Review: Bizarre Romance by Audrey Niffenegger and Eddie Campbell

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Internationally bestselling author of The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger, and graphic artist Eddie Campbell, of such seminal works as From Hell by Alan Moore, collaborate on a wonderfully bizarre collection that celebrates and satirizes love of all kinds. With 16 different stories told through illustrated prose or comic panels, the couple explores the idiosyncratic nature of relationships in a variety of genres from fractured fairy tales to historical fiction to paper dolls. With Niffenegger’s sharp, imaginative prose and Campbell’s diverse comic styles, Bizarre Romance is the debut collection by two of the most important storytellers of our time.

This book was without a doubt the weirdest, wackiest, most bizarre I’ve ever read. And I loved it. It turned out to be nothing like I expected, and instead of being about the authors’ relationship like I thought, it ended up being about love of art, of animals, of people, of magic and mystical beings. I really liked finding where love came into each story, whether it was a comic with fantasy elements or literary fiction.

As with any collection of short stories, I preferred some over others. I found the art style jarring at times, but I still really liked some of the comics. I ended up having two joint favourites, Thursday’s, Six to Eight p.m. and The Church of the Funnies. Thursday’s, Six to Eight p.m. was the first story in this book, and was in comic format. This story was pretty standard fiction, and I really liked it being about a bibliophile. It was very unexpected with twists and turns and I was hooked for the whole story! The Church of the Funnies was the penultimate story in this collection, and was a love letter to art (at least, in my mind). It left me with a smile on my face. The vast majority of these stories were published before for different reasons, and this one was actually a sermon written by Niffenegger and was delivered at Manchester Cathedral as part of Manchester Literary Festival in 2014.

I also ended up really liking some of the stories with fantasy elements, like the unexpected ghost story Secret Life with Cats, and the darker ones such as Digging Up the Cat. Every story had something I liked, and I related to each of them on one level or another. It appealed to the deepest, darkest and weirdest parts of me, and when I embraced it, I really enjoyed it.

I’m going to do a quick list with summaries of each story and my ratings of each!

Thursday’s, Six to Eight p.m.★★★

Comic. As I mentioned, my joint favourite story in this series. A couple get married, but he wants to have two hours on a Thursday night to himself, and doesn’t explain why. After a while, she gets suspicious and tries to find out why he wants the time alone….

The Composite Boyfriend – ★★★

Prose. This one was a lovely introduction to the prose in this book. A short story about a history of boyfriends, all of them being not ‘the one’.

RoseRedSnowRidingBeautyShoesHoodSleepingWhite – ★★★

Comic. A very odd fantasy story about siblings looking for Halloween costumes, but ended up being mystical, magical and poignant.

Secret Life, With Cats – ★★★

Prose. Another one of my favourites and I really enjoyed it. A surreal ghost story with love being a central theme (and a lot of cats).

The Ruin of Grant Lowery – ★★★

Comic. A very odd story about a man who meets a group of faeries in a bar, with an ending that made me laugh.

Girl on a Roof★★★

Prose. A short story about a girl called Nan who has not seen her girlfriend Sylvie since the floods began in New Orleans. A beautiful love story that had such a heavy, poignant feeling.

Jakob Wywialowski and the Angels – ★★★

Comic. Another wacky comic about a man with angels in his roof, that he gets the pest control in to deal with. Again, this one had a surprising, emotional ending that I really liked.

At the Movies★★★

Prose. Another one I quite enjoyed, about a couple making a movie. A simple but heartfelt story I resonated with.

Motion Studies: Getting out of Bed – ★★★

Comic. An odd story about a woman who posed for life drawing classes and was now part of what was seemingly a photography project. I really enjoyed how the thoughts and feelings of the woman were intertwined with the drawings.

The Wrong Fairy – ★★★

Prose. Another poignant story about an elderly man who had been committed to a mental asylum. Again, we had fantasy elements which were wacky but really enjoyable.

Digging up the Cat – ★★★

Prose. As previously mentioned, another one of my favourites and I really liked this one. A dark story about a family who were digging up their pet cat who had been buried for 7 years, and wanted to add another recently deceased pet to be buried with it.

