Review: Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

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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. 

Ahh, this book was so good. I’m a bit late to the party with this one and I’ve already heard so much about it, as soon as I spotted a beautiful hardback I knew I wanted to pick it up. Even though I bought the hardback, I actually read this as an audiobook and I would highly recommend it – it was read by a trans, Latinx narrator and their passion really shone through in the narration. There is also an interview between the narrator and Aiden Thomas at the end of the audiobook, which I would highly recommend giving a listen if you have access!

This book follows Yadriel, who is a trans Latinx boy who wants to prove to his community that he is a real brujo by summoning the ghost of his cousin, Miguel. Instead, he summons the resident bad boy of the school, Julian, who doesn’t want to go quietly into death before finding out what happened to him.

No, it wasn’t the end. 

I loved the narration of this so much and I connected to the characters and the story almost instantly. Yadriel being trans gave such an interesting extra layer and depth to this story and I really loved how this wasn’t a coming-out story necessarily and was about a trans character in a fantasy genre with a completely different focus. Despite that, this book still includes some very important discussions about being trans and deadnaming.

I loved the entire concept of this book and it was such a perfect time of the year to read it! Reading about Latinx culture and particularly finding out more about Latinx folklore was so interesting and evoking. I loved the magic system, the food and the family/friendship/community aspects. The entirety of the world-building was so clever and vivid, really drawing me into the story. I loved it.

It was a better beginning.

My only tiny criticism of this book is that I found the plot a little predictable at times, but I still enjoyed the ride a lot and I’m so glad I picked this one up!

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #58

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’ve been a little more controlled with my book buying this week, and actually 75% of the books I’m hauling today were very kindly gifted to me by publishers (and let me tell you, I am so excited for them)!

Bought

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The one book I did pick up this week was this beautiful sprayed edged Waterstones edition of The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik. I haven’t read the first one yet, and I do already have a proof of this one, but I wanted a hardback to match the first book properly!

Gifted

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Goodreads | Waterstones

When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead.
Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop’s owner to locals and the ferryman to souls who need to cross over.
But Wallace isn’t ready to abandon the life he barely lived. With Hugo’s help he finally starts to learn about all the things he missed in life.
When the Manager, a curious and powerful being, arrives at the tea shop and gives Wallace one week to cross over, Wallace sets about living a lifetime in seven days.

This is definitely the proof I’m most excited for and can’t wait to dive into! The House in the Cerulean Sea is my favourite book of the year so far and I feel so honoured to have a copy of this one. Thank you so much to Tor for this beautiful book!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

I read the first book in this series after having a copy from the publishers, so thank you once again for sending this to me, Simon & Schuster!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Ivy, Mateo, and Cal used to be close. Back in middle school they were best friends. So, when Cal pulls into campus late for class, and runs into Ivy and Mateo, it seems like the perfect opportunity to turn a bad day around. They’ll ditch school and go into the city. Just the three of them, like old times. Why did they stop hanging out, anyway?
As soon as they pull out of the parking lot Cal knows why. Ivy’s already freaking out about missing class, and heartthrob Mateo is asleep in the backseat, too cool to even pretend like he wants to be there. The truth is they have nothing in common anymore.
At least they don’t until they run into the fourth student ditching school that day. Brian “Boney” Mahoney is supposed to be accepting his newly won office of class president. Which is why Ivy follows him into an empty building, only to walk into the middle of a murder scene. Cal, Ivy, and Mateo all know the person lying on the ground of that building, and now they need to come clean. They’re all hiding something. And maybe their chance reconnection wasn’t by chance after all.

Although this is not the only Karen M McManus proof I own, it is the first one I’ve been sent by the publisher. I really like her books so I’m very honoured to have received a proof, thank you Penguin!

Which books did you buy or receive this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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October + Spoopathon TBR

Hello everyone! I haven’t been posting my monthly TBR’s recently, but this one is extra exciting as it includes my Spoopathon TBR. If you didn’t know, Spoopathon is a readathon being hosted by Spoopyhol over on YouTube. If you want to know more, I’ll link the announcement video here and the Twitter here which has more information! I will also include this post in video format below for those of you who are interested in seeing it on my own YouTube channel.

