Review: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

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Goodreads | Waterstones

When Sir Henry Dashwood dies unexpectedly, his estate passes to his only son, leaving his widow and three daughters with no home and little to live on.
The elder two sisters couldn’t be less alike. Impetuous, romantic and idealistic Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor’s warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo.
Meanwhile Elinor, rational, cool-headed and always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her.
Through their parallel experience of love – and its threatened loss – the sisters learn that to live well requires both the bravery of open sensibility and the tempering of desire with wisdom if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love.

I am so excited that I’m going to be reading more Austen books as the autumn period goes on, and I really enjoyed reading this one. I listened to the audiobook of this which I really liked and I think I will carry on with listening to Austen audiobooks throughout the autumn season.

I got so many cozy vibes from reading this and it felt so atmospheric. The English countryside really shone through and there were some beautiful descriptions. It made me just wander around big Victorian houses and gardens (which I actually did around the same time of reading this!).

Know your own happiness.

I also really liked the characters in this book and the relationships between the sisters and their mother. I also found the romance so interesting to read about and it even made me slightly emotional in places. The writing, as expected, was absolutely beautiful and there was some amazing quotes and descriptions throughout this book.

You want nothing but patience- or give it a more fascinating name, call it hope.

Reading this one has made me very excited to read more Austen books as the season goes on and I can’t wait to listen to more of the audiobooks.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: The Quick by Lauren Owen

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Goodreads | Waterstones

You are about to discover the secrets of ‘The Quick’ – but first you must travel to Victorian England, and there, in the wilds of Yorkshire, meet a brother and sister alone in the world, a pair bound by tragedy. You will, in time, enter the rooms of London’s mysterious Aegolius Club – a society of the richest, most powerful men in England. And at some point – we cannot say when – these worlds will collide. It is then, and only then, that a new world emerges, a world of romance, adventure and the most delicious of horrors – and the secrets of ‘The Quick’ are revealed.

This one was very outside of my comfort zone, but I’m really glad I picked it up. I read this as part of a little book club that some of my friends have created, and I’m glad I’m already reading something I wouldn’t have picked up otherwise. I think when we chose this one we had no idea how fitting it would be for this season (I won’t say anymore due to spoilers, but the Gothic vibes were perfect!).

In a lot of ways, this book actually reminded me of The Binding. Both of them were rollercoasters for me that I liked parts of and other parts fell flat, but the Gothic Victorian setting and literary writing were along similar lines. I’m so glad I went into this having no clue what this one was going to be like, as a lot of the aspects of this book were surprising to me.

Shooed outside—like chickens—they wandered rather aimlessly into the grounds.

Oddly, the first part of this one was my favourite. This was a shame, as I feel like a lot of books get better as you go on, whereas this one kind of got…worse. I loved the first part and it had an LGBTQIA+ aspect I didn’t expect but I really enjoyed reading about. I also really liked the last part of the story which took around the last 50 pages or so. However, the pages in between kind of fell flat.

As this story went on, more and more characters were introduced and I found myself switching off. The second part was told in more of a diary format which felt very jarring and disjointed. I found myself losing interest as I couldn’t quite follow all of the different aspects of the story and different stories happening within the book. If this book followed the characters from the first part of this book throughout the whole thing, I think this one would have been a 4 or even higher star rating from me.

Somehow it was always less fun to be told to go out and play.

So yet again we have a book I felt very up and down about and had a lot of mixed feelings! I did enjoy this and I’m glad I picked it up, but it definitely wasn’t without parts I didn’t enjoy so much.

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff

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Goodreads | Waterstones

It has been twenty-seven long years since the last sunrise. For nearly three decades, vampires have waged war against humanity; building their eternal empire even as they tear down our own. Now, only a few tiny sparks of light endure in a sea of darkness.
Gabriel de León is a silversaint: a member of a holy brotherhood dedicated to defending realm and church from the creatures of the night. But even the Silver Order couldn’t stem the tide once daylight failed us, and now, only Gabriel remains.
Imprisoned by the very monsters he vowed to destroy, the last silversaint is forced to tell his story. A story of legendary battles and forbidden love, of faith lost and friendships won, of the Wars of the Blood and the Forever King and the quest for humanity’s last remaining hope:
The Holy Grail.

