ARC Review: Medusa by Jessie Burton

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Exiled to a far-flung island by the whims of the gods, Medusa has little company except the snakes that adorn her head instead of hair. But when a charmed, beautiful boy called Perseus arrives on the island, her lonely existence is disrupted with the force of a supernova, unleashing desire, love and betrayal…

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

I’ve recently become really interested in Greek mythology, which is something I haven’t read much of growing up or know much about. I’ve read a few Greek mythology inspired books recently and sadly haven’t enjoyed them very much (Circe and Lore). This was the perfect level of mythology for me, which read more like a myth or fairytale than literary fiction or fast paced fantasy. Burton has written this to be aimed at young adults, which I really liked. It’s also interspersed with beautiful artwork by Olivia Lomenech Gill which compliment the story beautifully.

I love the way we see Medusa in this story. It’s told from her point of view and paints her as the victim of the story rather than the villain, as we know from the original myth. I really liked Medusa as a character and the relationship between her and her sisters. The setting of the island felt so visual too, and I could picture the book well.

There is some really important and beautiful messages throughout this book, focussing on acceptance and owning who you are even through your darkest times. This was such an amazing way to reclaim Medusa’s story and I loved the feminist messages behind it.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

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Finnmark, Norway, 1617. Twenty-year-old Maren Magnusdatter stands on the craggy coast, watching the sea break into a sudden and reckless storm. Forty fishermen, including her brother and father, are drowned and left broken on the rocks below. With the menfolk wiped out, the women of the tiny Arctic town of Vardø must fend for themselves.
Three years later, a sinister figure arrives. Absalom Cornet comes from Scotland, where he burned witches in the northern isles. He brings with him his young Norwegian wife, Ursa, who is both heady with her husband’s authority and terrified by it. In Vardø, and in Maren, Ursa sees something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place untouched by God, and flooded with a mighty evil.
As Maren and Ursa are drawn to one another in ways that surprise them both, the island begins to close in on them, with Absalom’s iron rule threatening Vardø’s very existence.

I don’t read or enjoy much historical fiction, so I was definitely a little hesitant going into this one. But I really like Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s other work, and I’ve heard great things about this book. I ended up reading this one as part of a buddy read with some friends, which was really nice and definitely made me finally pick this one up! I’ve had this one since the hardback release, and it’s been a long time coming.

Firstly, I’m really glad I picked this one up in autumn. The book itself is quite bleak and it fit the season so well. I started reading this one while it was raining heavily outside and the atmosphere felt so perfect. We start this book with the women of the island losing all of their men to the sea, which I found such a fascinating premise to the book, especially in the historical context.

Many of them seem past caring what is true or not, only desperate for some reason, 

I quickly found myself really liking the characters and the fact this one follows predominantly women as they find their own independence. We follow Maren, who has always lived on the island, and Ursa, who moves to the island with her husband from mainland Norway. Having these two perspectives gave the perfect amount of contrast to the story and kept me interested in both of their stories, and I loved their growing friendship.

I found myself really enjoying the setting and although it makes the book feel very contained, it doesn’t necessarily feel limited. The writing was beautiful and portrayed the story well, and although this book does have quite a few harrowing and bleak scenes, they don’t feel unnecessary and they are there to push the plot forward. I must admit I did occasionally find the plot quite slow and not as engaging as I wanted sometimes. It took me just under a week to read this one, which felt like quite a while for a 350 page book.

some order to the rearrangement of their lives, even if it is brought about by a lie.

Overall, this one was really enjoyable in places, but the writing did let it down in others.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Stacking the Shelves #60

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

I certainly made up for my lack of book buying last week with this week’s haul! Now I’m home, I’ve also unpacked a few books that arrived over the time I was away.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur – Minos’s greatest shame and Ariadne’s brother – demands blood every year.
When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that in a world ruled by mercurial gods – drawing their attention can cost you everything.
In a world where women are nothing more than the pawns of powerful men, will Ariadne’s decision to betray Crete for Theseus ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover’s ambition?

