The Mud and Stars Book Blog

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

The Mid Year Book Freakout Tag 2019

Hello, bookish friends!

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

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

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

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


Best Book You’ve Read Yet in 2019

boneclocks

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

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

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


Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2019

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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

recursion

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


Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year

allthebadapples

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


Biggest Disappointment

forever

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


Biggest Surprise

99days

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


Favourite New Author

220px-Penpal_cover_Auerbach

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


Newest Fictional Crush

theflatshare

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


Newest Favourite Character

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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

3 choices.indd

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


Book That Made You Happy

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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

thedreamers

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


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

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


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

Lots of literary love,

Jess xxx

2 Comments »

Recent reads: Giant Days & Dear Evan Hansen!

Happy Sunday, bookish friends!

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


Giant Days by Non Pratt

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

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

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

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

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


Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich

dearevanhansen

(Trigger warnings: anxiety, depression, suicide)

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

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

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

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

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


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

Lots of literary love, Jess! xxx

8 Comments »

Books I’ve read recently: mini reviews!

Happy Friday, lovely bookish people!

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


A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

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

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

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

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


Never Trust a Rabbit by Jeremy Dyson

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

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

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

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

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


Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

lobsters

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

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

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

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

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


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

Lots of literary love, Jess xxx

3 Comments »

The Spring has Sprung Book Tag

Hello, lovely bookish people! 

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

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

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

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


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

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

studyincharl

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


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

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


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

Chaos-Walking-Covers

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


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

cruelprincewickedking

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


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

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


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

Smut-AMAZON-Copy

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


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

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


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

monsterscover

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


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

DOSAB

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


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

Lots of literary love, Jess xxx

10 Comments »

November Wrap Up: some mini book reviews!

Happy Friday bookworms!

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


The Wonderling by Mira Bartok

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


Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

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


Vicious and Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

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

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


Heartstopper Volume One by Alice Oseman

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


The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

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

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

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The Nope Book Tag

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


Nope Pairing: A ship you don’t support.

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


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

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


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

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

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Nope Genre: A genre you will never read.

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

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

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


A trope that makes you go nope.

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


Nope Death: A character death that still haunts you.

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


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

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

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

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The Finally Fall Book Tag

I know it’s been fall for a while now, and I’m a bit late (when am I not?) with this tag, but autumn is my favourite season, so this tag is my jam, and I’m really excited to do it today! If you would like to do it too, consider yourself tagged. ❤

(BTW, I took these photos when I visited Kew Gardens in London the other day. I got given a season pass to Kew for my birthday; it’s such a beautiful place to walk, especially in the autumn!)


1. In fall, the air is crisp and clear: name a book with a vivid setting!

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The Wicked Deep by Shea Earnshaw is the perfect book for this question. Although I found the plot of this book a bit predictable, the SETTING of this book earned it a 4 star rating from me. You can almost taste the sea-fog, rolling up the shore of the mysterious island our protagonist lives on, feel it, cold and damp against your skin. The little island is just across the water from the town of Sparrow, Oregon, a quaint, eerie and superstitious place, the descriptions of which are also sprinkled with just the right amount of dark magic. I loved Shea Earnshaw’s writing style, and I am looking forward to whatever she writes next; I hope it will be just as atmospheric as The Wicked Deep.


2. Nature is beautiful… but also dying: name a book that is beautifully written, but also deals with a heavy topic like loss or grief.

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Moonrise by Sarah Crossan is the story of Joe, whose brother Ed is on death row and has just received his execution date. This book is written in verse – it’s not flowery, but the writing is beautiful in its raw and brutal honesty. I’m pretty sure this book stabbed me in the heart, but I wouldn’t take back the experience for the world, and I highly recommend this phenomenal book.


