Review: The Binding by Bridget Collins

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Books are dangerous things in Collins’s alternate universe, a place vaguely reminiscent of 19th-century England. It’s a world in which people visit book binders to rid themselves of painful or treacherous memories. Once their stories have been told and are bound between the pages of a book, the slate is wiped clean and their memories lose the power to hurt or haunt them. After having suffered some sort of mental collapse and no longer able to keep up with his farm chores, Emmett Farmer is sent to the workshop of one such binder to live and work as her apprentice. Leaving behind home and family, Emmett slowly regains his health while learning the binding trade. He is forbidden to enter the locked room where books are stored, so he spends many months marbling end pages, tooling leather book covers, and gilding edges. But his curiosity is piqued by the people who come and go from the inner sanctum, and the arrival of the lordly Lucian Darnay, with whom he senses a connection, changes everything.

I really wasn’t sure about this book. It’s unlike a lot of books I read, especially the historical aspect being a big no-no for me usually. But with it being the Fiction Book of the Month where I work and my colleague adoring it, I decided to give it a go. I also had a niggling feeling it might have underlying tones of The Starless Sea about it, and I loved that book so much!

I wasn’t wrong about it feeling like The Starless Sea. The Binding had the same enchanting, sprawling writing style as Erin Morgenstern does in both of her books which I love so much. But I didn’t feel quite so mystified with The Binding.

‘Memories,’ she said, at last. ‘Not people, Emmett. We take memories and bind them. Whatever people can’t bear to remember. 

This book is written in three parts. The first part didn’t draw me in as half as much as I would have liked it too. It was slow and plodding and somewhat problematic, with the protagonist, Emmett, being kept in the dark about a lot of things. The location was vivid and witchlike, and was the main aspect I focused on in this portion of the story.

The second part reeled me in like a fly trapped in a spiders web. With a suddenness that was jarring at first, we are thrown into a much different time, and much different situation. The second part is full of lust, desire and forbidden love. I adored it. This part of the book is the one that captured my heart and left me feeling completely enthralled with the characters and their stories.

The third part was again, much different. We jump ahead, before the first part, and look back on the story. I didn’t enjoy this part as much as the second, but I still felt trapped with my desire to find out what happens to these characters.

Whatever they can’t live with. We take those memories and put them where they can’t do any harm. That’s all books are’

Overall, this book is enchanting and beautiful, and I can see why it seems to be so well loved. For the most part, it didn’t capture my imagination as much as I would have hoped, but I ended up enjoying it quite a lot all the same. If the entire book had enchanted me as much as the second part did, it would have been a solid 5 stars. But due to the first, and sometimes the third parts letting it down a little, I’m going to go with 4.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #1

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’m back with a brand new series of Stacking the Shelves posts. I’m trying really hard to control my book-buying in 2020, but working in a bookshop makes it so much harder! I’m proud of myself for only having actually bought one book so far this year, though.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Rosemary has lived in Brixton all her life, but everything she knows is changing. Only the local lido, where she swims every day, remains a constant reminder of the past and her beloved husband George. Kate has just moved and feels adrift in a city that is too big for her. She’s on the bottom rung of her career as a local journalist, and is determined to make something of it.
So when the lido is threatened with closure, Kate knows this story could be her chance to shine. But for Rosemary, it could be the end of everything. Together they are determined to make a stand, and to prove that the pool is more than just a place to swim – it is the heart of the community.

I guess I’ve always been a wild swimmer in one sense or another, and as I’ve grown up I’ve started swimming in rivers and lakes as well as the sea! I’ve been eyeing up this book for a while, so I finally decided to pick it up.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Welcome to the café that never sleeps. Day and night Stella’s Café opens its doors for the lonely and the lost, the morning people and the night owls. It is many things to many people but most of all it is a place where life can wait at the door. A place of small kindnesses. A place where anyone can be whoever they want, where everyone is always welcome.
Meet Hannah and Mona: best friends, waitresses, dreamers. They work at Stella’s but they dream of more, of leaving the café behind and making their own way in life.
Come inside and spend twenty-four hours at Stella’s Café; a day when Hannah and Mona’s friendship will be tested, when the community will come together and when lives will be changed…

And here comes the danger of working in a bookshop – we get so many proofs! And this one came in a couple of days before I picked up The Lido, so I thought why not just pick both up.

My only hope is that I don’t build on my TBR this year, and buy less than I read! Wish me luck.

Did you buy any books this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Let's Discuss! Visiting Harry Potter Studios

Hi all! This week I had the chance to visit the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio tour again. I visited last year in the Hogwarts in the Snow feature and decided to go again this year for the same feature with my boyfriend and group of friends.

We all noticed the entrance has changed around quite a lot in the past year, with a dragon now hanging from the ceiling and a super cute cafe with a roof shaped like a chocolate frog box!

I love how the Great Hall is dressed for the Yule Ball during the Hogwarts in the snow feature. The Christmas trees look amazing and of course the dinner looks delicious too. Something we noticed this year is how each part of the tables have Christmas crackers for each house!

