The Mud and Stars Book Blog

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

My new favourite book of 2017: ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ by Gail Honeyman


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Gail Honeyman. HarperCollins. May 2017.

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: she struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. That, combined with her unusual appearance (scarred cheek, tendency to wear the same clothes year in, year out), means that Eleanor has become a creature of habit (to say the least) and a bit of a loner. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kind of friends who rescue each other from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

I finished this book over a week ago, and I’ve been struggling to review it ever since. I loved it so much that I almost want to keep it all to myself, but I won’t, because I’m not selfish, and I want you guys to fall in love with it as much as I did.

I don’t read much adult fiction, because I find that YA fiction generally does a better job of handling the issues I am interested in. One such issue is a mental health, and I’ve found in the past that the only adult books which focus on mental health I can find are of the pretentious, literary variety. I feel blessed to have found this book, because not only does it portray mental health struggles, childhood trauma, and loneliness very well, but it’s also very down to earth and relatable. It’s a wonderfully written book, and it moved me so much. I have a feeling this book will become an all-time favourite.

I have thankfully never experienced trauma like Eleanor’s, but I have experienced clinical depression, and I have felt lonely. The chapters where Eleanor is going through a bout of depression were fantastically written. I have never seen depression portrayed so accurately; I feel so often that depression in books is only talked about in terms of suicidal thoughts and self-harm, and that the other symptoms of the illness, particularly the physical ones, never really appear on the page. This depiction was so relatable that it made me cry – not because it made me feel depressed, but because it made me feel understood. I also loved the focus on mindfulness as Eleanor starts her journey of recovery; Eleanor slowed right down and started noticing things around her, paying attention to the tiny, wonderful details of her world, and that is something which has been a big part of my own recovery; it was brilliant to see it championed in this book.

When I initially picked up this book, I was actually expecting it to be about autism or aspergers syndrome. The blurb talks about Eleanor’s inability to deviate from routine, and the way she struggles to understand social situations. However, as I got further into the book, I realised that Eleanor’s routines are her coping mechanism for dealing with her loneliness, and her lack of social understanding is a product of her upbringing, coupled with the fact that she is so often alone. Eleanor lives on her own, has no friends, talks to her mum just once a week, and she spends all of her time outside of work on her own. The most heartbreaking thing about the way Eleanor’s loneliness was handled in this book was that, despite insisting she is ‘fine’ with being on her own, her reactions whenever anyone showed her the tiniest morsel of kindness spoke volumes. It was both sad and heartwarming to see how touched Eleanor could be by something as simple as having a cup of tea made for her.

I wanted to give Eleanor the BIGGEST hug, not just because I felt sorry for her, but because she was such an endearing character. She had such an odd, formal way of speaking (quirky in a completely undeliberate way), and such a lack of social awareness (she could often be quite rude without realising or meaning to); she was characterised in such a humorous way that you couldn’t help but laugh at, and love, her all the more for it. Another thing I adored about Eleanor was that she had absolutely no problem whatsoever with being an oddball. She knew that other people found her strange, and she didn’t mind at all. Eleanor was just Eleanor… completely herself.

What I loved most of all about this story was the focus on friendship. This isn’t really a romance (though I believe one could blossom beyond the final page of this book), but instead is an incredibly compelling, moving story of friendship. I loved Raymond so, so much. He was an ordinary guy, with the odd gross habit, but a thoroughly, thoroughly decent one. Sammy (the old man whom Raymond and Eleanor rescue at the beginning of the novel) was also a real sweetie. The kindness Raymond and Sammy show to Eleanor in this novel is so simple, yet so touching, and I loved the way their friendship helps Eleanor to start taking small steps outside of her comfort zone, by providing an antidote to the loneliness she has been living with for so long, and a support system to be there for when she begins confronting some of the darker parts of her past she has kept buried since childhood.

I don’t want to say too much more about this book, because I would rather you discovered it for yourself, but I strongly urge you to pick this one up; it is so, so touching, so sweet, so funny, so sad, but so ultimately uplifting. I finished this book feeling so emotional, but in a good way. It is certainly the best book I have read this year, but I would go as far as to say it is also one of the best books I have ever read.

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Mini reviews: ‘This Savage Song’ and ‘Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore’

Hi everyone! So… I disappeared again. 😦 BUT… although I haven’t been blogging much, I HAVE been reading. Here are some mini reviews of two books I finished recently. Let me know your thoughts if you’ve read either of these; I can see a lot of people disagreeing with me on the first one, but I’d love to hear from you all the same. 🙂

This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab


Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters.

All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection.

All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music.

When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

My rating: 3 stars

I think this is going to be an unpopular opinion, as I have seen so many 5 star reviews of this book, but I found it quite… boring. I had high expectations, because I adored Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic, but I felt disappointed by this one. The thing I loved most about ADSOM was the world-building, but I found the world-building in This Savage Song to be the weakest aspect of the book. I found everything vague and confusing, and although there was a lot of info-dumping, it didn’t help me to develop a clear picture of the world.

Another thing which prevented me from getting into this book was the pacing. It was so slow, and when I hit the 200-page mark and virtually nothing had happened, I knew I had no hope of becoming a die-hard fan. I felt so let down, because everyone seems to really LOVE this book, but I felt like I must be reading a different version to everybody else; it never really gripped me, and I never felt desperate to pick it up.

Something I did like about this book was the characterisation. August and Kate both felt like real people, and I was interested by their (extremely different) backgrounds, and what kind of people those backgrounds has turned them into. Kate irritated me at times, because she could be unnecessarily mean, but I could see how being raised by a man like Harker, and then shipped off to countless boarding schools throughout her teens, had led to her developing such a hard shell. Although she wasn’t always likeable, I felt sorry for her, and I appreciated her for the complex character that she was. By the end of the book I had developed a soft spot for her, because I saw that shell beginning to crack.

