Review: Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

Goodreads | Waterstones

This novel is about a woman called Martha. She knows there is something wrong with her but she doesn’t know what it is. Her husband Patrick thinks she is fine. He says everyone has something, the thing is just to keep going.
Martha told Patrick before they got married that she didn’t want to have children. He said he didn’t mind either way because he has loved her since he was fourteen and making her happy is all that matters, although he does not seem able to do it.
By the time Martha finds out what is wrong, it doesn’t really matter anymore. It is too late to get the only thing she has ever wanted. Or maybe it will turn out that you can stop loving someone and start again from nothing – if you can find something else to want. 

This book isn’t one I’d necessarily pick up, but after hearing it has tones of Dolly Alderton’s Ghosts (which I adored!), I really wanted to give it a go. I picked up the audiobook for this one and I really enjoyed it, and the narrator really engaged me.

This book focuses massively on mental health and an undiagnosed mental illness that is never named in the book. This mental illness has a massive impact on the main characters life, but it doesn’t detract from the rest of the story either. I still found it super interesting to read about Martha’s family, friendships and relationship with her husband Patrick.

Everything is broken and messed up and completely fine.

I also want to point out that this book is really funny. It’s deeply, darkly, richly funny, but funny all the same. There are lines that have stayed with me since I read it almost a month ago, that stood out and I still chuckle at and repeat to people. Not only does this remind me how much I enjoyed this book, but it gives me so many chances to recommend this book to others because I do still recommend this one a lot.

Although I didn’t have many issues with this book, one of my major issues was the diagnosis itself. I didn’t, and still don’t quite, know how to feel about it. It is very natural to want to know what the diagnosis is, and I felt the same while reading it. I think it’s really important that this book does contain elements of a lot of mental illnesses because readers can see themselves in Martha, but I also feel like this book walked a fine line between building on a stigma that already exists.

There is a big element of this diagnosis that talks about the stigma surrounding Martha’s mental illness. And I feel like the best way to combat stigma is to talk about the mental illness. So there is a big part of my brain that feels like this book could potentially add to the stigma rather than detract from it.

That is what life is. It’s only the ratios that change. usually on their own.

I really enjoyed this book overall and I definitely will continue to recommend it. There is a part of me that still feels quite torn over the mental health aspect, but it made for a very interesting read.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: What Time is Love? by Holly Williams

Goodreads | Waterstones

1947. 1967. 1987. When Violet and Albert first meet, they are always twenty.
Three decades.
Over the years, Violet and Albert’s lives collide again and again: beneath Oxford’s spires, on the rolling hills around Abergavenny, in stately homes and in feminist squats. And as each decade ends, a new love story begins…
Two people.
Together, they are electric and the world is glittering with possibility. But against the shifting times of each era, Violet and Albert must overcome differences in class, gender, privilege and ambition. Each time their lives entwine, it will change everything.
One moment is all it takes…
As their eyes first meet, for a split-second it’s as if the clocks have stopped. Nothing else matters. Yet whichever decade brings them together, Violet and Albert are soon forced to question: what if they met the right person at the wrong time?

Thank you to the publisher, Orion, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I loved the concept of this book from the moment I picked it up. The concept of two people meeting in alternate universes every twenty years and seeing if this time is the right time really called out to me. Although this one isn’t necessarily a book I’d usually pick up, I found myself really intrigued about where this one might go.

However this did let me down a bit. I didn’t quite feel as immersed in the story as I wanted to be, and it took me much longer to read than I wanted it to. The writing was the best thing about this book and I must say I felt quite an affinity to the characters, even getting emotional and having tears in my eyes in places.

I think where this one started to let me down was after the first story. I enjoyed the first story a lot, but I then realised that I was just in for another two stories very much the same. As this book follows three different timelines, I started to find the other two stories quite predictable.

The fact this book takes place every twenty years made for a great concept, and so much of the story was involved around the time period and then politics throughout the years. Although I found this really interesting and I liked the concept, I’m just not sure it completely paid off all of the time. I did like it, and it did make me emotional at times, but I also felt a bit let down by the end of it.

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Piranesi by Suzanna Clarke

Goodreads | Waterstones

Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.
There is one other person in the house—a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.

I had absolutely no idea what to expect of Piranesi. But it wasn’t quite this.

Thank you to Jo for recommending the audiobook of this one to me, which was such a captivating way to absorb this beautiful tale. Although I do feel like I would have enjoyed this in physical format too, the audio was wonderful and the narrator felt perfect for the story.

