September Reading Wrap-Up

It’s nearly October! Which means it’s nearly time for Halloween reads only and horror and spooky books, and I’m SO excited for it. That being said, September was also a pretty incredible month for reading. I really expected to finish more books this month and the fact that I only read five might be disappointing if the majority of them just weren’t so good! Anyway, here’s my brief but very exciting September reading wrap up:

Gilded by Marissa Meyer – I LOVE this book. I never read the story of Rumpelstiltskin so I have no clue how heavily it referenced the fairytale, but it was an incredibly told story either way. The descriptions were magical, the characters were fascinating and the story was well-told, in sections that felt almost like individual short stories but tied together perfectly. 5/5 (the first of many this month…)

Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer – like Marissa Meyer, Brigid Kemmerer is another bestselling author that I’ve been missing out on for a pretty long time. This book is fast-paced, unique, very intense and emotional, with a strong, very moral protagonist, a swoon-worthy royal love interest and a fascinating story. I loved it. 5/5

Fools in Love by various authors – this was a really sweet short story collection entirely about love, with each story being based on a popular YA romance trope such as ‘only one bed’ or ‘friends to lovers’. The stories were very diverse and representative and, although some were much better than others, it was really fun overall. 3/5

This is Why We Lie by Gabriella Lepore- if you like traditional YA high-school murder mysteries, you will absolutely love this book. It’s a super quick read with a high-school whodunnit storyline and a very suspicious cast of characters. I would definitely recommend if you’re looking to get out of a slump or for an easy, gripping story. 4/5

Not Here to Be Liked by Michelle Quach – !!! This book exceeded my expectations by SO much. I was hoping for an easy contemporary romance read and, whilst I definitely got that from this book, it also discussed so many important themes and topics alongside its romantic storyline. This book is a masterclass on how to use fiction to genuinely educate on issues without forcing the message and making the story feel artificial, and I adored it. 5/5

And that’s it! Let me know in the comments if you loved any of these as much as I did, and what your favourite read of September was 🙂

Book Review: Fire With Fire by Destiny Soria

*Thank you to Hodder for gifting me an eARC in exchange for an honest review*

Fire With Fire tells the story of Dani and Eden Rivera, who could almost be your average competitive sisters if not for one added complication: they come from a family of well-renowned and highly dedicated dragon slayers. Eden is the responsible older sister and Dani is the reckless teenager with little interest in the family’s business but, so as to be as unfair of possible, Dani is of course the young dragon-slaying prodigy that excels in every aspect of her training.

As if life isn’t complicated enough for the Rivera sisters, everything becomes a little more confusing and a lot more dangerous when Dani stumbles across a dragon one night and finds that they may not be the lethal, heartless creatures that she’s always been taught that they are. With dragons, slayers, high school romances, sorcerers and rivalries, Fire With Fire is an exciting story about sibling rivalries gone too far, loyalties, and how it isn’t always easy to know who you can trust.

Although I enjoyed it from the beginning, it took me quite a while to get into this book. When I did get hooked though, around 40% in, it became completely impossible to put down. The plot was exciting and the action scenes were well-written, but my favourite thing about this book by far was the wonderful cast of characters. The lengths that her anxiety and pride take Eden to make her a fascinating character, and Dani’s growth was possibly even more gripping to read about. The entire set of side characters – Nox, Tomas, Sadie, Kieran – were also really likeable, and the strength of their trust and friendships was so pure and refreshing to read about.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Its combination of intense and detailed fight scenes, teen angst, magic, sibling rivalry and great representation made it a fun, unique read that I would absolutely recommend.

Rating: 4/5

ARC REVIEW: Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber

First things first: THANK YOU to Hodder for sending me an eARC of this amazing book in exchange for a review. I spent half a day screaming when my request got accepted, and then spent the rest of the day reading it so… thank you!

Evangeline has always believed in true love, fairytales and happily ever afters, but her world is turned completely upside down when she discovers that Luc, the love of her life, is engaged to someone else. Convinced that her love’s betrayal is the result of a curse or magic, she runs to the Prince of Hearts – the mysterious Jacks – and begs him to stop the wedding.

But Evangeline soon realises that you should never make a deal with a Fate, as one small agreement with Jacks sets her life on a whole new path, full of danger, betrayal and dark magic.

Caraval is one of my favourite series’ and I’ve had Once Upon a Broken Heart preordered since last year so my hopes were incredibly high, but it lived up to all of my expectations and more. Evangeline was a great protagonist, with a great combination of selflessness, determination and intelligence, without being needlessly reckless like a lot of YA fantasy protagonists are. She was so easy to root for all the way through and I really think she’s one of the most entertaining protagonists I’ve read this year. Jacks was, as expected, the fascinating character that I remember him being, although I definitely loved him more this time around. He was unpredictable all the time and so consistent with his character in Caraval that it was easy to get sucked back into his story almost immediately.

