The Mud and Stars Book Blog

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

What I’ve been reading: some mini reviews!

Hihihi everybody and a happy Friday to you! Hope you’re all having a smashing one. I’ve been super busy recently, and I haven’t had time to fully review all of the books I’ve wanted to, so I thought I’d bring you some mini reviews today instead. Here goes…


Heart Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne

715C0oIYrTL

My rating: 3.5 stars

(Read the blurb here.)

Heart Shaped Bruise was the first book I read this year, and it was an intriguing, character driven story. I was expecting this book to be more of a psychological thriller, but really I’d describe it as a character study, because it’s not action-packed. That’s not to say it isn’t entertaining, though! The story follows a girl named Emily who is serving time in the psychiatric wing of a young offender’s institute. In a loose diary format, she relates the story of how she came to commit her offence.

Emily made this story, because she was such a psychologically fascinating, complex character. Emily has done something pretty awful (although we don’t find out straight away the nature of her crime), and she has shown a complete lack of remorse for her actions. Despite this, I liked Emily, because her narrative was so compelling that I felt I was on her side, even when I couldn’t morally agree with her twisted actions. I felt her hurt, and her desperate desire for revenge, and somehow, I couldn’t condemn her.

This book really made me think about crime, and our tendency to judge those who commit it by the crime alone. Something which was really interesting about this book was that, apart from Emily’s, we don’t learn the crimes of any of the girls staying in the institute. We are forced, instead, to form opinions of them based on everything but the things they have done wrong.

I definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for a story with complex, gritty characterisation! Emily is a character I won’t be forgetting in a hurry.


Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik

sofiakhan

My rating: 4.5 stars

(Read the blurb here.)

I read this book when I was in need of something light-hearted and entertaining, and it delivered and then some. I’d never read a book with a Muslim protagonist before, but if you are looking for an own voices book with Muslim representation, I highly recommend this one.

This book has been described as the ‘Muslim Bridget Jones’, because it’s written in diary format, and is about a woman in her thirties navigating the dating scene (and hiding a smoking habit from a family who desperately want her to get married!) Sofia isn’t much like Bridget aside from this, though she now has just as big a place in my heart. She’s stubborn, sometimes prickly (but in a loveable way), and is often treated satirically, as she’s not always aware of how amusing her behaviour is. I loved all of the side characters in this book, and Sofia’s observations, particularly about her family and their chaotic dynamics, constantly had me giggling.

I didn’t know anything about the Muslim dating scene before reading this book, but I really enjoyed the humorous way Ayisha Malik depicted it, and Sofia certainly meets some interesting characters along the way! My prediction about who Sofia would end up with turned out to be wrong, which almost never happens to me in contemporary romance books, so I was pleasantly surprised, although I was a tiny bit disappointed that my initial ship in this book did not sail. I still loved the ending though. There’s supposed to be a sequel coming out this year and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

I cannot recommend this one enough if you’re looking for a book to make you smile.


A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

aquitekind

My rating: 4.5 stars

(Read the blurb here.)

I absolutely adored this book! I related so much to Steffi, who has anxiety, and there were times when I felt like she was reading the thoughts directly out of my head. My anxiety is in no way as severe as Steffi’s, and my anxiety has nothing to do with speaking (whereas Steffi has been a selective mute for a large part of her life), but her thought processes were so familiar to me, and it was so great to see this kind of representation in a book.

This book is a contemporary romance, and Rhys, the boy Steffi ends up falling for, was a fantastic character too. Rhys was deaf, and I think this may be the first time I’ve read a book with a deaf character, so it really opened my eyes to a lot of things I’d never thought about before, and gave me the opportunity to look at the world from a completely different perspective. The romance was very sweet, gave me lots of fluffy feelings, and most importantly of all, did not miraculously cure Steffi’s mental illness. Although I didn’t always feel overwhelmed by the chemistry, the romance was such a healthy, realistic one, and really demonstrated the fact that there are things far more important than chemistry.

Alongside the romance, friendship played just as important a part, and I LOVED Steffi’s friendship with Tem, perhaps even more so than her romance with Rhys. This book gave such an honest portrayal of friendship, with all of the ups and downs it can go through; it made no secret of the fact that falling out with a friend can hurt just as much, if not more, than falling out with a boyfriend, and that making things right with someone who has been by your side since day one should always be your priority.

I know it’s early days, but I’m fairly certain this book will make it into my top ten of 2017.


Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? I hope you all have wonderful weekends full of books, tea, and napping (because those are clearly the best kind.) 🙂

9 Comments »

YA Horror: ‘Fir’ by Sharon Gosling (ARC Book Review)

firsharongosling

Fir. Sharon Gosling. Stripes Publishing. Release date: 9th February 2017.

Moving from Stockholm to an isolated pine plantation in northern Sweden is bad enough, but when the snows come early and all links between the Strombergs and the outside world are cut off, it gets worse.

With only a grudging housekeeper and increasingly withdrawn parents for company, there is nothing to do but to explore the old plantation house. Anything to stay out of the endless pine trees pressing in on them.

But soon it becomes clear that the danger within the old plantation house is even greater than what lies outside…


Thank you to Netgalley and Stripes Publishing for providing me with a digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I love the Red Eye range of YA horror books from Stripes Publishing (my favourite being Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell) so when a new book from the range popped up on Netgalley, I knew I had to request it, immediately!

Overall, I enjoyed this book, but I was really torn over how to rate it. I ended up opting for 3 stars, because, whilst there were a lot of things I liked about the book, I was left with the feeling that something was missing.

First of all, let’s talk about the good stuff! This book contained so many of my favourite tropes from the horror genre: an isolated house, a sinister forest, unnerving characters, creepy children, and a multitude of mysteries. The setting and atmosphere within this book were extremely well executed, and the descriptions made me feel like I was right there, alone in that weird, silent forest, with only the ancient trees for company.

Despite the atmospheric writing, I felt quite disconnected from the main character. I can only call her the main character in this review, because we never find out her name. I had trouble getting to know her because, as well as lacking a name to ground her in some kind of reality, I discovered very little about her throughout the course of the story. She didn’t seem to have any hobbies, there was a brief mention of some friends at the beginning of the novel, but they weren’t mentioned again, and she spent a lot of time exploring her new home alone, rather than conversing with other characters.

The main character did have personality; it just wasn’t a strong one which jumped off the page. I wasn’t her biggest fan to begin with, because she started off being extremely whiney. I can understand that she wasn’t too thrilled about being forced to move to the back of beyond (and I’m sure I would have had the same stroppy reaction at her age), but I found her whining a bit grating; it reminded me of Bella Swan when she first moves to Forks, before she discovers the sparkly vampires… However, the main character definitely grew on me; as the story progressed, she developed into somebody much more mature and capable, when thrown into situations where she needed to be.

