book review

Book Review: ‘What the Woods Keep’ by Katya De Becerra

What the Woods Keep. Katya De Becerra. Imprint Macmillan. September 2018.

On her eighteenth birthday, Hayden inherits her childhood home—on the condition that she uncover its dark secrets.

Hayden tried to put the past behind her, and it worked. She’s getting ready for college, living in a Brooklyn apartment, and hanging out with her best friend and roommate Del. But now it’s all catching up with her: her mother’s mysterious disappearance a decade before, her father’s outlandish theories about a lost supernatural race, and Hayden’s own dark dreams of strange symbols and rituals in the Colorado woods where she grew up.

As soon as Hayden arrives at her hometown, her friend Del in tow, it begins: Neighbors whisper secrets about Hayden’s mother; the boy next door is now all grown-up in a very distracting way; and Hayden feels the trees calling to her. And among them, deep in the woods, Hayden will discover something incredible—something that threatens reality itself.


I picked up What The Woods Keep because of its super intriguing premise. On her 18th birthday, our main character Hayden inherits the old Manor House, where she grew up, from her mother, who disappeared – presumed dead – when Hayden was 8 years old. Her mother has stipulated some conditions in her will, and to say they are a bit weird would be an understatement! Hayden must track down a mysterious key, find some ‘treasure’, perform a very creepy supernatural ritual in the woods, and ‘finish what her mother started.’ She must do all of this whilst ‘trusting nobody’, ‘especially the ravens.’

We follow Hayden as she goes back to her childhood hometown of Promise, Colorado, to check out the old house, taking her best friend Del along for the ride, and begins to unravel the mysterious clues her mother has left behind for her. From the very beginning, I loved the strange and creepy vibes this book gave me. It was never outright scary, but it was certainly eerie, and the descriptions of the house and the woods and the weird things which start to happen in the town from the moment they arrive, were beautifully atmospheric. I also loved the Edgar Allan Poe vibes it gave me, with all the spooky ravens skulking about!

Hayden was a mysterious character and I liked that we got glimpses of her strange past in the form of notes from her therapist. I wasn’t sure who I could trust in this book, but surprisingly, despite what we learn about Hayden, and the uneasiness she seems to inspire in other people, she was the one character I never doubted. Reading about some of the incidents from her past definitely left me unsettled though! 

Hayden has a fascination with science, inherited from her physicist father, and one of the things I loved about this book was that the beginning of each chapter related some kind of unusual and intriguing scientific phenomenon to what was happening in the story. Hayden has always been a logical person, observing things in a scientific manner and finding the rational solution. As the story progresses it becomes harder and harder for her to explain away what is happening with science and I loved the way the book explored the struggle in Hayden’s mind between the scientific and the supernatural.

The other aspect of this book I loved was the inclusion of conspiracy theories. Hayden’s father, who I mentioned is a physicist, is actually a disgraced scientist who lost his tenure as a professor and respect as an academic when he became obsessed with myth and folklore and his research took a supernatural turn. Hayden, like everyone else, has always viewed her father as a conspiracy theorist, and she has a strained relationship with him, so it was really interesting to see how that was explored and where it ended up going.

Despite really enjoying the story, I did think that the pacing could have been better. The beginning was a slow build and it took a long time for Hayden and Del to actually get to the house, but I did enjoy their friendship (and Del was a fun character with lots of personality!), so I didn’t mind too much. What bothered me more was the ending, which felt very abrupt! There was a resolution and answers, and it was all exciting and dramatic, but it ended very suddenly without any reflection or reaction from the characters. I would have liked an epilogue or something to see how the characters were affected by everything that went down! I felt a bit robbed.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book, and the author left room for a sequel, which I’d definitely read. It’s hard to define what genre this book falls into – it’s a mix of paranormal, gothic horror, fantasy and science fiction, so for me it had a little bit of everything I love in a book and was right up my street. If you’ve read this book too, I’d love to know what you thought of it!

Uncategorized

All the books I remember reading in 2020!

Hello, bookish friends! Long time, no speak!

It’s been over a year now since I last wrote on this blog, and I’ve thought at times about giving up on blogging completely. I was feeling so uninspired, not just about writing posts, but about reading books too.

I feel like I’ve been in a year long reading slump. I *have* read some good books in the past 12 months, but I’ve read way more forgettable ones, and I’m reading at a much slower pace now compared with how voraciously I used to devour books.

I’ve been trying my best to read when I can, and not worry/put pressure on myself about the pace. I’ve read almost 30 books so far this year, and I’m pretty proud of that considering what a shitshow 2020 has been for each and every one of us. How can we be expected to concentrate?! (I’ve spent a considerably larger amount of time doomscrolling on Twitter, or playing Animal Crossing New Horizons in my pyjamas, than I have reading books, but I can’t be alone in that, surely?!)

I was going to do a post with my quick thoughts on all of the books I’ve read so far in 2020, however when I looked back at my list, I realised I’ve forgotten a lot about most of them! One of them I had no memory of reading at all! (Sorry, All These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth Klehfoth!)

So, with that being said, I’m just going to talk to you today about some of the books I ACTUALLY remember reading this year! Without further ado…


The Night Country by Melissa Albert

This is the sequel to The Hazel Wood, and I loved how dark and twisty it was. I liked the way the fairytale aspects were interwoven into the urban setting, but my favourite parts took place in the fairytale world of the ‘hinterland’. Such a creepy, messed up world, and so exciting to read about. I can’t say much as this book is a sequel, but if you’re interested in finding out more about the series you can read my original review of the first book here.


The Little Book of Self Care by Joanna Gray

This sounds kinda harsh, but ugh, I hated this book! It had no substance to it, and the self care advice was stuff like ‘buy yourself a new lipstick’. Oh sure, that’ll cure my crippling depression, thanks!


