Stacking the Shelves #34

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 been buying a few books recently that I have struggled to find for various reasons. I also received a book this week which I’ll talk about below! I have actually also been buying the Wordsworth classic collector’s editions, which I haven’t included here because of a couple of reasons:

  1. There is…16 of them. So far. (I’m collecting them all over the next few weeks).
  2. I’m filming a vlog for Library of Books and Daydreams, so I’m going to include them there instead!
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Goodreads | Waterstones

Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.
When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle….
But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.

I finally bought my own copy of this book that I really loved when I read it back in November. I had borrowed a copy from Courtney (thank you Courtney!), and I’m happy to have my own now.

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Goodreads

A shy teenager attempts to express how she really feels through the pastries she makes at her family’s pasteleria. A tourist from Montenegro desperately seeks a magic soup dumpling that can cure his fear of death. An aspiring chef realizes that butter and soul are the key ingredients to win a cooking competition that could win him the money to save his mother’s life.
Welcome to Hungry Hearts Row, where the answers to most of life’s hard questions are kneaded, rolled, baked. Where a typical greeting is, “Have you had anything to eat?” Where magic and food and love are sometimes one in the same.
Told in interconnected short stories, Hungry Hearts explores the many meanings food can take on beyond mere nourishment. It can symbolize love and despair, family and culture, belonging and home. 

I actually received this as a gift, as I won it from MTMC Tours back in November. Thank you – I’m super excited to read this one as I always enjoy reading fiction that mentions food!

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Goodreads

I received the collectors edition of A Conjuring of Light for Christmas, and I already had the first book. So I managed to track down a copy of the second book this week. I’m happy to add this whole series to my TBR!

What have you bought this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Let’s Discuss! 2020 Wrap Up and Stats

Hello everyone! I’m here with a very nerdy post about my 2020 reading stats. This is going to be a combination of my Goodreads Year in Books which you can view here, and my own stats from the amazing reading spreadsheet I use by Reader Vicarious. The up to date version of the spreadsheet is here if you want to use it too! I love seeing my reading stats all in one place, and I thought it would be cool to post them here with my year in reading.

I read 87 books last year, which is the most I’ve ever read in a year! I also read 22 more books than I read in 2019, and 6000 more pages.

I also believe Kingdom of Ash is the longest book I’ve ever read! I’ve been getting into novellas and shorter books recently too, and I think there will be more in my 2021 reading.

My average book length was actually shorter in 2020 than in the previous year, going from 413 to 387.

I finally read Divergent this year, alongside a few others that have been on my TBR for a while! I have a lot of hyped series on my TBR for 2021 too.

Goodreads says my average rating for the year was actually 4.1 stars, but my least favourite thing about Goodreads is the fact you can’t rate in half stars. It’s also one of my favourite things about using the reader spreadsheet, because as you can see from these stats, I use half stars so much, and definitely a lot more than I used to. When I’m rating on Goodreads, I round up rather than down, so I felt like the 4.1 average was probably much less accurate than this graphic.

I tend to not re-read books when I have a lot on my TBR, and let me tell you, my TBR has only grown recently. I found it interesting (but not surprising) that I read a lot on my backlist, because also I don’t tend to read new releases as much with so much on my TBR. In any case, this actually has more than I expected on it from 2020 new releases!

I found this really interesting to see too, as I have definitely changed over the years, and I read so much more fantasy than I used to. It would be so interesting to see my years in comparison, but I’ve sadly only been using this template for the past year!

I expected my books per month to be higher in March-June when we were in lockdown in the UK at the start of the year, and I was shocked to find my reading got better as the year went on. But I think finding new ways to read (audiobooks are amazing!) and getting into my stride, really helped me read more.

So those are my very nerdy stats for 2020! I find this fascinating to look back on and I hope you’ve enjoyed this post too!

Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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December Wrap-Up + January TBR

Hi lovely readers! I’m here today with my December wrap-up and January TBR. I actually had another really good reading month in December, despite it being a little different to my TBR in the end. I have a few books from my December TBR that have been pushed back to January, but other than that I read all of the books on my TBR and a few different ones!