3. Fall is back to school season: share a non-fiction book that taught you something new.

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I haven’t actually finished reading this book, because it’s quite academic and requires a lot of focus (even if it is written in a very accessible style) but Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker taught me *this* disturbing fact: there is a (thankfully rare) type of insomnia some people get where they stop sleeping COMPLETELY, which goes on for about 18 months, and then they just… die. WTF how terrifying is that?! This book about sleep and sleep disorders and dreaming is super interesting though, and I really need to pick it up again soon.


4. In order to keep warm, it’s good to spend some time with the people we love: name a fictional family/household/friend-group that you’d like to be a part of.

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I would love to be part of the friendship group in Piglettes by Clementine Beauvais. I read Piglettes back in the summer, and I think it’s probably my favourite book of the year. It’s about three girls, Mireille, Astrid and Hakima, who become friends when they are voted the three ugliest girls at their school in their classmates’ annual ‘Pig Pageant’. But this book just blows raspberries at bullying, and it’s all about how these three awesome, witty, clever, resourceful girls decide not to let the haters get them down, and become media sensations by spending their summer cycling across France, selling sausages, and raising money for an anti-bullying charity. It’s SO good, SO funny (Mireille is a hilarious narrator), and SO uplifting. And I would LOVE to be friends with these girls because they just kick ass in the most positive of ways.


5. The colourful leaves are piling up on the ground: show us a pile of fall-coloured spines!

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I didn’t even do this on purpose, but I recently bought this selection of books from a charity shop, and they’re so perfectly colour-coordinated for this tag, and aesthetic glory in general.


6. Fall is the perfect time for some storytelling by the fireside: share a book wherein somebody is telling a story.

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The book that springs to mind for this question is The Wrong Train by Jeremy De Quidt. The story follows a boy who gets on the wrong train home in the middle of the night. He gets off at the next station, only to find himself alone on the platform but for a strange old man, who insists on telling him increasingly frightening stories whilst he waits for his train to arrive. This book was really creepy and unsettling, and I loved every second of it.


7. The nights are getting darker: share a dark, creepy read.

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I feel like I recommend the same creepy books every time this question comes up, so this time I’m going to suggest something I read recently, which was The Stuff of Nightmares by Malorie Blackman. This book was a lot darker than I expected, and although structurally it was a bit messy, I really enjoyed it because it made me think and it creeped me out. It’s about a boy called Kyle who’s on a school trip when he gets caught up in a train crash. Whilst struggling to find a way to get out of the train, he discovers that he has the ability to enter the nightmares of the other passengers on the train, learning some very dark and disturbing things about the people around him in the process.


8. The days are getting colder: name a short, heartwarming read that could warm up somebody’s cold and rainy day.

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For this question, I am recommending Take My Picture by Giselle Ellis which is an indie-published gay romance novella about a moody photographer, Jake, and his assistant, Aaron (who is of a much sunnier disposition!), two guys who are absolutely perfect for each other, and everybody knows it but them. This book was adorable, and filled my heart with so many fluffy feelings, and I promise that if you are feeling sad when you pick this up it will leave you with a big soppy smile on your face by the time you finish it. For a short book, the chemistry in this book is flawless, and you never doubt for one second that these characters are just hopelessly and cluelessly in love with each other.


9. Fall returns every year: name an old favourite that you’d like to return to soon.

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I’m actually in a big re-reading mood at the moment. I’m currently re-reading Persuasion by Jane Austen, because it’s an old, cosy favourite I feel at home in. But I also fancy re-reading The Mortal Instruments series soon, because it’s been ages since I’ve done that, and I love getting stuck into a series at this time of year.


10. Fall is the perfect time for cosy reading nights: share your favourite cosy reading “accessories”!

Well, obviously I love a cosy blanket! I also love fluffy socks, my pjs, a warm mug of hot chocolate or tea, a calming lavender-scented candle, and a mountain of cuddly animals to snuggle.

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Add a book, and that makes my perfect Friday night, because I’m a cool introvert who thinks social lives are overrated.


And that’s the end of this tag! Have you read any of the books I mentioned? What are you favourite fall reads? I’d love to hear from you!