The Church of the Funnies – ★★★

Prose. A joint favourite for me alongside Tuesday’s, Six to Eight p.m.. A love letter to art that I really liked and left me quietly chuckling to myself.

Backwards in Seville – ★★★

Comic. An emotional story about a middle aged woman had joined her aging father on a cruise. This ended up being very sweet and I quite liked the art style.

There is nothing that explains this book as well as this quote from the introduction of the book itself, and I couldn’t sum it up better myself: “sometimes romantic, sometimes star-crossed, or merely discombobulated, but all are at least a tiny bit bizarre.”

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Chasing the Stars by Malorie Blackman

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Olivia and her twin brother, Aidan, are heading alone back to Earth following the virus that completely wiped out the rest of their crew, and their family.
Nathan is part of a community heading in the opposite direction. But on their journey Nathan’s ship is attacked and most of the community killed. Only a few survive.
Their lives unexpectedly collide. Nathan and Vee are instantly attracted to each other, deeply, head over heels – like nothing they have ever experienced.
But not everyone is pleased. And surrounded by rumours, deception – even murder – is it possible to live out a happy ever after . . . ?

Thank you to Penguin UK for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Welp. I wondered if I would struggle reading this story because it’s about a virus. As it turns out, I did struggle reading this story. And it was nothing to do with it being about a virus. This book has been on my TBR for around 3 years and I was hesitant to pick it up. At least I’m somewhat glad I picked this out of my TBR jar so I finally forced myself to read it.

I wanted to love this book, I really did. And at points I was really enjoying it. But the further I got into the story, the lower it went down in my ratings. This is a love story set in space, with lashings of mystery that didn’t seem to be explained at all. There was massive plot holes (that I’m only just realising now), that left me unsure of who actually committed the crimes and whether we even had a big reveal, or if it was just brushed off in favour of the romance.

Ahh, the romance. Let me tell you, it was awful. It was all a big, overdramatic and unrealistic insta-love story, with absolutely no logic behind it. These characters were young and desperate and fell in love as soon as they laid eyes on one other. I understand Vee had been alone with her brother for 3 years, but girl, you knew you’d be trapped on a ship with this new guy for god knows how long, at least take it slow. The pacing of this romance was so ridiculous, it was quite obvious what would come next. Even when the romance took a downturn, I couldn’t revel in it because it made me so angry. Nathan was possessive anyway, but asserts his dominance in a way that made me uncomfortable, and that’s putting it mildly. His behavior made me physically cringe, and makes me worry for the audience. Although it is explained that this behavior is not okay, it is not discussed as much as I would have liked at all.

As another review I read mentions, this book switches between being too explicit, to being cringey and cliched, and misses the mark altogether. I’m really not sure who the audience is at this point, because the topics are too dark for younger readers, but the writing is definitely not suited to older readers. The main character, Vee, was probably the best of the lot. She wasn’t without her own annoyances, but for the most part she remained brave and calm in the face of danger and whatever life threw at her didn’t break her.

The main reason I read on was due to the plot being super fast and the mystery element being somewhat compelling. Even though I guessed who the killer was very early on, I wasn’t sure of their exact motivations. Even though this was readable, and even enjoyable in places, I couldn’t help my desire to roll my eyes every few pages at the idiocy of the whole thing. Overall, it was just kind of an unfortunate mess.

★★
2 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Let’s Discuss! Reading Goals for 2021

Hi everyone! I tend not to set myself too many reading goals per year, especially because, as we have very well learned in 2020, you just don’t know what life is going to throw at you! However, I did fairly well on my 2020 resolutions, and with my reading speed improving in the latter half of the year, I thought I would make some resolutions for 2021.

  • Read 100 books

I have no idea if I can complete this, but I really want to try. If I continue my reading speed of the past 6 months, I can definitely do this! I also want to utilise audiobooks and graphic novels more to help complete this. Obviously, we have no idea what 2021 will throw at us and if I end up not being able to complete this then that’s okay!

  • Read more series on my TBR

I did super well with completing a similar resolution in 2020 by reading a series a month for 5 months and knocked 6 whole series off of my TBR, and completed a few others. I actually don’t have many series left on my TBR now, and I would love to get most of them off my TBR this year!

