BOOK REVIEW: ESME'S WISH by Elizabeth Foster

Thank you, Odyssey Books, for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Happy New Year’s Eve! Today’s been a pretty hectic day of end-of-year preparations, but I did find time to finish Esme’s Wish at long last. I really wanted to get one final book review up before 2020 and I’m happy to say that I (only just) made it.

Esme’s Wish is a middle-grade/YA fiction book about a girl named Esme who, whilst searching for answers about her missing mother, finds herself on a quest to not only find the truth, but to also save a world that she didn’t even know existed. It’s a fascinating tale about familial love, friendship and dedication to doing what’s right.

When Esme enters the unknown world of Aeolia, she discovers a host of things that she never could have imagined- all of which she had only heard in stories and seen in paintings by her mother.

She rapidly discovers that her mother was entangled in the complicated history of this magical world and sets out to visit wherever she must go to find out what happened all those years ago and get closure about her mother’s disappearance once and for all.

This story is magical, both in its content and its storytelling. It is definitely written for a younger audience, but managed to captivate me too, with its imagery of a world that Elizabeth Foster entirely created. With sirens, magical powers and dragons, amongst the other magical features in this book, it is easy to get lost in the story and truly believe in the world of Aeolia.

I found the characters in this book to be entertaining as well. The villains did seem to lack a little depth, and some of the dangerous situations that Esme found herself in were resolved slightly too quickly for my liking, but they were still believable and scary. I enjoyed the ‘good guys’ much more. Lillian and Daniel are exactly the kind of fun sidekicks a story like this needs and I found that they really helped Esme explore her own personal struggles, as well as the struggles of Aeolia. They had believable aspirations and I was happy to see them doing what they personally needed to, as well as helping Esme along the way.

As far as the ending is concerned, I did find that it left a lot of loose ends, but I presume these will be wrapped up nicely in the sequel. The whole book’s plot was good enough for me to forgive my questions, as I found that there was a consistent sense of adventure from start to finish that kept me interested throughout.

This was a nice, easy read to finish the year with and I’m happy to have been swept into Esme’s world. I would definitely recommend this book to younger readers and lovers of middle-grade fantasy, and may just have to pick up the sequel to see what happens next.

RATING: 4/5

If you’re interested in reading Esme’s Wish, you can grab a copy here. (I get a small commission if you use my link!)

BOOK REVIEW: TWENTY-FIVE MEMORIES OF VIGGO MACDUFF by Kate Gordon

I spent a large part of December looking for a Christmas book to read and ended up stumbling across Twenty-Five Memories of Viggo MacDuff by Kate Gordon. I never got around to reading it before Christmas but I did spend my entire Boxing Day devouring it!

Twenty-Five Memories of Viggo MacDuff is the story of a girl torn between two identities: Constance- the girl she was whilst dating Viggo, her smart, charismatic, do-no-wrong boyfriend- and Connie- the girl she was before. It’s a story told almost entirely as reminiscences and memories, over the space of the year that Viggo and Connie were together.

The story starts on Christmas night, a few days after Viggo has broken up with Connie, for an unspecified reason. She’s sat wallowing alone until her best friend, Jed, appears, ready to hear her twenty-five memories and expel Viggo from her system at last. As we hear Connie’s memories, we begin to realise that maybe Viggo wasn’t the perfect boy Connie’s convinced he is and, as their relationship stories unravel, we discover both who Connie wants to be and just how Viggo changed her.

This book is not largely a feel-good story. Connie’s relationship stories are troubling and she spends the book heartbroken and desperate for Viggo back. But somehow, it still made for good Boxing Day reading. Despite the troubling content, it ended up being a story about finding yourself and figuring out who is truly there for you.

I really liked a number of the characters in this story. Constance was a realistic, believable girl and Jed was truly a sweetheart. It was great to read about their friendship and learn more about them, with and without Viggo.

This book was refreshingly easy compared to a lot of what I’ve read lately. It only took a few hours to get through and I still found myself becoming completely engrossed in Connie’s life. Although this book is set at Christmas time, I would recommend it to anyone at any time looking for a simple and heart-warming story.

I am glad I stumbled across this book and am sure I’ll revisit it again next Christmas. For a book that cost me £1.99 on Amazon, this was 100% worthwhile.