Stephanie Garber’s world-building is incredible, and her writing never fails to impress me. Every setting felt both real and magical, from the little trinket shop to Wolf Hall, and the story that combined them all was a fast-paced quest with elements of romance, fantasy and adventure that kept me hooked from the very first page. I read this entire book in one sitting because I genuinely couldn’t put it down, and even though I finished it over a month ago now, it’s still completely stuck in my head, in the same way that all of her books so far have been.

I genuinely loved every aspect of this book, from the protagonists, to the story, to the setting, and I’m already desperate to read the next book in the series. Once Upon a Broken Heart is absolutely a new favourite for me, and I’ll definitely be telling every fantasy-lover I know to read it.

Rating: 5/5

MARCH WRAP-UP

Happy April!

I’m optimistic about this month for a lot of bookish reasons. The new releases coming out this month are incredible, the bookshops are re-opening(!!) AND I am, for once, not starting the month in a reading slump. I feel like I read in every spare moment I had in March and I was given so many good new books on NetGalley that things in the non-reality sphere are definitely looking good.

With that in mind, here’s my (pretty exciting) March wrap-up…

The Loop by Ben Oliver – I was gifted this book and its sequel for a blog tour (that will be up very, very soon!) and I loved it SO much. If you like The Fifth Wave or The 100 or The Maze Runner or really any of the slightly older dystopian YA, this book is definitely worth a read. Full review to follow but, honestly, a wonderful start to the month.

Hunter x Hunter (volumes 11 and 12) by Yoshihiro Togashi – this is a kind of random choice since I haven’t read volumes 1 through 10 but I love HxH and could not resist picking these up when I found them in a charity shop last year. Both were super fun, though 11 was by far the more exciting of the two. On a side note, if you haven’t watched HxH (2011), you absolutely need to…

All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue – my review for this one is here. This was a super fun, slightly younger YA read about tarot reading, with lots of good LGBTQ+ rep.

The Lock In by Phoebe Luckhurst – contemporaries are not normally my thing in winter, but I requested this one on a whim and really enjoyed it. Though a little predictable at times, this was a funny rom-com set in a very familiar setting (a rented house-share in London…).

Love in Five Acts by Daniela Krien – this again is not my usual genre, but it was a pretty unique and very interesting exploration of how different women cope with love and loss in the twenty-first century. My review, if you want to check it out, is here.

Of Wicked Blood by Katie Hoyez and Olivia Wildenstein – this one was my only audiobook for the month and I’ve been listening to it forever on NetGalley. It’s a magical adventure set in France, following a life-or-death quest and an unlikely romance. I didn’t really connect with it as much as I would have liked, but the narrators were great and I loved the action elements a lot.

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim – this book is the best thing I read in March. As with The Loop, I’m super excited to be reading the sequel this month and can’t wait to see what happens next. My review for this is here.

And that’s it! Hope you have a wonderful reading month ahead, and I’d love to hear what your best book of March was, in case it’s something I need to add to my TBR…

Books That Got Me Into Reading

HAPPY WORLD BOOK DAY! I’m super excited about today because it always makes me nostalgic for when I was younger, and the amazing £1 book selections that, honestly, I still buy at age twenty-two… As a book-addict for as long as I can remember, World Book Day holds a special place in my heart and, to honour that, I wanted to take a trip down bookish memory lane.

So, to do that, I thought I’d share a very small selection of some of the books that got me into reading!

Rainbow Magic by Daisy Meadows – this was one of the first series’ I ever read. I only recently found out that Daisy Meadows was a pseudonym for multiple authors, which slightly broke my heart, but that doesn’t take away from how much I adored these. I have at least seventy in a box at my parents’ house (including a World Book Day special!) and I don’t think I’ll ever clear them out.

Totally Lucy by Kelly McKain- I was obsessed with the Totally Lucy book series. I read the second book first, got completely hooked, and then read the entire rest of the series in a couple of weeks. My name is never on anything, but my middle name is Lucy, so I was super excited about the fact that a character almost shared my name, and her love of fashion really resonated with my (clearly very stylish) ten-year old self. I started reading a lot after that, but none of my younger reads stuck with me quite as much as this one.

The Shapeshifter series by Ali Sparkes – This is another series I got completely obsessed with, but this time it wasn’t a series of quick reads, but a really intense, slightly-shorter, action-packed series. It’s middle-grade, but it definitely acted as my bridge into YA, and I loved everything about it. The fantasy elements, the twists and the characters were all incredible and, honestly, I think I would still love this series to this day.

Divergent by Veronica Roth- The beginning of my YA obsession! This is the first YA series I read and, after finishing Allegiant, I never really stopped. I went from this, to The Hunger Games, to The Mortal Instruments and fairly quickly through all of those big YA series from the early 2010s. I got completely hooked on this in 2014, bought merchandise, started buying multiple copies and made my first ever (slightly embarrassing) Instagram fanpage…

Wings by Aprilynne Pike – So you can probably tell from Rainbow Magic that fairies were kind of my thing growing up. I was obsessed with all things fae (and it definitely carried over into my YA love of The Folk of the Air and Wicked Lovely) but Wings is the fairy series that I think I hold dearest. Also, Aprilynne Pike is the first author who ever tweeted me back (in 2014!!) so that holds a special place in my heart too.

