The Mud and Stars Book Blog

thoughts from a girl who spends her days in other worlds…

November Wrap Up: some mini book reviews!

Happy Friday bookworms!

I’ve read a lot of wonderful books in November. I’ve already reviewed a couple of those books, so this is just going to be a wrap up of everything else I read this month but haven’t talked about yet! Let me know if you’ve read any of these books, and what you thought of them! I like having people to fangirl with. ❤


The Wonderling by Mira Bartok

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This was a cute middle grade fantasy about Arthur, a half-human/half fox boy, and his best friend, a little bird called Trinket, who go on an adventure after escaping from their grim orphanage, Miss Carbunkle’s Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures. This was such a fun book. It gave me Oliver Twist vibes, had some cool Steampunk elements, and the world building was brilliant. Everything felt magical, and there were more wonders to discover with every page, although there were also some dark and gloomy corners of the world which gave the book a gritty edge. The friendship between Arthur and Trinket was so heartwarming, and, along with the charming illustrations (drawn by the author herself), was probably my favourite thing about this book. My only criticism was that it was rather long for a middle grade at almost 500 pages, and it started to drag a little towards the end, but other than that, I adored this beautiful book.


Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

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I picked this book up because I was in the mood for some fluffy contemporary and I liked it, but I didn’t love it. The basic premise is that Zorie and her ex-best-friend/boyfriend Lennon get stranded together in the wilderness after a camping trip with some other friends turns into a big bust up with said friends. I really enjoyed the chemistry between Zorie and Lennon, and I liked that they both had interesting hobbies. Zorie is into astronomy, and Lennon is (luckily) into wilderness survival. I’m a sucker for the whole hate to love thing, so the tension between these two was my fave. I think the thing which prevented me from loving this book wholeheartedly was the annoying trope of ‘lack of communication’. The reason Zorie and Lennon broke up wouldn’t have been a reason at all if they’d just had a conversation, and it makes no sense that they didn’t if they mattered to each other that much. The other thing I didn’t like is that Zorie says some super mean things to one of her friends on the camping trip, and never apologises. Their friendship is just over at the end of the book, and that’s it. But grievances aside, I did enjoy the romance in this one, I liked exploring the wilderness and learning more about outdoorsy stuff like how to stay safe from bears, and I liked Lennon’s lesbian moms who own a sex shop, because they were just cute and so much fun. ❤


Vicious and Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

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I’m not the hugest fan of V.E. Schwab’s books; I always feel like something is missing. Thankfully, I felt differently about these two: I loved them! This series follows Victor and Eli, college friends (turned enemies), who decide to experiment with near death experiences in order to gain supernatural powers. The book kicks off ten years after these events with Victor escaping from prison, hellbent on revenge against Eli for putting him there. The characters in this series are so complexly constructed. It’s hard to tell who is the hero and who the villain; these characters are both morally grey. Victor and Eli want to destroy each other, and both have motivations that, though twisted, make sense. Victor is the one I was rooting for, but I couldn’t bring myself to completely hate Eli. I love all of the characters, and the dynamics between them, particularly the found-family relationship Victor has with Mike (his cellmate from prison) and Sydney, an injured girl he rescues from the side of the road. There’s something so warm and fuzzy about the way these three look out for each other as the story progresses.

I preferred Vicious to its sequel: Vicious had me completely sucked in, especially the sections set in the past, during Victor and Eli’s college days, however Vengeful was a little too slow paced and long to keep me constantly engaged. Nevertheless, I enjoyed being back with the characters, and also meeting some new anti-heroes along the way. I was not happy with the ending though. It was abrupt, and I feel like there is so much more story to tell! I hope we get another sequel.


Heartstopper Volume One by Alice Oseman

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Heartstopper is an ongoing web comic created by UKYA author Alice Oseman (whom I adore!). A bind up of the first two chapters is being published in February, but I read this on Alice’s Tumblr as I don’t have a physical copy yet. I CAN’T WAIT TO GET MY HANDS ON ONE! The story of Heartstopper follows Charlie and Nick, two characters who appear in Alice’s debut novel Solitaire, however you don’t need to have read Solitaire first in order to understand this comic. It’s a gentle boy meets boy – friends to something more – love story, with gay and bisexual rep, and it’s so engaging because the interactions between the characters are so real. It’s warm and comforting (although it does deal with some heavier topics, such as bullying, at times) and is my new favourite thing ever. The art style is very cute; Alice perfectly captures the body language of people who are crushing on each other, and it fully gave me all the butterflies of that experience. Charlie and Nick are SO adorable, and every interaction between them made me squee with joy. Nick also has an adorable dog called Nellie who made me squee with joy whenever she appeared. Basically, if you want to squee with joy, repeatedly, you need to read this. You can read the whole thing (up to the latest post) for free on Alice Oseman’s Tumblr. You are so welcome! ❤


The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

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I finally picked up The Raven Boys after having it on my shelf for about 6 years. I had tried to read it lots of times but never managed to get into it, but this time I got sucked into this weird and whimsical story. It is one of those series you have to really concentrate on, in order to get everything you can out of it. It is quite subtle, very character driven, and there are hints and allusions to things it would be easy to miss if you weren’t paying attention.The story follows Blue, Gansey, Ronan, Adam and Noah, a group of friends who are searching for the tomb of a Welsh King who is rumoured to grant a favour to the person who wakes him. It’s a story about psychics, and ley lines, and dreams, and magic, a perfect mix of things I adore. The pacing can be slow, because although there is a mysterious, fascinating plot, it almost takes a backseat to the characters and their complex friendships, but those characters are what make this story so dear to my heart.

My favourite character is Gansey; I relate so much to his burning need for there to be something *more* to life than we can see. I love his obsessive personality, and the way he fills his notebooks with frantic scribblings about his quest. My least favourite character so far is Adam. I want to like him, but he makes it so difficult. Adam is from a less privileged background than his friends, and has experienced some really difficult things, which of course make me sympathise with him, but his anger about his unhappy upbringing is often misdirected towards his friends, who are only ever trying to help him, and it really frustrates me. Ronan is supposed to be the snarky, spiteful character, and yet I find him so much more endearing than Adam. (I think this might be largely to do with how uncharacteristically sweet he is towards his pet raven, Chainsaw.) I’m reading book three now, and I am loving this series. It will definitely be one I re-read again and again in the future, as I feel there will be more to gain from it each time.

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The Nope Book Tag

Hello lovely book-lovers! Today I thought I’d give the Nope Book Tag a go, and talk about some of the books and tropes I am not so fond of. Apologies in advance if I trash any of your fave books. I mean no harm, I’m just expressing my personal (slightly saltier than usual) opinions. ❤


Nope Ending: A book ending that made you go NOPE either in denial, rage, or simply because the ending was crappy.

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The Peppermint Pig by Nina Bawden. The ending of this book made me so angry, I wrote a whole rant review about it. It does contain spoilers, but trust me, you’ll be sparing yourself so much unnecessary devastation if you choose not to read this book.


