Review: The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre by Robin Talley

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Melody McIntyre, stage manager extraordinaire, has a plan for everything.
What she doesn’t have? Success with love. Every time she falls for someone during a school performance, both the romance and the show end in catastrophe. So, Mel swears off any entanglements until their upcoming production of Les Mis is over.
Of course, Mel didn’t count on Odile Rose, rising star in the acting world, auditioning for the spring performance. And she definitely didn’t expect Odile to be sweet and funny, and care as much about the play’s success as Mel.
Which means that Melody McIntyre’s only plan now is trying desperately not to fall in love. 

This book was so entertaining and so much fun! I loved the concept of this and the whole feeling of the theatre, I felt like it was captured so well in the book. We follow Mel, who is the stage manager for a show where everything starts to go wrong. The cast blame it on the curse, because in the last show they did, Mel’s girlfriend broke up with her during performance. Because of this, they make Mel promise to not date anyone before their spring performance of Les Mis….and then along comes Odile Rose.

Although the logic is absolutely through the roof with the superstitions in this book, it was honestly super creative and I really enjoyed it. It did feel a bit silly at times how everyone was acting with the amount of superstitions, but it was also super funny to read about and I can really see why the cast got so wrapped up in believing in it all.

I also really liked Melody as a main character. She did have her issues (including the major one of not being honest with her closest friends) that annoyed me slightly, but I just couldn’t help but see myself in her. Her stubbornness, work ethic and passion reminded me of myself and because of that I just couldn’t not like her. Even though she was a terrible friend and girlfriend in places, I completely understood why she acted the way she did.

I just loved how this book was so casually gay. There was no discussions of coming out, Mel was just bi. And her dads were gay. Obviously, I have nothing against coming out stories. They are very important and much needed. But I also really appreciated how this book was just so unapologetically gay from the off, and there was little-to-no discussion about it in the book. It was just part of who Mel was.

I would definitely have enjoyed this more if I happened to be a theatre geek, and I would honestly recommend it to anyone who is as I imagine it would be even more fun for you than it was today. But I still found myself really invested in the world of theatre and I really wanted to read on. The writing was funny and lighthearted, but also had some brilliant speeches that packed a punch.

Overall, this one isn’t groundbreaking. But it’s creative and a lot of fun, and I really liked it for what it is. If you’re looking for an entertaining, kind of far fetched sapphic romance, look no futher! Bonus points if you also love theatre.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Six of Crows (#1) by Leigh Bardugo

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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 read this book for the first time back in 2016, and I honestly wasn’t planning on re-reading it soon, even though it’s been in the back of my mind for a while. But then the Shadow and Bone Netflix show began, and all I wanted was to be in this world again. Back when I read this book, it was actually the first Leigh Bardugo book I’d ever read. I actually don’t think I was even aware of Shadow and Bone existing. Because of that, I read the Grisha books in the complete wrong order (Six of Crows duology > King of Scars > Grisha trilogy). The actual order is the Grisha trilogy > Six of Crows duology > King of Scars duology, if you’re wondering! I’ve been wanting to reread all of the Grisha books for a while, so thank you to the Shadow and Bone show for making me finally do it.

Having gone straight from the Grisha trilogy to this, I enjoyed it so much more. However, I still felt more like I’d been thrown into the deep end than I expected to. I think this is because this book does begin straight in the action, and because of that it still took me 100ish pages to get into it properly. I felt the same the first time I read this book, but back then I had no knowledge of the Grisha world or powers. With the knowledge I have now, this was just so much more enjoyable.

I will have you without armor, Kaz Brekker.

The characters are what melt my heart in this book. I just love them all so much and thinking of them makes me so emotional. The characters in these books are probably my favourite group of friends in any book, ever. I just adore the found family trope and Leigh writes it like no other. This book flicks between six points of view, and although I find this confusing normally, it really works in Six of Crows. I think this is helped along by the third person narrative, and made me feel really connected to all of the characters.

The writing is also absolutely beautiful and some of the quotes from this book and Crooked Kingdom make me so emotional. I started crying at the Shadow and Bone Netflix show at many random places, and one of those was when the line ‘no mourners, no funerals’ was used. I was just waiting for that moment, as those four words hold so much weight for the characters and in turn, for me as a reader.