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Fluffy YA contemporary reviews! “What If It’s Us” and “Royals” :)

Hello, hello lovely booknerds! Hope you are all having a wonderful Tuesday.

After a month of reading dark and spooky books for Halloween, I’m in the mood for nothing but warm and fluffy contemporaries this month! I have finished two books already this week, and I ended up giving both of them 5 stars! Here’s why you should pick them up too…


What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera:
Simon & Schuster, October 2018.

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Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?


I was so happy when I heard this book was going to be a thing, because I love both Becky Albertalli’s and Adam Silvera’s writing. I’ve had an ARC of this book for a while because I won a giveaway for it back in July, but because I’m silly I have only just got around to picking it up!

I was really nervous going into this book, because some of my favourite booktubers seem to have been disappointed by it, but luckily I wasn’t! I really loved this book, because the characters were everything. They felt like real people I would want to be friends with. Arthur and Ben are quite different characters, but I felt they complimented each other perfectly. I probably related more to Ben’s cynicism, but I really appreciated Arthur’s wide-eyed optimism. I constantly felt like I wanted to give Arthur a great big hug because he was simply as cute as a button.

I have seen some people say that they felt there wasn’t any chemistry between Arthur and Ben, but I totally disagree. Their relationship definitely gave me the warm fuzzies. Sure, things were a bit bumpy and awkward for their first few dates, but to me that felt authentic to how I remember dating as a teenager. Even when you really like someone, things aren’t always smooth sailing, and sometimes the nerves you have BECAUSE you really like someone can make things awkward anyway. I liked that these two took a while to get into their groove. It goes to show that life isn’t the movies… dating is rarely this perfect and glossy thing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth trying to make it work.

One of the things I loved most about this book was all the references to musicals. As a result of reading this book, I went and listened to the soundtracks of both Dear Evan Hansen and Hamilton on YouTube (because I’m *that* person who is always late to a party), and I loved both of them! I am desperate to see Dear Evan Hansen when it comes to London next year, even though I will probably weep profusely. Anyway, going back to the book, I loved the scene where Ben listens to Hamilton for the first time, and keeps updating Arthur on all his thoughts and feels. I think there’s something so wonderful about sharing something you love with someone you love for the first time, and them loving it too.

Another thing I adored about this book was Dylan. He’s Ben’s best friend, and I LOVED the friendship between these two. Dylan was hilarious, and SO extra. There’s a subplot all about him enthusiastically falling for this girl Samantha he meets in a coffee shop, and it was adorable. The scene where he accidentally calls her his future wife (to her face) after only a couple of weeks of dating was hilariously cringe (I told you he was extra!) and just made me love him even more. I would totally read a spin off book about Dylan and Samantha.

Overall, I just really loved this book, and I definitely recommend it if you want something warm and fluffy to make your heart happy on a cold November day.


Royals by Rachel Hawkins:
Scholastic, May 2018.

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Meet Daisy Winters. She’s an offbeat sixteen-year-old Floridian with mermaid-red hair; a part time job at a bootleg Walmart, and a perfect older sister who’s nearly engaged to the Crown Prince of Scotland. Daisy has no desire to live in the spotlight, but relentless tabloid attention forces her to join Ellie at the relative seclusion of the castle across the pond. 

While the dashing young Miles has been appointed to teach Daisy the ropes of being regal, the prince’s roguish younger brother kicks up scandal wherever he goes, and tries his best to take Daisy along for the ride. The crown–and the intriguing Miles–might be trying to make Daisy into a lady . . . but Daisy may just rewrite the royal rulebook to suit herself.


Royals was another book I really enjoyed! It was total fluff, but there’s nothing wrong with that, and it was exactly what I needed. I’ve seen lots of reviews on Goodreads complaining about the inaccuracy of there being a Scottish monarchy in this book, but come on people, suspend your disbelief and stop ruining my fun! I’m hardly reading this book for a gritty dose of reality now, am I?!

