Review: Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Everyone likes Humaira “Hani” Khan—she’s easy going and one of the most popular girls at school. But when she comes out to her friends as bisexual, they invalidate her identity, saying she can’t be bi if she’s only dated guys. Panicked, Hani blurts out that she’s in a relationship…with a girl her friends absolutely hate—Ishita “Ishu” Dey. Ishu is the complete opposite of Hani. She’s an academic overachiever who hopes that becoming head girl will set her on the right track for college. But Ishita agrees to help Hani, if Hani will help her become more popular so that she stands a chance of being elected head girl.
Despite their mutually beneficial pact, they start developing real feelings for each other. But relationships are complicated, and some people will do anything to stop two Bengali girls from achieving happily ever after. 

This was just the absolute cutest. I buddy read this one with a few friends, and most of our chat was between ‘how cute is this’ and ‘how annoying is this side character’. Hani is a popular girl who has recently come out as bisexual to her friends, who invalidate her sexuality because she’s only dated guys. Ishu is an academic overachiever who wants to become Head Girl, but needs to become more popular to get votes. They begin a fake relationship to mutually benefit them both, which brings them closer together.

One of my favourite parts of this book was the Muslim and Bengali rep. It felt authentic, natural and was so lovely to read about. It shouldn’t feel groundbreaking to have this kind of rep in YA, but it really does. I was reading this the entire time thinking of young Muslim readers who will see themselves in these characters. There are so many little things mentioned in this book, from wearing hijab, to praying, to having peer pressure from classmates to drink, that young Muslim girls will not have seen discussed in books before. And although that is crazy, and sad, I’m so happy to their stories finally shining through in YA. I also loved how this didn’t try to explain terms or coddle readers who are not from a South Asian background, because it is not the job of the author to educate.

I loved how distinct the two main characters and their families were, both having their own voices and interests. Although they do become intertwined with each other’s lives and have some quirks that belong only within the relationship, they also remain true to themselves and their own personalities. I also really liked Hani’s relationship with her family, which was so wholesome and lovely to read about. I especially found that in comparison to Ishu’s parents, it was heartwarming to read about their interactions. Ishu’s relationship with her sister was, although complicated, also lovely to read about.

Despite some of the difficult topics and discussions, I found this one very easy to read and dip in and out of for the buddy read. I became absorbed into the story so quickly, and found myself becoming emotional for different reasons throughout, especially feeling a lot of anger towards anyone who hurt these two girls. The only downside I found with this one is that some aspects of the plot had loose ends, or sometimes felt a little frustrating – especially when it came to the racism within the school.

Overall, this book was so heartwarming and fluffy but also covered some really important topics. I really loved it I’d love to pick up The Henna Wars by the same author!

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Show Us Who You Are by Elle McNicoll

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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 knew this was going to be good because I’ve heard so many amazing things about it, but wow. What a book. What I didn’t expect was to be quite so blown away by this, or quite so reeling with emotion throughout and especially in the last 10 or 20 pages. I was not prepared for or expecting the emotional rollercoaster that this book is, and trust me Elle McNicoll does not hesitate to discuss some really deep and important issues.

Our main character, Cora, is neurodivergent and has autism. She quickly becomes friends with Adrien, who has ADHD. Their friendship was so real and heartwarming to read about, and I loved the portrayals of both of them individually and together. This book is own voices as I believe the author has autism themselves, and it makes the portrayal of Cora’s autism all the more authentic. Not only will this book be amazing for neurodivergent kids, who will finally see themselves on the pages, it will also hopefully serve as an educational tool for all children and help them understand their friends and classmates. Although I am not neurodivergent, I did see myself a lot throughout this book because of Adrien’s homeschooling. I was homeschooled myself, specifically because I struggled in school, and some of the comments made me feel seen in a way I never have before in relation to homeschooling.

I have every right to be here. As me. Exactly as I am. I might be different to you, I might be different to every person in this room, but you have no more of a right to exist than I do. 

What I expected from this book was two neurodivergent kids having Scooby-Doo style adventure. And while there are certainly aspects of this throughout, Show Us Who You Are runs so much deeper than I could have expected. It is such an important story that genuinely hit me hard in places and made me really emotional. Seeing Cora explore her own identity and grow in confidence throughout this book really warmed my heart. I rooted for her the whole way.