The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by Catherine Gray

I read this because I was considering giving up alcohol at the beginning of the year, but then there was a whole global pandemic and I decided I needed to keep wine in my life. This is the memoir of a woman who was an alcoholic, detailing the story of how she became sober. It was really gripping, and although I don’t have a dependency on alcohol, I could definitely recognise the unhealthy parts of my relationship with it in Catherine’s story. Her journey to sobriety was really inspiring to read about.


Get a Life, Chloe Brown – Talia Hibbert

This was a cute romance, with brilliant chronic pain/fatigue rep! The love interest was okay, but the main character Chloe was amazing. She was sarcastic, dry, aloof and just generally swoonworthy! Definitely my book crush of 2020.


The Factory – Hiroko Oyamada

This was a super weird little book where we follow three people who have completely meaningless jobs at this gigantic factory where strange things are happening to the surrounding flora & fauna, for example rodents along the riverbank growing to impossible, freakishly large sizes. It didn’t have much of a plot, and was kind of boring in places, but it did have this weird/mysterious vibe which kept me reading, and I liked the surreal ending. In some ways, I think the boring parts were a deliberate attempt to reflect the mundane jobs of the characters. There was something I kind of dug about this one, and I would potentially re-read it in future to see what I get out of it a second time around.


The Test by Sylvain Nouvel

This was a cool, creepy, sci-fi novella about a futuristic British Citizenship test. Lots of Black Mirror vibes, and raises some very valid questions and criticisms about our country’s attitude towards immigration. I only wish it had been longer and had gone into more depth.


The Switch by Beth O’Leary

A cute romantic fluffy story about a woman and her grandmother swapping lives/houses etc. (The Holiday style) for a few months in order to gain a fresh perspective on life and love. The grandmother was a brilliant character; I loved her chapters, and her adorable romance with the crotchety next door neighbour. However, I wasn’t that fussed about the granddaughter as a character, and her romantic storyline was very insta-lovey. I liked this book, but I loved Beth’s other book, The Flatshare, more.


Queenie by Candace Carty-Williams

This is a fantastic book following our main character Queenie and her experiences with sex and dating as she attempts to get over a painful relationship breakup. This book has some light and funny moments but also explores heavier topics such as the objectification/fetishization of black women, destructive/harmful sexual relationships, and mental health difficulties. It’s a book that made me both laugh and cry, and had a very strong and unique sense of voice – Queenie is a character who will stick with me.


Loveless by Alice Oseman

This is the story of Georgia who has just started university and is figuring out her sexuality/coming to terms with the fact that she’s asexual and aromantic. I loved Georgia as a character, and loved the validating message that not wanting a romantic relationship does not make you weird or lesser in some way. It’s great to see some ace rep, and I believe this is own voices too.  I loved the way Georgia’s friendships were portrayed and the importance given to them. Friendships so often take a backseat to romantic relationships in YA, yet they are just as important, if not more so. This book gave me so much nostalgia about my own time at uni, too – the setting was so well written.


Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas

This was a really weird book, and I’m still not sure whether I loved it or hated it. I think I loved it! It’s set at a secretive, isolated, prestigious college for the academically gifted, who must relinquish all contact with the outside world during the 3 years they study there. Many of the students opt to study a mysterious substance known as ‘plasm’, and there is something pretty strange and sinister going on behind the locked doors of the laboratory. It’s such an intriguing premise, the writing is gorgeous and dreamlike, but it is incredibly slow, and VERY ambiguous. If you like your questions answered at the end of a book, don’t read this one. It’s one of those books I’m dying to re-read, however. I love me some weird gothic fiction!


The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

This is quite possibly my favourite book of the year so far, closely tied with the next one I’m going to mention. This story follows a woman named Nora who commits suicide and finds herself in a magical library between life and death where every book contains a different possible life she could have led if she’d made different choices. This book was so well told, so life affirming, and had me in tears by the end. It really touched my heart and gave me a new way of looking at both the good and the bad things that have happened in my life. The depression and anxiety representation is own voices, and Matt Haig’s writing about mental health always strikes a chord with me.  It feels like reading my own thoughts, feelings and worries, but rewoven into a wonderful story that I will undoubtedly read again and again.


The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne

This book, surprise surprise, made me cry. It tells the story of an emotionally abusive relationship, through the lens of that relationship having ended, and the main character Amelie going back to all of the places her boyfriend Reece made her cry, reflecting on their relationship, and coming to terms with the fact that it was, in fact, abuse. This was absolutely gut-wrenching. I felt everything Amelie was feeling, and I was so desperate for her to realise her own self-worth and begin to heal. I rooted for her so strongly, and went on such a huge emotional journey with her. I read this in one sitting, finishing it up at around 3am with tears all over my face and book! I love Holly Bourne’s Spinster Club Trilogy, but I believe this is the best book she has ever written, and hugely important. I want every teenage girl to read this, and if they are going through something similar, to recognise that through Amelie’s story and seek the support they need.


So, that’s it for this little 2020 wrap up! What has been your favourite book so far this year? I’d love to catch up with you, and I’m sorry it’s been so long! I decided to start posting again because I miss book-blogging so much, and I really hope I’ll be sticking around this time.

Lots of bookish love to you all, love Jess xxx

book tag

The Mid Year Book Freakout Tag 2019

Hello, bookish friends!

I’m so sorry for disappearing again! Life just got on top of me, but I am going to do my best to keep popping in when I can. I feel so bad for abandoning my poor little blog, and all of you lovely people!

Today I thought I would do the Mid Year Book Freakout Tag! As it’s almost the end of July, if I don’t do this tag soon, it’s going to be nowhere near the middle of the year! And I love this tag – I don’t want to miss a year of doing it.

