Resolutions Book Tag!

So, yes, we’re halfway through January and, no, I did not have any New Years resolutions this year, but I saw this tag and couldn’t resist taking part! It’s a bookish twist on New Years resolutions and an excuse to talk about some really great books I’ve read recently, so I’m really all for it.

This was created by Mikaela Reads and you can check out her original post here!

Exercise More – name a book that has made you want to leap up out of your seat (for any reason)

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Turner made me want to jump up out of my seat in all the best ways. I wanted to scream and cry at some times and I wanted to leap up and cheer at others. I cannot fault this book at all and am honestly always looking for an excuse to talk about this to anyone who will listen.

Get Organised – a book with an exceptional plot

This one took me a while because, whilst a lot of the books I read have amazing plots, I read a lot of very character-driven stuff. I think one that just kept me turning the pages was Caraval by Stephanie Garber.

Learn A New Skill – a book which taught you something

Definitely Foreshadow by Nova Ren Suma and Emily XR Pan. I feel like I bring this book up at every opportunity as well, but here we are. Not only were the stories so interesting that they made me want to write, the essays and the prompts really helped with certain techniques and plotting.

Live Life To The Fullest – a book which inspired you

Shine by Jessica Jung, for sure. This book did not inspire me to become a kpop idol but the protagonist, Rachel, will stop at absolutely nothing to achieve her dreams. She is strong-willed, super talented and willing to look past personal problems to achieve her ultimate goal.

Save more money / spend less money – the most expensive book you’ve bought and was it worth it?

This is the most boring answer but the most expensive books I’ve bought are all textbooks (you probably aren’t interested but Major Problems in American History, I’m looking at you). They helped me get my degree but in terms of whether the books themselves were worth £60? Umm… probably not.

Spend More Time With Family and Friends – a character you would want to be best mates with

Pip from A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson! Her personality is so relatable but, on top of that, she seems super committed to her friends and just like a really fun person to be around.

Travel More – a book with a location you’d love to visit

Warcross by Marie Lu (I find a way to include a Marie Lu book in every tag I do and I will absolutely never stop). Not only do I want to visit Tokyo, I also want to visit dystopian, virtual-reality Tokyo.

Read More – a book you are desperate to read this year

Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart is my most anticipated read of 2021 and I am completely desperate to read it. I just got an ARC (praise the book gods) and will likely be dropping everything after writing this post to read it.

If you’re interested in doing this, consider yourself tagged!

I’d love to hear if you agree with my choices too, so let me know your thoughts in the comments😊

ARC REVIEW: Threadneedle by Cari Thomas

I’ve decided that my reading of this book was fated. I saw it on Twitter, realised that I would die for a copy, and received an email the following day inviting me to review on Netgalley and giving me an automatic-approval link to it (so thank you so much to HarperVoyager for the e-ARC). I don’t think I’ve ever been so blessed by the book gods in my entire life and obviously, in the midst of my excitement, I had to read this entire book in a day.

That day was a while ago, but I was (for once) organised enough to write my thoughts as soon as I finished. Those thoughts were as follows:

Threadneedle is about a teenage witch named Anna, who has been raised by her aunt to detest and fear her own magic. She has spent her life repressing it, preparing herself for having it cut off by a group called The Binders when she turns sixteen, in order to protect herself from all of its dangers. Having been raised surrounded by ordinary humans and people with no knowledge of the beauty or the danger of magic, this hasn’t been especially difficult for Anna- particularly because her magic is reluctant to show itself in the first place.

But when Selene, an enchanting family friend who flaunts and thrives on magic, comes to visit with her daughter Effie and Effie’s best friend Attis, everything that Anna has been taught begins to blur. Anna is swept into a world of witches who proudly wreak havoc with their magic, a world of underground magical libraries, potions and all-out recklessness. And it quickly becomes unclear who she should believe when it comes to magic.

This book is very long, and yet I didn’t find it even remotely slow. There’s a lot of character building, a lot of scene setting and a lot of high-school drama thrown in amongst the magic and the mystery, but not a word of it was unnecessary. There’s a hugely varied, fascinating cast of characters, and an entertaining mix of romance, YA angst and dark magic, which I absolutely loved.

My favourite thing about this book, though, was how it made me feel. Namely: unsettled, the entire way through. With frequent mentions of a curse, the dangers of dark magic, the characters’ recklessness and Anna’s Aunt’s paranoia, I felt like something could go wrong any second and on every page. I was grappling with my fears of who to trust and what could go wrong the entire way through this book, and it left me feeling unnerved, anxious and completely enthralled.