  • Read more classics

I set myself a goal of reading only one classic in 2020, which I actually don’t think I completed, other than re-reading the audiobook of A Christmas Carol. But this year will definitely be different, because I have purchased myself the entire wordsworth classics set, and I want to start working my way through those!

  • Stop buying so many books!

I’ve had a couple of years now where I really haven’t knocked anything off my TBR, despite going on book bans and trying to control my book-buying. As I’ve just treated myself to the wordsworth set, my TBR is currently the highest it’s ever been (help) at 107 books. I really need to make sure I don’t buy so many books this year, as I just don’t have the space for them and I want to get that TBR under control in 2021!

  • Stay organised!

This marks my second year of using a reading spreadsheet by Reader Voracious. You can find it here and it includes things like keeping track of your reads, books you bought, blog stats, ARCs, buddy reads, new releases and an entire calendar for the year. I adore using it and I find the stats it produces fascinating! If you’re looking for something similar, I’d highly recommend it.

What are some of your resolutions for 2021?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Recklessly loyal.
That’s how seventeen-year-old Arden Huntley has always thought of herself. Caring for her loved ones is what gives Arden purpose in her life and makes her feel like she matters. But lately she’s grown resentful of everyone—including her needy best friend and her absent mom—taking her loyalty for granted.
Then Arden stumbles upon a website called Tonight the Streets Are Ours, the musings of a young New York City writer named Peter, who gives voice to feelings that Arden has never known how to express. He seems to get her in a way that no one else does, and he hasn’t even met her.
Until Arden sets out on a road trip to find him.
During one crazy night out in New York City filled with parties, dancing, and music—the type of night when anything can happen, and nearly everything does—Arden discovers that Peter isn’t exactly who she thought he was. And maybe she isn’t exactly who she thought she was, either.

I have a really specific pet-peeve of getting annoyed by books that claim they are road trip books, but actually spend a really small amount of time in a car. And this, sadly, turned out to be one of those books. You see, I really have a soft spot for road trip books, so I just find myself being left feeling disappointed when they don’t do what they claim to do.

I found myself simultaneously being annoyed by but also relating to Arden. I could see myself in her and understand why she acted the way she did, but she also made me want to throw the book at the wall. She is a frustrated teenage girl who is loyal to those around her, and realises she doesn’t get the same back. I can relate to this, but then she started really taking it out on those people around her, which I struggled to read about.

Love means sometimes sacrificing the things you want in order to make somebody else happy. 

Don’t get me wrong, I did like this book. In fact, I quite enjoyed it. It just seemed to bring out more negativity than positivity and honestly left me feeling a little let down, which is not the kind of book I want right now. Although I could appreciate the morals and values in this book, I found it hard to feel happy that Arden was learning them. It was just kind of hard to swallow.

The plot is kind of slow, but easy to read. I really got into the swing of it when I got to the blog posts, and I found myself being more engaged in them than in the book itself. The concept is actually really clever and definitely made me read ahead and want to get through the book quickly – I was very drawn into finding out about Peter’s life.

It means being there for them, even when maybe you don’t feel like it, because they need you.

There are definitely parts of this book I enjoyed, and I really liked the subject of Arden learning more about herself and learning to love herself. Seeing her grow throughout the story was probably the best part, alongside learning about Peter and the blog. I think one of the reasons this book let me down a little was due to the fact I was comparing it to Radio Silence, which I enjoyed much more!

★★★
3 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Let’s Discuss! Top 10 Books of 2020 Countdown

Hi all! 2020 was a pretty good reading year for me. I read 87 books overall, which is probably the most I’ve ever read in a year. I’m super proud of that amount and it’s allowing me to push myself for 2021! I recently sat down and filmed the video below, which covers my top 10 books of 2020. I wasn’t planning on ordering anything beyond the top 3 (or even just my favourite), but I naturally ended up numbering them, so I thought I’d do a countdown from my 10th favourite to my absolute favourite of 2020.

So, let’s get to the countdown!