Books I Read in December

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever-and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.
But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore, and he remembers her name.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

In Find Me, Aciman shows us Elio’s father, Samuel, on a trip from Florence to Rome to visit Elio, who has become a gifted classical pianist. A chance encounter on the train with a beautiful young woman upends Sami’s plans and changes his life forever.
Elio soon moves to Paris, where he, too, has a consequential affair, while Oliver, now a New England college professor with a family, suddenly finds himself contemplating a return trip across the Atlantic.
Aciman is a master of sensibility, of the intimate details and the emotional nuances that are the substance of passion. Find Me brings us back inside the magic circle of one of our greatest contemporary romances to ask if, in fact, true love ever dies.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Romance was not part of Nora Grey’s plan. She’s never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment.
But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora’s not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends. She can’t decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.
For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen – and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life. 

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Ben has a plan for the ultimate Christmas present for Nathan. All it requires is taking a large golden retriever from one end of the country to the other. No pressure.
When a snowstorm rocks the east coast sooner than expected, though, Ben is trapped at the airport, and suddenly all their plans for a perfect first Christmas with Nathan are on the line.
This 60-page short story details Ben and Nathan’s first Christmas together back in 2019.
This short story is available for free via Gumroad’s ‘Pay What You Want’ option, however any proceeds this short story earns will be donated to the National Center for Transgender Equality

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

I’m not going to think about the past few months, about Charlie and me, and all of the sad. I’m going to block it all out. Just for today.
“Happy Christmas, ” I say.
The festive season isn’t always happy for Tori and her brother Charlie. And this year’s going to be harder than most. 

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My favourite book of the month was definitely The Invisible Life of Addie Larue, as you can probably guess! My least favourite was Crescendo, in which the whole series fluctuated between 3 and 3.5 stars, but this was my least favourite.

Books I Want to Read in January

Chasing the Stars – Malorie Blackman
Tonight the Streets are Ours – Leila Sales
Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys

I’m not putting any pressure on my reads in January past this very small TBR, because I want to spend the month deciding how I’m going to attack my TBR in 2021. I do have the idea of reading a classic per month, and Wide Sargasso Sea will be my January one! I’m super excited for this one as it is inspired by the mad wife in Jane Eyre, and Jane Eyre is one of my favourite books of all time.

What did you read in December and what do you want to read in January?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Becoming the Dark Prince (#3.5) by Kerri Maniscalco

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Goodreads

Enigmatic, brooding, and darkly handsome, Thomas Cresswell has always been the one mystery Audrey Rose has never been able to fully solve. As brilliant partners in crime investigation, they understand each other perfectly…but as young lovers, their passionate natures have led to both euphoria and heartbreak throughout the Stalking Jack the Ripper series.
This novella features a collection of scenes that takes place during and after the pair’s horrifying Atlantic voyage in Escaping From Houdini. Experience new and familiar scenes from Thomas’s unique point of view, including an intensely personal look into his plea for Audrey Rose’s hand in marriage.

This is a novella from Thomas’s point of view, focusing on his relationship with Audrey Rose. This has only been published in ebook format, and is set at the very end of Escaping from Houdini and before the events of Capturing the Devil. I’d definitely recommend reading this after Escaping from Houdini like we did! Again, I read this one with Amy and Jo as part of our buddy read of the whole series. I’m really glad Amy recommended we read this one too as we all enjoyed it quite a lot!

Winning is an archaic way or looking at romance.

I really like Thomas as a character and a love interest. Learning about his perspective on their relationship and his own inner demons was really interesting. His passion and love for Audrey Rose is so heartwarming and his willingness to let her make her own choices (especially in this historical setting) is so beautiful. Their relationship is so great to read about and I love how they treat each other as complete equals, especially due to the time period.

The setting was lovely, and I’m really excited to read about the couple exploring New York! I love the descriptions of the surroundings and the clothing, it really makes the books feel historically accurate.

Her heart isn’t like a cheap round of cards. Love isn’t a game. It’s a choice.

