Top 5 Books of 2022

Hi everyone! I recently took it upon myself to rank all 150 books I read in 2022. I’ll add the image of the whole tier at the bottom of this post, but if you’d like to watch me decide the ranking, you can watch my YouTube video linked below.

Ranking all of these allowed me to find my top 5 and 10 books of the year, which was pretty cool to know. I already had a good idea about which were in my top 5, and I definitely knew which would come out on top, but it was so interesting to rank them against each other.

5. Under a Dancing Star by Laura Wood

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In grey, 1930s England, Bea has grown up kicking against the conventions of the time, all the while knowing that she will one day have to marry someone her parents choose – someone rich enough to keep the family estate alive. But she longs for so much more – for adventure, excitement, travel, and maybe even romance.
When she gets the chance to spend the summer in Italy with her bohemian uncle and his fiancée, a whole world is opened up to Bea – a world that includes Ben, a cocky young artist who just happens to be infuriatingly handsome too. Sparks fly between the quick-witted pair until one night, under the stars, a challenge is set: can Bea and Ben put aside their teasing and have the perfect summer romance?
With their new friends gleefully setting the rules for their fling, Bea and Ben can agree on one thing at least: they absolutely, positively will not, cannot fall in love…
A long, hot summer of kisses and mischief unfolds – but storm clouds are gathering across Europe, and home is calling. Every summer has to end – but for Bea, this might be just the beginning.

Overall, this was probably one of my most surprising reads of the year. I read A Sky Painted Gold back in 2021 and although I enjoyed it, it didn’t quite reach 5 stars. Under a Dancing Star, however, was such a beautiful read on a long summer evening and it was absolutely brilliant. I don’t usually read a lot of historical as it doesn’t usually appeal to me, so this was even more of pleasant surprise.

You can read my full review here.

4. i love this part by Tillie Walden

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Two girls in a small town in the USA kill time together as they try to get through their days at school.
They watch videos, share earbuds as they play each other songs and exchange their stories. In the process they form a deep connection and an unexpected relationship begins to develop.

My 4th favourite book of the year was also a little surprising, as I have never read anything by this author before. This was also a very short graphic novel, but it had a big impact.

i love this part covers the relationship between two girls. It follows everything from the smallest moments to the big ones – and it encapsulates so many tiny parts of a relationship that I really related to and loved.

You can read my review here.

3. The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

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As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.
That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding… six-pack abs.
Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.

My 3rd favourite book of the year was The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood, which I couldn’t help picking up due to the hype! I’m not usually so impressed by romances, but I could not put this one down and I binged it so quickly. I can’t wait to read more from this author!

You can find my full review here.

2. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?
Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.
Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

I also had another surprising read – The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. This one was particularly surprising as I had actually read Daisy Jones and the Six and didn’t feel as impressed by it as everyone else seemed to be at the time. I wasn’t planning on reading anything more by this author, until my lovely friend Courtney read and absolutely loved Seven Husbands. I decided to try it and absolutely fell in love with this amazing book. It’s so involving, beautiful, shocking and I couldn’t put it down.

You can read my full review here.

1.Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

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On a bitter-cold day, in the December of his junior year at Harvard, Sam Masur exits a subway car and sees, amid the hordes of people waiting on the platform, Sadie Green. He calls her name. For a moment, she pretends she hasn’t heard him, but then, she turns, and a game begins: a legendary collaboration that will launch them to stardom. These friends, intimates since childhood, borrow money, beg favors, and, before even graduating college, they have created their first blockbuster, Ichigo. Overnight, the world is theirs. Not even twenty-five years old, Sam and Sadie are brilliant, successful, and rich, but these qualities won’t protect them from their own creative ambitions or the betrayals of their hearts.
Spanning thirty years, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Venice Beach, California, and lands in between and far beyond, Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a dazzling and intricately imagined novel that examines the multifarious nature of identity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love. Yes, it is a love story, but it is not one you have read before.

And it came as no surprise to find my favourite book of the year was Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. I absolutely loved this book, which is a slow burn, beautiful story following intricate characters over a number of years.

You can find my full review here.

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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January TBR | Books I Want to Read in January

Hi all and welcome to another post! It’s a little late, but I thought today I’d talk about some of the books I’d like to read in January – as picked by mini-golf.