10. Rules for Being a Girl

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Marin is a smart, driven, popular girl – she’s headed for Brown when she graduates and has a brilliant career as a journalist ahead of her. Especially in the eyes of English teacher Mr Beckett. He spends a lot of time around Marin, and she thinks it’s harmless . . . until he kisses her. 
No one believes Marin when she tells them what happened, so she does the only thing she can: she writes an article called ‘Rules for Being a Girl’ for the school paper to point out the misogyny and sexism that girls face every day. As things heat up at school and in her personal life, Marin must figure out how to take back the power and rewrite her own rules.

This book was such a shock for me. I received an unsolicited ARC from the publishing company and even though it didn’t sound like one for me, I thought I’d try it. And I ended up devouring it. This was so good and I really believe every teenage girl should read it!

9. Boy Queen by George Lester

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Robin Cooper’s life is falling apart.
While his friends prepare to head off to university, Robin is looking at a pile of rejection letters from drama schools up and down the country, and facing a future without the people he loves the most. Everything seems like it’s ending, and Robin is scrabbling to find his feet.
Unsure about what to do next and whether he has the talent to follow his dreams, he and his best friends go and drown their sorrows at a local drag show, where Robin realises there might be a different, more sequinned path for him . . .
With a mother who won’t stop talking, a boyfriend who won’t acknowledge him and a best friend who is dying to cover him in glitter make up, there’s only one thing for Robin to do: bring it to the runway.

This book was so much fun and I absolutely loved it. It introduced me to the world of drag and it was so fabulous, but with heartfelt and heavy moments.

8. Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state candidate – as long as he’s behind the scenes. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.
Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is cancelled, her parents are separating and now her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing – with some awkward guy she hardly knows …
Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybe it’s not the worstthing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer – and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural crush of the century is another thing entirely.

I’ve really enjoyed all of Becky’s books and this was no different! I loved this partnership with Aisha and the political subject was actually so interesting.

7. Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Frances Janvier spends most of her time studying.
Everyone knows Aled Last as that quiet boy who gets straight As.
You probably think that they are going to fall in love or something. Since he is a boy and she is a girl.
They don’t. They make a podcast.
In a world determined to shut them up, knock them down, and set them on a cookie cutter life path, Frances and Aled struggle to find their voices over the course of one life-changing year. Will they have the courage to show everyone who they really are? Or will they be met with radio silence?

Another big surprise for me was Radio Silence. I’ve enjoyed everything by Alice Oseman, but some more than others, and I thought this one would fall to the bottom of the list as I feel like Alice has developed over time and this is one of her older books. However, this was absolutely amazing and became my favourite book of hers!

6. Felix Ever After by Kacen Callendar

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.
When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle….
But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.

I absolutely adored this and it opened my eyes so much to being transgender. It really hit me in the feels and at some points I had all over goosebumps and chills from the pure emotion of this book.

5. The Lido by Libby Page

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Kate is a twenty-six-year-old riddled with anxiety and panic attacks who works for a local paper in Brixton, London, covering forgettably small stories. When she’s assigned to write about the closing of the local lido (an outdoor pool and recreation center), she meets Rosemary, an eighty-six-year-old widow who has swum at the lido daily since it opened its doors when she was a child. It was here Rosemary fell in love with her husband, George; here that she’s found communion during her marriage and since George’s death. The lido has been a cornerstone in nearly every part of Rosemary’s life.
But when a local developer attempts to buy the lido for a posh new apartment complex, Rosemary’s fond memories and sense of community are under threat.
As Kate dives deeper into the lido’s history—with the help of a charming photographer—she pieces together a portrait of the pool, and a portrait of a singular woman, Rosemary. What begins as a simple local interest story for Kate soon blossoms into a beautiful friendship that provides sustenance to both women as they galvanize the community to fight the lido’s closure. Meanwhile, Rosemary slowly, finally, begins to open up to Kate, transforming them both in ways they never knew possible.

I didn’t expect to adore this one quite as much as I did, but it was like picking up a warm cup of tea on a cold winters day. I was actually recommended this book by a customer at work because of our mutual love of outdoor swimming, and I’m so glad I took the recommendation to heart!

