September Wrap-Up and October TBR

Happy Monday! And Happy Anniversary to this blog! I’ve been blogging for 5 years today – I can’t believe it. Anyway, that aside, onto the Wrap Up!

I didn’t read as many books in September as I did in August – but then again I read a lot of verse and shorter books in August. I also still managed to read the 3 books I had set for the month, so I’m still fairly happy with what I read!

Books I Read in September

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

They say the thirst of blood is like a madness – they must sate it. Even with their own kin.
On the eve of her divining, the day she’ll discover her fate, seventeen-year-old Lil and her twin sister Kizzy are captured and enslaved by the cruel Boyar Valcar, taken far away from their beloved traveller community.
Forced to work in the harsh and unwelcoming castle kitchens, Lil is comforted when she meets Mira, a fellow slave who she feels drawn to in a way she doesn’t understand. But she also learns about the Dragon, a mysterious and terrifying figure of myth and legend who takes girls as gifts.
They may not have had their divining day, but the girls will still discover their fate..

My least favourite book of the month was Knife Edge and my favourite was The Deathless Girls!

Books I Want to Read in October

Serpent & Dove – Shelby Mahurin
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin
The Evolution of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin
The Retribution of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin

I’m currently reading Serpent & Dove and I’m loving it! I only want to commit to reading my series for the month (Mara Dyer) and then go for whatever else I fancy.

What did you read in September and what do you want to read in October?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #25

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! Welcome to my second recent installment of stacking the shelves, featuring books I’ve bought recently. Last week I posted about books I had been gifted/received, which you can see here!

Books I Bought in September

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I couldn’t resist the beautiful Waterstones edition of The Lost Book of the White, to match my other Cassie books!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

I also picked up the normal hardcover, which luckily has a reverse dust jacket to match the design on The Red Scrolls of Magic.

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Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.
Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.
The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.
And love makes fools of us all.

I ordered a copy of Serpent & Dove while I could still get hold of one! I knew I wanted to read the series so ordered this copy while there was still hardbacks available.

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Goodreads

I also pre-ordered myself a copy of Blood & Honey with some money I had on a gift card. I’m super excited to read this series and actually started Serpent & Dove last night. I’m about 100 pages in and loving it so far!

What have you bought recently?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

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Goodreads | Waterstones

They say the thirst of blood is like a madness – they must sate it. Even with their own kin.
On the eve of her divining, the day she’ll discover her fate, seventeen-year-old Lil and her twin sister Kizzy are captured and enslaved by the cruel Boyar Valcar, taken far away from their beloved traveller community.
Forced to work in the harsh and unwelcoming castle kitchens, Lil is comforted when she meets Mira, a fellow slave who she feels drawn to in a way she doesn’t understand. But she also learns about the Dragon, a mysterious and terrifying figure of myth and legend who takes girls as gifts.
They may not have had their divining day, but the girls will still discover their fate..

I didn’t plan to read this book just before Halloween, but I’m really glad I did. It is mystical and haunting and just perfect for Autumn. I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, but I ended up really enjoying it. I read The Girl of Ink and Stars a couple of years ago and really liked the writing, so I was glad to delve back into her worlds.

The writing really didn’t let me down. It was so atmospheric and beautiful, and made the book fly by. This book is fairly short, clocking in at just over 300 pages, and I loved that about it. I got into it super quickly, and read 50-100 pages for a couple of days and finished it so quickly!

I thought my silence, my stillness, was a fine way to be. 

The characters really carried this story for me. I loved the relationship between the two main characters, who are sisters. I also really enjoyed reading about the romances, which included a lovely, positive f/f relationship that I adored reading about so much.

I was a little hesitant going into this book after my friend Courtney read it and was disappointed by the ending. I can really sympathise with why she didn’t like how it ended, and maybe I would have felt differently without the knowledge that I might not enjoy it. However, I didn’t mind the ending. I’m a sucker for a happy ending, but I find I appreciate a hopeful one more. And although the ending felt a little rush in the decisions of the main characters, I still enjoyed it quite a lot.

But now I realised it made me as bad as those men who took the side of a monster, who watched a locked door as children starved to death inside.