This readathon follows us attempting to escape a haunted house by reading. How cool is that? Basically, we follow the prompts board (below) from the top to the bottom, collecting points along the way and trying to make it to the bottom. We gather points and bonus points for every book we read and enable us to defeat the ghosts and unlock the doors too. There are different teams that have different skills, and I’m on team spoop shifters which actually allows me to move diagonally across the board which is very helpful!

I’m only going to be attempting to escape the haunted house once, but I’m super excited! If you do happen to go through twice, then you have to start from a different point. The board below explains the scoring system in more detail and means I can add up as I go and make sure I have enough to defeat the ghosts and get through the doors.

Prompt 1 – Gifted to you

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Goodreads | Waterstones

When Fran Cooper accepts a mysterious temporary job as a PA to a celebrity, she is swept off her feet overnight. Working with internationally famous singer Juliette, Fran is the person charged with getting Juliette to the Crystal Ball, the glittering event when the world’s rich and famous gather on Panarea, a beautiful Mediterranean island, for a night like no other.
What Fran doesn’t know is that on this one night, everything will change for her too – that instead of standing on the sidelines, she’ll be putting on the most beautiful dress she’s ever seen and having the most unforgettable night of her life…

This one was gifted to me by the publisher (thank you so much Harper!), and I’m so excited for it. My boyfriend loves Lindsey Kelk’s work and I’ve wanted to read one of her books for a while because of that, so I grabbed the chance to read this new release! It also comes out early November, so I wanted to pick it up before then.

Bonus prompts: recommended to you Points overall: 75 points

Prompt 2: Autumnal cover

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I’m already going to be reading the first graphic novel in this series for my other October TBR (linked at the bottom of this post), and I knew I wanted to pick this one for autumnal cover as it is just…so perfect. I’ve heard so many good things about this series and I can’t wait to read it.

Bonus prompts: LGBTQIA+ rep/author, cover features team colour (pink) Points overall: 125

Prompt 3: 500+ pages

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In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.
But when the Eastwood sisters–James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna–join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.
There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.

I received a proof of this book from the publisher last year (thank you Hachette!) and I’ve been excited to read it ever since but knew I wanted to wait for autumn. I’m hoping to buddy read this one with Alex which also gets me some bonus points!

Bonus prompts: buddy read, spooky book Points overall: 125 points

Prompt 4: trick or treat

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Finnmark, Norway, 1617. Twenty-year-old Maren Magnusdatter stands on the craggy coast, watching the sea break into a sudden and reckless storm. Forty fishermen, including her brother and father, are drowned and left broken on the rocks below. With the menfolk wiped out, the women of the tiny Arctic town of Vardø must fend for themselves.
Three years later, a sinister figure arrives. Absalom Cornet comes from Scotland, where he burned witches in the northern isles. He brings with him his young Norwegian wife, Ursa, who is both heady with her husband’s authority and terrified by it. In Vardø, and in Maren, Ursa sees something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place untouched by God, and flooded with a mighty evil.
As Maren and Ursa are drawn to one another in ways that surprise them both, the island begins to close in on them, with Absalom’s iron rule threatening Vardø’s very existence.

I’ve been so excited to read this one for a while and I’m actually going to be buddy reading this one in October anyway with some friends so it fit so well!

For this prompt I actually used my spoop shifter ability to jump across the board to trick or treat. The prompt means you put a poll up with one book being a treat (one you really want to read) and one being a trick (one you don’t want to read so much/this month). You also don’t include which one is a trick and which is a treat. I put a poll on Twitter and you guys voted for my treat so thank you!

Bonus prompts: buddy read. Points overall: 75 points

Prompt 5: read after dark

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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 read after dark pretty much every night, but I decided to go for a shorter book so I can hopefully read the entire thing after dark over a few nights! This one sounds so interesting and accessible for someone like me who doesn’t read too much Greek mythology. I was also sent this one by the publisher, thank you Bloomsbury!

