Review: The 24-Hour Cafe by Libby Page

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Welcome to the cafe that never sleeps.
Day and night, Stella’s Cafe opens its doors to the lonely and the lost, the morning people and the night owls. It’s a place where everyone is always welcome, where life can wait at the door.
Meet Hannah and Mona: best friends, waitresses, dreamers. They love working at Stella’s – the different people they meet, the small kindnesses exchanged. But is it time to step outside and make their own way in life?
Come inside and spend twenty-four hours at Stella’s Cafe, where one day might just be enough to change your life …

Libby Page really doesn’t let me down! I loved, loved The Lido by her when I read it last year and I’ve been putting this one off for a while for some reason. I actually picked this one out in my first ever TBR game on my BookTube channel – my TBR mini golf game! You can check the video out here for my July TBR. I’m so glad this one came up in the video because I think the reason I have been putting this off is because I liked The Lido so much and I didn’t want to not like this one as much. And I have to admit, I didn’t quite love this one as much as The Lido, but I did still really love it.

Although this one follows two waitresses in a 24 hour diner opposite Liverpool Street station, it was the customers that really captured my heart. Working in retail, I completely understood the way the customers were portrayed and I find it fascinating knowing someone you have a very brief interaction with has their own complicated life. This book looks individually at these characters, their passions, problems and relationships. The way these people were interwoven in the story felt so graceful and effortless.

I also loved how this book followed the friendship of two women rather than a relationship, which felt like a bit of a change! Their friendship becomes messy and complicated but felt authentic and I could completely understand why their pathways were heading in the way they were. I also loved how this book was set over 24 hours – I always find books set over a few days are so masterful (I don’t know how you can write a whole 400 page book over just 24 hours and it still be entertaining!) and fast paced.

My only small complaints are the fact it took me a while to get into this one and that I did mix up the two main characters (waitresses) initially, as they have similar interests. However, once I got over halfway through I really didn’t want to put it down. I read the second half in just over a day and I quickly fell in love with all of the people in this one. Some of the scenes were so heartfelt and heartwarming, I ended up so emotional. I admire Libby Page so much for being able to make me cry from a scene with characters we only met a few pages previously. I was properly crying while reading a certain scene with a couple, tears falling off my face and onto my chest. It was just so wholesome and lovely.

Although this may not have lived up to The Lido, I still really, really loved this one and I can’t wait to read her newest release, The Island Home!

4.5 out of 5 stars


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Review: The Bright & the Pale by Jessica Rubinkowski


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Seventeen-year-old Valeria is one of the only survivors of the freeze, a dark magical hold Knnot Mountain unleashed over her village. Everyone, including her family, is trapped in an unbreakable sheet of ice. Ever since, she’s been on the run from the Czar, who is determined to imprison any who managed to escape. Valeria finds refuge with the Thieves Guild, doing odd jobs with her best friend Alik, the only piece of home she has left.
That is, until he is brutally murdered.
A year later, she discovers Alik is alive and being held against his will. To buy his freedom, she must lead a group of cutthroats and thieves on a perilous expedition to the very mountain that claimed her family. Only something sinister slumbers in the heart of Knnot.
And it has waited years for release.

Firstly a big thank you to Amy for the gorgeous Fairyloot copy I own! I adore the edition and I’m glad I got around to reading this quickly – although it felt strange reading a polar fantasy in the middle of the hot weather we are having right now in the UK. I actually read this one on audio as I didn’t have many books left on Scrib’d and this one captured my interest!

Sadly, I actually ended up having quite mixed feelings about this one in the end. Although I can safely say I quite enjoyed it, there was just something there that didn’t quite click for me. There was a lot to like about this one, but I also found myself not caring about the story and characters as much as I wanted to – even in the most emotional scenes in the book.

Fear the mountain, my dear. Fear the dark depths and the cold halls. Fear the call. 

I did like the plot of this one, but I found some of it a little predictable. Some of it did feel quite unique, including the Russian folklore aspect, which I feel like we don’t see much of in YA fantasy. I have heard this may be a retelling, although it felt more generally inspired than a full retelling. I also felt like the atmosphere was one of my favourite parts and I really liked the general feel of the setting and surroundings.

I liked the characters, but as with a lot of this book, I just liked them. I did root for the main characters and I enjoyed the found-family aspect of the group. However, I honestly feel like I’m running out of things to say because I just…didn’t feel as much for any of this book than I wanted to.

For when the mountain sinks its teeth into you, it will never let you go.

So overall, this definitely wasn’t a bad read, and I certainly enjoyed it – it just also fell flat and felt really disappointing in some ways. I’ve recently found out this is a going to be a duology, and I think I may re-read the physical version of this when the second one comes out.

