March Wrap Up + April TBR

Hi all! Today I’m here with my March wrap-up and April TBR. I read a whopping 16 books in March, which I’m so proud of! This was definitely helped massively by the Bookoplathon, which you can read my blog post about here. I read 8 books that one weekend, and 8 more books over the rest of the month! I also managed to read all of the books I mentioned in my March TBR on this post, which is always good. You can see this post in video format on my YouTube channel here and below.

Books I Read in March

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

WHEN ISABELLA SWAN MOVES TO THE gloomy town of Forks and meets the mysterious, alluring Edward Cullen, her life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. With his porcelain skin, golden eyes, mesmerizing voice, and supernatural gifts, Edward is both irresistible and enigmatic.
WHAT BELLA DOESN’T REALIZE IS THE CLOSER she gets to him, the more she is putting herself and those around her at risk. And, it might be too late to turn back…
DEEPLY SEDUCTIVE AND EXTRAORDINARILY suspenseful, Twilight has enraptured millions and become a modern classic, redefining genres within young adult literature and inspiring a phenomenon that has had readers yearning for more.
This special tenth anniversary dual edition includes a foreword by the author as well as a complete reimagining of the original novel. Turn this book over to read Life and Death.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

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

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Raised in isolation and home-schooled by her strict grandparents, the only experience Birdie has had of the outside world is through her favourite crime books.
But everything changes when she takes a summer job working the night shift at a historic Seattle hotel. There she meets Daniel Aoki, the hotel’s charismatic driver, and together they stumble upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—is secretly meeting someone at the hotel.
To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell, and in doing so, realize that the most confounding mystery of all may just be her growing feelings for Daniel.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations. The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince.
As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Good Wives is the second story about the March family. Three years on from Little Women, the March girls and their friend Laurie are young adults with their futures ahead of them. Although they all face painful trials along the way – from Meg’s sad lesson in housekeeping to Laurie’s disappointment in love and a tragedy which touches them all – each of the girls finally finds happiness, if not always in the way they expect. The book includes a behind-the-scenes journey, including an author profile, a guide to who’s who, activities and more.. 

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Nesta Archeron has always been prickly-proud, swift to anger, and slow to forgive. And ever since being forced into the Cauldron and becoming High Fae against her will, she’s struggled to find a place for herself within the strange, deadly world she inhabits. Worse, she can’t seem to move past the horrors of the war with Hybern and all she lost in it.
The one person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred warrior whose position in Rhysand and Feyre’s Night Court keeps him constantly in Nesta’s orbit. But her temper isn’t the only thing Cassian ignites. The fire between them is undeniable, and only burns hotter as they are forced into close quarters with each other.
Meanwhile, the treacherous human queens who returned to the Continent during the last war have forged a dangerous new alliance, threatening the fragile peace that has settled over the realms. And the key to halting them might very well rely on Cassian and Nesta facing their haunting pasts.
Against the sweeping backdrop of a world seared by war and plagued with uncertainty, Nesta and Cassian battle monsters from within and without as they search for acceptance-and healing-in each other’s arms.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Cassandra Cain is the daughter of super-villains and a living weapon trained from birth to be the ultimate assassin. But that doesn’t mean she has to stay that way, right? She’ll have to go through an identity crisis of epic proportions to find out. But how do you figure out who you’re supposed to be when you’ve been trained to become a villain your entire life?
After a soul-shattering moment that sends Cass reeling, she’ll attempt to answer this question the only way she knows how: learning everything she possibly can about her favorite hero–Batgirl. But Batgirl hasn’t been seen in Gotham for years, and when Cass’s father threatens the world she has grown to love, she’ll have to step out of the shadows and overcome her greatest obstacle–that voice inside her head telling her she can never be a hero.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

A boy comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen – then at university he finds his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo. A bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness. Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers – to show ourselves to the world in bold colour.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

The “IT” book of the early 2000s with the original cast is back–Nico! Karolina! Molly! Chase! Old Lace! And, could it be…GERT?!
The heart of the Runaways died years ago, but you won’t believe how she returns! Superstar author Rainbow Rowell (Eleanor & Park, Carry On) makes her Marvel debut with fan-favorite artist Kris Anka (ALL-NEW X-MEN, CAPTAIN MARVEL) in the series that will shock you and break your heart! Did Chase and Gert’s love survive their time apart? Have Karolina and Nico’s feelings made their friendship impossible? What emotional landmines lie in wait to DESTROY the Runaways?!

