If Birds Fly Back by Carlie Sorosiak

*This book was sent to me by PanMacmillan South Africa in exchange for an honest review*

Synopsis:

“Linny is scared she’ll never see her sister again.

Sebastian has come to Miami to find the father he’s never known.

What they aren’t expecting to find is each other. 

A love story about leaving, coming back and being there all along.”

My thoughts:

I read a review of this book by Jeff Zentner and he said that: ”It’s the rarest of authors who can pull off laugh-out-loud hilarious, profound and breathlessly romantic, all in the most sparkling prose. That shortlist includes Rainbow Rowell, Nicola Yoon, and now, Carlie Sorosiak.” And it was one of those moments where you feel like somehow this person could read your mind and put into words exactly how you feel. His review is the most apt description of If Birds Fly Back.  Also, Rainbow Rowell and Nicola Yoon are two of my favourite authors and after reading If Birds Fly Back, Carlie Sorosiak is definitely a new favourite too. I’m already excited for anything else she’ll write!

I honestly recommended this book to every bookworm I know. Definitely up in the top 5 books I’ve read this year.

It reminded me of why I love books, reading and words. It captivated me from the first page to the very last and it took my breath away! It made me feel incredible, like I was floating. Every single time I picked it up it swallowed me in and I disappeared into its pages. All I wanted to do was to curl up with it and forget the world. It is magical.

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One of the best things about it is that it feels so real. It’s a bit difficult to separate it from reality because it is completely honest. It feels like the characters are right there, you can almost touch them. You can certainly see and hear them, in your head of course. I felt like I knew the characters, almost as if they were old friends of mine. I could truly connect to them.

The story itself is very interesting, well written, honest and really beautiful.

What really makes this book a treasure, in my opinion, is the incredible writing and attention to detail. The book feels alive, its vivid, bright and eloquently described. I love the way that the details and subtle movements are described – I particularly am obsessed with the description of the subtle changes in body language.

I am a person who truly and very whole-heartedly believes in ‘the little things’ and the writing in this book appreciates the little things, describes them as the beautiful and important things that they really are. Little things like the slightest shoulder movement, the way the light looks, the colours of things. It appreciates all of these things and in describing them so beautifully the author manages to bring the story up and out of the page and that is the most wonderful thing.

The book deals with not only romantic love but familial love too and I think that, that is important. It deals with relationships between family not only romantic relationships and I like that.

Overall I think that the book is just brilliant. In fact when I was jotting down my little notes on the book one of my points was: Just absolutely, completely, incredibly BRILLIANT!!!!!!!!! with all of the exclamation points. Another one of my points was simply the word: Yaaaaaaaaaas 🙂

This book is a work of art, even if you particularly don’t enjoy YA contemporary it is still worth a read for it’s extremely aesthetic writing and lovely appreciation of the little things.

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xx

tbn

A huge thank you to PanMacmillan South Africa for a review copy of this book, it made me very happy and it was a pleasure to read it.

 

 

 

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The Bookstagram accounts you should be following

Long before I had my own bookish account I used to follow a couple of bookstagrammers on my personal account. They were my inspiration to start an account of my own. This post is dedicated to them.

I would like to share with you my top ten bookstagram accounts, some of them I’ve been following for years, even before thebookishnerd was born and some I discovered through thebookishnerd but all of them are beautiful and they inspire me with each post.

So without further ado here they are (in no particular order):

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Created by a fellow South African book blogger, Nihaad, read_and_seek is one of my favourite accounts to look through. Nihaad’s pictures are completely stunning and right up my street. I am a huge fan of the clean and simple white background and bursts of colour. I also notice that we have similar opinions on books that we’ve both read and so I trust her book recommendations 100% and will definitely buy anything she enjoyed because in all likelihood I’m pretty sure I’ll love it too!

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I have one word: aesthetic. Emmanuel’s page is one of my all time favourites for so long now. I really cannot tell you how beautiful his pictures are. His account is where I always go to for inspiration, not just for bookish pictures but in general. The creativity behind each one is astounding and his editing skills are next level! I do also adore the pictures that don’t have books in them, pictures of buildings and people and art. Overall an incredibly pleasing account to look at with lovely and inspiring captions to read.

insignificant.beauties
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For the prettiest flatlays ever insignificant.beauties is the perfect account. Bright, colourful and adorable the pictures on this account are a mood lifter. I only just discovered Esli’s account a little while ago but I fell in love with it instantly. Her pictures are so bright and happy and they feature the cutest book merch! Also, the clean white background, I really am a fan of it. Esli is a rep for allthingsbookish and owlcratejr and it’s very easy to see why.