I did actually forget to add this one to last week’s post, but I recently picked up the new white edition of Ariadne. I’ve been wanting to buy this for a while and I love this new edition, and couldn’t resist the signed version!

Mooncakes Collector's Edition HC (Hardback)

Goodreads | Waterstones

A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft.
Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town.
One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home.
Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.

I also found out about the new hardback deluxe edition of Mooncakes, which is one of my favourite graphic novels. I immediately picked one up and it’s beautiful!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

It’s the countdown to midnight on New Year’s Eve and Nur is steeling himself to tell his parents that he’s seeing someone. A young British Pakistani man, Nur has spent years omitting details about his personal life to maintain his image as the golden eldest child. And it’s come at a cost.
Once, Nur was a restless and insecure college student, struggling to present himself after being transplanted from his hometown with only the vaguest sense of ambition. At a packed house party, he meets Yasmina, a beautiful and self-possessed aspiring journalist. They start a conversation–first awkward, then absorbing–that grabs Nur’s attention like never before. And as their relationship develops, moving from libraries and cramped coffee shops to an apartment they share together, so too does Nur’s self-destruction. He falls deeper into traps of his own making, attempting to please both Yasmina and his family until he no longer has a choice. He must finally be honest and reveal to those who raised him the truth he’s kept hidden: Yasmina is Black, and he loves her.

This is the only proof copy I picked up this week, as it sounds really interesting and has been a-likened to The Big Sick.

Rebecca - Virago Modern Classics (Hardback)

Goodreads | Waterstones

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .
The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady’s maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives–presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.

I also decided to pick up this beautiful anniversary edition of Rebecca after my boyfriend Mark told me it reminded him of Jane Eyre, which is one of my favourite books.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, heir to a noble family tasked with ruling an inhospitable world where the only thing of value is the “spice” melange, a drug capable of extending life and enhancing consciousness. Coveted across the known universe, melange is a prize worth killing for…
When House Atreides is betrayed, the destruction of Paul’s family will set the boy on a journey toward a destiny greater than he could ever have imagined. And as he evolves into the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib, he will bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.

I also couldn’t resist this absolutely beautiful edition of Dune. I’ve never actually read it or owned a copy, so I thought I’d buy this beautiful new exclusive.

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Goodreads

Evangeline Fox was raised in her beloved father’s curiosity shop, where she grew up on legends about immortals, like the tragic Prince of Hearts. She knows his powers are mythic, his kiss is worth dying for, and that bargains with him rarely end well.
But when Evangeline learns that the love of her life is about to marry another, she becomes desperate enough to offer the Prince of Hearts whatever he wants in exchange for his help to stop the wedding. The prince only asks for three kisses. But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’s pledged. And he has plans for Evangeline that will either end in the greatest happily ever after, or the most exquisite tragedy…

My pre-order of this beauty came through too! It’s my fourth copy of the book so far and I love it.

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Goodreads | Book Depository

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.
But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

And my 11th (yes, 11th!) copy of The Invisible Life of Addie Larue came through, which is this beautiful American Illustrated edition. I love the blue and the gold together, it’s gorgeous.

Which books did you buy or receive this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Tunnel of Bones (#2) by V.E. Schwab

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Trouble is haunting Cassidy Blake . . . even more than usual.
She (plus her ghost best friend, Jacob, of course) are in Paris, where Cass’s parents are filming their TV show about the world’s most haunted cities. Sure, it’s fun eating croissants and seeing the Eiffel Tower, but there’s true ghostly danger lurking beneath Paris, in the creepy underground Catacombs.
When Cass accidentally awakens a frighteningly strong spirit, she must rely on her still-growing skills as a ghosthunter — and turn to friends both old and new to help her unravel a mystery. But time is running out, and the spirit is only growing stronger.
And if Cass fails, the force she’s unleashed could haunt the city forever. 

I’m reading this series alongside Alex as part of the readalong we’re currently hosting, #ghostsalong. If you want to find out more, our announcement video is linked below and we’ll be starting the last book, Bridge of Souls on Monday!