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Review | Goodreads | Blackwells

Lewis Carroll’s classic story of Alice and her incredible adventures in Wonderland is brought to life in this brand new slipcase edition. Follow curious Alice as she ventures down a rabbit hole and into a magical world, filled with unforgettable characters such as the March Hare, the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat and the Queen of Hearts. Illustrated with John Tenniel’s iconic original drawings, this beautiful book is guaranteed to enchant young readers aged 7 and up.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

The Carls just appeared. Coming home from work at three a.m., twenty-three-year-old April May stumbles across a giant sculpture. Delighted by its appearance and craftsmanship–like a ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armor–April and her friend Andy make a video with it, which Andy uploads to YouTube. The next day April wakes up to a viral video and a new life. News quickly spreads that there are Carls in dozens of cities around the world–everywhere from Beijing to Buenos Aires–and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the center of an intense international media spotlight.
Now April has to deal with the pressure on her relationships, her identity, and her safety that this new position brings, all while being on the front lines of the quest to find out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, everybody is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life. Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath just can’t let go. Now that they’re in college, Cath must decide if she’s ready to start living her own life. But does she even want to if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
Cath doesn’t need friends IRL. She has her twin sister, Wren, and she’s a popular fanfic writer in the Simon Snow community with thousands of fans online.  But now that she’s in college, Cath is completely outside of her comfort zone. There are suddenly all these new people in her life. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming boyfriend, a writing professor who thinks fanfiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome new writing partner … And she’s barely heard from Wren all semester!

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.
In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.
That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.
It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.
But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable.
When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding.
But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick’s changing landscape, or lose it all.

My least favourite book was definitely Life and Death, which I actually published a YouTube video about because I had so much to say about it! My favourite book was definitely An Absolutely Remarkable Thing which was a massive surprise to me.

Books I Want to Read in April

Peter Pan – J.M. Barrie
The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Falling in Love Montage – Ciara Smyth
An Ember in the Ashes – Sabaa Tahir
A Torch Against the Night – Sabaa Tahir
A Reaper at the Gates – Sabaa Tahir
A Sky Beyond the Storm – Sabaa Tahir

I’ve already read a few of these books as part of a readathon over the Easter weekend, and me and Alex are going to be reading the Ember in the Ashes series over the month!

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

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

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Goodreads | Waterstones

The Carls just appeared. Coming home from work at three a.m., twenty-three-year-old April May stumbles across a giant sculpture. Delighted by its appearance and craftsmanship – like a ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armour – April and her friend Andy make a video with it, which Andy uploads to YouTube. The next day April wakes up to a viral video and a new life. News quickly spreads that there are Carls in dozens of cities around the world, and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the centre of an intense international media spotlight. 
Now April has to deal with the pressure on her relationships, her identity and her safety that this new position brings, all while being on the front lines of the quest to find out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.

This is the kind of book you have to take a deep breath after you finish it and try and pause for a while, just to make sure your brain can soak in all of that information. Honestly, it was just complete and utter genius. I had no idea what I would make of this book or even what it was really about. I did not expect the rollercoaster of a journey this book took me on at all, but I really, really loved it.

April is a bisexual twenty three year old art school graduate in an unsatisfactory job that means she works all hours of the day and night. One night, walking through New York City at 3am, she comes across a giant sculpture. After phoning her friend, they make a YouTube video about the sculpture, who they name Carl. The video goes viral and quickly makes April and Andy famous. April then has to navigate the world of fame, and is still caught up in the mystery of the Carls, after finding out there are 64 of them all over the world, and have been placed in very mysterious circumstances.