August was a sweetie, and was probably my favourite character. I loved his passion for music, and the way it kept him grounded was so interesting to me. I also liked that he was just as complicated as Kate, despite not being ‘human’. Although he was technically a ‘monster’, he experienced struggles with morality, and fought hard for his sense of humanity, which made him the opposite of a monster in my eyes.

Overall, I found this book very slow, and although I loved the characters, I felt they were a little let down by the story itself. The book did pick up pace in the second half, and the last 50 pages were very exciting, so for that reason I ended up bumping up my rating from 2 to 3 stars. I probably won’t be reading the sequel, but I will definitely be picking up the sequel to ADSOM soon, and I’m not giving up on V.E. Schwab. I love her writing style; it’s just this particular book that wasn’t for me.

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan


Lydia Smith lives her life hiding in plain sight. A clerk at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, she keeps a meticulously crafted existence among her beloved books, eccentric colleagues, and the BookFrogs―the lost and lonely regulars who spend every day marauding the store’s overwhelmed shelves.

But when Joey Molina, a young, beguiling BookFrog, kills himself in the bookstore, Lydia’s life comes unglued. Always Joey’s favorite bookseller, Lydia has inherited his meager worldly possessions. Trinkets and books; the detritus of a lonely man. But when Lydia flips through his books she finds them defaced in ways both disturbing and inexplicable. They reveal the psyche of a young man on the verge of an emotional reckoning. And they seem to contain a hidden message. What did Joey know? And what does it have to do with Lydia?

As Lydia untangles the mystery of Joey’s suicide, she unearths a long-buried memory from her own violent childhood. Details from that one bloody night begin to circle back. Her distant father returns to the fold, along with an obsessive local cop, and the Hammerman, a murderer who came into Lydia’s life long ago and, as she soon discovers, never completely left. 

My rating: 3.5 stars

I had a lot of fun reading this book, and it kept me gripped until the very last page. That being said, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. From the title I was imagining a cosier kind of mystery, but this book was surprisingly dark. Which was fine, because, y’know, I do love me some darkness. I think I just wanted this book to be quirkier than it ended up being. Don’t get me wrong, we meet some quirky characters along the way, and I loved the bookstore setting, but I think both of these could have been utilised more in the story. Considering the bookstore is mentioned in the title, I was expecting it to be more of a character in its own right, but it felt more like a distant backdrop. I would have loved more descriptions of the bookstore, so I could have had a clearer picture of it in my mind.

All this said, I did enjoy this book, and the mystery was fantastically handled. There were two strands to the story – the mystery of Joey’s suicide in the bookstore, and the mystery of the ‘Hammerman’ from Lydia’s childhood. I thought the way Joey left messages for Lydia in books for her to discover after his death was fascinating, clever, and original. Joey was an endearing, interesting character and I wish we had had the chance to meet him in the story before his suicide. He was a lost kind of character who spent all day every day wandering around the bookstore, and I identified with him a lot in that respect, because I am somebody who turns to books to help me make sense of the world and myself.

The Hammerman mystery was very gripping too, and the flashback scene to when the murders took place was terrifying. I slept with all the windows closed in 30 degree heat because I was so freaked out by the thought that someone might get into my house and bludgeon me to death with a hammer. The connection between the two mysteries was gradually revealed through some clever storytelling, and I didn’t guess anything until a twist towards the end led me to work everything out correctly.

All in all, I enjoyed reading this book, and although I wanted the bookstore to be a bigger part of the story, I was thoroughly gripped by the two-strand mystery. I finished this book in two sittings, so I definitely recommend it if you want a quick, absorbing read to help you while away an afternoon.



The Unpopular Opinions Book Tag

The Unpopular Opinions Book Tag is one of my favourite tags to watch on BookTube, and one of my favourite tags to read on WordPress. I’ve never done it myself, but I’ve always wanted to, so I thought I would give it a go today. I’ve done way too much gushing over 5 star books recently, so I think it’s time for a bit of balance around here, y’know?

Apologies in advance if I trash your favourite book or character. These are just my opinions, and if you loved these books that’s totally okay, they just weren’t for moi! 🙂

Without further ado…

A popular book or series you didn’t like.


Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. I actually DNFd this book 100 pages in because I hated the writing style SO much. Everything was described using nonsensical, douchey metaphors that were so jarring to the narrative, and the romance was just nauseating. You know when there’s a gross couple on the bus eating each other’s faces on the seat in front of yours? It felt like the literary equivalent of that.

A book or series everyone hates but you love.


My answer to this question has to be Twilight. I know, okay, I KNOW that Twilight is shit. But… I will always have a soft spot for it. Twilight was the book that made me fall in love with reading again after spending the majority of my teenage years barely picking up a book. If I hadn’t gotten back into reading, I probably wouldn’t have studied English Literature at university, so, if you think about it, Stephanie Meyer is the reason I have a degree.

An OTP you don’t like.

deathly hallows

I’m not going to name names as I don’t want to spoil anything for the very small percentage of people on this planet who have not yet read Harry Potter, but I’m not keen on any of the pairings in this series. Perhaps it’s because I was way more invested in all of the Voldy-dramz, or perhaps it’s because all of my OTPs were non-canon 😉 but I just didn’t really care about any of the romantic subplots in the later books (unless we’re talking “always”.)

A popular genre you never reach for.


I’m going to have to say historical fiction for this one. I own several historical fiction books, but they are gathering dust on my shelves and have been for a good while. I had The Book Thief for approx. a decade before reading it (though I ended up loving it), and I have a feeling it’ll be another ten years before I reach for All the Light we Cannot See; I’ve had it for two years already, and I’m just never excited enough to choose it next.

A beloved character you do not like.


Sorry Chaolaena shippers, but I’m really not a fan of Chaol Westfall from the Throne of Glass series. From the very beginning, I felt like he had his priorities all wrong (what with the whole fierce-loyalty-to-a-barbaric-conquering-dictator thing), and he only continued to disappoint me. The man is a hypocrite because everything he struggles to accept in Celaena, he turns a blind eye to in the King. I hated the way he thought he could pick and choose which parts of Celaena to love. Not cool, man. It’s not love unless you accept a person in their entirety.

