Review: A Map of Days by Ransom Riggs

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Having defeated the monstrous threat that nearly destroyed the peculiar world, Jacob Portman is back where his story began, in Florida. Except now Miss Peregrine, Emma, and their peculiar friends are with him, and doing their best to blend in. But carefree days of beach visits and normalling lessons are soon interrupted by a discovery—a subterranean bunker that belonged to Jacob’s grandfather, Abe.
Clues to Abe’s double-life as a peculiar operative start to emerge, secrets long hidden in plain sight. And Jacob begins to learn about the dangerous legacy he has inherited—truths that were part of him long before he walked into Miss Peregrine’s time loop.
Now, the stakes are higher than ever as Jacob and his friends are thrust into the untamed landscape of American peculiardom—a world with few ymbrynes, or rules—that none of them understand. New wonders, and dangers, await in this brilliant next chapter for Miss Peregrine’s peculiar children. Their story is again illustrated throughout by haunting vintage photographs, but with a striking addition for this all-new, multi-era American adventure—full color.

I really enjoyed the Miss Peregrine’s original trilogy and it was awesome to have something so refreshing and different without taking too much away from the story! Before I start, I feel like I should tell you guys that I read the first 3 books like 2 years ago? And I was so worried that I wouldn’t understand the story, having forgotten most of the plot of the first 3 books. But even though this book starts right after Library of Souls, I had absolutely no trouble picking up the story. It’s different enough to be able to grasp it right away and I loved that!

“All my life, normal people had mostly baffled me-the ridiculous ways they strove to impress one another, the mediocre goals that seemed to drive them, the banality of their dreams.”

So much felt unique about this book. I felt the same way with the first 3, but it feels even more enhanced with this one. Taking the Peculiars to America seemed like the perfect way to go, and it was so fun to read about them in the modern world. There are endless scenes that could be great to tackle in this world, and I think Riggs handled them brilliantly.

It was so authentic to read about the children becoming more independent in the modern world, and wanting to explore more on their own. They seemed to really grow in this book and I loved how sweet the story is.

“The way people rejected anything that didn’t fit their narrow paradigm of acceptability, as if those who thought or acted or dressed or dreamed differently from them were a threat to their very existence.”

The only small niggle I had with this book is it felt a little…slow at times? I don’t know, there just seemed to be large gaps in the plot where it could have just been summed up in a couple of sentences. But I have to say, it didn’t detract from my experience too much, because I felt like I could flick through quickly and still enjoy the slower parts.

★★★★
4 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: The Art of Harry Potter by Marc Sumerak

 

I got this beautiful book for my birthday from my other half and I decided to properly read it! It’s one of those books that you would usually flick through occasionally, but I felt like reading it was so satisfying and wonderful! I’ve been a big Harry Potter fan since I read the books earlier this year and watched the movies soon after. This book was the perfect way to delve even deeper into the world.

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Chapter One: The Wizarding World contains beautiful scenes of the Muggle world, Hogwarts, Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade, Wizarding homes and even the Quidditch World Cup!

This was, by far, my favourite chapter in this book. Seeing so many incredible views of the world were just breathtaking. The paper is glossy and shows colours so well, each picture giving off such a rich and lifelike feel.

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Chapter Two: Wizards, Witches, and Muggles. This chapter includes Hogwarts students, the Order of the Phoenix, Hogwarts staff, dark forces and even goes into detail about the Triwizard tournament.

Character sketches include in a location, concept sketches, outfit planning and studies. They are, again, beautiful, and it becomes evident how hard the staff worked on getting every little detail just right.

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Chapter Three: Magical Creatures includes those such as companions, dragons, house elves, Forbidden Forest dwellers and dark creatures.

This topic also happens to contain my favourite page in the entire book – the patronus of Severus Snape. The glow that seems to shine from this page is just incredible, and I had to include a picture above to show you all. I also includes the funniest page – a study of different House Elves! They were never used in the movie but they made me and Josh laugh out loud.

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Chapter Four: Artifacts includes so many items, such as wands, brooms, Quidditch items, dark objects, Horcruxes, portraits and items from Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes.

Again, you can really see the detail when flicking through these beautiful, complicated studies of seemingly trivial items. The thing that really hit me, when reading these chapters, was the amount that makes up this magical world. Such small items require work, and make the world what it is.

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The last chapter is a more shocking one, Graphic Art of the Wizarding World. This includes book covers, Quidditch posters, documents, blueprints magazines and newspapers, food and drink and even potion bottle labels!

I have to say, this one surprised me. What might seem trivial turned out to be the beating heart of this world. These things are the foundations that the Wizarding World is built upon, the glue that holds it together. And they are absolutely beautiful and full of colour and detail.