3.5 out of 5 stars


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Stacking the Shelves #50

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 everyone! As usual it’s been a couple of weeks since I posted one of these so I thought I would come on to catch up. I’ve also not bought books for almost a week, which is rare for me! Here are all of the books I bought and have received in the last couple of weeks.

Books I Bought

The Mercies: Exclusive Edition (Paperback)

Goodreads | Waterstones

On Christmas Eve, 1617, the sea around the remote Norwegian island of Vardo is thrown into a reckless storm. As Maren Magnusdatter watches, forty fishermen, including her father and brother, are lost to the waves, the menfolk of Vardo wiped out in an instant.
Now the women must fend for themselves.
Eighteen months later, a sinister figure arrives. Summoned from Scotland to take control of a place at the edge of the civilized world, Absalom Cornet knows what he needs to do to bring the women of Vardo to heel. With him travels his young wife, Ursa. In Vardo, and in Maren, Ursa finds something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place untouched by God and flooded with a mighty and terrible evil, one he must root out at all costs.

I actually own the hardback edition of this which I haven’t read yet, but I couldn’t pass up this beautiful edition with sprayed edges! It’s now the only book I have displayed on my shelves with the edges facing out.

The Near Witch (Hardback)

Goodreads | Waterstones

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life. But when an actual stranger-a boy who seems to fade like smoke-appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.
The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.
As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know-about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

I also bought a second edition of The Near Witch because I didn’t realise this was still available in hardback! Isn’t it so pretty?

Kiki's Delivery Service (Hardback)

Goodreads | Waterstones

Kiki is a trainee witch. On her thirteenth birthday she must follow tradition and leave home to find a new village.
She knows she has to use only her powers to make a living, but Kiki’s no good at potions or spells…can she use her flying abilities to make her own way in the world? 
She sets out with her beloved black cat Jiji on an exciting journey, making new friends along the way.

I wasn’t planning on buying this one, but I recently found out it has been released in paperback and I knew I wanted this cute hardback edition. So of course I wanted to grab it while it was still available!

One Last Stop (Paperback)

Goodreads | Waterstones

For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone.
She can’t imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there’s certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures. But then, there’s this gorgeous girl on the train. Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane. Jane with her rough edges and swoopy hair and soft smile, showing up in a leather jacket to save August’s day when she needed it most.
August’s subway crush becomes the best part of her day, but pretty soon, she discovers there’s one big problem: Jane doesn’t just look like an old school punk rocker. She’s literally displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her. Maybe it’s time to start believing in some things, after all.

I also thought I’d pick this one up while we still had one in the bookshop I work in, as it the availability seemed to be decreasing and I really want to read this one.

Weathering With You, Volume 3 (Paperback)

Goodreads | Waterstones

I also grabbed volume 3 of this manga. Volume 2 is reprinting at the moment so I can’t pick it up yet, but I thought I’d just grab volume 3 while I still can.

Books gifted

Rise to the Sun (Paperback)

Goodreads | Waterstones

A stunning novel about being brave enough to be true to yourself, and learning to find joy even when times are unimaginably dark. Three days. Two girls. One life-changing music festival. Toni is grieving the loss of her roadie father and needing to figure out where her life will go from here – and she’s desperate to get back to loving music. Olivia is a hopeless romantic whose heart has just taken a beating (again) and is beginning to feel like she’ll always be a square peg in a round hole – but the Farmland Music and Arts Festival is a chance to find a place where she fits. The two collide and it feels like something like kismet when a bond begins to form. But when something goes wrong and the festival is sent into a panic, Olivia and Toni will find that they need each other (and music) more than they ever imagined.

 I had a few recent gifts from publishers including this one, which I’m super excited to read because I loved You Should See Me in a Crown!

The Island Home (Hardback)

Goodreads | Waterstones

Lorna’s world is small but safe.
She loves her daughter, and the two of them is all that matters. But after nearly twenty years, she and Ella are suddenly leaving London for the Isle of Kip, the tiny remote Scottish island where Lorna grew up.
Alice’s world is tiny but full.
She loves the community on Kip, her yoga classes drawing women across the tiny island together. Now Lorna’s arrival might help their family finally mend itself – even if forgiveness means returning to the past…
So with two decades, hundreds of miles and a lifetime’s worth of secrets between Lorna and the island, can coming home mean starting again?

I was also sent Libby Page’s new book, who I love (and I am currently reading The 24 Hour Cafe by her). My mum has already read this one, loved it and has handed it back to me!

The Demon World (The Smoke Thieves Book 2) - The Smoke Thieves (Paperback)

Goodreads | Waterstones

My friend at work decided to get rid of a few books, so the next few are from her! I’ve had the first book in this series for years so I quickly grabbed this one. Hopefully it will force me to read the first one now.

