T5W: Most Disappointing Reads of 2018

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Lainey. You get a new topic every Wednesday, and you list your Top 5 books related to that topic. If you’d like to take part, join the Goodreads group, and add your name to the list of bloggers & booktubers!

It’s time for a good moan because today we’re talking about most disappointing reads of 2018! I wrote a few down at the end of the year and it’s going to be so fun to share them with you all.

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Ugh. I did NOT enjoy this book (review here). With the amount of hype the book got when the movie was released, I just really expected something better.

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Whoop, more unpopular opinions time! I loved Illuminae, but I didn’t like Gemina. I wanted to try out the third book because of how much I adored Illuminae, but I was utterly disappointed yet again. Review here.

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This book is How To Ruin a Series 101. I was enjoying it, and then we got to this, and no no no. Review here.

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I never in a million years thought I’d mark a Wizarding World book as a disappointing read. But this one proved me wrong, and I’m still gutted about it.

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I have to say I wasn’t expecting too much with this one. I really loved We Were Liars and How To Be Bad, but E. Lockharts other books have also been disappointments for me. I thought I’d give this one a go, and unfortunately it was the worst E Lockhart book so far! Review here.

Which books made your list of disappointing reads of 2018?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: City of Ashes (#2) by Cassandra Clare

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Love and power are the deadliest temptations. Haunted by her past, Clary is dragged deeper into New York City’s terrifying underworld of demons and Shadowhunters – but can she control her feelings for a boy who can never be hers?

This book actually pleasantly surprised me! I liked it just a touch more than City of Bones and it felt like a perfect sequel to explore the Shadowhunting world further.

I just really feel like this book had everything, and it’s even more diverse than the first book. Firstly, we have this great mix of characters. Complicated families, complicated romance, complicated friendships. They’re all so real and relatable and I love that. Only certain authors can create such a big and diverse cast of characters and still have each and every one mean something in the story.

” “I’ve been thinking about you, too.”
“I really was sick. I swear. I almost died back there on the ship, you know.””

The thing I really felt was missing in City of Bones was here in City of Ashes. BIG action scenes with tons of Shadowhunters working together and blowing things up. These end up being some of my most memorable scenes and I just love them. The pages fly by!

Something else Clare is amazing at: making me not feel weird about the relationship two of these characters have. (I’m not going to say who because of spoilers for City of Bones, but think of the Lannisters and you’ll know who I mean). But honestly, hats off to her. I didn’t think anyone could make me read these private thoughts and not be sick all over the pages.

“”I know. Everytime you almost die, I almost die myself.””

I have one, tiny problem with this book though, that stopped it reaching 5 stars for me. I want to know more about the characters inner-workings. I feel like Clare is focusing so much on the bigger picture, that she’s missing so many gems that I think came with time and experience for her (as I didn’t feel like it was missing in The Infernal Devices). I wanted to see more of the thoughts/characteristics of side characters like Alec, that would just make me sympathise with everyone a little more!

Talking of Clare’s writing, it has definitely improved in this book! I have to say, this was also a pleasant surprise as I wasn’t expecting it to improve so rapidly, and it’s made me even more excited to see what’s to come in City of Glass.

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Beautiful Quotes #111 / The Sun is Also a Star

Beautiful Quotes is a weekly meme hosted by me, where I post some of my favourite quotes. Any other bloggers are welcome to join me in this and just link my blog!

It’s been a busy week! I started back at uni after the Christmas/New Year break, and I have a deadline this Friday so I’ve been working hard on that project all day today.

I also went shopping with some lovely friends and visited family over the weekend. I’m still reading The Mortal Instruments and I love this series! I finished City of Ashes last night (review coming tomorrow!) and I started City of Glass today.

Onto a very different story now but one I love just as much. Today’s beautiful quote comes from The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. I thought this one was fitting as the movie is being released this summer and I’m very excited for it!

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“There’s a Japanese phrase that I like: koi no yokan. It doesn’t mean love at first sight. It’s closer to love at second sight. It’s the feeling when you meet someone that you’re going to fall in love with them. Maybe you don’t love them right away, but it’s inevitable that you will.” 
― Nicola Yoon, 
The Sun Is Also a Star

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Let’s Discuss! Harry Potter Studio Tour

Hello again my lovely readers! Today we have a very special post about the WB Harry Potter Studio Tour I visited earlier this week (I can’t believe it was less than a week ago!). For my birthday back in October, my other half Josh bought us tickets for the studio tour and to see the Cursed Child in May. I’m so excited for that!

We were lucky enough to book to visit the studios while Hogwarts in the Snow was still showing, and it made it even more beautiful somehow. I’ve never been to the studio before, so I’m really excited to share with you my first visit.

As soon as I spotted the sign on our way in, I was so overwhelmed. I couldn’t wait to get in!

There were many times in the tour when I felt like crying, and the opening of the doors to the Great Hall took my breath away.

Inside, the Great Hall is set up for the Yule Ball! It looks beautiful with the Christmas trees and icy decorations.

We moved on to see the many many sets alongside interesting facts/props from the movies. Here’s just one of many photos I took of the Gryffindor Common Room. I also loved seeing Dumbledore’s office and the Potions classroom.