It was lovely to wander around the rest of the sets. I’ve always adored Dumbledore’s office, so ended up spending a while in there.

Possibly the most exciting thing about our visit was the new feature none of us had seen – Gringotts! It was truly outstanding, especially the part in the top right which I won’t spoil for everybody but was worth taking a video of.

You now enter Diagon Alley through Gringotts, which was so cool but makes Diagon Alley look so small in comparison. It was still so lovely to see though!

Last but not least, we got to see the castle again. I cried the first time I saw this, but I wasn’t expecting to be so emotional this time. However, I still had a few tears in my eyes as it’s just so impressive!

It was so lovely to visit this wonderful and enchanting place again with amazing people who love Harry Potter as much as I do! I even braved Aragog’s Lair this year!

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Top 5 Series I Want to Read This Year

Hi all! Today I’m going to talk about the top 5 series on my physical TBR I want to read this year. I have so many series on my TBR and some of them have been on my shelves for way too long. I figure if I can combat some of these soon I can get my physical TBR down a bit!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them…all at once?
Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control. 

I’ve read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before a while ago, but didn’t carry on with the series. I’d like to re-read the first book and continue with the series soon, especially with the second movie being released next month!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

I’ve read Leigh Bardugo books the wrong way round in a lot of ways – reading Six of Crows before the Grisha trilogy. So this year I’d like to finally catch up and read the original series!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

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. 

I’ve had these books for a while after picking them up second hand and some of them are even signed! I know I’ll get through them super quickly once I pick them up, I just need to delve in.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

When the lift cranks open, the only thing Thomas remembers is his first name. But he’s not alone – an army of boys welcomes him to the Glade, an encampment at the centre of a terrible maze. The Gladers have no idea why they’re there, or what’s happened to the world outside. All they know is that every morning when the walls slide back, they will risk everything to find out.

I’ve had this series since before the movie came out (or rather, it’s been in my house owned by somebody or another). I definitely need to finally force myself to get to it.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.
She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
There is.
She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.
She’s wrong
.

I picked up this series second hand quite a while ago too and it’s still hanging around – I’m hoping to actually get to it in 2020.

Who knows whether I’ll read all of these within the year, but I’m going to try my best!

Which series do you want to read in 2020?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Let's Discuss! 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

Hi all! It might seem a bit late, with us now being near the end of January, but I thought I’d do a bit of a wrap-up of my journey of my reading in 2019! I find it so interesting to look back on the Goodreads Year in Books, so I’ll be taking the information from there.

How many books did I read?

I managed to read 65 books in 2019! My original goal was 50, so I’m proud of myself for going above and beyond. Overall, this was 26,849 pages.

What were the shortest and longest books I read?

The shortest book was A Christmas Carol at just 95 pages, and the longest was Queen of Air and Darkness at 893 pages.

What were the most popular and least popular books I read?

City of Bones was the most popular book I read with 1,642,971 ratings and my least popular was Parked with just 23 other readers!

Which books did I read?

My True Love Gave To Me – Various Authors
City of Bones – Cassandra Clare
City of Ashes – Cassandra Clare
City of Glass – Cassandra Clare
City of Fallen Angels – Cassandra Clare
City of Lost Souls – Cassandra Clare
City of Heavenly Fire – Cassandra Clare
King of Scars – Leigh Bardugo
Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy – Cassandra Clare
Lady Midnight – Cassandra Clare
The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
Lord of Shadows – Cassandra Clare
Queen of Air and Darkness – Cassandra Clare
East of Eden – John Steinbeck
The Bane Chronicles – Cassandra Clare
Dumplin’ – Julie Murphy
Heartstopper – Alice Oseman
Glass Houses (Morganville #1) – Rachel Caine
The Dead Girls’ Dance (Morganville #2) – Rachel Caine
Midnight Dance (Morganville #3) – Rachel Caine
Feast of Fools (Morganville #4) – Rachel Caine
Lord of Misrule (Morganville #5) – Rachel Caine
Cape Corpus (Morganville #6) – Rachel Caine
Fade Out (Morganville #7) – Rachel Caine
Kiss of Death (Morganville #8) – Rachel Caine
Ghost Town (Morganville #9) – Rachel Caine
Bite Club (Morganville #10) – Rachel Caine
Last Breath (Morganville #11) – Rachel Caine
Black Dawn (Morganville #12) – Rachel Caine
The Quiet at the End of the World – Lauren James
Bitter Blood (Morganville #13) – Rachel Caine
Fall of Night (Morganville #14) – Rachel Caine
Daylighters (Morganville #15) – Rachel Caine
Midnight Bites – Rachel Caine
The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali – Sabina Khan
Meet Cute – Various Authors
Girls of Paper and Fire – Natasha Ngan
Call It What You Want – Brigid Kemmerer
The Last Namsara – Kristen Ciccarelli
The Storm Crow – Kalyn Josephson
Arctic Zoo – Robert Muchamore
City of Ghosts – Victoria Schwab
Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman
Do You Dream of Terra-Two? – Temi Oh
Solitaire – Alice Oseman
The Bone Season – Samantha Shannon
Attachments – Rainbow Rowell
The Starlight Watchmaker – Lauren James
Flame in the Mist – Renee Ahdieh
This Time Will Be Different – Misa Sugiura
Heartstopper Vol 2 – Alice Oseman
Scars Like Wings – Erin Stewart
Parked – Danielle Svetcov
The Marrow Thieves – Cherie Dimaline
Girls of Storm and Shadow (#2) – Natasha Ngan
American Royals – Katherine McGee
Pumpkinheads – Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks
A Curse so Dark and Lonely – Brigid Kemmerer
Letters to the Lost – Brigid Kemmerer
The Places I’ve Cried in Public – Holly Bourne
Pixie Pushes on – Tamara Bundy
Only Love Can Break Your Heart – Katherine Webber
Made You Up – Fransesca Zappia
Saint Anything – Sarah Dessen
A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
The Starless Sea – Erin Morgenstern