The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy - Montague Siblings 2 (Paperback)

Goodreads | Waterstones

This one is a very similar story!

Norse Mythology (Paperback)

Goodreads | Waterstones

Gather round, this is where the stories are born. This is where the world was made.
Picture it: about you, mile upon mile of sparkling, moonlit rock and snow. Above, the flickering magic of the aurora borealis, an electric-blue contrast to the warm fire where the storyteller weaves his words. He talks of playful, careless, wrathful gods, stories of immortal forces battling under freezing, star-filled skies.
The great Norse myths are woven into the fabric of our storytelling – from Tolkien, Alan Garner and Rosemary Sutcliff to Game of Thrones and Marvel Comics. They are also an inspiration for Neil Gaiman’s own award-bedecked, bestselling fiction.
Now our greatest living fantasist reaches back through time to the original source stories in a thrilling and vivid rendition of the great Norse tales.
Gaiman’s gods are thoroughly alive on the page – irascible, visceral, playful, passionate – and the tales carry us from the beginning of everything to Ragnarök and the twilight of the gods. Galvanised by Gaiman’s prose, Thor, Loki, Odin and Freya are irresistible forces for modern readers and the crackling, brilliant writing demands to be read aloud around an open fire on a freezing, starlit night.

And last but not least I took this copy of Norse Mythology, partly for me and partly because Mark wanted the white cover, so now we have both between us!

Which books did you buy or receive this week?


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Review: The Furies by Katie Lowe

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Goodreads | Waterstones

In 1998, a sixteen-year-old girl is found dead on school property, dressed in white and posed on a swing, with no known cause of death. The novel opens with this image, as related to us by the narrator, Violet, looking back on the night it happened from the present day, before returning to relate the series of events leading up to the girl’s murder.
After an accident involving her Dad and sister, Violet joins Elm Hollow Academy, a private girls school in a quiet coastal town, which has an unpleasant history as the site of famous 17th century witch trials. Violet quickly finds herself invited to become the fourth member of an advanced study group, alongside Robin, Grace, and Alex – led by their charismatic art teacher, Annabel.
While Annabel claims her classes aren’t related to ancient rites and rituals – warning the girls off the topic, describing it as little more than mythology – the girls start to believe that magic is real, and that they can harness it. But when the body of a former member of the society – Robin’s best friend, with whom Violet shares an uncanny resemblance – is found dead on campus nine months after she disappeared, Violet begins to wonder whether she can trust her friends, teachers, or even herself.

Okay, wow. I didn’t have many expectations going into this, but I didn’t expect it to be quite so dark or graphic as it turned out to be. I listened to the audiobook of this, which I actually really liked and felt the narrator fit the story really well – but did leave me completely enveloped in the darker scenes.

This book is the darkest of dark academia I have read. It takes all of the murder mystery elements and makes them more visceral and gruesome than I ever expected. The best part of this book, in my opinion, was the writing. I loved the writing, and I think it was probably the only part of this book I truly fell for. It almost read like a modern classic, lilting and atmospheric and perfect for the story. The writing just worked for me, and I feel like the audiobook only enhanced this with the narrator.

Every breath, every moment, possessed with an illusion of glamor, of filthy decadence, purely because it was ours,

Everything else, however, I have a lot of mixed feelings about. Our main character, Violet, left me feeling infuriated for most of the story. She never learns how to say no, how to take control of her own situation or how to stand up for herself. But I couldn’t stay mad at her forever – I was more frustrated with the fact it was so easy for her to fall into this trap of impressing the popular, enthralling group of girls known as The Furies. I didn’t appreciate the decisions she made, but I also felt angry at the fact her naivety left her exposed and vulnerable.

The plot felt a bit all over the place, and I never quite knew where the end goal of the story quite fell. Even when I did figure out the next ‘goal’ to the story, it came and went in a blink and I felt like I’d been left to wonder where we were heading. It was a bit like being left to feel around in the dark, grabbing strings and hoping they would develop into a real narrative.

we two our own radical world, a star collapsing inward and bursting, gorgeous, in the dark.

This book was twisted and honestly, screwed up. But I can see the message it was trying to portray and I loved the writing, it was just sadly let down by the plot and characters in a lot of ways. It’s the kind of book I can definitely understand why people like it, but I wouldn’t want to necessarily recommend it to anybody due to the dark nature of the topics.