My favourite thing about this book was our main character Daisy. She was so much fun, and her banter with Miles was everything. She was witty and sarcastic, and I loved her awkward habit of saying exactly what popped into her head. She was also really down to earth, and I loved that she didn’t let the craziness of the world she’d suddenly been dumped into change who she was, despite all the pressures to do exactly that. Every time she stood up to a snobby person, I wanted to cheer.

I found Miles quite swoony. He starts off all grumpy and aloof and Mr Darcyish, so seeing him gradually warm up as Daisy begins to charm him (and he begins to charm her, with his loyalty, sweetness, and unexpected game) was very satisfying. This book uses the fake dating trope, and I am a sucker for that, so the romance in this book made me very squealy and happy.

Another thing I enjoyed in this book was the relationship between Daisy and her sister Ellie. El seems kind of stuck up to begin with, and she did annoy me at times, but you start to realise that she’s just trying her best to fit into a crazy world that’s just as hard for her to navigate as it is for Daisy. I liked the exploration of their relationship, seeing how Daisy feels her sister has changed, but eventually recognising that she’s still the same person underneath, and realising how important fitting in with Prince Alexander’s family and lifestyle is to Ellie.

Alex felt slightly underdeveloped to me, but he was nice enough. I enjoyed the character of Prince Sebastian (Seb) more, even though he was a hot mess, and always causing tabloid scandal. He reminded me a lot of young (pre Meghan Markle) Prince Harry. I couldn’t help but fancy him, even though he was a bit of a dick. He definitely got props for being a secret book nerd too.

I loved all the different settings we get to see in this book. Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities, so I enjoyed the parts of the book that were set there, but I also loved seeing the Scottish highlands. I really want to go back to Scotland! In general I just loved all of the fancy houses and palaces Daisy explores whilst she’s there. Reading about rich people’s glamourous lives is my guilty pleasure.

All together, this was an entertaining book I absolutely whizzed through. It was perfect fun, fluffy reading and I can’t wait for the sequel!


Have you read either of these books? What did you think of them? I’d love to hear from you! ❤

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I’M BACK! With an October book haul :)

Hello lovely bookish friends, and welcome back to my blog, which has been sitting here all lonely and neglected since July(!) I’m so sorry little blog, and lovely bookish friends. I feel so bad for disappearing, but I was going through some mental health stuff, and honestly, I just needed a break. I’m still going through that stuff, but I miss blogging so much and I really want to get back into it. I’m not working at the moment (apart from babysitting), and I have been doing a lot of reading recently (interspersed with sleeping and Netflix), so I’m hoping to be posting regularly again soon.

Today I thought I’d share with you a book haul, because it’s been a billion years since I did one of those (I’m pretty sure I haven’t even done one in 2018!) Here are some of the books I’ve picked up in the last month (with mini reviews of the ones I have already read!)


American Panda by Gloria Chao

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I’ve been wanting to increase my collection of light-hearted YA contemporary books, because I have so many dark books on my shelves, and when I’m feeling down, I never want to reach for them, because they just make me feel worse. This book sounds like it will be the perfect heartwarming pick me up. It’s about Mei Lu, a Taiwanese American girl who has enrolled in college early at the age of 17, but isn’t sure she really wants the future she’s working so hard towards. It’s all about family and identity (and romance!) and it’s supposed to be funny and sweet, so I am all about that, and I can’t wait to read it.


Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

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I’ve heard a lot of people talking about this novel on Booktube and it sounds so much fun. It’s about a Wiccan girl named Mila who attempts to raise her friend Riley from the dead to find out who murdered her. It’s meant to be quirky, funny, witchy, diverse and generally a blast, so I’m really excited to get to this one! Also I am obsessed with this cover.


