Hello book lovers!
Fun fact about me: I don’t normally read historical fiction. I don’t know why, especially when I used to love history at school, but it’s just not the kind of book I find myself reaching for.
A fantasy book based around historical events, however? I’m ALL OVER THAT.
I was immensely excited when I came across Romanov, not only does it have THE MOST BEAUTIFUL COVER that basically had me stroking it every five minutes, but it is also based around the history and myth of Anastasia, daughter of the last Tsar of Russia. When Nicholas II was forced to abdicate and go into exile with his family, who were later slaughtered, rumors began circulating that Anastasia had somehow survived. Alas, history has now proved this is not the case, but the story still continues to fascinate and capture the hearts of many (including mine since watching the famous animated film and studying Russian history at ALevel!)
I was so excited to see how a YA novel would take on this topic, incorporating it with magic and mysticism, especially considering the role of Rasputin in history as a family friend and holy man who had a ‘mysterious’ hold over the family.
So, did mixing history and magic make for a good read? Find out below!
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon (a favourite author of mine), was one of my most anticipated reads of 2019. It contains all my favourite things after all:
1) Lots and lots of pages…!
*My arms are so much stronger after reading this, no lie.*
3) Complex female character narrators (yay!) with the bonus of an f/f romance *fist pump for diversity!*
I counted down the months, weeks then days until I finally got my hands on this 830 paged beauty, and when its gorgeous cover was in my hands, I disappeared from the internet and dived in!
So, did it live up to my expectations? Eh, I’ll be honest with you – it didn’t. Read on to find out why!
Oh my god guys. Oh. My. God. This book, SLAYED MY HEART. It squidged and bruised and punched it, and then turned it into joy confetti. WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!?! Thank you universe for putting this little miracle of a book in my path.
I feel so lucky to have received an advanced reader copy of Only Love Can Break Your Heart from publishers because it is 100% the best book I have read all year, and I have a feeling a lot of people will be talking about it (in between uncontrollable sobbing). The thing is, it looks like such a sweet little unassuming book, BUT DON’T BE FOOLED. Inside is hidden treasure folks, shiny awesome desert treasure. Continue reading
When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.
So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.
Based in the same setting that Albertalli created in Simon vs the Homosapien Agenda (and therefore one of my most anticipated reads of the year), Offbeat follows Leah, one of Simon’s best friends who is a self-confessed misfit, and in her own words, the school’s ‘resident fat Slytherin Rory Gilmore’. What can I say? Leah is a girl after my own heart. Well, mostly. Continue reading
The first thought I had when I read the blurb for this book was UM, YES PLEASE.
A once in a lifetime European trip? Complex friendship dynamics and angst? GIMMIE. So many thanks to Walker Books for mailing an advanced reader copy so it could find its way into my grabby hands!
Riya and Abby are:
Best friends. Complete opposites. Living on different continents. Currently mad at each other. About to travel around Europe.
Riya moved to Berlin, Germany, with her family for junior year, while Abby stayed behind in their small California town. They thought it would be easy to keep up their friendship—it’s only a year and they’ve been best friends since preschool. But instead, they ended up fighting and not being there for the other. So Riya proposes an epic adventure to fix their friendship. Two weeks, six countries, unimaginable fun. But two small catches:
They haven’t talked in weeks.
They’ve both been keeping secrets.
Can Riya and Abby find their way back to each other among lush countrysides and dazzling cities, or does growing up mean growing apart? Continue reading
Overall Impression: A story about one girl’s struggle to stand up and speak the truth in a world of police corruption, racial inequality and classism.
The YA community has been awash with praise for Angie Thomas’s debut novel The Hate U Give, which follows young Starr, a girl from the hood who becomes a witness to a white policeman shooting her unarmed black friend. Can you say big, heavy HEARTBREAKING topic? I was concerned with how a YA novel would be able to tackle such a charged and current issue – but, I shouldn’t have fretted dear bookworms, because this was a respectful, honest, heartwarming tale, and well, I’m sorry to bore you but, I feel EXACTLY the same way as the majority of the blogosphere so you’re just going to have to put up with gushing about this novel like everyone else!
Thank you, Walker Books for the ARC ahead of the UK release date. Much appreciated!
“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”
Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community.
It could also get her killed.
~ * ~ Continue reading
5+ years ago I read and devoured the Darkest Powers by Kelley Armstrong, a series about teens who discover they have a variety of supernatural abilities and find themselves caught between people who want to manipulate their powers for their own purposes. Not a new concept – but oh was it executed well! I am not the type of reader that usually gobbles up a series in one go… but I got through all 3 books in a week. Afterwards, I was left with that satisfying yet hollow feeling you get when you finish a truly outstanding series and realise there are no more books.