One character I did find very interesting was Dorothea, the housekeeper. The Stromberg family inherit her when they move to the plantation, as she has been in service there for many years. Dorothea was rude, deliberately difficult and uncooperative, and was described as having a ‘scuttling’ walk, which I have to admit made her all kinds of creepy to me. If you’ve ever read Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, Dorothea will give you serious Mrs. Danvers vibes… she was always lurking around every corner, and trying to make the family feel unwelcome in their own home, and I was constantly curious to know just what she was up to.

My favourite thing about this novel was probably the use of mythology. I can’t say much more about this, as I don’t want to wander into spoiler territory, but I loved the way that mythology was tied into the horror, and examined against the other possibility… that all the creepy things happening were simply hallucinations brought on by the isolation.

I was certainly invested in the mysteries of the story, and I enjoyed sneaking around and exploring with the main character, as she made sinister discovery after sinister discovery. I get a buzz out of that kinda thang! Despite enjoying how the mystery unfolded, I was left frustrated by the ending. I did get answers to the questions I’d had throughout the book, but what happens at the end threw a curveball, and I was actually pretty confused about what had happened. I sometimes enjoy an ambiguous ending, but I’m not sure this one was needed… unless it was a set-up for a sequel!

All in all, I found this novel entertaining, and definitely creepy in places, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if I’d had a better connection with the main character, and if the ending had been clearer. However, if you’re new to the horror genre, I think Fir could be a fun place to start.

5 Comments »

Psychological Thriller: ‘The Girl Before’ by JP Delaney (ARC Book Review)

thegirlbefore

The Girl Before. JP Delaney. Quercus Books. Release date: 2nd February 2017.

Jane stumbles on the rental opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to live in a beautiful ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect, on condition she abides by a long list of exacting rules. After moving in, she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there – and starts to wonder if her own story will be a re-run of the girl before. As twist after twist catches the reader off guard, Emma’s past and Jane’s present become inexorably entwined in this tense, page-turning portrayal of psychological obsession.


Thank you to Netgalley and Quercus Books for sending me a digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

When I first read the description of this psychological thriller, I knew I had to request it. The concept was such an intriguing one, and I was really excited when I was approved to receive a digital ARC.

Overall, this was a solid, entertaining thriller. I liked the fact that the story was based around a weird house (with an even weirder tenancy agreement), because things which are off-kilter from the ordinary are my favourite. Generally, creepy houses in fiction are of the old, haunted variety, so I was delighted by how sinister I found One Folgate Street, a sparsely decorated, modern creation, full of intuitive technology which allows the house, and the Monkford Partnership who own the house, to know just a little bit too much about its tenants.

I don’t know much about minimalism, so it was really interesting to read from the perspective of two characters (Jane and Emma) who agree to adopt a more minimalistic lifestyle when they move into One Folgate Street. I was intrigued by the tenancy agreement which, despite its peculiarities, both women agree to sign. There were so many strange rules in the agreement, compiled by the architect of the house, mostly regarding things they weren’t allowed to bring with them (for example, “NO BOOKS” is one of the rules… what even?!) Both women, for personal reasons, are attracted to the idea of completely changing the way the live, and whilst it was something I could personally never do, the psychology driving their decisions to take these strict rules on board was fascinating.

Even more fascinating than the house was the architect himself, Edward Monkford. Edward was one hell of a strange and complex character. He becomes involved with both women, Emma initially, (before her mysterious death at the property), and later Jane, who rents the house in the present day. And, to put it mildly, there’s something pretty creepy about him, and the way he inserts himself so quickly and efficiently into their lives.

Edward was a smooth operator, but beneath his calm and suave exterior, you could see his restrained anger when things didn’t go his way, and his urgent need for control, pulsing, desperate to burst out of him. At times, he reminded me a little of Christian Grey (as in 50 Shades of…); he was a rich, manipulative control-freak, was into luxury minimalist decor, treated his relationships like ‘agreements’, and had a pathological need to be dominant in all situations. Perhaps the most creepy thing about Edward was the way in which his relationship with Jane played out almost identically to his ‘romance’ with Emma. The robotic way he pursued Jane using all the same lines he used on Emma made me hella suspicious of him.

Emma and Jane were both interesting characters, and the more I read about them, the more layers I uncovered. Emma was a selfish, impulsive character, who jumped into things without thinking them through at all. Jane was more likeable, and I empathised with her more readily, but I also found her actions frustrating at times. I couldn’t understand how she could become involved with a man like Edward, when people kept warning her against him. Every time another character stated their opinion of Edward, Jane would be in complete denial, insisting ‘they’ve got him all wrong’, when actually their description of him had been uncanny. Still, Edward was a very charming and manipulative man, so to a certain extent, I could see where her denial was coming from.

One thing I found a little bit confusing in this book was the way Emma’s chapters were written. There were no speech marks, and at first I thought this might be an oversight, as this was an ARC copy, but it continued throughout the book, and was only in Emma’s chapters, which led me to think that it had been done deliberately, to distinguish her chapters from Jane’s. I found her sections a bit hard to follow, at times, because it wasn’t always clear who was speaking, and it wasn’t always obvious if I was reading narration or dialogue.

Something else that bothered me was how much I had to suspend disbelief. I found that certain characters, namely Emma’s therapist, and the DI who had been investigating her death, gave away confidential information about Emma and the case way too easily to Jane (someone who had nothing to do with Emma whatsoever, at the end of the day.) Nevertheless, I have to admit it made the story more exciting, and it couldn’t have progressed in the way it did if it weren’t for these ‘professionals’ and their good old lack of professionalism!

I enjoyed the ending of this book, but I wasn’t bowled over by it, and I think I enjoyed the journey more than the destination. I didn’t guess the twist until just before it was revealed, but somehow it didn’t greatly surprise me either; it just made sense, so my reaction was “ohhh, I see” rather than “wow”. Despite this, the story was intriguing throughout, kept me entertained, and certainly made an interesting character study! I also found the scene where the twist was revealed very tense, and dramatic, and although I wasn’t surprised by said reveal, I was terrified for the character involved.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel, despite some minor quibbles, and I didn’t hesitate to give it four stars, largely owing to the fact that it contained one of the most interesting characters I’ve read about in a long time! I definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for an entertaining thriller, with complex characters, and an awesome, unique concept!

Leave a comment »

A big book haul and a little life update (which is actually pretty huge too!)

Hi guys! Apologies for slipping into hiatus mode again. It’s been a busy couple of weeks for me, as I moved to London last weekend! I’m now living with my lovely boyfriend in South West London, not too far from the cemetery where Emmeline Pankhurst is buried (therefore my new home is blessed with awesome feminist vibes.)

I’ve finally finished unpacking, and most importantly, my new bookcase has been constructed. I had to be selective about the books I brought with me, but on the plus side I now have an empty bookcase back in Oxford I can use as overflow when I go on my next book-buying-binge.

anigif_enhanced-buzz-15818-1376582777-0

I haven’t posted a book haul in a while, but I bought lots of wonderful books in November and December, received lots of lovely books for Christmas, and picked up many a bargain in the January sales, so I thought I’d brag about them all in a big old haul post tbh:


Six of Crows and The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

sixofcrows.jpg

Everyone and their Grandma and their Grandma’s cat adores Six of Crows, and I am generally wary of hype, but this book sounds fantastic. I’ve been told I don’t have to read The Grisha Trilogy beforehand, but doing things out of order makes me the opposite of chill, so I’ll probably read those books on my Kindle first before I dive into Six of Crows.


