The Mud and Stars Book Blog

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

The most important book you will read this year: ‘The Hate U Give’ by Angie Thomas

the hate u give

The Hate U Give. Angie Thomas. Walker Books. April 2017.

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice. 

I finished The Hate U Give this afternoon, and whilst I have a bunch of other reviews waiting to be posted, I felt I wanted to post this one straight away, in light of what happened in Charlottesville last weekend. Books like this one are more important than ever at a time when hateful voices are trying to shout the loudest. Let’s not let them. Let’s listen to voices like Angie Thomas’s instead. And let’s shout louder.

The Hate U Give is an amazing book, and I’m struggling to covey just how powerful it actually was in my own words. This book deserves every word of praise it has received and then some. I firmly believe it should be required reading for all of humankind.

This is a novel about racism and hatred, but it’s also so much more than that. Overwhelmingly this is a novel about love and hope. For every act of racism in this novel there is an act of bravery, and for every feeling of hopelessness that things will never change, there is an encouragement to speak up anyway. Starr is an inspirational main character, and her love for her best friend Khalil, and her determination to show the world who he truly was (rather than let him be remembered as the criminal the police and media are portraying him to be), were so incredibly powerful and moving. There is a quote in this story, which is repeated on the final page of the novel, that sums up the overall message of this book perfectly: “Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.” Starr completely embodies that message, speaking out even though she feels afraid, and even when everything seems to be against her; I had so much admiration and respect for her.

All of the characters in this novel are well drawn and memorable, because Angie Thomas is, quite simply, a fantastic writer. Starr’s voice is distinctive – you really feel like she is speaking directly to you – and all of the other characters are written with such depth, compassion, and humour that they feel like real people. I loved how close-knit Starr’s family were, and I loved the banter between them, which constantly had me chuckling. I think they may be one of my favourite fictional families of all time. I loved how real they were; they weren’t perfect, and they had been through some messy situations together, but the pure love they showed for each other in every scene melted my heart. I particularly loved Starr’s parents, and there is an amazing scene where Starr is watching them being cute together, and comments that her parents are her ‘OTP’, which is one of my favourites in the book. How adorable is that?

The character I liked least in this novel was Starr’s friend from school, Hailey. Hailey was so ignorant and insensitive, and if she wasn’t a character in this book, she’s exactly the kind of person I think would benefit from reading it, and educating herself. Hailey doesn’t consider herself a racist, but some of her actions, whether intended or not, are racist. I really hated Hailey’s unwillingness to consider her behaviour from Starr’s perspective, and listen to what she had to say. At the same time, I really LOVED that Starr called her out for her racism anyway, regardless of whether she could be confident it would sink in.

One of the things I found most interesting about this novel was the way Starr acted differently at her predominantly white school than she did with her family, or other people of colour. Starr changed the way she spoke, and hid huge parts of herself from the people she went to school with, including from her boyfriend, Chris, who was white. It was so heartbreaking that Starr felt she couldn’t be completely herself, because she was afraid she would be dismissed as the ‘girl from the hood’, and it was eye-opening to read from her perspective. It was wonderful to see Starr slowly starting to share parts of herself, and her life, with Chris, and her other friends, as her story developed, gradually learning to accept and love the place she comes from, despite its problems.

Garden Heights, the neighbourhood where Starr lives, was so well described, and had so much personality that it almost felt like a character in its own right. Despite the crime, poverty, and gangs fighting territory wars, there were so many wonderful things about Starr’s neighbourhood too, which Starr gradually comes to recognise as the story progresses; the sense of community, of family, and of neighbours who will always have each other’s backs and help each other out. Starr’s own father, Big Mav, is a perfect example of this; as an ex gang member, he is determined to help younger members of the community, and stop them from falling into the life of crime he was once a part of. Mav was such a caring, selfless, brave person, a real role model, and despite not being perfect, he was easily one of my favourite characters in the story.

