope you share your own thoughts with me as well.



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The Girl at Midnight - Book Review


"Memories make us who we are," he said.
"Without them, we are nothing."


Goodreads Summary // Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she's ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she's fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it's time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, though if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it's how to hunt down what she wants. . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren't as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.



Melissa Grey does a great job building this fantasy world.
The book started off a little slow to me. I wasn't completely in love with the story at first, and I couldn't connect with Echo in any way. I did find the world and their ancient history of the Avicen and Drakharin - who are at war in the fantasy world, while mortals are unable to see any of this going on - and I thought that was interesting enough to keep me reading.

Like I said, I found it hard to connect with Echo who is our main character in the story. It's not that I didn't like her - I just wasn't interested in her as much as I would hope I would be. Once we got to our other POV - told from Caius, the leader of the Drakharin, I was sold on his character. I have read some reviews where others have thought the supporting characters were a bit flat or unnecessary, but I couldn't disagree more. I enjoyed all the characters and thought it was fun to see all these different types of people come together to find a solution to this war going on around them. By the end of the book I was rooting for Echo, I enjoyed seeing her character develop into a strong and fierce leader.

I really love Melissa's style of writing. While I was reading this book it reminded me of reading 'The 5th Wave' series by Rick Yancey, whose writing I absolutely love - so it was a lot of fun getting all the different POVs of the story and seeing them all tie together.

This was the first book that I ever read that contained a strong fantasy element, and I was honestly shocked at how much I enjoyed it. So, I think this book is great for any fantasy book lovers out there as well as anyone looking to broaden their reading selection. The world building is a lot of fun to read and the story really picked up in the middle - ending of the book. Personally, I'm excited to see where Echo and her friends go in the next one.



RATING:

4 out of 5 stars

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The Wrath and the Dawn - Book Review


"Some things exist in our lives for but a brief moment. And we must let them go on to light another sky."


Goodreads Summary // In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad's dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph's reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she'd imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It's an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid's life as retribution for the many lives he's stolen. Can their love survive this world or stories and secrets?

Inspired by 'A Thousand and One Nights', The Wrath and The Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end.



Since finishing reading this book, I have recommended this book over and over again. 'The Wrath and the Dawn' is my favorite book release of 2015 so far, and I've read a lot of best selling books this year. I have never read 'A Thousand and One Nights' before receiving this book, so I had no idea what kind of story this was going to be. I honestly wasn't even looking forward to reading it because it wasn't a book I would have ever bought for myself.
But - I was so, so wrong.

There wasn't one thing I didn't enjoy about this book.
The world Renee builds is absolutely stunning. She writes so beautifully - in a way that you feel like you are there, walking the marble floors and eating the delicious food being served. The descriptions are so fun to read in this world - the palace, food, and everything that surrounds the story.

Again, in this book we get different POVs - of course our main character is Shahrzad who is a strong young woman with all the right qualities we hope for in a heroine, and then there is Khalid who is this interesting young prince who you can't get enough of. Then, there are all the supporting characters who have just as interesting of a background as our main characters. I enjoyed getting to know more about each character as the story progressed. Renee gives glimpses of the world outside of the palace as well, where Shahrzad and Khalid are, to our other characters and it all ties in together well at the end.

If you love a good romantic story - with just the right amount of action and magic/fantasy - then this is the perfect book for you. There's so much mixed in this book that it's hard to categorize it as a certain genre. I'm really looking forward to the next book.. because that ending was ahhh!



RATING:

5 out of 5 stars

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Finding Audrey - Book Review


"I think what I've realized is, life is all about climbing up, slipping down, and picking yourself up again. And it doesn't matter if you slip down. As long as you're kind of heading more or less upwards. That's all you can hope for. More or less upwards."


Goodreads Summary // An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey's daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother's gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she's never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.



Audrey is one of my favorite characters I've ever read about. I thought it would be hard to connect with a 14 year old girl when I'm a 25 year old, but I felt an instant connection to Audrey. As someone who suffers from anxiety myself, I just felt for her as I relived all the emotions she felt throughout the story. I never stopped rooting for her.