Every month I play a mini-golf game to decide what I’m going to read and you can see the video below to watch me play!

The books I ended up picking this month are:

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

Baek Sehee is a successful young social media director at a publishing house when she begins seeing a psychiatrist about her – what to call it? – depression? She feels persistently low, anxious, endlessly self-doubting, but also highly judgemental of others. She hides her feelings well at work and with friends; adept at performing the calmness, even ease, her lifestyle demands. The effort is exhausting, overwhelming, and keeps her from forming deep relationships. This can’t be normal.
But if she’s so hopeless, why can she always summon a desire for her favourite street food, the hot, spicy rice cake, tteokbokki? Is this just what life is like?
Recording her dialogues with her psychiatrist over a 12-week period, Baek begins to disentangle the feedback loops, knee-jerk reactions and harmful behaviours that keep her locked in a cycle of self-abuse. Part memoir, part self-help book, I Want to Die but I Want to Eat Tteokbokki is a book to keep close and to reach for in times of darkness.

I’ve had this one for a while, thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me a copy! I don’t read a lot of non fiction but this one sounds really interesting and it’s only short, so not too daunting even though I picked this for the prompt outside of my comfort zone.

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

Jamie Rambeau is a happy 11-year-old non-binary kid who likes nothing better than hanging out with their two best friends Daisy and Ash. But when the trio find out that in Year Seven they will be separated into one school for boys and another for girls, their friendship suddenly seems at risk. And when Jamie realises no one had thought about where they are going to go, they decide to take matters into their own hands, and sort it all out once and for all.
As complaints at school turn into a rooftop protest against the binary rules for the local schools, Jamie realises that if they don’t figure out a way forwards, they might be at risk of losing both their friends forever.

I then chose to pick Jamie, which I recently received from the publisher Hachette – thank you to them! I’m so excited for this one, and I’ve actually already started reading it. I picked this one out for less than 300 pages.

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

Abandoned on the Mumbai railways, Ajay has grown up with nothing but a burning wish to be a journalist.
Finding an abandoned printing press, he and his friends Saif, Vinod, Yasmin and Jai create their own newspaper: The Mumbai Sun.
As they hunt down stories for their paper, the children uncover corruption, fight for justice and battle to save their slum from bulldozers.
But against some of the most powerful forces in the city, can Ajay and his friends really succeed in bringing the truth to light? Not to mention win the most important cricket match ever …

I then picked out Ajay and the Mumbai Sun for brown cover (let’s pretend this is more brown than orange….). This one was sent to me by Chicken House and I’ve already read this one!

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

Most days, Ellie Pillai is somewhere between invisible, and not very cool – and usually she’s okay with that. But suddenly, Ellie feels different. Maybe it’s the new boy at school who makes her brain explode into rainbows every time she sees him (and also happens to be going out with her best friend), or maybe it’s her new drama teacher, the one who seems to have noticed she exists. Suddenly, her misfit style, her skin colour, her songwriting and all that getting lost in the music in her head seem to be okay too. Because maybe standing out isn’t a bad thing after all.

The next prompt was more than 400 pages, and I picked Ellie Pillai is Brown, which I’ve also already read on audio and it was super cool, including songs in the audiobook! Thank you to Faber and Faber for this one.

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

Seventeen-year-old Aisha hasn’t seen her sister June for two years. And now that a calamity is about to end the world in nine months’ time, she and her mother decide that it’s time to track her down and mend the hurts of the past. Along with Aisha’s Chinese boyfriend, Walter and his parents (and Fleabag the stray cat), the group take a roadtrip through Malaysia in a wildly decorated campervan – to put the past to rest, to come to terms with the present, and to hope for the future.

And last but not least was Mark pick – my boyfriend picked for me to read The Cats We Meet Along the Way, which was sent to me from Guppy Publishing.

What are you planning to read in January?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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December Wrap-Up: 23 Books in December

Hi everyone! It’s been a minute since I was last here – but I’m determined for 2023 to be a better year for the blog with more posts and book reviews.

To start the year, I’m here with my December wrap up, which is covering 23 books! That’s the second most amount of books I’ve read in a month, only second to the 24 I read in June 2021.