However, I soon discovered there would be a follow-up series, The Darkness Rising, set in the same world but in a different town with different characters. Because I found the first series SO addictive, I decided to wait until all the books were out so I could binge read them, and here we are! Unfortunately, The Darkness Rising Trilogy wasn’t as good as it’s predecessor, so here’s the bullet point, bookish low-down so you can decide for yourself whether this series is for you!
So let’s start with the positives first. This series has some pretty cool things going for it:
Overall Impression: A self-indulgent exploration of the well-known Dracula mystery in which the vampire has become oddly obsessed with hunting librarians.
The Historian has sat on my shelf unread for over seven years. Yeah, that’s pretty shameful! I picked up my battered copy for a whole 20p at a hospital book sale, unable to resist the fancy swirling writing and menacing blood droplets on its cover. Having been struck down with a seriously evil case of tonsillitis this week, and having already binge watched all of the Outlander Season 2 TV series, I decided it was time to pick up this neglected tome of a book and show it some love.
The best way I can sum up this novel is that it was a good, entertaining book…until suddenly it wasn’t.
To you my perceptive reader, I bequeath my history…
Late one night, exploring her father’s library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters addressed ominously to ‘My dear and unfortunate successor.’ Her discovery plunges her into a world she never dreamed of – a labyrinth where the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an evil hidden in the depths of history.
Overall Impression: A feminism-focused book featuring heavily on mental health, that shows the importance of learning to accept who you are, faults and all.
As soon as I knew what this novel was about, I had to have it and bought it the first opportunity, and I’m glad I did, because it’s the most realistic YA book about mental health I’ve ever read. Way to go Holly Bourne!!!
Am I normal Yet? follows the story of Evie, who suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder (the more well-known contamination type where people feel the need to over wash/clean for fear objects and dirt will cause harm) and generalised anxiety disorder (which causes disproportionate worry about many everyday situations). Since being sectioned, Evie’s worked hard to get her life under control, she’s going to counseling, she’s on medication, she’s working on goals and concrete steps. But now she’s starting at a new college, she’s desperate and determined to be normal by keeping her mental health problems a secret. Evie wants to do all the normal things teenage do, having friends, going to parties and most importantly, dating and finding a boyfriend. But as she starts to slowly come off her meds, she’s constantly plagued by the fear that her bad thoughts are creeping back in…and the problem is that wherever you go, your problems go with you. Continue reading
Overall Impression: A satisfying end to an overall enjoyable trilogy with memorable characters.
This series kind of reminds me of takeaway pizza.
What, you say? Bear with me.
You know how occasionally, just occasionally, that takeaway pizza yearning kicks in, and you kind of know that it’s not the healthiest thing for you and that there’s much better, more sophisticated food out there? But it just tastes so darn good and so you devour it with great speed, enjoying every bite, but if you eat too much of it you become bloated. So you know that even though you really enjoyed it, you wouldn’t want takeaway pizza every week? Yeah, that sums up The Maze Runner series for me. It’s not the best written story out there or the most complex so you wouldn’t want to read too much of it in one go, but it keeps you turning the pages and you really enjoy it, even if you’re not 100% sure why. The final book in the series, The Death Cure also followed the same pattern for me!
The trials are over. WICKED is planning to restore the survivors’ memories and complete the final cure for the Flare.
But Thomas has already remembered more than they think. And he knows WICKED can’t be trusted.
The time for lies is over. But the truth is more dangerous than Thomas could ever imagine. Will anyone survive the Death Cure? Continue reading
Dunnnn, dunn, dun dun, dunnnn, dunn, dun, dun, dunn, dunn, dun, dun, dunn, dunn dun dun dunn dunn…
Yeahhh, I’ve pretty much had the Game of Thrones theme tune stuck in my head for the entire time it took me to write this post. I feel like I’m going slightly insane now! So yes, while Becky has been somewhat silent on the blog, in real life she has been busy, shifting through thousands of pages worth of Westeros, where dragons reign and people fight over a really uncomfortable chair. Woohoo! (Weirdos). After watching the season 5 shocker finale on TV, I was a little distraught and desperate for more George R.R. Martin, not to mention ANSWERS. I’ve also recently rewatched the entire show with the boyfriend because I am trying to educate him on all things nerdy (it’s working, slowly). All of this led to me feeling determined to try and catch up with the books in time for the release of season 6 and the next novel,Winds of Winter. So here are my reviews of books 3-5!