The Mortal Instruments boxed set by Cassandra Clare

miboxset

I already own The Mortal Instruments series on Kindle, but it’s one of my all time faves, so I’ve been desperate to get my hands on physical copies for approx forever. I picked up the boxed set for £20 in a Black Friday deal and to say I was chuffed is putting it mildly.


Harry Potter boxed set by J.K. Rowling

hpboxset.jpg

I received the boxed set of the Harry Potter series with the gorgeous new covers for Christmas (confession time: I think I like them better than the originals!) I grew up with the Harry Potter series, and of course own the original editions, but the set was always a *family* set, and we only had the one in our household. Now I’ve moved to London, I’m really happy I have my own set which is exclusively mine to read/squeal over/hug.


Holding Up the Universe and All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

holdingup18460392

I read Holding Up the Universe over Christmas and absolutely loved it. It was heartwarming, funny, and sweet, with characters I related to deeply (particularly Libby) and I was grateful to have this book as a refuge when all the Christmassing got a bit too much. After Christmas, I decided to pick up a physical copy of All The Bright Places too (which I already own on Kindle) and it’ll be one of my priority reads in early 2017.


Bridget Jones’s Baby by Helen Fielding

bridgetbaby

I received this book from my lovely mama and papa for Christmas and I’m really excited to read it. I’m a huge Bridget Jones fan, and I LOVED the recent Bridget Jones’s Baby film. I believe the book is adapted from some of the original newspaper columns Helen Fielding wrote before the concept became a book/movie series, and I know it’s going to be the perfect light and funny anecdote to the freezing January weather I’m in need of.


111 Places in London That You Shouldn’t Miss by John Sykes

111places

My brother bought me this book as a Christmas pressie ahead of my move to London, and it’s full of awesome ideas for things to see and do in the city. Even though I live here now, I’m totally not above being a tourist in my own city and I intend to make full use of this asap!


Le Diners De Gala (Dali cookbook) by Salvador Dali

dali_lesdinersdegala

You know how I’m obsessed with weird and creepy books? Well I also have a thing for weird and creepy art. I wouldn’t necessarily put Salvador Dali’s paintings on my wall, but they do fascinate me. My wonderful boyfriend bought me this fantastic cookbook Dali wrote, which is a combination of rich recipes and unusual artwork, and it’s just stunning! Now on display in my new kitchen.


Misery by Stephen King, and Skin by Roald Dahl

miseryskin

I received both of these books from my bestie Tash and I’m really excited to get stuck in. We’re both on a mission to read more Stephen King this year, and I’ve heard awesome things about this one. I always loved Roald Dahl’s books as a child, so I’m really intrigued to see what his adult short stories are like (especially as they’re supposed to be pretty dark, aka my fave kind.)


Guinea Pig Oliver Twist, and Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

guineapigololivertwist

Which do I pick up first? #dilemma

Of course I’ll read the classic first, but the guinea pig version (another Christmas gift from my parents) is the most abso-flipping-lutely-adorable thing I’ve seen and is top of my TBR as soon as I’ve read the original.


BBC Animal Babies

magazine-animal-babies-jacket

While we’re on the subject of cute and fluffy, I picked this beautiful book up in the Waterstones sale and I can’t even with how cute and fluffy it is. I’m saving this for when I’m stressed and in need of teeny, tiny animals to cheer me up.


Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare

talesfrom.jpg

This book was another bargain in the January sales; I got this humungous hardback normally priced at £12.99 for £6. What self-respecting Cassie Clare fan could possibly refuse?


Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

scrappylittle

I am in love with Anna Kendrick. She’s so down to earth, witty, and smart. I’m really excited to read her book because if it’s anything like her tweets, I’ll be laughing out loud the whole way through.


The Girls by Emma Cline

thegirls

I’ve heard mixed things about this, but I’m really intrigued by the premise. The story focuses on a girl who falls in with a Manson family type cult. I find cults fascinating, so I’m desperate to read this one, even if it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea.


The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

thewallsaround

I read 17 and Gone by the same author years ago, and remember enjoying it. Nova Ren Suma had a strange and unsettling writing style which had me constantly questioning what was and wasn’t real, so I’m hope this novel will be just as mesmerising.


Tell Us Something True by Dana Reinhardt

tell-us-something-true-cover

This was an impulse buy in Blackwells and I know virtually nothing about it, other than that it’s about a boy called River who is a compulsive liar. It has great reviews from E. Lockhart and Adam Silvera (both authors I love) so I have high hopes!


A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

aquitekind

This YA contemporary about Steffi, a mute girl with anxiety, sounds absolutely fabulous. I’ve been looking for a book with good anxiety representation, and Sammie gave this one an excellent review, so I have a feeling I’m going to fall in love with it tbh.


Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

homegoing

One of my 2017 reading goals is to read more diversely, and after seeing Lauren speak highly of this one, I knew I had to add it to my shelves. Set in Ghana, it beings with the story of two sisters, one of whom is sold into slavery, and one of whom is married off to a British slave trader. This book sounds like a heartbreaking but important read, and I can’t wait to get started.


Sooo that’s the end of my haul. Which of these books have you read, and what did you think of them? What lovely books have you picked up recently? I’d love to hear from you!

30 Comments »

YA Contemporary: ‘The One Memory of Flora Banks’ by Emily Barr (ARC Book Review)

florabanks

The One Memory of Flora Banks. Emily Barr. Penguin. Release date: 12th January 2017.

You always remember your first kiss.

Flora remembers nothing else…

“I look at my hands. One of them says ‘Flora, be brave’. I am Flora.”

Flora has anterograde amnesia. She can’t remember anything day-to-day: the joke her friend made, the instructions her parents gave her, how old she is.

Then she kisses someone she shouldn’t have kissed – and the next day she remembers it. The first time she’s remembered anything since she was ten.

But the boy is gone.

Desperate to hold onto the memory, she sets off to the Arctic to find him.

Why can she remember Drake? Could he be the key to everything else she’s forgotten?


Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin for providing me with a digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wow! I’m so, so happy I read this novel. I loved it to pieces, and I already want to pick it up again because I became so engrossed in this beautiful book about bravery and finding yourself.

If you think from the blurb that this is a book about love miraculously curing illness (which you’d be forgiven for assuming), I can assure you it isn’t. This is a story about an extremely sheltered girl with amnesia named Flora who goes on a wonderful journey of self discovery, involving a casual trip to the North Pole in search of a boy she kissed on a beach. But this book isn’t really about the boy Flora kissed on the beach. It’s all about Flora, and the bravery it takes for her to set off on her own, putting herself in great danger, in pursuit of the one full and accurate memory she’s managed to retain since the age of ten.