The plot of this book is just amazing and I love the adventure in it. It’s so fast paced and especially after the first 100 pages or so, super addictive. I didn’t want to put it down, even though I had an awareness of the plot points from reading it the first time. I also adore the world so much, and I can’t wait to see more of it in Crooked Kingdom.

Or I will not have you at all.

Overall, I can’t not rate this book 5 stars. I’ve been conflicted about rating it 4.5 or 5 stars, but I just adore this book and these characters and they mean so much to me. This is definitely a personal rating (objectively, I would say 4.5 and leave that half star for Crooked Kingdom), but I just have such an emotional response to this book that it has become an absolute favourite over the years.

★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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April Wrap-Up + May TBR

Hi everyone! I managed to read 15 books in April which I’m super happy with, especially considering I went back to work recently. I also read all of the books on my TBR and completed the Ember in the Ashes series with Alex as a buddy read. I recently put up videos on my BookTube channel for both my April wrap-up and May TBR, which you can watch below.

Books I read in April

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

The magical Peter Pan comes to the night nursery of the Darling children, Wendy, John and Michael. He teaches them to fly, then takes them through the sky to Never-Never Land, where they find Red Indians, Wolves, Mermaids and… Pirates.
The leader of the pirates is the sinister Captain Hook. His hand was bitten off by a crocodile, who, as Captain Hook explains ‘liked me arm so much that he has followed me ever since, licking his lips for the rest of me’. After lots of adventures, the story reaches its exciting climax as Peter, Wendy and the children do battle with Captain Hook and his band. 

★★★
2.5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Mary Lennox was horrid. Selfish and spoilt, she was sent to stay with her hunchback uncle in Yorkshire. She hated it.
But when she finds the way into a secret garden and begins to tend to it, a change comes over her and her life. She meets and befriends a local boy, the talented Dickon, and comes across her sickly cousin Colin who had been kept hidden from her. Between them, the three children work astonishing magic in themselves and those around them.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy. 
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Saoirse doesn’t believe in love at first sight or happy endings. If they were real, her mother would still be able to remember her name and not in a care home with early onset dementia. A condition that Saoirse may one day turn out to have inherited. So she’s not looking for a relationship. She doesn’t see the point in igniting any romantic sparks if she’s bound to burn out.
But after a chance encounter at an end-of-term house party, Saoirse is about to break her own rules. For a girl with one blue freckle, an irresistible sense of mischief, and a passion for rom-coms.
Unbothered by Saoirse’s no-relationships rulebook, Ruby proposes a loophole: They don’t need true love to have one summer of fun, complete with every cliché, rom-com montage-worthy date they can dream up—and a binding agreement to end their romance come fall. It would be the perfect plan, if they weren’t forgetting one thing about the Falling in Love Montage: when it’s over, the characters actually fall in love… for real.

★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

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Review | 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.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.
But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.
It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars 

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

This powerful YA memoir-manifesto follows journalist and LGBTQ+ activist George M. Johnson as they explore their childhood, adolescence, and college years, growing up under the duality of being black and queer. From memories of getting their teeth kicked out by bullies at age five to their loving relationship with their grandmother, to their first sexual experience, the stories wrestle with triumph and tragedy and cover topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, inequality, consent, and Black joy.

★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

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Review (2020) | Goodreads | Waterstones

Alina Starkov doesn’t expect much from life. Orphaned by the Border Wars, she is sure of only one thing: her best friend, Mal–and her inconvenient crush on him. Until the day their army regiment enters the Fold, a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. When their convoy is attacked and Mal is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power not even she knew existed.
Ripped from everything she knows, Alina is taken to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. With Alina’s extraordinary power in his arsenal, he believes they can finally destory the Fold. Now Alina must find a way to master her untamed gift and somehow fit into her new life without Mal by her side. But nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. As the threat to the kingdom mounts and her dangerous attraction to the Darkling grows, Alina will uncover a secret that could tear her heart–and her country–in two. 

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

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Review (2020) | Goodreads | Waterstones

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Del has had a crush on Kiera Westing since kindergarten. And now, during their junior year, she’s finally available. So when Kiera volunteers for an opportunity at their church, Del’s right behind her. Though he quickly realizes he’s inadvertently signed up for a Purity Pledge.
His dad thinks his wires are crossed, and his best friend, Qwan, doesn’t believe any girl is worth the long game. But Del’s not about to lose his dream girl, and that’s where fellow pledger Jameer comes in. He can put in the good word. In exchange, Del just has to get answers to the Pledgers’ questions…about sex ed.
With other boys circling Kiera like sharks, Del needs to make his move fast. But as he plots and plans, he neglects to ask the most important question: What does Kiera want? He can’t think about that too much, though, because once he gets the girl, it’ll all sort itself out. Right?