Points overall: 25

So working out my points across the entire board, I should leave the haunted house with a total of 525 points (including the bonus for exiting which is 100 points!). I have some other books I want to read in October including an entire other TBR game which gives me 5 different books, which you can view below on my YouTube channel.

Which books do you want to read in October?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: The Death Cure (#3) by James Dashner

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The trials are over. WICKED is planning to restore the survivors’ memories and complete the final cure for the Flare.
But Thomas has already remembered more than they think. And he knows WICKED can’t be trusted.
The time for lies is over. But the truth is more dangerous than Thomas could ever imagine. Will anyone survive the Death Cure?

It’s been almost ten years since this book came out and I finally finished this book and the original trilogy! It’s taken me long enough.

I have to say, this series has been gradually getting worse with each book if I’m honest. I actually liked the first one a lot more than I expected, The Scorch Trials was a little bit of a disappointment, and this one was definitely my least favourite one.

Minho looked at Thomas, a serious expression on his face. “If I don’t see you on the other side,”

I just felt like the author didn’t know where to go with this book. Having read other reviews, there is definitely a lot more that could have been done and a lot of other places this book could have gone. In reality, I could have summed up this book in a couple of sentences. It felt a little all over the place and I never felt much connection to the characters. Considering how emotional this book should have been, I just kind of didn’t….care, or really relate to the characters at all.

However, I must say this was once again super easy to read and the writing was compelling enough for me to get through this in just a couple of days. Each one of these books has only taken me a couple of days to get through each time and I’m so glad I’ve finally finished the first three. I will be reading one of the prequels, The Kill Order because I own it, but I won’t be picking up The Fever Code I don’t think!

he said in a sappy voice, “remember that I love you.

Overall, this one was okay and I wouldn’t say I disliked it as such, but it was definitely the one I’ve been least impressed with while making my way through this series.

★★★
3 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review | Of Curses and Kisses (#1) by Sandhya Menon

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Will the princess save the beast?
For Princess Jaya Rao, nothing is more important than family. When the loathsome Emerson clan steps up their centuries-old feud to target Jaya’s little sister, nothing will keep Jaya from exacting her revenge. Then Jaya finds out she’ll be attending the same elite boarding school as Grey Emerson, and it feels like the opportunity of a lifetime. She knows what she must do: Make Grey fall in love with her and break his heart. But much to Jaya’s annoyance, Grey’s brooding demeanor and lupine blue eyes have drawn her in. There’s simply no way she and her sworn enemy could find their fairy-tale ending…right?
His Lordship Grey Emerson is a misanthrope. Thanks to an ancient curse by a Rao matriarch, Grey knows he’s doomed once he turns eighteen. Sequestered away in the mountains at St. Rosetta’s International Academy, he’s lived an isolated existence—until Jaya Rao bursts into his life, but he can’t shake the feeling that she’s hiding something. Something that might just have to do with the rose-shaped ruby pendant around her neck…
As the stars conspire to keep them apart, Jaya and Grey grapple with questions of love, loyalty, and whether it’s possible to write your own happy ending.

I’m so glad I finally picked this up after having it on my TBR for a long time. Thank you to the Magical readathon for needing a book set in a school, as it made me finally be drawn to this one on my shelves! I read this one in a couple of days and I enjoyed it so much. It was such a fun ride and so entertaining.

This one really had Romeo and Juliet vibes and I couldn’t help but be drawn into the drama. We follow a Princess who wants to get revenge on a Lord and decides to try and break his heart, which initially I was a little worried about as I thought this would make me dislike the main character. However, I actually found them both more and more likable as the book went on and couldn’t help but falling for them.

Love? Does love make you feel ill, like you’re being tossed about on a stormy sea?

The plot was a little predictable at times but did leave me guessing and wanting to constantly read on. Even though some of the chapters felt quite long, I still only took a couple of days to read this as I felt like I was constantly being left on a cliffhanger. The writing was also so easy to digest and so easy to get through – I’ve only read a short story from Sandhya Menon before and I already knew I would love the writing.