The Forbidden Forest is the newest edition to the studios, and it was awesome to see Buckbeak in real life! I didn’t visit Aragog’s lair however, because I’m really not a fan of spiders :p

Next came the beautiful Hogwarts Express. I had tears in my eyes when I walked onto the platform. And of course we had to have the customary pictures with the trolley!

We stopped for dinner and a drink, and I had to try some Butterbeer. It’s very sweet but I did like it, and I got to take the cup home!

Not only did I get to see Privet Drive, the Knight Bus and the Bridge, I also got to see it in the snow! They had snow machines set up outside and it made the experience even more magical.

Inside again, we got to see even more props and amazing artwork. One of my favourites was definitely Fawkes.

Diagon Alley was one of the most incredible things. Being able to walk down the street was so cool.

But the thing that got me most was this room! I walked in, took one look at this amazing model and burst into tears. It was just so beautiful, especially covered in snow!

Of course, this experience was just magical. I’d recommend it for any Harry Potter fan and I’ll definitely visit again sometime!

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #77

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!

I actually haven’t bought a book for a while (my ban is working finally!), but I want to tell you all about a book I bought over Christmas. I was lucky to receive a book voucher for Christmas, and I went out in the sales and bought this beautiful book! My lovely friend Anna had it for Christmas, and I knew from then on that I really wanted to get a copy.

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“Harry Potter: Page to Screen” opens the doors to Hogwarts castle and the wizarding world of Harry Potter to reveal the complete behind-the-scenes secrets, techniques, and over-the-top artistry that brought J.K. Rowling’s acclaimed novels to cinematic life. Developed in collaboration with the creative team behind the celebrated movie series, this deluxe, 500-plus page compendium features exclusive stories from the cast and crew, hundreds of never-before-seen photographs and concept illustrations sourced from the closed film sets, and rare memorabilia. As the definitive look at the magic that made cinematic history, “Page to Screen” is the ultimate collectible, perfect for Muggles everywhere.

I can’t wait to read this, I loved The Art of Harry Potter so much and it’s great to add this to my collection.

Have you bought any books this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: City of Bones (#1) by Cassandra Clare

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Goodreads | Amazon

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy? This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…

This was actually my second read of City of Bones. I met Cassandra Clare years ago and read it for the first time then! But unfortunately, I wasn’t a massive fantasy reader and I didn’t quite click with the book. This time was definitely an improvement!

However, I did find it strange going back to The Mortal Instruments after The Infernal Devices. I wanted to read the prequels first as I’ve been told I’d understand TMI more by doing so, but I did find it difficult seeing Clare’s change in writing style. She definitely improved as she wrote, but I’m sure her writing will also improve throughout this series.

“The boy never cried again, and he never forgot what he’d learned:”

Of course this was still a brilliant book, and I really enjoyed it. Usually with fantasy, we discover the world after the protagonist. Discovering this world alongside Clary has a very special feel and made her and her friends very easy characters to relate to. Having Simon in the mix also made for a gentle transition into this new world.

“that to love is to destroy, and that to be loved is to be the one destroyed.”

I’m really excited for the rest of this series to play out, it’s definitely a page-turner and I’m enjoying it so much so far. At the moment I feel like The Infernal Devices is likely to hold a very special place in my heart, but The Mortal Instruments is sure to be up there too.

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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What If It’s Us. Book Review #51

Hey everyone.

I picked up What If It’s Us after attending the Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera signing in Manchester this autumn with Beth. You can read her lovely review here!

I went into this book looking for something fun and fluffy and I was certainly not disappointed. Albertalli and Silvera do an excellent job at creating a story that is simultaneously a piece of easy comfort reading, full of broadway references and cute moments, and a book that deals with more serious challenges that we all find ourselves facing in our own relationships in real life.

Ben and Arthur’s love felt special to me, special enough that I could suspend my disbelief that they could have fallen in love in a matter of weeks, special because it was orchestrated and blessed by the cosmic randomness of the universe. It was heartwarming and I found that after a while I was standing on the sidelines of the romance pitch cheering Arthur’s name as well as Ben’s. I say ‘after a while’ because initially I found Arthur too ridiculous to actually like him. I can imagine getting on with Ben in real life but Arthur was too cringey to the point that I actually felt embarrassed for him. Still, I did learn to love Arthur because I realised that he is the inner freak out geek that all of us slightly obsessed bookworms are inside.

In terms of diversity this story was right on point. Silvera and Albertalli recognise their responsibility as widely read YA authors and don’t just do enough to be deemed hip and liberal – they create realities that genuinely empower and celebrate ever reader hailing from every race and sexuality reading.

Perhaps the only thing that let me down, and it was a little bit of a big let down, was the writing style. I had never read Silvera prior to What If Its Us but I found that the constant use of cultural symbols and random misplaced young people jargon was jarring and distasteful as someone who is actually a young person. WIIU felt like a glass half full in terms of language compared to Simon Vs. the Homosapien Agenda. It was clunky and unnecessarily colloquial. It is not a criticism of Silvera or Albertalli – they are both excellent writers – I simply feel in this case that this was a matter of personal taste and teenagers who sound like adults pretending to be teenagers is not a taste I like very much. It was artificial and in some places it really did stop me from enjoying this epic story.

I would certainly recommend this book, just go in knowing that it sounds a bit like it was written for you by a computer programme designed to be cool.

I give this book a 3.5 out of 5 stars!
Keep on reading!

And thanks again Beth.