Just because someone has power over you doesn’t mean they’re going to use it to hurt you.

Just wow. I have no idea how to begin how to describe this wild ride of a book, but it is the kind of story that will blow your mind and make you see the world at just a slightly different angle. I’m so glad I picked it up as part of the 48 hour readathon I was taking part in, because it was very hard to put down. I was constantly craving the next part, and I needed to know the rest of the story. It’s not often I finish a book and feel like I immediately need the next one, but I really do want the next book in the series right now.

I also ended up really liking the character of April. This was another unexpected factor, as April’s character is written to be unlikable. She makes so many questionable decisions and mistakes. But she is human, and she is real, and I kind of loved her. The way this narrative is written is so unique, and I think it’s what made me appreciate April for who she was. I also really appreciated the cast of characters that surrounded April, who were diverse and great in their own rights.

Hank Green really opens up so, so many conversations with this book. Topics on and off the world we know, about fame and social media, but also about control and human nature. It made the story so compelling, interesting and truly like nothing else I have ever read. It was super nerdy but also so amazingly clever.

People who believe that tend to either be: People who have been victims of that sort of behavior, or . . .People who, if given power, will use it to hurt you.

This was so witty, fun, entertaining but also had heavy topics interwoven throughout. It was such an entertaining and riveting read and I’ll be recommending it to many people!

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Pride by Ibi Zoboi

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable.
When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding.
But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick’s changing landscape, or lose it all.

This was an absolutely wonderful, diverse retelling of Pride and Prejudice. I haven’t actually read Pride and Prejudice yet, although it’s on the cards for this year! So this is a little bit of a strange one to review as a retelling, and I am tempted to re-read it after I’ve read the original story.

I love the whole idea of this book, taking the themes of Austen (female strength and class in particular) and bringing them into a Black neighbourhood in Brooklyn. This book is written from the point of view of Zuri, who has 5 sisters and lives in a one bedroom apartment with her family. The neighbourhood she loves so much is changing, and this is especially highlighted when the Darcy’s move in opposite, a wealthy family new to the neighbourhood.

We’re not gonna throw away the past as if it meant nothing. See?

I loved how rich the culture was in this book. Zuri feels like such a genuine character who has so many layers to her, and I really liked her as a strong, kick-ass female main character. We need more female role models like her in YA who are definitely not scared to stand up for themselves!

Zuri’s growth throughout this book may have been my favourite part. I really enjoyed reading about her thoughts, feelings and pride for her neighbourhood and her family. The group of sisters were a joy to read about and I loved how strong they were as a family unit. There was an interesting – although not particularly memorable – cast of side characters, who did make me smile along the way.

I liked the romance and felt like it was really well written and genuine. I really enjoyed how the characters got to know each other over the course of a few dates and had some difficult situations which they overcame together. Some aspects didn’t feel quite as fleshed out as I wanted, but for a short contemporary they were enjoyable enough to read about!

That’s what happens to whole neighborhoods. We built something, it was messy, but we’re not gonna throw it away.

I loved how much Zuri talked about her culture, family and pride for the neighbourhood. She also stood completely on her own as a strong, independent women and the romance didn’t feel necessary to her life, which I really liked. Overall, this was a great, very diverse contemporary which I really enjoyed!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Wilder Girls by Rory Power

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Goodreads | Waterstones

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.
It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.
But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

I’ve been really wanting to read this for a while, but felt like it wasn’t the right time with the current state of the world. However, after falling into a bit of a reading hangover after taking part in a 48 hour readathon last weekend, I was craving a horror book. I’m not sure why, as I tend to not read much horror, and this was the only one on my shelf that could be classed as such. I was hesitant picking this up due to the whole virus theme, but I’m glad I did.