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Creativity explosion! I am obsessed with Cody’s account. She has the most impressive tea collection and the pictures she takes of them are so beautiful. Her instagram story is my favourite to watch, she is always so bubbly and passionate about what she’s talking about. It’s so inspiring. Her flatlay skills are extremely on point, I love reading her captions and all of the different themes in her account are so pretty and unique.

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Raechel’s account is simple, elegant and very, very pretty. I love scrolling through her pictures. They are completely unique and just so nice to look at. I feel like we have a similar taste in books and I’m constantly adding books from her account to my tbr pile. Her captions are also short and sweet which I love and find so refreshing because most captions on bookstagram (including my own) are quite long and its nice to have a change.

sumaiyya.books
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So aesthetically pleasing, Sumaiyya’s account is really lovely. I’ve been following her for a while now, from before I had my own account and I love all of her pictures. Now, I’m not really a cat person but the pictures of her cat make me want to get a cat and that’s saying something! I do also think that her account has the best pictures of books with coffee. Just the overall look of her account is so beautiful, everything fits together so well yet each one is totally different and it feels cozy. I don’t know if that even makes any sense but it feels warm and inviting and cozy! On top of all of that we share a Hogwarts house – Ravenclaw 🙂

under.the.midnight.sky
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Photo composition goals. Dee’s account is one of my biggest inspirations. I genuinely believe that she needs more recognition. Her account is one that makes me happy. Just looking at the pictures takes me to a happy place and reminds me of why I love books and taking pictures of books. Each picture is different and beautiful in a new way. And she is in Ravenclaw too! Her pictures look great all next to each other and individually and I. Love. It.

aleema_s
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Can we please just take a minute for all of those Harry Potter pictures?! Oh my gosh! Aleema’s account is so amazing I’m pretty sure I gasped audibly the first time I saw it. Everything about her theme and all of those gorgeous browns screams aesthetic. I can only dream of having an account that is so well organised, so beautiful, hugely creative and original. I have not seen anything like it. As I said before, I am in love with her Harry Potter pictures (and all her other pictures!!) From I first saw her account and read some of her captions I just want to meet her because she seems like the coolest person ever. And she is very, very talented – I could scroll through her account forever.

okaysobooksically
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Again, the clean white background instantly makes it a favourite. Andrew’s account makes me want to push myself to the very limits of my creativity. Each of his pictures is so wonderfully composed and so neat and creative. His flatlays are very original and so pleasing to look at. His pictures are minimalistic and I’m obsessed with that. His captions are always a delight to read – cheerful and with a nice question at the end of each one.

piesnprose
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Just the name alone is the cutest thing! Sarah’s pictures however are just as cute. Another account I can’t stop scrolling through. On top of all of the beautiful bookish pictures, Sarah posts pictures of her delicious looking baked goods. If there’s two things I love its books and baking, the two of them together, for me, is a match made in heaven! Her captions are so inspiring and her pictures are just wow. Her entire account oozes creativity and passion and I am all for it!

I’m aware that I fangirled through this entire post but I love these accounts so much that I can’t help but gush. They all inspire, motivate and push me to my creative limits and I am very grateful for them.

You can check all of these accounts out by clicking on their names and please do, I think it’s worth the time.

xx

tbn

* All opinions in this post are entirely my own.*

 

Truth or Dare by Nonn Pratt

*This book was sent to me by PanMacmillan South Africa in exchange for an honest review*

Synopsis:

This book does not actually have a synopsis. The cover is really cool though, it has two sides that both have the title on but they’re upside down. The book is actually written in two parts and you have to physically turn the book upside down to read the second part. It is very intriguing and makes up for there not being a synopsis (I’m not sure that I’ve explained it very well though, the pictures should help make sense of this.)

My thoughts:

This book is very different in a really good way and the list I wrote whilst I was reading it raves on for pages about its good things however, there were some things about it that I did not quite like which is why I gave it 4/5 stars.

The writing style was really great and very unique which I liked but I also disliked, in the beginning I found it a bit difficult to read and I had to constantly re-read sentences and paragraphs to grasp what they were saying although the more I read it, the easier it became.