This is such a heartwarming story for me. Her family is just so realistic - they are a little bit crazy and dramatic, especially her mom, but in a home full of problems the thing that holds them together is the love they all have for each other. It's especially beautiful to see how much Audrey's family cares and supports her throughout her journey.

I have read several reviews where people think Sophie was making mental illness come off as a joke, some were even offended by the book. There was no point in the story where I ever felt offended - there was a comedic relief and some romance throughout the story, but it was written throughout with good intentions and was enjoyable. It never felt forced - and I thought that was important.

'Finding Audrey' is a really great, quick read. I laughed and I cried, and the little romance in the story was adorable. It was my first Sophie Kinsella book and I'm glad I had the chance to finally read her fun writing.



RATING:

4 out of 5 stars

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Didn't I tell you all of these books were completely different from each other?
But -
They were all so great in each of their own worlds! I really love the variety of books selected each month by Lisa at Uppercase Box.

If you have read any of these books, then join me and leave your own thoughts about any of these stories. Tell us what you thought, loved, hated, or anything you took away from the book.
Inspire through your own words.


xxo


THIS MOMENT

This moment is a weekly ritual of a single photo - no words - capturing a special moment from the week. These photos represent a moment that is dear to my heart, whether it be of someone or something I love.




xxo


LET GO

"We are not our pasts, nor are we are circumstances. Those are simply experiences, not defying moments of who we are."
- Jessica Dimas, Anything Can Be




My anxiety was driving me crazy.
It was as if someone had me pinned against a wall with their hands to my chest just pinning me down to that one place. I couldn't sleep, and on the nights that I could sleep I woke up within an hour feeling more restless than I was when I first laid down. Nothing seemed to help me those few weeks, it was incredibly frustrating.

There were many things that were contributing to the way I was feeling. As my children grow up, there are many moments where I question who I am besides a mother, which leaves me longing for the girl I used to be - longing for the girl who was full of a lot more life than I had now. The longing soon turns into frustration for all the mistakes that have left me with nothing but bricks on my shoulders. Every brick placed on my shoulders contributed to those sleepless nights. These bricks - the burdens that I carry so others would never have to know or feel the pain of the mistakes I have made on my own - they weigh me down so much, that at the end of the day when I should have felt safe in my bed - I still felt like a complete mess.

Instead of figuring out that I needed to forgive myself already - I just kept over analyzing all my mistakes and coming up with the conclusion of what a horrible person I now was.. Because, really? Forgive myself? It's hard to do, am I right? It's easy to forgive others. My friend in high school used to joke that if someone shot me I would probably lay there before my death apologizing for bleeding all over them. I am just a forgiving person.. So, why is it hard for me to forgive myself?




It was time to put it all on the table - every brick weighing me down.
Figure it all out.
It wasn't easy, but I could either let the tears consume my life or I could stop imagining a better life and start making it my reality by doing something about it.

My past was the root to all of my problems.
I'm a different person than who I used to be 10 years ago, even a year ago, I see it when I look in the mirror. Sure - there are days where I see more of the negative ways I've changed than the positive ways I've changed.. but on the days where the positive ones shine, it's a beautiful thing to see.
It is such a waste of time living in the past - letting it define you. I'm not the girl I once was.
I see that now.
I'm not the same person who made that dumb decision that resulted in the huge mistakes that left a brick to weigh my shoulders down. I'm a completely different person now. I know that I would not make that same decision if I was put in that situation today.
That's when I realized that those mistakes, the ones that weigh me down everyday, have made me a better person. Every mistake has helped me to become the person I am today, who I have always been meant to be - the real me.

As we continue to grow, we become our true selves because we allow every moment of our life to help nurture us into who we are meant to be.. and how lucky are we? That we live in a world where we are able to make mistakes and allow them to help us grow into a better person, so we don't make the same mistakes again.

I'm still learning to forgive myself. My sleepless nights will tell you how hard this journey still is for me. I'm still learning to accept the things in my life as they are and let go of the things that weigh me down. It's not easy.. If you're reading this and somehow you are a sleepless person too, I hope you know I understand how hard it is to believe the words that I'm writing right now - how hard it is to allow yourself forgiveness and accept it. I also hope that you know - you aren't your mistakes. Don't let them weigh you down, allow them to help you grow by releasing the pain off your shoulders.