I loved the mixture of fantasy and contemporary, and it’s something I’ve found out recently that I really love in books. The contemporary feeling made it so easy to read, but the fantasy idea gave a lot more depth to the story and made the plot slightly more unpredictable. It also kind of felt like a classic fairytale, which I actually really enjoyed.

Does it steal your sleep and make you feel like your insides are on fire?

Although this one was a little cliche and predictable at times, I still really enjoyed reading it and it felt a little like a guilty pleasure! I think I might pick up the others in the series at some point.

★★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: This Poison Heart (#1) by Kalynn Bayron

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Briseis has a gift: she can grow plants from tiny seeds to rich blooms with a single touch.
When Briseis’s aunt dies and wills her a dilapidated estate in rural New York, Bri and her parents decide to leave Brooklyn behind for the summer. Hopefully there, surrounded by plants and flowers, Bri will finally learn to control her gift. But their new home is sinister in ways they could never have imagined–it comes with a specific set of instructions, an old-school apothecary, and a walled garden filled with the deadliest botanicals in the world that can only be entered by those who share Bri’s unique family lineage.
When strangers begin to arrive on their doorstep, asking for tinctures and elixirs, Bri learns she has a surprising talent for creating them. One of the visitors is Marie, a mysterious young woman who Bri befriends, only to find that Marie is keeping dark secrets about the history of the estate and its surrounding community. There is more to Bri’s sudden inheritance than she could have imagined, and she is determined to uncover it . . . until a nefarious group comes after her in search of a rare and dangerous immortality elixir. Up against a centuries-old curse and the deadliest plant on earth, Bri must harness her gift to protect herself and her family.

I love that this is a retelling of The Secret Garden, and it was done so damn well. I read Cinderella is Dead by the same author earlier this year and I really enjoyed it, and I knew I wanted to pick this one up. Trust me, it didn’t disappoint! This was such a clever and modern twist on the original story, and I loved the way it reflected the original book while bringing something so fresh and interesting.

Briseis was such a great main character and I loved her a lot. She spends this book struggling with her own power, learning about herself and those around her. She also has an amazing support network in her parents, and I loved their sapphic relationship! It was so wholesome and felt so real, and I just fell in love with their family dynamic.

The people we love are never really gone from us,” Mom said. “Try to remember that. I know it’s hard.

The house itself felt like a true reflection of the manor in The Secret Garden and I could picture it so well. It was perfectly creepy but also beautiful, and I loved how it bought out Briseis’ power. I loved how visual Bayron’s writing was, and it made picturing the entire story so easy. I chose this book for my bookoplathon TBR for the prompt gods/myths/legends, as it was steeped in Greek mythology, but in a way I found so much more accessible than some other books I’ve read recently

The plot was so compelling and I honestly found it hard to put this book down. It was so easy to read and the plot was changing all the time. Especially towards the end, we had so many unpredictable plot twists that made it so hard to stop reading!

 It feels like the whole world should just stop spinnin’, but it doesn’t. And we’ve gotta find a way to pick up the pieces.

Overall, I really loved this book and I feel like it’s one I will remember for a while to come. If you’re a fan of The Secret Garden but want something with a twist, this is perfect!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #57

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

Hi all! I’ve bought a lot of books in the past week and also had some very exciting preorders come through. Let’s see what I picked up.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Meet the Wild Ones: girls who have been hurt, abandoned, and betrayed all their lives. It all began with Paheli, who was once betrayed by her mother and sold to a man in exchange for a favor. When Paheli escapes, she runs headlong into a boy with stars in his eyes. This boy, as battered as she is, tosses Paheli a box of stars before disappearing.
With the stars, Paheli gains access to the Between, a place of pure magic and mystery. Now, Paheli collects girls like herself and these Wild Ones use their magic to travel the world, helping the hopeless and saving others from the fates they suffered.
Then Paheli and the Wild Ones learn that the boy who gave them the stars, Taraana, is in danger. He’s on the run from powerful forces within the world of magic. But if Taraana is no longer safe and free, neither are the Wild Ones. And that…is a fate the Wild Ones refuse to accept. Ever again.