If you’d like to see this post in video format, you can find it on my YouTube channel below.

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

Atlanta is blanketed with snow just before Christmas, but the warmth of young love just might melt the ice in this novel of interwoven narratives, Black joy, and cozy, sparkling romance—by the same unbeatable team of authors who wrote the New York Times bestseller Blackout!
As the city grinds to a halt, twelve teens band together to help a friend pull off the most epic apology of her life. But will they be able to make it happen, in spite of the storm?
No one is prepared for this whiteout. But then, we can’t always prepare for the magical moments that change everything.

★★
3 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

Emmy Harlow is a witch but not a very powerful one—in part because she hasn’t been home to the magical town of Thistle Grove in years. Her self-imposed exile has a lot to do with a complicated family history and a desire to forge her own way in the world, and only the very tiniest bit to do with Gareth Blackmoore, heir to the most powerful magical family in town and casual breaker of hearts and destroyer of dreams.
But when a spellcasting tournament that her family serves as arbiters for approaches, it turns out the pull of tradition (or the truly impressive parental guilt trip that comes with it) is strong enough to bring Emmy back. She’s determined to do her familial duty; spend some quality time with her best friend, Linden Thorn; and get back to her real life in Chicago.
On her first night home, Emmy runs into Talia Avramov—an all-around badass adept in the darker magical arts—who is fresh off a bad breakup . . . with Gareth Blackmoore. Talia had let herself be charmed, only to discover that Gareth was also seeing Linden—unbeknownst to either of them. And now she and Linden want revenge. Only one question stands: Is Emmy in?
But most concerning of all: Why can’t she stop thinking about the terrifyingly competent, devastatingly gorgeous, wickedly charming Talia Avramov?


3.5 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

The heroes of Cloud Cuckoo Land are trying to figure out the world around them: Anna and Omeir, on opposite sides of the formidable city walls during the 1453 siege of Constantinople; teenage idealist Seymour in an attack on a public library in present day Idaho; and Konstance, on an interstellar ship bound for an exoplanet, decades from now. Like Marie-Laure and Werner in All the Light We Cannot See, Anna, Omeir, Seymour, and Konstance are dreamers and outsiders who find resourcefulness and hope in the midst of peril.
An ancient text—the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to a utopian paradise in the sky—provides solace and mystery to these unforgettable characters. Doerr has created a tapestry of times and places that reflects our vast interconnectedness—with other species, with each other, with those who lived before us and those who will be here after we’re gone.


2.5 out of 5 stars

Storygraph

Syd (no pronouns, please) has always dealt with big, hard-to-talk-about things by baking. Being dumped is no different, except now Syd is baking at the Proud Muffin, a queer bakery and community space in Austin. 
And everyone who eats Syd’s breakup brownies . . . breaks up. Even Vin and Alec, who own the Proud Muffin. And their breakup might take the bakery down with it. Being dumped is one thing; causing ripples of queer heartbreak through the community is another. 
But the cute bike delivery person, Harley (he or they, check the pronoun pin, it’s probably on the messenger bag), believes Syd about the magic baking. And Harley believes Syd’s magical baking can fix things, too—one recipe at a time.

★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

Sal lives in a haunted house.
He longs to be ordinary, but when the strangest of strangers arrives on his doorstep – a fellow outcast called Pax – his life grows even more complicated.
Sal goes on to develop an unlikely friendship with Pax, whose love for all things spooky drew him to the house and its inhabitants. But as the two grow closer, the true nature of the hauntings is gradually revealed.
Will Sal find the courage to conquer his ghosts, or will he risk losing Pax for good?

★★
4 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

It’s the golden rule of pretending to be someone’s girlfriend: don’t fall for their sister.
After a year from hell, Haf is ready to blow off steam at a Christmas party: a kind stranger, a few too many drinks and suddenly she’s kissing Christopher under the mistletoe – in front of his ex-girlfriend.
The next day the news is out that they’re apparently a couple, madly in love and coming to Oxlea to spend the festive season with Christopher’s family. But Haf doesn’t have better holiday plans and to save her new friend from embarrassment, she agrees to pretend to be Christopher’s girlfriend for Christmas.
It has the makings of a hilarious anecdote they’ll be telling for years. Until Haf meets Christopher’s sister: the mysterious, magnetic and utterly irresistible Kit. Maybe love was waiting for Haf in this quiet little town all along . . .