The House is valuable because it is the House. 

I quickly found myself being engaged with Piranesi’s world. This story is one of mystery, and I felt like I had to absorb myself fully within the book to really enjoy it. I felt so focused on Piranesi as a character and curious about the world around him. I feel like if you try and relate this book to the real world and understand it as a real thing, it will lose you. But if you lose yourself within this book, you just might win. And become curiouser and curiouser.

It is enough in and of Itself. It is not the means to an end.

The writing itself was definitely one of my favourite aspects of this book. It was so beautiful and the descriptions of the house made it really easy to picture and still visualise in my mind. The writing was very lyrical, beautifully descriptive and engaging. I felt so involved in the story.

I would really recommend not just this book, but the audiobook version. It was such a wonderful mystery and I would recommend sticking with it until you become curious about where it’s going, because then you won’t be able to put it down!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Breakneck Point by T. Orr Munro

Goodreads | Waterstones

CSI Ally Dymond’s commitment to justice has cost her a place on the major investigations team. After exposing corruption in the ranks, she’s stuck working petty crimes on the sleepy North Devon coast.
Then the body of nineteen-year-old Janie Warren turns up in the seaside town of Bidecombe, and Ally’s expert skills are suddenly back in demand.
But when the evidence she discovers contradicts the lead detective’s theory, nobody wants to listen to the CSI who landed their colleagues in prison.
Time is running out to catch a killer no one is looking for – no one except Ally. What she doesn’t know is that he’s watching, from her side of the crime scene tape, waiting for the moment to strike.

Thank you to HQ for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

I don’t often read crime, but I have been trying a bit more and this one honestly drew me in from the very first page. We follow Ally Diamond (what a name!), who is a CSI on the North Devon coastline. Early on in this story, she uncovers corruption in the ranks, and is stuck solving petty crimes below her skill level. It also follows the killer from very early on in the book, which became very dark at times but was so enthralling to read about.

I love the setting on the coast of North Devon, with places I recognised (although slightly changed for the story). It felt dark and atmospheric, a beautiful juxtaposition to the sinister storyline. I listened to the audiobook of this one and honestly, I couldn’t stop listening. I just know that if I’d read the physical version of this one, I would have struggled to put it down.

Although sometimes it can be difficult to be in the mind of the killer for obvious reasons, I found it fascinating. Obviously there is a loss of tension and mystery lost because we find out who the murderer is at the start of the book, but there is still a decent amount of mystery surrounding his motives.

My major problem with this book is it felt like everything fell into place too easily at times, but I still enjoyed being along for the ride. It was very entertaining to read and felt tense until the end, but could be a bit predictable and convenient at times.

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Noah’s Gold by Frank Cottrell-Boyce

Goodreads | Waterstones

Being the smallest doesn’t stop you having the biggest ideas.
Eleven-year old Noah sneaks along on his big sister’s geography field trip. Everything goes wrong! Six kids are marooned on an uninhabited island. Their teacher has vanished. They’re hungry. Their phones don’t work and Noah has broken the internet. There’s no way of contacting home . . . Disaster!
Until Noah discovers a treasure map and the gang goes in search of gold.

This book was so much fun. I can’t even tell you how many times this book made me chuckle and fully laugh out loud, which I always find rare with books.

This one follows Noah, who has snuck in the back of the minibus on his sister’s geography field trip. The unlikely gang end up on a deserted island, and now they have to band together to try and survive on the island and maybe also fix the internet too (I still don’t quite understand what that bit was all about!).

I loved this unlikely group, who were so much fun to read about and had some great interactions. Noah made such a funny narrator with a lot of honesty that I think so many kids will relate to. The illustrations were so good and complemented the story so well too. This one is definitely an adventure story at it’s heart, and I really enjoyed blasting through it and seeing where it was going to go.

The friendship group were so heartwarming to read about and there was also some interesting discussions of living without technology too. It’s great to see these kinds of stories being so popular with children.

Although there was a lot of fun plot, I didn’t quite understand where the ‘internet’ aspect fit, which did let it down a little bit for me. I just feel like this book was strong without this extra seemingly quite random aspect to the story that also didn’t feel fully fleshed out.

Overall, this one was so much fun and I’ll definitely be recommending it to a lot of kids at work!

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Family of Liars by E. Lockhart

Goodreads | Waterstones

A windswept private island off the coast of Massachusetts.
A hungry ocean, churning with secrets and sorrow.
A fiery, addicted heiress. An irresistible, unpredictable boy.
A summer of unforgivable betrayal and terrible mistakes.
Welcome back to the Sinclair family.
They were always liars.