A popular author you can’t seem to get into.


Neil Gaiman. I’ve read several of his books now, and, although I think he writes well, and his concepts are always intriguing, I’ve never been able to find an emotional connection with his writing. His books are reasonably entertaining when I read them, but they never leave a lasting impact on me. I finish them, then forget everything I’ve read.

A popular trope you’re tired of seeing.


I am so sick of characters in YA novels who don’t understand how to breathe. How can you hold your breath so many times per chapter without realising you’re doing so? Unfathomable!

A popular series you have no interest in reading.


So many! I have no interest in reading the rest of the Red Queen series (because the first book was just riddled with dystopian and love-triangle clichés.) I also doubt I’ll ever finish the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series. Let me clarify: I LOVED the first half of the first book, because it was all mysterious, atmospheric, and creepy… But as soon as we had met the peculiar children, all of that tension fizzled out, and I got bored, because there was nothing to anticipate any more. I enjoyed the build up so much more than the reveal, and I’m not all that interested in the story without all that awesome suspense from the beginning.

A movie or TV series you like better than the book.

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The Vampire Diaries TV show is infinitely better than the book series. I think it’s partly because the books feel very dated, but mainly because the characters have so much more depth in the TV series. Plus, book-Elena is precocious, irritating, and shallow, but TV Elena is an actually-likeable person. Also, and most importantly, the TV adaptation has Ian Somerhalder. Anything involving Ian Somerhalder wins.

Do you share any of my unpopular opinions? What are some of yours? I’d love to hear from you!


All of my thoughts and (many, many) feelings about ‘Lord of Shadows’ by Cassandra Clare

Spoiler alert: This review contains spoilers for Lady Midnight, and the Mortal Instruments series. If you haven’t read them, but plan to, then look away now!


Lord of Shadows. Cassandra Clare. Simon & Schuster Children’s UK. May 2017.

Emma Carstairs has finally avenged her parents. She thought she’d be at peace. But she is anything but calm. Torn between her desire for her parabatai Julian and her desire to protect him from the brutal consequences of parabatai relationships, she has begun dating his brother, Mark. But Mark has spent the past five years trapped in Faerie; can he ever truly be a Shadowhunter again?

And the faerie courts are not silent. The Unseelie King is tired of the Cold Peace, and will no longer concede to the Shadowhunters’ demands. Caught between the demands of faerie and the laws of the Clave, Emma, Julian, and Mark must find a way to come together to defend everything they hold dear—before it’s too late.

It’s hard to concisely review a 700 page book at the best of times, but it’s even more difficult when you fell in love with it so much you could probably fill a book of the same length with all of your many, many feelings! I’ll do my best not to write an essay, you guys.

I’d been anticipating the sequel to Lady Midnight for a long time, so I started reading Lord of Shadows as soon as I could get my hands on it. Lord of Shadows is set in the aftermath of Malcom Fade’s betrayal, and follows the Blackthorn family and their friends as they attempt to deal with the numerous repercussions from Malcom’s death. And believe me, although this warlock is dead, his story is FAR from over! Cassandra Clare is the Queen of Plotting, and I loved how the tiniest of details from Lady Midnight were picked up again in this book; they were all there for a reason, and everything was so cleverly woven together.

Cassandra Clare writes villains so complexly and fabulously that they really leap of the page, and give you feelings of pure, unadulterated hatred. In Lord of Shadows we have threats coming from all directions; threats from Malcom (even though he is supposed to be dead), threats from Faerie (because to say the Fair Folk are not happy about the Cold Peace, and not the biggest fans of Nephilim right now, would be putting it mildly), and even threats from a certain group of Shadowhunters with some rather nasty views.

In this book, we are introduced to Zara Dearborn, a Shadowhunter and Centurion who has, along with a big group of other Centurions, been sent to L.A. to search for Malcom Fade’s body. Zara is probably the most detestable character in the entire book; she’s a patronising bigot who has only slightly less horrific ideas about how Downworlders should be treated than Valentine Morgenstern himself. Every time Zara appeared on the page, I wanted to punch her in the face, she was so ridiculously evil. My hatred was probably exacerbated further by the fact that the vile rhetoric she was spouting about Downworlders sounded all too similar to some of things we hear in today’s world about certain groups of people. Fantasy is such a good platform for exploring how we can respond to bigotry, and I have so much respect for Cassandra Clare for using it. All of the decent characters in this book took every opportunity they could to call Zara out, and fight against what she stood for.

Emma, Christina, Diana, Julian, Mark, and the rest of the Blackthorn clan, were all given so much character development in this book. The younger Blackthorns are growing up, and they became much more involved in Shadowhunter missions throughout the course of this story. I really enjoyed learning more about Ty and Livvy, and I thought that the exploration of Ty’s autism was fantastic, particularly in the positive ways it was shown to help him with certain aspects of being a Shadowhunter.

Something else I really loved was Kit’s story: seeing him slowly coming to terms with being a Shadowhunter. He was hostile and reluctant to start with, having just lost his father, and feeling like an outsider in this world he never knew he was a part of, but I loved seeing his development as he gradually learned to trust, and came to love, Ty and Livvy, who guided him through everything as gently as they could. I felt like there was something more than friendship growing between Kit and Ty, and I hope that’s developed further in the next book, but for now I think the slow build relationship was handled excellently, and felt very pure and truthful.

Speaking of relationships, I have SO many feelings when it comes to Emma and Julian. As we know from Lady Midnight, these two are doomed by the curse of ultra-forbidden love, which will destroy everything they hold dear if they pursue it. It was so hard to watch these two dealing with the agony of trying not to love each other, especially in the sections from Julian’s point of view; he is usually so calm and in control of his feelings, but his love for Emma really tore him apart in this book. I don’t want to give any spoilers away, so I won’t go into any plot details here, but there were scenes that broke my heart between these two, and scenes that made that same heart beat overtime. The relationship between Julian and Emma is endgame, on SO many levels.

