Let's Discuss! Erin Morgenstern Signing

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Hi lovelies! Last week I was lucky enough to be able to attend Erin Morgenstern’s signing at Hoxton Hall in London, which was such a magical event, if a little stressful.

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As soon as we walked in, we were greeted with a key (below) and a cake (above). The cakes had glittery icing and these sweet little bees! Each person seemed to be given a different key, and I’m really happy with the pretty one I received.

Unfortunately, a big downside to the event was the size and shape of the hall. It must be an old building and the actual theatre was incredibly narrow, with the seats being cramped and uncomfortable. Although I understand she probably used this venue because of the magical ambiance of her writing, it ended up with us being squished so close to the stage in the top balcony I could only just about see Erin’s feet.

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We ended up moving so we had a little more space, and just listened to the event from the back row of the top balcony. Even though all of these little things really dampened the experience, Erin is a great reader and I really enjoyed listening to her read an extract from The Starless Sea.

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Another disappointment was that Erin signed in a nook of the corridor, instead of using one of the other rooms in the building. I’m not exactly sure why this happened, because it made for poor photos and a very cramped queue!

Although this event seemed to be a little poorly organised, I’m still really glad I went and it was great to listen to and meet Erin.

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #104

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga where we share books we’ve bought this week. Find out more and join in here!

Hi everyone! I’m way behind on these posts so here I am trying to catch up. Today I’ll be talking about books on my TBR that are ARCs and I’ve received in the past few months.

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Goodreads | Amazon

One summer morning, a flight takes off from New York to Los Angeles. There are 216 passengers aboard: among them a Wall Street millionaire; a young woman taking a pregnancy test in the airplane toilet; a soldier returning from Afghanistan; and two beleaguered parents moving across the country with their adolescent sons. When the plane suddenly crashes in a field in Colorado, the younger of these boys, 12-year-old Edward Adler, is the sole survivor.

I was gifted this book by Penguin and I’m on a blog tour early next year! It sounds so interesting and I can’t wait to pick it up.

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Goodreads | Amazon

Growing up in New York, brothers Emil and Brighton always idolized the Spell Walkers—a vigilante group sworn to rid the world of specters. While the Spell Walkers and other celestials are born with powers, specters take them, violently stealing the essence of endangered magical creatures.
Brighton wishes he had a power so he could join the fray. Emil just wants the fighting to stop. The cycle of violence has taken a toll, making it harder for anyone with a power to live peacefully and openly. In this climate of fear, a gang of specters has been growing bolder by the day.
Then, in a brawl after a protest, Emil manifests a power of his own—one that puts him right at the heart of the conflict and sets him up to be the heroic Spell Walker Brighton always wanted to be.

I was so happy to be able to get a copy of this through work as I really wanted a copy at YALC but didn’t manage to get one.

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Goodreads | Amazon

When Dylan and Ellis’s secret relationship is exposed on social media, Dylan is forced to come out. To Dylan’s surprise they are met with support and congratulations, and an amazing reception at their highschool dance. Perhaps people aren’t as narrow-minded as he thought?
But Dylan’s happiness is short-lived. Ellis suddenly becomes angry, withdrawn, and as they drive home from the dance, he loses control of the car, sending it plunging into Hunter’s Lake. Barely conscious, Dylan is pulled free of the wreck, while Ellis is left to drown.
Grief-stricken, Dylan vows to discover what happened to Ellis that night and piece together the last months of his boyfriend’s life – and realises just how little he knew about the boy he loved.

And finally I was lucky enough to win this at YALC! It was delivered to me recently and sounds so intriguing.

What did you buy this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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November Wrap-Up and December TBR

Hi all! Unfortunately I didn’t stick to my 5 books a month goal in November, but I’ve been super busy so oh well. I read a meager 3 and I’m hoping to read a few more in December and over Christmas.

Books I Read in November

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Goodreads | Amazon

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out what is real and what is not. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8 Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until she runs into Miles. Didn’t she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal. Can she trust herself? Can we trust her? 