Of course, this book had some devastating scenes, and I can’t write this review without mentioning them, although it’s very difficult to think about them, because they were so upsetting to read. The scene where Khalil is shot was abrupt, brutal, and felt like a punch in the stomach. Possibly the most difficult thing about this scene, however, was the reality of it. What happened to Khalil has happened to so many black people (predominantly young men) in America (and for all I know, other countries too, but American police brutality against black people is what I have heard most about in recent years). The fact that these murders of unarmed people, who are doing nothing wrong, happen in real life makes me sick, and the fact that the perpetrators nearly always get away with it, and are not charged with murder, turns my stomach.

The people who attempt to justify these murders by painting the victims as criminals, drug dealers, etc. (which is what happens with Khalil’s murder in this story) are also sickening to me. There’s a scene where Starr is being questioned about what happened, and, in her narrative, she tells us: “I didn’t know a dead person could be charged in his own murder, you know?” This really struck a cord with me; Starr is treated as if she and Khalil are the ones on trial, rather than the cop who shot Khalil, and this was, sadly, the perfect way to demonstrate how institutional racism works. Now that I have read this book, I want to do more research into institutional racism, and police brutality, because it has made me want to take action. It has lit a fire in me, as I am sure it has done in many other people.

I thought I knew what racism was before I read this story, but I actually came away with a sense of my own ignorance, and I think that’s why books like this one are so important. We need to learn by listening to the voices of those who have experienced racism firsthand, and we can always learn more. Voices like Starr’s, like Angie Thomas’s, are so important, and the time is NOW, considering we have white supremacist marches going on in America, and a white supremacist in the White House. We ALL need to speak out against this.

The Hate U Give really opened my eyes to so many things I had never thought about before, and I’m so grateful that this book exists. Despite the horror of what happens to Khalil in this story, and the insensitive, racist views of some characters, this book is not without hope, and it was thoroughly compelling to read. It is full of loveable characters, humour, and, most importantly, encouragement, inspiration, and love. This book had a huge impact on me, and I think it is impossible to read this book and come away wanting to stay silent. 5 stars for this incredible book. Please, please pick it up if you haven’t already.


Most-exciting-book-I’ve-read-this-year alert! ‘Nemesis’ by Brendan Reichs


Nemesis (Project Nemesis #1). Brendan Reichs. Macmillan Children’s Books. July 2017.

It’s been happening since Min was eight. Every two years, on her birthday, the same man finds her and murders her in cold blood. But hours later she wakes up in a clearing just outside her hometown – alone, unhurt, and with all evidence of the crime erased.

Across the valley, Noah just wants to be like everyone else. But he’s not. Nightmares of murder and death plague him too, though he does his best to hide the signs.

As the world around them begins to spiral towards panic and destruction, the two troubled teens discover that people have been lying to them their whole lives…

I picked this book up at YALC, knowing very little about it, and I’m SO glad I stumbled upon it; this book was SO DAMN EXCITING! The concept intrigued me because it’s unlike anything I’ve read before, but that concept was only the starting point for a story which gradually became bigger and bigger, twistier and twistier. This book contained everything I want in a sci-fi thriller: conspiracy, action, shady behaviour, murder, unlikely alliances, and total chaos. The back cover compares Nemesis to The Maze Runner and The 100, but I’d add in a dash of Stranger Things and a sprinkle of Lord of the Flies too. Despite having echoes of these other stories (all of which I, incidentally, love) the plot was original and fascinating, I had no idea who to trust (if anybody), and it wasn’t predictable in any way.

The novel opens with the premise of these two characters who have had terrifying things happening to them since childhood that they don’t know how to explain to anyone else. This is intriguing enough in itself, however the premise is made all the more interesting by the fact that the strange things happening to these two teenagers are set against the backdrop of an impending global catastrophe; the whole world is on tenterhooks waiting to hear from the President of the USA as to whether the Anvil currently on a collision course with Earth will hit or miss.