RATING: 4/5

If you’d like to read this book, you can buy it right here. (I get a small commission if you use my links!)

The Harry Potter Christmas Tag

Merry Christmas! I was tagged to do this by Gemma’s Bookshelf a few days ago and thought that now would be the perfect time! I hope everyone’s having a wonderful festive season.

It’s your first Christmas at Hogwarts. What’s one book you’ve asked for this year?

My entire Christmas list is books this year, but I’d really, really like Into The Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo.

You spot Hagrid hauling the Christmas tree through the grounds. What is the longest (or heaviest) book you own?

The longest book I own is definitely IT by Stephen King but I’ve never got past the first page…

It’s time for the famous Great Hall feast. What’s one book you can’t read without snacks?

I don’t normally eat snacks with books but, if I did, I feel like it’d be with a cutesy, contemporary read like Anna and The French Kiss.

Well done, you’ve brewed your first Polyjuice Potion. What’s one book you’d change the cover of?

I think it might just be the UK edition of this book that has a cover I’m not a big fan of, but I think I’d change the cover of Beware That Girl by Teresa Toten.

You receive a brand new Firebolt for Christmas. What’s one book you read super quickly?

Anything by Marie Lu. Rebel, most recently, I devoured in a day.

You join Harry for his first proper Christmas. What’s one book you’d love to receive this year?

I’d love to get A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer!

You get hit by one of Fred and George’s flying snowballs. What’s a book you wanted to throw across the room?

In the best kind of way, I wanted to throw We Were Liars across the room. I love it so much but, if you’ve read it, you get why.

You’ve just visited Hogsmeade for the first time. What’s one popular book you haven’t read yet?

I haven’t read a single Sarah J. Mass book yet but I’ve bought them all and have to read them in 2020, for sure.

Congratulations, you’ve been invited to the Yule Ball. What book about Christmas do you love?

My absolute favourite thing about Christmas is dinner with the family! It’s so lovely to see everyone and eat mountains of delicious food.

You find Ron’s deluminator. What’s one book that’s helped you through some dark times?

Whenever I’m upset, I do back to an old favourite. That generally means Warcross or Legend by Marie Lu.

I hope everyone has an incredible remainder of the festive season! Merry Christmas 🙂

ARC Review: GRAVITY IS THE THING by Jaclyn Moriarty

Hi! It’s been forever since I posted a review so I’m sorry for my disappearance. I’ve been stuck in a reading slump for a while and haven’t had anything to post. But that’s finally over. I read an incredible 5-star read and now I’m back! Hope you enjoy this review of one of my top reads of 2019:

‘Gravity is the Thing’ follows Abigail, the owner of a Happiness Cafe and single-mother, through her life in the time following her brother’s disappearance at age fifteen. Ever since the year he vanished, she has been receiving chapters of something called ‘The Guidebook’ from a pair of total strangers, offering a unique view on self-help. After years of searching for him, when she is invited to a retreat that offers to give her the book’s ‘truth,’ she can’t help but tie the two events together and go looking for answers.

Once she arrives, instead of finding her brother or immediately unraveling the truth that she’s looking for, she discovers a group of people with whom she joins a sort-of society and forms a strong bond. There is more to ‘The Guidebook’ than she originally suspected and, as the truth comes out, she finds herself deeply hooked in the process.

This book is so deep and thought-provoking that I already feel like I have to re-read it in order to truly absorb everything that it says about self-help, love and grief. For a book so strongly focused on the whimsical and the metaphorical, it is breathtakingly real. The various stories that run alongside each other (of her brother Robert’s disappearance, ‘The Guidebook”s unconventional group sessions, and Abigail’s best efforts to be a good parent to her young son, Oscar) are all incredibly captivating, and I found myself equally invested in all aspects of Abigail’s life.

Although Robert vanished years before the story begins, so we don’t experience his disappearance as though it is a fresh, new wound, we do experience the grief and loss that Abigail has felt for many years through flashbacks, excerpts from her past writings and present day story-telling. Her character has one of the most unique viewpoints and voices I have ever read in fiction and she is such a likeable, relatable character that I feel it would be difficult not to become invested in her journey and emotions.