CW (just some off the top of my head, this book was very graphic overall so beware!): sex, sexual assault, drug use, alcohol use, murder, gore

3 out of 5 stars


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Review: The Last Beginning (#2) by Lauren James

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Sixteen years ago, after a scandal that rocked the world, teenagers Katherine and Matthew vanished without a trace. Now Clove Sutcliffe is determined to find her long lost relatives.
But where do you start looking for a couple who seem to have been reincarnated at every key moment in history? Who were Kate and Matt? Why were they born again and again? And who is the mysterious Ella, who keeps appearing at every turn in Clove’s investigation?
For Clove, there is a mystery to solve in the past and a love to find in the future, and failure could cost the world everything.

Not only does this book complete my reading of Lauren’s entire collection of novels (until Green Rising is released very soon!), it is also my 100th read of the year! 100 books was my Goodreads goal for 2021 and is also way more than I have ever managed to read in a year (I think my highest is around 85 in 2020). The fact I have reached this goal in the middle of July astounds me and I wanted to mention it here – my boyfriend also mentioned the irony of this book being called The Last Beginning and being the one to make me hit my goal.

It’s been years since I read The Next Together and I was a little worried going into this one without having read the first one recently. However, this one follows the main characters from The Next Together’s daughter, 16 years on. And luckily for me, she has an entirely different story allowing me to pretty seamlessly carry on.

I can remember thinking I’d been turned inside out.

Every Lauren James book I read astounds me with the sheer creativity of it. I could never even begin to think up the kind of worlds she seems to – worlds that are so different from our own but also have such a lovely familiarity to them. In this book, we follow Clove as she tries to find out why her birth parents appear over and over again throughout history. Her adopted parents are working on a time machine, which she uses to meet all of these variants of her parents. I really love the time travel theme and felt like it allowed us to explore different time periods really well, with all of them feeling authentic and believable.

The writing was so quick to read and once I picked this up, I found it hard to put down. I love how easy the writing was and this is definitely something I find across all of Lauren James’s work. The characters were also really likable and I love the family element and the relationship was so sweet and had such a lovely moral. The only problem I was how immature Clove could be, especially at the start of the book, and it made the whole book feel a little too young for me.

Kind of like the first time I saw you.

Once again, big up Lauren James for writing about women in STEM, having powerful female leads and a sapphic relationship! I really enjoyed this one and it got better and better as it went on.

4 out of 5 stars


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Blog Tour + Review: Ghosts by Dolly Alderton

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Nina Dean has arrived at her early thirties as a successful food writer with loving friends and family, plus a new home and neighbourhood. When she meets Max, a beguiling romantic hero who tells her on date one that he’s going to marry her, it feels like all is going to plan.
A new relationship couldn’t have come at a better time – her thirties have not been the liberating, uncomplicated experience she was sold. Everywhere she turns, she is reminded of time passing and opportunities dwindling. Friendships are fading, ex-boyfriends are moving on and, worse, everyone’s moving to the suburbs. There’s no solace to be found in her family, with a mum who’s caught in a baffling mid-life makeover and a beloved dad who is vanishing in slow-motion into dementia.

Thank you to Penguin for having me as part of this blog tour and for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

To be completely blunt, I wasn’t 100 percent sure this was going to be a book I enjoyed. I have read some brilliant adult contemporaries in the past few years, but I’ve also read a few I didn’t enjoy at all. And this sounded in some ways similar to the one’s I didn’t enjoy as much, so naturally I was a little hesitant. However, I am very happy to say I absolutely loved this book. It was bold and beautiful and confident without being abrasive or brash – striking a perfect balance that I just didn’t expect.

We follow Nina Dean, who I found to be a likable character from the second page, when she visited Hampstead Ladies Pond (I love outdoor swimming so I loved this instantly). I always find I enjoy books so much more when I actually like the main character and want the best for them – and I really did with Nina. She felt honest and relatable, a real and imperfect character with her own troubles and mistakes.

Maybe friendship is being the guardian of another person’s hope.

I found the pacing slow at first, but after around 150 pages I couldn’t put this book down and finished it the following day. The plot really picks up and I just wanted to know what happened to Nina and those around her. The writing was absolutely brilliant and may be my favourite part of the book as a whole – it was easy to read but had some real depth and honest discussions I loved reading.

There was something in the writing that just made me feel so connected to Nina, it made me cry (and I mean tears running down my cheeks!) but also made me laugh. It is so rare I find a book that makes me properly laugh, but this one did. It made me chuckle over and over again, and I applaud the writing for that! It also made my heart drop and brought a sick feeling to my stomach when certain things happened in Nina’s life that I just felt so emotional over.

I also love how this book was feminist without being men-hating. I have read books before that felt like they crossed that line and I didn’t appreciate it – Ghosts, however, appreciates both sides of a story and brings in both successful and unsuccessful relationships. It was the balance I really wanted from this book. The relationships felt so real and were another reason I felt so connected to Nina, especially the difficult relationship with her parents (it was a scene between her and her mum that made me cry).