Sidenote: this book is set in September of this year, and the President of the United States of America is referred to as ‘she’. I got a huge kick out of this.

It was so interesting to see how different people in the town behaved in response to the threat of the Anvil, especially because Min and Noah, our main characters, were far more concerned with the seemingly ‘smaller’ things which were affecting them personally (like, yknow, surviving being murdered in cold blood every two years, nothing major…)

Both Noah and Min were fascinating to me. Min was probably my favourite of the two characters, but Noah was the more complex. Min was determined, rebellious and somebody with a very black and white sense of justice. If she saw something wrong, she would call it out straight away, and defend whoever needed defending in that situation, screw the consequences. As you can imagine, I adored her.

Noah, on the other hand, was more concerned with fitting in, and often stayed silent and accepting when bad things happened. I think this was partly to do with the friendships in each of these characters’ lives. Min had a fiercely loyal friend in Tack, a boy from her trailer park she’d known since childhood, whereas Noah was on the outer edges of the popular crowd, ‘friends’ whom he clearly didn’t trust, and whose mutual affection he was never sure of. With such different relationships in their lives, Min was the more open and outspoken character (as she always had someone to back her up and support her no matter what) and Noah was the quieter, more submissive character (scared to go against his friends, fearing their rejection, even if he disagreed with the way they were acting). Although I admired Min’s bravery, I related more to the way Noah behaved. He was constantly trying to hide his anxieties, and make life less difficult for himself. I think that’s what made his eventual character development within the story so satisfying.

Sidenote: Tack was undoubtedly my favourite character over both of them. His sarcastic, quippy commentary about literally everything had me smiling throughout. He was brilliant; I wanted him to be MY best friend.

The best thing about this novel for me was the plotting. There was so much mystery in the story, and it developed at the perfect pace. I was amazed by the scale of this book, and I loved how something which started off as small-town weirdness gradually spiralled into something global which affected more people than I could ever have imagined. Although there was never any question that something strange was going on in Min and Noah’s town, it was never obvious WHY. The ‘why’ was the thing that kept me turning the pages so rapidly as Min and Noah attempted to piece the puzzle together, and figure out what the hell was happening to them

Around the ¾ mark, this book changed direction in the most exciting way, and I was left reeling. Something huge happens, which affects so many of the characters, and it was so interesting to see how different groups of people reacted to this event. It brought out the best in some characters, but the very, very worst in others. In the final quarter of the book, so many shocking things happened, and I felt like every page was a surprise – some of which were more brutal than others. The ending gave me enough information to satisfy my craving for answers, but left enough unanswered questions to leave me desperate to read the sequel. I NEED THE NEXT BOOK, LIKE, YESTERDAY.

All in all, I highly recommend this book! It was so, so addictive and I raced through it, desperate to find out what was going to happen next. I haven’t heard much hype about this book, but it thoroughly deserves some, so please go out and buy it, lovely people! I hope you’re reading experience will be as enjoyable and edge-of-seat as mine was.


Book review: ‘Nothing Tastes As Good’ by Claire Hennessy


Nothing Tastes As Good. Claire Hennessy. Hot Key Books. June 2016.

Don’t call her a guardian angel. Annabel is dead – but she hasn’t completely gone away. Annabel immediately understands why her first assignment as a ghostly helper is to her old classmate: Julia is fat. And being fat makes you unhappy. Simple, right?

As Annabel shadows Julia’s life in the pressured final year of school, Julia gradually lets Annabel’s voice in, guiding her thoughts towards her body, food and control.

But nothing is as simple as it first seems. Spending time in Julia’s head seems to be having its own effect on Annabel . . . And she knows that once the voices take hold, it’s hard to ignore them.

Trigger warning: anorexia, bulimia

I’m still not 100% sure how I feel about this book. Initially, as I closed the final page, I went straight onto Goodreads and rated it 4 stars, because the ending made me cry, and I always rate books highly if they draw that much emotion from me. However, after having a think, I decided to lower my rating to 3 stars, because there were aspects of this book which made me uncomfortable, and I cannot dismiss them.