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Goodreads | Amazon

Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?
Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

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Goodreads | Amazon

Ebenezer Scrooge is a miserly old skinflint. He hates everyone, especially children.
But at Christmas three ghosts come to visit him, scare him into mending his ways, and he finds, as he celebrates with Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and their family, that geniality brings its own reward.

My favourite read this month was A Christmas Carol as I can see it staying in my heart for years to come. My least favourite was Made You Up, but I enjoyed all of these!

Books I Bought In November

I bought so many books in November but I’m so behind on keeping track, so I must catch up and catalog them.

Books I Want To Read in December

The Starless Sea – Erin Morgenstern
Infinity Son – Adam Silvera

I only read one book on my TBR in November which was Made You Up, so I’m giving myself only two to aim for in December so I can mood-read other than that.

What did you read in November and what do you want to read December?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Top 5 Books To Get Into the Christmas Spirit

This Top 5 Wednesday series is inspired by the weekly meme on Goodreads which you can find here. I no longer follow the topics and instead use my own.

Hi all! I’m finally back with another top 5 and this time we’re going to be talking about my top 5 books to get in the Christmas spirit.

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Goodreads | Amazon

Ebenezer Scrooge is a miserly old skinflint. He hates everyone, especially children.
But at Christmas three ghosts come to visit him, scare him into mending his ways, and he finds, as he celebrates with Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and their family, that geniality brings its own reward.

How could I not include A Christmas Carol having only finished it the other day? I adored this story and it really got me into the Christmas spirit.

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Goodreads | Amazon

It’s Christmas Eve and Gracetown has been buried by snow. But the weather is more than just an inconvenience. When one girl unexpectedly steps off a stranded train, she sets off a series of life-changing events.
Soon fourteen pumped-up cheerleaders will descend on the local Waffle House, the Duke’s DVD night will be rudely interrupted for a Twister mission, and a lovesick barista will determine the fate of a single teacup pig …
As the three stories collide, strangers cross paths and romance blossoms with heart-warming consequences.

I really loved this collection when I read it a few years ago, and it was the first Christmas movie I watched this year!

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Goodreads | Amazon

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins. Whether you enjoy celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or New Year’s there’s something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love.

These stories are gorgeous, and I can definitely see myself going back and reading some of my favourites this year.

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Goodreads | Amazon

Dash and Lily have been dating for nearly a year, but when Lily’s beloved grandfather falls ill, the repercussions take their toll on everyone. Even though they are still together, somehow the magic has gone out of their relationship and it’s clear that Lily has fallen out of love with life.
Action must be taken! Dash teams up with Lily’s brother and a host of their friends, who have just twelve days to get Lily’s groove back in time for Christmas.

Although I’m not a massive fan of David Levithan’s writing, this one is great for Christmas. I remember reading it a couple of years ago and really feeling like I was in the festive spirit.

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Goodreads | Amazon

Harry Potter’s life is miserable. His parents are dead and he’s stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he’s a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry.
Though Harry’s first year at Hogwarts is the best of his life, not everything is perfect. There is a dangerous secret object hidden within the castle walls, and Harry believes it’s his responsibility to prevent it from falling into evil hands. But doing so will bring him into contact with forces more terrifying than he ever could have imagined.

Does anybody else see Harry Potter as a festive read? I’ll be visiting the studio tour in the snow again in January and I can’t wait! These books can be read any time of year of course, but I do love the idea of reading them while it’s snowing outside.

Which books do you love to read at this time of year?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

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Goodreads | Amazon

Ebenezer Scrooge is a miserly old skinflint. He hates everyone, especially children.
But at Christmas three ghosts come to visit him, scare him into mending his ways, and he finds, as he celebrates with Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and their family, that geniality brings its own reward.

I find it strange reading these books so late when the stories have so often been ingrained in my fellow readers lives for years. I think a lot of this also comes from my family not being massive film buffs as I grew up!

However, I still adored this story coming into it now. Although I have grown up being familiar with the story itself, I don’t remember having ever watched a movie adaptation or reading any version, other than Marley’s Ghost by David Levithan.