I really enjoyed this novella and I’m glad it was my first read of the year! If you like the series, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Finale (#4) by Becca Fitzpatrick

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Nora and Patch thought their troubles were behind them. Hank is gone and they should be able to put his ugly vendetta to rest. But in Hank’s absence, Nora has become the unwitting head of the Nephilim and must finish what Hank began. Which ultimately means destroying the fallen angels – destroying Patch.
Nora will never let that happen, so she and Patch make a plan: lead everyone to believe they have broken up, and work the system from the inside. Nora will convince the Nephilim that they are making a mistake in fighting the fallen angels, and Patch will find out everything he can from the opposing side. They will end this war before it can even begin.
But the best-laid plans often go awry. Nora is put through the paces in her new role and finds herself drawn to an addictive power she never anticipated.
As the battle lines are drawn, Nora and Patch must confront the differences that have always been between them and either choose to ignore them or let them destroy the love they have always fought for. 

I swear I have a severe problem with immediately forgetting most of what happens in these books. I read this one again so quickly that I seem to only remember chunks of it. This was the big finish, the war between fallen angels and nephilim. It was meant to be the big finale, but it just felt like small repeats of events of the previous book, over and over again. But I have to admit, it is action packed, albeit mediocre action. Again, I read the physical version and I couldn’t put it down.

Nora has definitely changed and matured over the series. She has gone from being quiet and self conscious, to kick-ass and manipulative. I quite like how she has developed and how her relationship with Patch has grown too. The thing that hasn’t changed about Nora, however, is her decision making. This girl just cannot make a good decision, and continues to be reckless and irresponsible.

“I want to take care of you, cherish you, and love you in a way no other man ever could. 

Patch is also highly problematic, down to the point of putting a tracker on Nora. I actually think this happens in Silence, but I was reminded of it now and I needed to mention it. The way he acts around Nora sometimes is concerning and very up and down. It’s definitely not an ideal relationship (or one I would want to be in), but I do like how they have grown throughout this series.

Marcie actually became a really interesting character, and I quite enjoyed reading more about her life and her personal problems. I have no idea, however, why and how Nora’s mum took Marcie under her wing, despite some weird guilt about Hank’s death. And maybe guilt about Hank, as a whole. I might be wrong, but I don’t think this was explained at all and felt very contradictory to the rest of the story. Like a lot of things in this book!

I want to spoil you — every kiss, every touch, every thought, they all belong to you. I’ll make you happy. Every day, I’ll make you happy.”

I felt like this was a disappointing end to a disappointing series. I really wanted this to be another improvement on the series, and for this to be the big, action packed finale I was looking for. But unfortunately, it was a let down again. The best thing about this series was the pacing, as I flew through these books so quickly. I can see why they are widely enjoyed, and it feels like a guilty pleasure series as a whole.

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #33 – Christmas Haul!

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 and welcome to the first Stacking the Shelves book of 2021! I can’t quite believe 2020 is over and we’re heading into a new year. Bring on 2021!

Today’s post is about the books I received for Christmas and I’m so excited to share them with you. I also filmed this as a video for Library of Books and Daydreams if you want to watch it.

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Internationally bestselling author of The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger, and graphic artist Eddie Campbell, of such seminal works as From Hell by Alan Moore, collaborate on a wonderfully bizarre collection that celebrates and satirizes love of all kinds. With 16 different stories told through illustrated prose or comic panels, the couple explores the idiosyncratic nature of relationships in a variety of genres from fractured fairy tales to historical fiction to paper dolls. With Niffenegger’s sharp, imaginative prose and Campbell’s diverse comic styles, Bizarre Romance is the debut collection by two of the most important storytellers of our time. 

The first book on this list is the one I received for Jólabókaflóð, which is an Icelandic tradition of gifting books on Christmas Eve. I gave my boyfriend Mark a signed illustrated copy of The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and he gave me this one! It’s a collection of comics and short stories about love and marriage, and it looks so cute.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Saoirse doesn’t believe in love at first sight or happy endings. If they were real, her mother would still be able to remember her name and not in a care home with early onset dementia. A condition that Saoirse may one day turn out to have inherited. So she’s not looking for a relationship. She doesn’t see the point in igniting any romantic sparks if she’s bound to burn out.
But after a chance encounter at an end-of-term house party, Saoirse is about to break her own rules. For a girl with one blue freckle, an irresistible sense of mischief, and a passion for rom-coms.
Unbothered by Saoirse’s no-relationships rulebook, Ruby proposes a loophole: They don’t need true love to have one summer of fun, complete with every cliché, rom-com montage-worthy date they can dream up—and a binding agreement to end their romance come fall. It would be the perfect plan, if they weren’t forgetting one thing about the Falling in Love Montage: when it’s over, the characters actually fall in love… for real.