Keep up to date with the blog, I’ll be posting about my absolute favourite reads of 2019 soon!

What was your reading journey of 2019?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Let's Discuss! Little Women Adaptation

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I wasn’t going to write a review or any kind of post for this movie, due to the pure fact I have never read the book. But after my third viewing of it in cinema, I knew I couldn’t resist any longer. I have to talk about my admiration for this cinematic masterpiece.

This film is just absolutely beautiful in every way. The scenery is superb. The lighting is lovely. The girls have my heart. I saw some of myself in each one of them, and I think that’s what makes this story so special. Jo’s spark, soul and courageous wit is who I think we all aspire to be. Beth’s caring nature is who I hope I am every day. Meg’s love for her family and John shines through, and I know in my heart I am and will be like her in many ways. Amy’s lust for life and raucous, somewhat unsettled character touched my heart. And although I could go on, I will finish on marmee, who I relate to on so many levels, but especially the ‘I bake scones at midnight and don’t mind the mess, we don’t’.

The energy in this film is electric, and I fell in love with the chaotic scenes between the girls. I often felt like Laurie, looking in on the family with adoration and wonder. He seemed to be almost yearning to be part of it all, to have the unrequited love that only occurs between family.

Everything seemed to fit seamlessly together – the costumes, sets and score are just a few aspects that come to mind that offer layer upon layer. The acting is superb, and specific scenes (Jo’s powerful and emotional speech in the attic to her mother comes to mind immediately (below)), I know will stay with me. Some of the beautifully poetic lines brought tears to my eyes even on the third watch.

“I just feel like women….they have minds and they have souls as well as just hearts. And they’ve got ambition and they’ve got talent as well as just beauty. And I’m so sick of people saying that, that love is just all a woman is fit for. I’m so sick of it. But I’m – I’m so lonely.”

Jo March, Little Women

I can only describe Little Women as an absolute delight and achingly beautiful. Coming out of the first screening with my boyfriend on New Year’s Day, I immediately knew I wanted to see it again and again. I already am endlessly glad that I began the year on such a lovely note. I have since seen it with my mum and my best friend, and both the second and third screening were just as enjoyable as the first. I just know that this film will be a comfort for years to come, and the level of warmth it brought to me will not leave in a hurry.

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Infinity Son (#1) by Adam Silvera

Goodreads

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

I love a lot of Adam Silvera’s work – They Both Die at the End and History is All You Left Me being my favourites. His emotion and magical realism is unlike most contemporary YA, and I love something with a twist! When I heard about his new fantasy project, I think I was among many excited readers. I missed out on grabbing an ARC of this when I wanted to at YALC last year, but managed to get one through my work as a bookseller a month or so ago. I was so excited to delve into a new fantasy world, but I sit here today sorry that I have been disappointed at the very least.

Unfortunately, Silvera included little to no world-building in Infinity Son. I could picture the world only because it seemed to be set in our own – but I could not picture much else. The character building was few and far between too, and I struggled the most with the magic system. I felt like I was clueless when it came to the different people and species. I couldn’t picture the phoenixes and had little to no understanding of their history, which left me utterly disappointed.

I’m going to a brief interval to focus on the good parts, as I hate to be so negative about an author I have mostly loved.

  • I love the family aspects of the book, and the brother relationship was great to read about.
  • I noticed the diversity and that Emil seemed to be vegan, which naturally I couldn’t help but love.
  • The plot was, if nothing else, entertaining. It was full of action scenes which I sped through and found very fun.

But is fun enough? Not in my book. Infinity Son has been one of my most hyped books for at least 6 months, and I was so happy to finally read it. The sheer disappointment I feel in this book falling so flat is what I disliked the most. I will definitely read Silvera’s future novels, but I don’t think I will be reading more in the Infinity Cycle.

★★
2 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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