Today is the hottest day of the year so far (it’s 37 degrees C here in London) and I am melting as I sit here and type this! Hope you’re all coping with this heat better than I am (or are living somewhere cooler!)

Without further ado, here are my answers to the questions…


Best Book You’ve Read Yet in 2019

boneclocks

The best book I’ve read this year so far is The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell! I read the companion novel – Slade House – in 2017, and it was one of my favourite books of the year. Slade House is a literary horror, although I’d describe The Bone Clocks more as literary fiction with interwoven fantasy. It’s set in our world, but has fantastical elements running through it.

This book is about a war between two groups of immortal beings, and how a normal human woman named Holly Sykes unknowingly becomes an important pawn in said war. The book is huge, and split up into sections told from different perspectives, set in different time periods through from 1984, right up until 2043. Although only the first and last sections are told from Holly’s perspective, she appears in every single part, crossing paths with each of the characters in important ways.

This book is quite mind-blowing, with an epic scope. The characters are all incredibly well developed (especially Holly herself), and although it requires a lot of concentration because it is quite complex (every little detail has a part to play later in the story), I really ended up loving it, and couldn’t give it any less than 5 stars.


Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2019

qoaad

Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare is the last book in her Dark Artifices series, and this was another epic read, filled with so many emotions! I cried, I laughed, I felt unbelievably tense and stressed, and I was ultimately left with a very full heart. I loved how this series was wrapped up, and I’m so excited for the next series of Shadowhunter books from Cassie.


New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To

recursion

I’m really excited to read Recursion by Blake Crouch, which is a sci-fi thriller surrounding the idea of False Memory Syndrome. I’m really intrigued to see what Blake Crouch does with this idea; he always has such exciting, high-concept stories, and I have adored everything I’ve read by him so far.


Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year

allthebadapples

I can’t wait for the release of All the Bad Apples by Moira Fowley-Doyle. I don’t know a lot about this particular book (I believe it has something to do with a family curse), but I love the way Moira Fowley-Doyle writes; her book always have a magical realism element, and she has such an atmospheric, dreamy writing style I just eat up every time. I will auto-buy anything she writes!


Biggest Disappointment

forever

Forever by Judy Bloom. I got this book from the library, and I’m so glad I didn’t spend actual money on it. Judy Bloom is supposed to be the OG YA author, i.e. she wrote YA books long before YA was a recognised category. Forever is the story of a first relationship, but the characters were a bit bland and felt underdeveloped, so I found I just didn’t really care what happened to them. I also got really annoyed when the guy pressured the girl about having sex, because this wasn’t challenged at all in the text. It was just a case of ‘that’s what teenage boys are like’ rather than ‘that’s not ok!’  I know this book was written in the seventies, but still, it rubbed me up the wrong way. This isn’t the worst book I’ve ever read, but it was pretty forgettable for me, unfortunately.


Biggest Surprise

99days

My biggest surprise was 99 Days by Katie Cotugno . This book doesn’t have the best reviews, so I had low expectations, but I actually ended up really enjoying this one. This book is about a girl whose author mother reveals her daughter’s most shameful secret by using it as a plot for her latest novel. I think a lot of people had issues with the fact that this book deals with cheating, but I honestly thought it was well handled, and that the emotions felt realistic. I think it’s also important that a book like this exists, because although cheating is wrong, so is the way we demonise teenage girls who happen to make a mistake, and I think this book makes that point in a way which really had me sympathising with the main character, despite the mistakes she had made. She’s a human being with feelings, first and foremost.


Favourite New Author

220px-Penpal_cover_Auerbach

Dathan Auerbach! I read this author’s first book, Penpal, earlier in the year, and I have his second, Bad Man, on my Kindle to read soon. This horror/thriller novel follows a boy who is being stalked by an anonymous pen pal. It’s atmospheric, tense, and thoroughly, thoroughly creepy. I’m so excited to read more from this author.


Newest Fictional Crush

theflatshare

Leon from The Flatshare was a sweetie, and would probably make a lovely husband! Plus, the Irish accent… *swoons*


Newest Favourite Character

furiouslyhappy

Okay, so this isn’t actually a character, it’s a real person, but I would love to be friends with Jenny Lawson, author of Furiously Happy. The book is a mental health memoir/collection of funny anecdotes from her life, and as I read it I just totally fell in love with her quirky, hilarious personality, as well as relating to her on so many levels.


Book That Made You Cry

3 choices.indd

Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia was a close second for my favourite book of the year. It follows a girl named Eliza who is the anonymous author of a successful webcomic with millions of readers, who does not want to reveal her ‘secret identity’ to the people she knows in ‘real life’. The portrayal of anxiety and depression in this book was so masterfully done, and this book made me feel so understood. This book had a huge emotional impact on me, and I think it’s the only book I’ve read this year that’s really made me sob (but in a good, cathartic way!)


Book That Made You Happy

thelandofneverendings

The Land of Neverendings by Kate Saunders!  I absolutely adored this children’s book. It explores some difficult topics (mainly grief) but in the most lovely way (through a story about a land where toys come to life, and their owners can go to be with them after they pass away). This story really warmed my heart, and as somebody whose obsession with plushies is just as big as my obsession with books, it meant the world to me. If you like plushies too, you might want to check out my plushie-themed Instagram page @pigglypuffandfriends. I have so much fun with it, and there is a brilliant plushie community on Instagram.


Favourite Book to Film Adaptation

theumbrella

I haven’t seen any film adaptations this year, but for something that’s based on a book, I really enjoyed The Umbrella Academy series on Netflix (based on the graphic novel by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá). I don’t usually like superhero stuff, but this was quirky and fun, and the characters were everything. I even adored the ones who were supposed to be the bad guys! If you’ve watched it, let me know who your favourite characters were. Personally, I adore Hazel.