Nope Protagonist: A main character you dislike and drives you crazy.

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I couldn’t stand Nick OR Amy from Gone Girl. Let’s face it, they’re both atrocious people.


Nope Series: A series that turned out to be one huge pile of NOPE after you’ve invested all of that time and energy on it, or a series you gave up on because it wasn’t worth it anymore.

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I loved the first two books in the Southern Reach trilogy (Annihilation and Authority) but I was so disappointed by the third and final book, because I had patiently been waiting for some answers, and I did NOT get any! And I feel like I deserved some, considering this book was almost three times as expensive as the first one.


Nope Pairing: A ship you don’t support.

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In all fairness, I’ve only read the first book and half of the second in The Grisha Trilogy, so I do not know who she ends up with, but I can’t bring myself to ship Alina with Mal. Mal is so bland.


Nope Plot Twist: A plot twist you didn’t see coming or didn’t like.

I’m gonna refer you back to The Peppermint Pig. Brutal. (Yes, I know it looks like an adorable children’s classic with that cute piggy on the cover. IT’S ALL LIES! This book will stab you in the SOUL! #stillbitter)


Character action/decision that made you shake your head nope.

I mean, Dumbledore leaving Harry with the Dursleys was pretty sketch…

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Nope Genre: A genre you will never read.

I can’t think of a genre I will NEVER read, but genres I’m not the hugest fan of are police procedural crime fiction, historical fiction, and literary fiction. With a very limited number of exceptions, these tend to be the kinds of books that bore me into a slump.

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Nope Book format: Book formatting you hate and avoid buying until it comes out in a different edition.

I don’t really like movie editions of books, or book covers with people on them in general. Having said that, the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before movie cover is super-cute.


A trope that makes you go nope.

I don’t like it when a love interest is what SAVES a character from their problems, particularly their mental illness.

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Nope Recommendation: A book recommendation that is constantly hyped and pushed at you that you refuse to read.

Anything by Brandon Sanderson. It’s nothing personal, his books just don’t appeal to me at all.


Nope Cliche/Pet Peeve: A cliche or writing pet peeve that always makes you roll your eyes.

This is a bit of a random one, but I HATE it when writers use the phrase ‘he jerked his thumb’ to indicate that a character is talking about something behind them. It’s just a phrase that makes me cringe, and also something nobody actually does in real life.


Nope Love interest: The love interest that’s not worthy of being one. A character you don’t think should have been a viable love interest.

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Ugh, the love interest from DIMILY, I can’t even remember his name. He was SUCH a dickhead. He was cheating on his girlfriend with the mc, and he was just an insufferable, toxic douche in general. Insufferable, toxic douchery is not attractive.


Nope Book: A book that shouldn’t have existed that made you say nope.

I can’t think of a book I hate so much it shouldn’t have existed, so I’m gonna go with Donald Trump’s tweets. HELLA NOPE.


Nope Villain: A scary villain/antagonist you would hate to cross and would make you run in the opposite direction.

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I’m pretty sure Naughty John from The Diviners would make me pee my pants with fear.


Nope Death: A character death that still haunts you.

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I don’t want to give an actual spoiler, so I’m gonna say the death that happens in The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. I don’t think I will ever get over it.


Nope Author: An author you had a bad experience reading and have decided to quit.

I quit E.L. James, author of Fifty Shades of Grey, after reading two of her books. (Why did I read the second one tbh?!) The bit where Ana refers to Christian’s little Christian as a ‘Christian Grey flavoured popsicle” still haunts me to this day. My ‘inner Goddess’ is giving E.L. James a great big resolute:

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Did any of these books make you say NOPE? Or did you shake your head NOPE at any of my opinions?! I’d love to hear from you either way! ❤

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The Finally Fall Book Tag

I know it’s been fall for a while now, and I’m a bit late (when am I not?) with this tag, but autumn is my favourite season, so this tag is my jam, and I’m really excited to do it today! If you would like to do it too, consider yourself tagged. ❤

(BTW, I took these photos when I visited Kew Gardens in London the other day. I got given a season pass to Kew for my birthday; it’s such a beautiful place to walk, especially in the autumn!)


1. In fall, the air is crisp and clear: name a book with a vivid setting!

wickeddeep

The Wicked Deep by Shea Earnshaw is the perfect book for this question. Although I found the plot of this book a bit predictable, the SETTING of this book earned it a 4 star rating from me. You can almost taste the sea-fog, rolling up the shore of the mysterious island our protagonist lives on, feel it, cold and damp against your skin. The little island is just across the water from the town of Sparrow, Oregon, a quaint, eerie and superstitious place, the descriptions of which are also sprinkled with just the right amount of dark magic. I loved Shea Earnshaw’s writing style, and I am looking forward to whatever she writes next; I hope it will be just as atmospheric as The Wicked Deep.


2. Nature is beautiful… but also dying: name a book that is beautifully written, but also deals with a heavy topic like loss or grief.

moonrise

Moonrise by Sarah Crossan is the story of Joe, whose brother Ed is on death row and has just received his execution date. This book is written in verse – it’s not flowery, but the writing is beautiful in its raw and brutal honesty. I’m pretty sure this book stabbed me in the heart, but I wouldn’t take back the experience for the world, and I highly recommend this phenomenal book.


3. Fall is back to school season: share a non-fiction book that taught you something new.

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I haven’t actually finished reading this book, because it’s quite academic and requires a lot of focus (even if it is written in a very accessible style) but Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker taught me *this* disturbing fact: there is a (thankfully rare) type of insomnia some people get where they stop sleeping COMPLETELY, which goes on for about 18 months, and then they just… die. WTF how terrifying is that?! This book about sleep and sleep disorders and dreaming is super interesting though, and I really need to pick it up again soon.


4. In order to keep warm, it’s good to spend some time with the people we love: name a fictional family/household/friend-group that you’d like to be a part of.

piglettes

I would love to be part of the friendship group in Piglettes by Clementine Beauvais. I read Piglettes back in the summer, and I think it’s probably my favourite book of the year. It’s about three girls, Mireille, Astrid and Hakima, who become friends when they are voted the three ugliest girls at their school in their classmates’ annual ‘Pig Pageant’. But this book just blows raspberries at bullying, and it’s all about how these three awesome, witty, clever, resourceful girls decide not to let the haters get them down, and become media sensations by spending their summer cycling across France, selling sausages, and raising money for an anti-bullying charity. It’s SO good, SO funny (Mireille is a hilarious narrator), and SO uplifting. And I would LOVE to be friends with these girls because they just kick ass in the most positive of ways.


5. The colourful leaves are piling up on the ground: show us a pile of fall-coloured spines!

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I didn’t even do this on purpose, but I recently bought this selection of books from a charity shop, and they’re so perfectly colour-coordinated for this tag, and aesthetic glory in general.