The next couple of books are from my lovely friend Courtney, the first being this one. I’ve wanted to read this since it came out and I can’t wait to get round to it.

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

This is another I’ve been wanting to read since release and have heard so many good things about! Courtney is one among many of my friends to have read and loved it, so I’m very excited.

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This collection of eleven short stories illuminates the life of the enigmatic Magnus Bane, whose alluring personality, flamboyant style, and sharp wit populate the pages of the #1 New York Times bestselling series, The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices.
Originally released one-by-one as e-only short stories by Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, and Sarah Rees Brennan, this compilation presents all ten together in print for the first time and includes a never-before-seen eleventh tale, as well as new illustrated material. 

And the last one from Courtney is one I’ve already read, so doesn’t add to my TBR! I borrowed this book off a friend years ago and therefore never owned my own copy, so thank you for making sure it’s amongst my collection, Courtney 🙂

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In the dark days following a failed French Revolution, in the violent jungle of an alternate 1828 Paris, young cat-burglar Eponine (Nina) Thenardier goes head to head with merciless royalty, and the lords of the city’s criminal underworld to save the life of her adopted sister Cosette (Ettie).
Her vow will take her from the city’s dark underbelly, through a dawning revolution, to the very heart of the glittering court of Louis XVII, where she must make an impossible choice between guild, blood, betrayal and war.

This is actually one I kind of picked up for myself and asked my mum to wrap for me – I found the Illumicrate edition second hand which is rose gold and so pretty. I’m yet to read it but I’m very happy to own this edition alongside my Waterstones one!

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

I heard about this manga version of Fangirl this year, but presumed it was quite old. My manager then told me they had recently come into our bookshop and put one to the side for me, which was when I realised it was actually a new release! It’s been years since I read the story, and I’m looking forward to getting back into it in a new way.

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I’m slowly collecting these lovely collectors editions of A Darker Shade of Magic before I start the series! I’m weirdly missing the second one, but now I have the other two.

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When the dawn breaks, a hero rises.
His power is beyond imagining.
Clark Kent has always been faster, stronger–better–than everyone around him. But he wasn’t raised to show off, and drawing attention to himself could be dangerous. Plus, it’s not like he’s earned his powers . . . yet.
But power comes with a price.
Lately it’s difficult to hold back and keep his heroics in the shadows. When Clark follows the sound of a girl crying, he comes across Gloria Alvarez and discovers a dark secret lurking in Smallville. Turns out, Clark’s not the only one hiding something. Teaming up with his best friend, Lana Lang, he throws himself into the pursuit of the truth. What evil lies below the surface of his small town? And what will it cost Clark to learn about his past as he steps into the light to become the future Man of Steel? Because before he can save the world, he must save Smallville.

I’ve also been collecting these for a while and I’m only missing Batman now!

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Emilia and her twin sister Victoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Victoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin…desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to discover who did this, and to seek vengeance at any cost—even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.
Then Emilia meets Wrath, the outlier among the seven demon brethren, always choosing duty over pleasure. He’s been tasked by his master with investigating a series of women’s murders on the island. When Emilia and Wrath’s fates collide, it’s clear this disturbing mystery will take a bewitching turn…

I’m currently reading the Stalking Jack the Ripper series and absolutely loving it, so I’m really excited for this one.

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Ximena is the decoy Condesa, a stand-in for the last remaining Illustrian royal. Her people lost everything when the usurper, Atoc, used an ancient relic to summon ghosts and drive the Illustrians from La Ciudad. Now Ximena’s motivated by her insatiable thirst for revenge, and her rare ability to spin thread from moonlight.
When Atoc demands the real Condesa’s hand in marriage, it’s Ximena’s duty to go in her stead. She relishes the chance, as Illustrian spies have reported that Atoc’s no longer carrying his deadly relic. If Ximena can find it, she can return the true aristócrata to their rightful place.
She hunts for the relic, using her weaving ability to hide messages in tapestries for the resistance. But when a masked vigilante, a warm-hearted princess, and a thoughtful healer challenge Ximena, her mission becomes more complicated. There could be a way to overthrow the usurper without starting another war, but only if Ximena turns her back on revenge—and her Condesa. 