4. I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver

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Review | Goodreads

When Ben De Backer comes out to their parents as nonbinary, they’re thrown out of their house and forced to move in with their estranged older sister, Hannah, and her husband, Thomas, whom Ben has never even met. Struggling with an anxiety disorder compounded by their parents’ rejection, they come out only to Hannah, Thomas, and their therapist and try to keep a low profile in a new school.
But Ben’s attempts to survive the last half of senior year unnoticed are thwarted when Nathan Allan, a funny and charismatic student, decides to take Ben under his wing. As Ben and Nathan’s friendship grows, their feelings for each other begin to change, and what started as a disastrous turn of events looks like it might just be a chance to start a happier new life.

This was another book that absolutely opened my eyes. I read it as part of Non-Binary November and I loved it. It made me so emotional, but was so heartfelt and beautiful. I also recently read I’ll Be Home For Christmas which is a novella about the same characters which was super cute!

3. We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

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Review | Goodreads

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart. 

I read this one back in January 2020 and it stayed with me the whole year. It was so beautiful, but so sad and tackles grief and friendship and love. I’ve read a couple of books by Nina LaCour now and I’ve loved them all.

2. Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.
Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.
The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.
And love makes fools of us all.

I adored this book. I thought I’d like it, but I had no idea that I would fall in love with it the way I did. It was beautiful, I loved the setting, the romance and the characters so much. I savoured this book and I never wanted it to end. I thought it would be my favourite of the year, until….

1.The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

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.

This was incredible. I didn’t read it until early December but it quickly surpassed all of my other reads of the year so far and I just adored it. It broke my heart and made me cry, but it utterly stole my heart too.

Which were your favourite books of 2020?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #34

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’ve been buying a few books recently that I have struggled to find for various reasons. I also received a book this week which I’ll talk about below! I have actually also been buying the Wordsworth classic collector’s editions, which I haven’t included here because of a couple of reasons:

  1. There is…16 of them. So far. (I’m collecting them all over the next few weeks).
  2. I’m filming a vlog for Library of Books and Daydreams, so I’m going to include them there instead!
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Goodreads | Waterstones

Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.
When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle….
But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.

I finally bought my own copy of this book that I really loved when I read it back in November. I had borrowed a copy from Courtney (thank you Courtney!), and I’m happy to have my own now.

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Goodreads

A shy teenager attempts to express how she really feels through the pastries she makes at her family’s pasteleria. A tourist from Montenegro desperately seeks a magic soup dumpling that can cure his fear of death. An aspiring chef realizes that butter and soul are the key ingredients to win a cooking competition that could win him the money to save his mother’s life.
Welcome to Hungry Hearts Row, where the answers to most of life’s hard questions are kneaded, rolled, baked. Where a typical greeting is, “Have you had anything to eat?” Where magic and food and love are sometimes one in the same.
Told in interconnected short stories, Hungry Hearts explores the many meanings food can take on beyond mere nourishment. It can symbolize love and despair, family and culture, belonging and home. 

I actually received this as a gift, as I won it from MTMC Tours back in November. Thank you – I’m super excited to read this one as I always enjoy reading fiction that mentions food!

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Goodreads

I received the collectors edition of A Conjuring of Light for Christmas, and I already had the first book. So I managed to track down a copy of the second book this week. I’m happy to add this whole series to my TBR!

What have you bought this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Let’s Discuss! 2020 Wrap Up and Stats

Hello everyone! I’m here with a very nerdy post about my 2020 reading stats. This is going to be a combination of my Goodreads Year in Books which you can view here, and my own stats from the amazing reading spreadsheet I use by Reader Vicarious. The up to date version of the spreadsheet is here if you want to use it too! I love seeing my reading stats all in one place, and I thought it would be cool to post them here with my year in reading.

I read 87 books last year, which is the most I’ve ever read in a year! I also read 22 more books than I read in 2019, and 6000 more pages.

I also believe Kingdom of Ash is the longest book I’ve ever read! I’ve been getting into novellas and shorter books recently too, and I think there will be more in my 2021 reading.

My average book length was actually shorter in 2020 than in the previous year, going from 413 to 387.