6. Fall is the perfect time for some storytelling by the fireside: share a book wherein somebody is telling a story.

wrongtrain

The book that springs to mind for this question is The Wrong Train by Jeremy De Quidt. The story follows a boy who gets on the wrong train home in the middle of the night. He gets off at the next station, only to find himself alone on the platform but for a strange old man, who insists on telling him increasingly frightening stories whilst he waits for his train to arrive. This book was really creepy and unsettling, and I loved every second of it.


7. The nights are getting darker: share a dark, creepy read.

stuffofnightmares

I feel like I recommend the same creepy books every time this question comes up, so this time I’m going to suggest something I read recently, which was The Stuff of Nightmares by Malorie Blackman. This book was a lot darker than I expected, and although structurally it was a bit messy, I really enjoyed it because it made me think and it creeped me out. It’s about a boy called Kyle who’s on a school trip when he gets caught up in a train crash. Whilst struggling to find a way to get out of the train, he discovers that he has the ability to enter the nightmares of the other passengers on the train, learning some very dark and disturbing things about the people around him in the process.


8. The days are getting colder: name a short, heartwarming read that could warm up somebody’s cold and rainy day.

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For this question, I am recommending Take My Picture by Giselle Ellis which is an indie-published gay romance novella about a moody photographer, Jake, and his assistant, Aaron (who is of a much sunnier disposition!), two guys who are absolutely perfect for each other, and everybody knows it but them. This book was adorable, and filled my heart with so many fluffy feelings, and I promise that if you are feeling sad when you pick this up it will leave you with a big soppy smile on your face by the time you finish it. For a short book, the chemistry in this book is flawless, and you never doubt for one second that these characters are just hopelessly and cluelessly in love with each other.


9. Fall returns every year: name an old favourite that you’d like to return to soon.

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I’m actually in a big re-reading mood at the moment. I’m currently re-reading Persuasion by Jane Austen, because it’s an old, cosy favourite I feel at home in. But I also fancy re-reading The Mortal Instruments series soon, because it’s been ages since I’ve done that, and I love getting stuck into a series at this time of year.


10. Fall is the perfect time for cosy reading nights: share your favourite cosy reading “accessories”!

Well, obviously I love a cosy blanket! I also love fluffy socks, my pjs, a warm mug of hot chocolate or tea, a calming lavender-scented candle, and a mountain of cuddly animals to snuggle.

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Add a book, and that makes my perfect Friday night, because I’m a cool introvert who thinks social lives are overrated.


And that’s the end of this tag! Have you read any of the books I mentioned? What are you favourite fall reads? I’d love to hear from you!

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Fluffy YA contemporary reviews! “What If It’s Us” and “Royals” :)

Hello, hello lovely booknerds! Hope you are all having a wonderful Tuesday.

After a month of reading dark and spooky books for Halloween, I’m in the mood for nothing but warm and fluffy contemporaries this month! I have finished two books already this week, and I ended up giving both of them 5 stars! Here’s why you should pick them up too…


What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera:
Simon & Schuster, October 2018.

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Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?


I was so happy when I heard this book was going to be a thing, because I love both Becky Albertalli’s and Adam Silvera’s writing. I’ve had an ARC of this book for a while because I won a giveaway for it back in July, but because I’m silly I have only just got around to picking it up!

I was really nervous going into this book, because some of my favourite booktubers seem to have been disappointed by it, but luckily I wasn’t! I really loved this book, because the characters were everything. They felt like real people I would want to be friends with. Arthur and Ben are quite different characters, but I felt they complimented each other perfectly. I probably related more to Ben’s cynicism, but I really appreciated Arthur’s wide-eyed optimism. I constantly felt like I wanted to give Arthur a great big hug because he was simply as cute as a button.

I have seen some people say that they felt there wasn’t any chemistry between Arthur and Ben, but I totally disagree. Their relationship definitely gave me the warm fuzzies. Sure, things were a bit bumpy and awkward for their first few dates, but to me that felt authentic to how I remember dating as a teenager. Even when you really like someone, things aren’t always smooth sailing, and sometimes the nerves you have BECAUSE you really like someone can make things awkward anyway. I liked that these two took a while to get into their groove. It goes to show that life isn’t the movies… dating is rarely this perfect and glossy thing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth trying to make it work.

One of the things I loved most about this book was all the references to musicals. As a result of reading this book, I went and listened to the soundtracks of both Dear Evan Hansen and Hamilton on YouTube (because I’m *that* person who is always late to a party), and I loved both of them! I am desperate to see Dear Evan Hansen when it comes to London next year, even though I will probably weep profusely. Anyway, going back to the book, I loved the scene where Ben listens to Hamilton for the first time, and keeps updating Arthur on all his thoughts and feels. I think there’s something so wonderful about sharing something you love with someone you love for the first time, and them loving it too.

Another thing I adored about this book was Dylan. He’s Ben’s best friend, and I LOVED the friendship between these two. Dylan was hilarious, and SO extra. There’s a subplot all about him enthusiastically falling for this girl Samantha he meets in a coffee shop, and it was adorable. The scene where he accidentally calls her his future wife (to her face) after only a couple of weeks of dating was hilariously cringe (I told you he was extra!) and just made me love him even more. I would totally read a spin off book about Dylan and Samantha.

Overall, I just really loved this book, and I definitely recommend it if you want something warm and fluffy to make your heart happy on a cold November day.


Royals by Rachel Hawkins:
Scholastic, May 2018.

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Meet Daisy Winters. She’s an offbeat sixteen-year-old Floridian with mermaid-red hair; a part time job at a bootleg Walmart, and a perfect older sister who’s nearly engaged to the Crown Prince of Scotland. Daisy has no desire to live in the spotlight, but relentless tabloid attention forces her to join Ellie at the relative seclusion of the castle across the pond. 

While the dashing young Miles has been appointed to teach Daisy the ropes of being regal, the prince’s roguish younger brother kicks up scandal wherever he goes, and tries his best to take Daisy along for the ride. The crown–and the intriguing Miles–might be trying to make Daisy into a lady . . . but Daisy may just rewrite the royal rulebook to suit herself.


Royals was another book I really enjoyed! It was total fluff, but there’s nothing wrong with that, and it was exactly what I needed. I’ve seen lots of reviews on Goodreads complaining about the inaccuracy of there being a Scottish monarchy in this book, but come on people, suspend your disbelief and stop ruining my fun! I’m hardly reading this book for a gritty dose of reality now, am I?!

My favourite thing about this book was our main character Daisy. She was so much fun, and her banter with Miles was everything. She was witty and sarcastic, and I loved her awkward habit of saying exactly what popped into her head. She was also really down to earth, and I loved that she didn’t let the craziness of the world she’d suddenly been dumped into change who she was, despite all the pressures to do exactly that. Every time she stood up to a snobby person, I wanted to cheer.