Overall, I found this book pure comfort. It felt so relaxing to be able to be in this world once more, but in a fresh and different way. It’s the perfect book to read in bed on a quiet evening.

It’s absolute beauty. It’s breathtaking magic.

★★★★★
5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

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I always have an issue reading small books/novellas and add ons like this. They’re tiny, they’re not ‘full’ books. Do they count towards my Goodreads goal really? But now I’ve hit my 50 book goal for 2018, I thought I’d go through the books on my shelves that aren’t necessarily ‘full’ books.

My boyfriend brought Tales of Beedle the Bard with him when we moved in together and it fits perfectly on our Harry Potter shelf! It was such a cute little read that probably took me less than an hour overall.

“No man or woman alive, magical or not, has ever escaped some form of injury, whether physical, mental, or emotional.”

I really enjoyed reading these little stories, and having Dumbledore’s notes at the end of each one really helped understand the meaning behind each one. They really reminded me of Aesop’s Fables, which I loved as a kid. I loved how each story had a real moral.

“To hurt is as human as to breathe.”

But unfortunately, it’s not all rosy. I did enjoy these stories, but they felt sooo far apart from the whole wizarding world. Dumbledore connected them to a degree, but I still felt like they were just a bit..gimmicky? I’m all for add-on Harry Potter books like The Art of Harry Potter, but this felt a bit thrown together to please the fans and give them something new. But really, who am I to complain? Because as Adam Silvera said when I saw him at a talk a few weeks ago, I am so much of a Potterhead that I would even read Dobby’s story if J.K. Rowling wrote it.

★★★
3 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

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

If there are two people who are destined to write together, it’s Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli. They go together like salt and pepper, and I love what came out of their partnership in What If It’s Us!

I’m a big fan of both authors and I felt their characters complimented each other perfectly, but still had their own voices. I could just about feel the differences between the way both characters were written that gave them each a unique feel.

“I barely know him. I guess that is every relationship.”

I loved the plot! I remember Adam talking when I met him last week, and I know him and Becky really wanted to write about the difficult parts of relationships as they develop and not just the getting together part. I loved how this book tackled the struggles and not just the Broadway worthy scenes, and it made this book so relatable.

Arthur and Ben were just the cutest, but they were so flawed too! There were parts when I couldn’t help but feel like both of them were just being assholes, but that’s the charm of these characters. They’re so real, they mess up, they accept it, they move on.

“You start with nothing and maybe end with everything.”

I also loved the side characters, friends and family! Not enough YA includes intimate family scenes and I love how their whole lives were included, as well as scenes at home. There’s a specific scene including both of Arthur and Ben’s parents, and it was so heartfelt and lovely.

The only slight issue I had with this book is that it took a long time for me to get into. Maybe 100/150 pages in I got it, but when I did get into this book I couldn’t stop reading! It took me almost a week to read 100 pages, and then a couple of days to read the last 300. So I’d definitely say it’s worth the wait.

★★★★
4 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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ARC Review: The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge

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Part ghost story, part Nordic thriller – this is a twisty, tense and spooky YA debut, perfect for fans of CORALINE and Michelle Paver.
Martha can tell things about a person just by touching their clothes, as if their emotions and memories have been absorbed into the material. It started the day she fell from the tree at her grandma’s cabin and became blind in one eye.
Determined to understand her strange ability, Martha sets off to visit her grandmother, Mormor – only to discover Mormor is dead, a peculiar boy is in her cabin and a terrifying creature is on the loose.
Then the spinning wheel starts creaking, books move around and terror creeps in . . .
Set in the remote snows of contemporary Norway, THE TWISTED TREE is a ghost story that twists and turns – and never takes you quite where you’d expect.
 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Hot Key Books in exchange for an honest review. This has not changed my views in any way.

The Twisted Tree was the perfect book to read this week around Halloween! The story follows Martha, a girl who can read people by touching their clothes. She travels to Norway to visit her grandmother, who she later finds out has recently passed away. In her abandoned cabin, she finds an interesting boy hiding. Together, they will find themselves in the midst of some eventful, and creepy, times..

I really enjoyed this book and I’m so glad I read it in October. I found this read so interesting and unique, and I loved the Norse mythology and Norwegian setting. Both things are ones that I don’t often see in YA, and were great to read about.

“You write the story of you every day with your thoughts, words and deeds.”

I loved Martha as a main character, and the female power in this book! Martha talks a lot about her ancestors, and it was awesome to read about the strong link between Martha, her grandmother and her ancestors before then. Martha was perfect as the heroine of this story. She was scarred, struggling and dealing with so much. I loved her flaws, and it was so interesting (and felt realistic) to read about her struggles with having a visual impairment.