I’ve had my eye on this ever since it’s release, just look at that gorgeous cover!

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Jake Hyde doesn’t swim—not since his father drowned. Luckily, he lives in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, which is in the middle of the desert, yet he yearns for the ocean and is determined to leave his hometown for a college on the coast. But his best friend, Maria, wants nothing more than to make a home in the desert, and Jake’s mother encourages him to always play it safe.
There’s nothing “safe” about Jake’s future—not when he’s attracted to Kenny Liu, swim team captain and rebel against conformity. And certainly not when he secretly applies to Miami University. Jake’s life begins to outpace his small town’s namesake, which doesn’t make it any easier to come out to his mom, or Maria, or the world.
But Jake is full of secrets, including the strange blue markings on his skin that glow when in contact with water. What power will he find when he searches for his identity, and will he turn his back to the current or dive headfirst into the waves?

This was the first of two graphic novels from my boyfriend, and I can’t wait to read this. It looks like something I’ll really enjoy!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

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

And this was the other graphic novel he bought me, which sounds like such a cool way to get into reading DC finally. I also adore the art style and colours!

Which books did you receive for Christmas?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Silence (#3) by Becca Fitzpatrick

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The noise between Patch and Nora has gone. They’ve overcome the secrets riddled in Patch’s dark past, bridged two irreconcilable worlds and faced heart-wrenching tests of betrayal, loyalty and trust… and all for a love that will transcend the boundary between heaven and earth.
Armed with nothing but their absolute faith in one another, Patch and Nora enter a desperate fight to stop a villain who holds the power to shatter everything they’ve worked for – and their love – forever.

I finally got to a point where I enjoyed this book more than the previous one in the series. I think this is definitely partly due to reading the physical version rather than the audiobook. I honestly couldn’t put it down, and that was exactly what I was hoping from the physical book. This book took a twist with Nora not being able to remember anything from the past 5 months of her life – the entire first two books. At first, this felt a bit like an excuse to write another book, just erase her memory! But I delved into the book and began to enjoy it a lot. This is definitely a guilty pleasure series!

I’ve got to be honest, I’ve dived straight into the last book and I’m already nearly halfway through, so I am struggling to separate the events of the books as I’ve been reading them so quickly. I also read around 220 pages of this book in one sitting, as I really couldn’t put it down!

I missed you, Angel.

Nora continues to be her usual feisty self, fighting for the memories she has lost and to fill the hole she now has. She is a real fighter, very sassy and will stop at nothing to get her way. Nora has also forgotten her relationship with Patch, and rediscovers him in this book through fresh eyes. This definitely gave their relationship a new level and she feels more mature than in the first few books. Their relationship was a big problem for me in the second book, and I’m glad I could finally feel a bit different towards them in this one!

I honestly am struggling to remember the plot, because I sped through it so quickly, but it must have been good because I just couldn’t put it down. Becca’s writing may not be the most sophisticated, but can also be quite addictive!

Not one day went by that I didn’t feel you missing from my life.

I don’t know how much of this was about reading the physical version, but I am finally beginning to see what people like and enjoy about reading this series. It can be a bit trashy, but I am really liking reading them and I’m definitely getting a little addicted to the story.

★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Escaping from Houdini (#3) by Kerri Maniscalco

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a travelling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?

This is the third book in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series and it might just about be my favourite so far. Again, I buddy read this one with my lovely friends Amy and Jo, and I’m so glad we’ve been reading these together! This book is set straight after Hunting Prince Dracula, with the two main characters Audrey and Thomas travelling on a cruise ship across the ocean to America. I didn’t realise this would actually be set on the ship but I honestly ended up loving it!