The story centres around what happens to Flora after she kisses Drake on the night of his leaving party. Drake is Flora’s best friend’s boyfriend, and he’s going away to study in Svalbard, a cold place where the sun in summer never sets. Flora remembers kissing Drake the next day, which is abnormal for her, because she hasn’t been able to form new memories since she suffered brain damage as a child.

When Flora’s parents are called away to visit her brother Jacob in France, they believe they are leaving Flora in the care of her best friend Paige. But, as Paige isn’t speaking to Flora, after the whole Flora kissing her boyfriend thing, Flora finds herself all alone. As she exchanges emails with Drake, she clings to the memory of their kiss, and becomes convinced that seeing him again will help fix her memory. So, despite the fact that she’s prone to forgetting where and who and why she is, she sets out on a reckless adventure to find Drake and remember.

Flora was such an interesting character, and her perspective was so unique. Everything was a mystery in this novel because everything was a mystery to Flora. She would learn things only to forget them a few hours later. She was constantly having to reorient herself, relearn where she was and why she was there. She wrote messages to herself on her arms and it was just astonishing to see how far she could get herself (all the way to Norway!) and how much she could actually achieve on her own, just relying on her notes.

Flora was so vulnerable, because she couldn’t trust her own memory, and if she were to lose her notes (which could so easily happen), she’d end up lost, not knowing who or where she was. I was often frightened for her, but she was an incredibly brave individual, and I admired her so much. She had the words ‘Flora, be brave’ tattooed on her hand, and a list of rules to live her life by which she kept adding to throughout the story, and I found myself wishing I was more like her. Reading about a girl who never doubted her own abilities, despite her severe memory problems, made me think about how much I doubt my own, and realise that I don’t need to. If Flora can brave and get things done, then so can I.

I absolutely adored the way this book was written. Flora’s narrative voice was one of childlike simplicity (Flora is always ten years old in her head, before she re-reads the notes on her arms and re-learns that she is seventeen) and there was something so endearing about the way she related her story. Despite the fact that Flora speaks like a younger child, she has a very sharp mind (well, as sharp as a mind can be when it has amnesia) and her observations, and ways of thinking and rationalising, showed just how grown up she could be when faced with situations where she had no choice but to be independent.

The section of this book I enjoyed most was the time Flora spent in Svalbard. This book made me fall in love with the Arctic. I’ve always had a fascination with cold climates (I used to actively seek out books that were set in places like Alaska and Norway and Northern Canada purely because I was so obsessed with them), and this book reawakened my longing to travel to those parts of the world. I adored the descriptions of the midnight sun, and the pure cold air, and the rough natural beauty of the mountains. I desperately want to visit Svalbard now.

I loved reading about all of the people Flora met during her time in Svalbard (even though she kept forgetting who they were!) Meeting people is a huge part of the travelling experience, and I loved that Flora had the opportunity to experience that, against such an unusual and extreme set of odds. Flora’s new friends were just as fascinated and enchanted by her as I was, and the way people gathered around her, and wanted to help her, was heartwarming.

I loved the secondary characters in this book, particularly Agi, a Finnish friend Flora meets at the guesthouse in Svalbard  who is catastrophically bad at using English idioms in the correct contexts. I also ADORED Jacob, Flora’s older brother, and the person whom Flora loves most in all the world. We don’t get to meet Jacob face-to-face in this novel, but his emails and letters to Flora were one of my favourite aspects of the story. This is one of the best portrayals of a sibling relationship I’ve ever read, and it gave me all the feels.

Overall, I absolutely fell in love with this novel. It was touching (though heartbreaking in places), unique, and compelling, with a protagonist I couldn’t help but love and wholeheartedly root for. I couldn’t put it down. This book comes out on 12th January and I can’t wait to go out and grab myself a physical copy, because I’ll certainly be reading it again.

16 Comments »

2016 End of Year Book Survey

Hi lovely people! I can’t believe there’s only one day left of 2016! As we all know, it hasn’t been the most fabulous of years, but I’m sure we can all agree we’ve at least read some fabulous books during 2016.

I saw this tag over at Ann’s Reading Corner and thought it looked fun. The survey was created by The Perpetual Page Turner, who also created the graphics for this tag. Make sure you go check out both of their blogs, asap.


2016readingstats


Number of books you read: 104
Number of re-reads: 10
Genre you read the most from: Contemporary, apparently! Which is news to me because I swear I hardly ever read contemporary…


bestinbooks


Best book you read in 2016?

P1010918

This book blew me away with feelings (many of them lustful), Feyre’s character development was epic and inspiring, and the worldbuilding was flawless. A Court of Wings and Ruin is going to RUIN me. #punintended


Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn’t?

whispertome

I thought I was going to fall in love with this book, but the beautiful cover had me infatuated. I liked it, but I didn’t love it, and it was way, way too long.


Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?

creeperman

I love horror, so I expected to enjoy this book, but I had no idea it was going to hit me so hard in the feels; it totally blew me away.


Book you “pushed” the most people to read (and they did)?

City_of_Bones

Hmm, I don’t really have an answer for this… But I have been gradually buying The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices books for my friend Tash over the past few years (a couple books at Christmas, a couple more at birthday, etc.) She now loves them as much as I do!


Best series you started in 2016? Best sequel of 2016? Best series-ender of 2016?

Best series started in 2016:

ladymid

Lady Midnight was one of my favourite books of 2016. I will never get bored of the Shadowhunter world. As far as I’m concerned, Cassie can keep on writing spin-offs 5eva.


Best sequel of 2016:

acourtof

Gotta be ACOMAF again.


Best series-ender of 2016:

whatsagirlgotta

Such a fabulous ending to the Spinster Club trilogy. Thoroughly recommend this wonderful series centered around friendship and feminism.


Favourite new author you discovered in 2016?

18460392holdingup

Jennifer Niven! Technically I’ve only read one of her books (Holding Up the Universe) but I loved it, and can’t wait to finally read All the Bright Places which I already own a copy of. Her characters are so authentic and relatable.


Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

the book thief

I don’t read much historical fiction, but I finally finished The Book Thief this month and thought it was outstanding. And yes, I did weep a million tears. 5 stars, no question.


Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

imthinkignof

I’m Thinking of Ending Things was unbelievably tense and creepy (possibly the creepiest book I’ve ever read) and I finished it in a single sitting.


Book you read in 2016 that you are most likely to re-read next year?

littleprince

There was so much meaning and wisdom packed into this tiny little book, and I feel like The Little Prince is the kind of book you’ll gain even more from the second time around.


Favourite cover of a book you read in 2016?

IMG_1574

My special edition of Lady Midnight. *swoon*


Most memorable character of 2016?

holdingup

Libby Strout from Holding Up The Universe. Libby is smart, funny, kind, brave, and completely herself. She’s everything I aspire to be.


Most beautifully written book read in 2016?

27396942

This book was written with a lovely, magical, storyteller kind of voice which stirred my imagination and filled it with wonderful pictures.