“You create yourself. You get to decide your story. No one else. You.”

This book is urban fantasy, set in the real world, and I found that just brilliant. It was awesome to feel the genuine struggle of Martha and Stig coping with their struggles in the real world. I also loved reading about Martha’s mum and the rest of her family. It added an extra depth to the story that was lovely to find out about.

So overall, this book was a really good read perfect for Halloween! Look out for it on January 10th!

★★★★
4 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

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When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course. 
To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart. 
If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

It’s rare that a book completely lives up to the hype, but this one really did. I went in with mixed expectations, having loved They Both Die at the End but had mixed feelings about More Happy Than Not. But this one is definitely up there, and even above my love for They Both Die at the End. It’s definitely been my favourite Silvera novel and I’m so excited for What if It’s Us!

“People are complicated puzzles, always trying to piece together a complete picture, but sometimes we get it wrong and sometimes we’re left unfinished.”

I found History is All You Left Me so raw and beautiful. It follows the story of Griffin, a boy who lost his first love and ex-boyfriend way too young. Griffin also suffers with OCD and I loved the way Silvera spoke about how he struggled through life with OCD. I found his disorder so believable and well written.

I began by having doubts about Jackson, but honestly I think that just shows how great the writing is, because I liked him more just as Griffin did, as they got to know each other throughout the book. I will openly admit I cried at least a couple of times throughout this story, and I closed the final page with tears in my eyes.

“Sometimes that’s for the best. Some pieces can’t be forced into a puzzle, or at least they shouldn’t be, because they won’t make sense.”

I also found the flashbacks really worked, and it definitely takes a talented author to write past and present like that! The plot also twisted and changed throughout, which isn’t too common in contemporary and it provided a reason to keep turning the pages. I really have to point out that I found this book perfect for reading in a couple of sittings. I usually have to have a break while I’m reading and I struggle to read in long sittings, but not with this book!

I just felt it would be very hard to get bored of the story, especially with the plot. I read most of the book on a long train journey and I finished it in 5 days! I honestly can’t find anything wrong with this book, and it’s going to have to be 5 stars. It’s beautifully written, emotional, honest and raw. What’s not to like?

★★★★★
5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Floored by Various Authors

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When they got in the lift, they were strangers (though didn’t that guy used to be on TV?): Sasha, who is desperately trying to deliver a parcel; Hugo, who knows he’s the best-looking guy in the lift and is eyeing up Velvet, who knows what that look means when you hear her name and it doesn’t match the way she looks, or the way she talks; Dawson, who was on TV, but isn’t as good-looking as he was a few years ago and is desperately hoping no one recognizes him; Kaitlyn, who’s losing her sight but won’t admit it, and who used to have a poster of Dawson on her bedroom wall, and Joe, who shouldn’t be here at all, but who wants to be here the most.
And one more person, who will bring them together again on the same day every year.

I read a preview of this book at YALC last year, and I loved it. This is genius. A mixture between the darkness of One of Us is Lying and the great hopefulness of The Breakfast Club. I knew, after reading that preview, that I would want to read more. So when I saw this book was out, I eventually picked this up.

I’m glad I picked this one up, but I’m not sure if it lived up to the preview for me. I enjoyed it, but I can’t help but feel a little disappointed.

“Maybe disappointment does lie in the gulf between what you would do for someone and what they will do for you,”

I just wish this was a mystery! If it wanted to be the lightness of The Breakfast Club, why did someone die? If you’re bringing so much darkness into the story, why not make it more interesting and bring a mystery element into it. Why not make us question why the guy died when they were all in the lift? Bringing that suspense would have worked so well with a book like this.

But I have to say, that was probably my only issue with this book. Other than that, I’m so impressed with how 6 different authors can come together and make such a compatible novel. It really worked, and the story flowed so well. I also loved that this book was set in the UK! It’s not often I read a contemporary set in my own country, and it was awesome. I’ve actually been to these places!

“but she knows then, in that moment, as she’s looking out of the rain-speckled window at the black, black sky, that she needs to stop focusing on what she’s willing to do for other people and start focusing on what she’s willing to do for herself.”

I also felt like having the 6 different characters worked well! Each of them had their own personalities (some more dominant than others) and I really liked them all. Overall, I have to say I did really enjoy reading this book. It’s quick and fun, and if that’s what you’re looking for then this book is definitely for you. But if you’re looking for something darker and more of a mystery, please go for One of Us is Lying instead!

★★★★
3.5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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