Everyone’s an aliebn when you’re an aliebn too by Jonny Sun

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This is the sweetest, most adorable, most delightful graphic novel I have ever read. It’s about an alien who comes to earth to learn about humans, and it follows his interactions with all the different creatures he meets along the way. It’s so PURE. The illustrations are SO CUTE. The alien is so curious, and confused, and bad at spelling, and you will want to give him the biggest, squishiest hug. Basically this book will warm your heart and soul and you must, must read it.


Pages & Co: Tilly and the Book Wanderers by Anna James

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This is a middle grade novel about a girl named Tilly who discovers she has the ability to travel into the worlds of her favourite books. It all kicks off when Anne of Green Gables and Alice (of Wonderland) turn up in Pages & Co, the bookshop Tilly’s grandparents own. It sounds so magical and charming and I’m really excited to pick this up. I think it will be the perfect cosy read to snuggle up with as the days get colder.


Sawkill Girls by Clare Legrand

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I don’t know a lot about this book, but I know it’s set on an island, there is some kind of monster at large, and girls are disappearing. It’s meant to be very atmospheric and spooky, and I’ve been dying to read it ever since I heard about it, because I LOVE books set on islands.


Happily Ever Esther by Steve Jenkins, Derek Walter and Caprice Crane

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I recently read this one and absolutely adored it! Esther the Wonderpig, if you haven’t heard of her, is quite an internet-famous pig. Her dads, Derek and Steve, got her when she was a tiny piglet and were told she was a micropig, but there was nothing *micro* about Esther, and she grew into the 600 pound commercial pig she was always meant to be. Derek and Steve eventually decided to move to a farm where Esther would have the space to do her piggy thang, and they turned the farm into an animal sanctuary to help other rescued farm animals. This book is all about the trials and tribulations of setting up the sanctuary, the adventures of their animal residents, and the wonderpig who started the whole thing. This book is funny in places, sad in places, but ultimately heartwarming and hopeful. I love it, and Esther, to pieces.


Twelve Nights by Andrew Zurcher

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I’m waiting until December to read this one because it’s set around Christmastime. It’s a middle grade novel about a girl whose father goes missing on Christmas Eve, and it’s all about the mysterious, magical, dreamlike adventure she goes on to find him. It’s recommended for fans of Philip Pullman and CS Lewis, so it sounds like it’s going to be really cosy and whimsical and I can’t wait to curl up with it, a cup of tea, and a ginormous mince pie, later this year.


Sadie by Courtney Summers

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I downloaded the audiobook of Sadie because I’ve heard amazing things. about it. Part of this novel is told in the format of a podcast, and apparently this element is done really well in the audiobook. with a full cast, sound effects, etc. I was going to listen to this in October but I didn’t get round to it. I’m taking a break from dark reads right now because I read tons of them during the Halloweeny season, but I’m excited to pick this one up soon.


The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas

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I listened to the audiobook of this YA thriller in October, and it was very entertaining, but not super memorable. It’s about a girl who is investigating the deaths of five cheerleaders from her town (one of whom was her sister) who all died in different circumstances within the same month, because she believes their deaths might be connected. It kinda gave me Pretty Little Liars vibes, but without the utterly ridiculous ending (although THAT was certainly memorable!)


The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

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I picked this one up for £1.99 in a charity shop, and it sounds really warm and sweet. It’s about a woman who moves from Sweden to a small town in the US and opens the town’s first bookstore. It’s a quirky book about books, and that’s my jam, so I was super pleased to find it.


So that’s all of the books I acquired in October! Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? And which one should I pick up next?! Hopefully I will be back again shortly with a book tag, and maybe even a review or two! 😊 See you soon! xxx

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Book Review: ‘Sunflowers in February’ by Phyllida Shrimpton

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Sunflowers in February. Phyllida Shrimpton. Hot Key Books. February 2018.

Lily wakes up one crisp Sunday morning on the side of the road. 

She has no idea how she got there. It is all very peaceful. And very beautiful. It is only when the police car, and then the ambulance, arrive and she sees her own body that she realises that she is in fact . . . dead. 