Thank you to Hot Key Books for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I’m glad I grabbed the opportunity to pick up this book when I was offered the chance, because I honestly don’t think I’d have picked it up otherwise. Reading We Were Liars and Family of Liars back to back was such a great experience, I really felt the atmosphere and got so tangled up in the writing.

I really like the unique writing style of the Liars books. I’ve read quite a few of E. Lockhart’s books over the years and We Were Liars was always the most memorable one for me. The atmosphere is also impeccable and may well be my favourite thing about this series as a whole. It made me feel like I really want to go on holiday and gave me all of the summer vibes, despite the dark undertones to these thrillers.

I felt quite a lot of disconnect between the characters from Family of Liars and We Were Liars, and I also found them harder to like and relate to in this book. I have mixed feelings for all of the Liars, but this one just felt a little more forgettable to me.

Overall, I did enjoy a lot of aspects of this book and it definitely kept me reading! Thank you Hot Key for the opportunity to read-along this one!

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: The Gifts That Bind Us (#2) by Caroline O’Donoghue

Goodreads | Waterstones

Maeve and her friends have revealed their powers and banded together as a coven: Roe can pick locks, Lily sends sparks flying, Maeve can read minds and Fiona can heal any injury.
And even better than their newfound talents? Roe and Maeve are officially an item.
But with strange things happening at school, and old enemies appearing in new places, it soon becomes clear their powers are attracting all the wrong attention. It’s not long before Maeve’s gift start to wane, drained by someone – or something – that’s hiding even from her second sight…

I’ve been meaning to pick this one up ever since it came out, and I’m glad I finally did. I buddy-read the first book with my friends Amy and Jo last year, and I’m enjoying the series a lot so far. This one is a magical, witchy series with a tarot focus and it’s set in Ireland. In this second book in the series, the friendship group formed in All Our Hidden Gifts come together to face a bigger enemy: the Children of Brigid.

I read this one on audio and I’m actually really glad I decided to. Although I liked the first book a lot, there’s something about reading the audio of this one I really enjoyed. It almost felt clearer to me on audio, and it felt entertaining and adventurous. The narrator was brilliant too and I’m so glad she was Irish!

I love the discussions of LGBTQ+ issues across this series, but especially in this book. I had a few questions about representation after the first one, but they were definitely addressed in this book. The friendships and relationships faced difficulties, but it made the characters feel all that more real.

There was definitely some unexpected turns of events throughout this book, which made it all the more enjoyable to read. I particularly loved the found family aspects with such a variety of characters and I’m looking forward to reading more in the series!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Goodreads | Waterstones

We are the Liars.
We are beautiful, privileged and live a life of carefree luxury.
We are cracked and broken.
A story of love and romance.
A tale of tragedy.
Which are lies?
Which is truth?
You decide.

I have actually read this one before, but it’s now been 6 years since I first picked it up. I didn’t expect to enjoy this book half as much as when I first read it, honestly, but I did still enjoy it a lot. This one is definitely aimed at a much younger audience than me, and I did love it as a teen, but it’s still enjoyable now. I wasn’t necessarily aiming to re-read this one, but when I was offered a copy alongside Family of Liars, I decided to go for it.

I’m glad I picked it up, and it was exactly what I needed at the moment. The chapters are only a couple of pages, which means it was super quick to read and easy to get through. It’s also only just over 200 pages, meaning I read it in a couple of days.

We are liars. We are beautiful and privileged.

I’m glad it’s been so long since I read it, because I had honestly forgotten completely what happened at the end and I was shocked and surprised all over again. The writing was also brilliant, and once you get used to the prose, it’s unique but really enjoyable to read. At first I wasn’t sure if I’d get back into it, and I’m glad I read Family of Liars directly afterwards while I was still in the same mood.

I do have mixed feelings about the family themselves and the characters, but I did still enjoy reading their story. Even if I didn’t like the Liars themselves, the way they were written about was so clever, powerful and emotional.

We are cracked and broken.

Overall, this might not have been quite as enjoyable on a 6 years later re-read, but I did still really like it and I’m glad I picked it up again!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Stacking the Shelves #81

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! I bought a couple of books this week, but they were both really special ones I’m super excited about.