Most thought-provoking/life-changing book of 2016?

feel-the-fear

I mention this not because it’s a good book (it isn’t, I detested it), but because I disagreed with it’s approach to anxiety so fundamentally that it helped me realise I know far better what’s right for me, and I’m going to ignore the advice of this crappy book.


Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read?

the book thief

It honestly sat on my shelf for about 10 years. Why did I wait so long?!


Favorite passage/quote from a book you read In 2016?

This comic strip from Sarah Scribbles’s Adulthood is a Myth spoke to me on many a level:

img_2795


Shortest and longest book you read in 2016?

Shortest: The Little Prince (83 pages)

littleprince

Longest: Four Past Midnight (930 pages)

fourpast


Book that shocked you the most?

behindhereyes

THAT TWIST though. I can’t even EVEN.


OTP OF THE YEAR? (You will go down with this ship!)

FEYREANDRHYSFERYEANDRHYSFEYREANDRHYS *faints*


Favourite non-romantic relationship of the year?

beccaueyoullnever

Ollie and Moritz’s friendship in Because You’ll Never Meet Me was EVERYTHING.


Favourite book you read in 2016 from an author you’ve read previously?

I can mention ACOMAF again, right?


Best book you read in 2016 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else/peer pressure?

51RYeVqlj9L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

So many people recommended and raved about this book. and it totally lived up to the hype. What a fabulous book!


Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?

C’mon, y’all must know the answer is Rhysand by now?!


Best 2016 debut you read?

rosetainted

This was such a brutally honest depiction of agoraphobia, and the descriptions of Norah’s anxiety really resonated with me.


Best worldbuilding/most vivid setting you read this year?

giphy (74).gif

I’ve been re-reading the Harry Potter books, and tbh I don’t think wordbuilding better than J.K Rowling’s exists 🙂


Book that put a smile on your face/was the most FUN to read?

IMG_1625

Sounds like a weird choice, but I have so much fun reading ghost stories. Creepy things excite me!


Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2016?

brightside

Me upon finishing this book:

giphy (75).gif


Hidden gem of the year?

florabanks

This is only really “hidden” because it hasn’t been released yet. My review is coming soon, and you’ll get to discover this gem for yourselves from 12th Jan.


Book that crushed your soul?

Chaos-Walking-Covers

Every single one of the books in the Chaos Walking trilogy DESTROYED me.


Most unique book you read in 2016?

hankangveg

The Vegetarian was bizarre and intriguing and disturbing and like nothing I have ever experienced before.


Book that made you the most mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

feel-the-fear

Me upon finishing this book:

giphy (76).gif


bookishlife


New favourite book blog you discovered in 2016?

I discovered so many incredible blogs this year, but a special shoutout goes to Sammie, Lauren, and Amanda. These ladies have fabulous blogs you should all be following, and are also fabulous humans themselves.


Favourite review that you wrote in 2016?

cursedchild

My review oHarry Potter and the Cursed Child. I had much fun reliving the memories of watching this magical piece of theatre. Wish I could go and see it again!


Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

I’m proud of my post about Book Blogging with Anxiety. I was nervous about posting it, but the responses from fellow bloggers really helped me feel less alone.


Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

sjmsigned

I MET SARAH J. MAAS AT BATH CHILDRENS LITERATURE FESTIVAL. IT WAS GLORIOUS.


Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2016?

frozencharl

I was so excited to discover that a quote from my review of Frozen Charlotte was chosen for the praise page in the new Zoella Book Club edition of the book!!!! I jumped around and squealed A LOT. 🙂 🙂


Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

Keeping up with reading, blogging, and replying to comments in my lowest moments. It can feel so overwhelming sometimes.


Most popular post this year on your blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

I wrote a post about Why Adults Need YA and was blown away by the number of people who took the time to comment and join the discussion.


Post you wished got a little more love?

My review of Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough because I’m dying for you guys to pre-order this book! I DESPERATELY need to talk about that ending.


Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Jesse drew my attention to BOOKBEAU book-sleeves on his post about bookish gifts, and I need one of these in my life. There’s nothing worse than a beautiful book getting battered inside your handbag.


Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

readingchallenge2016

#boom


lookingahead


One book you didn’t get to in 2016 but will be your number 1 priority in 2017?

empire-of-thrones-uk

This was my most anticipated book of 2016, so I have no idea why I haven’t read it yet! Getting on that ASAP.


Book you are most anticipating for 2017 (non-debut)?

You know the drill:

acowar


2017 debut you are most anticipating?

caraval

This book sounds so magical and intriguing, everyone is saying the hype should be believed, and the cover is stunning. I NEED IT LIKE NOW.


Series ending/sequel you are most anticipating in 2017?

Hmm, let’s see if you can work that one out for yourselves based on the series I have namedropped the most in the post… 😛


One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2017?

I want to spend more time chatting with you guys and reading all of your wonderful blogs!

giphy (54)

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year! Let’s hope 2017 is a fantastic one! 🙂 xxx

26 Comments »

My least favourite books of 2016

I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about the books I love, but I rarely rant about the ones I don’t. So which books received my lowest ratings this year? And which books made me hopping mad? Let’s find out…

Side note: not all of these books were published in 2016.


Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (2.5 stars)

red_queen_book_cover_a_p

I didn’t hate this book by any means, but I was extremely underwhelmed by it. I didn’t care for the love triangle (quadrangle?), didn’t feel anything for the characters, and got annoyed by all the cliché tropes which made me feel like I was reading a mishmash of all the dystopian/fantasy books I’ve read before. There were aspects of the book I enjoyed (the concept, the action) but I didn’t rate this one highly and I’m unlikely to read the sequel.


The Dreamer by E.J. Mellow (2 stars)

25309550

Speaking of clichés, this book was so chock full of them that I gave myself eye-strain from all the exasperated rolling my poor peepers were forced to do.

giphy (57)

The romance in this book was of the instantaneous butterflies because of smouldery blue eyes variety, and it was just nauseatingly cringe. There was a love triangle, a super-special chosen one, and a cast of characters so bland I can’t even remember their names. Also, this book didn’t have a hope in hell of passing the Bechdel Test, because every conversation the main character had with her best friend revolved around men. EVERY SINGLE ONE.


Getting Him Back by K.A. Mitchell (2 stars)

gettinghim

I’m all about my M/M romance but I really didn’t like this book. The characters were poorly developed, and I really disliked the love interest; he spent most of the book being a moody obnoxious douche, and I didn’t understand what the protagonist saw in him, so I couldn’t buy into their chemistry whatsoever.


Beautiful Burn by Jamie McGuire (2 stars)

beautifulburn

I’ve read all of Jamie McGuire’s Maddox Brothers books, and I’ve enjoyed all of them bar this one. I really hated the main character – she was selfish, stuck-up, whiney (in the poor-little-rich-girl kinda way), and just altogether toxic. She was mean to everyone for no apparent reason, and I couldn’t root for her in the slightest. The firefighter Maddox brother (who was of course rather swoon but whose name I can’t remember because he was basically the same as all the other Maddox brothers) could have done SO much better.