★★
5 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

I am girl of Ember Grove, and these are my woods… Growing up in Ember Grove, Bitsy Clark knows better than to mess with the long-held traditions of her hometown. Until her best friend, Amy, persuades her to sneak into The Revelry – the end of school party in the woods, to which only those leaving are invited. When she wakes the next day, Bitsy can’t remember anything from the night before. Weirder still, whenever she tries to speak about The Revelry, Bitsy chokes on the words. But this is just the beginning, and what starts out as a run of bad luck starts to feel like a curse. As Bitsy’s life goes from bad to worse, things only get better and better for her best friend. It’s as if there’s only so much luck to go round and Amy’s getting all of it…

★★
3 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

Full of finely drawn forest scenes, this gentle picture book encourages children to explore their connections with nature. Award-winning artist Emma Carlisle asks readers to consider how each tree is different, what they have witnessed in their centuries of life, what animals they have sheltered, and who may have played under their branches. Exploring growth through the eyes of a child, this lovely picture book urges readers to connect with the world around them, fostering a deeper appreciation for the natural environment and their place within it.

★★
5 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

A lonely little kitten wanders into a dull, gray station, full of dull, gray people. Her colorful fur and bright green eyes bring warmth and life to this weary place, and soon people begin to notice the kitten. As she learns about the different travelers and their struggles from loss and loneliness, the little kitten wants to help fill their world with hope and color, too.
In this timely and important book, author and illustrator Stephen Hogtun shows young readers the pride and sense of purpose that can come from helping others.

★★★
4 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Waterstones

First came a sinister warning to Poirot not to eat any plum pudding… then the discovery of a corpse in a chest… next, an overheard quarrel that led to murder… the strange case of the dead man who altered his eating habits… and the puzzle of the victim who dreamt his own suicide.
What links these five baffling cases? The little grey cells of Monsieur Hercule Poirot!
Contains the stories:
• The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding
• The Mystery of the Spanish Chest
• Four-And-Twenty Blackbirds
• The Under Dog
• The Dream

★★
3 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Waterstones

Christmas Eve, and the Lee family’s reunion is shattered by a deafening crash of furniture and a high-pitched wailing scream. Upstairs, the tyrannical Simeon Lee lies dead in a pool of blood, his throat slashed.
When Hercule Poirot offers to assist, he finds an atmosphere not of mourning but of mutual suspicion. It seems everyone had their own reason to hate the old man. . . .

★★
4 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

When a hunting fox pounces through the snow and finds itself inside a warm home, it’s welcomed and given dinner by a kind bearded man with a big round belly. Soon yawning, the man leaves the fox to explore through piles of strewn wrapping paper and rows of empty shelves. As the man sleeps, the fox curls up, too, until sun and flowers return, luring them both outside. But soon the man gets back to work—drawing and measuring, painting and hammering, sewing and stuffing, until all the empty shelves are filled from top to bottom. Paired with Richard Jones’s charmingly detailed illustrations, Polly Faber’s gentle story offers a fresh look at how Santa prepares for the most magical night of the year.

★★
5 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

Since early 2020, Dolly Alderton has been sharing her wisdom, warmth and wit with the countless people who have written in to her Dear Dolly agony aunt column in The Sunday Times Style. Their questions range from the painfully – and sometimes hilariously – relatable to the occasionally bizarre. They include breakups and body issues, families, friendships, dating, divorce, the pleasures and pitfalls of social media, sex, loneliness, longing, love and everything in between.
Without judgement, and with deep empathy informed by her own, much-chronicled adventures in love, friendship and dating, Dolly leads us by the hand through the various labyrinths of life, proving that a problem shared is truly a problem halved.