The novel follows Annabel, an anorexic girl who has died of heart failure, and narrates the story from beyond the grave. In the afterlife, Annabel becomes a kind of spirit guide/guardian angel, and is assigned to help a girl called Julia down on earth. Julia is overweight, and Annabel immediately assumes that, in order to ‘help’ Julia, she must encourage Julia to lose weight.

The premise of this story was so interesting to me, and I found the way Annabel becomes the voice in Julia’s head, telling her she is fat and disgusting and will only be happy if she is thin, extremely clever. The things Annabel whispers in Julia’s ear are exactly the kind of lies her own brain led her to the end believing. Although making Annabel the ‘voice’ of anorexia was a clever concept, I also found her words incredibly uncomfortable to read. I understand that this book isn’t intending to fat shame anyone (in fact, it’s aiming to do the opposite), however Annabel’s words were so toxic and spiteful that I found myself taking offence to them. If you suffer from body self-esteem issues, I think reading what Annabel has to say to Julia, an overweight girl, could potentially be quite damaging (as indeed they were to Julia in the story!)

The other thing I found quite difficult about this read was the way Annabel’s anorexia was glamorised (albeit only by Annabel herself). I had some problems with food when I was a teenage, and I know that if I had read this book at the time, it would have enabled me massively. I understand why the author chose to write about anorexia in this way to a certain extent, because the voice is Annabel’s, and I know from the many, many thinspo blogs I read as a teenager that the way Annabel talks about the ‘perfection’ she is aiming for is authentic. However, I don’t think the realities of anorexia and the damage it does were explored in quite enough detail to counter this, and if you are recovering from an eating disorder right now, I would advise you stay well away from this book, because I believe it could be very triggering indeed.

Something I did really love about this book was Julia. Julia was a fantastic character, with so much going for her: she was intelligent, driven, and her passion for journalism (as editor of her school newspaper) was wonderful to see. It’s been a while since I’ve read a book where the main character has an actual hobby, and I found it really interesting to see what a huge part it played in Julia’s story (particularly as the pressure to do as good a job as her predecessor was such a huge trigger for her eating disorder).

I also really enjoyed the romantic storyline in this book; Julia is in love with a boy who works on the newspaper with her. The love story was sweet, and it was refreshing to see a romantic storyline with an overweight protagonist where the weight of said protagonist was not an issue for the boy/something he had to come to terms with before he dated her. I was also really glad this book did not fall into the trap of having romance be what eventually ‘saves’ the mentally ill protagonist.

I didn’t love Annabel quite as much as I loved Julia, because she was a tricky character to get a clear picture of. Although the story is narrated from her point of view, we don’t learn an awful lot about her, beyond the fact that she starved herself to the point of heart failure. I thought this was a shame, because Annabel had the potential to be a really interesting character, but she lacked depth and development. Annabel’s character arc was very much about her realising how much she missed out on by making losing weight the focal point and purpose of her life. Whilst in theory that’s a positive message (because there is so much more to life than dieting), I’m not sure this context was the best way to convey that message. The implication here is that Annabel has wasted her life; she could have been bright and brilliant like Julia, had a hobby she loved, met a person she loved, and been happy, but instead she chose to spend her life starving herself. But the thing is… mental illness isn’t something you choose. Annabel may have missed out on those things, but at the fault of her illness, not of herself. Because of these implications, I ended up being a little bit confused about what this book was really trying to say.

Overall, this was a very interesting book, and I did enjoy reading it, but parts of it made me feel uncomfortable, and I’m not sure they were handled as well as they could have been. I really loved the ending, and found it very moving, but I think had the path toward that ending been lengthier, taking more time to explore all of the issues and ideas the book contained, it would have been a more solid read for me.


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.


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.



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. ❤