The characters were amazingly written and great to read about, some cleverly planned to be turned against you when you least expect it. Although I did guess one of the major plot points towards the end, a lot of this book left me reeling with the reveals. I loved the wider cast of characters, especially some of the more heartwarming parents and teachers. Cora’s situation as a child who has recently lost her mother not only allows for some amazing, heart-wrenching discussions about grief, but also single parent rep, which I found really important.

You don’t get to pick and choose which bits of me are fine. All of me is fine.

On top of all of the aspects of this book I adored is that the writing is truly excellent. This was so fast to read, and I read in a couple of sittings over 24 hours, but is also hard-hitting, beautiful and sometimes poetic. It is just perfect for this rollercoaster of a story. I’m so glad I picked it up and I can’t wait to recommend this to people around me, adults and children alike.

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Quinn keeps lists of everything – from the days she’s ugly cried, to “Things That I Would Never Admit Out Loud,” to all the boys she’d like to kiss. Her lists keep her sane.
By writing her fears (as well as embarrassing and cringeworthy truths) on paper, she never has to face them in real life. That is, until her journal goes missing . . .
An anonymous account posts one of her lists on Instagram for the whole school to see and blackmails her into facing seven of her greatest fears, or else her entire journal will go public.
Quinn doesn’t know who to trust. Desperate, she teams up with Carter Bennett – the last known person to have her journal and who Quinn loathes – in a race against time to track down the blackmailer.
Together, they journey through everything Quinn’s been too afraid to face, and along the way, Quinn finds the courage to be honest, to live in the moment, and to fall in love. A razor-sharp, passionate and addictive YA romcom that readers will love.

I really, really loved this book. It is such a heartwarming but brutally honest read with such great characters. Quinn puts all of her hopes, dreams and deepest, darkest thoughts into her journal. Then her journal goes missing, taken by a fellow student who begins to blackmail her. While trying to find her journal, she ends up unexpectedly teaming up with the last person to see it: Carter.

This book had such a found family feel with a close friendship group that I adored. I always love reading about friendships, and I love that these felt really honest and natural. The dialogue and banter between them felt authentic and I enjoyed how they interacted with one another. I especially appreciated the relationship and it didn’t feel like an insta-love, more of a friends to lovers that I adored. It felt real and I rooted for them both.

I don’t know that. Fear is dangerous. Fear kills Black men.” “You think my dad would kill you?” I ask, meeting his gaze. “If your dad had a gun on him that day, I think I might be dead right now.”

Despite the heartwarming easy read this one was, it also didn’t shy away from important subjects, and I felt these topics were written so well. I loved how upfront and honest some of these conversations were, especially about race. Quinn faced her parents and former friends with some very important discussions, and her experiences around racial injustice felt real and honest. Frankly, we need more books like this in YA.

I really liked the main character, Quinn, and I thought the author was so clever to write her the way she did, because of the questionable things she has done in the past. Quinn does make mistakes but also realises it and matures so much throughout these books. These characters felt appropriate for their age but also developed throughout this story, which was brilliant to see.

It hurts that he would fear for his life at my house. That a boy with skin as dark as mine doesn’t feel safe around my father.

Overall, this book had so many amazing points. My only complaint is how one of the seemingly major side characters, Matt, fell off the face of the earth for most of this book after the first couple of chapters. It was so weird. Despite this, I really enjoyed reading this one and would highly recommend it for those who love contemporary reads with a twist! Also, I can’t go without mentioning that title. If that title doesn’t make you want to read it, I don’t think I can convince you.

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

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Wuthering Heights is a wild, passionate story of the intense and almost demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a foundling adopted by Catherine’s father. After Mr Earnshaw’s death, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine’s brother Hindley and wrongly believing that his love for Catherine is not reciprocated, leaves Wuthering Heights, only to return years later as a wealthy and polished man. He proceeds to exact a terrible revenge for his former miseries. The action of the story is chaotic and unremittingly violent, but the accomplished handling of a complex structure, the evocative descriptions of the lonely moorland setting and the poetic grandeur of vision combine to make this unique novel a masterpiece of English literature.

This book was recommended to me by my friend Sophie, and it’s one I’ve wanted to read for years. One of my favourite books of all time is Jane Eyre, so naturally I wanted to read this one by another Bronte sister. I also visited the setting of Wuthering Heights years ago, and have wanted to read it more since. I was warned by Sophie that this one isn’t narrated by the person you would expect, and is actually told by a housekeeper to the master of the house, telling the story of Wuthering Heights, which is actually the neighbour’s house.