This book was perfect to get me out of my hangover, because it sucked me in and didn’t let me go. I just really wanted to carry on reading as this was so easy to get through over a couple of days. The plot is so compelling and I couldn’t help but carry on reading to see what was going to happen next. I read 220 pages of it in one day, and it felt like I was reading nothing at all because it was so quick to read! However, even though this writing is easy to read, the topics are unbearably heavy, and I will be leaving a lot of content warnings at the bottom of this review.

I think I’d been looking for it all my life

I really enjoyed the characters in this book, and the whole concept of feminist horror draws me in, and I loved that this was set around female friendships and a f/f romance. Although the characters are quite disturbed and in some ways, unlikable, I actually really liked reading about them. Because of the setting of this book, the girls are bound to make decisions that are questionable and that is exactly what happens in this book. But they are going through so much, I couldn’t not feel sympathetic towards them. I also loved the strong, sisterly bonds between the girls and the female strength portrayed throughout this story was brilliant to read.

The horror elements are utterly disturbing, I wouldn’t say this book is necessarily ‘creepy’ or has any jump scares as such, but some of the parts of it are so visceral they are bound to make your skin crawl. I wasn’t sure how I would get on with this, but I did really enjoy the story despite the difficult elements! I also really enjoyed the fact this book is set on an island, and I found it so consuming to read about.

a storm in my body to match the one in my head.

Overall, this wasn’t quite a 5 star read for me but was still super enjoyable and I’m really looking forward to reading Burn Our Bodies Down!

CW (taken from Rory Power’s webiste) Graphic violence and body horror, gore, on the page character death, parental death, and animal death (the animals are not pets), behavior and descriptive language akin to self harm, and references to such, food scarcity and starvation, emesis, scene depicting chemical gassing, suicide and suicidal ideation, non-consensual medical treatment.

I also think it’s worth just re-noting that this book does focus predominately on a virus, which is a whole other trigger warning and issue as we live in a Covid world!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: King’s Cage (#3) by Victoria Aveyard

Book Cover

Goodreads | Waterstones

Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven continues weaving his web in an attempt to maintain control over his country – and his prisoner. As Mare remains trapped in the palace, the remnants of the Red Rebellion continue organizing and expanding. As they prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows, Cal – the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart – will stop at nothing to bring her back. In this breathless new novel from the bestselling author of the RED QUEEN series, blood will turn on blood and allegiances will be tested on every side. If the Lightning Girl’s spark is gone, who will light the way for the rebellion?

I’m so happy to say that we have passed the 2nd book mark and this series has definitely picked up again. We join this book immediately after Glass Sword, where Mare is trapped back in the palace she knows well as Maven’s prisoner. I felt like this part could have been slow and boring, but I actually quite enjoyed it. It gave way to character development and I liked having the opportunity to get to know Mare and her pain felt tangible.

Where the previous two books felt like a build up, this one is the start of the game. And the game is a political chessboard of kings and queens. I love how political this book is getting with the houses and the royalty – but it still comes across as quite accessible for readers who might not be used to political fantasy (*cough* me *cough*).

Now I’m in a king’s cage. But so is he. 

I also really love these characters. All of the characters in this book have so many layers. I have been shocked so many times by their decisions. Nobody is good or evil, everyone has times where they are either one or the other, which I loved. It makes the characters feel so real and have a lot of depth, and also kept me on my toes as a reader. I could never predict how anybody would act, because everything could so easily go so many different ways, which I kind of love.

I was also shocked to find we have more points of view in this book, including Evangaline. We have Cameron’s chapters interspersed throughout, which gave much needed insight to what was happening with the Scarlet Guard while Mare was entrapped in Maven’s palace. Then, later in the book, there are a few chapters from Evangaline’s point of view. I was hesitant throughout about these chapters, but I feel like they did add a lot to the story and I actually found it easy to sympathise with the other characters shown in these POV.

My chains are Silent Stone. His is the crown.