As much as I love Julian and Emma, we all know that my OTP from the Shadowhunter Universe is Malec. I loved that Magnus and Alec were a part of this book, and now that their adorable adopted children (one of whom is blue) have been added into the mix, I just can’t even. My heart was filled with so many fluffy feelings during every scene in which they interacted with the tiny people they are raising together.

Although Cassie gave me lots of fluff in Lord of Shadows, she also quite brutally ripped my heart out with the way this book ended. Before I read this book, I’d heard a lot of people talking about how it had destroyed them. I am not going to go into details because spoilers, but I can confirm that, after finishing this book, I am definitely NOT okay. The thing that devastated me so much was unexpected, shockingly abrupt, and painful. I am also left feeling horribly uneasy, because my favourite characters are not safe and snug just yet – not by a long shot. I don’t know how I can possibly wait until 2019 for the next book!! I can’t cope with this level of uncertainty!!!!

All in all, Lord of Shadows gave me everything I could possibly have wanted in a sequel: fabulous plotting, rich character development, villains I more than despised, and feelings. SO MANY FEELINGS. If you haven’t already done so, you need to pick this book up, ASAP. But, be warned: you will be DESPERATE for the next book the moment you turn the final page. And you’re not going to get it for another two years…. WHY CASSIE, WHY?!?!?

Have you read Lord of Shadows? Who is your favourite character in the Shadowhunter Universe? And how are you coping with life after finishing this book? HELP ME! I HAVE TOO MANY FEELINGS FOR ONE PERSON TO BEAR ALONE!!!!


Fancy a supernatural roadtrip across America? ‘Demon Road’ by Derek Landy will take you on one…


Demon Road. Derek Landy. Harper Collins Children’s Books. February 2016.

For anyone who ever thought their parents were monsters… Amber Lamont is a normal 16-year-old. Smart but insecure, she spends most of her time online, where she can avoid her beautiful, aloof parents and their weird friends.

But when a shocking encounter reveals a horrifying secret, Amber is forced to go on the run. Killer cars, vampires, undead serial killers and red-skinned, horned demons – Amber hurtles from one threat to the next, revealing the terror woven into the very fabric of her life. As her parents close in behind her, Amber’s only chance rests with her fellow travellers, who are not at all what they appear to be….

I had no idea what to expect when I borrowed Demon Road from my local library, but I ended up giving it 5 stars because it was soooo ridiculously entertaining. I’d been wanting to read a Derek Landy book for a while for the sole reason that I saw him speak at YALC two years ago, and the man was HILARIOUS. His talk was like a stand-up comedy show; he had everyone roaring with laughter, and I just knew that someone that funny would write an excellent book. I was right!

Demon Road follows Amber, a 16-year-old girl who is on the run from her demon parents, who want to kill and eat her so they can gain more demon-y power: just your standard teenage problem really. The story is a kind of supernatural road trip across America, and yes that is as exciting as it sounds! Amber is joined by Milo (a surly, mysterious man who has an unusual relationship with his car – no, I don’t mean a sexual one, you perv!), and Glen, an overly chatty and extremely irritating (but strangely loveable) Irish boy they pick up somewhere along the way.

I loved the characters in this book, and the dynamics between them. There was no romance whatsoever, which was so refreshing, and allowed for my favourite kind of relationship to develop between the characters: unlikely (and reluctant) friendship!

Amber was a fabulous main character because she was a tough cookie, but not unrealistically so. She had the will to fight back, and she held it together pretty well considering her parents were attempting to kill and eat her, but she also experienced fear, felt pain, and didn’t magically, automatically know how to fight like a badass. Amber was smart (despite making some impulsive [bad] decisions here and there), funny, and adept in the art of quippy teenage sass. I found her (and all of the other characters, tbh) hilarious, and I’m so happy that Derek Landy’s IRL sense of humour translated so well into this book.

Demon Road had so much action, and so many moments of omg-they’re-all-going-to-die peril, that I had trouble putting it down. I enjoyed the urgency and fear of knowing that Amber’s psychopath parents were hot on her trail, and I loved all of the scrapes she, Milo, and Glen got themselves into along the way. They met so many fascinating (and SHADY) characters, and got unintentionally caught up in so many small-town paranormal horror stories, as they made their way across the supernatural backroads of America (a trail known to those in the know as the ‘Demon Road’). It was impossible to get bored with this novel; I never knew what was lurking around the next corner.  I love stories set in small towns where freaky weirdness is goin’ down, so the parts where the characters would pitch up in a new town for the night were so much fun for me.

I should probably warn you that this is quite a gory book (I’m talking guts, all over the place), but I’ve never been as bothered by supernatural violence as I have the kind that could happen in real life. If I can handle it, anyone can, because I’m a wimp when it comes to these kinds of things. I actually weirdly appreciated how brutal Amber’s parents were, because it gave a real edge of danger to the story; the threat Amber was running from was REAL.

All in all, I absolutely loved this book! I’m definitely going to read the sequel, Desolation, and I’ll be checking out some of Derek Landy’s other books too. If this sounds like your cup of tea, I highly recommend you do the same! 🙂

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‘The Upside of Unrequited’ by Becky Albertalli: a book which made me ridiculously happy! :):):)


The Upside of Unrequited. Becky Albertalli. Penguin. April 2017.

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back. 

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

I can’t even explain to you how much joy I experienced whilst reading this book. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know how frequently I wax lyrical about Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, aka the book I reread whenever I’ve had a thoroughly crappy week and need some cheering up. Because of how much I loved Becky Albertalli’s debut, I was nervous picking up her second book, worried I wouldn’t adore it in the same way I did Simon. But my worrying was in vain, people! This book made my heart so happy, and I can now officially say that Becky Albertalli is one of my FAVOURITE authors. I will auto-buy anything she ever writes in the future, and I can’t WAIT for her next book!