Leave it with me and I’ll look after it for a while , if it feels too heavy for now.

This book was a really pleasant surprise and there is honestly so much to love about it. Despite the slow start I found it so engaging and brilliantly written. An emotional but funny and uplifting read all at the same time!

4.5 out of 5 stars


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Review: All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Maeve Chambers doesn’t have much going for her. Not only does she feel like the sole idiot in a family of geniuses, she managed to drive away her best friend Lily a year ago. But when she finds a pack of dusty old tarot cards at school, and begins to give scarily accurate readings to the girls in her class, she realizes she’s found her gift at last. Things are looking up – until she discovers a strange card in the deck that definitely shouldn’t be there. And two days after she convinces her ex-best friend to have a reading, Lily disappears.
Can Maeve, her new friend Fiona and Lily’s brother Roe find her? And will their special talents be enough to bring Lily back, before she’s gone for good?

I have to admit, this is exactly what I wanted House of Hollow to be. Both have parallels, but this was much more what I expected (and wanted) for the trope of ‘girl goes missing and could be in a place nobody can reach her’. Even though the trope was similar to others I’ve seen, this book was so unique in it’s premise and plot itself, which I loved. It felt like such an oddity of YA, and breaches a gap between contemporary and magical realism, giving off a spooky feel.

I really liked the atmosphere and felt it was portrayed really well. I definitely had goosebumps in places and felt slightly spooked by the scenes in this book, which beautifully showed the thinning of the veil between our world and somewhere else. I really enjoyed how much tarot played a part in the story and the fact it is set in the real world makes the story easy to follow.

The characters were so diverse and I really liked the friendship dynamic. I think my biggest struggle was sometimes how much I disliked the main character, Maeve, who occasionally felt very immature in her actions and the way she spoke to people around her. Although she did grow throughout the book, I did sometimes struggle to like her character. However, I loved the side characters and the way all of their stories intertwined and they all had different plots working alongside each other. Each character had their own struggles and demons but they came together to fight as a team.

One of the main characters spends this book exploring his gender identity, which I really enjoyed reading about and sparked some really interesting and important conversations between the characters. The entire cast felt very diverse and it was great to see a non-binary side character, although I found the main character still presumed the genders of others, which felt a little backwards in places. I did really like the romance, however, and seeing how the two characters communicated with one another and had a level of understanding I didn’t expect really warmed my heart.

This book is set in Ireland, which I really liked. It also felt like it played a key role in the story, including discussions of the Catholic Church but also the folklore of Ireland. This brought out some really interesting and important topics that I definitely wasn’t expecting to come up.

If you’re looking for a quirky and atmospheric creepy YA, I would really recommend this one. I can see how this is only the first one in a series and I’m looking forward to seeing where Maeve’s story goes!

4 out of 5 stars


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Review: Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Welcome to Niveus Private Academy, where money paves the hallways, and the students are never less than perfect. Until now. Because anonymous texter, Aces, is bringing two students’ dark secrets to light.
Talented musician Devon buries himself in rehearsals, but he can’t escape the spotlight when his private photos go public. Head girl Chiamaka isn’t afraid to get what she wants, but soon everyone will know the price she has paid for power.
Someone is out to get them both. Someone who holds all the aces. And they’re planning much more than a high-school game… 

Thank you to Usbourne for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange with an honest review.

I’ve been hearing good things about this one recently, but I have to admit it surpassed all expectations. I did not expect this one to be such a page turner with dark but really important themes. This book reminded me of SLAY in a lot of ways, as both are such compelling reads that focus heavily on race. I didn’t really know much about this book going in, so most of the themes came as a bit of a surprise. I’m glad I went into this one with little knowledge, however, as it made the book even more gripping.

We follow Chiamaka and Devon, two Black students at their private school who are suddenly targets of an anonymous texter who spreads their deepest, darkest secrets around the school. The two band together to try and find out who Aces, the anonymous texter is. Although this is the basic premise of the story, there was so much more to it than that. Both of these characters have a lot going on in their lives, resulting in exploration of sexuality, class boundaries and elitism.

I stop myself from apologizing-because what would I even be sorry for?

The writing was brilliant and really kept me on the edge of my seat. I buddy read this with Alex over 10 days, but every single day I wanted to keep reading when we reached the end of the chapter. I sped through the section for the day and couldn’t put this book down, it was so compelling and such an easy read despite the difficult topics it explores. Although I had my suspicions about who Aces was, the plot also kept me guessing and intrigued.

I really liked Devon as a main character and I grew to like Chiamaka too, although I never fully connected with her and definitely found her unlikable at the start. Devon’s chapters were just more emotional for me and I really felt for what he was going through. Both of their relationships with the side characters were also interesting to read about and I really liked some of the dynamics between the main pair and others.