Favourite Post You Have Done This Year

I haven’t done many posts this year, but my favourite is probably my first post of the year, simply because it took a lot of courage to write it and get back into blogging.


Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year

thedreamers

How stunning is this cover?! I haven’t read The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker yet, but I enjoy staring at it.


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

All of them! I recently made a list of my physical To-Be-Read pile, and I have almost 150 unread books. I am also going to YALC (the Young Adult Literature Convention) at London Film and Comic Con this weekend. so I forsee that pile growing considerably over the next few days!


Have you read any of the books I mentioned? What’s your favourite book of the year so far? I’d love to hear from you! 

Lots of literary love,

Jess xxx

book review

More recent reads: Misfit, Furiously Happy, & The Flatshare!

Hello, bookish friends!

Today I am reviewing three books I’ve read recently, all of which I enjoyed, but two in particular of which I absolutely adored, and are favourites of the year so far! ❤

Without further ado, here are my thoughts!


Misfit by Charli Howard

misfit

Trigger warning: anxiety, anorexia, bulimia

I heard the author of this book speak at YALC last year and I thought it sounded amazing. It’s a mental-health memoir about Charli’s experiences with anxiety, anorexia, and bulimia, and how her mental illnesses were exacerbated by her time spent working in the modelling industry. I found this book so interesting, and it also made me so angry at some of the things that Charli went through. Actively being told by her agency to lose weight or lose her job when she was only a UK size 6? Utterly despicable. I already disliked the idea of an industry that puts out these images of unattainably thin women and makes us all feel bad that we don’t look like them, but hearing about how badly the people behind those images are treated made me hate it even more. The way Charli was constantly criticised about her appearance by her agency made me feel sick. It was like reading about an abusive relationship – one which she was contracted to be in.

I loved the raw honesty with which Charli told her story, although I wish the book had had more of a focus on her recovery. It is marketed towards teens, and whilst there are some empowering messages in there about how we shouldn’t let anyone dictate what is beautiful, and that all bodies of all sizes should be celebrated, I feel that teen readers who are struggling with body image and eating disorders could benefit from learning a bit more about how Charli recovered from her eating disorder, and what help she received. This section of the book felt so brief, considering what a huge and important part of the story this is. The other thing that bothered me was that there is a comment towards the end about how we can ‘choose whether [we] want to be happy or not’, and that didn’t sit well with me. Yes, in order to recover from a mental illness you have to want to, but you have to work unbelievably hard to do so; it’s not as simple as a mere choice.

Despite these issues, I thought this was an important and well-written memoir, but I would recommend this to someone who wants to learn more about eating disorders, rather than to somebody who is recovering from one. I think it could be triggering, and not necessarily helpful to that process, as the focus is more on the experience of the illness rather than the recovery from it. Charli herself points this out at the beginning of the book, and I thought that was really helpful.


Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

furiouslyhappy

This is another mental-health memoir, although it’s not structured like a memoir. It’s more like a collection of random thoughts and anecdotes, some of them related to mental illness, some of them just funny stories from the author’s life. I didn’t know much about the author going into this book, but she has a very successful blog called ‘The Bloggess’. I picked this up because of the mental health representation, rather than any particular attachment to the author, but having read this, I now want to read everything she has ever written and be her best friend.

The front cover of this book describes it as ‘a funny book about horrible things’. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but this book is genuinely laugh-out-loud hilarious. Like, I snorted with laughter at least once per page. Jenny’s humour can be quite whacky, and perhaps it won’t be for everyone, but she honestly had me in stitches, even when she was talking about difficult topics such as her depression and anxiety.

I loved that this book wasn’t only about mental health. Jenny Lawson is so much more than her mental illnesses, and I loved that some of the stories in here were just about weird things that have happened to her, funny arguments she’s had with her husband, and the hilarious hijinks of her taxidermy racoon (pictured on the cover). I know it seems an obvious statement – that mental illness isn’t somebody’s whole identity – but sometimes I forget this about myself, and it’s quite affirming to read something like this and think… oh yeah, my life is multi-faceted and full of hilarity too; my mental illness isn’t ME.

Whilst this book made me laugh consistently, it also really moved me in places. My favourite passage in this book was about something called ‘The Spoon Theory’, and it really resonated with me and my own experiences with depression:

spoons

I loved this book to pieces, and I might be in love with Jenny Lawson now. I definitely want to check out her blog and other book asap.


The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

theflatshare

I listened to this as an audiobook, and absolutely adored it! It’s a heart-warming rom-com about Tiffy and Leon, who share a flat (and a bed) but have never met each other. One of them works nights, and the other during the day, so they never cross paths in person, but they start getting to know each other by leaving each other messages on post-it notes around their flat. I absolutely adored the main characters and the developing relationship between them. I loved how outgoing and fun and herself Tiffy was. I loved her thoughtfulness and her curiosity. Leon was introverted, awkward and sarcastic, but he had such a pure and lovely heart. He was so caring, so decent. The romance was perfectly paced, and the chemistry was spot on. It gave me the warm fuzzies, the butterflies – everything you want from a romance. The notes they wrote to each other made me laugh, and I loved the awkwardness of their first face to face encounter! It made me smile so much.

All the characters, even the minor ones, were well-developed and fleshed out. I found myself really caring about all of the subplots, and I loved that there was more to this book than the romance. Some of them were quite hard-hitting (Leon’s brother Richie is in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, and Tiffy is being harassed by her emotionally abusive ex boyfriend), whilst others were light and heart-warming (Tiffy, a book editor, is working with an eccentric author on a book about crochet, and Leon, a palliative care nurse, is trying to track down the long lost love of one of his patients). I was so invested in every storyline, and that’s a testament to how much I cared about Tiffy and Leon. I felt gutted when things went badly for them, and genuine joy when things worked out. I don’t have any personal experience with emotionally abusive relationships, but I thought Tiffy’s storyline was so well handled, and it was amazing to see her start to recover from this, not as a result of her new relationship, but because of her own inner strength, and the support of her friends. I think it raised some important awareness about this type of abuse.