One of the reasons I loved this book so much was Molly; she was SUCH a relatable protagonist. At school, I was exactly like Molly – I was super awkward and shy around boys I liked, and I never put myself out there, because I was so scared of rejection. I was also overweight like Molly, and I related so much to how this made her feel at times, particularly when she felt like the boys she liked wouldn’t be interested because of her weight.

Molly also had anxiety, and sometimes I felt like Molly was literally speaking my own thoughts out loud. So many random observations she made about little things had me going ‘YES, THIS!’, for example when she feels all awkward and anxious about two sets of people she knows from different places being at the same sleepover together. I have zero chill when it comes to situations like this either. I loved the way Molly’s anxiety was portrayed in this story so much; we saw her taking her medication, we saw her lying awake at night, thoughts churning round and round in her head, but we also saw Molly. Anxiety was not the only facet of her personality, and this book was not the story of her anxiety. I appreciated that so much. I find it so difficult to find representations of anxiety in books, unless the stories are specifically about anxiety. This one was realistic and relatable, and helped me connect with the idea that anxiety is not ALL there is to ME.

As well as being the fictional version of teenage me, Molly was hilarious and witty, and her narration made me laugh out loud so many times. It’s quite rare for books to ACTUALLY make me lol, so I bow down in worship to Becky Albertalli for making me continuously giggle throughout reading this book using words from her very own brain.

The romance in this book was super cute, and made me squeal, which is always the sign of a romantic storyline done well. I loved Reid (Will who?!), and I loved all of the dorky text messages full of in-jokes that he and Molly sent to each other. They reminded me of the messages me and my boyfriend send to each other; I always think that if anyone else were to read them, they’d think we were super-weird, but they make sense to us. Every scene containing Reid left me with a big sappy grin on my face (which was exactly my reaction to every Simon and Blue exchange in Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda). Becky Albertalli builds romantic tension SO WELL, and has a gift for creating fluffy, happy, squealy feelings in the hearts and tummies of her readers.

I think the thing this book did BEST of all was its portrayal of family dynamics. Nadine and Patty, Molly’s parents, were BRILLIANT. For starters, they actually acted like parents, and noticed/got angry when their children drank alcohol at a sleepover (because, HELLO other YA books; parents get mad about this shit in real life, y’know? Take heed!) Something else I loved about Nadine and Patty was how much personality they had, and how much a part of the story they were. I read so many YA books that are rendered unrealistic by their glaringly obvious parent-shaped holes, so thank you, Becky Albertalli, for recognising that parents are a massive part of our lives: they comfort us when we’re down, they tell us off when we mess up, and they make us laugh, daily. Molly’s parents provided a lot of humour in this story: Nadine in particular was hilarious, and I loved her obsession with ‘compound curse-words’. Badass, sweary parents are one of my favourite things to encounter in a piece of literature, tbh.

The relationship between Cassie and Molly was also very well done. I loved the way this book explored what happens when someone close to you gets into a new relationship, and the way it can make you feel left behind, even if you are happy for them. Molly and Cassie’s relationship was complex, well written, sad at times, but also pretty wonderful. The sibling storyline in this book was perhaps an even more important love story than the romance. Plus, Cassie was a FABULOUS character. She was feisty, and funny, and confident; she was selfish a times, but she was human, and felt like a real, relatable person. I loved her.

Finally, I just wanted to say that I loved that Becky Albertalli wrote such a diverse cast of characters in this book, all of whom felt like real people, with vibrant, memorable personalities. I loved that there were so many LGBT characters in this book, and I loved that the book was set around the time when gay marriage was legalised in America. This book was an awesome, rainbow-filled celebration of that, and the way this historic event affected the plot made me so happy; it was all kinds of adorable.

I feel like I have used the words ‘loved’ and ‘adored’ so much in this review, but I speak the truth. I LOVED AND ADORED this book, I have nothing but good things to say about it, and I really think you should pick it up ASAP, so you can feel as happy as I did whilst reading it.


Currently reading: eleventy-million books

I’m not usually one of those people who reads multiple books at the same time: I’m more of a one book kinda gal. However, recently, as I’ve been feeling reading-slumpy, I’ve decided that the solution to beating said slump is to read a silly number of books at one time (okay, five, whatever…), and keep switching every time I find myself getting a little bit book-fatigued. Here are all of the books I’ve got on the go at the mo:

Mafiosa by Catherine Doyle


In my last post I mentioned that I fell in love with Vendetta (the first book in the Blood for Blood trilogy, which is a YA mafia romance, and is a lot less trashy than it sounds.) Mafiosa is the third and final book in the series and is undoubtedly the book I’m enjoying most at the moment. I love all of the characters in this series, and although I don’t know any gangsters personally, the ones in these books feel pretty realistic to me. This book feels so much darker, and more dangerous, than the first, but it’s still full of feels, and I am swooning hard over Luca, the underboss of the Falcone mafia family, who I believe, deep down, just wants to be good.

*fans self*

*falls on floor*

*rip jess*

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski


This is definitely the most challenging book I’m reading at the moment, and because it is so ginormous, and majoratively written in the style of an academic text, I think it’s going to take me at least a month or two to finish it. This novel is about a man who finds an academic paper about a mysterious documentary that doesn’t exist. The documentary is supposedly about a house which is bigger on the inside than the outside (in a creepy, rather than cool, Tardis-like, way). This book is strange and scary, although it’s difficult to describe exactly WHY it’s so scary. The writing is unsettling and when I’m reading this I feel like I completely zone out of reality.

Parts of this book are hard to follow, because the writer of the paper likes to go off on nonsensical, rambling tangents about loosely related academic concepts, which jars the narrative on so many levels. But I love how unique this book is – every page looks different, there are footnotes all over the place, parts of the text are upside down or on their sides, the word ‘house’ is written in blue ink every time it appears, and there are all sorts of other weird and wonderful things like this throughout the book. I guess it’s a bit pretentious, being so “experimental”, and I’m still not quite sure what it all means, but I’m enjoying trying to wrap my awed mind around all the craziness.

Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman


This is a collection of short stories and poems by Neil Gaiman, and so far it’s quite a mixed bag. I’ve read two Neil Gaiman novels previously (Coraline and The Ocean at the End of the Lane,) and was left a little bit underwhelmed by both of them. I liked them, but I didn’t love them. So far I’m not really loving this collection either. Don’t get me wrong, Gaiman is a GOOD writer, and his prose is beautiful, but the endings of most of the stories I’ve read so far have felt like anti-climaxes, and with some of those endings, I wasn’t really clear as to what had actually happened (which is frustrating, because I like to think of myself as a semi-intelligent human).

My favourite story in the collection so far has been one about a man searching for a cave on a mysterious island know as ‘The Misty Isle’. I love me a mysterious island, I really enjoyed the writing, and I felt like it had a powerful conclusion. But all of the other stories have been somewhat meh. I’m partially considering DNFing this book, but I don’t like doing that, so maybe I’ll press on and see if it becomes more my cup of tea in the second half.

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King


I’ve been wanting to pick up this short story collection for a while, as I really enjoyed King’s novella collection – Four Past Midnight. Like with Trigger Warning, this collection is a mixed bag so far, although I would say I am enjoying it more than the Neil Gaiman book. The first story in the collection, about a car that eats people, sounds like it would be ridiculous, but was actually very enjoyable. Some of the subsequent stories have been pretty entertaining too, and King is certainly the master of the creepy ending, as well as being one hell of a good storyteller in general. The stories I have enjoyed less have been ones I wouldn’t really describe as horror. They weren’t bad stories, but I guess they just didn’t fit with my expectations of what King usually writes. I’m not very far through this book, so I can’t wait to get creeped out by some of the more traditional horror type stories King does so well, in later pages.

You are a Badass by Jen Sincero


I got this book in my monthly ‘Buddy Box’ from The Blurt Foundation. The Buddy Box is a subscription box full of self-care goodies for people who suffer from depression, which you can take out a personal subscription to, or gift to somebody you know who is struggling. It’s such a lovely thing to receive every month, as the contents are always a surprise. This self-help book was a wonderful addition this month, and I am really enjoying reading this, because the author writes in a humorous, down-to-earth way which just makes me feel like she *gets* me, y’know?

I have to admit that some of the ideas are a little wishy-washy to me (there are mentions of ‘higher selves’ and ‘vibrations’ and ‘manifesting your desires’: concepts I encountered in Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway aka the worst book I read in 2016, and which I personally don’t buy), but there are also plenty of chapters with useful, practical advice about boosting your self-esteem, forgiving other people, and forgiving yourself, which I’m finding very helpful. Every chapter ends with a list of things you can do to put the advice into practice, which for me makes it so easy to digest and remember. There is also a resounding message that ‘self-love’ is the most important thing of all, and that’s something I can’t help but dig. ❤

So that’s all of the books I’m currently reading! Let me know in the comments if you’ve read and loved/read and hated any of these books, and if you have any recommendations for similar books I might enjoy. Lots of love to you all, and hope you have a lovely weekend!


Mini reviews of YA books

Hello everybody and a happy Tuesday to you! (I know, I know, it’s a stretch; Tuesdays suck only slightly less than Mondays…) Today I want to share with you some mini reviews for YA books that I have read over the past month or so. The first two I didn’t enjoy as much as I’d anticipated, but the third one I fell in love with. Let me know your thoughts if you’ve read any of these books – I’d love to discuss them with you 😊

The Yellow Room by Jess Vallance


When Anna receives a letter telling her that her father has died, she finds it hard to feel anything much. She hasn’t seen him for years and can barely remember him. She certainly has no interest in meeting the person who sent the letter: her dead father’s girlfriend, Edie. Anna has her own problems to deal with, including a secret she desperately needs to keep buried.

When Leon, a creepy boy from school, begins threatening to reveal Anna’s secret, Anna’s life starts spiralling out of control. With her own mother distracted and distant, she finds herself turning to the warm and eccentric Edie for support.

But what Anna doesn’t realise is that Edie has some secrets of her own.

My rating: 3 stars

I have very mixed feelings about this book. There were lots of things I LOVED about it; the characterisation was EXCELLENT, and although I was left a little bit underwhelmed by the plot, I still remember all of the characters and their quirks, because they were all so colourfully painted.

I enjoyed reading this book, but I felt disappointed with the last 30% or so. I LOVED the first half. The creepiness of some of the characters in this book was spot on. Leon, the boy who was blackmailing our main character, Anna, was the PERFECT villain. I just wanted to strangle him, he was so vile and condescending. The pacing and atmosphere of the first half was excellent too. But then…

I felt the final quarter of the book was RUSHED through. I had barely blinked and the book was over and all wrapped up. The tension building beforehand had been excellent, but the climax happened way too fast. I wasn’t left with unanswered questions, but I almost wish I had been, because everything seemed too neat, and was resolved far too quickly. I felt too much like I had been *told* the conclusion of a story, if that makes sense. Too many threads were tied up for it to seem real.

If I was rating the first half of the book alone, I would give this book 5 stars, but as a whole, I’ve gone for 3, because the resolution felt a little bit like a rapidly deflating balloon. I was left with a ‘meh’ feeling, which is a shame, because I had such high and floaty hopes at the beginning.

Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt


Lexi Angelo has grown up helping her dad with his events business. She likes to stay behind the scenes, planning and organizing…until author Aidan Green – messy haired and annoyingly arrogant – arrives unannounced at the first event of the year. Then Lexi’s life is thrown into disarray.

In a flurry of late-night conversations, mixed messages and butterflies, Lexi discovers that some things can’t be planned. Things like falling in love…

My rating: 2 stars

I wanted so much to love this book, and I had SUCH high expectations. This book has been described as the British answer to Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – I mean, who wouldn’t have high expectations after such a statement? Sadly, this book is nothing like Fangirl, because Fangirl’s strength is in its characters, which just so happens to be this book’s weakness…

I loved the premise of this book, and as somebody who enjoys going to conventions, I felt it had been written especially for me. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t as well executed as I’d hoped.