"You can't control everything. Everything's going to be alright. You're going to get through this. You have to let go - just let it go and breathe."
Those are the exact words that I repeat to myself every moment I think I might break.
I hope it helps you.

We are strong.
We are more than those bricks.
We forgive.
We let go.


xxo


THIS MOMENT

This moment is a weekly ritual of a single photo - no words - capturing a special moment from the week. These photos represent a moment that is dear to my heart, whether it be of someone or something I love.




xxo


THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN

Simply Nicollette reviews - books, movies, television shows, etc. with slight spoilers. I try my best to review without giving away too much of the story.


I'm so excited to have one of my best friends guest write on Simply Nicollette today!
Amanda is stopping by to review one of the books still on my 'To Be Read' list, and after reading her review the suspense is killing me - I'm looking forward to finally reading it!
Thank you again Amanda for reviewing - The Girl on the Train, a novel by Paula Hawkins.




Hello my name is Amanda and I was asked by my dear friend Kristy, owner of this wonderful blog to write a book review, since I don't own a blog myself I was truly thrilled and immediately thought of what book would be best.

The Girl on the Train has been sitting on my bookcase for 3 months now and I keep hearing/seeing it pop up on my Instagram feed, I brought it to Kristy's attention and she said it would be perfect! So I grabbed a pen and my journal and stuck my nose right in this book.

Now, this is my first time writing a book review, other than papers I had to write back in high school of the books we had to read in English, so please bare with me.
Also I'd like to point out that there will not be any spoilers in this review.




With that being said, The Girl on the Train starts off like any great thriller would, with a lot of suspense and a lot of questions. Right off the bat you're given a visualization that you keep going back to as you continue the story. Every "chapter" leaves you with wanting to know more and each leaves with new questions added onto the ones you had. You have your theories and you think you know how the ending will turn out, you might even switch theories as the story goes on because new information comes forth and you find yourself saying "Ohhhh now I definitely know what happens!" but of course you never see it coming.

I read about 20 pages the first time I started this book, I don't want to use the excuse "I stopped because it was late" but I will. Although after page 21 I read completely through the following day until I finished.

I found this book to be one of my new favorites... until I was almost done.
Unfortunately the ending feels very rushed, and although your shocked you still "sort of saw it coming" since like I said, it felt rushed so I was able to put the pieces together pretty quickly. I found myself just wanting to finish the book to be able to say I read it, which is always a disappointment to an avid reader like myself.

After I read a great book I love to close it and just imagine the life of the characters afterward, where you know there won't be a sequel but you can play out these different scenes in your head and it's almost like you get to write the second book yourself. However, The Girl on the Train doesn't do that for me. It ends and I have no questions, but they were all answered which is good, of course. 

Don't get me wrong I recommend this read for anyone who likes a good thriller.
All in all I give this book a 7.5/8, and that's mainly because it's a read you really don't want to put down, you just need to know what happens. One of the best things about this book is I can't compare it to anything I've read before. Paula Hawkins does an amazing job giving vivid details where you actually feel like you're a part of the story. I felt anxious, nervous, sad, worried, and even a bit annoyed (not towards the book but one of the characters was annoyed and I could feel the annoyance) while reading.

I look forward to reading all future novels by Paula Hawkins, but an extra 50 pages would've been fine for me just so I wouldn't get that rush feel. It's definitely a read I would recommend for anyone looking for a "can't put down" - quick and fun read.


I just want to give another huge thanks to Kristy for giving me this opportunity!
As I don't have a blog anyone interested could follow me on my two Instagram accounts, one is my personal, one is strictly for books;
Thank you to everyone for reading my book review on The Girl on the Train!




"In the morning, I take the 8:04, and in the evening, I come back on the 5:56. That's my train. It's the one I take. That's the way it is."



xxo


THIS MOMENT

This moment is a weekly ritual of a single photo - no words - capturing a special moment from the week. These photos represent a moment that is dear to my heart, whether it be of someone or something I love.




xxo