In my trip to London last weekend, I spotted this gorgeous cover and became intrigued by the synopsis too. I couldn’t resist!

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Henri “Halti” Haltiwanger can charm just about anyone. He is a star debater and popular student at the prestigious FATE academy, the dutiful first-generation Haitian son, and the trusted dog walker for his wealthy New York City neighbors. But his easy smiles mask a burning ambition to attend his dream college, Columbia University.
There is only one person who seems immune to Henri’s charms: his “intense” classmate and neighbor Corinne Troy. When she uncovers Henri’s less-than-honest dog-walking scheme, she blackmails him into helping her change her image at school. Henri agrees, seeing a potential upside for himself.
Soon what started as a mutual hustle turns into something more surprising than either of them ever bargained for. . . .

This one has been on my want-to-buy list for so long, so I had to pick it up when I saw it!

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Don’t you just love the smell of old books in the morning?
Madeline Moore does. Books & Moore, the musty bookstore her family has owned for generations, is where she feels most herself. Nothing is going to stop her from coming back after college to take over the store from her beloved aunt.
Nothing, that is—until a chain bookstore called Prologue opens across the street and threatens to shut them down.
Madeline sets out to demolish the competition, but Jasper, the guy who works over at Prologue, seems intent on ruining her life. Not only is he taking her customers, he has the unbelievable audacity to be… extremely cute.
But that doesn’t matter. Jasper is the enemy and he will be destroyed. After all—all’s fair in love and (book) wars.

This one sounds so good and I’ve been seeing it around for a while. I can’t wait to read it!

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My Fairyloot edition of Gods and Monsters finally came through this week and I was am so excited to have this series complete. I’m hoping to pick it up soon!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

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Goodreads | Waterstones

I also finally picked up the other two books in this series in anticipation for a readalong of these books I’m hosting with Alex on YouTube this month! Here’s our announcement video if you’re interested.

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For centuries, witches have maintained the climate, their power from the sun peaking in the season of their birth. But now their control is faltering as the atmosphere becomes more erratic. All hope lies with Clara, an Everwitch whose rare magic is tied to every season.
In Autumn, Clara wants nothing to do with her power. It’s wild and volatile, and the price of her magic―losing the ones she loves―is too high, despite the need to control the increasingly dangerous weather.
In Winter, the world is on the precipice of disaster. Fires burn, storms rage, and Clara accepts that she’s the only one who can make a difference.
In Spring, she falls for Sang, the witch training her. As her magic grows, so do her feelings, until she’s terrified Sang will be the next one she loses.
In Summer, Clara must choose between her power and her happiness, her duty and the people she loves… before she loses Sang, her magic, and thrusts the world into chaos.

I’ve been hearing mixed things about this one but I have actually given into the hype and picked up a second hand copy of this as it sounds really interesting.

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Evangeline Fox was raised in her beloved father’s curiosity shop, where she grew up on legends about immortals, like the tragic Prince of Hearts. She knows his powers are mythic, his kiss is worth dying for, and that bargains with him rarely end well.
But when Evangeline learns that the love of her life is about to marry another, she becomes desperate enough to offer the Prince of Hearts whatever he wants in exchange for his help to stop the wedding. The prince only asks for three kisses. But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’s pledged. And he has plans for Evangeline that will either end in the greatest happily ever after, or the most exquisite tragedy…

Two of my copies of Once Upon a Broken Heart came through this week! They’re both so beautiful.

I was also lucky enough to receive a proof of The Invisible Life of Addie Larue which I recently traded for and I am so happy to have! I was also sent a stunning proof of Twin Crowns by Harper, which I am so excited for. Thank you Harper!