I definitely have a little bit of a love/hate relationship with not only these characters, but the writing and book in general. I found this such an rollercoaster, not in an emotional sense but more in the sense of finding some of this book highly enjoyable and some of it really difficult to take in and focus on. I read this in audiobook format, and I did really like the narration of it. I just found it so strange that I found some parts 5 stars and other parts so much lower.

He’s more myself than I am.

I found the start of this book really enjoyable, and I loved the Gothic aspects of it. I found throughout this book, the Gothic parts really drew me in and had such an amazing atmosphere. The atmosphere came partly from the setting of the Yorkshire moors, which I adored. However, I found some of the parts of this story difficult to read (or listen to) and I just couldn’t really focus on the story. This book follows a very long time span, and multiple character’s in the same families, and are often referred to by their family names. I actually looked up a character map for this one just to make sure I was following the right people.

I did enjoy the writing, I found it quite accessible and utterly charming, which was a nice surprise. I also feel like reading classic books on audio is something I have been drawn towards recently and is becoming a kind of tradition for me. However, I definitely feel like this book would have been much more enjoyable if it had been told by one of the main characters, not a side character relaying the story years after it happened.

Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.

Overall, I feel very torn about this one and my feelings on it. I would love to watch a movie adaptation soon to get this story a little straighter in my head and see it from a different perspective!

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Stacking the Shelves #47

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! It’s been a few weeks since I last posted one of these and I have gained a LOT of books in that time (probably too many). Let’s have a look at what I got!

Bought

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Ever felt anxious or alone? Like you don’t belong anywhere? Like you’re almost… invisible? Find your kindred spirits at The Sad Ghost Club.
This is the story of one of those days – a day so bad you can barely get out of bed, when it’s a struggle to leave the house, and when you do, you wish you hadn’t. But even the worst of days can surprise you. When one sad ghost, lost and alone at a crowded party, spies another sad ghost across the room, they decide to leave together. What happens next changes everything. Because that night they start the The Sad Ghost Club – a secret society for the anxious and alone, a club for people who think they don’t belong.

I’ve wanted a copy of this for a while and I was lucky enough to find a signed edition in a Waterstones I visited recently!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. By all rights their paths should never cross, but Achilles takes the shamed prince as his friend, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But then word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus journeys with Achilles to Troy, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

I wanted this cover of The Song of Achilles, which is now out of print, but I managed to find one second hand.

Illumicrate introduces special 'The Infernal Devices' box – TMI Source

These beautiful editions of The Infernal Devices arrived recently! I absolutely love them.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Adrift after her sister Bailey’s sudden death, Lennie finds herself torn between quiet, seductive Toby—Bailey’s boyfriend who shares her grief—and Joe, the new boy in town who bursts with life and musical genius. Each offers Lennie something she desperately needs… though she knows if the two of them collide her whole world will explode.
Join Lennie on this heartbreaking and hilarious journey of profound sorrow and mad love, as she makes colossal mistakes and colossal discoveries, as she traipses through band rooms and forest bedrooms and ultimately right into your heart.
As much a celebration of love as a poignant portrait of loss, Lennie’s struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often uproarious, and absolutely unforgettable.

I found this beautiful 10th anniversary edition of The Sky is Everywhere (fun fact, this book inspired my blog name!) recently and just had to pick it up.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.
When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.
But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

I also came across a copy of this for the first time in person while at work and put it to the side for myself as I’ve heard so many amazing things about it.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death.
When Laia’s grandparents are brutally murdered and her brother arrested for treason by the empire, the only people she has left to turn to are the rebels.
But in exchange for their help in saving her brother, they demand that Laia spy on the ruthless Commandant of Blackcliff, the Empire’s greatest military academy. Should she fail it’s more than her brother’s freedom at risk . . . Laia’s very life is at stake.
There, she meets Elias, the academy’s finest soldier. But 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.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

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Goodreads | Waterstones

I recently decided to unhaul my Fairyloot set of these, and I’ve picked up the paperbacks as I did enjoy the series, just not enough to keep my super special editions.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

During the summer of his first year in high school, a young man named Hodaka runs away from home to the bustling city of Tokyo. Alone and exhausted, he decides to kill time in a fast food place, where he meets a young woman named Hina who happens to work there. Little does he know that Hina possesses powers that not only affect the weather, but the whole world…
In Weathering with You, Makoto Shinkai dives into topics like love and sacrifice to show how far one boy goes to protect the thing he loves most. This manga reveals the backstories and true thoughts of the characters who stole the hearts of fans and critics worldwide.