I don’t have a bad word to say about this book. It was a wonderful pick-me up, and one of my favourite things I’ve read this year.


Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? I’d love to hear your thoughts! 🙂 

Lots of literary love, Jess! xxx

book review

Recent reads: Giant Days & Dear Evan Hansen!

Happy Sunday, bookish friends!

Today I am reviewing a couple of the books I’ve read recently! Both books are in fact novelisations of pre-existing stories that have been told in another format (the first being the novelisation of a musical, and the second the novelisation of a musical!) I was going to call these ‘mini reviews’, but I realised that what I call ‘mini’ is not actually all that mini… I tend to get carried away with my thoughts haha. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy these ‘mid-length reviews’ of two books I have recently enjoyed!


Giant Days by Non Pratt

giantdays

Giant Days is the novelisation of the comic book series of the same name by John Allison. I haven’t read the graphic novels so I am not really sure how the two formats compare, but I have seen quite a few Goodreads reviews from fans of the comics who have been disappointed by this novelisation. Having no comparison, I actually really enjoyed the novel, although I had some issues with it.

The story essentially follows three friends  – Susan, Esther and Daisy  – in their first term of university. Each girl has their own storyline: Susan is trying to avoid a boy from home whom she has some *history* with, Esther is trying to befriend a goth girl from her course whom she idolises but who isn’t actually very nice, and Daisy has joined a yoga society which may or may not be a cult! Although there are storylines, this book didn’t really feel like it had a plot. It’s a slice of life kind of story, which is okay as I enjoyed reading about the lives of these girls, but I can see why this type of story probably works better as a graphic novel.

I found this book very funny, and I really enjoyed all three of the characters. That being said, these characters in some ways felt like caricatures. They were all very quirky, and their dialogue was whip smart, but they didn’t feel all that much like real people. I felt like they had been written to be entertaining first and foremost, and that stopped me from connecting deeply with any of them. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, as their antics were very amusing, but it meant that overall I was purely entertained by the novel, rather than wowed by it.

Nevertheless, I did think the novel covered some important topics relating to university life, namely the ups and downs of choosing and making new friends, finding somewhere you belong, and trying to forge a new path for yourself at university. Although it explores these topics through far-fetched, comedic storylines, I still found there was wisdom to be drawn from them.

I’d love to give the comics a try at some point, so if you have read them, please do let me know what you thought of them!


Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich

dearevanhansen

(Trigger warnings: anxiety, depression, suicide)

Dear Evan Hansen is the novelisation of a musical of the same name. I’ve never watched the musical Dear Evan Hansen, but I have listened to the soundtrack a lot, and I absolutely adore the songs and their message.

The story follows a boy named Evan Hansen who has severe anxiety. His therapist asks him to write a letter to himself every day, beginning with the words ‘Dear Evan Hansen’. When a boy called Connor gets hold of one of Evan’s letters, and later commits suicide, Evan’s letter is found with Connor, and Connor’s parents wrongly assume that Connor wrote the letter to Evan, and that they were best friends. Anxious, confused and lonely, and not wanting to upset Connor’s parents, Evan finds himself going along with the lie. He finds himself drawn into the fold of this grieving family,  feeling like he belongs somewhere for the first time in his life. And, as he begins to feel a connection to this boy he never knew, Evan decides to start ‘The Connor Project’, a movement designed to remember his ‘friend’, and reassure others who feel alone that they are not.

I have a huge emotional connection to the soundtrack, but I didn’t find the novelisation had quite the same impact on me. There are some emotionally empowering and emotionally devastating songs in the musical that honestly give me chills, and the message that everyone deserves to be remembered and recognised, and that nobody deserves to be alone and forgotten is a big theme. This message was definitely in the book, but I didn’t feel it came across as strongly as it does in the musical. It didn’t stir me up in quite the same way. Nevertheless, there were some things that got me, especially the representation of Evan’s anxiety, loneliness, and struggles to fit in – I thought they were very relatable, well-written, and at times heartbreaking. I also found a particular scene between Evan and his mum extremely moving, and it made me cry, just as its musical equivalent did.

It’s a hard story to ‘enjoy’, because you spend a large part of the reading experience feeling uncomfortable and conflicted. Obviously what Evan does is very wrong, and the more time he spends with Connor’s family, and the deeper he gets into the lie, the more nauseous you feel about what he is doing. Yet at the same time, you also find yourself feeling desperately sorry for Evan. It’s heartbreaking when he starts to feel this connection to Connor as somebody he perhaps really could have been friends with, but now never will. He’s so lonely, and the only friend he has is essentially imaginary (as he never really knew Connor), and that just made me want to comfort him, despite how problematic his actions were becoming.

I felt that the ending of the story was a bit rushed, and I wish that the fall out was explored in more depth, but I thought the very ending hit the right emotional notes, and I think overall it was a good, if imperfect, book, which has earned a place in my heart. The story is one that makes me realise I am not alone, and helps me towards starting to accept myself, especially when told in its musical format. I definitely recommend listening to the soundtrack before you read this book, as I think you will get even more from it if you do. I would love to see the musical on stage someday!


Have you read either of these books, or consumed either of these stories in their other formats? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts on them!

Lots of literary love, Jess! xxx

book review

Books I’ve read recently: mini reviews!

Happy Friday, lovely bookish people!

