The Mud and Stars Book Blog

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

What I’ve been reading: some mini reviews!

on February 10, 2017

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

Heart Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne


My rating: 3.5 stars

(Read the blurb here.)

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

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

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

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

Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik


My rating: 4.5 stars

(Read the blurb here.)

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

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

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

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

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard


My rating: 4.5 stars

(Read the blurb here.)

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

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

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

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

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


16 responses to “What I’ve been reading: some mini reviews!

  1. So happy you loved A Quiet Kind of Thunder, I also suffer from anxiety and was so impressed with how realistically it’s portrayed.

    • mudandstars says:

      I’m glad you loved it too! It was very realistic – the “snapshot of an anxious brain” on page 95, where it was just a whole page filled with questions and worries was like looking at the inside of my brain!! Very well portrayed.

  2. nevillegirl says:

    Oh my god Sophia Khan Is Not Obliged sounds amazing! I’ll have to look for that at the library soon. 🙂

    And I’m adding A Quiet Kind of Thunder to my TBR as well since I also have anxiety and would like to read more books where it’s portrayed accurately!

    • mudandstars says:

      It was fabulous! I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did 🙂 And definitely recommend A Quiet Kind of Thunder for anxiety representation. I was also really happy that it didn’t fall into the trap of making love a cure for mental illness, which is one of the things that bugs me about so many YA books about mental illness.

  3. MyBookJacket says:

    I’ve heard such amazing things about Sophia Khan as well. Particularly how it is lighthearted enough to get you out of a reading slump. Have to get it now that you’ve said it surprised you with the ending.

  4. I haven’t heard of any of these books! I’m so glad you enjoyed A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard and were able to relate to it. I have another friend who struggles with anxiety and I am going to recommend it to her!

  5. ooh I’m very intrigued with heart shaped bruise. And Sophia Kahn sounds like a lot of fun!! And a Quiet Kind of Thunder sounds amazing!!!

  6. […] Jess at The Mud and Stars Book Blog recommends… […]

  7. Yaaaay so happy to hear you loved AQKOT! I think its going to be pretty high in my top reads of 2017, too. 🤗 I think the friendship was great too and I agree about the romance elements – I wasn’t always swept away in the chemistry but I felt like it was so realistic and much more typical of a teenage relationship. Allowed me to identify so much with Steffi! Great reviews my love, as always! X

    • mudandstars says:

      Aww thanks Sammie! 🙂 I completely agree – so many YA books portray really idealistic and unrealistic romantic relationships of the ‘we are going to be together forever, and if we can’t be together, our lives are over’ kind. This one felt a lot more healthy and normal, with ups and downs that made sense, and were much more grounded in reality. I’m so happy to hear the book will be high on your top reads list too 🙂 We really are book twins xx

  8. ofpensandpages says:

    They sound like great books! Definitely adding them to my TBR. A Quiet Kind of Thunder seems like my kind of story.

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