Thank you so much to Harper Voyager for providing me with an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Argh. I wanted to love this book. Heck, I would have taken like. This is one of those books that has made me really sit down and consider the pressure we put on ourselves as a community sometimes with hyped books, new releases and especially proof copies.

Because I’ve got to be completely honest with myself and all of you. This just…wasn’t for me. To be frank, I was bored, I was confused, and I found this book way too long. I had no motivation to pick it up and I was finding it really hard to get into, but I pushed through. I had been reading it for almost a week when the book was released in the UK and I switched over to the audiobook, which honestly saved me. Although I’m sure I would have finished it eventually with just the physical copy, the audio definitely helped me out a LOT in this case.

Although I was finding this really slow to start, I had heard other readers with similar feelings who felt it picked up halfway, so I pushed through to then. Do you want to know where I found it picked up for me? With less than 100 pages to go. If the entire book had been the same experience for me as the final 50-100 pages, it may have been a 4 or even 5 star. But it honestly took me over 600 of 720 pages to get into, and I think if I was anyone else I would have given up.

After all that ranting, I wouldn’t say that this book was bad or that I didn’t enjoy it. It is highly entertaining and there were a lot of scenes I loved a lot, I just found the links between them very hard to find and they all felt very disjointed and jarring. I also enjoyed the found family aspect a lot and the relationships between the main characters were very interesting to read about. The plot twists really got me, especially at the end in the last 100 pages which I loved.

Overall, this one was such a rollercoaster and I just wish I liked it more than I had, but you can’t love them all!

★★★
3 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #55

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 readers! I’ve been buying more books again recently and I seemingly can’t keep away! I’ve been lucky to receive some preorders in the past few weesks too which has been really exciting.

Bought

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Greece in the age of Heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. Here he is nobody, just another unwanted boy living in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles.
Achilles, “best of all the Greeks,” is everything Patroclus is not—strong, beautiful, the child of a goddess—and by all rights their paths should never cross. Yet one day, Achilles takes the shamed prince under his wing and soon their tentative connection gives way to a steadfast friendship. As they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something far deeper—despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.
Fate is never far from the heels of Achilles. When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows Achilles into war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they have learned, everything they hold dear. And that, before he is ready, he will be forced to surrender his friend to the hands of Fate.

My preorder of this beautiful hardback anniversary edition of The Song of Achilles came through recently. Even though I haven’t read this one yet I feel like I will really enjoy it and I couldn’t resist this beautiful copy.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

I’ve been waiting on this one to be reprinted and it finally came through! I’ve had the third one for a while and now I can finally read this one and carry on with the series.

XOXO by Axie Oh – Community

Goodreads | Waterstones

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

I also had a preorder of the Fairyloot edition of XOXO which is beautiful. I read a proof copy earlier in the year and loved it, so I’m really glad I picked up this copy!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor in London, is summoned to Crythin Gifford to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow, and to sort through her papers before returning to London. It is here that Kipps first sees the woman in black and begins to gain an impression of the mystery surrounding her. From the funeral he travels to Eel Marsh House and sees the woman again; he also hears the terrifying sounds on the marsh.
Despite Kipps’s experiences he resolves to spend the night at the house and fulfil his professional duty. It is this night at Eel Marsh House that contains the greatest horror for Kipps. Kipps later discovers the reasons behind the hauntings at Eel Marsh House. The book ends with the woman in black exacting a final, terrible revenge.

My mum and I visited a £3 bookshop and I grabbed a copy of The Woman in Black, as my boyfriend Mark suggested I read it and I wanted to pick it up in October.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

In the same bookshop I also found Wayfarer, which I was missing from this duology. Maybe I will actually read the first one now I finally have both!

Gifted

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Edited by award-winning journalist Charlie Brinkhust-Cuff and up-and-coming talent Timi Sotire, join twenty-eight inspirational voices in this uplifting and empowering anthology as they come together to celebrate being Black British, sharing their experiences of joy and what it means to them.