Which books did you buy or receive this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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ARC Review: Once Upon a Broken Heart (#1) by Stephanie Garber

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Goodreads | Pre-order on Waterstones

Evangeline Fox was raised in her beloved father’s curiosity shop, where she grew up on legends about immortals, like the tragic Prince of Hearts. She knows his powers are mythic, his kiss is worth dying for, and that bargains with him rarely end well.
But when Evangeline learns that the love of her life is about to marry another, she becomes desperate enough to offer the Prince of Hearts whatever he wants in exchange for his help to stop the wedding. The prince only asks for three kisses. But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’s pledged. And he has plans for Evangeline that will either end in the greatest happily ever after, or the most exquisite tragedy…

Thank you so much to Hodder for sending me a proof copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Caraval remains to be one of my favourite books, but sadly Legendary and Finale didn’t quite meet my the same 5 star rating. Which meant I was all the more curious when it came to Once Upon a Broken Heart. Would it have the same magic as Caraval did the first time I read it, or would it feel lacking like the rest of the series?

I have to say, this one didn’t let me down. Following a new point of view of Evangeline worked really well, and this one felt so different to the world of Caraval. Even though the world did feel familiar, it only made the whole reading experience reminiscent of being wrapped in a warm blanket. Stephanie Garber has used the story of the fates from Finale and expanded on a completely different side of it, which felt so clever and I really enjoyed reading it.

I really liked Evangeline as a main character and it was interesting to see a different relationship between two sisters, much like Scarlett and Donatella in the Caraval trilogy. We definitely glimpse some of the magic I felt with the original books, and it shone through in the location and my personal favourite parts – the animals and food. I always feel like food makes me feel so grounded in a story, and this one was no different.

I felt so enveloped in this story and struggled to put it down. Stephanie Garber has a knack of keeping the reader completely on their toes, and I read this over 2 days because it was so easy to read and absorbing! I’m so excited to be part of this new story and it definitely didn’t disappoint.

Just a note to say although this story is a brand new series, I would recommend reading Caraval first. You certainly don’t have to and there is only minor spoilers for the original trilogy, but I would still say you’ll get more enjoyment out of the book by reading it after the Caraval trilogy.

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #56

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!

It’s been a couple of weeks since I last posted a book haul, but I’ve bought and received even more than I thought I had – oops.

Bought

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Julia has followed her mum and dad to live on a remote island for the summer – her dad, for work; her mother, on a determined mission to find the elusive Greenland shark. But when her mother’s obsession threatens to submerge them all, Julia finds herself on an adventure with dark depths and a lighthouse full of hope…

I couldn’t help but pick this one up as soon as it came out – this husband and wife team have created such a beautiful book and I managed to grab a signed edition!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

He expected nothing. But they gave him everything . . .
Linus Baker leads a quiet life. At forty, he has a tiny house with a devious cat and his beloved records for company. And at the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, he’s spent many dull years monitoring their orphanages.
Then one day, Linus is summoned by Extremely Upper Management and given a highly classified assignment. He must travel to an orphanage where six dangerous children reside, including the Antichrist. There, Linus must somehow determine if they could bring on the end of days. But their guardian, charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, will do anything to protect his wards. As Arthur and Linus grow ever closer, Linus must choose between duty and his dreams.

I also bought the beautiful Waterstones exclusive paperback of my favourite book of the year so far. It has yellow sprayed edges and I love it!

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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 also picked this one up because of wanting this beautiful edition with purple sprayed edges – I’ve been meaning to pick this up for a while and I couldn’t resist.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

In the world of Divergent, society is divided into five factions – Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful) and Erudite (the intelligent). Every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. Beatrice Prior must choose between staying with her family and being who she really is. Her choice shocks everyone – including herself.
During the initiation that follows, Tris and her fellow initiates undergo extreme tests with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them, Tris must determine who her friends really are – and whether she can trust the man who both threatens and protects her.
Because Tris has a deadly secret. And as growing conflict threatens to unravel their seemingly perfect society, this secret might save those she loves … or it might destroy her. 