Although I’d read City of Ghosts before, it was my first time reading Tunnel of Bones and this book is such a great addition to the series. We continue following 12 year old Cassidy Blake and her parents as they travel around the world filming a paranormal TV show. But there’s a bit of a twist – Cassidy can see ghosts and draw back the veil to the other side. Her best friend, Jacob, is also a ghost and travels with them.

In this book, we visit Paris, which I loved and made for such an amazing atmospheric setting. One of my favourite aspects of these books is the atmosphere, which make you feel so involved and enveloped in the story. I once again listened to most of this book on audio and read the end in physical format, and loved it all.

What you can’t see is always scarier than what you can. 

Cassidy is such a fun character to follow but isn’t without her own moral dilemmas which I find so interesting and gives a great dynamic to the story. Considering these books are middle grade/young YA, there is so much depth to these stories. This book is even creepier than the first story and the poltergeist we follow seriously gave me chills. While listening to this while I was running, I couldn’t help but looking behind me a couple of times.

The writing is so easy to read and compelling but doesn’t feel shallow at all. Schwab does such an amazing job of keeping you on the edge of your seat and making you want to read more. I continued to love the characters and enjoyed finding out more about them. I was also happy to see some of the characters returning from Edinburgh in book 1.

Your eyes play tricks on you, filling in the shadows, making shapes.

This was such an enjoyable addition to the series and I’m so excited to read Bridge of Souls!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Vampires Never Get Old by Various Authors

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In this delicious new collection, you’ll find stories about lurking vampires of social media, rebellious vampires hungry for more than just blood, eager vampires coming out―and going out for their first kill―and other bold, breathtaking, dangerous, dreamy, eerie, iconic, powerful creatures of the night.
Welcome to the evolution of the vampire―and a revolution on the page.
Vampires Never Get Old includes stories by authors both bestselling and acclaimed, including Samira Ahmed, Dhonielle Clayton, Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker, Tessa Gratton, Heidi Heilig, Julie Murphy, Mark Oshiro, Rebecca Roanhorse, Laura Ruby, Victoria “V. E.” Schwab, and Kayla Whaley. 

Overall, this was a brilliantly diverse collection of short stories about vampires, tackling the fact most popular vampire stories follow cis, white, male, able-bodied, heterosexual vampires. It takes everything we know and expect from vampire myth and folklore and turns it on its head. I read this an audiobook and I really enjoyed the whole experience. It had a brilliant cast of narrators that changed with the stories and fit the whole book well. I really liked how the editors of this book wrote a short follow up of each of the stories that explained the folklore behind each one.

As this book contains many different stories, I’m going to go through them all separately, but overall I was super impressed with this book!

Seven Nights for Dying by Tessa Gratton ★★

This one was such a strong start to the book and I really enjoyed it. We follow a young girl being lured into the world of vampirism and it tackled some super interesting topics. It was sex positive and followed a character who is bi/pan, and also discussed grief, belonging, loss and anger. We follow the main character as she tries to make a decision about whether she wants to become a vampire or not, which also fit the short story well as it focuses on 7 days. I liked the family aspect and if I remember rightly we had a really positive family relationship featuring a single parent!

The Boys From Blood River by Rebecca Roanhorse ★★

The second story was also strong and I did enjoy it, just not quite as much as the first one. I loved the setting as we follow our main character late at night in a diner where he works, and the whole story reminded me a little bit of The Lost Boys. In this story, there is a legend surrounding a song which mysteriously begins playing on the jukebox at the diner. The legend being that vampires come when the song is sung, and the person who sang the song will then disappear. Again, this story has some really important discussions about grief, loss, race and sexuality, and the only reason I haven’t rated it higher is because I honestly can’t remember as much as I would like about it!

Senior Year Sucks by Julie Murphy ★★

I’ve read Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy and really enjoyed it, and I feel like her contemporary approach to a vampire story worked so well in this one. We follow Jolene, who is a fat vampire slayer and I loved her! I really liked that this one was fat positive and sapphic, and also that it followed a vampire slayer rather than the vampire themselves. Again, this one fit the short story narrative really well and left me wanting tor read more by Julie Murphy.