Your Name and Weathering With You are two of my favourite films so I was excited to see the first volume of this manga.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

When glamorous socialite Noemi Taboada receives a frantic letter from her newlywed cousin begging to be rescued from a mysterious doom, it’s clear something is desperately amiss. Catalina has always had a flair for the dramatic, but her claims that her husband is poisoning her and her visions of restless ghosts seem remarkable, even for her.
Noemi’s more suited to cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing, but she heads immediately to High Place, a remote mansion in the Mexican countryside, determined to discover what is so affecting her cousin. She’s tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who is fascinated by Noemi; and not of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.
Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he wants to help – but he might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemi digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.
And Noemi, mesmerised by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to leave this enigmatic house behind …

I’ve wanted to read this for a while and me and Amy want to buddy read it together, so we both picked up copies.

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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’ve also recently heard amazing things about this one, mostly from BooksNest on YouTube. Me, Amy and Jo have decided to read it together soon as we haven’t done a buddy read in a while!

Gifted

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Goodreads | Waterstones

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.

I’ve seen this around a lot and I decided I really wanted the Fairyloot edition, and Amy very kindly gifted one to me!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

This one was sent to me by the publishers – thank you! – and I really like the sound of it. Little did I know, it’s the second in a series! Hopefully I can pick up the first at some point and read them both.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

In this delicious new collection, you’ll find stories about lurking vampires of social media, rebellious vampires hungry for more than just blood, eager vampires coming out―and going out for their first kill―and other bold, breathtaking, dangerous, dreamy, eerie, iconic, powerful creatures of the night.
Welcome to the evolution of the vampire―and a revolution on the page.
Vampires Never Get Old includes stories by authors both bestselling and acclaimed, including Samira Ahmed, Dhonielle Clayton, Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker, Tessa Gratton, Heidi Heilig, Julie Murphy, Mark Oshiro, Rebecca Roanhorse, Laura Ruby, Victoria “V. E.” Schwab, and Kayla Whaley
.

And last but not least, this one was also sent to me by the publishers – thank you Titan! I heard that V.E. Schwab’s short story is being adapted for Netflix, and I really wanted to read it.

Which books did you buy or receive this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Finale (#3) by Stephanie Garber

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Goodreads | Waterstones

It’s been two months since the last Caraval concluded, two months since the Fates have been freed from an enchanted deck of cards, two months since Tella has seen Legend, and two months since Legend claimed the empire’s throne as his own. Now, Legend is preparing for his official coronation and Tella is determined to stop it. She believes her own mother, who still remains in an enchanted sleep, is the rightful heir to the throne.
Meanwhile, Scarlett has started a game of her own. She’s challenged Julian and her former fiancé, Count Nicolas d’Arcy, to a competition where the winner will receive her hand in marriage. Finaly, Scarlett feels as if she is in complete control over her life and future. She is unaware that her mother’s past has put her in the greatest danger of all.
Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun―with lives, empires, and hearts all at stake. There are no spectators this time: only those who will win…and those who will lose everything.

I feel so torn about this ending to one of my favourite series at all time. I still really enjoyed this book, it just let me down slightly once again when I compare it to Caraval. I have been reading this series alongside Alex, and we’ve had some really interesting discussions about these books. Alex mentioned how these books feel like the author had an amazing idea and gave it all to the first book, meaning the other two are slight let downs and feel slightly forced.

However, I did still enjoy this a lot and I did enjoy it ever so slightly more than Legendary. Legendary was told from Tella’s point of view, after Caraval was told from Scarlett’s. However, Finale has both of the sister’s points of view, which I really liked. Throughout reading Legendary, I wasn’t aware I missed Scarlett’s narration. However, when I started Finale, I found I had missed Scarlett’s narration and the quirks that came with it.

Occasionally, there are minutes that get extra seconds. 

I enjoyed the plot of this one, although it did still lack a little something that Caraval had. I also felt that the two sister’s had kind of similar plots and explored similar themes throughout this book, which felt a little confusing and fell flat for me in places. Although I did enjoy reading both of their plot points, I just wish they had a few different elements to tell them apart more clearly.

