My Life in Books Tag

Hi readers!

I don’t know if anyone’s noticed, but I haven’t posted in a really, really long time. I started a new job last week (in publishing!!! I can’t get over it) and I’ve been too busy to read more than a few pages. Because of that, I don’t have a review to post right now and I don’t know when I will but I’m working through some exciting books as we speak.

Despite the lack of reviews, though- what I definitely always have time for is an interesting book tag. And I just stumbled across the My Life in Books tag. I hope you enjoy!

Find a book for each of your initials.

(I’m relieved they didn’t say ‘for each letter of your first name’ — 9 is tough)

F – Faery Tales and Nightmares by Melissa Marr

L – Lying About Last Summer by Sue Wallman

D – Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick

Count your age along your bookshelf – what book is it?

Sadly, my bookshelves are not where I am… Right now, I’m living off piles of books, scattered around the room. So, counting 21 through the piles, I reach…

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Pick a book set in your city/country.

Okay. I don’t know if this counts because they don’t mention my town even once in the book, and I’m sure its a fantasy world of some kind, but the town I’m from is built on Sherwood Forest, and that’s where Mist by Kathryn James takes place.

Pick a book that represents a destination you’d love to travel to.

Under a Dancing Star by Laura Wood is set predominantly in a stunning villa in Italy and reading it made me crave a trip there so much.

Pick a book that’s your favourite colour.

My favourite colour is deep red, and the closest cover I can think of is Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. Looking up ‘YA books with red covers’ brings back a lot of results, though…

Which book do you have the fondest memories of?

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. Yes, this book’s a little problematic (if you’ve read it, you get it), but I read it, got obsessed. and went to Paris the next month because I was so in love. I’ve re-read a million times and it’s always exactly what I need.

Which book did you have the most difficulty reading?

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. This book is absolutely incredible and I’m so glad I pushed through it but, wow, it took a long time for me to get to the end.

Which book on your TBR will give you the biggest feeling of accomplishment when you finish it?

IT by Stephen King! I’ve had this 1200-page monster of a book for about six years and I’ll be so happy when I’ve finally got through it.

ARC REVIEW: UNEXPECTED LESSONS IN LOVE by Lucy Dillon

Unexpected Lessons in Love is a story that should really be a romance, but isn’t. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It follows Jeannie, beginning on her extremely eventful wedding day. First, she calls off the wedding via a voicemail to her fiancé, Dan. Next, her fiancé gets hit by a bus.

This book contains an incredibly unique portrayal of love. It’s a will-she-won’t-she story about telling Dan the truth if he ever wakes up and it has you trying to determine right, wrong and the best solution throughout the entire story.

Plus, whilst all of this is happening, Jeannie finds herself getting ever closer to Rachel, Dan’s new boss, and Owen, Dan’s best friend, complicating everything just a little more.

I did enjoy this book, mostly because it so neatly wraps everything up. Everything that you think has gone wrong or could go wrong is resolved to some degree by the end, or at least solved in a way that some readers would approve of. I am sure there are mixed reactions to this book and found myself asking whether or not I liked where the story was going, a number of times.

As a character, I was surprised by how much I liked Jeannie. She was incredibly real and had thoughts that many people would be too afraid to speak themselves. I wouldn’t consider her decisions throughout the book to be wrong, but it was very easy to doubt her at numerous points throughout the novel. Lucy Dillon wrote an incredibly believable woman with a decision that would be difficult for anyone to deal with. Unfortunately, though, I was not a massive fan of Dan. Much of what we find out about him is from Jeannie recalling moments in her relationship, but I found that these painted a picture that I didn’t like. I was conflicted throughout about whether I should feel bad about my dislike of Dan due to his situation, but now definitely feel that I would have preferred a more believably likeable fiancé for Jeannie.

Overall, this book was enjoyable. There are a number of other things going on in the main character’s life, besides Dan’s situation, and I found these to be more interesting than Jeannie’s primary storyline. It did take me a while to get through, but I would consider it to be an easy, thought-provoking read. It makes a nice change from the more predictable romance storylines I’ve read recently and I am impressed by the concept.

RATING: 3.5/5

My Most Anticipated 2020 Releases

Happy New Year! I want to start by saying that I hope you all have a wonderful year and achieve everything you hope to achieve (in life, and in Goodreads’ Reading Challenge!). There’s so much I want to get done this year, and reading an obscene amount of books is a part of that.

That being said, there are so many new books coming out this year that have jumped straight to the top of my TBR. Without further ado, here are my most anticipated reads of 2020.

A Throne of Swans by Katherine and Elizabeth Korr

I was gifted a copy of this book a week ago and I’m itching to start it. With dark fantasy elements, shapeshifters, royalty and revenge, I’m certain that this is going to be incredible. It comes out really soon and I’m excited to see how everyone else enjoys it too.

Release date: 09/01/2020

You can get a copy here.

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed

I hadn’t heard of this book until I received it in a box from Book Box Club. Now, having looked into it a little, I’m convinced it’s going to be amazing.

This book is about cross-cultural romance and political activism, which are both incredibly important topics. This is definitely one of the books I’m most excited about this year.

Release date: 04/02/2020

You can get a copy here.

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

If you follow me on twitter, or have ever read any of my other blog posts, this probably won’t come as a surprise. Marie Lu is my favourite author of all time and I’ve wanted a copy of this book since before I even knew it existed.

This book is a historical fantasy about Mozart’s sister. When she becomes downhearted about being overshadowed by her prodigal brother, she finds herself being swept into a fantasy world of her own creation. I cannot wait to read this book. Music and fantasy are two things I’m passionate about, and Marie Lu’s writing could make this story truly incredible.

Release date: 03/03/2020

You can get a copy here.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

This book kind of goes without saying. As someone who got hooked on YA in 2014, The Hunger Games was a staple on my bookshelf. Although my obsession with the series has definitely worn off over time, I owe it to my former self to read and fall in love with this prequel.

Release date: 19/05/2020

You can get a copy here.

Again, Again by E. Lockhart

E. Lockhart is another author whose books I will always buy. I’ve read We Were Liars a million times and I even got to meet her at a signing a couple of years ago, which was incredible.

Her newest book is Again, Again, about a girl who saves her brother from a suicide attempt, and how she deals with the emotional trauma of this in the aftermath. I know it’s going to be emotional, potentially painful and incredibly beautiful.

Release date: 11/06/2020

You can get a copy here.

I’d love to hear what your most anticipated reads of 2020 are so let me know down below! Otherwise, I hope you have an amazing year ahead.

Disclaimer: I get a small commission if you use any of my links.

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…