The Boy and The Bell by Heidi Heilig ★★

I sadly can’t remember this story so well, which is why it has a lower rating. This one, as with many of the other stories, is steeped in vampire folklore and follows a trans boy and the idea of people being buried before they are supposed to. We follow our main character, who is a grave digger trying to learn from the corpses he is digging up, when he starts to hear a bell ringing. I would say that I won’t say more because of spoilers, but honestly I can’t remember much more about the story sadly!

A Guidebook for the Newly Sired Desi Vampire by Samira Ahmed ★★

This story was absolutely brilliant and is no doubt my favourite of the entire collection. It was so well written and creative, and is written in second person addressing ‘you’ as the reader. The idea behind this story is it’s written as a guidebook for newly sired Desi vampires who have been turned against their will by British tourists. It was so funny which is what I loved the most and the writing was so witty. It also has some really interesting and important discussions about Colonial India and taught me a lot! I’ll definitely be checking out more books by this author.

In Kind by Kayla Whaley ★★

Yet another story that I really enjoyed and is a close second favourite after Ahmed’s! This story follows a girl who has been murdered by her father, who believes he killed her out of ‘mercy’. Her body goes missing and instead of being buried, she is turned into a vampire and wants to enact revenge on her father for what happened. I love how this book talked about the main character’s degenerative neuromuscular disorder and that she still uses a wheelchair as a vampire. She talks about how much her disorder is inherent to her identity, and I really liked the discussions broached by this story. I loved it a lot.

Vampires Never Say Die by Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker

Although this one didn’t quite reach the 5 star level of the previous two, I found it super interesting and really enjoyed it too! This one follows vampires who use Instagram and hide the fact they are vampires. One of these vampires has befriended a human on social media and the human girl decides to throw her a surprise party, but doesn’t know her friend is a vampire. Although I felt a little uncomfortable with the fact the human girl is 15 at the start of this story, I did still really enjoy it and it worked well as a short story.

Bestiary by Laura Ruby ★★1/2

Unfortunately, the stories took a bit of a dip for me as we get towards the end. In this one, we follow a girl who lives in a zoo and has a bond with the animals who live there. This one really fell flat for me and overall, just felt like it wasn’t really going anywhere or that anything really happened. Some of it was entertaining and I liked the themes of capitalism, but I just found there wasn’t as much to enjoy.

Mirrors, Windows and Selfies by Mark Oshiro ★★1/2

I found this one also fell a little flat and was by far the longest story. It honestly felt like it went on forever, but simultaneously had little to no real focus. We follow a young Latino man who is born as a vampire and has been controlled by his parents all his life. Throughout the story, he is trying to find out more about himself, including what he looks like. Although again, we follow some interesting themes of control, isolation and loneliness, and I did find the format (Tumblr posts) interesting, it fell flat. I also had a slight problem with the narrator or tone of writing (hard to pinpoint as I listened to the audio!) sounding very overenthusiastic and therefore inauthentic.

The House of Black Sapphires by Dhonielle Clayton ★★

Things did start to look up again here with the final two stories, and even though this was far from perfect I definitely enjoyed it more than the previous two. In this story, we follow a Black family who are forced to move around and run an apothecary shop. This one is definitely 10 points for atmosphere and I really enjoyed reading about the relationship of the sisters, but I still found the plot disappointing and something didn’t quite click.

First Kill by V.E. Schwab ★★

The final story and one I was most looking forward to was First Kill by V.E. Schwab. And although this one didn’t make it to 5 stars or become my favourite, I did really enjoy it and can definitely see the potential for the Netflix adaptation that is in the making! Without saying too much and spoiling the story, we have two teenage girls who have crushes on one another and there is some real sapphic angst. I really enjoyed it!

Overall….

★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

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In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.
But when the Eastwood sisters–James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna–join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.
There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be. 