Today I thought I’d share with you my thoughts on some of the books I’ve read since my last post! I’ve actually read 5 (almost 6) books since I last updated, but I’m only reviewing 3 today otherwise this post would be ridiculously long (even for me, who can’t help but turn everything I write into a dissertation!) More mini reviews coming soon. 🙂


A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

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This book is the first instalment in a YA mystery series following the descendants of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson (Charlotte and Jamie), who meet at boarding school, and become friends when they are both seemingly implicated in the murder of one of their classmates. They start working together to find out who is trying to set them up, and who the real murderer is.

I really enjoyed this book, but I loved the first half a lot more than the second. What I loved most about this book were the characters, and watching their friendship develop. Charlotte and Jamie are undoubtedly similar to Conan Doyle’s characters, but because this is so obviously intentional you can appreciate how well the spirit of those beloved old characters is captured in these new ones. I thought Watson was a loveable narrator, and Holmes a fascinating character. I loved seeing Sherlock’s traits in a female character; I think it’s rare to see female characters struggle to express emotions, and be unapologetically haughty, and I really enjoyed both of those things about her! I found the dialogue of both characters sharp, often funny, and I loved the banter between our two leads.

What I didn’t love so much about this story was the mystery itself. I didn’t find myself fully invested, and although I didn’t necessarily work out what was going to happen in the end, I didn’t feel all that shocked by the outcome either. The other thing is that I had to suspend my disbelief a LOT when it came to the things Holmes and Watson pulled off, but I guess that’s kind of the point; the tension and stakes were certainly high!

I definitely want to carry on with the series, because I am invested in the relationship between the characters, so I am hoping that I will feel more compelled by the mysteries in the next two books.


Never Trust a Rabbit by Jeremy Dyson

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I found this collection very entertaining, but I had a few issues with it too. Overall the stories were dark and surreal, but unlike a lot of stories in the ‘weird fiction’ genre, these all had fairly satisfying resolutions that often had a poignant point to make. I really appreciated this, because sometimes the endings of these kinds of stories can be *too* ambiguous.

The stories I loved most in here were ‘City Deep’ and ‘The Maze’. Both of these were extremely unsettling. City Deep is about a forgotten branch of the London Underground where something ‘other’ is lurking, and I am still thinking about how spooked I was by this story. I had to take the tube the day after reading it, and my heart was beating so fast, purely from thinking about the creepiness of this story’s ending. ‘The Maze’ is about a man who remembers a maze in a park that he visited as a child, but he can’t seem to find anybody else who remembers it too. This story was weird in the best way, and the ending was quite shiversome!

I don’t think there were any stories that I wasn’t entertained by, but some of them bothered me because of the way their male narrators talked about women and women’s bodies. What I will say, however, is that the sleaziest and most unlikeable characters were not rewarded for their behaviour, so I did appreciate that, even though reading their thoughts did make me feel uncomfortable. ‘The Engine of Desire’ is a particular story I had this issue with, and I would give a trigger warning for rape with this story. However, if that is something you are okay with reading about, the story is very interesting, and the ending fantastically creepy.

The other issue I had is that there is some homophobia throughout the text, which wasn’t relevant to the stories, so had no reason for being there. This book was published almost 20 years ago, so it’s not necessarily surprising (and I am sure it would have been edited out if being published in more recent times), but it’s there, so just be aware of that going into this.

Overall I really enjoyed reading this collection. If you like all things creepy and strange, this is definitely worth picking up!


Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

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I picked this book up at YALC last year, after really enjoying Freshers by the same writing duo. I didn’t love this one quite as much as their other book, but I still found it entertaining, funny, and relatable, as well as being a quick, fun read.

The story is told in alternating perspective chapters, and follows two characters called Hannah and Sam who meet during the summer before they start university. Both characters want to lose their virginity before they go off to college, so there are a lot of references to sex in this book, and it was quite refreshing for a YA book to be so sex-positive (and in a realistic way too – yay!) The romance between Hannah and Sam was a little bit frustrating, because it took them a long time to sort themselves out and get together. I don’t mind slow burn romances, but theirs was more a case of a whole ton of miscommunication, misunderstandings, and unnecessary jealousy! I really just wanted to smack their heads together.

Despite my frustrations with the romance, I did actually like Hannah and Sam as characters, and there were a lot of hilarious side characters in this story too. One of my favourite things about this book was the comedy – Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison write humour so well. There were some characters that I hated though, one of them being Hannah’s best friend Stella. Their friendship was so toxic, and I found it hard to understand why they were even friends?!

A lot of the story focuses on the summer being a kind of limbo period for Hannah and Sam. They’ve finished school, and they’re waiting to get their exam results to find out whether they’ve got into their chosen universities. I thought the anxieties about exam results were well portrayed, and I think a lot of teenagers (and adults who have been through this experience) will relate to this! I also really enjoyed reading about the (separate) holidays our main characters go on during that summer; that period just before university is such a strange time because you feel so much more grown up than you are, and experiences like the freedom of first holidays with friends instead of parents can turn out very differently from how you expect them to be. I thought this was really well reflected in Hannah’s experience in Kavos with her friends, where her behaviour and feelings, as well as theirs, end up surprising her.

All in all, I enjoyed this novel a lot, despite a few minor frustrations, and I can’t wait to read whatever these authors come out with next.


Have you read any of these books? I’d love to hear what you thought of them!

Lots of literary love, Jess xxx

book tag

The Spring has Sprung Book Tag

Hello, lovely bookish people! 

Today I thought I would have a go at the ‘Spring has Sprung’ Book Tag, which was created by The Naughty Librarian.

It doesn’t look much like spring outside my window right now, so here are some pictures of some lovely spring flowers to get us all in a sunny mood (featuring my stuffed pig, ‘Piggly Puff’: he has his own Instagram account and has more followers than this blog!!!)

Hope these cute pictures brought you some warm fuzzies on this cold, un-springlike day!