I really wanted to love this book and I’m so glad that I did. Everything tied together wonderfully, the characters were exciting, and the world was entirely immersive. As someone who has only recently discovered the genre of Witchy YA, this book has only made me more desperate for book two and anything else about dark magic that I can get my hands on.

RATING: 5/5

DECEMBER WRAP-UP

Happy New Year!

With just seven hours to go until 2021, I finally met my (recently increased) reading goal of sixty books! I’m so happy with how my reading went last year and am even happier that I’ve not really been able to stop reading for the last month- and that, as a result of that, my December Wrap Up is ten books, which is more than I have read in a single month for a long time. So. Here we go.

When Life Gives You Lemons Instead of Lattes by Rayna York – I don’t review books on my blog that I don’t particularly enjoy, so I didn’t share this one. This is a summery contemporary about a girl who is torn away from her wealthy lifestyle in California when her father is found to be embezzling company money and forced to adapt to life in rural Ohio. It was a cute book with lots of romance, but sadly was not for me. Still, it was a quick, easy read. 2/5

Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson – I’m kind of mad that I didn’t read this as soon as I bought it, but at least I got round to it eventually. I really enjoyed this sequel to A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder and will absolutely be sure to keep up with book three when it is released. 4/5

Caraval, Legendary and Finale by Stephanie Garber – it has been years since I read an entire series in the space of a week (or even read an entire series full stop…) but this one was so beautiful and magical that I was completely unable to put it down. I loved the set of protagonists in book two just as much as I loved book one’s and found myself experiencing a severe book hangover when I realised that I was done with them at the end of Finale. I will be waiting desperately for Once Upon a Broken Heart. 5/5

The Last Girl by Goldy Moldavsky – review to come, but I really enjoyed this YA thriller about a girl whose coping mechanism after a home invasion is to turn to horror movies and gore in an attempt to feel safe once again. It had a fascinating set of characters, a very unique storyline, and an enjoyable series of twists that got me through the entire book in less than a day. 5/5

All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban – I’ve had this book on my radar since I first heard about it and decided this month to give the audiobook a try. It was a really gripping story with a troubled cast of characters, a high-tension situation and the romance expected of a high-school thriller. I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending, but I did enjoy this book and would fully recommend it as an audiobook, as the narrator was amazing! 3.5/5

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz – People on my twitter timeline have been talking about this book for centuries and I’m so mad that I didn’t read it sooner. Also mad because I didn’t realise that the audiobook was narrated by Lin Manuel-Miranda! It was such a sweet and gripping story about friendship and love, and I fell completely in love with both Aristotle and Dante. 5/5

Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao – Apparently, this was a month of contemporaries for me. This is another book that I’ve been eyeing for months and finally gave in and bought last week. It was a super cute and easy read about a girl who develops complicated feelings for the boy pretending to be her boyfriend to get her parents off her back. It was pretty cliched and very typical for the genre, but it was quick to read and honestly pretty sweet. 4/5

A Girl Made of Air by Nydia Hetherington – which I finished a few hours ago in an attempt to complete my 60th book. I have mixed feelings about this one (again, review to come, when I’ve figured out my thoughts…) but it was a beautifully written, unique tale that combined historical fiction and magical realism. 4/5

And that’s it for the last month of the year. I hope you all had a wonderful year of reading (and a safe year in general) and wish you all the best for 2021!

My Top 10 Books of 2020

It’s December! And, having finally met my Goodreads goal (52/45!), I’m feeling nostalgic about my year in books. The change in my reading since starting this blog in November 2019 has been insane, and I’m so lucky to have discovered so, so many incredible, diverse authors and novels over the course of the year.

Picking my top 10 books for 2020 was way too difficult, so I’ve narrowed it down to only books that released this year in an attempt to make it easier (spoiler: it didn’t) and, after a lot of internal debate, I finally think I’ve got it. So, without further ado… my top 10 books of 2020:

TEN. Again, Again by E. Lockhart – I LOVED this book, but I think my rating is at least partially biased. We Were Liars is my favourite stand-alone of all time, but I’ve never really clicked with a lot of E. Lockhart’s books, so finding one in the same style with a cute story line and a lot of trippy parallel timezones was really all it took for this book to make the list.