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

I’ve been looking forward to this one for so long and I’ve been saving it for autumn to be able to read it. However, this one did really let me down and I just didn’t click with it in the way I wanted to. I quickly realised when I started reading that something was just off for me. I buddy read this one with Alex and she pointed out that this one is told in third person present tense and was struggling with it too, which I think was my problem. It just made me feel disconnected from the story.

We follow 3 sisters who join the suffragists of New Salem and are also witches themselves. This one just sounds great – feminist and witchy, what more could I want? But I actually found myself being constantly mixed up between the sisters and found kind of lost throughout the story.

Every woman draws a circle around herself.

I did enjoy aspects of this book and found it better once I sat down to read big chunks of it at a time. I think part of my problem is that I couldn’t help but compare this to other books which I love, such as Erin Morgenstern’s books. I just couldn’t connect to the writing and it felt like such a long book at just over 500 pages. I constantly felt like the story was too long and I could summarise a lot of the plot in much less than I would want to.

I liked the idea and themes behind this so much and really wanted to like it – the themes of feminism and women’s rights made for an interesting plot. The fact we have women claiming their power is amazing and I loved the historical context too. Parts of the plot were also really entertaining and page turning, but most of it fell flat.

Sometimes she has to be the only thing inside it.

It’s so upsetting when you just really want to love a book but it doesn’t quite live up to expectations and that’s sadly exactly what happened with this book for me! I would definitely say if it sounds like something you’d like then please do give it a go as it has a lot of 5 star reviews, it just wasn’t quite for me.

★★★
3 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: City of Ghosts (#1) by V.E. Schwab

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Cass can pull back the Veil that separates the living from the dead.
When Cass’s parents start hosting a TV show about the world’s most haunted places, the family heads off to Edinburgh. Here, graveyards, castles and secret passageways teem with restless phantoms.
But when Cass meets a girl who shares her “gift”, she realizes how much she still has to learn about the Veil—and herself. And she’ll have to learn fast. The city of ghosts is more dangerous than she ever imagined. 

This is my second time reading this book as me and Alex are hosting a readalong of all 3 of these books throughout the next few weeks! You can join us on Twitter by using the hashtag #ghostsalong, and you can find more information in the YouTube video below.

On a second read, this book was just as much fun as the first time. I decided to read most of this on audio format and I absolutely loved it – it was such a great way to reread this one. The first time I read this, it made me want to visit Edinburgh, and I’m sad to say I still haven’t made it to Scotland. Yet again, this book drew me to the city once more with the atmosphere and adventure.

”Stories have power,” she says.

Cassidy makes for such an interesting main character and I love her friendships. She has such entertaining dynamics between the ghosts she can communicate with and her best friend Jacob. There are some interesting moral discussions raised by her surroundings and story, which I liked.

I really liked the writing, and found it super entertaining for an older reader. Although parts of the plot were slightly predictable, there is definitely enough for any age to enjoy and I found myself shocked at parts even re-reading this one.

”So long as you believe them.”

Overall, this is such an entertaining and fun start to the series and I can’t wait to carry on following Cassidy Blake on her adventures!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #59

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

Hi all! I may be misremembering, as I am away from home, but I think I’m right in saying that I only acquired two books this week and both were from the publishers as gifts. If I’m wrong, I will add other books I’ve missed onto next weeks update so look out for that one!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Mirabelle has always known she is a monster. When the glamour protecting her unusual family from the human world is torn and an orphaned brother and sister stumble upon Rookhaven, Mirabelle soon discovers that friendship can be found in the outside world.
But as something far more sinister comes to threaten them all, it quickly becomes clear that the true monsters aren’t necessarily the ones you can see.
A thought-provoking, chilling and beautifully written novel, Pádraig Kenny’s The Monsters of Rookhhaven, stunningly illustrated by Edward Bettison, explores difference and empathy through the eyes of characters you won’t want to let go.