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

I read a real mix of books this month and I feel like I had a very positive reading month. My least favourite was sadly Peter Pan and my favourite was With the Fire on High, which both surprised me for different reasons!

Books I Want to Read in May

Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery
Ruin and Rising – Leigh Bardugo
Six of Crows – Leigh Barugo
Crooked Kingdom – Leigh Bardugo
King of Scars – Leigh Bardugo
Rule of Wolves – Leigh Bardugo
Don’t Breathe a Word – Jordyn Taylor
The (Un)Popular Vote – Jasper Sanchez
Threadneedle – Cari Thomas

May really is the month of Leigh Bardugo for me! I was planning on rereading King of Scars before reading Rule of Wolves, but I never expected to reread all of the Grisha books. However, here we are! I’m doing most of these as buddy reads with Alex, which is super lovely. I also want to read a few ARCs this month before their releases!

I’ve already read a few of these books, so I’m pretty confident I can finish this TBR, I’m just unsure if I’ll be able to finish Threadneedle as it is quite chunky. I’m sure I’ll at least start it before the end of the month though!

What did you read in April and what are you hoping to read in May?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

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Anne Shirley is an eleven-year-old orphan who has hung on determinedly to an optimistic spirit and a wildly creative imagination through her early deprivations. She erupts into the lives of aging brother and sister Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, a girl instead of the boy they had sent for. Thus begins a story of transformation for all three; indeed the whole rural community of Avonlea comes under Anne’s influence in some way. We see her grow from a girl to a young woman of sixteen, making her mistakes, and not always learning from them. Intelligent, hot-headed as her own red hair, unwilling to take a moral truth as read until she works it out for herself, she must also face grief and loss and learn the true meaning of love. 

I’ve been reading a classic per month this year from my Wordsworth collectors set, specifically recommended to me by my friends. My friend Harri recommended Anne of Green Gables and I’m so glad I picked this up, it was so entertaining! This felt so reminiscent of My Naughty Little Sister, which was a book I loved when I was little about a child who kept getting into mischief. I never read Anne as a child but I very much enjoyed it now!

I listened to the audiobook of Anne which I really enjoyed. The narrator (Barbara Caruso) felt perfect for the role and really brought the characters to life. It felt like one of the most effortless and easy to listen to audiobooks I’ve read so far. Anne was such a lovely main character who was so lively and wonderful. Her vivid imagination brought the scenery to life and I loved the surroundings of Green Gables. I could picture the island so perfectly because of her chatter!

I’m so glad I live in a world 

This book is also just so entertaining from beginning to end. Anne is always getting up to something and I couldn’t wait to hear what the next bit of mischief would be. Her friends and surrounding characters were also a joy to read about and I love how she had a group of friends at school. On the subject of characters, I also really liked how Anne changed those around her and they grew with her. I especially loved the character of Marilla, and how she softened throughout the book because of having Anne around. It warmed my heart so much to see her character develop! I also felt like everybody had their own distinct characteristics and all brought something to the book.

Anne was such a delightful character and she was such a strong girl who developed into a strong and independent woman. I love how this book shows strong female characters and gives them the option of living on their own and without the support of a husband, which did surprise me considering the age of the book.

where there are Octobers.

I wish I’d read this book when I was little, as I really think this one would have been a favourite for me as a kid. It’s so entertaining and witty, but also heartfelt and really emotional towards the end. It is also one I’d highly recommend as an audiobook as I really enjoyed it!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Stacking the Shelves #43

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

Hi all! I’ve received and bought some really exciting books in the past few weeks and I thought I’d tell you about some of them today. There are so many books being released in the next few months that I can’t wait for!