Check out my review here.

NINE. The Rules by Tracy Darnton – This book is one of those books where you read the ending and can’t get over it for at least a few days. It’s a gripping, twisty thriller in the exact style that I one day hope to write and I adored it.

Check out my review here.

EIGHT. The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg – I bought this entirely as a cover-buy but ended up reading the whole thing in one night (finishing at 2am when I had to get up at 7am, oops). It was a really fun thriller with androids, romance, mystery, suspense and way too many parallels between the setting and Disneyland to be accidental.

(I didn’t review this, oops, but more information can be found here.)

SEVEN. Shine by Jessica Jung – I have never been as excited to receive an ARC as I was to receive this one. Electric Monkey literally only publishes books that I know I’ll adore, and this one tied my loves of Kpop and YA together so well. It was realistic, exciting and really well written.

Check out my review here.

SIX. Foreshadow by Nova Ren Suma and Emily XR Pan – This is the only short-story anthology I’ve read this year because it isn’t really my go-to form, but I’m so, so glad I read this. The combination of stories, writing prompts and essays provided me with so much insight and motivation for my own writing that I couldn’t not include it.

Check out my review here.

FIVE. Skyhunter by Marie Lu – MARIE LU. DYSTOPIA. That is all.

Check out my review here.

FOUR. Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco – I was blessed to get this on Netgalley and I’m still mad about how long it took me to start it. It had a strong protagonist, an exciting romance and so much fantasy. It gave me major 2014/2015 YA vibes and I’m completely here for it.

Check out my review here.

THREE. The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant – THIS. I’m in love with Les Mis and have developed a newfound appreciation for Enjolras in the months since reading this book. It was so beautifully written that I swear I highlighted something on every other page and I’m beyond excited for the sequel.

Check out my review here.

TWO. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo – I’ve since read Poet X as well and I can’t get over how beautiful Elizabeth Acevedo’s writing is. This book was a poetic masterpiece, and is another that I read in a single sitting.

Check out my review here.

ONE. The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu – oh look, more Marie Lu (how she managed to release two completely contrasting works-of-art in the space of a year, I will never know). I’m surprised that I enjoyed The Kingdom of Back more than Skyhunter but this book just feels so special to me. The order of my top 10 has shifted a lot in the last few minutes, but there is no doubt in my mind that this book deserves to be number 1.

Check out my review here.

And that’s it! Thank you so much to the publishers that gifted me books on this list (namely: Hot Key Books, HarperVoyager, James Patterson Presents, Electric Monkey, Algonquin and Little Tiger).

I would love to hear what your favourite books were this year, so comment below which books wowed you in 2020!

ARC REVIEW: The Whole Truth by Cara Hunter

I’ve found myself, quite unintentionally, reading a fair few crime thrillers lately, and this is definitely one of the best ones of that bunch. It’s not my normal genre and I’m finding it a little more difficult than usual to review, so please bear with me on this…

The Whole Truth is a crime thriller about DI Adam Fawley’s latest case: a sexual assault claim, where a promising, male postgraduate student is filing charges against the university’s most successful female professor. This case is anything but straightforward and, as it goes on, more and more complications throw themselves into the case until it’s impossible to figure out what truly happened that night.

Meanwhile, Fawley’s caught up in a personal case of his own. His heavily pregnant wife believes she’s being stalked and, when someone close to her is found dead, everything gets just a little more complicated.

If you’re reading this review before you have picked up this book, I would strongly recommend reading Cara Hunter’s other books first, as this one is apparently the fifth book in her DI Fawley series (a fact that I didn’t discover until possibly too late). I haven’t read the other books and I think that would account for some of the confusion I felt regarding Fawley’s personal life and the sheer amount of police officers that you need to keep track of in this book. I’m also being intentionally vague about the latter case, as I presume this is a huge spoiler for one of the earlier books.

All of that being said, I enjoyed this book hugely as a stand-alone. The sexual assault case was for this book alone and the rest is easy enough to figure out that accidentally starting the series at book five didn’t detract from the plot at all.

This book was completely enthralling. Everything seemed so clear-cut at first with the student’s claim against the professor, but there seemed to be a new- not entirely unbelievable- twist with every new page. Similarly with Fawley’s personal case, some parts were guessable, but this is the kind of story where, if you do guess it, you convince yourself you’re wrong and change your mind before it gets revealed. At least, that’s what I did.