Without further ado, here are my answers to the tag. If you would like to participate too, consider yourself tagged! 🙂


1) Flowers: All the flowers we remember are blooming again. Pick a book that’s a fresh take on a retelling.

Okay, so this is a weak start, but I’m struggling to come up with an answer for this question. I very rarely read re-tellings any more, simply BECAUSE they don’t feel fresh to me.

studyincharl

It’s not strictly a retelling, and I haven’t actually read it yet, but I’ve got A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro on my shelf, and I’m so excited to get to that! It’s the start of a murder mystery series which follows the descendants of Sherlock and Watson at boarding school! Sounds like a unique spin on the original stories, and exactly my kind of book.


2) Mini Eggs: Obviously the superior springtime candy of choice. Pick a book that you consider to be a sweet treat.

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Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch was a really cute and fluffy treat (despite having some sad parts to it). The romance was adorable, the setting (Tuscany, Italy) was beautiful, and the storyline of the main character getting to know her estranged father melted my heart too. It really was the novel equivalent of eating a super sweet and yummy ice cream on a sunny day, and it filled me with joy.


3) Allergies: Seasonal allergies often make your eyes water. Pick a book that made you cry.

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All of the books in The Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness. I will never get over the fate of a certain character in this series. I have honestly never cried so much whilst reading a book as I did during this one scene. The books follow a boy named Todd in a dystopian world where all the women have disappeared, and all the men can hear each other’s thoughts. Then, one day, Todd stumbles across a girl…


4) Spring Cleaning: Out with the old and in with the new. Pick a book to unhaul.

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I’m thinking of unhauling The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King by Holly Black. I picked up the sequel for 50p in the charity shop before I’d read the first one, and now I’ve read it I’m not sure I can be bothered to continue with the series. I gave it 3 stars and found it quite forgettable, plus I only like a couple of the characters, and Prince Cardan definitely isn’t one of them! I sort of like Jude, but not enough to fall in love with this series.


5) Spring Break: It’s the perfect time for an adventure. Pick a book involving a road trip.

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I loved The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee. Set in the 1700s, the story follows Monty, Felicity and Percy as their Grand Tour across Europe goes wildly awry. This book is full of crazy escapades, hilarity, and diverse, loveable characters. It’s so fast paced for historical fiction, and I loved every unexpected twist and turn of this adventure.


6) Mating Season: It’s that time of year in the animal kingdom to make some babies. Pick a book with some smutty delights.

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It’s been a while since I read it, but I really loved Smut by Karina Halle. It’s a hate-to-love romance about a guy and a girl who are paired up for a project in their college creative writing class. They decide to write an erotic novel together to make some money, and the tension between them starts to turn into something a little less fighty, and a lot more makey-outy.


7) Rainbows: Spring is made of rainbows! Pick a book featuring LGBTQ+ character(s).

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I feel like I mention this book all the time, but my favourite LGBTQ+ book is Know Not Why by Hannah Johnson. It’s so pure and sweet and fluffy and lovely. It’s set in an arts and crafts store, the dialogue is really witty and fun, the characters are a joy to read, and the romance is adorable. It has some really lovely and positive coming-out scenes too, which I think is important to see in books. This novel really is one of my favourites of all time, I can’t recommend it enough.


8) Spring Awakening: An amazing musical even though it’s filled with completely dysfunctional characters. Pick a book that’s also filled with completely dysfunctional characters.

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I actually just wrote about this book in my last post, but it fits perfectly for this question – Monsters by Emerald Fennell. This is basically about two 12 year olds who are obsessed with murder. At least one of them is a sociopath. The other comes from a very dysfunctional and sad family background. This is such a well-written, character-driven book, and one of the best I’ve read this year.


9) In like a lion, out like a lamb: Pick a book series that didn’t get better as it progressed.

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I’m sure this is an unpopular opinion, but I feel like the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor progressively deteriorated. I really loved the first book, but I felt like the second and third books dragged, and they were so utterly bleak and harrowing, I felt very little joy whilst reading them. The only thing I ended up liking about them were any scenes featuring Zuzana and Mik, because they are just the best, most hilarious and adorable side characters of all time.


Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Lots of literary love, Jess xxx

wrap up

A long-overdue bookish catch-up!

Hello bookish friends, and welcome back to my poor, abandoned little book blog!

I haven’t posted on here since November last year, and that makes me sad, so I wanted to come back and catch up with you all. This is the longest hiatus I’ve ever taken from blogging (5 months!), and there were several reasons for my absence:

1) It started with a terrible reading slump, where I didn’t feel much motivation to read for about 2 months. I did try to read, and I did finish some books, but most of them were very average and made my slump worse.

2) Then, I had some health problems. I was suffering from really low energy and fatigue at the start of this year, and some days I could hardly get out of bed. I thought it was linked to my mental health and that my depression was making a comeback, but thankfully after some blood tests I found out it was Vitamin D deficiency, and after a couple of months of taking supplements, I’m feeling a lot better (even though I still get tired really easily.)

3) Finally, I have been wanting to post again for a while, but anxiety has been holding me back. I freak out when I look at a blank word document I have to fill, worrying that what comes out won’t be good enough, or that everyone will have forgotten me!

But, I have worked so hard on building this blog, and, no matter how many breaks I take, I will always come back to it. I will never abandon it forever!