I wasn’t aware this book was a retelling about Dracula’s brides until I read the acknowledgements at the end, but knowing only added more. I can really visualise how the story has evolved into the beautiful and haunting narrative that is The Deathless Girls.


★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Wayward Son (#2) by Rainbow Rowell

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Simon Snow did everything he was supposed to do. He beat the villain. He won the war. He even fell in love. Now comes the good part, right? Now comes the happily ever after…
So why can’t Simon Snow get off the couch?
What he needs, according to his best friend, is a change of scenery. He just needs to see himself in a new light…
That’s how Simon and Penny and Baz end up in a vintage convertible, tearing across the American West.
They find trouble, of course. (Dragons, vampires, skunk-headed things with shotguns.) And they get lost. They get so lost, they start to wonder whether they ever knew where they were headed in the first place…

Alex and I decided to buddy read this book, which I’m really happy about because it has been out for a year and I still hadn’t picked it up! I usually find it difficult to motivate myself to pick up the second book in a series so long after the first one, but I actually found reading a quick summary online was enough for me with this series. I don’t remember Carry On in much detail, but I remember enough of the characters and big plot points that it was okay!

I found this book so fun. I didn’t manage to read for a couple of days in the middle of the week due to just being busy with other things, but I managed to catch up on Thursday evening/Friday just because it was so quick and easy to read. The action was such a high for me in this book. It was so ludicrous and entertaining and it made me fly through the chapters. I remember loving the action in Carry On, and the writing style definitely continues in this one.

I’d give him all that I am.
I’d give him all that I was.

The characters were great, and I loved reading about them. Shepard, who is a new character who joins possibly around halfway, I loved. He was so quirky and fun and such a great addition to the series! I always love when the second book in a series has a new character because it just adds something new and interesting. I really liked Baz and Simon and I’ve always loved reading about their relationship. I also found it really interesting to read about them while their relationship wasn’t that perfect all the time, yet they still loved each other. Because it was real.

Alex and I had a few slight problems with this book, however, that we both picked up on. For a start, the characters just seem utterly clueless about America. I understand that some British people may not know that much about it, but there are a few comments the characters make seem really odd? For example, they don’t seem to know the drinking age is 21, or have any idea how big America is compared to England. There was also a really odd comment about animal products which as a vegan, I found incredibly strange in the wording.

I’d open up a vein.
I’d tie our hearts together, chamber by chamber.

I really enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected, but I found a few small problems with it that knocked down my rating slightly. If you’re looking for a road trip book full of magic and adventure, this book is definitely for you!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #24

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! It’s time for a bumper catch up Stacking the Shelves editions. I admit I haven’t been great at catching up with these posts in the past month or so, so instead I thought I’d do a couple of posts over the next few weeks with gifts from September and the preorders I had in September. Today I’m going to start with gifts I’ve had and ARC copies I’ve been gifted!

Free Gifts/ARCs from September

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Goodreads | Waterstones

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe has neither the look nor the voice of divinity, and is scorned and rejected by her kin. Increasingly isolated, she turns to mortals for companionship, leading her to discover a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft.
When love drives Circe to cast a dark spell, wrathful Zeus banishes her to the remote island of Aiaia. There she learns to harness her occult craft, drawing strength from nature. But she will not always be alone; many are destined to pass through Circe’s place of exile, entwining their fates with hers. The messenger god, Hermes. The craftsman, Daedalus. A ship bearing a golden fleece. And wily Odysseus, on his epic voyage home.
There is danger for a solitary woman in this world, and Circe’s independence draws the wrath of men and gods alike. To protect what she holds dear, Circe must decide whether she belongs with the deities she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

This one was actually gifted to me by Courtney in August, as she was gifted two copies for her birthday! Thank you Courtney!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Robin Cooper’s life is falling apart.
While his friends prepare to head off to university, Robin is looking at a pile of rejection letters from drama schools up and down the country, and facing a future without the people he loves the most. Everything seems like it’s ending, and Robin is scrabbling to find his feet.
Unsure about what to do next and whether he has the talent to follow his dreams, he and his best friends go and drown their sorrows at a local drag show, where Robin realises there might be a different, more sequinned path for him . . .
With a mother who won’t stop talking, a boyfriend who won’t acknowledge him and a best friend who is dying to cover him in glitter make up, there’s only one thing for Robin to do: bring it to the runway.