I’ve been lucky enough to go on a cruise once in my life and this book definitely captured the essence of being on a cruise ship, with the luxurious and elabroate lifestyle and enchanting shows. I really liked how Kerri used the classic cruise ship magic show and made it into a carnival with lots of behind the scenes extravaganzas.

I love you… More than all the stars in the universe. 

I’ve always enjoyed books with carnivals, circuses and other games, such as Caraval and The Night Circus. This book really held elements of those with the carnival on the ship, and I really enjoyed reading about the carnival nights on the ship. The contrast of the carnival with the darker events happening behind the scenes was really interesting and intriguing.

As usual, I really enjoyed reading about Audrey Rose and continues to hold her own in this book. Her relationship with Thomas feels mature and they both have their own independence. I really like how the romance takes a backseat and is a subplot to the book.

In this life and ever after. I love you.

Again, I had absolutely no idea who the killer was and Kerri constantly manages to surprise me! I’m always trying to work it out without success. I can’t wait to read the next and last book!

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Hunting Prince Dracula (#2) by Kerri Maniscalco

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper’s true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe’s best schools of forensic medicine…and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend. 
But her life’s dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school’s forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again.

I buddy read this book with Amy and Jo, who I buddy read the first book with and it was so much fun despite being deep in assignments and busy at work and only managing to read a very small amount a day! As with the first book, Maniscalco has the most amazing way of describing the world Audrey and Thomas are in. This book is set in snowy Romania, and funnily enough we ended up reading it over some of the days in the book, as it is written kind of in diary format and set in December!

I adored the setting of this book and it just felt so magical, especially in the snow. The first part of the book really reminded me of Murder on the Orient Express, and I loved how much I could picture it. The castle that most of this book is set in was also so well described, and I could picture it so well along with the nearby village they travelled in to.

You are not mine to take.” He brushed his lips against mine. Softly, so softly I might have imagined them there. My eyes fluttered shut.

As with the first book, Audrey Rose made for an excellent protagonist. I loved how strong and independent she is, and she just really holds her own, especially for the main character of a book set in the Victorian times. She continues to be such an admirable woman of her time and I really enjoyed reading about the decisions she makes in regards to her relationships.

Thomas was also a great love interest, despite a few questionable moments that Audrey certainly doesn’t let him get away with (and I love her for it!). Again, this story has another dark mystery which I loved. It felt sufficiently creepy and atmospheric, and I had no clue who the killer was until the reveal!

He could persuade me to build a steamship to the moon when he kissed me. We could orbit the stars together. “You are yours to give.

Overall, this is an excellent edition to the first, and I really enjoyed it. I can’t wait to read more about Audrey and Thomas and the adventures they get up to!


4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: This Winter (#0.5) by Alice Oseman

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Goodreads | Waterstones

The festive season isn’t always happy for Tori Spring and her brother Charlie. And this year’s going to be harder than most.
I used to think that difficult was better than boring, but I know better now…

This is a short story from Tori and Charlie’s perspectives (and a little bit of Oliver’s perspective (their little brother)). It is set over the course of Christmas Day in their house, with the perspectives told in a linear order. It is set before Solitaire and in the same timeline as Heartstopper Volume 4, so if you have read Solitaire you’ll be fine for spoilers, but you will get spoilers for the Heartstopper timeline if you haven’t read Solitaire. Hopefully that makes sense for anyone wondering whether you want to read it yet!

I really like the balance in all of Alice’s novels between hopefulness and sadness. Even in her short stories she manages to make me cry and break my heart. This novel discusses a lot of Charlie’s history with having an eating disorder, but it felt really well discussed. I really liked that this wasn’t shied away from and was also discussed in relation to Christmas and family gatherings, which can be hard for everyone but especially those with eating disorders.

I also really liked that this was told from all of the siblings points of view. They felt familiar, having read Heartstopper and Solitaire before (which is told from Tori’s perspective), and I really liked reading their takes on Christmas day. Of course Nick is amazing too, and such a supportive boyfriend to Charlie. It was so heartwarming to see him supporting Charlie. Having little Oliver in at the end with a little heartwarming scene with his mum was very cute.

I’m really glad I read this on Christmas Eve night, it felt like the perfect time to read it with Christmas the next day!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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