Goodreads | Alibris

Seventeen-year-old Julie has her future all planned out—move out of her small town with her boyfriend Sam, attend college in the city, spend a summer in Japan. But then Sam dies. And everything changes.
Heartbroken, Julie skips his funeral, throws out his things, and tries everything to forget him and the tragic way he died. But a message Sam left behind in her yearbook forces back memories. Desperate to hear his voice one more time, Julie calls Sam’s cellphone just to listen to his voicemail.
And Sam picks up the phone.
In a miraculous turn of events, Julie’s been given a second chance at goodbye. The connection is temporary. But hearing Sam’s voice makes her fall for him all over again, and with each call it becomes harder to let him go. However, keeping her otherworldly calls with Sam a secret isn’t easy, especially when Julie witnesses the suffering Sam’s family is going through. Unable to stand by the sidelines and watch their shared loved ones in pain, Julie is torn between spilling the truth about her calls with Sam and risking their connection and losing him forever.

I’ve wanted to read this one for a while and I love the hardback version, which has flowers under the dust jacket. I hunted around and managed to find a reasonably priced one at Alibris (linked above) which arrived a few days ago and is very pretty!

Goodreads | Waterstones

In Charlie Hall’s world, shadows can be altered, for entertainment and cosmetic preferences—but also to increase power and influence. You can alter someone’s feelings—and memories—but manipulating shadows has a cost, with the potential to take hours or days from your life. Your shadow holds all the parts of you that you want to keep hidden—a second self, standing just to your left, walking behind you into lit rooms. And sometimes, it has a life of its own.
Charlie is a low-level con artist, working as a bartender while trying to distance herself from the powerful and dangerous underground world of shadow trading. She gets by doing odd jobs for her patrons and the naive new money in her town at the edge of the Berkshires. But when a terrible figure from her past returns, Charlie’s present life is thrown into chaos, and her future seems at best, unclear—and at worst, non-existent. Determined to survive, Charlie throws herself into a maelstrom of secrets and murder, setting her against a cast of doppelgangers, mercurial billionaires, shadow thieves, and her own sister—all desperate to control the magic of the shadows.

I also pre-ordered some books last week, including this one which has already arrived! I managed to get a Waterstones exclusive before it sold out, and it’s beautiful.

What have you bought or received this week?

-Beth

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14 books you should read if you loved Heartstopper

With the recent release of Heartstopper on Netflix, I thought it would be the perfect time to recommend you some similar books. I know everyone is loving Heartstopper at the moment, so I’m going to talk about some similar books I love.

Goodreads | Waterstones

Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town. One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods.
As a genderqueer werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home. Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.

I love this graphic novel so much, I picked it up last year and it was one of my favourite books of the year. It’s queer, has magic and a bookshop – what’s not to love!

Goodreads | Waterstones

After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, Greta learns about the dying art form of tea dragon care-taking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik. As she befriends them and their shy ward, Minette, Greta sees how the craft enriches their lives—and eventually her own.

The Tea Dragon books are so heartwarming and beautiful, with these delightful creatures at the heart of the story. I just adore these graphic novels, and they’re perfect for picking up when you might be feeling a little low.

Goodreads | Waterstones

Everyone knows about the dare: Each week, Bryson Keller must date someone new–the first person to ask him out on Monday morning. Few think Bryson can do it. He may be the king of Fairvale Academy, but he’s never really dated before.
Until a boy asks him out, and everything changes.
Kai Sheridan didn’t expect Bryson to say yes. So when Bryson agrees to secretly go out with him, Kai is thrown for a loop. But as the days go by, he discovers there’s more to Bryson beneath the surface, and dating him begins to feel less like an act and more like the real thing. Kai knows how the story of a gay boy liking someone straight ends. With his heart on the line, he’s awkwardly trying to navigate senior year at school, at home, and in the closet, all while grappling with the fact that this “relationship” will last only five days. After all, Bryson Keller is popular, good-looking, and straight . . . right?

The first novel on this list is Date Me, Bryson Keller which is such a cute male/male romance also set in a high school, with similar vibes to Heartstopper!

Goodreads

When Ben De Backer comes out to their parents as nonbinary, they’re thrown out of their house and forced to move in with their estranged older sister, Hannah, and her husband, Thomas, whom Ben has never even met. Struggling with an anxiety disorder compounded by their parents’ rejection, they come out only to Hannah, Thomas, and their therapist and try to keep a low profile in a new school.
But Ben’s attempts to survive the last half of senior year unnoticed are thwarted when Nathan Allan, a funny and charismatic student, decides to take Ben under his wing. As Ben and Nathan’s friendship grows, their feelings for each other begin to change, and what started as a disastrous turn of events looks like it might just be a chance to start a happier new life.