I loved the setting of this one and I did find it a little more vivid than Legendary. It definitely did feel slightly reminiscent of the first one and the magical, captivating setting of the game of Caraval. This one did have a similar atmosphere that I appreciated, but was still a little lacking in comparison to the first book.

I really love the sisters as strong female protagonists throughout these books, and I also love how Stephanie Garber manages to write character’s and then completely change our opinions of them as the reader. I also want to point out how easy all of these books are to read, which is great for fantasy!

Moments so precious the universe stretches to make additional room for them.

Overall, these books are honestly brilliant, and I am so sad this one wasn’t on par with Caraval. However, I still love this series so much and the first book is one of my favourite books in the world. These are brilliant introductory fantasy reads with strong female characters who I really adore!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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ARC review: Blackout by Various Authors

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Goodreads | Waterstones

The irresistible blockbuster YA romance of summer 2021 that celebrates Black love stories, by six of the biggest voices in YA. Perfect for fans of Jenny Han, Netflix’s Let it Snow and Bolu Babalola’s Love in Colour.
When a heatwave plunges New York City into darkness, sparks fly for thirteen teenagers caught up in the blackout. From the exes who have to bury their rivalry and walk from Manhattan to Brooklyn in time to kick off a block party, to the two boys trapped on the subway who come face-to-face with their feelings and the pair of best friends stuck in the library and surrounded by love stories and one very big secret, they are all about to see that when the lights go out, people reveal hidden truths, love blossoms, friendship transforms, and all possibilities take flight.
Six of today’s biggest stars of the YA world bring all the electricity of love to a collection of charming, hilarious and heartbreaking tales that shine the brightest light through the dark.

Thank you to Electric Monkey (Harper Collins) for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! This book is released on June 24th in the UK.

I have wanted to read this one as soon as I saw it on 2021 YA releases lists. Yes to all of this. Yes to Black voices and Black love stories. Yes to an anthology. Yes to a New York blackout setting. Yes to cute romance. Yes to queer romance. There are so many things I adored in this book.

This is a collection of short stories following different teenagers throughout one night. On this particular night, New York falls into darkness during a blackout, and I adored this setting. It reminds me of the Friends episode The One With the Blackout, which is also one of my favourite episodes because I love the concept of what happens during a weird phenomenon like a city-wide blackout.

The short story concept was so sweet, especially because they kind of intertwined and the characters in some stories mentioned characters from others, which I really liked. I also liked how one of the stories was placed throughout the book in sections, with other stories breaking it up. My only let down was I expected a big scene at the end bringing all of the characters together, and I was a little sad that didn’t happen.

I love how different these stories were, in setting and story and characters. My favourite of the stories was actually sapphic, and was just so sweet. It was set in a home for older people, and the character’s were so sweet. The only downside I find with short stories is I find I struggle to connect to the character’s quite as much because of the lack of time to become connected to them. However, with Made to Fit by Ashley Woodfolk, my favourite story, I just fell in love with the characters. Also one of these stories was set in New York Public Library, which I adored!

These stories were so cute and fluffy, and made for a perfect summery romance read! I loved the differences between the stories but there actually wasn’t one I disliked. I’d highly recommend this one and especially the Waterstones exclusive edition because those sprayed edges!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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May Wrap-Up + June TBR

Hi! I’m here with a very late May Wrap-Up and June TBR, even though we’re halfway through June, oh well. I managed to read 14 books in May and all of the books on my TBR, which I’m so happy about. I recently posted videos of my May Wrap-Up and my Whatever-You-Want-a-Thon TBR for June, which I will link here.

Books I Read in May

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Review (2020) | Goodreads | Waterstones

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

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. Part Tom Sawyer, part Jane Eyre, by the end of Anne of Green Gables, Anne has become the heroine of her own story. 

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

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Review | 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.

★★★
5 out of 5 stars

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Review | 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.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Kaz Brekker and his crew of deadly outcasts have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives.
Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties.
A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets – a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.
Welcome to the world of the Grisha.