**LET’S BE CLEAR THIS NEXT ONE IS SATIRE AND I PICKED IT UP FOR LOLS ONLY**

Trump Temptations by Elijah Daniel (unrated… I was too embarrassed to add this one to Goodreads)

trumpt

Haha, okay, before you judge me on this one, OBVIOUSLY this book is a parody and it isn’t supposed to be good (OR sexy…eww).

giphy (16)

This is satirical erotic fiction about Donald Trump and a bell-boy at the Trump hotel in Hong Kong. Frankly it sounded hilarious, had a gazillion 5 star reviews on Goodreads, and I’m all for mocking that insidious Cheesy-Wotsit (the British version of a Cheeto) known as the President-elect of the USA. But, this book was pretty damn dreadful. It was about 10 pages long and by the author’s own admission, was written in a couple hours whilst drunk. It wasn’t very funny, but as I borrowed it via Amazon Prime, thankfully I didn’t waste actual money on it.


And finally, my Official Least Favourite Book of 2016

….

Admit it, you’re desperate to find out what could possibly be worse than Donald Trump erotica…

….

Ladies and Gentlemen, my Worst Book of 2016 was: Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers (1 star)

feel-the-fear

I’ve never rated a book 1 star before, but I made an exception for this terrible book because it made my blood boil. I’ve never felt such unadulterated rage whilst reading a book! This was recommended me by a counsellor employed by my company to help with my anxiety, but I don’t know what he was thinking. As it turned out, I didn’t end up picking it up until last month, and I’m SO glad I didn’t read this when I was at my lowest point earlier in the year because it was full of half-baked ideas and problematic advice which would have done me far more harm than good.

The book started out okay – it talked about the fact that everyone feels fear, and that we have to do things regardless of fear, rather than waiting for the fear to go away (because it never truly does). This made sense, but the rest of the book was so tough-love that I started off being shocked by its tone (super unhelpful to an anxiety and depression sufferer), and ended up wanting to throw it across the room. It was full of suggestions such as –

Your illness = your fault (yep, clearly I asked for this…)

If your friends are negative you should completely cut them out of your life because they’ll drag you down (because cutting people out of your life when they are suffering is not an asshole thing to do in the slightest…)

You’ll never be happy unless you are achieving your goals (because clearly all the scientific evidence that trying to live mindfully in the moment helps towards a feeling of contentment is a load of rubbish, and I should give this practice up now because I’m kidding myself unless I’m CEO of my own company.)

giphy (39)

And then the book played an extreme curveball, got all spiritual  and started saying things like –

You need to learn to say yes to your universe (she literally talks about how you should “embrace” EVERYTHING, including cancer)

Having a Pollyanna attitude and listening to positive affirmations (aka I AM POWERFUL AND I AM LOVING) for about five hours a day will stop you being depressed, because “the important issue is… Why be miserable when you can be happy?” (Oh man, I didn’t realise it was THAT easy! Better go out and buy CDs of said positive affirmations recorded by the author herself which she name-drops at every given opportunity!)

You’ll never be happy unless you connect with your “Higher Self” (helpfully she never really explains what your Higher Self actually is…)

Honestly, this book was offensive, unhelpful, and full of badly explained half-formed ideas with not a single drop of scientific evidence to back it up. The author even proclaims that SHE HAS NO PROOF THAT ANY OF HER METHODS WORK! She says this IN THE LAST CHAPTER! It would have been helpful if she’d told us this as the beginning of the book so I didn’t have to waste my time reading it.

As you can tell, I have a very strong hatred towards this book, and that, my friends, is why it beat Trump erotica to be my WORST BOOK OF 2016.


And that concludes my ranting. I hope you enjoyed this rare insight into the ragey side of my personality. Which were your least favourite books of 2016? And which books made your blood boil? Come rant with me, please! IT FEELS SO GOOD!

45 Comments »

The Narnia Book Tag

Hi lovely people! Today, I thought I’d do The Narnia Book Tag, which Diana over at Diana Prince Reviews kindly tagged me to do back in October. I know, I know, I’m very behind on my tags (and this isn’t even the oldest on my list… the shame!)

Please make sure you go and check out Diana’s fabulous blog here.

The Narnia books make me feel Christmassy (well, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe does, at any rate) so I thought this would be the perfect book tag to get me in the festive mood.


NARNIA – A magical world you would like to visit

giphy-70

Is it cheating if I choose Narnia itself? All that lives at the back of my mundane wardrobe are some squished old clothes I never wear… it would be far more exciting if said wardrobe were carpeted with snowflakes, and enabled passage to a magical frozen forest filled with talking animals and enchanted Turkish Delight.


THE MAGICIAN’S NEPHEW – A book you think is underrated

allmyfriendsare

All My Friends Are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman

I don’t know anyone else who’s read this quirky, strange, and lovely little book. It’s about a man named Tom whose wife, a superhero known as “The Perfectionist”, has been hypnotised by her ex boyfriend “Hypno” into believing Tom is invisible. As she can no longer see or hear him, The Perfectionist assumes Tom has abandoned her, and this story follows Tom’s final attempt to convince his wife he’s still there before she gives up on him forever. I read this at least ten years ago, but I can still remember how much I adored this small, but satisfying love story.


THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE – A classic that you love

icapturethecaste

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

This classic could probably also be classed as a YA novel. It’s a coming-of-age story about a girl named Cassandra who writes a diary about her experiences when her family go to live in a falling-to-pieces castle in the middle of nowhere. I remember loving the descriptions of the family and their everyday lives in the castle (which were a lot less grand than you might expect). The castle was given so much personality in the story it could almost have been a character itself. I must re-read this book soon!


THE HORSE AND HIS BOY – A book you picked up without knowing what it was about

the_rest_of_us_just_live_here_patrick_ness_cover

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

This is what was written on the back cover of my edition:

 “Not everyone has to be the chosen one.

What if you were Mikey? And just want to graduate and go to prom before someone blows up the high school again?

Patrick Ness’s bold and original novel shows how ordinary lives can be extraordinary and that there are many different types of remarkable.”

How vague and intriguing is that blurb though? If you’d like to know more, you can read my review here.


PRINCE CASPIAN – A sequel that you loved

acourtof

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

I feel like I mention this book at every opportunity I get, and I’m sure you’re all sick of my unintelligable blathering about it by now, but how could I have chosen anything else for this question? This book enthralled and obsessed me (well, more specifically, Rhysand enthralled and obsessed me.) I’ve never read a 600-page book so speedily, and I’ve never shipped two heterosexual characters so hard before. I need A Court of Wings and Ruin like air, and the wait is going to be torturous.


THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER – A quest you’d like to be a part of

giphy-71

From what I can remember of A.A. Milne’s wonderful books, Winnie the Pooh spends a not insignificant amount of time on quests to find food. That’s definitely something I can see myself getting involved in; I’m only really valiant when a mission involves breakfast.