I found Miles quite swoony. He starts off all grumpy and aloof and Mr Darcyish, so seeing him gradually warm up as Daisy begins to charm him (and he begins to charm her, with his loyalty, sweetness, and unexpected game) was very satisfying. This book uses the fake dating trope, and I am a sucker for that, so the romance in this book made me very squealy and happy.

Another thing I enjoyed in this book was the relationship between Daisy and her sister Ellie. El seems kind of stuck up to begin with, and she did annoy me at times, but you start to realise that she’s just trying her best to fit into a crazy world that’s just as hard for her to navigate as it is for Daisy. I liked the exploration of their relationship, seeing how Daisy feels her sister has changed, but eventually recognising that she’s still the same person underneath, and realising how important fitting in with Prince Alexander’s family and lifestyle is to Ellie.

Alex felt slightly underdeveloped to me, but he was nice enough. I enjoyed the character of Prince Sebastian (Seb) more, even though he was a hot mess, and always causing tabloid scandal. He reminded me a lot of young (pre Meghan Markle) Prince Harry. I couldn’t help but fancy him, even though he was a bit of a dick. He definitely got props for being a secret book nerd too.

I loved all the different settings we get to see in this book. Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities, so I enjoyed the parts of the book that were set there, but I also loved seeing the Scottish highlands. I really want to go back to Scotland! In general I just loved all of the fancy houses and palaces Daisy explores whilst she’s there. Reading about rich people’s glamourous lives is my guilty pleasure.

All together, this was an entertaining book I absolutely whizzed through. It was perfect fun, fluffy reading and I can’t wait for the sequel!


Have you read either of these books? What did you think of them? I’d love to hear from you! ❤

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I’M BACK! With an October book haul :)

Hello lovely bookish friends, and welcome back to my blog, which has been sitting here all lonely and neglected since July(!) I’m so sorry little blog, and lovely bookish friends. I feel so bad for disappearing, but I was going through some mental health stuff, and honestly, I just needed a break. I’m still going through that stuff, but I miss blogging so much and I really want to get back into it. I’m not working at the moment (apart from babysitting), and I have been doing a lot of reading recently (interspersed with sleeping and Netflix), so I’m hoping to be posting regularly again soon.

Today I thought I’d share with you a book haul, because it’s been a billion years since I did one of those (I’m pretty sure I haven’t even done one in 2018!) Here are some of the books I’ve picked up in the last month (with mini reviews of the ones I have already read!)


American Panda by Gloria Chao

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I’ve been wanting to increase my collection of light-hearted YA contemporary books, because I have so many dark books on my shelves, and when I’m feeling down, I never want to reach for them, because they just make me feel worse. This book sounds like it will be the perfect heartwarming pick me up. It’s about Mei Lu, a Taiwanese American girl who has enrolled in college early at the age of 17, but isn’t sure she really wants the future she’s working so hard towards. It’s all about family and identity (and romance!) and it’s supposed to be funny and sweet, so I am all about that, and I can’t wait to read it.


Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

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I’ve heard a lot of people talking about this novel on Booktube and it sounds so much fun. It’s about a Wiccan girl named Mila who attempts to raise her friend Riley from the dead to find out who murdered her. It’s meant to be quirky, funny, witchy, diverse and generally a blast, so I’m really excited to get to this one! Also I am obsessed with this cover.


Everyone’s an aliebn when you’re an aliebn too by Jonny Sun

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This is the sweetest, most adorable, most delightful graphic novel I have ever read. It’s about an alien who comes to earth to learn about humans, and it follows his interactions with all the different creatures he meets along the way. It’s so PURE. The illustrations are SO CUTE. The alien is so curious, and confused, and bad at spelling, and you will want to give him the biggest, squishiest hug. Basically this book will warm your heart and soul and you must, must read it.


Pages & Co: Tilly and the Book Wanderers by Anna James

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This is a middle grade novel about a girl named Tilly who discovers she has the ability to travel into the worlds of her favourite books. It all kicks off when Anne of Green Gables and Alice (of Wonderland) turn up in Pages & Co, the bookshop Tilly’s grandparents own. It sounds so magical and charming and I’m really excited to pick this up. I think it will be the perfect cosy read to snuggle up with as the days get colder.


Sawkill Girls by Clare Legrand

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I don’t know a lot about this book, but I know it’s set on an island, there is some kind of monster at large, and girls are disappearing. It’s meant to be very atmospheric and spooky, and I’ve been dying to read it ever since I heard about it, because I LOVE books set on islands.


Happily Ever Esther by Steve Jenkins, Derek Walter and Caprice Crane

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I recently read this one and absolutely adored it! Esther the Wonderpig, if you haven’t heard of her, is quite an internet-famous pig. Her dads, Derek and Steve, got her when she was a tiny piglet and were told she was a micropig, but there was nothing *micro* about Esther, and she grew into the 600 pound commercial pig she was always meant to be. Derek and Steve eventually decided to move to a farm where Esther would have the space to do her piggy thang, and they turned the farm into an animal sanctuary to help other rescued farm animals. This book is all about the trials and tribulations of setting up the sanctuary, the adventures of their animal residents, and the wonderpig who started the whole thing. This book is funny in places, sad in places, but ultimately heartwarming and hopeful. I love it, and Esther, to pieces.


Twelve Nights by Andrew Zurcher

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I’m waiting until December to read this one because it’s set around Christmastime. It’s a middle grade novel about a girl whose father goes missing on Christmas Eve, and it’s all about the mysterious, magical, dreamlike adventure she goes on to find him. It’s recommended for fans of Philip Pullman and CS Lewis, so it sounds like it’s going to be really cosy and whimsical and I can’t wait to curl up with it, a cup of tea, and a ginormous mince pie, later this year.


Sadie by Courtney Summers

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I downloaded the audiobook of Sadie because I’ve heard amazing things. about it. Part of this novel is told in the format of a podcast, and apparently this element is done really well in the audiobook. with a full cast, sound effects, etc. I was going to listen to this in October but I didn’t get round to it. I’m taking a break from dark reads right now because I read tons of them during the Halloweeny season, but I’m excited to pick this one up soon.


The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas

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I listened to the audiobook of this YA thriller in October, and it was very entertaining, but not super memorable. It’s about a girl who is investigating the deaths of five cheerleaders from her town (one of whom was her sister) who all died in different circumstances within the same month, because she believes their deaths might be connected. It kinda gave me Pretty Little Liars vibes, but without the utterly ridiculous ending (although THAT was certainly memorable!)


The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

thereadersofbrokenwheel

I picked this one up for £1.99 in a charity shop, and it sounds really warm and sweet. It’s about a woman who moves from Sweden to a small town in the US and opens the town’s first bookstore. It’s a quirky book about books, and that’s my jam, so I was super pleased to find it.


So that’s all of the books I acquired in October! Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? And which one should I pick up next?! Hopefully I will be back again shortly with a book tag, and maybe even a review or two! 😊 See you soon! xxx

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Book Review: ‘Sunflowers in February’ by Phyllida Shrimpton

sunflowersinfeb

Sunflowers in February. Phyllida Shrimpton. Hot Key Books. February 2018.