The book and story itself is very interesting and as I mentioned before, the cover is so intriguing that I really wanted to read the book and it did not disappoint in that regard. It is quite gripping from the cover itself before you even begin to actually read it.

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I loved that the book deals with important issues and that it was not all fluff. I also really like that it is current and very relatable to a Young Adults because of its references to the internet and YouTube etc. It also made reference to important issues that are very common in today’s time, for example cyber bullying and xenophobia. I like that. I think its important for YA books to have more than just fluffiness in them.

I found that the book as a whole was completely original and not at all cliché. It gave a very unique and completely different look at high school life which I enjoyed. The one thing about it that I did find cliché was Sef’s character. A lot of the time, to me, he seemed very cliché in the sense that he was portrayed as an overly confident teenager who is hiding deep inner pain and animosity which causes him to be mean and distant but its all okay because he’s actually soft, sweet and riddled with pain inside. I feel like that is something I have read so many times before and I wish that he was portrayed differently because the entire book is fresh and original.

It is a really fun and easy to read book, it is quite charming as well but at the same time it’s very serious and real. It is also very sweet and it made my heart race a couple of times.

In the beginning it was difficult to read and I did not consider it a page-turner but as I read on it became very addictive. I really could not put it down in the end, my eyes were glued to the page!

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One of the main characters comes from an Indian background which I found notable because it’s not something we see very often in YA books and I enjoyed the diversity. The book made very subtle references to race which I liked because it was not obvious and overdone but well incorporated. It was basically just written excellently.

The plot is beautiful, the pace is great, its original and it made me think SO much.

It is one of those books where the ending just leaves you totally stunned and just sitting there staring at the wall thinking WOW! And those are the kind of books that always have an impact on me which is mainly why I loved the book. There are things about it that bugged me but in the end it was beautiful and I would still recommend it 100% because past all of those things it is an incredible book.

When I first began reading this book it didn’t seem good. It was a little bit immature, I didn’t like the main character and I found the whole ‘dare’ concept a little bit silly to be honest. I couldn’t seem to get into the book, it just felt not right somehow however, by the time I got to the end I had a long list of amazing things to be said about it and my perspective changed completely. So even though it has its flaws, I enjoyed it very much in spite of them all.

I would recommend you pick it up and give it a read. I would love to know what you think if you do,  please leave me a comment below or come on over and chat to me on instagram @thebookishnerd

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xx

tbn

P.S Many thanks to PanMacmillan South Africa for the review copy. It’s always an honour!

 

Jozi’s books and blogs festival 2017

I attended the Jozi’s books and blogs festival(jozisbbf) for the second time this year and it was wonderful!

The line up of authors and guests was extensive and exciting. The program was great and the entire event was extremely organized.

The place was buzzing with energy and I loved how bright, colorful and inviting everything was. The hosts were highly effective in terms of assisting to find the correct rooms and were very helpful not to mention kind.

Due to a bit of unfortunate timing (on my side) I only managed to attend one panel and one workshop both of which were interesting, inspiring, organized, educational and really fun.

The panel was called Young Adult Novels and was in the teen part of the programme. There was meant to be five authors but unfortunately, one of them did not make it. The panel was chaired by Rafiq Jajbhay  and the authors were Joanne McGregor author of Hushed, Fiona Snyckers author of the Trinity series, Layla Khan author of That Nerd and Ayesha Desai author of Jasmine in the Wind. I had previously not read any of the books by these authors but at the end of the panel they were all promptly added to my (very long) tbr.

I absolutely loved the panel. The questions were well thought out and each one led to an interesting discussion. It was such an interactive panel and I really liked that too. I found that getting to know the people behind the books makes reading a much better experience because now I understand a bit more about the thought processes and the writing processes behind books and it makes reading, for me, more enjoyable. The panel had an amazing, relaxed atmosphere which made it very comfortable and as I said I loved how interactive it was-the audience was asked questions constantly and kept engaged through the entire discussion. The authors were such lovely people and they were so funny and absolutely brilliant. It was an honour to be there, to be able to hear them speak and I left feeling happy and inspired.