THE SILVER CHAIR – A book you didn’t expect to love

15749186

A book I was pleasantly surprised by was To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. I’m not a big reader of YA contemporary romance, and I couldn’t get into this book the first time I picked it up, but I revisited it when I was in the mood for fluffy feelings and I ended up adoring it. Minimal angst, and full of warm fuzzies, this is the perfect book to read when you’re in need of a literary hug.


THE LAST BATTLE – A perfect ending to a series you love

deathlyhal

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Will I ever have a different answer to this question?

giphy-72


THE PEVENSIES – A siblinghood of friendship you’d love to be a part of

The Weasleys, obvs.

the_weasley_family_at_egypt

I so desperately want to live in The Burrow, y’know.


EUSTACE SCRUBB – A character who grew on you

before i fall

Sam Kingston, the protagonist of Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, was something of a ‘mean girl’ stereotype to begin with, and I found her shallow and difficult to like. But, as the story progressed, she went through an incredible character arc and by the end I had connected with her so strongly that this book found a permanent place in my (shattered) heart.


MR. TUMNUS – Your favourite mystical creature

northernlights

I really love the idea of the daemons from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. In the world of these stories, your daemon is a talking animal which remains by your side throughout your life, and is supposed to be representative of your spirit/soul. Lyra, our heroine, has a daemon called Pantalaimon who is constantly shifting into different forms (moth, wildcat, mouse, etc.), and I adored the bond between them.

I love the idea of having a constant creature companion like Pantalaimon by my side, but if I had my own daemon, I’m pretty sure he’d look something like this:

(Yes, yes, those ARE pictures of my stuffed pig in various locations around the city of Edinburgh. I’m a real adult, I swear.)


CASPIAN – A character with regal qualities

nehemia

Fan art found here.

Princess Nehemia from the Throne of Glass books by Sarah J. Maas embodies every quality needed to be a strong leader of her people; loyalty, integrity, and courage being the most important, and the reasons why she is one of my favourite characters in the entire series.


THE WARDROBE – Your favourite hideout/place to read

giphy-73

I really wish I had an actual hideout because I’m anti-social af, but my warm, snuggly bed is a pretty good alternative, especially when accompanied with hot chocolate and Christmassy scented candles.

All GIFs sourced from: Giphy


I am tagging the following lovely ladies who have all been there for me in some way this year, even if they don’t realise it. No worries if you don’t fancy doing the tag – I just wanted the opportunity to let you all know that I appreciate you muchly and think you are wonderful human beings! ❤

Anne @ The Book Adventures of Annelise Lestrange

Sammie @ Bookshelves and Biros

Lauren @ Wonderless Reviews

CW @ Read Think Ponder

Amanda @ Cover 2 Cover Mom

Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books

32 Comments »

ARC Book Review: Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

behindhereyes

Behind Her Eyes. Sarah Pinborough. HarperCollins. Release date: 26th January 2017.

Don’t Trust This Book

Don’t Trust These People

Don’t Trust Yourself

And whatever you do, DON’T give away that ending…

Louise

Since her husband walked out, Louise has made her son her world, supporting them both with her part-time job. But all that changes when she meets…

David

Young, successful and charming – Louise cannot believe a man like him would look at her twice let alone be attracted to her. But that all comes to a grinding halt when she meets his wife…

Adele

Beautiful, elegant and sweet – Louise’s new friend seems perfect in every way. As she becomes obsessed by this flawless couple, entangled in the intricate web of their marriage, they each, in turn, reach out to her.

But only when she gets to know them both does she begin to see the cracks… Is David really is the man she thought she knew and is Adele as vulnerable as she appears?
Just what terrible secrets are they both hiding and how far will they go to keep them?


First of all, thank you so much to Netgalley and HarperCollins for allowing me to read an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I’m a huge fan of Sarah Pinborough’s books, so this was always going to be an auto-buy for me, but even if I’d never heard of Sarah’s books, I don’t think I’d have been able to resist the intriguing marketing behind this one. The hashtag #WTFthatending is being used to entice readers into picking up a copy, and having finished the book, I can confirm that it more than lived up to the hype. #WTFthatending indeed.

This book is very clever because it starts out like a story you think you know… it’s all about a marriage where both parties are keeping secrets, and an outsider who becomes obsessed with uncovering them. I’ve read so many books in the ‘marriage thriller’ genre, but this book is nothing like any thriller I’ve ever read, and I guarantee that even if you think you know how it’s all gonna go down… you have NO idea. There’s an element of the supernatural about this novel which gives it a real genre-bending edge and I think a lot of people will be talking about this book in 2017.

The story is told from two perspectives – Louise’s and Adele’s. Louise is a single mother who kisses a man at a bar, only to discover a few days later that said man, David, is her new boss… her new married boss. Adele is the wife of said married boss. She’s home alone every day, and seems scared of her husband, who checks up on her twice daily, and has complete control over her finances… it’s clear there are problems in their marriage, but something doesn’t add up… why is David so controlling and overprotective over his wife, yet perfectly ready to cheat on her again and again?

As if this twisty little set of circumstances weren’t complicated enough, Adele and Louise meet one day after running into each other in the street, and, bonding over the fact that both of them suffer from night terrors, become fast friends. Louise knows she *shouldn’t* be befriending the wife of the man she is desperately trying to pretend she doesn’t want, but she can’t help herself. The beautiful, vulnerable Adele intrigues her – she wants to get to know her, and find out more about her marriage to David. But she was also wants to sleep with David, so let’s be honest, it’s not the ideal bestie-making situation.

I didn’t always find Louise likeable, but there were definitely moments when I empathised her. Mostly I wanted to shake her because she was getting herself into such a cringe-makingly awful mess of a situation, and I literally couldn’t understand how somebody could be so freaking stupid… especially considering the worrying things she learns about David from Adele. Why would you want to hook up with someone like that? Nevertheless, I felt sorry for her in some ways; she was lonely, and it was easy to see why she found the idea of giving up either of them painful, once she was in too deep to wriggle out.

I felt that Louise’s narration was the most honest – she was flawed, but she recognised that about herself, and although she was keeping secrets from Adele and David, I trusted the things she was telling *me* as the reader. Adele was a far more tricky character to figure out – I always felt there were things she was holding back from me, that she wasn’t presenting the whole truth. Despite her slipperiness, I felt sorry for her too – she was fragile and, let’s be frank, her husband was A GINORMOUS ARSEHOLE.

The mystery of Adele and David’s weird marriage kept me turning the pages like crazy – like Louise, I was OBSESSED with finding out what the hell was wrong with these people. The way they interacted with each other was very strange indeed, and I knew there was something *more* going on than what could be seen from the surface… I could see that there was something sinister about their marriage, and I could see that David was a controlling, and potentially abusive, husband, but I couldn’t figure out his motivations… he didn’t seem to love Adele, or have any regard for her feelings, so it could hardly be jealousy that was driving his behaviour… Trust me when I say that there’s no way I could have figured out what their crazy deal was, and I highly doubt you will either.