I finally read Divergent this year, alongside a few others that have been on my TBR for a while! I have a lot of hyped series on my TBR for 2021 too.

Goodreads says my average rating for the year was actually 4.1 stars, but my least favourite thing about Goodreads is the fact you can’t rate in half stars. It’s also one of my favourite things about using the reader spreadsheet, because as you can see from these stats, I use half stars so much, and definitely a lot more than I used to. When I’m rating on Goodreads, I round up rather than down, so I felt like the 4.1 average was probably much less accurate than this graphic.

I tend to not re-read books when I have a lot on my TBR, and let me tell you, my TBR has only grown recently. I found it interesting (but not surprising) that I read a lot on my backlist, because also I don’t tend to read new releases as much with so much on my TBR. In any case, this actually has more than I expected on it from 2020 new releases!

I found this really interesting to see too, as I have definitely changed over the years, and I read so much more fantasy than I used to. It would be so interesting to see my years in comparison, but I’ve sadly only been using this template for the past year!

I expected my books per month to be higher in March-June when we were in lockdown in the UK at the start of the year, and I was shocked to find my reading got better as the year went on. But I think finding new ways to read (audiobooks are amazing!) and getting into my stride, really helped me read more.

So those are my very nerdy stats for 2020! I find this fascinating to look back on and I hope you’ve enjoyed this post too!

Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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December Wrap-Up + January TBR

Hi lovely readers! I’m here today with my December wrap-up and January TBR. I actually had another really good reading month in December, despite it being a little different to my TBR in the end. I have a few books from my December TBR that have been pushed back to January, but other than that I read all of the books on my TBR and a few different ones!

Books I Read in December

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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.

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In Find Me, Aciman shows us Elio’s father, Samuel, on a trip from Florence to Rome to visit Elio, who has become a gifted classical pianist. A chance encounter on the train with a beautiful young woman upends Sami’s plans and changes his life forever.
Elio soon moves to Paris, where he, too, has a consequential affair, while Oliver, now a New England college professor with a family, suddenly finds himself contemplating a return trip across the Atlantic.
Aciman is a master of sensibility, of the intimate details and the emotional nuances that are the substance of passion. Find Me brings us back inside the magic circle of one of our greatest contemporary romances to ask if, in fact, true love ever dies.

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Romance was not part of Nora Grey’s plan. She’s never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment.
But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora’s not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends. She can’t decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.
For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen – and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life. 

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Ben has a plan for the ultimate Christmas present for Nathan. All it requires is taking a large golden retriever from one end of the country to the other. No pressure.
When a snowstorm rocks the east coast sooner than expected, though, Ben is trapped at the airport, and suddenly all their plans for a perfect first Christmas with Nathan are on the line.
This 60-page short story details Ben and Nathan’s first Christmas together back in 2019.
This short story is available for free via Gumroad’s ‘Pay What You Want’ option, however any proceeds this short story earns will be donated to the National Center for Transgender Equality

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

I’m not going to think about the past few months, about Charlie and me, and all of the sad. I’m going to block it all out. Just for today.
“Happy Christmas, ” I say.
The festive season isn’t always happy for Tori and her brother Charlie. And this year’s going to be harder than most. 

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My favourite book of the month was definitely The Invisible Life of Addie Larue, as you can probably guess! My least favourite was Crescendo, in which the whole series fluctuated between 3 and 3.5 stars, but this was my least favourite.

Books I Want to Read in January

Chasing the Stars – Malorie Blackman
Tonight the Streets are Ours – Leila Sales
Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys

I’m not putting any pressure on my reads in January past this very small TBR, because I want to spend the month deciding how I’m going to attack my TBR in 2021. I do have the idea of reading a classic per month, and Wide Sargasso Sea will be my January one! I’m super excited for this one as it is inspired by the mad wife in Jane Eyre, and Jane Eyre is one of my favourite books of all time.