The protagonist of this book did not stand out for me, I felt like the side characters were all the same person, and I felt no chemistry whatsoever from the romance storyline. There was so much focus on the running of conventions that I didn’t get a feel for ANYONE’S personalities OUTSIDE of the fact that they ran conventions, and although the book was trying to make the point that Lexi (our main character) didn’t know who she was outside of conventions (because they had been her main focus/priority her entire life), all this did was make her come across as a bland character with nothing *more* to her than… well, conventions. I mean, there wasn’t even any mention of what Lexi was a fan of, besides the love interest’s book… As somebody whose entire life/personality is based around conventions, I at least expected more geekery from Lexi, and I was left disappointed.

There was also way too much telling instead of showing in this book. For example, we were told that Lexi struggled to do her school essays because she had so much work to do for her dad, but we never saw her struggling, and we never saw this negatively impacting her schoolwork. In fact, we never saw her at school full stop. There were barely any scenes outside of the conventions, and, as a result, it just felt a bit like Lexi didn’t exist when she wasn’t at a convention. Ugh, I have used the word conventions too many times in this review and now it doesn’t sound like a real word.

Vendetta by Catherine Doyle


When five brothers move into the abandoned mansion next door, Sophie Gracewell’s life changes forever. Irresistibly drawn to bad boy Nic, Sophie finds herself falling into an underworld governed by powerful families. When Sophie’s own family skeletons come to life, she must choose between two warring dynasties – the one she was born into, and the one she is falling in love with. When she does, blood will spill and hearts will break.

My rating: 4 stars

Finally, a book I wasn’t disappointed with! Oh, how I adored this book (despite it’s cringey cover!) I went to Waterstones a couple of weekends ago, specifically looking for some fluff. As somebody who loves dark books too, I got an awesome combination of fluff and darkness when I picked up this YA mafia romance.

This book was EXACTLY what I needed – it was romantic, thrilling, intriguing, contained many a bad boy, and had some awesome family drama too.

I also LOVED Catherine Doyle’s writing style – it flowed so nicely that I forgot I was reading a book. She created some brilliant characters, and they were all so easy to imagine because of their body language. Very few authors pull this off, but I LOVE it when a writer can make me imagine a living breathing person by doing an excellent job of describing their movements (i.e. how they walk, what they do with their hands, their facial expressions when nobody is looking, etc.). I believed the Falcone brothers were real people because of the way Catherine Doyle used their bodies and made them move around each scene; they leapt off the page for me.

Props to Catherine, also, for making Sophie a strong main character, who felt fear intensely, yet still fought back, and for making her best friend, Millie, a memorable, hilarious character, who wasn’t just a sidekick, but felt like a lead in her own right.

I read this book super-speedily because I loved it so much, I devoured the second book in the trilogy (which had SO many good twists), and I’m now whizzing through the third. Highly recommend if you’re in the mood for fluff with a dark-and-dangerous edge, containing hot Italian bad-boys you may or may not swoon over.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Hope you all have a week as lovely as your lovely selves. ❤


Self-care tips for book bloggers

Hello, you lovely people, and a happy Friday to you!

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been struggling with blogging recently, and with reading too. I’m feeling burned-out and tired, which prevents me from enjoying reading as much as I normally do, and as for blogging… that feels impossible.

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A lot of the way I’m feeling is due to my anxiety, but all of us can feel this way at times, regardless of mental health issues, because book-blogging, though we love it, can be stressful and overwhelming.


Sometimes we find ourselves drowning in a sea of ARCs, and, although ARCs are an honour and a privilege, drowning isn’t fun for anyone.

Sometimes we have a million things we WANT to read, but can’t, because of all the books we HAVE to read, so we spend hours staring at our shelves in a state of panic, not reading anything at all.

Sometimes, we don’t want to read, and we just want to watch Netflix, y’know?

All of these things make it pretty damn difficult to keep up with our blogs, and feel calm.

But, there are lots of little things we can do to help ourselves when we feel like we’re crumbling under this pressure.

Those little things are small, but vital, acts of self-care.

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As somebody who suffers from anxiety and depression, I have come to appreciate just how important self-care is when I’m feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and exhausted. Self-care can be anything from scheduling time for relaxation, to saying ‘no’ to things when I’m not feeling well enough to do them.

But looking after yourself is important no matter what the state of your mental health might be. Putting yourself first is not selfish, it’s not weak, and your health is entirely more important than your blog, at the end of the day.

If you are finding book-blogging stressful and overwhelming in any way right now, here are some self-care tips (with a bookish/blogging slant) that you might find helpful. 😊


Get into a blanket/onesie/cosy get-up of you choosing, surround yourself with snacks and beverages, turn off your phone, ignore your loved ones(!), and spend some quality time with a book. Reading a book just for fun – one that you have no intention of reviewing – removes all pressure from your reading experience.

If you decide, afterwards, that you want to review the book, you can, but go in telling yourself that this is for pure enjoyment, nothing more, and you’ll find the whole thing so much more relaxing.

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Learning to say no is extremely important if you are feeling overwhelmed. It is okay to put yourself, and your health, first.

It’s okay to say no to review requests, and if you have ALL THE ARCS stacked on top of you, Buckaroo stylee, however tempting it may be, DO NOT, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, REQUEST ANY MORE. It’s extra pressure that you don’t need right now, and that book will be there waiting for you later down the line, once it has been released, and you actually have the time and energy to read it.

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I know, I know, this sounds like sacrilege. But, similarly to being approved for a bunch of ARCs you don’t have the time or inclination to read, having lots of unread books on your shelf can be really overwhelming if you’re feeling low. And, if you’re buying more books every week, no matter how gloriously shiny their covers may be, you’re just adding to the problem.

Ban yourself from buying books, and focus on reading the ones you’ve got. If you don’t feel like reading any of them at the moment, do something else – it will be healthier for you to watch a bit of TV, or have a relaxing bath, than try to struggle through a book you’re not into, feeling increasingly guiltier about it with every page. And, if you want to treat yourself to a pick-me-up,  you can always spend your money on something other than a book; chocolate, wine, bubble bath, stationary… basically comforting things that you don’t have to read.