Lily wakes up one crisp Sunday morning on the side of the road. 

She has no idea how she got there. It is all very peaceful. And very beautiful. It is only when the police car, and then the ambulance, arrive and she sees her own body that she realises that she is in fact . . . dead. 

But what is she supposed do now? 

Lily has no option but to follow her body and sees her family – her parents and her twin brother – start falling apart. And then her twin brother Ben gives her a once in a deathtime opportunity – to use his own body for a while. But will Lily give Ben his body back? She is beginning to have a rather good time . . .


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

First of all, thank you so much to Hot Key Books for sending me a review copy of this book. My first ever physical book I have received from a publisher – I was so, so happy, and so, so grateful!

I was really intrigued to read this book because the premise really appealed to me. The story follows Lily, a fifteen year old girl who is killed in a hit and run accident. Instead of passing on, her spirit sticks around, and she can see everything her family and friends are going through in the wake of her death. But nobody seems to be able to see or hear her, apart from her twin brother Ben. Lily is desperate to live just a little bit more, so Ben agrees to let her use his body for a while, until she is ready to say goodbye to life and move on to whatever comes next.

There were a lot of things I enjoyed about this book, but it never really blew me away. I found all of Lily’s thought processes as she watches her family grieve very interesting. It’s almost as though she wants them to stay sad, and to not forget about her, which although sounds selfish, actually came across as very human to me. I also liked seeing Lily use Ben’s body to experience all of the everyday things like eating sweets and having a hot shower that she took for granted in life and misses. I appreciated the mindful way that Lily navigated the world once she knew that she only had a limited time left in it. I feel like we should all live our days this way, no matter how long we have left.

Another thing I found very interesting about the book are the perspectives we get from other characters as they react to Lily’s death, but in particular the perspective of the driver who hit her. We find out very early on who that is, although I am not going to spoil anything here. The grief of the driver, and their subsequent breakdown was done so well, and although they did wrong, I ended up feeling so sorry for this person, because their perspective was just heartbreaking to read.

What I didn’t love so much about this book was the characterisation. I didn’t feel like any of the characters really stood apart from each other. Even Lily herself was hard to fully connect to, because I never really got a sense of who she was in life, besides the fact that she liked sunflowers (which play a prominent part in her funeral). I understood how Lily felt about being robbed of her life, and I empathised with her realisations about all the things she took for granted whilst she was alive, but I had no idea who she was before she felt these things, before she died. I guess I could have done with more flashbacks, or at least memories tied in with what she was experiencing in the present.

The other thing I found a little lacking in this book was the plot. Like I said, I really enjoyed the concept, and seeing how Lily reacts to the situation she’s in, but beyond that I feel like not much happens in the book, and it did get a bit repetitive at times, as Lily spends a lot of time just doing normal things in Ben’s body.

Something I have mixed feelings about in this book is what it has to say about gender. Lily is using Ben’s body, so obviously she is a girl in a boy’s body, and it was interesting to see how this makes her feel, and see her empathising with how someone who is born into the wrong body might feel. However, where it went wrong for me is when we see Ben’s friends reacting to how he is acting (differently, obviously, because it’s Lily in there, not Ben). Lily has to play a football match in Ben’s body, and as someone who has never played before, she is naturally not very good at it. Fair enough in principle, but I feel like so much emphasis was put on the fact that Lily couldn’t do certain things because she was a girl, and Ben’s friends didn’t hesitate to point out how ‘girly’ ‘he’ was acting, which didn’t sit well with me. Also, when ‘Ben’ touches his friend’s arm, his friend questions why his friend has turned into an ‘overnight gay’. Maybe that’s how some straight teenage boys would react, I don’t know, but I just felt like using homophobia to illustrate that Ben was acting differently was unnecessary.

Overall, I did enjoy this book, and I felt like it explored some interesting thoughts and feelings on grief, however I didn’t fall in love with it the way I had hoped I would. It’s not a bad book by any means, it just had a few problems. I enjoyed the author’s writing style, and this is a debut, so I’ll certainly look out for further books she writes in the future.

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The Mid Year Book Freakout Tag 2018

Hi everyone, hope you’re all having a lovely week so far! Today I thought I would do the Mid Year Book Freakout Tag, because it’s the middle of the year, I’m freaking out about that, and I want to look back at some of the incredible books I’ve read so far in 2018 to calm myself down.

My reading this year has been a lot slower than usual, and according to Goodreads I’ve only read 40 books so far (although I have re-read a few books that I couldn’t be bothered to add to Goodreads, so it’s probably more like 45). I have soooo many books that I want to get to before the end of the year, but I’m gonna take my time, because there’s no rush.

Here are my thoughts on the books I’ve read so far in 2018. Apologies now for what is going to be a 20,000 word dissertation of a post.

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Best Book You’ve Read Yet in 2018

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This is actually the book I *just* finished. I had been holding off on doing this tag until I had read this book, because I had an inkling it would end up being my favourite. And guys, it was so ridiculously good. The story follows a group of five friends who are reunited for this first time since the death of the sixth member of their group, Jim. After getting into a car accident, the group become stuck in a time loop between life and death called a Neverworld Wake, and in order to escape, they will need to find out the truth about what really happened to Jim, and vote unanimously for the one member of their group who gets to survive the wake and live again. The writing was stunning – eerie and evocative, strange and otherworldly, the concept was well executed, and I stayed up late into the night reading in a hazy blur of excitement and energy because I was so sucked into the mystery. And I’m not usually one to sacrifice sleep if I can help it! I was nervous to pick this book up because Night Film by Marisha Pessl is one of my favourite books of all time, so I had very high expectations, but it did not let me down. If you enjoyed the way Night Film was written, but found it a bit slow, and were frustrated by the ambiguous ending, I think you will appreciate this one more; it has the same dark and delicious atmosphere of that book, but it’s pacier, and things wrap up more definitively and satisfyingly. I AM JUST IN LOVE WITH THIS BOOK, OK?


Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2018

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Nemesis by Brendan Reichs was one of my top five books of 2017, so this was probably my most anticipated sequel of 2018. It didn’t disappoint me. I won’t say anything about the plot of this book, but the premise of the first book is that our two protagonists, Min and Noah, have both been struggling in private with the same horrifying predicament: every two years, on their birthdays, a black-suited man hunts and kills them in cold blood. They then wake up several miles from home, unscathed but terrified, and unable to talk to anybody about what’s just happened, because, who on earth would believe them? Set against the backdrop of an impending apocalypse, this series is so tense, thrilling, dark, and unique. Genesis was just as good if not better than Nemesis, and by the end I felt I knew these characters inside out, having been through so much with them. Highly recommend this underrated series.


New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To

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Having adored Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch last year, I can’t wait to get my hands on her next book. Love and Gelato was so warm, sweet and emotional, and I’m hoping I feel the same way about Love and Luck, which I believe is set in Ireland and follows Addie, the best friend of Love and Gelato’s protagonist, Lina.


Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year

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This book sounds freaking amazing, and I am dying to read it. It follows two girls who are accused of murdering their best friend in the woods after becoming delusional in their obsession with a dark fantasy novel called The Way into Lovelorn. But what really happened that night? I mean, come on, this book is my ultimate creepy cup of tea and I need it in my life right now.


Biggest Disappointment

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This book follows a boy named River who wanders into a support group for teen addicts after his girlfriend breaks up with him, and finds comfort and connection there. I was really excited to read this book, because several authors I adore had blurbed it saying how good it was, and how loveable and memorable a character River was. But honestly, I found River quite forgettable, and his actions quite offensive. He pretends to have a drug addiction to keep coming to the group, when in reality he just got dumped, which is not even remotely the same thing! He also borderline stalks his ex girlfriend, which is no way to win a girl back, and it made me super uncomfortable to read. This book was interesting, and I didn’t hate it, but it definitely didn’t live up to its praise for me.


Biggest Surprise

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Honestly I wasn’t expecting much from this book, but I was sucked in by the cover (stunning) and the dark circus setting. For some reason I thought this book was fantasy/magical realism, so finding out that it is actually speculative dystopian was my first surprise. This book follows what might happen if the dangerous far-right thinking of groups like UKIP were to gain precedence in the UK. In the near-future England of this book, immigrants (referred to by the government as ‘Dregs’) are denied basic human rights, and immigrant children like our protagonist Hoshiko are taken from their families to perform in The Cirque, a grisly circus where they are highly likely to die whilst performing for the ‘Pures’ who are baying for their blood. This book is dark and disturbing, and I found it pretty powerful. At the same time, I found some aspects of it problematic. There is a love story between Hoshiko and Ben, son of a prominent government minister, and he definitely feels like a ‘white saviour’ kind of character. I ended up with mixed feelings about this book, but the fact that I had so many feelings about a book I assumed was going to be something completely different definitely surprised me.


Favourite New Author

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Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivisson. I read Freshers, my first book by this writing duo, earlier this year, and I adored it. This book made me laugh out loud, which so few books actually manage, and I need more funny in my life, so I’m definitely going to check out more of their work this year. I’ve heard that all of their other books are just as hilarious.


Newest Fictional Crush

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Dante from Legendary!

I didn’t love Dante in Caraval, but he has more of a part to play in the second book, and I found myself swooning a lot whenever he was around. He’s a morally dubious character, and I kind of hate myself for feeling this way, but I just can’t help it!


Newest Favourite Character

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Oren from Scream All Night!

Oren is the older brother of Scream All Night’s protagonist, Dario. Oren is a wannabe B-horror movie writer, following in the footsteps of his famous father, but he’s somewhat misguided about what’s traditionally scary, and wants to make a film about murderous cauliflowers. Oren is a strange choice for favourite character, because for large parts of this book Oren is a total douche. But the thing is, he’s freaking hilarious (even though he doesn’t mean to be), and strangely vulnerable (which he definitely doesn’t mean to be), and I couldn’t help but love him, even when I sort of hated him simultaneously.


Book That Made You Cry

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This book follows a boy named Joe whose brother is on death row and it’s the most heartbreaking book I have ever read. I was in floods of tears reading this. It’s written in verse, and is so beautifully told, it will remain in my heart for a long, long time.


Book That Made You Happy

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I just adore Becky Albertalli so much. All of her books leave me with a massive soppy smile on my face and this one was no exception. She writes the kind of romance that gives you butterflies in your tummy, her dialogue is on point and hilarious, and her books are packed with diversity. Basically, she is my queen.


Favourite Book to Film Adaptation

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Speaking of Becky Albertalli, the adaptation of her first book Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda was PERFECTION. I loved the casting in this movie, especially for Simon, Nick, and Blue, and this was just all kinds of adorable and made me so happy and squishy inside. I can’t wait till it comes out on DVD so I can watch it basically every day.


Favourite Post You Have Done This Year

Probably this one! I like looking back at what I’ve read so far this year and reliving all of my favourites.


Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year

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The Illuminae Files series by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman. These books are stunning, both inside and out. They are works of art. This series is another of my favourites, and the first book, Illuminae is definitely in my top five so far this year. The books are so action packed, tense, epic, badass, and glorious. The characters are my precious babies.


What Books Do You Need to Read by the End of the Year?

ALL THE BOOKS! BUT IN PARTICULAR, THESE:

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If you made it all the way to the end of this post, congrats, and I love you. What has been your favourite book of the year so far? I’d love to hear from you!

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ARC Book Review: ‘Scream All Night’ by Derek Milman

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Scream All Night. Derek Milman. Harperteen. Release date: 24th July 2018.

DARIO HEYWARD KNOWS ONE THING. He’s never going back to Moldavia Studios, the iconic castle that served as the set, studio, and home to the cast and crew of dozens of cult classic B-horror movies. It’s been three years since Dario’s even seen the place, after getting legally emancipated from his father, the infamous director of Moldavia’s creature features.

But then Dario’s brother invites him home to a mysterious ceremony involving his father and a tribute to his first film–The Curse of the Mummy’s Tongue. Dario swears his homecoming will be a one-time visit. A way for him to get closure on his past–and reunite with Hayley, his first love and costar of Zombie Children of the Harvest Sun, a production fraught with real-life tragedy–and say good-bye for good. But the unthinkable happens–Dario gets sucked back into the twisted world of Moldavia and the horrors, both real and imagined, he’s left there.

With only months to rescue the sinking studio and everyone who has built their lives there, Dario must confront the demons of his past–and the uncertainties of his future. But can he escape the place that’s haunted him his whole life?


Thank you to Harperteen for providing with a digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Scream All Night is one of the most original YA contemporaries I have ever read. I really didn’t know what to expect going into this novel; for some reason, all the references to paranormal horror in the blurb had me thinking there were going to be paranormal elements to the story, and that they were going to be super-cheesy. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case. The categorisation of this novel as dark comedy works pretty well for me, because the writing finds humour in unexpected places, yet balances this humour with its darker exploration of abuse and neglect, which hit me hard with feelings.

The setting of this novel was so unique and like nothing I have come across in fiction. Moldavia Castle, Dario’s childhood home, and the home of his father’s movie studio, felt like a character in its own right. I loved meeting all of the quirky characters who lived there, exploring all of the atmospheric rooms where set-pieces were built, and reading about all of the weird and wonderful costumes and props used in the productions. I loved hearing about the stories of each of the movies the studio made, and what was going in real life behind the scenes (though some of it was extremely emotional and hard to read).

All of the cast and crew living and working at Moldavia felt like one great big complicated family, and so many interesting relationships were explored in this story. I liked that the movie studio acted as a home for so many people; they were all misfits who had found a place they truly belonged in Moldavia. In contrast, it was interesting to see Dario struggling to decide if he really did belong there.