★★★
5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Present Day:
Eva has never felt like she belonged… not in her own family or with her friends in New York City, and certainly not at a fancy boarding school like Hardwick Preparatory Academy. So when she is invited to join the Fives, an elite secret society, she jumps at the opportunity to finally be a part of something.
But what if the Fives are about more than just having the best parties and receiving special privileges from the school? What if they are also responsible for keeping some of Hardwick’s biggest secrets buried?
1962:
There is only one reason why Connie would volunteer to be one of the six students to participate in testing Hardwick’s nuclear fallout shelter: Craig Allenby. While the thought of nuclear war sends her into a panic, she can’t pass up the opportunity to spend four days locked in with the school’s golden boy. However, Connie and the other students quickly discover that there is more to this “test” than they previously thought. As they are forced to follow an escalating series of commands, Connie realizes that one wrong move could have dangerous consequences.
Separated by sixty years , Eva’s and Connie’s stories become inextricably intertwined as Eva unravels the mystery of how six students went into the fallout shelter all those years ago . . . but only five came out.

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

51867529

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars
| Goodreads | Waterstones

Within the boroughs of London, nestled among its streets, hides another city, filled with magic.
Magic is the first sin. It must be bound.
Ever since Anna can remember, her aunt has warned her of the dangers of magic. She has taught her to fear how it twists and knots and turns into something dark and deadly.
It was, after all, magic that killed her parents and left her in her aunt’s care. It’s why she has been protected from the magical world and, in one year’s time, what little magic she has will be bound. She will join her aunt alongside the other Binders who believe magic is a sin not to be used, but denied. Only one more year and she will be free of the curse of magic, her aunt’s teachings and the disappointment of the little she is capable of.
Nothing – and no one – could change her mind before then. Could it?

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Face your demons… or feed them.
The dashing young king, Nikolai Lantsov, has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war–and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, Nikolai must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.
Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha general, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried–and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship–the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.
The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined—every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute . . . and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.

★★★
3 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

The gentle thoroughbred, Black Beauty, is raised with care and is treated well until a vicious groom injures him. The damaged horse is then sold to various masters at whose hands he experiences cruelty and neglect. After many unpleasant episodes, including one where he becomes a painfully overworked cab horse in London, Black Beauty finally canters towards a happy ending. Although Anna Sewell’s classic is set firmly in the Victorian period, its message is universal and timeless: animals will serve humans well if they are treated with consideration and kindness.

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

The Demon King. As Fjerda’s massive army prepares to invade, Nikolai Lantsov will summon every bit of his ingenuity and charm—and even the monster within—to win this fight. But a dark threat looms that cannot be defeated by a young king’s gift for the impossible.
The Stormwitch. Zoya Nazyalensky has lost too much to war. She saw her mentor die and her worst enemy resurrected, and she refuses to bury another friend. Now duty demands she embrace her powers to become the weapon her country needs. No matter the cost.
The Queen of Mourning. Deep undercover, Nina Zenik risks discovery and death as she wages war on Fjerda from inside its capital. But her desire for revenge may cost her country its chance at freedom and Nina the chance to heal her grieving heart.

King. General. Spy. Together they must find a way to forge a future in the darkness. Or watch a nation fall. 

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

The Jungle Book introduces Mowgli, the human foundling adopted by a family of wolves. It tells of the enmity between him and the tiger Shere Khan, who killed Mowgli’s parents, and of the friendship between the man-cub and Bagheera, the black panther, and Baloo, the sleepy brown bear, who instructs Mowgli in the Laws of the Jungle.

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Vaseline on the teeth makes a smile shine. It’s a cheap stunt, but Mark Adams knows it’s optics that can win or ruin an election.
Everything Mark learned about politics, he learned from his father, the congressman who still pretends he has a daughter and not a son. To protect his father’s image, Mark promises to keep his past hidden and pretend to be the cis guy everyone assumes he is. But when he sees a manipulatively charming candidate for student body president inflame dangerous rhetoric, Mark decides to risk the low profile he assured his father and insert himself as a political challenger.
One big problem? No one really knows Mark. He didn’t grow up in this town, and he has few friends; plus, the ones he does have aren’t exactly with the in-crowd. Still, thanks to countless seasons of Scandal and The West Wing, these nerds know where to start: from campaign stops to voter polling to a fashion makeover. Soon Mark feels emboldened to get in front of and engage with voters—and even start a new romance. But with an investigative journalist digging into his past, a father trying to silence him, and a bully front-runner who stands in his way, Mark will have to decide which matters most: perception or truth, when both are just as dangerous.