I was also lucky enough to receive a few books, including Black Joy. This one is non-fiction and it sounds really interesting – thank you to Penguin for sending this one to me!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Ash Persaud is about to become a reaper in the afterlife, but she is determined to see her first love Poppy Morgan again, the only thing that separates them is death.
Car headlights.
The last thing Ash hears is the snap of breaking glass as the windscreen hits her and breaks into a million pieces like stars.
But she made it, she’s still here. Or is she?
This New Year’s Eve, Ash is gets an RSVP from the afterlife she can’t decline: to join a clan of fierce girl reapers who take the souls of the city’s dead to await their fate.
But Ash can’t forget her first love, Poppy, and she will do anything to see her again… even if it means they only get a few more days together. Dead or alive…

My lovely friend Amy also gave me some books, including the Fairyloot edition of Afterlove which I read in August and adored. Thank you so much for this one Amy!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

When Addie LaRue makes a deal with devil, she trades her soul for immortality. But the devil takes away her place in the world, cursing her to be forgotten by everyone.
Addie flees her tiny home town in 18th-Century France, beginning a journey that takes her across the world, learning to live a life where no one remembers her and everything she owns is lost and broken. Existing only as a muse for artists throughout history, she learns to fall in love anew every single day.
Her only companion on this journey is her dark devil with hypnotic green eyes, who visits her each year on the anniversary of their deal. Alone in the world, Addie has no choice but to confront him, to understand him, maybe to beat him.
Until one day, in a second hand bookshop in Manhattan, Addie meets someone who remembers her. Suddenly thrust back into a real, normal life, Addie realises she can’t escape her fate forever.

Amy also gifted me a US proof copy of The Invisible Life of Addie Larue, which is my favourite book ever! I feel very, very lucky to have been able to add it to my collection, thank you to Amy for making it happen!

Which books did you buy or receive this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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August Wrap-Up

I can’t believe it’s time for my August wrap-up already and that we’re heading in to the autumn season. I’m super excited for some autumnal reads, but I also managed to read 14 books in August. That’s the same amount as I read in July and I’m pretty happy with that! You can also find my August wrap-up on my YouTube channel below.

Books I read in August

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Everyone has a reason to fear the boy with the gun…
10:00 a.m.: The principal of Opportunity, Alabama’s high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.
10:02 a.m.: The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.
10:03: The auditorium doors won’t open.
10:05: Someone starts shooting.
In 54 minutes, four students must confront their greatest hopes, and darkest fears, as they come face-to-face with the boy with the gun.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads

Cee has been trapped on an abandoned island for three years without any recollection of how she arrived, or memories from her life prior. All she knows is that somewhere out there, beyond the horizon, she has a sister named Kay, and it’s up to Cee to cross the ocean and find her.
In a world apart, 16-year-old STEM prodigy Kasey Mizuhara lives in an eco-city built for people who protected the planet―and now need protecting from it. With natural disasters on the rise due to climate change, eco-cities provide clean air, water, and shelter. Their residents, in exchange, must spend at least a third of their time in stasis pods, conducting business virtually whenever possible to reduce their environmental footprint. While Kasey, an introvert and loner, doesn’t mind the lifestyle, her sister Celia hated it. Popular and lovable, Celia much preferred the outside world. But no one could have predicted that Celia would take a boat out to sea, never to return.
Now it’s been three months since Celia’s disappearance, and Kasey has given up hope. Logic says that her sister must be dead. But nevertheless, she decides to retrace Celia’s last steps. Where they’ll lead her, she does not know. Her sister was full of secrets. But Kasey has a secret of her own.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Amari Peters knows three things.
Her big brother Quinton has gone missing.
No one will talk about it.
His mysterious job holds the secret . . .
So when Amari gets an invitation to the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, she’s certain this is her chance to find Quinton. But first she has to get her head around the new world of the Bureau, where mermaids, aliens and magicians are real, and her roommate is a weredragon.
Amari must compete against kids who’ve known about the supernatural world their whole lives, and when each trainee is awarded a special supernatural talent, Amari is given an illegal talent – one that the Bureau views as dangerous.
With an evil magician threatening the whole supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she is the enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t pass the three tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton . . .

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

When a mysterious sailor dies in sinister circumstances at the Admiral Benbow inn, young Jim Hawkins stumbles across a treasure map among the dead man’s possessions. But Jim soon becomes only too aware that he is not the only one who knows of the map’s existence, and his bravery and cunning are tested to the full when, with his friends Squire Trelawney and Dr Livesey, he sets sail in the Hispaniola to track down the treasure. With its swift-moving plot and memorably drawn characters – Blind Pew and Black Dog, the castaway Ben Gunn and the charming but dangerous Long John Silver – Stevenson’s tale of pirates, treachery and heroism was an immediate success when it was first published in 1883 and has retained its place as one of the greatest of all adventure stories.

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

A Kind of Spark: Exclusive Edition (Paperback)

Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

A Kind of Spark tells the story of 11-year-old Addie as she campaigns for a memorial in memory of the witch trials that took place in her Scottish hometown. Addie knows there’s more to the story of these ‘witches’, just like there is more to hers.
Can Addie challenge how the people in her town see her, and make her voice heard? A story about friendship, courage and self-belief, perfect for fans of The Goldfish Boy, Addie’s story was born from Elle’s own experiences of neurodiversity and her commitment to seeing greater representation in children’s books
.

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

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

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Ash Persaud is about to become a reaper in the afterlife, but she is determined to see her first love Poppy Morgan again, the only thing that separates them is death.
Car headlights.
The last thing Ash hears is the snap of breaking glass as the windscreen hits her and breaks into a million pieces like stars.
But she made it, she’s still here. Or is she?
This New Year’s Eve, Ash is gets an RSVP from the afterlife she can’t decline: to join a clan of fierce girl reapers who take the souls of the city’s dead to await their fate.
But Ash can’t forget her first love, Poppy, and she will do anything to see her again… even if it means they only get a few more days together. Dead or alive…

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

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Review | 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.

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.
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.

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

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

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.
Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.
As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

I honestly had such an amazing reading month in terms of liking the books I read, I can’t remember the last time I had this many 4 and 5 star reads in a month! It’s hard to pick my favourite, but The House in the Cerulean Sea absolutely blew me away. My least favourite was Treasure Island, but I wouldn’t say I disliked any of my August reads.

What did you read in August?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #54

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 readers! Considering I haven’t updated you on the books I’ve bought or received for a couple of weeks now, I’m actually quite pleased with the amount I have to talk about. I have a feeling I am about to be buying a few more though, as I haven’t been at work for a few weeks and I go back tomorrow!

Bought

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Goodreads | Waterstones

In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time.
In Before the Coffee Gets Cold, we meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the café’s time-travelling offer, in order to: confront the man who left them, receive a letter from their husband whose memory has been taken by early onset Alzheimer’s, to see their sister one last time, and to meet the daughter they never got the chance to know.
But the journey into the past does not come without risks: customers must sit in a particular seat, they cannot leave the café, and finally, they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold . . .

I actually bought this one a while back and gave it to my mum, who finished reading it and gave it back to me recently! I’m really intrigued to see what I think of this one.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.
When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.
However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie up some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.

I did have a random book haul as I spotted this one in a local Waterstones, and I’ve never seen a hardback in the UK before so I couldn’t resist! This has been on my want to buy list since release, so I couldn’t not pick it up!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

There’s one thing Jay Collier knows for sure—he’s a statistical anomaly as the only out gay kid in his small rural Washington town. While all this friends can’t stop talking about their heterosexual hookups and relationships, Jay can only dream of his own firsts, compiling a romance to-do list of all the things he hopes to one day experience—his Gay Agenda.
Then, against all odds, Jay’s family moves to Seattle and he starts his senior year at a new high school with a thriving LGBTQIA+ community. For the first time ever, Jay feels like he’s found where he truly belongs, where he can flirt with Very Sexy Boys and search for love. But as Jay begins crossing items off his list, he’ll soon be torn between his heart and his hormones, his old friends and his new ones…because after all, life and love don’t always go according to plan.

I’ve also never seen a hardback of this one in the UK, so I decided to pick it up too as it is such a beautiful copy and I’ve heard good things about it.