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future.”

I’m so glad I’ve read this in the run-up to Christmas. Every time I sat down to read it, often on a night with my fairy lights behind me, I felt like I was being wrapped in a warm blanket and taken on a Christmassy journey. Over and over, this story warmed my heart.

I couldn’t help but smile at the pages every so often as I followed Scrooge on his story. Considering we have such a short time to get to know these characters, I quickly sympathised with Ebenezer and loved seeing how he reacted to each ghost as the book progressed.

“The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”

I can definitely see myself re-reading this every Christmas to get in the mood. Dickens’ writing is so atmospheric and beautiful, and this is just a lovely thing to pick up on a winters night. It reminded me of snow and starlight.

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

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Goodreads | Amazon

Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?
Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

Sarah Dessen is an author that has stuck by me for years, and was one of the first authors to introduce me to YA. Because of this, diving into Saint Anything was like wrapping myself in a warm blanket. It was soothing to be in a world I knew so well, however predictable. I can liken Dessen to Disney movies for me, I know the pace and character profiles so well, yet her books are different enough to keep me on my toes. I was skeptical to go back into her stories having not read them since I was in my mid-teens myself, but I still thoroughly enjoyed this one as a 20 year old woman.

There was a sharpness and emotion to Saint Anything that threw me slightly, and I felt a deeper connection to Sydney than I ever expected. Dessen manages to write emotionally relatable characters so well, and I found myself even sympathising with Sydney’s brother Peyton, which surprised me as he had such a bad past.

“It was fluid and easy, like everything had been since we’d met,”

Dessen seems to write with such a fluidity and effortlessness, I couldn’t help but find myself so absorbed in her writing. Towards the end of the book, I was reading up to 100 pages at a time, which thrilled me as I haven’t been reading as much recently! Dessen writing might not constantly be poetic, but some scenes made me just put the book down and smile, because they were just simply beautiful and really touched my heart.

The only small complaint I have is that Dessen can be quite predictable. I found this familiar and comforting but I can also see how it can get a little annoying having very similar characters across a vast number of books.

“as I stood on my tiptoes and finally, finally kissed him.”

Overall, if you’re looking for an easy but emotional read, this one is definitely it. I loved seeing Sydney grow as a character and adapt to the changes around her as she matured. This one brought tears to my eyes but also made me smile quietly to myself on so many occasions, because it was just simply lovely.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

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Goodreads | Amazon

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out what is real and what is not. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8 Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until she runs into Miles. Didn’t she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal. Can she trust herself? Can we trust her? 

I think this might be the first book I’ve read with a protagonist suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, and it felt so important because of that. The whole idea of the narrator having schizophrenia meant reality was constantly being questioned, and gave a magical realism level to the novel similar to that of Adam Silvera’s style of writing. It also allowed for some pretty big plot twists, which kept me constantly intrigued and engaged.

Although this is very much a contemporary novel, Alex’s schizophrenia left a mysterious element to the story. I found it so interesting how she used a camera and photography to try and capture the real to distinguish it from what was in her head. The only frustrating aspect of this was not always knowing what was real and what was happening inside Alex’s head.

I realized I wanted to kiss him. I didn’t know why.”

Alex’s story still tackled family, friendships and romance. Unfortunately I don’t think I fell for Miles as much as everybody else seemed to, although his character did become sweeter throughout the story. I found her relationships fascinating and heartwarming, especially the one she shared with her sister.

Although Alex’s story was emotional, I didn’t find it as heart-wrenching as I expected. The mystery was compelling but a little far fetched for me, so I lost a little connection with the book because of this. The mystery plot-line was fun, but that fun seemed to take away some of the emotional depth for me.

“Maybe it was the way he looked at me like I was the only thing he wanted to look at.”

Overall, this book was fascinating due to the main character having paranoid schizophrenia. It surprised me with the compelling plot twists and entertaining mystery element, but wasn’t quite as heart-wrenching as I wanted it to be and lacked some connection to me as a reader.

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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