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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 actually pre-ordered the Fairyloot copy of this because I’m so excited for it, and then Harper 360 sent me a proof copy! I can’t wait to read it soon.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

The second book from the author of A Kind Of Spark, with Neurodivergent characters you’ll root for and a moving friendship at its heart. When Cora’s brother drags her along to his boss’s house, she doesn’t expect to strike up a friendship with Adrien, son of the intimidating CEO of Pomegranate Technologies. As she becomes part of Adrien’s life, she is also drawn into the mysterious projects at Pomegranate. At first, she’s intrigued by them – Pomegranate is using AI to recreate real people in hologram form. As she digs deeper, however, she uncovers darker secrets… Cora knows she must unravel their plans, but can she fight to make her voice heard, whilst never losing sight of herself? 

I picked up a signed copy of this recently and also was lucky enough to be sent a copy by Knights of. I passed one onto Courtney so we can both read it! I’ve heard such good things about this one and I can’t wait to read it soon.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.
To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.
As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

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I’ve been wondering about grabbing this series for a while as I’ve heard mixed reviews about them. However, I managed to get the hardbacks through work and I really want to give them a go!

Which books did you buy or receive this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Del has had a crush on Kiera Westing since kindergarten. And now, during their junior year, she’s finally available. So when Kiera volunteers for an opportunity at their church, Del’s right behind her. Though he quickly realizes he’s inadvertently signed up for a Purity Pledge.
His dad thinks his wires are crossed, and his best friend, Qwan, doesn’t believe any girl is worth the long game. But Del’s not about to lose his dream girl, and that’s where fellow pledger Jameer comes in. He can put in the good word. In exchange, Del just has to get answers to the Pledgers’ questions…about sex ed.
With other boys circling Kiera like sharks, Del needs to make his move fast. But as he plots and plans, he neglects to ask the most important question: What does Kiera want? He can’t think about that too much, though, because once he gets the girl, it’ll all sort itself out. Right?

I’m going to really struggle to write this review because heck, this was the most frustrating read. I started listening to it on audio and picked up the physical copy for the second half. The tone of this book was funny, easy to read and super quick. But I really, really didn’t like the main character, Del, for the vast majority of the story. He was sexist, made a lot of questionable comments about women, seemed to have an oversexualised view of women in general, and spent most of his time pining after a girl who obviously wasn’t interested. This does develop throughout the book and his views do change, but the redemption arc was a bit too little, too late for my liking.

The tone of this book was definitely centered towards teenage boys – which is great, because there is really not enough YA contemporary fiction out there for them. But although I could understand a lot of why Del thought the way he did, I definitely couldn’t relate to it in the same way I imagine a teenage boy might. There was a lot of mentions of porn, masturbation and women, which just really frustrated me in places.

I’d told the truth.

Although the plot and premise of the book also made me uncomfortable in places, it was fun and interesting to read about. I found the depiction of religion was very up-and-down, but I liked how it wasn’t portrayed particularly negatively and centered around the idea that there is space in the church for everyone. However, some characters, one in particular, didn’t face consequences for their actions which disappointed me.

I really enjoyed the dialogue and the found-family feel the friendship group had, which is one of my favourite tropes. Some of the surrounding characters, including Del’s sister Cressie, were very well written and diverse. Although they are obviously in the story to teach Del, they didn’t feel shoehorned in. They also felt like well-rounded characters in their own right, with different qualities and interests.

That shouldn’t be wrong, but the truth could be a weapon depending on who used it

This book feels very needed and I would love to see teenage boys picking this up, as I feel like it has a lot to teach. The plot is engaging and I really flew through the book. The narrative is sharp and witty and the friendships are portrayed really well. There was a lot to like, but sadly also a bit to dislike, which is where I am on the fence. This is definitely one you need to really stick with to have a satisfying outcome, but I did appreciate the way it ended.

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

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Goodreads | Waterstones

This powerful YA memoir-manifesto follows journalist and LGBTQ+ activist George M. Johnson as they explore their childhood, adolescence, and college years, growing up under the duality of being black and queer.
From memories of getting their teeth kicked out by bullies at age five to their loving relationship with their grandmother, to their first sexual experience, the stories wrestle with triumph and tragedy and cover topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, inequality, consent, and Black joy.

Thank you to Penguin for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is not something I would usually pick up, but I’m really glad I did. This is a memoir targeted at teens about George M Johnson’s life, from beginning to present day. I really enjoyed how this was chronological but also sectioned into topics such as friends, family, relationships etc. Every section included a very hard-hitting experience that happened to George, which felt very well written.