Alex gifted me her ARC copy of Boy Queen and I bought her a finished copy in exchange, as I really liked how the ARC copy looked but she prefers the finished one.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Del has had a crush on Kiera Westing since kindergarten. And now, during their junior year, she’s finally available. So when Kiera volunteers for an opportunity at their church, Del’s right behind her. Though he quickly realizes he’s inadvertently signed up for a Purity Pledge.
His dad thinks his wires are crossed, and his best friend, Qwan, doesn’t believe any girl is worth the long game. But Del’s not about to lose his dream girl, and that’s where fellow pledger Jameer comes in. He can put in the good word. In exchange, Del just has to get answers to the Pledgers’ questions…about sex ed.
With other boys circling Kiera like sharks, Del needs to make his move fast. But as he plots and plans, he neglects to ask the most important question: What does Kiera want? He can’t think about that too much, though, because once he gets the girl, it’ll all sort itself out. Right?

Alex also passed this one onto me! Thank you Alex.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.
But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth?

My colleague Jo passed this one onto me! I’ve wanted to read it for a while and I’m glad to finally have a copy. Thanks Jo!

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She also gave me this copy of War Storm, which was lucky as it was the only one I was missing in the series!

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

Blue had a pile of books they were passing on, and I’ve wanted the beautiful hardback edition of this for years, so I grabbed it. Thank you Blue!

Wilder Girls (Paperback)

Goodreads | Waterstones

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

I’ve wanted to read this for a while, and we had a damaged copy at work that hadn’t been cut properly. I luckily picked it up!

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Imogen should be nice to her little sister Marie. She should be nice to her mum’s boyfriend too. And she certainly shouldn’t follow a strange silver moth through a door in a tree.
But then… who does what they’re told?
Followed by Marie, Imogen finds herself falling into a magical kingdom where the two sisters are swept up in a thrilling race against time – helped by the spoiled prince of the kingdom, a dancing bear, a very grumpy hunter… and even the stars above them.

I was gifted a copy of this through Kaleidoscopic Tours! I’m on the blog tour for October 23rd and this hardback edition is so pretty.

I was also given ARC copies of I’ll Give You the Sun by Blue and The Starless Sea by Amy! Thank you so much to everybody for these lovely gifts.

What did you buy this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Double Cross (#4) by Malorie Blackman

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Tobey wants a better life – for him and his girlfriend Callie Rose. He wants nothing to do with the gangs that rule the world he lives in. But when he’s offered the chance to earn some money just for making a few ‘deliveries’, just this once, would it hurt to say ‘yes’?
One small decision can change everything . . .

I have such mixed feelings about this book. I see this book as the last in the series, purely because it was the last for so long, and Crossfire is set so long after the original four.

I really enjoyed the plot of this book so much. It was probably the most fast-paced book in the series and I flew through it quicker than any of the others. Especially the last 100 pages, they were so amazingly full of action that I didn’t want to put the book down.

That was all it took – a shower of rain, the slam of a door, the thrust of a knife or a gunshot – 

But – and it’s a big but – it wasn’t enough. I really enjoyed the plot, the action and adventure. It was a compulsive and compelling read. But it almost left no room for anything else. No room for emotion, connection, family, friendship. I didn’t really feel like I knew Tobey before this book, and I don’t feel like I know him afterward, either. I did feel for them as a couple, and I won’t lie, I did have tears in my eyes at the end of the book.

I just wish I had more time to connect to the characters, to feel more for them so that when the plot climaxed, I would connect to how it affected everybody around Tobey, himself included.

and just like that, a person could be gone with nothing but the memories of others to show that they’d ever existed.

Unfortunately, it just didn’t add enough to the original story for me at all, and the balance of emotional connection and plot was not right. I wanted a par of both of them, and even though the action and plot were exceptional, it didn’t win me over, just made the book very readable!