Overall, I did enjoy this one more than Glass Sword and feel like the story has developed in pace and character. I love the banter between the friends in the Scarlet Guard and Mare’s family, who I like more which each book. I’m looking forward to diving into War Storm very soon!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Runaways Vol 1: Find Your Way Home by Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka

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Goodreads | Waterstones

The “IT” book of the early 2000s with the original cast is back–Nico! Karolina! Molly! Chase! Old Lace! And, could it be…GERT?!
The heart of the Runaways died years ago, but you won’t believe how she returns! Superstar author Rainbow Rowell (Eleanor & Park, Carry On) makes her Marvel debut with fan-favorite artist Kris Anka (ALL-NEW X-MEN, CAPTAIN MARVEL) in the series that will shock you and break your heart! Did Chase and Gert’s love survive their time apart? Have Karolina and Nico’s feelings made their friendship impossible? What emotional landmines lie in wait to DESTROY the Runaways?!

Watch me take a side step into the word of Marvel, maybe ever so slightly encouraged by my boyfriend and the fact that Rainbow Rowell wrote these comics? I stumbled across this collection sometime last year, and became really intrigued by it. A comic by Rainbow Rowell? Count me in. After talking about it to my boyfriend Mark, and having a conversation about Rainbow’s slightly surprising pairing with Kris Anka for this collection, he decided to buy me the first two volumes for my birthday last year.

I must start by saying I absolutely adored the idea of this. A found family, who all seem completely wacky, are drawn together after years of being apart. Honestly, this cast of characters felt really reminiscent of the Scooby Doo gang for me and I’m not entirely sure why. I just feel like I can picture them all riding about in the Mystery Machine.

I also fell in love with the art style, which is so visually appealing – the colours are vibrant and really beautiful. The story itself is fast paced and entertaining, and I feel like that, along with the dialog, paints a good introductory picture of the runaways gang. I definitely think you can jump into this story as I did, with no prior knowledge of Runaways, or even Marvel at large.

There's No Place Like Home (Runaways vol. 5 #05 Review) - Comic Watch
Copyright Marvel 2018

The only qualm I had with this story is I found I didn’t feel quite as close to the characters as I’d have wanted to, and almost like I was missing something from the story itself. I’m not sure how much of this is because I was aware of this being a lets-get-the-band-back-together style sequel, or if some of it is Rowell’s writing. I’d be interested to see how differently I felt about this if I read the original series first. I would like to point out again, however, that I didn’t feel lost in the story in any way and felt like I Rowell did a really good job of rounding up the original series for us. I just felt like I couldn’t quite sympathise with the characters as much as I hoped I would.

That being said, this did include a couple of emotive scenes that melted my heart, and the whole collection made me really excited to carry on with these and find out where the Runaways story goes.

★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Fangirl Vol. 1: The Manga by Sam Maggs, Rainbow Rowell + Gabi Nam

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Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, everybody is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life. Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath just can’t let go…
Cath doesn’t need friends IRL. She has her twin sister, Wren, and she’s a popular fanfic writer in the Simon Snow community with thousands of fans online. But now that she’s in college, Cath is completely outside of her comfort zone. There are suddenly all these new people in her life. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming boyfriend, a writing professor who thinks fanfiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome new writing partner…

As soon as I found out there was a Fangirl manga coming out, I knew I wanted to read it. I haven’t read Fangirl in a really long time, but I really enjoyed it and thought this would be a great way to revisit the story. However, I’m finding it so hard to discuss or rate this book because it felt like an odd re-read of the first part of the Fangirl book.

The manga stays very faithful to the original story, and I couldn’t pick anything up that felt different (although it has been a long time since I read it). I did enjoy the art style and I felt like the story fit the art style well. It was very expressive and the characters looked exactly how I pictured them – especially Cath. I really liked seeing Cath in picture format and I could really feel her emotions leap off the page. I also feel like this can really stand alone as a manga without knowing the original story at all.

Check out the first 20 pages of the FANGIRL Manga! | The Fandom
Copyright Viz Media (2020)

I also really enjoyed seeing Snowbaz in this format and I felt like it fit them well. However, I did feel like the way Simon Snow’s story was blended into Cath’s story felt a little jumpy and didn’t always fit too well. I liked each in their own right a lot, but they didn’t quite work as well as the prose version in my opinion.