★★
5 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

Bee Hobbes (aka Bianca Von Honey) has a successful career as a plus-size adult film star. With a huge following and two supportive moms, Bee couldn’t ask for more. But when Bee’s favorite producer casts her to star in a Christmas movie he’s making for the squeaky-clean Hope Channel, Bee’s career is about to take a more family-friendly direction.
Forced to keep her work as Bianca under wraps, Bee quickly learns this is a task a lot easier said than done. Though it all becomes worthwhile when she discovers her co-star is none other than childhood crush Nolan Shaw, an ex-boy band member in desperate need of career rehab. Nolan’s promised his bulldog manager to keep it zipped up on set, and he will if it means he’ll be able to provide a more stable living situation for his sister and mom.
But things heat up quickly in Christmas Notch, Vermont, when Nolan recognizes his new co-star from her ClosedDoors account (oh yeah, he’s a member). Now Bee and Nolan are sneaking off for quickies on set, keeping their new relationship a secret from the Hope Channel’s execs. Things only get trickier when the reporter who torpedoed Nolan’s singing career comes snooping around—and takes an instant interest in mysterious newcomer Bee.
And if Bee and Nolan can’t keep their off-camera romance behind the scenes, then this merry little meet cute might end up on the cutting room floor.

★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

When Evie and Duke meet on set, it’s a frosty encounter – even icier than the cobbled Bavarian streets they’re filming on.
But after images of them arguing leak to the press and put the movie in jeopardy, they are left with no choice but to fake date until the cameras stop rolling. 
As the pair start to put their differences aside, their feelings gradually begin to thaw… But can sparks ever really fly in a snowstorm?


3 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Waterstones

A Christmas Carol is the most famous, heart-warming and chilling festive story of them all. In these pages we meet Ebenezer Scrooge, whose name is synonymous with greed and parsimony: ‘Every idiot who goes about with “Merry Christmas” on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart’. This attitude is soon challenged when the ghost of his old partner, Jacob Marley, returns from the grave to haunt him on Christmas Eve. Scrooge is then visited in turn by three spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future, each one revealing the error of his ways and gradually melting the frozen heart of this old miser, leading him towards his redemption. On the journey we take with Scrooge we encounter a rich array of Dickensian characters including the poor Cratchit family with the ailing Tiny Tim and the generous and jolly Fezziwig.

★★
5 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

A collection of Tillie’s three longform comics with Avery Hill, I Love This Part, The End Of Summer and A City Inside. Plus the early sketches, short comics for magazines and webcomics such as “What It’s Like To Be Gay In An All-Girls Middle School” that shot her to fame on both sides of the Atlantic and have never been collected before.


4 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

What do the residents of Animal Crossing™: New Horizons get up to when you’re not around? Find out all about their antics in this hilarious manga filled with goofy gags and silly stories!
Get ready to meet more characters from Animal Crossing™: New Horizons! Enjoy their silly adventures with our four goofy residents on a deserted island!

★★
3 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

★★
3 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

What if you could communicate with a whale? Rio has been sent to live with a grandmother he barely knows in California, while his mum is in hospital back home. Alone and adrift, the only thing that makes him smile is joining his new friend Marina on her dad’s whale watching trips. That is until an incredible encounter with White Beak, a gentle giant of the sea changes everything. But when White Beak goes missing, Rio must set out on a desperate quest to find his whale and somehow save his mum. Dive into this incredible story about the connection between a boy and a whale and the bond that sets them both free.

★★
4 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Waterstones

Kara Sullivan is definitely not avoiding her deadline. After all, it’s the week of her best friend’s wedding and she’s the maid of honour, so she’s got lots of responsibilities. She’s a bestselling romance novelist with seven novels under her belt, so she’s a pro. Looming deadlines don’t scare her, and neither does writer’s block, which she most certainly does not have. She’s just eager to support Cristina as she ties the knot. Right? Right.
But then who should show up at the rehearsal dinner but Kara’s college ex-boyfriend, Ryan? Turns out he’s one of the groom’s childhood friends, and he’s in the wedding party, too. Considering neither Kara nor Ryan were prepared to see each other ever again, it’s decidedly a meet-NOT-cute. However, when Kara sits down to write again the next day, her writer’s block is suddenly gone. Are muses real? And is Kara’s muse . . . Ryan?


3.5 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, Ryland realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Hurtling through space on this tiny ship, it’s up to him to puzzle out an impossible scientific mystery-and conquer an extinction-level threat to our species. All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company. Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it. Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission – and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish. And with the clock ticking down and the nearest human being light-years away, he’s got to do it all alone. An ally he never imagined. An impossible mission. Or does he? 