Overall Impression: A slow-paced slog about village politics with a killer, heart-wrenching ending.
The Casual Vacancy is a hard book to review, hard because while I was bored for about 80% of it, the story emotionally and politically impacted me more than anything I have read in a long time. The Casual Vacancy tells the story of a small provincial UK village that has an ongoing class battle between the typical country village Pagford and a tacked on much despised council estate full of socially undesirable individuals. When a man on the Parish Council dies unexpectedly, his seat is up for grabs, and the book follows several characters’ fight for the seat which will decide the fate of the town. Continue reading
Well, I have finally done it! I’ve managed to power through the end of the House of Night series and wow, it has been a struggle. When this series begun I really enjoyed it, but the combination of the writing going downhill and being dragged out, plus myself getting older and gaining more knowledge about writing and what makes a good story, on top of the YA genre making serious leaps and bound in the past few years, this series no longer stacks up for me. Still, after so long and committing to reading so many of the books I couldn’t abandon the series halfway and felt compelled to finish it, even though I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. So, here are my thoughts on the final novella and novel!
Overall Impression: A somewhat enjoyable novella that provides some interesting back story into how vampires came to be.
Kalona’s Fall is the final House of Night novella and tells the story of Kalona, who is a fallen immortal tempted by darkness (basically an angel but he is never referred to in this way) that aids Neferet the main antagonist in the House of Night series in her quest to rule over others and gain power.
The writing in this novella is bad – but that is no surprise, because all of the writing in the House of Night novels makes me want to grab a red marker pen and scribble like a mad woman, but in Kalona’s Fall the Casts’ tendency to show rather than tell actually worked in their favour. As the novella focuses on how the Goddess Nyx, Earth, and its creatures came to be, the telling aspect actually gave the story an oddly historical/biblical feel, and at times reminded me of the story of Adam and Eve because of the matter of fact way things came into being despite it seeming incomprehensible. Continue reading
Overall Impression: A spellbinding second installment of The Diviners series which captivates and enthralls.
“For dreams, too, are ghosts, desires chased in sleep, gone by morning.”
The Diviners by Libba Bray is easily one of the best books I’ve read in 2015, heck, it’s one of the most fun and entertaining books I’ve read in years! So naturally, I was looking forward to the release of its sequel with unabashed excitement, hoping with all my heart that it would be just as good. Well, I am happy to report that it was as awesome as, if not better than The Diviners and I lapped up every beautiful word. LIBBA BRAY IS QUEEEEEEEEENNNNNNNN and I bow down to her epic writing skills!
I would like to thank the lovely people at Atom Books for giving my a free ARC of Lair of Dreams in exchange for an honest review.
After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. With her uncanny ability to read people’s secrets, she’s a media darling. It seems like everyone’s in love with New York City’s latest It Girl – their ‘Sweetheart Seer.’
But while Evie is enjoying the high life, her fellow Diviners Henry DuBois and Ling Chan will fight to keep their powers secret.
A malevolent force is at large, infecting people’s dreams and claiming victims in their sleep. At the edge of it all lurks a man in a stovepipe hat who has plans of nightmare proportions…
There are many, many reasons I adored Lair of Dreams, but the first reason has got to be Libba Bray’s writing. Continue reading
Overall Impression: Selfishness runs riot in this lackluster installment of one of my favourite series.
‘Ohh dear’ is pretty much the phrase I would use to sum up this book, perhaps with an ‘exasperated’ or ‘deflated’ on the side. Seriously, Lindsey Kelk, what the heck happened with this book? Over the past year the I Heart series (of which I Heart London is the 5th book) has become my go-to for when I’m in the mood for something lightweight, fun and romantic that is farfetched but in the best possible way.
Unfortunately, this installment didn’t deliver on any of the above, and instead left me fuming and disappointed. In other words: I has a sad. And an angry. (This will probably be more of a rant than a review.)
Home is where the heart is. Right?
Angela Clark has fallen in love with New York – and it’s starting to love her back. But when she’s summoned home to England, she’s at risk of losing her shiny life to rain, warm beer and bad memories.
Talk about stepping back in time.
There’s Mark, the ex-boyfriend – who she ran to New York to get away from.
There’s Louisa, her best friend, with her terrifying new baby.
And there’s her mum, still talking to her as though she’s fifteen.
Now there’s a wedding in the offering – and everyone remembers how well Angela behaved at the last one…
Can the arrival of boyfriend Alex and new best friend Jenny save her from a re-run of her old self? Continue reading