Both of these books are middle grade, the first being The Monsters of Rookhaven which is our children’s book of the month at Waterstones where I work. I’d like to somehow read this before the month ends!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Do you dare read this collection of terrifyingly gruesome tales? In this gripping volume, author Jen Campbell offers young readers an edgy, contemporary, and inclusive take on classic fairy tales, taking them back to their gory beginnings while updating them for a modern audience with queer and disabled characters and positive representation of disfigurement.
Featuring fourteen short stories from China, India, Ireland, and across the globe, The Sister Who Ate Her Brothers is an international collection of the creepiest folk tales. Illustrated with Adam de Souza’s brooding art, this book’s style is a totally original blend of nineteenth-century Gothic engravings meets moody film noir graphic novels. Headlined by the Korean tale of a carnivorous child, The Sister Who Ate Her Brothers is a truly thrilling gift for brave young readers.

I was also sent this beautiful hardback by Thames and Hudson, and I’m so excited to get stuck into it. This is also a middle grade and I’m intrigued to how it is framed for younger readers! Another one I’d love to get to before Halloween if I can.

Which books did you buy or receive this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Emma by Jane Austen

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Although described by Jane Austen as a character ‘whom no one but myself will much like’, the irrepressible Emma Woodhouse is one of her most beloved heroines. Clever, rich and beautiful, she sees no need for marriage, but loves interfering in the romantic lives of others, until her matchmaking plans unravel, with consequences that she never expected. Jane Austen’s novel of youthful exuberance and gradual self-knowledge is a brilliant, sparkling comic masterpiece. 

I’m slowly making my way through Austen’s books this autumn, and I’ve been mainly doing that through audio. This one is no different, and I decided to pick it as my first October audiobook. I love reading Austen on audio and the narrator of this one was brilliant. The voices really reflected each character and the story shone through well.

I cannot make speeches, Emma…If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more. But you know what I am. 

However, this is sadly probably my least favourite Austen so far. I believe this is one of her longest books and I’m so glad I read it on audio because it did feel quite long and drawn out. I feel like this one has the least plot and most nonsense out of all of the Austen books I’ve read so far. I was never quite sure where this book was going and felt like there was not much of an end point to strive for.

Although Emma as a main character could be unlikable at times, I did enjoy the idea of her being a female heroine and not necessarily looking for love. However, some of the other characters were highly annoying (I’m looking at you, Miss Bates!) and let me tell you, the narrator did a great job as portraying them as such.

You hear nothing but truth from me. I have blamed you, and lectured you, and you have borne it as no other woman in England would have borne it.

Overall, I feel like this one is going to be quite forgettable for me and feels very…scatterbrained. I’m still excited to read more from Austen and I didn’t dislike this book, just my least favourite so far!

★★★
3 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Tea Dragon Trilogy by Kay O’Neill

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Goodreads | Waterstones

From the award-winning author of Princess Princess Ever After comes The Tea Dragon Society, a charming all-ages book that follows the story of Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, and the people she meets as she becomes entwined in the enchanting world of tea dragons.
After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, Greta learns about the dying art form of tea dragon care-taking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik. As she befriends them and their shy ward, Minette, Greta sees how the craft enriches their lives—and eventually her own. 

This review will be for the entire Tea Dragon trilogy.

I’ve heard so many amazing things about this graphic novel series and I honestly fell in love with it. We follow Greta, who learns about the art of caring for tea dragons. She meets so many beautiful people along the way and some gorgeous tea dragons too.

I absolutely adored the tea dragons in these books. They all have their own personalities and their stories allow for some really important discussions about grief and loss.

The illustrations in this are absolutely to die for, and the panels are so creatively drawn. I absolutely love the colour palettes, especially in The Tea Dragon Tapestry, which is the latest book and the most autumnal. Although the books all follow a variety of seasons, but the last one definitely feels the most autumnal and the entire series is perfect to read at this time of year!

The diversity throughout these books was incredible and felt so natural. We have a character who uses a wheelchair, a character who uses sign language (and this was so seamlessly woven into the story!), a non-binary character, a range of sexualities and identities!

Overall, I just absolutely loved these books so much and I would highly recommend them to anyone who feels like they may enjoy reading them. It felt like such a big and warm hug and is so easy to fall in love with.

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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