The ending of this book honestly left me speechless. The #WTFthatending promise really played me, because I got to an extremely WTF moment with only a few pages to go, and I was thinking “OMG! Genius! Totally lived up to the hype!” and then, turning the page, I realised that I’d been fooled – it hadn’t been *the* WTF moment – and I was promptly bowled over by a veritable avalanche of WTFery because…. WTF, THAT ENDING?!!!?!!! It wasn’t predictable in the slightest, and that final twist was one of the best and most original thriller endings I’ve ever read. Five stars for this one! Please go out and buy it; I’m dying to talk to someone about it!!

Have you read any of Sarah Pinborough’s books? What are your favourite thrillers?

10 Comments »

I went to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child! (Spoiler-free review)

Hi guys! Apologies for my unexpected hiatus. I’ve been AWOL from blogging for about 3 weeks due to #reasons which I won’t go into because they’re boring, but one awesome NOT-boring thing which happened during my hiatus was…

I WENT TO SEE HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD IN LONDON!!!!

harrypplay

OMG, guys, it was glorious! I booked the tickets over a year ago, so I had been waiting a loooong time for this day to come. It had been so hard trying to shield myself from spoilers since the script was released in July, as literally everyone in the world was talking about it, and I wanted to join in so badly. But I stayed strong and managed to resist buying the book/spoiling myself for the story; I wanted the play itself to be a completely new and magical experience. I was getting worried, what with everyone discussing their ‘mixed feelings’ about the book, and I honestly didn’t know what to expect. But I needn’t have worried…

IT WAS HANDS DOWN THE BEST PLAY I HAVE EVER SEEN!!!!

I’m not going to say anything about the plot, as I don’t want to spoil the story for the small percentage who haven’t read the book yet (which I guess I’m still a part of), but I was thoroughly entertained throughout. There was so much humour in the play, so much adventure, lots of touching moments, and most importantly, SO MUCH MAGIC.

The way magic was brought to the stage was the most spectacular thing about the production. Revolving staircases, enchanted bookcases, Polyjuice potion transformations, and magical duelling were all pulled off seamlessly. The Polyjuice transformation in particular was incredible – I couldn’t even work out how they’d done it, and everyone applauded when Hermione and Ron’s heads popped out into spaces just seconds ago occupied by Scorpius and Albus’s faces. IT WAS JUST. LIKE. MAGIC.

I loved the new characters we met in this story: Albus Severus Potter – Harry’s son, and Scorpius Malfoy – Draco’s son. Scorpius was by far my favourite character in the entire play, because he was an adorable little cupcake, and nothing like the heinous monster-child you might expect someone like Malfoy to spawn. I bought this extremely fluffy owl from the merchandise stand and named him Scorpius in his honour:

fluffyscorpius

Anthony Boyle who played Scorpius was hilarious – the flawless, overexcited-nerd voice with which he delivered his lines was EVERYTHING. I can’t do it justice by just describing it, but he brought so much humour to the character. Undeniably he was assigned a lot of funny dialogue anyway, but there were some off-beat lines which had the whole theatre in stitches that I’m not sure would have had quite the same impact if you were reading the script, because it was all in the delivery.

I thought the characterisation was fantastic in the play, and the personalities of all my old favourite characters were extremely well preserved. Ron in particular was SO Ron. Paul Thornley gave my favourite performance in the show – his voice and mannerisms were very similar to the way Rupert Grint portrayed Ron, and his lines constantly had me cracking up with laughter

I LOVED the future envisioned for Hermione in this play – it’s exactly where I imagined her ending up in life. I felt that her personality had mellowed somewhat over the years – she wasn’t quite as deliciously know-it-all as she was in the original books, but she was still aspirationally smart, sharp, and awesome.

Harry was exactly how I imagined him as an adult, and his character development was the most interesting in this play. Harry-the-grown-up still has a lot to learn, and still has a lot of issues to work through (hardly surprising considering all the casual defeating-the-most-powerful-dark-wizard-of-all-time he went through as a child, which was bound to leave more than the one lightening-bolt scar). Harry, frankly, acted like a bit of a dick during certain parts of the play, and I found myself getting frustrated with him, but the fact that Harry is a damaged, real person who makes mistakes and is flawed, has been one of my favourite things about his character since day one.

Aside from the big three, so many of our old faves make an appearance in this play. Some characters that are not-so-nice also turn up, but I have to say that by the end of the play, I actually came out of the theatre with a soft spot for Draco Malfoy. I know a lot of people always lurrrrved Draco, but I always thought he was a colossal douche (in the books… Drarry fanfiction is a different matter altogether). This play changed my mind. I also thought Alex Price, the actor portraying him, was fabulous, and I couldn’t get over how much he looked like Lucius did in the films.

Another unlikeable character who pops up in Cursed Child is Aunt Petunia (although thankfully only in Harry’s dreams). If I had one criticism of the play it’s that I don’t think Aunt Petunia was characterised as nasty enough. I think the problem sits with the dialogue rather than the acting… I felt Aunt Petunia gave Harry far more attention than she did in the books, which didn’t seem true to character. She relayed so much more information, and answered so many more questions than the real Aunt Petunia would have done. Like I said, it was all in Harry’s head, so technically she wasn’t the *real* Petunia, but I would still have expected Harry to dream about her in a more villainous light.

I’ve never been to see a play in two parts before, but it was such an incredible experience. I thought that it would seem like a long day with THAT much theatre crammed in, but it really didn’t; having the break in the middle had me bouncing with excitement for Part 2, as Part 1 ended with the perfect cliffhanger.

I really enjoyed the story, but I could definitely pinpoint areas where it might seem lacking if you were reading the script rather than watching the play, so I can understand to a certain extent where some of the less glowing reviews of the book may have come from. For example, the very beginning of the play packs in several years of Hogwarts into a very short amount of stage-time; if I were reading those scenes in book form, I think they might have come across as rushed and missing context, whereas on the stage, they blended together smoothly as a montage.

I know there are probably other parts of the book that people were disappointed with, but as I avoided reading reviews of the book before going to see the play, I’m not sure what they were! I’d be interested in hearing from people who have read the book to see which bits they felt didn’t live up to their expectations. I’m dying to discuss the play with you all now that I can do so without fear of spoiling if for myself! 🙂

I really want to get my hands on a copy of the book soon for comparison, and to re-live the whole thing; I’m sure there are plenty of little things I missed, particularly when I had the most epic of epic coughing fits and had to leave the theatre for 10 minutes because everyone was giving me evils. SO EMBARASSING.

Overall, I ADORED Harry Potter and the Cursed Child; it was a magical piece of theatre, and a wonderful way to keep the spirit of J.K. Rowling’s books alive. If you have the chance to go and see it one day, I couldn’t recommend it more!

Have you been to see the play, or read the script? What did you think of it? I’d love to hear from you! (P.S. Please indicate *SPOILER ALERT* if your comment contains spoilers…)

29 Comments »