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So, if you find yourself drawn to a bookshop, wrench yourself away; you’ll feel far better about yourself, and your shelves, if you do.


As book-bloggers, we constantly feel pressure to read the books that EVERYONE is talking about. But we don’t HAVE to read them RIGHT NOW if the pressure is getting to us. Those books don’t have a sell-by date. We’ll get to them when we’re ready.

Re-reading an old favourite book instead can be a real treat, and there is no pressure involved, because we don’t need to decide how we feel about the book, and what star rating to give it – we already know we adore it, and that it will do our mental health the world of good.

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Book tags are fun, and approx. a million times less pressurised than writing a book review where you have to analyse the crap out of everything.

If book tags are too much for you right now, that’s absolutely fine, but if you sit down and give one a go, just for fun, you might find yourself getting back into the swing of things.

Plus, book tags generally contain more gif-usage and more fangirling than reviews, both of which are highly efficient at boosting your endorphin levels. FACT.

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This is easier said than done – I beat myself up constantly – but remind yourself that NOBODY IS JUDGING YOU EXCEPT FOR YOURSELF. Nobody is looking at your blog and thinking ‘what a failure, she never posts anymore, compared to I, superwoman, who whacks out a post every day of the week.’

Superwoman is too busy doing Superwoman to notice, so you just do you… whatever you have to offer is enough for now, and makes you Superwoman/man in my eyes.

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Take a hiatus if you need one. You can announce it, if that makes you feel more comfortable, but if you don’t want to, there is no shame in going off-road for a while, without telling anyone. YOU DO NOT NEED TO EXPLAIN YOURSELF.

The blogging community isn’t going anywhere, and you will not be forgotten, but if you’re worried about disappearing, you can always keep in contact with everyone by liking or commenting on their posts (which is a lot easier than writing your own when you’re feeling burned out.)

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This is not related to books or blogging, but if you are feeling low, basic things can feel impossible, let alone keeping up with a hobby. Eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, getting some exercise, and breathing fresh air are all vital, and do as much good for your mental health as they do your physical health.

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I hope these tips have been helpful, and that some of them work for you! 😊 Do you have any self-care tips for when you’re feeling overwhelmed? I’d love to hear from you.

Wishing you all a lovely weekend filled with books and cake!

Gif credit: Giphy


The Ben & Jerry’s Book Tag

Hi everyone! Sorry for my (unannounced) hiatus of approx three weeks. I’ve missed you all lots, and hope your days since we last spoke have been filled with good books, snuggly blankets, and gigantic tubs of ice-cream. You deserve those things! ❤

I’m struggling to keep up with blogging (and reading) at the moment due to good old anxiety, so I’m not going to make any promises about posting more regularly this month… But for now, I thought I’d do a book tag, because book tags are fun, and I haven’t done a single one so far in 2017.

I was tagged for this one by The Orangutan Librarian, and I’m ashamed to say this was actually over a year ago! Better late than never, I guess 😊 Please go check out her fantastic blog immediately – she’s one of my favourite book bloggers, and if you’re not already following her, you are very silly 😝



Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. I’ve loved all of Stephanie’s books, but Anna was by far my favourite. I loved the Paris setting (Paris being one of my favourite places on this planet we call Earth), I loved Anna (because she was dorky and funny and relatable), and I loved Etienne (because I couldn’t help but make swoony eyes whenever he appeared on the page).



Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney. I just finished reading this book, and I could NOT put it down. I have been getting a bit bored with psych thrillers recently because they’re all so samey and predictable, but this one surprised me, and had some very interesting, very screwed up, characters. It’s narrated by a woman in a coma, so it also has a creepy, claustrophobic feel, which made the reading experience unbearably tense, in the best possible way. And, most importantly, I DID NOT PREDICT THE ENDING.


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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling. There’s an overwhelming feeling of triumph, but an undercurrent of loss. I knew not everyone would make it out alive, but some of those deaths still SLAY me today.


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It’s a toss up between City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare (because I just can’t with all my fluffy Malec feels) and Carry On (because I also have pretty intense Simon and Baz feels). #dilemma



Sara Barnard and Holly Bourne. These ladies are two of my favourite UKYA authors, and both prioritise female friendship over romance in their books, which I think is just FABULOUS. Both have also written about characters with anxiety issues, which is something I relate to, too hard, and both did so in realistic, poignant, yet often humorous ways. I think these two authors would write a wonderful collaboration, filled with smart, funny, and extremely relatable young women.



The Magpies by Mark Edwards. This was the first thriller I ever read, and I remember finishing it in a single sitting. It’s about a couple who move into a new flat, and start getting harassed by their next-door neighbours. The harassment gets worse and worse, creepier and creepier, and, let’s just say, there’s a scene involving spiders mid-way through the book that legit gave me nightmares. So many thrillers fail to be SCARY, but this one nailed it. I highly recommend all of Mark Edwards’ books. He always has such original concepts, which stand out in the overcrowded thriller market.



Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. This book only came out in 2015, but I’ve already read it several times. It’s my go-to book when I’ve had a rubbish day because Simon and Blue’s adorable romance never fails to make me feel all happy and fluffy inside.



Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare. I absolutely adore all of Cassandra Clare’s books, and Lady Midnight last year was no exception. I’m so excited to read the sequel – I picked up a free sample of the first chapter in Waterstones the other day, and I may or may not have squealed. I’m planning on re-reading Lady Midnight over the next month in preparation. I’m so excited for more Emma and Julian, more cameos from Malec (pretty please?), but mainly more Mark Blackthorn. #swoon

I’m not going to tag anybody, because, as I mentioned, this tag has been floating around in my shameful list of tags-I-haven’t-done-because-I-suck for over a year. However, if you feel so inclined, feel free to give this tag a go, and link me to your answers, so I can find bookish inspiration, and spend further time fantasizing about ice-cream. ❤