Existing too loud?

Overall, this was such a compelling read that had an in depth look on racism and inequality. I loved how the teenagers had some really deep and important discussion about racism without it feeling inauthentic, which is something SLAY also does well. My only criticism would be that a few aspects of the plot felt just a little far fetched, but I would still highly recommend this book!

4.5 out of 5 stars


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Review: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Here is a novel, glamorous, ironical, compassionate – a marvelous fusion into unity of the curious incongruities of the life of the period – which reveals a hero like no other – one who could live at no other time and in no other place. But he will live as a character, we surmise, as long as the memory of any reader lasts.
It is the story of this Jay Gatsby who came so mysteriously to West Egg, of his sumptuous entertainments, and of his love for Daisy Buchanan – a story that ranges from pure lyrical beauty to sheer brutal realism, and is infused with a sense of the strangeness of human circumstance in a heedless universe.
It is a magical, living book, blended of irony, romance, and mysticism.

It has been years (and I mean, years) since I finished a book and then just started it again immediately to re-read it. Although in this case it didn’t happen in quite that fashion, as I read the physical format and then switched to the audiobook for an immediate re-read. Although there were parts I enjoyed about my first attempt, I found re-reading this on audio gave me a new found appreciation for the book. I buddy read this one with my boyfriend (our first buddy-read!) and although we have yet to discuss our full thoughts and feelings, it’s been really enjoyable to read something together.

The Great Gatsby is a study of New York in the 1920’s, and all of the opulence, extravagance, decadence and pure drama that comes with it. I found the characters largely unlikable but also absolutely fascinating to read about, their relationships with each other fueled by infatuation and lust.

And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies,

I found the writing compelling and humorous, something I didn’t notice until my audio re-read, which put emphasis on lines I otherwise skipped over. Some of the writing is so poetic, beautiful and almost lyrical, including the quote in this post which remains to be my favourite. Other lines made me chuckle out loud with their brashness or ludicrousness.

I loved the way this book took the concept of the American Dream and turned it on it’s head, instead showing that everything is not always as it seems, and behind closed doors anything could be going on. I found myself intrigued over and over again by the actions of each character, wondering about their drives and motivations – usually wealth, greed and lust.

I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.

Overall, although not perfect, I did enjoy this window into the high society of New York in the 1920’s. It sometimes feels unbelievable and utterly ludicrous, but also makes for an entertaining and interesting read.

4 out of 5 stars


May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Mid Year Freak Out Tag 2021

Hi everyone! It’s time for me to do the Mid Year Freak Out Tag once again. I can’t believe we’re already over halfway through the year but I have to say I’m super proud of my reading so far this year! I aimed to read 100 books over the course of 2021, which was highly ambitious for me. However, I’ve already read 96 books (I know, I’m shocked as well), so naturally I’m super happy with that!

The original creator of this tag is linked here on YouTube. I also made a BookTube video of me going through this tag so you can watch it in video format if you would like to down below.

Best book you’ve read so far this year

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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 chose two books, one graphic novel and one prose novel. But I just had to include Mooncakes because it was such a cute, diverse book with such gorgeous illustrations.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.
Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.
When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

This one was a major surprise for me, as although I knew I’d like it, I had no idea I would fall for it as hard as I did. The relationship in this one really reminded me of my own relationship, which is why I loved it so much and it made me so emotional reminiscing about me and my boyfriend getting together!

Best sequel you’ve read so far this year

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Goodreads | Waterstones

I had to throw this one in here even though it was a re-read for me. Crooked Kingdom is my favourite Leigh Bardugo book and I adored it even more on my second read.


Goodreads | Waterstones

I thought I would also include my favourite sequel that wasn’t a re-read, and I chose Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco. This is the final book in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series which I buddy read with two friends over December and January. This one was my favourite book in the series, and I’d like to thank Amy for getting me into this series!

New release you haven’t read yet but want to


Goodreads | Waterstones

For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can’t imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there’s certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures.
But then, there’s this gorgeous girl on the train.
Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane. Jane with her rough edges and swoopy hair and soft smile, showing up in a leather jacket to save August’s day when she needed it most. August’s subway crush becomes the best part of her day, but pretty soon, she discovers there’s one big problem: Jane doesn’t just look like an old school punk rocker. She’s literally displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her. Maybe it’s time to start believing in some things, after all.

I liked Red White and Royal Blue but didn’t really understand the hype around it. This one sounds much more up my street and I really want to pick it up soon!