Gifted

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Goodreads | Waterstones

The kingdom of Kandala is on the brink of disaster. Rifts between sectors have only worsened since a sickness began ravaging the land, and within the Royal Palace, the king holds a tenuous peace with a ruthless hand.
King Harristan was thrust into power after his parents’ shocking assassination, leaving the younger Prince Corrick to take on the brutal role of the King’s Justice. The brothers have learned to react mercilessly to any sign of rebellion–it’s the only way to maintain order when the sickness can strike anywhere, and the only known cure, an elixir made from delicate Moonflower petals, is severely limited.
Out in the Wilds, apothecary apprentice Tessa Cade is tired of seeing her neighbors die, their suffering ignored by the unyielding royals. Every night, she and her best friend Wes risk their lives to steal Moonflower petals and distribute the elixir to those who need it most–but it’s still not enough.
As rumors spread that the cure no longer works and sparks of rebellion begin to flare, a particularly cruel act from the King’s Justice makes Tessa desperate enough to try the impossible: sneaking into the palace. But what she finds upon her arrival makes her wonder if it’s even possible to fix Kandala without destroying it first.

I was very, very grateful to receive a proof copy of Defy the Night from Bloomsbury! Thank you Bloomsbury – I’m super excited to get to this one.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Exiled to a far-flung island by the whims of the gods, Medusa has little company except the snakes that adorn her head instead of hair. But when a charmed, beautiful boy called Perseus arrives on the island, her lonely existence is disrupted with the force of a supernova, unleashing desire, love, betrayal . and destiny itself.

I received another proof from Bloomsbury too, which looks so interesting! This one comes out in October and is a YA retelling, so will hopefully be great for me to learn more about the Greek Myths.

Which books did you buy or receive this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono

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Goodreads | Waterstones

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

I’ve loved Studio Ghibli for probably close to 10 years now, but I only watched Kiki’s Delivery Service a couple of years ago for the first time (and it quickly became my favourite Ghibli!). After seeing this gorgeous book around, I knew I wanted to read it. And after rewatching the film a couple of days ago with my lovely friend Alex, I knew it was time to pick it up.

I just loved reading this book. It is the ultimate comfort read and obviously felt somewhat like a reread due to re-watching the movie so recently. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how different this story was. A lot of this was only in subtle ways, but Kiki really does get up to some adventures that aren’t in the movie, which made it so fun to read about and gave me a fresh perspective!

Kiki don’t get too hung up on appearances,

Some of the aspects I preferred in the movie, and some in the book, but I honestly love both of them despite the differences. The main feeling of the story, of Kiki moving away from home and settling as a witch in another town, remains the same. The joy and beauty of the pretty seaside town shine through just as well in the book and are helped along by some gorgeous illustrations by Joe Todd Stanton. The characters are also so lovable and I can really see which characters in this one inspired aspects of the movies.

it’s your heart that’s important.

This is the kind of story that is perfect for any age. I would have adored this as a child I’m sure, but I loved it as an adult too. It is one of those beautiful, charming stories that you can’t help but fall in love with.

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: House of Earth and Blood (#1) by Sarah J Maas

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.
Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.
As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

Argh. I want to equally hug this and throw it across the room. I really liked this one, but sadly it ended up being my least favourite Sarah J Maas book so far (and now I’ve read all of them!). I don’t often find that her books feel long, but this one did. This took me almost 2 weeks to read and I struggled to want to pick it up, which I found so sad after managing to read A Court of Silver Flames in a couple of days and not wanting to put it down.

However, after spending the first half feeling like it was a little bit of a slog, the second half picked up so much and I absolutely loved it. It took me so long to feel like I was totally into the story, but I did feel completely different about the second half to the first. I think part of this is because this is the first Sarah J Maas book I’ve read that has an urban setting rather than a more medieval feeling setting. I just didn’t expect to have phones, TV and all other modern technology and it did really throw me at first.

Through love,

There was still a lot I loved in this book, including the characters. Although it took me a while to start rooting for them, I did really love them and reading about the slow burn romance we had throughout. On that note, I must admit the sexual tension in this book made me want to throw it against a wall sometimes, but I have heard that Crescent City 2 is meant to be the smuttiest yet! Which I’m not sure how I feel about, as I found A Court of Silver Flames had so much smut that it took away from the plot. Argh, we’ll see how it is!

