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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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


Newest Favourite Character

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 tag

The Mid Year Book Freakout Tag 2018

Hi everyone, hope you’re all having a lovely week so far! Today I thought I would do the Mid Year Book Freakout Tag, because it’s the middle of the year, I’m freaking out about that, and I want to look back at some of the incredible books I’ve read so far in 2018 to calm myself down.

My reading this year has been a lot slower than usual, and according to Goodreads I’ve only read 40 books so far (although I have re-read a few books that I couldn’t be bothered to add to Goodreads, so it’s probably more like 45). I have soooo many books that I want to get to before the end of the year, but I’m gonna take my time, because there’s no rush.

Here are my thoughts on the books I’ve read so far in 2018. Apologies now for what is going to be a 20,000 word dissertation of a post.

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Best Book You’ve Read Yet in 2018

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This is actually the book I *just* finished. I had been holding off on doing this tag until I had read this book, because I had an inkling it would end up being my favourite. And guys, it was so ridiculously good. The story follows a group of five friends who are reunited for this first time since the death of the sixth member of their group, Jim. After getting into a car accident, the group become stuck in a time loop between life and death called a Neverworld Wake, and in order to escape, they will need to find out the truth about what really happened to Jim, and vote unanimously for the one member of their group who gets to survive the wake and live again. The writing was stunning – eerie and evocative, strange and otherworldly, the concept was well executed, and I stayed up late into the night reading in a hazy blur of excitement and energy because I was so sucked into the mystery. And I’m not usually one to sacrifice sleep if I can help it! I was nervous to pick this book up because Night Film by Marisha Pessl is one of my favourite books of all time, so I had very high expectations, but it did not let me down. If you enjoyed the way Night Film was written, but found it a bit slow, and were frustrated by the ambiguous ending, I think you will appreciate this one more; it has the same dark and delicious atmosphere of that book, but it’s pacier, and things wrap up more definitively and satisfyingly. I AM JUST IN LOVE WITH THIS BOOK, OK?


Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2018

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Nemesis by Brendan Reichs was one of my top five books of 2017, so this was probably my most anticipated sequel of 2018. It didn’t disappoint me. I won’t say anything about the plot of this book, but the premise of the first book is that our two protagonists, Min and Noah, have both been struggling in private with the same horrifying predicament: every two years, on their birthdays, a black-suited man hunts and kills them in cold blood. They then wake up several miles from home, unscathed but terrified, and unable to talk to anybody about what’s just happened, because, who on earth would believe them? Set against the backdrop of an impending apocalypse, this series is so tense, thrilling, dark, and unique. Genesis was just as good if not better than Nemesis, and by the end I felt I knew these characters inside out, having been through so much with them. Highly recommend this underrated series.


New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To

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Having adored Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch last year, I can’t wait to get my hands on her next book. Love and Gelato was so warm, sweet and emotional, and I’m hoping I feel the same way about Love and Luck, which I believe is set in Ireland and follows Addie, the best friend of Love and Gelato’s protagonist, Lina.


Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year

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This book sounds freaking amazing, and I am dying to read it. It follows two girls who are accused of murdering their best friend in the woods after becoming delusional in their obsession with a dark fantasy novel called The Way into Lovelorn. But what really happened that night? I mean, come on, this book is my ultimate creepy cup of tea and I need it in my life right now.


Biggest Disappointment

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This book follows a boy named River who wanders into a support group for teen addicts after his girlfriend breaks up with him, and finds comfort and connection there. I was really excited to read this book, because several authors I adore had blurbed it saying how good it was, and how loveable and memorable a character River was. But honestly, I found River quite forgettable, and his actions quite offensive. He pretends to have a drug addiction to keep coming to the group, when in reality he just got dumped, which is not even remotely the same thing! He also borderline stalks his ex girlfriend, which is no way to win a girl back, and it made me super uncomfortable to read. This book was interesting, and I didn’t hate it, but it definitely didn’t live up to its praise for me.