The other characters too became surprisingly realistic throughout the novel. When we first meet a number of the other characters with whom Abigail grows close, such as Sasha and Pete, I found them to be somewhat one-dimensional and a little like caricatures. This only made it more rewarding for me when they developed to have their own voices, personalities and even side-stories alongside Abigail’s.

I loved this book. It is incredibly heavy in its descriptions of self-love and growth so at times it wasn’t the easiest book to get through, but its message and writing were both so beautiful and poignant that it didn’t come across as though the author was preaching or trying too hard to educate, which I loved. A number of the endorsements for this book describe it as ‘extraordinary’ and ‘an instant classic’ and, honestly, I agree with them completely.

Rating: 5/5

If you want to pre-order this book, it comes out on January 2nd 2020 and you can get it right here. (I get a small commission if you use my link!).

If you’ve read this book already, let me know what you think! It’s definitely one of my favourite reads this year and I can already see myself making everyone I’ve ever met read it, too…

Avatar: The Last Airbender Book Tag

I have a confession to make: I didn’t watch Avatar: The Last Airbender at all as a child. My friend tried to make me watch a few episodes once and I just didn’t pay any attention. And now, because I’m basic, it’s appeared on Netflix and I’ve binged the entire thing…

I finished watching it about a week ago and I’m still watching Zuko and Iroh videos on Youtube for procrastination every chance I get. So, to turn my obsession into something productive, I found out that this book tag is a thing! Here’s the ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender Book Tag’:

Katara and Sokka: The Best Sibling Relationship

This one was kind of difficult and I really struggled to think of an answer but I think I’ve come up with the best one. Alec and Izzy from The Mortal Instruments are an amazing and super fearsome sibling duo.

Yue: Favourite Star-Crossed Lovers

The first couple that came to mind for this was Cassie and Evan from The Fifth Wave trilogy. I love their relationship and it’s definitely, definitely not meant to be.

Blood-bending- A Book With Unnerving/Unsettling Content

Although this book isn’t one of my favourites, I searched my brain for something I’d read with unsettling content and Beware That Girl is the one I came up with. Both of the main characters have some really dangerous motives and I found this book to be just generally weird.

Toph: A Character Whose Strength Surprised You

It’s pretty obvious from the start of The Cruel Prince that Jude is mentally tough and determined, but she still proves herself to be so physically and mentally strong throughout the series. She isn’t physically as tough as some other characters but she works so hard to protect herself and the people she cares herself that it has to be acknowledged.

The Tales of Ba Sing Se: Best Short Story/ Poetry Collection

A go-to recommendation for me is Slasher Girls and Monster Boys so, yes, I’m going to bring that up again. The stories range from creepy to downright disturbing and I really loved almost all of them.

Kioshi Warriors: Best Warrior Character

I don’t know if she counts as a Warrior but one of the toughest characters I can think of is Laia from An Ember in The Ashes. It’s been forever since I read the first two books (and I still haven’t finished the series) but I really loved how tough she is.

Zuko: Best Redemption Arc

It’s hard to think of a redemption arc that actually compares to Zuko’s because the writers completely nailed it, but maybe a certain genius billionaire from the Warcross duology could also be considered…

Iroh: Wisest Character

I’m going to go super basic for this and say Dumbledore from Harry Potter. I probably don’t have to explain why.

Azula: Best Downfall

For this, the first person that comes to mind is Jonathan Morgenstern from The Mortal Instruments series. This series had so much build up and tension that his downfall was incredibly anticipated, and it actually managed to live up to my expectations.

Appa: Favourite Fictional Animal/Pet

I literally can’t think of any pets in YA! I’ve been through my reading lists and the only pet I can think of is Hedwig from Harry Potter… If you can think of any pets in YA, please let me know.

Aang: Purest Cinnamon Roll

Just because I love this book so much, I’m going to say Sean from Anna and the French Kiss. He’s obviously just a minor character but he’s so small and adorable and the way he reacts to Anna’s problems is really, really cute.

Avatar State: A Stubborn Character/ A Character That Struggles With Letting Go

For a character that struggles with letting go, Mara Dyer from The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is the first that comes to mind. She holds a lot of grudges and lets her anger get the best of her a lot but I absolutely love her.