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Goodreads | Waterstones

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Goodreads | Waterstones

I’ve been meaning to pick up and swap out my editions of Divergent with these 10th anniversary copies since their release, and I finally did it with some money on my Waterstones card as a treat to myself.

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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.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

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Goodreads | Waterstones

I also picked up this beautiful graphic novel series as the hardbacks are slowly going out of print and I wanted a matching hardback set. I’m hoping to get to them in autumn sometime!

Blood and Ash DELUXE SET – Community

Goodreads

A Maiden…
Chosen from birth to usher in a new era, Poppy’s life has never been her own. The life of the Maiden is solitary. Never to be touched. Never to be looked upon. Never to be spoken to. Never to experience pleasure. Waiting for the day of her Ascension, she would rather be with the guards, fighting back the evil that took her family, than preparing to be found worthy by the gods. But the choice has never been hers.
A Duty…
The entire kingdom’s future rests on Poppy’s shoulders, something she’s not even quite sure she wants for herself. Because a Maiden has a heart. And a soul. And longing. And when Hawke, a golden-eyed guard honor bound to ensure her Ascension, enters her life, destiny and duty become tangled with desire and need. He incites her anger, makes her question everything she believes in, and tempts her with the forbidden.
A Kingdom…
Forsaken by the gods and feared by mortals, a fallen kingdom is rising once more, determined to take back what they believe is theirs through violence and vengeance. And as the shadow of those cursed draws closer, the line between what is forbidden and what is right becomes blurred. Poppy is not only on the verge of losing her heart and being found unworthy by the gods, but also her life when every blood-soaked thread that holds her world together begins to unravel.

My beautiful Fairyloot set of From Blood and Ash also arrived and I love it. I haven’t read these yet but I hope I love them.

Gifted

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Sold by her mother. Enslaved in Pompeii’s brothel. Determined to survive. Her name is Amara. Welcome to the Wolf Den…
Amara was once a beloved daughter, until her father’s death plunged her family into penury. Now she is a slave in Pompeii’s infamous brothel, owned by a man she despises. Sharp, clever and resourceful, Amara is forced to hide her talents. For as a she-wolf, her only value lies in the desire she can stir in others.
But Amara’s spirit is far from broken.
By day, she walks the streets with her fellow she-wolves, finding comfort in the laughter and dreams they share. For the streets of Pompeii are alive with opportunity. Out here, even the lowest slave can secure a reversal in fortune. Amara has learnt that everything in this city has its price. But how much is her freedom going to cost her?

I finally picked up a copy of this one as it was sent to the bookshop I work at by the publisher. One of my colleagues absolutely adores this book and it’s definitely convinced me to pick it up.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Hannah Ashton wakes up to silence. The entire city around her is empty, except for one other person: Leo Sterling. Leo might be hottest boy ever (and not just because he’s the only one left), but he’s also too charming, too selfish, and too devastating for his own good, let alone Hannah’s.
Stuck with only each other, they explore a world with no parents, no friends, and no school and realize that they can be themselves instead of playing the parts everyone expects of them. Hannah doesn’t have to be just an overachieving, music-box-perfect ballerina, and Leo can be more than a slacker, 80s-glam-metal-obsessed guitarist. Leo is a burst of honesty and fun that draws Hannah out, and Hannah’s got Leo thinking about someone other than himself for the first time.
Together, they search for answers amid crushing isolation, but while their empty world may appear harmless . . . it’s not. Because nothing is quite as it seems, and if Hannah and Leo don’t figure out what’s going on, they might just be torn apart forever.

Scholastic sent me a copy of this one after I requested it – thank you!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Aspiring actor August Greene just landed a coveted spot at the prestigious School of Performing Arts in New York. There’s only one problem: His conservative parents won’t accept that he’s transgender. And to stay with his aunt in the city, August must promise them he won’t transition.
August is convinced he can play the part his parents want while acting cool and confident in the company of his talented new friends.
But who is August when the lights go down? And where will he turn when the roles start hitting a little too close to home?