Biggest Surprise

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Honestly I wasn’t expecting much from this book, but I was sucked in by the cover (stunning) and the dark circus setting. For some reason I thought this book was fantasy/magical realism, so finding out that it is actually speculative dystopian was my first surprise. This book follows what might happen if the dangerous far-right thinking of groups like UKIP were to gain precedence in the UK. In the near-future England of this book, immigrants (referred to by the government as ‘Dregs’) are denied basic human rights, and immigrant children like our protagonist Hoshiko are taken from their families to perform in The Cirque, a grisly circus where they are highly likely to die whilst performing for the ‘Pures’ who are baying for their blood. This book is dark and disturbing, and I found it pretty powerful. At the same time, I found some aspects of it problematic. There is a love story between Hoshiko and Ben, son of a prominent government minister, and he definitely feels like a ‘white saviour’ kind of character. I ended up with mixed feelings about this book, but the fact that I had so many feelings about a book I assumed was going to be something completely different definitely surprised me.


Favourite New Author

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Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivisson. I read Freshers, my first book by this writing duo, earlier this year, and I adored it. This book made me laugh out loud, which so few books actually manage, and I need more funny in my life, so I’m definitely going to check out more of their work this year. I’ve heard that all of their other books are just as hilarious.


Newest Fictional Crush

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Dante from Legendary!

I didn’t love Dante in Caraval, but he has more of a part to play in the second book, and I found myself swooning a lot whenever he was around. He’s a morally dubious character, and I kind of hate myself for feeling this way, but I just can’t help it!


Newest Favourite Character

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Oren from Scream All Night!

Oren is the older brother of Scream All Night’s protagonist, Dario. Oren is a wannabe B-horror movie writer, following in the footsteps of his famous father, but he’s somewhat misguided about what’s traditionally scary, and wants to make a film about murderous cauliflowers. Oren is a strange choice for favourite character, because for large parts of this book Oren is a total douche. But the thing is, he’s freaking hilarious (even though he doesn’t mean to be), and strangely vulnerable (which he definitely doesn’t mean to be), and I couldn’t help but love him, even when I sort of hated him simultaneously.


Book That Made You Cry

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This book follows a boy named Joe whose brother is on death row and it’s the most heartbreaking book I have ever read. I was in floods of tears reading this. It’s written in verse, and is so beautifully told, it will remain in my heart for a long, long time.


Book That Made You Happy

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I just adore Becky Albertalli so much. All of her books leave me with a massive soppy smile on my face and this one was no exception. She writes the kind of romance that gives you butterflies in your tummy, her dialogue is on point and hilarious, and her books are packed with diversity. Basically, she is my queen.


Favourite Book to Film Adaptation

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Speaking of Becky Albertalli, the adaptation of her first book Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda was PERFECTION. I loved the casting in this movie, especially for Simon, Nick, and Blue, and this was just all kinds of adorable and made me so happy and squishy inside. I can’t wait till it comes out on DVD so I can watch it basically every day.


Favourite Post You Have Done This Year

Probably this one! I like looking back at what I’ve read so far this year and reliving all of my favourites.


Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year

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The Illuminae Files series by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman. These books are stunning, both inside and out. They are works of art. This series is another of my favourites, and the first book, Illuminae is definitely in my top five so far this year. The books are so action packed, tense, epic, badass, and glorious. The characters are my precious babies.


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

ALL THE BOOKS! BUT IN PARTICULAR, THESE:

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If you made it all the way to the end of this post, congrats, and I love you. What has been your favourite book of the year so far? I’d love to hear from you!

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Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

Thank you very much to Calliope @ calliopethebookgoddess for tagging me to answer these questions about all the books I’ve read so far this year. Calliope has awesome taste in books so please do give her blog a visit!

It’s not exactly the middle of the year anymore, but if anything that’s even more reason to freak out (I mean, hello, it’s nearly Christmas again, what’s that all about?), plus I’ve read zillions more books to freak out over at this stage in the year, so hopefully my answers will be more interesting now than they would have been back in the summer…


Best book you’ve read so far in 2015:

Everyday Sexism – Laura Bates

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This is a powerful, eye-opening book, which raises so many relevant arguments, and tells so many important stories about sexism in society today. I really admired how considered and rounded this book was – it isn’t purely about misogyny and attitudes towards women (although of course this is explored in great depth), but also about how sexism affects men, and the way men and women are shoe-horned into their gender roles from an early age, and expected to carry on conforming to them for the rest of their lives. This book should be compulsory reading for everyone – female and male, all ages.