I’m both excited and apprehensive to see where this series goes as a manga, as I feel like there are parts of the Fangirl original story that I will find questionable as a reader now and would have turned a blind eye to when I read the story before. However, I do want to see where this manga goes and I am enjoying the style of it!

★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Mark’s Review: Jews Don’t Count by David Baddiel

Hi all! It’s the third month of my boyfriend, Mark, being featured on the blog! Today he’s back with another review for a very important recent non-fiction release, Jews Don’t Count by David Baddiel.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

How identity politics failed one particular identity.
Jews Don’t Count is a book for people who consider themselves on the right side of history. People fighting the good fight against homophobia, disablism, transphobia and, particularly, racism. People, possibly, like you.
It is the comedian and writer David Baddiel’s contention that one type of racism has been left out of this fight. In his unique combination of close reasoning, polemic, personal experience and jokes, Baddiel argues that those who think of themselves as on the right side of history have often ignored the history of anti-Semitism.
He outlines why and how, in a time of intensely heightened awareness of minorities, Jews don’t count as a real minority: and why they should.

In Jews Don’t Count, David Baddiel offers his lived experience of antisemitism in the UK, and argues how the fight against racism, especially on the political left, has a blind spot.

“Progressives themselves will sometimes respond to anti-Semitism by pointing to the – implied – much worse racism suffered by minorities in, say, opinion columns in the Daily Mail. A fair enough point, but I’m not interested in those columnists, as their racism is active and obvious, and also, to be honest, not mine to talk about.”

Baddiel has been around for much of my life, from being an edgy young comedian to a more established pop culture figure via the song ‘Three Lions’. He has gone on to write novels for both adults and children, none of which I have read I must admit, but he has become one of my favourite modern grumpy old men via his TV appearances and on Twitter.

While it covers many areas that Baddiel has discussed throughout his career, Jews Don’t Count feels most like a companion piece to his documentary Confronting Holocaust Denial. Made with the BBC in 2020, and not on iPlayer at the time of writing, Baddiel directly confronted both current and historical attitudes to antisemitism, something he looks at closer to home further in this book.

“Jews are somehow both sub-human and humanity’s secret masters. And it’s this racist mythology that’s in the air when the left pause before putting Jews into their sacred circle. Because all of the people in the sacred circle are oppressed. And if you believe, even a little bit, that Jews are moneyed, powerful and secretly in control of the world … well, you can’t put them into the sacred circle of the oppressed.”

It’s fair to say I am predisposed to agree with Baddiel, so don’t expect a full critical breakdown of his arguments here. For a while now I have pondered on the nature of outrage and how it isn’t actually meted out in society as equally for some issues as others, so I welcomed the opportunity to read such a singular take on antisemitism. Baddiel covers a lot of ground in a short book, but essentially argues across various levels that racism against Jews, actively or passively, makes them the forgotten section of the anti-racist movement.

With a self deprecating style you might expect from his other work, Baddiel looks at the discrepancies in approach to problematic language and activity in a range of areas including football, entertainment and politics. He touches on Israel and addresses scandals, including his own from Fantasy Football League in the late 1990’s. He looks at the nature of being Jewish and what that means culturally, ethnically and religiously, but crucially also looks at the way current political divisions and identity politics both tacitly support antsemitism and, more often than not, forget racism against Jews. Hence the title, Jews Don’t Count.

“Anti-racists need to listen more to the enemy. Because anti-racists only exists to fight racists, it only has meaning oppositionally. If there were no racists, there would be no anti-racists. And the racists say: Jews are not white.”

I am sad to say in resulting discussions I have around this book, over the ambiguity about where being Jewish fits into racism, I have seen parts of Baddiel’s arguments confirmed with friends and have subsequently had to call them out. Something I have no problem with, but a disappointment I did not expect to be realised so easily. For me, the key might lie in Baddiel’s argument that we should fight less amongst ourselves as progressives and pay more attention to racist and white supremacists definitions, because if we’re truly committed to being anti-racist, we should be fighting their definitions, not arguing about our own.