This story is told in an interesting way, with the majority of characters having short chapters told in third person, one chapter being told in second, and Fawley’s chapters being told in first. There were also interviews, text messages and emails thrown in to keep things interesting. This was difficult to keep track of at first but, I’m assuming, if you’ve read the other books in the series, this format would be much more familiar to you. It did an excellent job of keeping up the pace, making sure we knew exactly who we were dealing with at all times, and adding dimension to characters that I originally disregarded a little.

Anyway, the takeaway is that I really enjoyed this book. It was fairly short, very pacey and full of twists and turns. It hooked me within the first few pages and I found that every new side-story that was added as we went through only added to the characters and the tension. I would of course recommend this to lovers of crime and twisty thrillers, though perhaps you may want to check out the others first.

A trigger warning: this book discusses, in detail, various cases of sexual assault.


RATING: 4/5

The Stay at Home Book Tag

I don’t know if blogging slumps are a thing but, if so, I have fallen into one. I’ve read very few books in November so far, so I don’t have a review that I can post right now, and I’ve been struggling so much to come up with any other type of content! Suggestions and advice very gratefully accepted.

That being said, I have a lot of free time on my hands and a 24/7 urge to talk about books to anyone who will listen. So… as I sit at home, trying to figure out what I can do today that doesn’t involve leaving the house, here’s a very relevant tag that I found whilst panic-scrolling through Google this morning: The Stay at Home Book Tag

Laying in Bed – a book you read in a day

Threadneedle by Cari Thomas. This book is so long and literally took me the entire day to get through, but it was 100% worth it. I dedicated a solid 9 hours to sitting and getting sucked into the world of witches, vengeance and betrayal and didn’t even consider putting it down. After my introductory I don’t have a review to post spiel, I actually do have a review of this one, but I’ll be posting next year since it publishes in May. You can probably guess my rating already…

Snacking – a guilty pleasure book

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett. All of Jenn Bennett’s books are adorable, easy-to-read YA romances that, although not the most complex books I’ve ever read, are too cute not to read. This one is about a girl who ends up abandoned in the woods with the boy who broke her heart, which is total guilty pleasure book stuff. I would absolutely recommend it. Bonus points: it also taught me how to protect myself from bears if I’m ever stuck in the woods so… there’s that.

Netflix- a series you want to start

Shatter Me by Taherah Mafi! I’ve completely lost track of how many books are in this series (I own four but I think there are six? I don’t know) but it’s been on my TBR for longer than I can remember. I’m slowly working through the embarrassingly long list of books I own but haven’t read, and this one is definitely going to be one of the next ones I get around to (I hope).

Deep Clean – a book that has been on your TBR for ages

So many books. The first one that comes to mind is Arabesque by Aprilynne Pike. I read the Wings series when I was way younger and, from what I can gather, this is about the same characters, ten years in the future. I’ve had this book on my wishlist for years and finally got it this year, so this one is definitely up there on my priority TBR list.

Animal Crossing – a book you recently bought because of hype

I haven’t bought it yet, but I’m so close to buying These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong. My entire twitter timeline yesterday was talking about it and I’ve seen it popping up everywhere for weeks, so I can’t imagine I’m going to be able to hold off buying it for much longer…

Productivity – a book you learned from or had an impact of you

Foreshadow by Nova Ren Suma and Emily X.R. Pan. This book is a gorgeous collection of short stories by lesser-known authors, with each story followed by an essay about a writing technique that was used within that story. The stories themselves were really enjoyable, but I especially loved that after every story, prompt or essay, I desperately wanted to put their suggestions into practice and write something myself.

Facetime – a book you were gifted

Another book that I got as a result of Twitter hype- Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcia. I got this book for my birthday and am currently just over half-way through. It’s a style of horror that I haven’t read a lot of (more The Yellow Wallpaper than IT) and I’m really enjoying it so far.

Self Care – what is one thing that you have done recently to look after yourself?

I’ve been on more walks in the past few months than I’ve been on in my entire life. Sometimes I just blast music too loudly and other times I listen to audiobooks, but it’s definitely been a good way to clear my head after being stuck in my flat 24/7.

BONUS – name a book coming out soon

The first book that comes to mind is The Cousins by Karen McManus. From what I remember, this book is coming out the first week in December and I preordered it during a book haul I ordered from bookshop.org last month. I probably have unfairly high hopes for this book after One of Us is Lying, but I’m really excited to get into this as soon as it comes through my letterbox.