Goodreads | Waterstones

The summer is winding down in San Diego. Veronica is bored, caustically charismatic, and uninspired in her photography. Nico is insatiable, subversive, and obsessed with chaotic performance art. They’re artists first, best friends second. But that was before Mick. Delicate, lonely, magnetic Mick: the perfect subject, and Veronica’s dream girl. The days are long and hot―full of adventure―and soon they are falling in love. Falling so hard, they never imagine what comes next. One fire. Two murders. Three drowning bodies. One suspect . . . one stalker. This is a summer they won’t survive.

I recently received this one after months of waiting for it to arrive, and I really want to pick it up this summer as it sounds like the perfect summer thriller!

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Even though I still haven’t read Blood and Honey, I loved Serpent and Dove so much that I couldn’t not include this one. Also, look at that cover!

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Maxine and Jonah bump into each other in the canned goods aisle of the grocery store just as the state of California is going into lockdown, when everything changes completely. Could there be a worse time to meet? Max’s part-time job at a supermarket is about to transform into a hellish gauntlet. Jonah’s preexisting anxiety is about to become an epic daily struggle. As Max, Jonah, and their friends live together but apart through hijinks, humanity, and heartbreak, Hello (From Here) cuts across urgent matters much bigger than a teenage crush. Differences of class, privilege, mental health, and sacrifice are thrown into stark relief by the profound and personal stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic. As thoughtful, probing, and informed as it is buoyant, romantic, and funny, Hello (From Here) looks at the first two months of the quarantine and adds falling hopelessly in love to the mess. 

I’m unsure how I feel about books inspired by the Covid-19 pandemic as we are still in the thick of it, but this one intrigues me so much. I also love how reflective it sounds of real life experiences I’m sure a lot of people have had in lockdown!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Olivia is an expert at falling in love . . . and at being dumped. But after the fallout from her last breakup has left her an outcast at school and at home, she’s determined to turn over a new leaf. A crush-free weekend at Farmland Music and Arts Festival with her best friend is just what she needs to get her mind off the senior year that awaits her.
Toni is one week away from starting college, and it’s the last place she wants to be. Unsure about who she wants to become and still reeling in the wake of the loss of her musician-turned-roadie father, she’s heading back to the music festival that changed his life in hopes that following in his footsteps will help her find her own way forward.
When the two arrive at Farmland, the last thing they expect is to realize that they’ll need to join forces in order to get what they’re searching for out of the weekend. As they work together, the festival becomes so much more complicated than they bargained for, and Olivia and Toni will find that they need each other, and music, more than they ever could have imagined.

And I also wanted to shout out this one, which I believe is already released in the UK! I really liked You Should See Me in a Crown and I definitely want to pick this up.

Biggest disappointment

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Goodreads | Waterstones

There are two sides to every story….
You know Bella and Edward, now get to know Beau and Edythe.
When Beaufort Swan moves to the gloomy town of Forks and meets the mysterious, alluring Edythe Cullen, his life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. With her porcelain skin, golden eyes, mesmerizing voice, and supernatural gifts, Edythe is both irresistible and enigmatic.
What Beau doesn’t realize is the closer he gets to her, the more he is putting himself and those around him at risk. And, it might be too late to turn back….

This one was an absolute no-brainer. I really hated this book and it ended up being my worst of all time. You can see my video about it here and my written review here where I go into much more detail!


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 . . . ?

Although I didn’t dislike this one as much as Life and Death, I still found it highly problematic and disappointing. You can read my review here.

Biggest surprise

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Goodreads | Waterstones

The Carls just appeared.
Roaming through New York City at three AM, twenty-three-year-old April May stumbles across a giant sculpture. Delighted by its appearance and craftsmanship—like a ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armor—April and her best friend, Andy, make a video with it, which Andy uploads to YouTube. The next day, April wakes up to a viral video and a new life. News quickly spreads that there are Carls in dozens of cities around the world—from Beijing to Buenos Aires—and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the center of an intense international media spotlight.
Seizing the opportunity to make her mark on the world, April now has to deal with the consequences her new particular brand of fame has on her relationships, her safety, and her own identity. And all eyes are on April to figure out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.

On a much more positive note, I finally read this one after owning it for what feels like forever and I absolutely fell in love with it. You can read my 5-star review here.


Goodreads | Waterstones

When Father goes away with two strangers one evening, the lives of Roberta, Peter and Phyllis are shattered. They and their mother have to move from their comfortable London home to go and live in a simple country cottage, where Mother writes books to make ends meet. However, they soon come to love the railway that runs near their cottage, and they make a habit of waving to the Old Gentleman who rides on it. They befriend the porter, Perks, and through him learn railway lore and much else. They have many adventures, and when they save a train from disaster, they are helped by the Old Gentleman to solve the mystery of their father’s disappearance, and the family is happily reunited.