Best Sequel You’ve Read in 2015:

Undivided (Unwind Dystology Book 4) – Neal Shusterman

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I find a lot of series lose steam towards the final books, but this one didn’t at all; for me, it was the best of the entire series. What I found so exhilarating and terrifying about these books is that the author kept putting the characters into such impossible situations, I genuinely never knew if they were going to make it out alive. My favourite YA dystopian series of all time.


New release that you haven’t read yet but want to:

Slasher Girls and Monster Boys – Stories Selected by April Genevieve Tucholke

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It’s almost Halloween, so this collection of creepy stories is next on my list.


Most anticipated release for the second half of the year:

Carry On – Rainbow Rowell

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This book is coming out in a few days, and I’m so excited. I loved ‘Fangirl’, and this story is based on the characters Simon and Baz, who the protagonist Cath writes obsessive fanfiction about. Expecting this to be just as quirky, funny and lovely as Rainbow’s other novels.


Biggest Disappointment:

Dreams of Gods and Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy 3) – Laini Taylor

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I loved the first book in the trilogy, but unfortunately they got progressively worse, and the last one was relentlessly bleak and long. I still love the characters (especially Zuzana, who brightens up every scene, and was the saving grace of this novel), but sadly I spent the majority of this book wishing it would end.


Biggest Surprise:

Unteachable – Leah Raeder

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Although I read a lot of New Adult books as light entertainment, I never expect much from them, quality-wise. This one, however, was stunningly written, gritty, dark and emotional, and the protagonist Mase had way more going on in her head and life besides the guy she was falling for. This book blew me away.


Favourite New Author:

Sarah J. Maas

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I’m obsessed with Sarah J Maas’ books, even though I only discovered them a month ago! Throne of Glass is seriously competing with Mortal Instruments for my #1 favourite YA series of all time.


New Fictional Crush:

Ethan Holt from Bad Romeo by Leisa Rayven

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Ethan was such a hot mess of a character – he had a lot issues, but there was something irresistible about him. The sexual tension in this book is through the roof. One of my favourite new adult reads this year, and I can’t wait to read the sequel, Broken Juliet.


Newest Favourite Character:

Celaena Sardothien from the Throne of Glass series

Celaena is headstrong, feisty, and ruthless, but she’s also arrogant, insecure, sensitive, sometimes selfish, and often afraid. She’s one of the most complex and flawed characters I’ve read, which is why I loved her so much. She’s a real female character, not one that you can fit into a neat stereotype-shaped box.


Book That Made You Cry:

Wild – Cheryl Strayed

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I was blubbing within the first chapter of this book, because the way Cheryl writes about grief cracked me open. This is a beautifully written memoir about a woman who, feeling like she’d lost everything, made the brave decision to walk 1200 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail on her own, in the hope of finding a way back to herself. I picked this book up when I was feeling lost, to give me some perspective. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made this year; I thoroughly recommend this inspiring, breathtaking book.


Book That Made You Happy:

Know Not Why – Hannah Johnson

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I was smiling all the way through this book. You can read my review here.

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I also want to mention Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (I’ve just finished reading this, and will be reviewing soon), which was equally adorable. I enjoyed these two books so much; it’s made me realise I need more happy books in my life!


Book to Film Adaptation You Saw This Year:

I’ve been re-watching the Harry Potter films, as I’m doing the studio tour in London for my birthday later in the month!


Favourite Book Review You’ve Written:

My review of Holly Bourne’s Am I Normal Yet?because I loved the book so much, and because Holly retweeted my review/ welcomed me to the Spinster Club!

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Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year (Or Received):

I’ll Give You the Sun – Jandy Nelsson (beautiful inside and out)

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

I set myself a challenge of reading at least 5 classics this year, and so far I have only read 2 (Anna Karenina and Far From The Madding Crowd). As an English graduate, I am too ashamed to admit which classics I’ve never read, so I won’t list them here, but there are 3 more on my list which I’m definitely-maybe going to read by the end of the year…


I nominate… anyone who’s freaking out that this year’s almost over, and anyone who fancies bragging about how many books they’ve read this year!