The best word I can think of to describe this book is ‘honest’. As soon as I picked this up I could sense that there was just no filter to be had, which was really important to me. George doesn’t shy away from any topics because, as stated in their author letter at the start of the book, if they went through these experiences at such a young age, there is no saying other teens won’t have as well. And those teens will benefit from knowing they are not alone.

This was highly readable but also covered some very heavy discussions, approaching them in a very forthright manner. Although I am definitely not the target audience (I imagine those who will relate strongly to this book are Black, queer teens), I felt like I learned a lot about the experiences George has already been through in the first 33 years of their life. The writing has a very no-filter attitude, which I really appreciated and stood out in this kind of genre. It explored so many important topics, including suppressing who you are even when you have a supportive family, growing up and learning more about your sexuality and gender identity, and being Black and queer. I will definitely be recommending this one as it felt like such an important book and a must-read!

I struggle to ‘rate’ non-fiction, especially when it comes to a personal recollection of somebody’s life, but I thought this was brilliantly written and loved the honesty. Even though this was not quite geared towards me, it honestly feels like the kind of book everyone would benefit from reading, but especially gender nonconforming folx. This is the kind of book that will save and change lives, and I hope is read and appreciated by many.

★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: War Storm (#4) by Victoria Aveyard

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Mare Barrow learned this all too well when Cal’s betrayal nearly destroyed her. Now determined to protect her heart—and secure freedom for Reds and newbloods like her—Mare resolves to overthrow the kingdom of Norta once and for all… starting with the crown on Maven’s head.
But no battle is won alone, and before the Reds may rise as one, Mare must side with the boy who broke her heart in order to defeat the boy who almost broke her. Cal’s powerful Silver allies, alongside Mare and the Scarlet Guard, prove a formidable force. But Maven is driven by an obsession so deep, he will stop at nothing to have Mare as his own again, even if it means demolishing everything—and everyone—in his path.
War is coming, and all Mare has fought for hangs in the balance. Will victory be enough to topple the Silver kingdoms? Or will the little lightning girl be forever silenced?

I have reached the end of the epic conclusion of Red Queen and honestly this series got a little better at the end. War Storm is an absolute beast and I’m glad I read this on audiobook as the paperback is a little daunting! I actually really appreciated the length of this book in some ways, however, because it allowed us so much time with the characters. Aveyard writes characters so well and some of the scenes in this book really allowed us some insight into their minds.

I actually found myself enjoying Evangaline’s chapters the most in this book, which was a shock to me. I found myself growing fonder and fonder of her character over the books and couldn’t wait to get to her chapters. I really like the variety of characters and the variations in their stories. Evangaline is the only LGBT character in the series and I like how her story was integrated.

I am different from what my world demands I be.

The more I read this series, the stronger I felt about how clever it is. Most of these characters were oppressed or looked down upon in some way, but for different reasons. This allowed for a lot of different narratives within the story, which I enjoyed. I also liked how War Storm has more narratives from the points of view of Silvers, including Iris. As with the other books, I really like Aveyard’s writing, which is very poetic and works particularly well in scenes in close scenes between a few characters, which were frequent in this book and enjoyable to read.

The plot was very up and down, and quite slow. For such a large book, I’m honestly struggling to remember what happened or find much to talk about, which is a bit of a disappointment. Saying that, I did find the ending satisfying enough and I really like the way Aveyard writes action scenes. I always find myself very caught up in the action and I felt immersed in the story.

And I am not worse for it.

Overall, I am torn about this book, and this whole series. I did really enjoy it and I think the concept is brilliant, but there is definitely something missing. I just feel like so much more could have been done, and over time I definitely drifted away from Mare’s story and more towards Evangaline.

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: A Sky Beyond the Storm (#4) by Sabaa Tahir

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Goodreads | Waterstones

The long-imprisoned jinn are on the attack, wreaking bloody havoc in villages and cities alike. But for the Nightbringer, vengeance on his human foes is just the beginning.
At his side, Commandant Keris Veturia declares herself Empress, and calls for the heads of any and all who defy her rule. At the top of the list? The Blood Shrike and her remaining family.
Laia of Serra, now allied with the Blood Shrike, struggles to recover from the loss of the two people most important to her. Determined to stop the approaching apocalypse, she throws herself into the destruction of the Nightbringer. In the process, she awakens an ancient power that could lead her to victory–or to an unimaginable doom.
And deep in the Waiting Place, the Soul Catcher seeks only to forget the life–and love–he left behind. Yet doing so means ignoring the trail of murder left by the Nightbringer and his jinn. To uphold his oath and protect the human world from the supernatural, the Soul Catcher must look beyond the borders of his own land. He must take on a mission that could save–or destroy–all that he knows. 