I also love (and feel like Sarah J Maas does this really well) how grief and mental health shines through in Bryce’s character. I feel like we don’t often see mental health issues reflected in fantasy and it’s something that makes the characters feel so much more real and relatable. This also made me feel like my heart was being stomped all over in the final pages and I was so nervous about what was happening to them!

 all is possible.

Although this is my least favourite Sarah J Maas book so far, I did still really enjoy it and I’m so excited for the second book which comes out in February 2022!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

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Goodreads | Waterstones

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

I think I’ve finally found it. Between The House in the Cerulean Sea and One Last Stop and Afterlove, I think I’ve finally found my favourite type of book. It’s the magical realism, the found family, the tragedy, the rip-your-heart-out-and-put-it-back-together-again type of book. It’s pure magic.

Put simply, I loved One Last Stop. It perfectly portrayed all of the things I have recently discovered I love about books. It was beautiful and heartbreaking and heartwarming all in one. It had a delightful mixture of strength and love and found family. A mixture of loneliness and togetherness. Of finding others but also yourself. I’m so glad I read it.

But, you know, that feeling? When you wake up in the morning and you have somebody to think about?

I both listened to and read One Last Stop, and I loved both experiences. I enjoyed Casey Mcquiston’s writing a lot more in this one than in Red, White and Royal Blue, and I found it translated to audio really well. The narrator was wonderful and perfectly portrayed the wittiness, love and hope of August’s story. Some of my favourite books have been read with a mixture of audio and physical reading, and this one was no different.

I loved August and Jane and the whole diverse cast of characters surrounding them. August felt vulnerable and real but I also found her really likable, and Jane was so easy to fall for through August’s eyes. I also loved how Jane gave us insight into the past, giving us a way to discuss LGBTQIA+ rights throughout history, and how that feels. I absolutely adored the entire cast of characters, especially the found-family in August’s flatmates and their friends. All of the characters had their own depth and backstories, conflicts and interests. They felt authentic and lovely.

Somewhere for hope to go? It’s good. Even when it’s bad, it’s good.

The thing I loved most was the impossibility, or at least improbability, of this book. It meant that truly anything could have happened, and this book could have gone down many different roads. It left me reeling with emotion but also feeling like my heart had been slowly pieced back together. I rooted for August and Jane every step of the way and I certainly won’t forget them in a hurry!

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

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Goodreads | Waterstones

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.
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.

How do you even begin to review a book that stole your heart, ripped it to pieces and put it back together again? This book was a total and utter rollercoaster, and I adored it. It made me laugh out loud and it made me sob. It made me angry and it made me smile quietly to myself. It gave me everything I could ever want from a book.

Linus Baker leads a quiet life that he fully believes he is satisfied with – until he is sent on an assignment to a children’s home full of magical youth on an island far away. The lives of Linus and these children hold so many secrets, so much love and friendship and magic. This is found family to the highest degree, and I adored it.

Hate is loud, but I think you’ll learn it’s because it’s only a few people shouting, desperate to be heard. 

The writing is just absolutely breathtaking. I listened to this partly on audiobook and read it partly in physical format and I loved the writing both ways. It was so beautiful, lyrical and poetic. The dialogue is beautiful and although would be far fetched and unrealistic in any other book, it fits perfectly with these characters. And the characters, ah the characters are really what makes this book.

They are all so individual and impossible not to love. There is something magical about these children that teach everybody around them about compassion, hope and understanding. This story carries so many important messages that will leave every reader full of hope and an unexplainable, undeniable warmth. I spent the last 20 or so pages of this book sobbing because I just needed everything to be okay.

You might not ever be able to change their minds, but so long as your remember you’re not alone, you will overcome.

This book is like a warm hug, a blanket wrapped around your shoulders on the coldest day. It is absolutely delightful, full of characters that will steal your heart and an island that you won’t help but fall in love with. It is the ultimate comfort read and I know it will be one I don’t forget in a hurry. A new favourite of all time and possibly my favourite book of 2021 so far.

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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