The thing I loved most about this novel was the characterisation. Dario, our protagonist, felt so real to me, and reading about everything he went through at the hands of his father made me really hurt for him. I’ve never read a story where a character has been emancipated from their family, and it was both interesting and heartbreaking to learn about how Dario ended up in that situation. Dario goes on a complicated emotional journey as he returns to Moldavia, and I think his conflicting feelings of loyalty to the people he loves, but fearfulness of the past they force him to confront, were written very well.

I also loved Dario’s narration, because there was so much comedy in his depiction of the people surrounding him. I felt that, through Dario, Derek Milman achieved the perfect balance between mocking his characters and making us feel wholeheartedly for them. The character he does this best with is Oren, Dario’s older brother. Oren is, to be honest, a massive douche for most of the book, and for a long time he reads like an object of pure satire. He’s intent on producing a film he has written about a demonically possessed patch of cauliflowers (‘The Ciller Cauliflowers’, and yes spelling Killer with a C is deliberate), but nobody can convince him it’s a terrible idea, because he only hears what he wants to hear. The glimpses we get to read of the script are laugh out loud hilarious, and they made me almost love Oren, even when he was being a selfish asshole. However, the further we go into Dario’s story, the more vulnerability Oren reveals to us, and we get to know him on a level I never expected, as Dario does. I loved the development of this sibling relationship, which starts off on extremely rocky, resentful ground.

There is a romance in the novel, and it was sweet, but it wasn’t my favourite aspect of the story. Because Hayley is supposed to be Dario’s first love, we don’t get much build up to their relationship. It just kind of picks up where it left off when Dario left Moldavia, so we don’t get a sense of when and how they fell in love; it feels more like it has always been this way. I didn’t totally buy into their romantic feelings for each other, although I did get a sense of closeness and a family kind of love, and I think their relationship could have easily been portrayed as a strong, close friendship and had the same impact.

All in all, I found this novel entertaining, and emotionally gripping, and I couldn’t help but root for Dario to find his path forward. If you want a book with funny but complex characters, which explores complicated family relationships, in a unique and interesting setting (and why wouldn’t you want that?!), I couldn’t recommend this book more highly.

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Books I read on my hiatus (Part 2)

Hello everybody! Hope you’ve all had lovely sunny Sundays. Last weekend I posted some mini reviews of books I read whilst I was on a blogging break. As there were lots of books I wanted to talk about, I decided to split my wrap-up into two parts. You can find Part 1 here. And now for Part 2…


The Girls by Emma Cline

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Rating: 2.5 stars

I have very mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I read it compulsively, and found the writing beautiful, evocative, dark, and seductive. One the other hand, some of the content was VERY uncomfortable to read, and as such, I can’t bring myself to say I ‘enjoyed’ it. I guess I should have expected this, given that the book tells the story of a 14 year old girl who becomes involved with a Manson Family type cult. Drugs, sex, brutal murder. I knew this book would be dark, but I guess I wasn’t expecting it to be so sexually explicit. I’m not saying this prudishly, but rather because these scenes involve an actual child, and I couldn’t help but feel nauseous the whole time I was reading them. I guess that was the point though. This book is meant to unsettle you deeply, and it certainly achieves that. It left me feeling queasy, depressed, a little bit dirty. It’s a good book, but I didn’t like it, if that makes sense.


Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

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Rating: 5 stars

I ADORED THIS BOOK! I think I am just destined to love anything that Becky Albertalli writes. Her writing is so accessible, funny, down to earth, and relatable. I can’t say loads about the plot of the book, because I feel it might spoil Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, which you definitely need to read first. I LOVED being back with all of those characters. Leah wasn’t my favourite in Simon – I found her negative and snarky – but having been inside her head in this book, I now feel I understand her completely and love her just as much as the others. In a lot of ways she reminded me of myself as a teenager, acting in certain ways, but regretting them instantly inside my head. She was so much more relatable than I originally imagined her to be. My favourite thing about this book was the adorable and utterly shippable LGBT romance between Leah and a certain character; I can’t say who because it’s not something you know from the beginning of the book (although I kind of guessed/hoped and ended up being right). Becky Albertalli writes romance so perfectly, and it always leaves me with the warm fuzzies. My only small complaint about this book is that the ending felt a bit rushed. I thought there was going to be some fallout or at least some kind of reaction scene to something that happens, but instead of showing that, the book jumps straight to an epilogue. Nevertheless, it didn’t bother me enough to prevent me from rating this book 5 stars. In a nutshell, Becky’s books just make me ridiculously happy, and I love her. I can’t wait to read her next book!


Big Bones by Laura Dockrill

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Rating: 4 stars

This book was so much fun! It follows a plus-size, body positive 16 year old girl named Bluebelle, who is asked by her doctor to keep a food diary after being informed she is overweight. I loved that Bluebelle had such a positive attitude to her body, a healthy love for herself we almost never see in teenage characters. I like that she didn’t care that she was fat, that other things were far more important to her. And I loved the way she cared so much about food. For her, eating wasn’t about greed, but about respect for amazing ingredients and flavours. Every chapter of this book was centred around a particular type of food, and Bluebelle’s descriptions of the things she cooked and ate made my mouth water and my stomach rumble. The reason I didn’t give this book a full five stars is that I didn’t always feel like Bluebelle was a real person; she had such positive views I couldn’t help but nod along with, but sometimes it felt like she was just a vehicle for the author to express those views. Sometimes it felt like there wasn’t much to her character outside of those opinions, that she wasn’t fully developed. I really loved the friendships in this book, the relationship between Bluebelle and her younger sister Pearl, and her banter with her best friend Camille, who stars in some HILARIOUS scenes. I didn’t feel like the love interest was very fleshed out though; I think the book would have been wonderful enough without him. Overall, I really enjoyed the book, and I definitely want to check out more of Laura Dockrill’s work.


The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight

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Rating: 3.5 stars

This is a self-help book all about learning not to care so much about things that stress you out and make you unhappy. It’s light-hearted, and wonderfully sweary. If you are at all offended by expletives, I’d suggest you don’t read this book, because basically every other word is ‘f**k’. I really liked the concept of this book, because I am somebody who cares way too much about what other people think of me. Since reading this book, I think I am getting better at not giving a f**k, although it’s not as easy as this author makes it sound. Knight talks about the idea of giving less f**ks to things that annoy you, and more f**ks to the things that bring you joy. I really appreciated this! Giving up giving a f**k about things you don’t enjoy leaves more time, energy and money for you to spend on the things you do. However, I didn’t agree with all of the examples the author used. She talks about saying no to something your friend asks you to come to (for example their art exhibition) if it doesn’t interest you, but I’m not the sort of person who would chose not to support someone I love in something they care about simply because it’s not *my* thing. The other example that didn’t sit well with me was when the author said that if you don’t give a f**k about recycling, you don’t have to do it. To me, this is just irresponsible and immature. Nevertheless, I liked the message of this book, even if I didn’t like the silly examples (which were probably just there for comedic value, but still…); I will definitely try to apply it to the areas of my life I stress too much over.