Book Review: Skyhunter by Marie Lu

I wasn’t sure whether or not to review this because I completely gave up on being impartial about Marie Lu’s books about 6 years ago- but in the end, I couldn’t keep my thoughts to myself. Surprise, surprise, this is not going to be a balanced review. It is instead going to be a short summary, followed by a post full of fangirling. You’ve been warned.

Skyhunter is the story of Talin, a specially-trained soldier, or Striker, for her struggling nation, Mara. Set far, far into the future, after the collapse of the world as we know it, Mara is the only land that remains un-colonised by the ever-growing Federation, and Talin is one of many, fighting on the front lines to defend from the oncoming attack, from humans, technological human experiments and ghosts, which are monstrous beings trained to obey the Federation’s every command.

When a presumed Federation soldier wanders into their territory, all but Talin are happy to watch him suffer for their actions, but Talin feels a strange connection that forces her to risk her own life for him. When he is later paired up as her partner, she discovers that there is more to him than meets the eye, and that he may become the key to their survival and a vital look into the Federation’s plans.

There are elements of Legend and Warcross in this book that were impossible for me to ignore. Marie Lu is incredible at writing dystopia, especially dystopia surrounding technology and world domination, and this book was really no different. The characters were as instantly fascinating as any of her books and I found myself loving and hating exactly who I was supposed to. Talin is a fierce, incredibly well-developed protagonist, suffering from a lot of internal struggle about her duties, her heart and her sense of belonging, and Red is an intriguing, unique and equally powerful character to read. Jeran as well, a close friend, a fierce soldier and a very useful translator for Red and Talin, was a particular favourite character of mine. I loved seeing him develop as the story went on, after finding myself particularly invested in him from the very beginning.

This story is fast-paced, exciting and completely immersive. I got sucked in so quickly to the world of Mara and the Federation that I completely forgot the outside world, caring only about their story and their survival. The technology Marie Lu invents is believable, the world is so detailed that it’s impossible not to find yourself in the story with them, and the characters are the kind that you want to keep in your mind forever.

Rather than recommending this book, I urge you to read it. Or read Warcross, or The Young Elites, or Legend, or The Kingdom of Back (which I also *cough* reviewed, here). Marie Lu’s books are incomparable: inclusive, diverse, thrilling, immersive and incredibly original. This book has further solidified her status as my favourite author of all time, and I can only hope that, if you take my advice and read it, you’ll see exactly what I mean.

Rating: 5/5 (obviously…)

Book Review: Kpop Confidential by Stephen Lee

And… here we have another kpop/YA book review! At the same time as I received my ARC of Shine by Jessica Jung, I also received a finished copy of Kpop Confidential, so I am adoring the theme of my autumn reading so far.

Anyway- thank you so much to Chicken House for sending me a copy of this book!

Kpop Confidential follows a fifteen year-old Korean-American girl named Candace who, on a whim, enters a global competition to become a trainee at S.A.Y Entertainment in Korea, and suddenly finds herself being swept up into the not-so-glamorous lifestyle of a celebrity-in-training.

After a begrudging acceptance from her parents, Candace leaves behind her life in the United States for a summer, with the ultimatum that she will either end the summer as a debuted kpop idol or back as a high school student in New Jersey. She is rapidly inducted into a world of no social media, brutal dieting, dating bans and torturous hours of training.

As she faces the struggles of falling in love when dating is strictly prohibited, living in a dorm with the meanest girl in training, and not being able to dance when trying to debut in a dancing idol group, Candace has to commit wholeheartedly to her new trainee lifestyle and forget that there is anything at all outside the walls of her training HQ.

This book has a protagonist who, somewhat unwillingly, finds herself stepping on some toes to get to the top, an entertaining love triangle (with, in my opinion, an obvious favourite…) and some very strong friendships that were incredibly refreshing to read about against the backdrop of all the trainee backstabbing and blackmail.

I really enjoyed this book. Perhaps because of the fifteen year old protagonist, it seemed a little younger than a lot of the YA I’ve read lately, but it was still a cute, easy read with enough drama to keep me turning the pages throughout. Without spoiling anything, I loved the direction that the story ended up going in and found myself satisfied with this book from start to finish. I would definitely recommend to kpop lovers, YA lovers and anyone looking for a whirlwind of a story about dedication, passion, drama and friendship.

Rating: 4/5