★★
4 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

Jake Livingston is one of the only black kids at St. Clair Prep, one of the others being his infinitely more popular older brother. It’s hard enough fitting in but to make matters worse and definitely more complicated, Jake can see the dead. In fact he sees the dead around him all the time. Most are harmless. Stuck in their death loops as they relive their deaths over and over again, they don’t interact often with people. But then Jake meets Sawyer. A troubled teen who shot and killed sixteen kids at a local high school last year before taking his own life. Now a powerful, vengeful ghost, he has plans for his afterlife–plans that include Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about ghosts and the rules to life itself go out the window as Sawyer begins haunting him and bodies turn up in his neighborhood. High school soon becomes a survival game–one Jake is not sure he’s going to win.

★★
3 out of 5 stars

My favourite book of the month was definitely Make You Mine this Christmas, with my least favourite sadly being Cloud Cuckoo Land. Give my video a watch for more of my thoughts and feelings!

What did you read in December?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: A Far Wilder Magic by Allison Saft

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In the dark, gothic town of Wickdon, Maggie Welty lives in an old creaking manor. Maggie’s mother is an alchemist who has recently left town, leaving Maggie with just her bloodhound for company. But when Maggie spots a legendary ancient fox-creature on her porch, her fate is changed forever. Whoever tracks down and kills the hala in the Halfmoon Hunt will earn fame and riches – and if Maggie wins the hunt, she knows her mother will want to celebrate her. This is her chance to bring her home.
But the rules state that only teams of two can join the hunt, and while Maggie is known as the best sharpshooter in town, she needs an alchemist.
Enter Wes Winters. He isn’t an alchemist … yet. Fired from every apprenticeship he’s landed, this is his last chance.
Maggie and Wes make an unlikely team – a charismatic but troubled boy, and a girl who has endured life on the outskirts of a town that never welcomed her. But as the hunt takes over, the pair are drawn together as they uncover a darker magic that may put everything they hold dear in peril…

Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I honestly didn’t expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. I listened to the audiobook mostly, diving in at the end of the physical version, and I really enjoyed the experience. This one captured my attention from the start with brilliant world-building, a stunning atmosphere and beautiful writing. I listened to around half of this book driving across the English and Welsh countryside on a long drive, and it was the perfect autumnal setting to settle into this story.

I really loved the romance, which was very slow burn and a lot of lusting, but was written so well that I couldn’t help but fall for these two and really root for their relationship. There was also several different family dynamics explored, and I really liked reading about Wes’ relationship with his sisters, and Maggie’s life spent largely alone.

When she looks like this, flushed and hazy and haloed by the moon,

The fantasy aspect of this book was well done and gave another layer to the story, but was incredibly complex. If I had a slight complaint about this one, it felt like the fantasy elements were over complicated in places and the space could have been used to discuss the side characters in more depth, which frequently appeared but were sometimes not fully integrated in the story in my opinion.

I did, however, really enjoy the discussions of Irish folklore and culture, and although I cannot personally speak about the Irish Catholic and Jewish rep, I have read several other reviews discussing their positive feelings towards the representation. I also really liked the alchemy aspect, but it feels like it could have been explored in more depth. The time period and setting was largely ambiguous which I didn’t particularly mind but I can understand why it might bug some people as it was difficult to pinpoint!

he truly can believe God exists, and her name is Margaret Welty.

Overall, there was so much to love about this book, which had a delicious romance, an atmospheric setting, and beautiful writing. Although I had a few small criticisms, I’d recommend it!

★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Once Upon a Fever by Angharad Walker

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Since the world fell sick with fantastical illnesses, sisters Payton and Ani have grown up in the hospital of King Jude’s.
Payton wants to be a methic like her father, working on a cure for her mother’s sleeping fever. Ani, however, thinks the remedy for all illness might be found in the green wilderness beyond the hospital walls.
When Ani stumbles upon an imprisoned boy who turns everything he touches to gold, her world is turned upside-down. The girls find themselves outside the hospital for the first time, a dark mystery unravelling …

I listened to the audiobook of this one and it was such an immersive and fantastical world! I loved the way this used slightly different language that had a more classical feeling. It didn’t feel overly complex and still felt familiar enough to the reader but gave a different level to the story.