The workshop I attended was a teen writing workshop with Ameera Patel who is both an actress and an author,  she wrote the book called Outside the lines. The workshop was a huge learning opportunity and I still cannot believe how much I learnt in such a short time and without even realising it. Ameera was vibrant, energetic and a great teacher. The workshop was also very interactive and it pushed me right out of my comfort zone. I am a bona fide introvert and I find it quite difficult to speak out in front of strangers and during the workshop I had to speak up, loudly. I had to read the things I wrote in front of a room full of people I didn’t know and I did it. It was an exhilarating experience, something new, and I loved every minute of it because it helped me realise that doing something, however small, out of my comfort zone is one of the best ways to learn.

In addition to that I felt motivated, inspired and ready to write anything when I walked out the door.

Another feature at the event that I really enjoyed was the photo exhibition held by the Roshni photo club. I like that a different form of art, that is besides the written word, was showcased. I do also take an interest in photography and I enjoyed the exhibition very much.

Overall I think that the jozisbbf 2017 was an enormous success and an incredible achievement in the way of literature, reading and blogging within our community. I enjoyed myself immensely and I am really looking forward to the festival next year.

I only bought one book off the list at the festival, Jasmine in the wind by Ayesha Desai and I thought it was stunning. I plan on getting my hands on all of the others soon so stay tuned for full reviews!

xx

tbn

 

Windfall by Jennifer. E. Smith

*This book was sent to me by PanMacmillan South Africa in exchange for an honest review*

Synopsis: 

“Alice has been in love with her best friend, Teddy, for the last three years. On his eighteenth birthday she buys him a lottery ticket, and to their astonishment he wins the jackpot. The two of them are suddenly thrown together with the world at their feet. And when Teddy finally decides how to spend his money, who better to go on that adventure with him than Alice?

But money can’t buy love, and Alice and Teddy are about to find out more about themselves and each other than they ever could have imagined.”

My thoughts:

The good things about this book are plentiful but there definitely were some things about it I didn’t like. That is why I gave it a 3half/5 stars.

Before I even talk about the book, I have to mention the cover. It is absolutely stunning and I would want to read it based on the cover alone.

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The first half of the book was incredible. A real page-turner, original, funny, interesting and well written. It got my heart racing a couple of times (all. of. the. feels.) which every contemporary should do (in my opinion).

The characters were lovely and very well-developed through the book. I found that they had real depth and interesting as well as very intriguing pasts.

The book was written very nicely and everything was beautifully described. I found myself marvelling at the imagery on every page. Really just wonderful pictures were created in my mind.

I found the second part of the book, more specifically towards the end a little bit less enjoyable and interesting and a lot more cliché. For me, the pace was too slow and I really just wanted to get to the end.

It was all sunshine and rainbows and very predictable. I did not like how everything Teddy thought about in the end, was this huge, brilliant, generous idea. It was a tad bit overdone which, to me, made it unbelievable.

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It did deal a lot with loss and I loved that because it really taught me about grief and pain and truly helped me to understand more about that. It also deals with the concept of money and how money is not the most important thing which I really liked. When YA books are deeper, more real and deal with things that make them more than just fluffy they are, in my opinion, automatically more enjoyable

Overall despite the few things I did not quite enjoy about the book I would still recommend. I thought it was good enough to read to the very last page. The pros outweigh the cons and the things I did not quite take to, are things that other people may not notice at all. It is the kind of book that causes a feeling of warmth and happiness inside.

xx

tbn

P.S Shout out to PanMacmillan South Africa for sending me a review copy of this book. It is always an honour!

 

How to: Bake a Harry Potter birthday cake!

I’m not sure it’s possible to outgrow Harry Potter and so for my elder sister’s birthday a few days ago, I baked her a Harry Potter birthday catke. More specifically, I recreated the cake Hagrid gave Harry on his eleventh birthday.

I am somewhat of an amateur baker and I thought it would be cool to do a blog post with the recipe and instructions on how to decorate it, especially because it was very easy to make.

I took a basic vanilla sponge cake recipe and I added a little bit of cocoa to make it chocalat-ey. I used whipped cream instead of icing because it’s lighter and not as rich-which is preferred in my house. So, let’s get started!

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Bake the cakes & make the topping!

Ingredients 

  • 1 1/4 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3tsp of baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1tsp of vanilla essence
  • 1/2 a cup of cooking oil
  • 1/2 a cup of water
  • eggs
  • 1 1/2 tbsp of cocoa powder

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Line two 22cm cake tins with parchment paper.
  3. Separate the eggs and beat the whites until they form stiff peaks. Then set aside.
  4. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, oil, water and vanilla essence into a large mixing bowl. Beat at a medium speed for about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the egg yolks to the mixture and beat until it is well incorporated. Be careful not to overmix.
  6. Add the egg whites to the mixture and fold them in. Be gentle but thorough.
  7. Stir in the cocoa powder.
  8. Divide the batter equally between the two tins, knock them gently on a hard surface  to release air bubbles and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes.
  9. Once the cakes are removed from the oven allow them to cool for at least 30 minutes. 