I love this book so much. It’s emotional and tackles difficult topics but is really heartwarming too. This one also has a lot of discussions about gender identity, and the main character is non-binary.

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.

The first sapphic book of the list is The Falling in Love Montage, which is a fast-paced romance with difficult discussions. I flew through it in a day!

Goodreads | Waterstones

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

I love Nina LaCour’s books and it was difficult to pick just one to put on this list! This one is one of her sadder books but is so beautiful too.

Goodreads | Waterstones

Griffin has lost his first love in a drowning accident. Theo was his best friend, his ex-boyfriend and the one he believed he would end up with. Now, reeling from grief and worsening OCD, Griffin turns to an unexpected person for help. Theo’s new boyfriend.
But as their relationship becomes increasingly complicated, dangerous truths begin to surface. Griffin must make a choice: confront the past, or miss out on his future.

Again, it was difficult to pick just one Adam Silvera book for this list, but my favourite of his is definitely History is All You Left Me!

Goodreads | Waterstones

Dante can swim. Ari can’t. Dante is articulate and self-assured. Ari has a hard time with words and suffers from self-doubt. Dante gets lost in poetry and art. Ari gets lost in thoughts of his older brother who is in prison. Dante is fair skinned. Ari’s features are much darker. It seems that a boy like Dante, with his open and unique perspective on life, would be the last person to break down the walls that Ari has built around himself.
But against all odds, when Ari and Dante meet, they develop a special bond that will teach them the most important truths of their lives, and help define the people they want to be. But there are big hurdles in their way, and only by believing in each other―and the power of their friendship―can Ari and Dante emerge stronger on the other side.

I love both of these books, and the second one is actually my favourite. These are also beautiful audiobooks!

Goodreads | Waterstones

Jake Hyde doesn’t swim—not since his father drowned. Luckily, he lives in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, which is in the middle of the desert, yet he yearns for the ocean and is determined to leave his hometown for a college on the coast. But his best friend, Maria, wants nothing more than to make a home in the desert, and Jake’s mother encourages him to always play it safe.
There’s nothing “safe” about Jake’s future—not when he’s attracted to Kenny Liu, swim team captain and rebel against conformity. And certainly not when he secretly applies to Miami University. Jake’s life begins to outpace his small town’s namesake, which doesn’t make it any easier to come out to his mom, or Maria, or the world.
But Jake is full of secrets, including the strange blue markings on his skin that glow when in contact with water. What power will he find when he searches for his identity, and will he turn his back to the current or dive headfirst into the waves?

I wanted to include a mix of graphic novels and novels on this list, and a graphic novel I love is this one, which is actually a DC graphic novel Mark bought me. I really enjoyed it and it has LGBTQ+ themes and a male/male romance!

Goodreads | Waterstones

Frances Janvier spends most of her time studying. Everyone knows Aled Last as that quiet boy who gets straight As. You probably think that they are going to fall in love or something. Since he is a boy and she is a girl. They don’t. They make a podcast. In a world determined to shut them up, knock them down, and set them on a cookie cutter life path, Frances and Aled struggle to find their voices over the course of one life-changing year. Will they have the courage to show everyone who they really are? Or will they be met with radio silence?

It was difficult to pick an Alice Oseman book for this list, but my most recent read from her is Radio Silence, which I absolutely adored.

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.

Another heartwarming graphic novel is The Sad Ghost Club, which is such a cute story you’ll speed through.

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.

I didn’t expect to enjoy this book as much as I did, but I loved it. It’s a slightly older version of Heartstopper, with discussions of religion.

Goodreads | Waterstones

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it
Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.
But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?
Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.
Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.
But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?
What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?
What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?
But what if it is?

I also wanted to include a Becky Albertalli book on this list, and I decided to go for What If It’s Us. This is such a heartwarming meet-cute story with a Silvera style ending!

Goodreads | Waterstones

Because of a hearing disability, Kohei is often misunderstood and has trouble integrating into life on campus, so he learns to keep his distance. That is until he meets the outspoken and cheerful Taichi. He tells Kohei that his hearing loss is not his fault. Taichi’s words cut through Kohei’s usual defense mechanisms and open his heart. More than friends, less than lovers, their relationship changes Kohei forever.

The only one on this list I haven’t read is I Hear the Sunspot, a manga. I’d love to pick this up soon and I have a feeling it’s going to be quite similar to Heartstopper!

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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