The plot definitely kept me hooked and I was intrigued to see where the story was going for both of the sisters. Talking of the two sisters, they made for great main characters, but my biggest gripe with this one was that I never felt particularly close to either of the sisters. Although I rooted for their stories, I didn’t find them particularly memorable or remarkable.

I was a little concerned reading about a pandemic in our current situation, but this one does have enough a fantasy feeling to distance ourself from the world, while feeling relevant and current. It does also face some other difficult topics that felt a little older than the 9-12 age range I would categorise it at, and would be good as a transitional read into younger teen books.

Overall, I really liked the world-building and the visualisation of the fantasy world was definitely the best thing for me. This wasn’t perfect, but was still enjoyable and I really liked the audiobook!

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Thieves by Lucie Bryon

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Ella can’t seem to remember a single thing from the party the night before at a mysterious stranger’s mansion, and she sure as heck doesn’t know why she’s woken up in her bed surrounded by a magpie’s nest of objects that aren’t her own. And she can’t stop thinking about her huge crush on Madeleine, who she definitely can’t tell about her sudden penchant for kleptomania… But does Maddy have secrets of her own? Can they piece together that night between them and fix the mess of their chaotic personal lives in time to form a normal, teenage relationship? That would be nice.

Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this in exchange for an honest review!

As soon as I saw this graphic novel, I knew I wanted to pick it up. The art style looked adorable, and once I noticed it had been blurbed by Alice Oseman and Tillie Walden, I knew I had to add it to my tbr. This one didn’t let me down, and I ended up reading it in one sitting and absolutely loving it. We follow two girls at the start of a relationship, with one of them finding out the other steals trinkets from houses she visits. The book then follows the two girls returning these items to their owners, in the sweetest ways. The friendship group as a whole was also adorable.

I loved the art style of this book and the colours were just gorgeous. Each panel was gorgeous and the colours were so soft and gave the book such a distinct identity.

The story itself was so inventive and felt really original, with my only slight criticism being I didn’t always completely understand the motives behind the thieving in the first place, although I liked the way the topic was explored throughout. Overall, I’d highly recommend this one and I really enjoyed it!

★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Salt and Sugar by Rebecca Carvalho

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Lari Ramires has always known this to be true. In Olinda, Brazil, her family’s bakery, Salt, has been at war with the Molinas’ bakery across the street, Sugar, for generations. But Lari’s world turns upside down when her beloved grandmother passes away. On top of that, a big supermarket chain has moved to town, forcing many of the small businesses to close.
Determined to protect her home, Lari does the unthinkable—she works together with Pedro Molina to save both of their bakeries. Lari realizes she might not know Pedro as well as she thought—and she maybe even likes what she learns—but the question remains: Can a Ramires and a Molina truly trust one another?

Thank you to Harper Collins for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book was everything I wanted it to be. It was an absolutely adorable romance with so many discussions of food and Romeo and Juliet inspired elements. It reminded me a lot of A Pho Love Story, which I read last year and really loved.

I expected this to be from multiple POV, but it was actually just from Lari’s POV, which I still think worked really well. The feud between the two families gave the book a whole other layer but I also enjoyed the discussions of independent businesses and bakeries that reminded me of Last Chance Books.

I always love when books include food, as it really makes me feel closer to the story (and made me feel hungry too!). The two characters were really likeable and I also really liked that this one was set in Brazil (somewhere outside of the US or the UK is always refreshing!).

The romance was so sweet and there was so many layers to the story. I feel like I could have connected to the characters ever so slightly more, but that’s a very small complaint considering how much I enjoyed reading Salt and Sugar.

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: The Balloon Thief (#1) by Aneesa Marufu

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For Khadija, the only escape from her father’s arranged betrothal is the sky. When she spots a rogue hot air balloon fighting against its ropes, she leaps at the chance for adventure.
Khadija soon finds an unlikely ally in a poor glassmaker’s apprentice, Jacob. But Jacob is a hāri, and Khadija a Ghadaean.
The hāri are oppressed and restless―their infamous terrorist group, the Hāreef, have a new fearsome leader. And the ruling Ghadaeans are brutal in their repression. Soon, a deadly revolution threatens their friendship and their world. The Hāreef use forbidden magic, summoning jinn―wicked spirits made of fire―to enact their revenge, forcing Jacob and Khadija to choose what kind of a world they want to save… 

Thank you to Chicken House for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book drew me in from the very first page, and I really loved the concept and focus on hot air balloons. It was such a unique idea and I love how the world building centred around the balloons from the very start.