-Mark

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

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Goodreads

Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, the Red Queen and the White Rabbit all make their appearances, and are now familiar figures in writing, conversation and idiom. So too are Carroll’s delightful verses such as The Walrus and the Carpenter and the inspired jargon of that masterly Wordsworthian parody, The Jabberwocky.

I’ve had this beautiful slipcased edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for a couple of years now, and I finally decided to pick it up! I read my cute little Wordsworth edition of Alice in Wonderland as part of the Bookoplathon last weekend, but I noticed it didn’t include Through the Looking Glass. Luckily, my illustrated edition included both stories and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to pick up this copy and read alongside the full colour illustrations.

This was, without a doubt, the most nonsensical book I have ever read. Reading this book is like witnessing somebody’s wildest dreams or, unsurprisingly, hallucinations. I often felt like I had missed out massive chunks of the story, only to realise it was just the way this book is paced and how often it jumps around from one scene to another. I found a great sense of comfort in knowing I could let this book just wash over me and not worry about it making sense because well, it wasn’t about to make sense no matter how much attention I paid to the words on the pages.

How long is forever?

I also found I couldn’t put this book down – not because I was wondering what was going to happen, but purely because I was finding it so much fun. If this book is anything, it is incredibly entertaining, and I found a lot of enjoyment in seeing where the rabbit hole took me. I think I was comforted because this felt very much like a re-read to me, even though I can’t remember having actually read the story before. I do know the story well and have seen the Tim Burton movie (or at least, parts of it), which is probably why it felt so familiar to me. I feel like in a sense, this is a story most of us grow up with in one way or another, even if we are just merely aware of the characters

Sometimes just one second.

This was such a fantastical world that feels so vivid and full of life through the weird and wonderful characters embodied within it’s pages. I’m sure it will become a story that stays with me throughout my life and I read again and again.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.
In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.
That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.

Well, that was odd. This book is probably one of the books that has been on my TBR for the longest – I used to see it in the teen section of my library over 5 years ago, and I just never picked it up even though it always caught my eye. I was recently gifted a copy by Blue, and I was so happy to finally have my hands on a beautiful hardback copy of this book. I really didn’t know what to expect of this book, but it wasn’t that.

Sadly, there were so few things I actually enjoyed about this book. One of the main parts was the bakery. You know I’m a sucker for food in books, and the bakery in this one didn’t let me down. I also appreciated how beautiful the writing was, but it really did go over my head for the most part because I just could not get into this story. I felt like I was reading it in a daze most of the time, and I don’t think it was just because I was tired. Everything just felt so foggy and far away, and so intangible. I just couldn’t picture most of what was going on because the lyrical writing seemed to take priority over actually making this book understandable at all.

Love, as most know, follows its own timeline.

I wish I could tell you more about the plot but it just felt so vague. I gather that this was more about Ava’s family tree and her ancestors than herself, which felt like a story I didn’t want or need. For a short, 300 page book, this felt like it had way too much setup that we didn’t really have time for. I felt like I was spending most of the time waiting for a story to happen that never came, and then randomly ended up with quite violent or disturbing scenes that didn’t fit with the tone of the rest of the book. There was one scene towards the end of the book that I won’t spoil, but will add a content warning for, as it really shocked me and made me uncomfortable.

I can (kind of) see why some people like this book. If you enjoy fairy tale writing and don’t mind a lot of vague plot that feels like it is just meandering around and not necessarily going anywhere, it might be for you. It’s easy to appreciate how beautiful the writing is, but that was really about it for me.

Disregarding our intentions or well rehearsed plans.

Alongside just being generally strange, I also found this really unsettling. Please don’t go into this without being aware of the content, even if it sounds like something you’d enjoy!

CW: Graphic sexual assault, death, grief

★★
2 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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