Good news, I managed to not skip 60 pages of this book like I did with A Reaper at the Gates. I’m glad to say that I’m fairly sure the issues I had with book 3 of this series were largely due to my problems and not problems with the book itself. I definitely managed to focus on this one more and enjoyed it a lot more because of it! After my strange experience reading A Reaper at the Gates I made sure with this one to really pay attention to the different points of view and focus on all of the information, which definitely helped.

I also definitely enjoyed this one more due to the way the characters began to intertwine once more. I struggled a little with them all having completely different narratives, being in different parts of the world and the side characters being different to. It felt jarring to change between their points of view for some of the story, but that definitely improved with this one.

You are broken. But it is broken things that are the sharpest. The deadliest.

I also liked the more character focused elements of this one, and I found it had a slightly slower pace with more scenes with just one or two characters. I definitely enjoy books that look in depth into characters and feel I have more of a connection to them, so that felt right to me. It also meant that when the characters were going through tough points in their lives, I could sympathise with them a lot more. I know a lot of people aren’t happy with how this book ended, and although I can see why, I didn’t mind the ending and felt like it closed off the story well.

The plot was good, but also felt a bit anticlimatic. I just didn’t feel as connected to the story as I wanted to be in it’s most crucial and climatic moments. I definitely enjoyed Elias’ viewpoint more than any other in this book, which was a bit of a shock to me. I have enjoyed reading about all of the characters throughout the series, but I really felt for him as a character fighting against himself and just found his subplot to be the most interesting to me.

It is broken things that are the most unexpected, and the most underestimated.

Overall I have enjoyed this series but it hasn’t blown me away as much as I expected it to. I would still recommend it and I feel like I might find more of a connection to it in the future if I decide to reread it. It has definitely been a unique fantasy story, but I did find An Ember in the Ashes to be my favourite in the end!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevado

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Goodreads | Waterstones

With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.

I had such high expectations for this book, and let me tell you it surpassed every last one. I can’t believe I didn’t pick this up sooner, but I’m so glad I’m finally did. It was so beautiful and full of joy, heartache, pain and forgiveness. It spans every emotion under the sun and I felt them all throughout reading this book.

There is something about books that discuss food that I can’t help falling in love with. I’m vegan, but even if that focus isn’t vegan, I still love it. I think it’s something to do with the magic of food, the connection that we feel when reading about such a tangible thing. It always really draws me into the story, and I felt that in this book like no other.

Emoni is a Black teen mum living with her elderly grandmother, and she has a natural talent for cooking. It’s all she wants to do, and when the opportunity comes up at her high school to take a culinary arts class that includes a trip to Spain, she knows she has to take it.

The world is a turntable that never stops spinning;

This book carries so much weight but was also so easy to read. The super short chapters were utterly addicting and I really didn’t want to put this book down. I was just so absorbed by Emoni’s story, and although I had a good idea what would happen at the end, it overjoyed me to be along for the ride. With the Fire on High has so many important discussions including about race, sexuality, family, friendship, relationships, teen pregnancy and how to deal with being your own person and having to look after a child at 17. I sometimes find teen pregnancy puts me off books (probably due to a highly disturbing one I read as a young teen that still sticks firmly in my mind, sadly), but this was just handled so well. I absolutely loved Emoni’s relationship with her family and I felt the difficult balance was written so genuinely and honestly. I really felt for her.

There was just so much I loved about this book, and I honestly don’t have anything to criticise, I could gush about it all day. It was the perfect contemporary with a twist that had so many heart warming elements and scenes. I really rooted for and felt connected to all of the characters, and there was a few scenes towards the end of the book that made me tear up because of the love I felt for them all.

as humans we merely choose the tracks we want to sit out and the ones that inspire us to dance.

Overall, this was an absolutely adorable and heart warming read with some heavy topics that I felt were handled really well. It was super enjoyable and had so many elements that worked well together, including Emoni’s love for food. I’m so glad I picked this one up!

CW: death of a parent (mentioned, in the past), teen pregnancy, discussions of sex

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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