At this point in the year, I’ve read quite a lot of books, so I can’t possibly catch you up on everything I’ve read so far in 2019, but I thought I’d give you some quick thoughts on my favourites. It hasn’t been the best reading year so far, as not many books have really blown me away. However, these are the four that have stood out to me:


1) Pen Pal by Dathan Auerbach

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Pen Pal is probably my favourite book I’ve read so far this year. It’s a horror novel about a boy who gains a very creepy pen pal when he takes part in a school project (which involves releasing balloons with attached messages into the sky, in the hope that somebody will find them, when they land, and write back.) I can’t explain to you how creepy I found this book. The writing is so atmospheric and dreamlike; it reminds me of the off-kilter feeling of a nightmare, where everything looks normal, but you know that there is something (or someone) lurking in the shadows. My favourite part of this novel was one of the earliest chapters, where our main character wakes up in the forest alone in the middle of the night. It’s so strange and unsettling because he has no idea how he got there or how to find his way back home. My heart was pounding the whole time – the tension was perfectly written, and the feeling of being watched by someone unseen was undeniable. I got déjà vu whilst reading this chapter because it seemed so familiar, which almost added to how freaked out I felt, until I realised that I had actually read this chapter before on Reddit several years before (where this story was originally published.) I highly recommend this book if you like being creeped the hell out.


2) Monsters by Emerald Fennell (Trigger warning: child abuse)

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I got this book from the library, however I might buy my own copy as I would love to re-read it someday. This is the story of two somewhat terrifying children who become friends during a summer spent at a hotel in Cornwall. The setting is very atmospheric and there were some references to Daphne Du Maurier which I loved! In this Cornish town there is serial killer at large, strangling women and throwing their bodies into the sea, and to say that these two children are morbidly fascinated by these murders would be an understatement. They decide to turn detective and solve the murders, but they are far more interested in the gory details than your average true-crime fan. This book was dark and twisted, and although the characters are not ‘nice’, they get under your skin. Miles is definitely a sociopath, however our main character, whose name we never find out, is, underneath her scarily emotionless exterior, a lost, lonely, and neglected child who has never been shown what love is. As such, her friendship with Miles, the only person to ever really pay her attention, becomes very intense, bordering on obsessive. It was a very interesting relationship dynamic to explore. I felt desperately sorry for our main character, even if some of the things she came out with were, frankly, terrifying, and I found her a very compelling narrator. I think this is one of the most well-written and distinctive character voices I have read in a long time.


3) Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare

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I just finished reading QoAaD last night (having stayed up until 1am to finish it!) and I have so many emotions! The Dark Artifices is not my favourite Cassandra Clare series, but reading it really makes me appreciate the depth and breadth of the Shadowhunter world. If you haven’t read any of them, the books are about Nephilim (‘Shadowhunters’) who are charged with protecting the human (‘Mundane’) world from Demons. There are so many characters at this stage in the story, but all of them feel distinctive and none are forgettable. I love how this book draws together so many characters from across all of Cassie’s series, and seeing them working together makes my heart so happy. I guess I can’t really say a lot about this book as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read the rest of the Shadowhunter books, but I thought the plot of this book was epic (so many twists!) and the ending really wowed me. What happens towards the end of this book is a gigantic turning point in Shadowhunter history, and I am so excited to see what happens in The Wicked Powers series, politics-wise. I loved the happy-endings that some ongoing storylines received here (my heart! 😀 ), with others not wrapped up quite so tidily (my heart! 😥 ). This book felt like a conclusion, but also the beginning of other exciting storylines which we will see develop in The Wicked Powers. All in all, I really loved this emotional journey. It was a big beastie of a book at almost 900 pages, but I made it, and I adored every second of it.


4) Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

crazyrichasians

Finally, I would like to talk about Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. Funnily enough, I didn’t give this book 5 stars, because I felt like some of the characters were a little lacking in depth and development, however it’s a stand out book because of how much it entertained me. This story follows Rachel Chu, whose boyfriend Nick Young invites her to spend the summer in Singapore with his family. Little does Rachel know, but the Young’s are one of the most monumentally rich families in Asia, and they are NOT happy with Nick’s choice of girlfriend. This book was humorous, but a lot of the humour is subtle and satirical. It reminded me of the way Jane Austen writes, because it is filled with acute social commentary, and the way certain characters act when they are not intending to be funny provides the comedy in so many scenes (e.g. pompous, snobby Eddie Chen, whose pants split in a scene where he is forcing his long-suffering family to dress up as expensively as him to impress a society magazine photographer.) I really enjoyed all of the lavish descriptions of Nick’s family’s opulent lifestyle; it’s the kind of wealth that is so ridiculous it makes your mind boggle, and it’s so much fun to read about. I also really liked reading about Singapore, and every time food was mentioned I became instantly hungry. Funnily enough, I visited Singapore a month or so after reading this book, and whilst I didn’t see the ‘crazy rich’ side of it that these characters experience, I got excited every time I recognised something from the book (and of course, every time I sampled the delicious food!).  This book was all round entertaining, and I hope to read its sequels very soon!


And that concludes my big catch up blog post! I’m sorry I was away for so long, and I’m looking forward to blog-hopping now that I’m back and catching up on all of your posts too.

Hopefully I’ll be back again with another post soon. I am going to make some changes to my blog and revamp things a bit (perhaps even with a new colour scheme!) I also want to experiment with different types of content. The focus will still be on books, but I hope to write about some other things that are important to me too, including mental health. I am thinking of doing a travel post soon too, as I would love to share some of my stories and photos from the trip to Singapore I mentioned above!

Lots of bookish love to you all, and see you soon! Jess xxx

book review, wrap up

November Wrap Up: some mini book reviews!

Happy Friday bookworms!

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


The Wonderling by Mira Bartok

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


Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

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


Vicious and Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

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

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


Heartstopper Volume One by Alice Oseman

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


The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

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

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

book tag

The Nope Book Tag

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


Nope Pairing: A ship you don’t support.

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


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

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


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

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

siriusly


Nope Genre: A genre you will never read.

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

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

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


A trope that makes you go nope.

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

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

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


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

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


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

dimily

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


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

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


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

diviners

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


Nope Death: A character death that still haunts you.

knifeofnever

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


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

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

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