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

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Becoming the Dark Prince (#3.5) by Kerri Maniscalco

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Enigmatic, brooding, and darkly handsome, Thomas Cresswell has always been the one mystery Audrey Rose has never been able to fully solve. As brilliant partners in crime investigation, they understand each other perfectly…but as young lovers, their passionate natures have led to both euphoria and heartbreak throughout the Stalking Jack the Ripper series.
This novella features a collection of scenes that takes place during and after the pair’s horrifying Atlantic voyage in Escaping From Houdini. Experience new and familiar scenes from Thomas’s unique point of view, including an intensely personal look into his plea for Audrey Rose’s hand in marriage.

This is a novella from Thomas’s point of view, focusing on his relationship with Audrey Rose. This has only been published in ebook format, and is set at the very end of Escaping from Houdini and before the events of Capturing the Devil. I’d definitely recommend reading this after Escaping from Houdini like we did! Again, I read this one with Amy and Jo as part of our buddy read of the whole series. I’m really glad Amy recommended we read this one too as we all enjoyed it quite a lot!

Winning is an archaic way or looking at romance.

I really like Thomas as a character and a love interest. Learning about his perspective on their relationship and his own inner demons was really interesting. His passion and love for Audrey Rose is so heartwarming and his willingness to let her make her own choices (especially in this historical setting) is so beautiful. Their relationship is so great to read about and I love how they treat each other as complete equals, especially due to the time period.

The setting was lovely, and I’m really excited to read about the couple exploring New York! I love the descriptions of the surroundings and the clothing, it really makes the books feel historically accurate.

Her heart isn’t like a cheap round of cards. Love isn’t a game. It’s a choice.

I really enjoyed this novella and I’m glad it was my first read of the year! If you like the series, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Finale (#4) by Becca Fitzpatrick

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Nora and Patch thought their troubles were behind them. Hank is gone and they should be able to put his ugly vendetta to rest. But in Hank’s absence, Nora has become the unwitting head of the Nephilim and must finish what Hank began. Which ultimately means destroying the fallen angels – destroying Patch.
Nora will never let that happen, so she and Patch make a plan: lead everyone to believe they have broken up, and work the system from the inside. Nora will convince the Nephilim that they are making a mistake in fighting the fallen angels, and Patch will find out everything he can from the opposing side. They will end this war before it can even begin.
But the best-laid plans often go awry. Nora is put through the paces in her new role and finds herself drawn to an addictive power she never anticipated.
As the battle lines are drawn, Nora and Patch must confront the differences that have always been between them and either choose to ignore them or let them destroy the love they have always fought for. 

I swear I have a severe problem with immediately forgetting most of what happens in these books. I read this one again so quickly that I seem to only remember chunks of it. This was the big finish, the war between fallen angels and nephilim. It was meant to be the big finale, but it just felt like small repeats of events of the previous book, over and over again. But I have to admit, it is action packed, albeit mediocre action. Again, I read the physical version and I couldn’t put it down.

Nora has definitely changed and matured over the series. She has gone from being quiet and self conscious, to kick-ass and manipulative. I quite like how she has developed and how her relationship with Patch has grown too. The thing that hasn’t changed about Nora, however, is her decision making. This girl just cannot make a good decision, and continues to be reckless and irresponsible.

“I want to take care of you, cherish you, and love you in a way no other man ever could. 

Patch is also highly problematic, down to the point of putting a tracker on Nora. I actually think this happens in Silence, but I was reminded of it now and I needed to mention it. The way he acts around Nora sometimes is concerning and very up and down. It’s definitely not an ideal relationship (or one I would want to be in), but I do like how they have grown throughout this series.

Marcie actually became a really interesting character, and I quite enjoyed reading more about her life and her personal problems. I have no idea, however, why and how Nora’s mum took Marcie under her wing, despite some weird guilt about Hank’s death. And maybe guilt about Hank, as a whole. I might be wrong, but I don’t think this was explained at all and felt very contradictory to the rest of the story. Like a lot of things in this book!

I want to spoil you — every kiss, every touch, every thought, they all belong to you. I’ll make you happy. Every day, I’ll make you happy.”

I felt like this was a disappointing end to a disappointing series. I really wanted this to be another improvement on the series, and for this to be the big, action packed finale I was looking for. But unfortunately, it was a let down again. The best thing about this series was the pacing, as I flew through these books so quickly. I can see why they are widely enjoyed, and it feels like a guilty pleasure series as a whole.

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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