★★★
3 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Checkmate (#3) by Malorie Blackman

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Can the future ever erase the past? Rose has a Cross mother and a nought father in a society where the pale-skinned noughts are treated as inferiors and those with dual heritage face a life-long battle against deep-rooted prejudices. Sephy, her mother, has told Rose virtually nothing about her father, but as Rose grows into a young adult, she unexpectedly discovers the truth about her parentage and becomes determined to find out more. But her father’s family has a complicated history – one tied up with the fight for equality for the nought population. And as Rose takes her first steps away from Sephy and into this world, she finds herself drawn inexorably into more and more danger. Suddenly it’s a game of very high stakes that can only have one winner . . .

If Knife Edge left me wanting more, Checkmate gave it to me. I was blown away by this book, and I can’t believe how different I found it from the second. The second really felt like a lull for me, suffering from the classic ‘filler’ feeling second books in series sometimes have. But in Checkmate, the action ramps up, emotions run high, I loved it.

I cannot congratulate Blackman enough for writing an absolute roller coaster of a series. The way Checkmate was structured, non-linear and flitting between Callie as she grows up and Sephy, Callie and family in recent years, is astounding. I wanted to rush through the pages in order to find out what happens, and of course, Blackman leaves you on the edge of your seat until the very final pages.

But remember this if nothing else: I love you more than there are words or stars. I love you more than there are thoughts and feelings.

As well as the plot being amazing, the characters were very well structured, too. In Knife Edge, I struggled with how Jude acted, and I felt Sephy’s feelings and more specifically, depression, were not dealt with very well. All of that goes out of the window in Checkmate, for a more developed and well rounded cast. I finally felt like I was there with them for every step, feeling everything they did. It was everything I wanted from this series, finally in my hands.

The repetitiveness in the writing has also vanished. Instead of feeling like Blackman was struggling to fill a page, I finally felt like every word meant something, every word needed to be there for the story. The only slight downside was the amount of POV’s could be confusing at times and felt like they were flitting around a lot. Despite this, I still really enjoyed it and found it digestible enough to read.

I love you more than there are seconds or moments gone or to come. I love you.

This is a story about race. A story about divide. A story about women, family and friendship and love. I cannot wait to see where the next book takes me, and I only hope it lives up to this one.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Knife Edge (#2) by Malorie Blackman

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Where there has been love, now there is hate.
Two families have been shattered by the divided and violent society they live in.
Sephy Hadley – a Cross, supposedly powerful and privileged – has bound herself forever to her nought lover Callum McGregor’s family.
But Jude McGregor blames Sephy for all the tragedies his family has suffered. And he is determined to force her to take sides, and destroy her life . . . just like she destroyed his. . .

There is absolutely no doubt that these books shake you to the core. They are so powerful, shocking and hard hitting. Some of the scenes left me reeling.

But, and it is a big but. I was bored. It is so hard to balance a book which is important as this series is, with a concept behind it that is so needed and prominent and children’s literature, with the fact that I found the writing…not that great.

The media called us ruthless terrorists. We’re not. We’re just fighting for what’s right.

I remember being gripped by the first book, not wanting to put it down. I remember reading most of it in one sitting. But with this one, the only saving grace was Jude’s storyline. His heartbreaking sections were interesting and thought provoking. I still believe his thoughts and feelings could have been portrayed in a way that made him a little more three-dimensional, but for the most part his storyline was really enjoyable.

But unfortunately, it ended there. I found Sephy difficult to read about. She is obviously struggling, but it is not explained in detail why, with her instead pushing everything and everybody away and acting like a brat. I found the first half of this book much better than the second, which is rare for me. She just seemed much more rounded and well developed, then shutting herself off to the world in the second part, making her very two-dimensional. I understand that this may be the point with her depression, but it fell flat in the writing for me.

I also found a lot of the chapters very repetitive, especially those from the point of view of the mothers or other secondary characters. Meggie would often repeat herself for a whole page and fixate on one small issue, which I found frustrating to read about.

Being born a nought shouldn’t automatically slam shut myriad doors before you’ve even drawn your first breath.

Overall, I am very torn about this book. Blackman is incredibly talented, and it shines through in very small scenes, which show anger, passion and frustration for an oppressed community. I just found it to be in much smaller doses than I expected, which was an incredible disappointment.

★★★
3 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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