I listened to the audiobook, which at the start of the book really drew me in and I enjoyed Khadija’s chapters a lot. The concept of her escaping her possessive and controlling father gave an added layer to the story that felt really important and well written. We also had a POV of Jacob, a Hari, who were looked down upon by society.

The unlikely friendship struck between these two meant the prejudices and divergences between the two characters were faced head on and discussed throughout the book. I really enjoyed seeing the divisions dissolve between the two main characters and this felt like an important theme.

However, this book did start to let me down in the second half, as more and more started to happen. We went from a story focusing on family, friendship and prejudice, to a highly complex world including terrorism, Jinn, protests, attacks and dark magic. There was an introduction of a large amount of characters that left me feeling confused and struggling to focus on the story.

Overall, this book started so strong and I really loved the concept throughout, but lost me as it became overly complex and seemed to drift away from the original plot and point to the story. A solid debut with great world building, but I most likely won’t be continuing with the series.

★★★
3 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Demon in the Wood (Grishaverse #0) by Leigh Bardugo and Dani Pendergast

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Before he led Ravka’s Second Army, before he created the Fold, and long before he became the Darkling, he was just a lonely boy burdened by an extraordinary power.
Eryk and his mother, Lena, have spent their lives on the run. But they will never find a safe haven. They are not only Grisha—they are the deadliest and rarest of their kind. Feared by those who wish to destroy them and hunted by those who would exploit their gifts, they must hide their true abilities wherever they go. But sometimes deadly secrets have a way of revealing themselves…

It’s no secret that I love the Grishaverse. Six of Crows is one of my favourite series of all time with some of my favourite characters of all time, but I also love the wider Grishaverse including Shadow and Bone and the Netflix series.

As far as I’m aware, this graphic novel expands on a previously published short story of the Darkling’s origin, and if I remember rightly this was also shown in the Netflix series at the start of the penultimate episode.

I honestly had no idea how much I needed this book exactly when it arrived. I’ve been struggling to pick up books in the past couple of weeks, but this was perfect, it was exactly the right amount of focus I could comfortably give to a book. I flicked through this in one sitting while also listening to music, and I fell in love with it.

The artwork is beautiful and Dani Pendergast has given such a brilliant atmosphere to this story. The colours are subtle but work so well and gives the book such a consistent feel too. Leigh crafts yet another amazing tale that I really enjoyed delving into, and I loved being back in this world so much, even if it was just for a taste.

If you’re a Grishaverse fan, I would really recommend picking this one up. It was so beautifully composed and felt familiar, yet added a new layer to the universe and story.

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: i love this part by Tillie Walden

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Two girls in a small town in the USA kill time together as they try to get through their days at school.
They watch videos, share earbuds as they play each other songs and exchange their stories. In the process they form a deep connection and an unexpected relationship begins to develop.
In her follow up to the critically acclaimed The End of Summer, Tillie Walden tells the story of a small love that can make you feel like the biggest thing around, and how it’s possible to find another person who understands you when you thought no-one could.

This book is one you will read in only a few minutes but will stay with you for so much longer. I’ve wanted to read Tillie Walden’s books for a while and after recently reading On a Sunbeam, I decided to pick up i love this part. Despite this being a much shorter book, I actually preferred this one and found it much more closely aligned with my reading taste.

This book follows the relationship of two girls and I never thought a relationship could be captured in only dialogue, in only 68 pages. But this book truly does capture the essence of meeting somebody and falling for them through the are you okay?‘s and the is it just me and the listening to the same songs together and the sharing of breath, of space, of life. It encapsulates everything and more in a few short pages.

I have so much admiration for Walden that has grown even more after reading i love this part, and every page I could happily have as a print and put on my wall. I love Walden’s art style so much and the colour scheme was subtle but beautiful too.

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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