But what is she supposed do now? 

Lily has no option but to follow her body and sees her family – her parents and her twin brother – start falling apart. And then her twin brother Ben gives her a once in a deathtime opportunity – to use his own body for a while. But will Lily give Ben his body back? She is beginning to have a rather good time . . .


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

First of all, thank you so much to Hot Key Books for sending me a review copy of this book. My first ever physical book I have received from a publisher – I was so, so happy, and so, so grateful!

I was really intrigued to read this book because the premise really appealed to me. The story follows Lily, a fifteen year old girl who is killed in a hit and run accident. Instead of passing on, her spirit sticks around, and she can see everything her family and friends are going through in the wake of her death. But nobody seems to be able to see or hear her, apart from her twin brother Ben. Lily is desperate to live just a little bit more, so Ben agrees to let her use his body for a while, until she is ready to say goodbye to life and move on to whatever comes next.

There were a lot of things I enjoyed about this book, but it never really blew me away. I found all of Lily’s thought processes as she watches her family grieve very interesting. It’s almost as though she wants them to stay sad, and to not forget about her, which although sounds selfish, actually came across as very human to me. I also liked seeing Lily use Ben’s body to experience all of the everyday things like eating sweets and having a hot shower that she took for granted in life and misses. I appreciated the mindful way that Lily navigated the world once she knew that she only had a limited time left in it. I feel like we should all live our days this way, no matter how long we have left.

Another thing I found very interesting about the book are the perspectives we get from other characters as they react to Lily’s death, but in particular the perspective of the driver who hit her. We find out very early on who that is, although I am not going to spoil anything here. The grief of the driver, and their subsequent breakdown was done so well, and although they did wrong, I ended up feeling so sorry for this person, because their perspective was just heartbreaking to read.

What I didn’t love so much about this book was the characterisation. I didn’t feel like any of the characters really stood apart from each other. Even Lily herself was hard to fully connect to, because I never really got a sense of who she was in life, besides the fact that she liked sunflowers (which play a prominent part in her funeral). I understood how Lily felt about being robbed of her life, and I empathised with her realisations about all the things she took for granted whilst she was alive, but I had no idea who she was before she felt these things, before she died. I guess I could have done with more flashbacks, or at least memories tied in with what she was experiencing in the present.

The other thing I found a little lacking in this book was the plot. Like I said, I really enjoyed the concept, and seeing how Lily reacts to the situation she’s in, but beyond that I feel like not much happens in the book, and it did get a bit repetitive at times, as Lily spends a lot of time just doing normal things in Ben’s body.

Something I have mixed feelings about in this book is what it has to say about gender. Lily is using Ben’s body, so obviously she is a girl in a boy’s body, and it was interesting to see how this makes her feel, and see her empathising with how someone who is born into the wrong body might feel. However, where it went wrong for me is when we see Ben’s friends reacting to how he is acting (differently, obviously, because it’s Lily in there, not Ben). Lily has to play a football match in Ben’s body, and as someone who has never played before, she is naturally not very good at it. Fair enough in principle, but I feel like so much emphasis was put on the fact that Lily couldn’t do certain things because she was a girl, and Ben’s friends didn’t hesitate to point out how ‘girly’ ‘he’ was acting, which didn’t sit well with me. Also, when ‘Ben’ touches his friend’s arm, his friend questions why his friend has turned into an ‘overnight gay’. Maybe that’s how some straight teenage boys would react, I don’t know, but I just felt like using homophobia to illustrate that Ben was acting differently was unnecessary.

Overall, I did enjoy this book, and I felt like it explored some interesting thoughts and feelings on grief, however I didn’t fall in love with it the way I had hoped I would. It’s not a bad book by any means, it just had a few problems. I enjoyed the author’s writing style, and this is a debut, so I’ll certainly look out for further books she writes in the future.

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