And I had another beautiful gift in the form of this one from Harper. I’ve read some great books from Harper so far this year and I’m excited for this one too!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

There’s nothing Marietta Stelle loves more than ballet, but after Christmas, her dreams will be over as she is obligated to take her place in Edwardian society. While she is chafing against such suffocating traditions, a mysterious man purchases the neighbouring townhouse. Dr Drosselmeier is a charming but calculating figure who wins over the rest of the Stelle family with his enchanting toys and wondrous mechanisms.
When Drosselmeier constructs an elaborate set for Marietta’s final ballet performance, she discovers it carries a magic all of its own. On the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve, she is transported to a snowy forest, where she encounters danger at every turn: ice giants, shadow goblins and the shrieking mist all lurk amidst the firs and frozen waterfalls and ice cliffs. After being rescued by the butterscotch-eyed captain of the king’s guard, she is escorted to the frozen sugar palace. At once, Marietta is enchanted by this glittering world of glamorous gowns, gingerbread houses, miniature reindeer and the most delicious confectionary.
But all is not as it seems and Marietta is soon trapped in the sumptuous palace by the sadistic King Gelum, who claims her as his own. She is confined to a gilded prison with his other pets; Dellara, whose words are as sharp as her teeth, and Pirlipata, a princess from another land. Marietta must forge an alliance with the two women to carve a way free from this sugar-coated but treacherous world and back home to follow her dreams. Yet in a hedonistic world brimming with rebellion and a forbidden romance that risks everything, such a path will never be easy.

This one is definitely on the list of one’s I’m most looking forward to in 2021 as I heard so much about it late 2020 when the hardback proofs were released – it’s a nutcracker retelling and I feel very lucky to have received a proof of it.

Which books did you buy or receive this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Jay’s Gay Agenda (#1) by Jason June

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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.

Do you ever just want to….throw a book against a wall? Because that is exactly how I felt with this one, over and over again. It’s not often I rate a book lower than 3 stars. I either know what to avoid, or I can find some good in it. Sometimes I slip up though, and want to try a book that could go either way. And there is just not enough good in this book for me to actually say I liked it.

Jay is one of the most self-centered and annoying characters I have ever come across in fiction. He repeatedly lies (or at best, emits the truth) to everyone around him without realising it is only going to end badly. He cheats (honestly one of the worst tropes I personally could ever read about), but with the softest, most vulnerable and kind hearted boy ever, which just made it so much worse.

My whole body wanted him, my entire soul too, and it hit me that an item on the Gay Agenda always should have been to find Albert.

I understand that the aim of this book was to write a coming-of-age novel about a gay teen who has never been around other queer people. I get that it was trying to be sex-positive and open about finding yourself and making a lot of mistakes in the process, but it really backfired in my opinion. There was a lot of diversity, including a gender queer side character, but I also found an issue early on in the book that made me uncomfortable from then on.

The gender queer side character, Max, has a conversation with Jay about pronouns. Max says, I quote, ‘I’m an open book, so none of the pronouns really feel one hundred percent right. But you can address your Gay Guide as he/him or she/her. My body is male, my energy is feminine, and I’m down for paying tribute to both.’. So we’ve addressed that Max uses multiple pronouns, but for the rest of the book, Max is only referred to as he/him. By the narrator (Jay), and by other characters. What was the point of having a character using multiple pronouns and having a conversation about it if they’re never going to be used?

After noticing this, I looked into the author, who also uses he/him and she/her pronouns. So this feels like something that should have been celebrated rather than ignored, and makes me worry if it was changed further down the line in editing or proofreading. If anyone else has read this I would really appreciate a comment letting me know if you think this is an issue too/picked up on it! I have had a lot of conversations with others about this while reading, and I would love to hear any other viewpoint.

To find the guy who could set my spirit and sexuality on fire all at the same time.

This book wasn’t all bad, and did have some interesting conversations about stereotypes and sexuality. I also loved some of the side characters, and these two redeeming qualities are the only reason why my rating is two stars rather than one.

★★
2 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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www.etsy.com/uk/shop/thebooksareverywhere