I’ve found classics hit and miss as I’ve been reading more this year, but I listened to the audiobook of this one while driving around the English countryside and I really enjoyed it. You can read my review for it here. I also loved Anne of Green Gables!

Favourite new author

I have a few new favourite authors because of reading and loving their books, including Hank Green, Mary H.K. Choi and Elle McNicoll, who I haven’t mentioned yet but is the author of A Kind of Spark and Show Us Who You Are. I recently read Show Us Who You Are (review here) and gave it 5 stars, I loved it so much. I have A Kind of Spark to read very soon, which recently won the Waterstone’s Childrens Book Prize!

New favourite character

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…?
Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn’t been too great, but at least he’s not being bullied anymore. Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He’s heard a little about Charlie – the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months – but he’s never had the opportunity to talk to him.
They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner..

These two aren’t new favourite characters, but I did re-read the Heartstopper graphic novels and read the fourth volume for the first time, and I just adore them. I couldn’t resist shouting out Nick and Charlie!


Goodreads | Waterstones

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .
A convict with a thirst for revenge
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager
A runaway with a privileged past
A spy known as the Wraith
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes
Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

I also can’t say Nina is necessarily a new favourite as I re-read these books, but I did read Rule of Wolves for the first time and her appearances in King of Scars and Rule of Wolves made me like her even more.


Goodreads | Waterstones

Little Women is one of the best-loved children’s stories of all time, based on the author’s own youthful experiences. It describes the family of the four March sisters living in a small New England community. Meg, the eldest, is pretty and wishes to be a lady; Jo, at fifteen is ungainly and unconventional with an ambition to be an author; Beth is a delicate child of thirteen with a taste for music and Amy is a blonde beauty of twelve. The story of their domestic adventures, their attempts to increase the family income, their friendship with the neighbouring Laurence family, and their later love affairs remains as fresh and beguiling as ever.

I fell in love with all of the little women when I first watched the 2019 movie adaptation, but I read the book for the first time this year and fell in love with them all over again – especially Jo!

Books that made me cry

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I think I will cry every time I read the Grisha books, but especially this one!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Cello prodigy Jenny has one goal: to get into a prestigious music conservatory. When she meets mysterious, handsome Jaewoo in her uncle’s Los Angeles karaoke bar, it’s clear he’s the kind of boy who would uproot her careful plans. But in a moment of spontaneity, she allows him to pull her out of her comfort zone for one unforgettable night of adventure…before he disappears without a word.
Three months later, when Jenny and her mother arrive in South Korea to take care of her ailing grandmother, she’s shocked to discover that Jaewoo is a student at the same elite arts academy where she’s enrolled for the semester. And he’s not just any student. He’s a member of one of the biggest K-pop bands in the world—and he’s strictly forbidden from dating.
When a relationship means throwing Jenny’s life off the path she’s spent years mapping out, she’ll have to decide once and for all just how much she’s willing to risk for love.

I also wanted to include one that made me cry that wasn’t a re-read, and this one gave me tears in my eyes for the final couple of chapters because I was rooting for the characters so much!

Book that made you happy

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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 don’t think I have to explain as this one was a favourite of the year, but the characters and illustrations just make me so damn happy!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Things aren’t going great for Archie Albright. His dad’s acting weird, his mum too, and he all he wants is for everything to go back to normal, to three months before when his parents were happy and still lived together. When Archie sees a colourful, crumpled flyer fall out of Dad’s pocket, he thinks he may have found the answer. Only problem? The answer might just lie at the end of the rainbow, an adventure away. 
Together with his best friends, Bell and Seb, Archie sets off on a heartwarming and unforgettable journey to try and fix his family, even if he has to break a few rules to do it…

I also loved this one – such a heartwarming and diverse middle grade read from back in February. This one was adorable!

The most beautiful book you’ve bought (or received) so far this year


Goodreads | Waterstones

I just had to mention this one somewhere – I finally managed to find this edition after years of searching for it. It cost me a small fortune but makes me happy every time I look at it!

What books do you need to read by the end of 2021?


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 don’t have too many specific goals for the rest of the year – but I’d like to knock off some series (The Maze Runner being the highest priority as I want to get it off my shelves!) and I want to carry on reading at least one classic every month.

Favourite book to movie adaptation you’ve seen so far this year?

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Goodreads | Waterstones

I would love to shout out Shadow and Bone for being the most amazing TV show adaptation – and I’ve also been watching Love Victor with Mark on Disney+ and we’ve been enjoying that a lot too! As far as movies go though, I have to say this one. All of the Lara Jean movies give me a lot of comfort and I feel like they work so well as adaptations.

Wow! That was a long post. Congrats (and THANK YOU) if you made it this far. I hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed putting this one together!

Which books would you provide as your answers? Let me know in the comments!


May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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