The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

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Rating: 3 stars

I had mixed feelings about this book. I feel like I both enjoyed and was let down by it. I loved the concept; the book is set in a town where everybody is aware of the existence of faeries. In the woods outside of town there is a sleeping boy trapped in a glass coffin, and the story follows what happens when somebody frees him. The writing in this book was atmospheric and delicious. I would like to perhaps re-read it again in Autumn, as it gave me lots of Autumnal vibes. All the bits of this book about the Fey and the folklore surrounding them were also fascinating to me. What let this book down for me was the pacing and the plot. I felt there was too much focus on backstory and flashbacks, which meant that the forward action was slow to unfold, then all of a sudden rushed to its conclusion. The plot was interesting to me, but I felt that more time needed to be spent on the exciting bits. There’s a lot of talking between the characters, and planning, and not enough action. I feel like maybe this would work better as a series, rather than a standalone; the plot could have been richer, the romances more believable, and the faerie world expanded upon.


Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? I’d love to hear from you! (And please, do feel free to stop by and fangirl about Leah on the Offbeat with me!) ❤

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Books I read on my random, super-long hiatus (Part 1)

Hello lovely people! I know I’ve been AWOL for a while, and I’m so sorry! I have no excuses, so I’m not going to make any. However, I did miss you guys, and I missed blogging, and now I’m back! I’ll try not to stay away so long next time. 🙂

I’ve read a lot of books recently (for me), so I thought I’d do some mini reviews. I’m splitting this into two parts, because otherwise this post will go on for DAYS. Without further ado…


Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher

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Rating: 3.5 stars

This book was not amazingly written, the language was quite simplistic and cliched, however I did enjoy it a lot. It was a quick, easy read that kept me entertained throughout, and even had me shedding a few tears at one point. The story follows a young woman named Sophie who works in a teashop in the town she grew up in. She meets an actor named Billy when he comes to her town to film an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, and this story follows their relationship as it develops. I really liked Sophie as a character, and found her very relatable. Sophie suffers from anxiety and panic attacks, and I felt they were very well handled. The way Sophie lies awake at night worrying about and overanalysing everything was so familiar to me. I really rooted for Sophie, and I loved that she didn’t try to be a different person just to fit into Billy’s world; she knew her own mind, and how she deserved to be treated. What I loved most about this book was the friendship between Sophie and Molly, the older lady who owns the teashop where Sophie works. Though the book is primarily about the romance between Sophie and Billy, theirs was the real love story of this novel for me.


Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by Julie Israel

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Rating: 2.5 stars

I was left underwhelmed by this book. It’s essentially the story of a girl named Juniper who is grieving for her sister Camilla. The plot centres around a letter that Juniper finds from her sister to somebody she was secretly dating. Juniper wants to find out the identity of this person, so she can learn more about this part of Camilla’s life she never knew about. My main issue with this book is that, despite being the focus of Juniper’s story, Camilla didn’t feel like a real person to me. Juniper tells us Camilla was this vibrant, larger than life person, but we are never SHOWN that in any of Juniper’s flashbacks. Camilla barely even has any dialogue; Juniper tells us what she says and does, instead of showing us, and as a result, her character seems kind of flat. I felt a similar way about Juniper herself; I didn’t get a huge sense of who she was as a person. Despite this, I did think the side characters were well drawn. For example. Juniper’s love interest, the school bad boy ‘Brand’, which yes I do think is a silly name, reminded me of a less-of-an-asshole version of Bender from The Breakfast Club, and I found myself enjoying his scenes quite a lot. I also really liked the new friends that Juniper makes (because her supposed best friend hasn’t spoken to her since her sister’s death). On the whole, I just found the writing in this book a bit bland. It also bugged me at times with trying to be funny; a character would make a really crap joke, and then the other characters would have a really over-the-top laughing reaction, and it was just… nope. This book was entertaining enough to keep me reading, but I wanted to love it a whole lot more than I did.


Freshers by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

freshers

Rating: 5 stars

I loved this book so much! I didn’t want to put it down, and I was constantly thinking about how great it was, even when I wasn’t reading it. The story follows two characters, Phoebe and Luke, in their first term of university, and it is told in alternating chapters from both of their perspectives. To start with, let me just say that this book is HILARIOUS – genuinely laugh out loud funny. The dialogue is witty, and all of the embarrassing moments had me cackling with laughter. I particularly loved Phoebe’s chapters, because she makes friends with these two girls, Frankie and Negin, and the characterisation of these girls and the friendship between them is so brilliantly written and full of comedy.  I really enjoyed Luke’s chapters, too. Luke made some stupid decisions at times, but he felt like a fully fleshed out male character. I appreciated the way the chapters from his point of view explored his insecurities about finding friends and fitting in at university. I think it’s really important to show that boys worry about these things just as much as girls do. This book made me so nostalgic for my university days because it is SO authentic to the UK university experience: the drinking culture, the endless tea drinking, the random characters you meet, the nights that don’t go as planned, the mistakes you make, the emotional angst, the things you miss, the laughs you have, and the intense friendships you form. I also thought the exploration of ‘LAD’ culture on campus was very true to life, and there is a fantastic takedown of this in a very epic protest scene that I 100% adored.


This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

thisisgoingtohurt

Rating: 4.5 stars

This book is a memoir about Adam Kay’s time spent working for the NHS as a Junior Doctor. It’s told in short, anecdotal diary entries, making it extremely readable and moreish. This book was incredible because it evoked so many different emotions in me. For the most part, it was laugh of loud funny. Adam Kay has excellent comic timing, and delivers the punchline of each anecdote flawlessly. As you might expect, this is the kind of book which makes you concerned for humanity as you read about all the ridiculous reasons people end up in hospital, a.k.a. the ridiculous objects people get lodged in ridiculous orifices. But this book is poignant too. Reading about what it’s like to work such long hours, under such intense pressure, brought it home to me how much respect we should have for the people who have chosen this way of life. Being a doctor means sacrificing any idea of a personal life. They can’t take sick leave, they can barely take holidays, they rarely get to sleep all night long in their own bed. They are heroes.  This book also made me feel a tiny bit scared of doctors, because it made me realise that these heroes are also human beings … human beings operating on very little sleep or sustenance, who may have only performed a certain procedure a handful of times before, if at all. Our life is literally in their hands. There were lots of squeamish bits in this book, and I exercised my grimace muscle a lot whilst reading it, but I liked Adam Kay’s honesty. It was fascinating being able to explore the day to day reality of life as a doctor. There were also some very sad parts of this book, particularly Adam’s account of the incident which eventually led to him giving up medicine. Like I said, I experienced a lot of different emotions whilst reading this book, and all in all it was a fantastic memoir I would highly recommend


Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? More reviews coming your way soon!

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