In the meantime, prepare the topping!

Ingredients 

  • large tub of whipped cream
  • pink/peach food colouring
  • green food coloring

Method 

  1. Divide the cream between two bowls, in the ratio 3:1
  2. Add pink/peach food coloring to the larger portion and green food coloring to the smaller portion. Mix until the desired colour is achieved.IMG_8194

Decorate the cakes!

  1. Ensure that the cakes have cooled completely. Then sandwich them together using a thin layer of cream.
  2. Next, cover the entire cake with the pink cream. Remember that this is Hagrid’s cake, he probably sat on it at some point, so… we’re not going for perfect. It is supposed to be a little rough around the edges.
  3. Using either a toothpick or a skewer draw a jagged line down the centre of the cake(use the pictures as a guide). Be light at first and once you’re sure it’s how you want it to look, dig a little deeper so that the cake shows through.
  4. Use the toothpick/skewer again, this time to lightly outline the words (HAPPEE BIRTHDAE [NAME OF PERSON]) 
  5. Attach a small round tipped nozzle to the end of a piping bag and fill it with the green cream, pipe over the letters you traced out and again, this is Hagrid, so be a little messy, it will look more authentic if it’s a little jagged! 

And that’s it! It seems really long but I promise you it’s the easiest thing to make and it tastes amazing. Also, it’s a great photo prop if you’re a bookstagrammer!

I would love to see how it turns out if you re-create it so please tag me in your pictures on instagram- @thebookishnerd

xx                                                                         tbn

 

What is a good book?

Within the last couple of months I have been evaluating my thoughts on various different books. I have been reading some of the reviews I’ve written and looking at the number of stars I have given each book and I noticed a pattern. I seem to like or really like most books. Looking over the ratings I have given in the past it seems as if majority of the books I read get a 5/5 or 4/5 rating. And this got me thinking, why do I think all of these books are good enough to earn 5/5 or 4/5 ratings? And if they are deserving, what makes them good books?

Books that I recommend are generally the ones that I have most enjoyed and I wonder is that okay? Should I recommend books that I have enjoyed or ones that actually impacted my life and are they not usually the same thing?IMG_0159

I read because I love reading. Because it fills me up with joy. Because I get excited about books. Because I care about the characters. Because it transports me to magical places. Because it allows me to dream. I read because I love reading.                                                     However, I also read to learn. To expand my knowledge. To increase my understanding of how the world works. To explore new things. To satisfy my curiosity.

So I am now in a predicament: do I read books simply for enjoyment or do I read books that will make me think? I think that a good book is one that encompasses both. A book that can be enjoyed immensely and that is able to simultaneously open minds.

Looking back again, I believe that I have not looked at both elements whilst judging books. In the past I have rated books based purely on whether I enjoyed them or not.

Books need to be fully inclusive of every single element that makes a good book to be a good book. Its ability to be both enjoyable and thought provoking are the two very broad elements and each of them have many sub-categories. For example when judging a book based on its ability to be enjoyable, was the plot interesting? Was it a page-turner? Did you fall in love with the characters? Did you feel happy/angry/sad etc with the characters? Do you love the book?

And when judging a book based on its ability to make you think, how good was the character development? Did the characters have depth? Were some of the main ideas centered around an important issue? Did you learn something? Did you have a stop-and-stare-at-the-wall-for-a-few-minutes moment?

These are just some of the elements to look at. There are some that apply to both categories like: How well was the book written? and Is there a quote on every page you’d like to write down?

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Ultimately though the elements that make up a good book are a little bit different for each person. The point of this blog post being: Are the books you love good books because they are more than just enjoyable, because they have depth and because you learnt something valuable from them or are they good books simply because you love them?

In the end however, sometimes all we want to do is pick up a book that does not make us think just so that we can escape for a little while and that too is okay. Sometimes the books we pick up to make us not think are the ones that make us think the most and maybe those are the good books. Maybe, they are the best books.

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xx                                                                                                                                                        tbn