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

I not only read a mixture of books once again this month, I also managed to finish my Grishaverse re-read and read Rule of Wolves! My favourite book of the month was my re-read of Crooked Kingdom, and my least favourite was The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

Books I Want to Read in June

Heartstopper Volume 1 – Alice Oseman
Heartstopper Volume 2 – Alice Oseman
Heartstopper Volume 3 – Alice Oseman
Heartstopper Volume 4 – Alice Oseman
Caraval – Stephanie Garber
Legendary – Stephanie Garber
Finale – Stephanie Garber
The Starlight Watchmaker – Lauren James
The Deep Sea Duke – Lauren James
Show Us Who You Are – Elle McNicoll
Slay – Brittney Morris
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
Cinderella is Dead – Kalynn Bayron
House of Hollow – Krystal Sutherland
Punching the Air – Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam
Circe – Madeline Miller
Xoxo – Axie Oh
The Maidens – Alex Michaelides
Blackout – Various Authors

I have so many books on my TBR for June, which is partly because of Whatever-You-Want-a-Thon! However, these books have a lot of variety, including a few graphic novels, shorter books and even a verse book. I wanted to give myself a lot of variety, and I do have a few proofs to read before they are released this month. I’ve already managed to read 10 of these and a couple of others, so I’m really happy with how the month is going.

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

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: The Railway Children by E. Nesbit

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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 decided to read this one on audiobook while driving, walking and running around the British countryside this past weekend, and honestly it was just perfect. I could not recommend a better way to read this, but enjoying the very countryside talked about in this book and glimpsing railways over the hills and through the trees. This is also a super short audiobook, clocking in at around 5 hours and it was just perfect for a big weekend of travelling!

This one was actually a major surprise for me, especially as I have been not enjoying classics quite as much recently. This was recommended to me to me by Alex, who loves this book, and trust me she has some great classic recommendations! I read The Secret Garden a couple of months ago on her recommendation, and I loved that one too. However, I actually ended up enjoying The Railway Children just a little bit more!

I think everyone in the world is friends

This one follows a family as they move to a small house in the British countryside due to mysterious circumstances leaving them without their father. This is told from the perspective of the three children of the family as they explore the countryside and get to know the people in the nearby village and on the railway. I loved reading about the children, and I imagine I would have absolutely adored this as a child. The children also don’t know why they’ve moved or their father has not moved with them, leaving a mystery aspect surrounding this book that I really didn’t expect to have!

The children also have some really interesting discussions throughout this book, including about gender identity, race, friendship, family, wealth and status. Some of these discussions felt very ahead of their time and I was surprised they came up at all. Alongside their loving and caring mother, these children learn the importance of looking out for one another through tough times and helping those around you despite their backgrounds.

if you can only get them to see you don’t want to be un-friends.

Overall, this was such a pleasant surprise. I loved the feeling of adventure throughout, and the mischief these kids got up to was so fun to read about! The relationships and friendships were so heartwarming and beautiful, and left me with goosebumps when I finished this book.

★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances by Matthew Inman

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Goodreads | Waterstones

This is not just a book about running. It’s a book about cupcakes. It’s a book about suffering. 
It’s a book about gluttony, vanity, bliss, electrical storms, ranch dressing, and Godzilla. It’s a book about all the terrible and wonderful reasons we wake up each day and propel our bodies through rain, shine, heaven, and hell.
 

If you didn’t know, I started running in March 2020 and completed Couch to 5k over the couple of months that followed. Inspired by my boyfriend and friends, I really wanted to start running and a few people recommended me the Couch to 5k program. I have since built up by myself to running 10k, and I now run a (roughly) 5k and 10k per week.

My entire life, I never got running. I never saw the appeal of it, and it wasn’t until 2020 when I finally wanted to start. And although I sometimes still fail to really see the appeal in running, I also love it. And this is exactly what this book is about. My boyfriend Mark has been a runner throughout his life, and handed me this book the other day as something to read at some point. Instead, I sat down and read it from start to finish, there and then. You may recognise the style of this book as similar to the widely known How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You, who is by the same one-man-band, Matthew Inman (aka, The Oatmeal).

This book is displayed in comic format mostly, with different sections and reflections on running and the reasons why we run. Drawing on Inman’s own history and experience, it was so honest, relatable and absolutely hilarious. As a runner myself, I absolutely loved this because it was just so relatable. Although I’m not quite there yet with long distance runs like marathons and half marathons, I could still relate to a lot of the humour. If you’re a runner yourself, I would really recommend picking a copy of this up!

★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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