The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare – This one may be slightly cheating since I was very much into reading by the time I read The Mortal Instruments, but this is another series that made me realise just how deeply obsessed my teenage self could get with books. I wore a rune necklace all through college (and actually made a lot of reader friends because of it) and got hooked on all things fantasy. I never got round to continuing with the Shadowhunter books after The Infernal Devices, but this series will always hold a special place in my heart.

I could go on forever about books that I obsessed over when I was younger, but I think I should probably stop here. I hope you’re having (or had) a wonderful World Book Day, and would love to hear about the books that got you into reading too!

ARC Review: The Shadow in the Glass by JJA Harwood

*Thank you so much to Harper Collins for the e-ARC!*

The Shadow in the Glass tells the story of Ella, a young housemaid who dreams of a better life. Having been taken in by a wealthy family for a few years before being cast aside, Ella knows that she can’t live without the wealth and security that the world owes her; so when an empty-eyed woman appears and promises seven wishes, Ella jumps at the chance to start a new and better life. As she begins to twist the world to her liking, however, she quickly realises that this may not be quite the bargain she thought it was.

Before I read this book, I was convinced that every possible Cinderella retelling had been done, but The Shadow in the Glass completely proved me wrong. It was a new, dark twist on the tale that would be perfect for readers who prefer their fairytales a little more Grimm and a little less Disney. The overlap between the two stories was expertly done and, although I definitely have a few unanswered questions, so much of the story was answered either by aspects of the original tale or by inventions from JJA Harwood’s imagination that I was completely satisfied.

Ella was a fascinating protagonist. I’m still unsure how I feel about a number of her decisions and her moral position, but it was interesting trying to justify her actions and wondering what I’d do in the same position. I loved her transition too, from indecisive and doubtful in the first part of the story, to committed, serious and downright dangerous when she realised what she wanted.

This book took the darkest parts of Cinderella and made them darker, twisting this into a gothic and grim tale of dangerous magic. A number of incredibly serious themes are tackled from the very beginning and these hinted at how dark this book might get, but I was completely taken aback by how gothic it ended up being.

What started out slow and descriptive with only a hint of magic turned quickly into a gripping page-turner that had my mind wandering back to it every time I managed to put it down. I would recommend this book for adult readers, young adult readers, lovers of fantasy, fairytales and historical fiction. I don’t have too many to compare it to, but this was possibly the most compelling fairytale retelling I’ve ever read, and I’m excited to see what JJA Harwood will write next.

Rating: 4/5

The Shadow in the Glass is publishing on March 18th 2021.

January Reading Wrap-up

Hi! It’s the end of January so I hope everyone is having a (slightly, at least) better 2021 so far.

It’s been a crazy-busy and stressful month for me and it feels like there are a million things happening all at once, so I really thought my reading was going to suffer and was pleasantly surprised when I realised I have seven books for my January wrap-up!

So, the seven books I’ve read so far this year are:

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Turner – I wanted my first book of 2021 to be amazing and I was really struggling to decide what to go for, but I’m SO glad I settled on this one. It was a fun, exciting, super unique read with so much positive LGBTQ+ representation and a really fast-paced storyline. 5/5

To Whatever End by Lyndsey Frydman – this was an easy, and pretty predictable, YA romance. It has a tiny bit of paranormal activity but is primarily a typical romance, and I got through it in a day, which was great. It was pretty cliche and not entirely to my taste, but it definitely seems like a fun read to get you out of a slump. 2.5/5

The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn – review to come for this one, but it was a very unique take on a mean-girl thriller, from the perspective of a girl that can only be considered the villain of the story. It was another quick read with a very interesting protagonist and a lot of drama. 4/5

Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered by Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff – I listened to this one as an audiobook and I feel like that was absolutely the best format for it. It was motivational, uplifting and full of personal anecdotes. It was very much a self-help book, rather than a book for lovers of true crime, but it was a fun and interesting read all the same. 3/5

The Wing Thief by Samantha Atkins – my review for this is here, so there’s not much more to say other than that it was a really cute middle-grade about fairies and discovering where you belong. 4.5/5

The Stolen Kingdom by Jillian Boehme – my review for this one is here! This was another book that I adored. With enemies to lovers, royalty, dark magic and a kingdom at stake, this had pretty much everything I look for in YA fantasy. 5/5

The Sad Ghost Club by Lize Meddings – this book is adorable and was pretty much solely a cover-buy. It’s a really sweet graphic novel about a sad ghost who feels completely alone in the world until they discover that there are others in the exact same situation, and is the kind of book you can easily get through in an hour or so. 4/5

And that’s it! How was your reading this month, and what’s been your favourite book of 2021 so far? I’d love to know in the comments below 🙂

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!