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

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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

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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

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August Wrap Up + September TBR

Hello all! I’m back with my August Wrap Up and September TBR. I actually managed to read 10 books in August, which was weirdly my best month so far this year! I’m pretty proud of that. I also managed to read all of the books on my August TBR!

Books I Read in August

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

In an apartment block, the son of a black mother and a Latino father is coming of age. He’s working at his family’s restaurant, trying to dodge his brother’s fists and resenting his older sister’s absence. He’s also discovering he likes boys…
All around him his friends and neighbours experience the tumult of living in the margins. Their stories – of living, thriving and dying across the city’s myriad neighbourhoods – are stitched throughout the boy’s life to reveal a young woman caught out in an affair, the fortunes of a rag-tag baseball team and a group of young hustlers, a local drug dealer who takes a Guatemalan teen under his wing, and the fate of a camera-shy mythical beast. With brilliant and soulful insight into what makes a community, a family and a life, Lot is about love in all its unsparing and unsteady forms.

I read this as part of a blog tour and it was really interesting.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Georgia has never been in love, never kissed anyone, never even had a crush – but as a fanfic-obsessed romantic she’s sure she’ll find her person one day.
As she starts university with her best friends, Pip and Jason, in a whole new town far from home, Georgia’s ready to find romance, and with her outgoing roommate on her side and a place in the Shakespeare Society, her ‘teenage dream’ is in sight.
But when her romance plan wreaks havoc amongst her friends, Georgia ends up in her own comedy of errors, and she starts to question why love seems so easy for other people but not for her. With new terms thrown at her – asexual, aromantic – Georgia is more uncertain about her feelings than ever.
Is she destined to remain loveless? Or has she been looking for the wrong thing all along?

I was so excited to finally read Loveless and it was so good!

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Enthusiastic but not desperate; calm but not dull; funny but not try-hard; sparky but not crazy; feisty but not aggressive; beautiful but relatable; elegant but not icy; confident but not arrogant; feminine but not girly; nice but not boring.
Faith Valentine has it all – fame, money and extraordinary beauty. But what she wants more than anything is a quiet life away from the cameras. Except nobody ever asks Faith what she wants, and her family’s expectations are crushing her.The world thinks she’s perfect, but is there is more to perfection than meets the eye?

I picked this up as part of a blog tour and I read it within a day!

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Los Angeles, 1992
Ashley Bennett and her friends are living the charmed life. It’s the end of high school and they’re spending more time at the beach than in the classroom. They can already feel the sunny days and endless possibilities of summer.
But everything changes one afternoon in April, when four police officers are acquitted after beating a black man named Rodney King half to death. Suddenly, Ashley’s not just one of the girls. She’s one of the black kids.
As violent protests engulf LA and the city burns, Ashley tries to continue on as if life were normal. Even as her self-destructive sister gets dangerously involved in the riots. Even as the model black family facade her wealthy and prominent parents have built starts to crumble. Even as her best friends help spread a rumor that could completely derail the future of her classmate and fellow black kid, LaShawn Johnson.

I received a copy of this on Netgalley and it was so good, I’ve since bought myself a paperback copy!

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Soldier. Summoner. Saint. Orphaned and expendable, Alina Starkov is a soldier who knows she may not survive her first trek across the Shadow Fold – a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. But when her regiment is attacked, Alina unleashes dormant magic not even she knew she possessed.
Now Alina will enter a lavish world of royalty and intrigue as she trains with the Grisha, her country’s magical military elite – and falls under the spell of their notorious leader, the Darkling. He believes Alina can summon a force capable of destroying the Shadow Fold and reuniting their war-ravaged country, but only if she can master her untamed gift.
As the threat to the kingdom mounts and Alina unlocks the secrets of her past, she will make a dangerous discovery that could threaten all she loves and the very future of a nation.
Welcome to Ravka . . . a world of science and superstition where nothing is what it seems.

I loved this series and I read the first one in a day!

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Soldier. Summoner. Saint. Alina Starkov’s power has grown, but not without a price. She is the Sun Summoner – hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Shadow Fold. But she and Mal can’t outrun their enemies for long.
The Darkling is more determined than ever to claim Alina’s magic and use it to take the Ravkan throne. With nowhere else to turn, Alina enlists the help of an infamous privateer and sets out to lead the Grisha army.
But as the truth of Alina’s destiny unfolds, she slips deeper into the Darkling’s deadly game of forbidden magic, and further away from her humanity. To save her country, Alina will have to choose between her power and the love she thought would always be her shelter. No victory can come without sacrifice – and only she can face the oncoming storm.

I liked the second book just as much and read it quickly too!

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.
Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.
Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.
Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

It took me a little longer to read the third book but I still enjoyed it!

Nick and Charlie - A Solitaire novella (Paperback)

Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

CHARLIE: “I have been going out with Nick Nelson for two years. He likes rugby, Formula 1, dogs, the Marvel universe, the sound felt-tips make on paper, rain and drawing on shoes. He also likes me.”
NICK: “Things me and Charlie Spring do together include: Watch films. Sit in the same room on different laptops. Text each other from different rooms. Make out. Make food. Make drinks. Get drunk. Talk. Argue. Laugh. Maybe we’re kind of boring. But that’s fine with us.”
Everyone knows that Nick and Charlie are the perfect couple – that they’re inseparable. But now Nick is leaving for university, and Charlie will be left behind at Sixth Form. Everyone’s asking if they’re staying together, which is a stupid question – they’re ‘Nick and Charlie’ for God’s sake!
But as the time to say goodbye gets inevitably closer, both Nick and Charlie question whether their love is strong enough to survive being apart. Or are they delaying the inevitable? Because everyone knows that first loves rarely last forever …

I adored Nick and Charlie so much, it was so beautiful.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

When Amber runs, it’s the only time she feels completely free – far away from her claustrophobic home life. Her father wants her to be a dutiful daughter, waiting for an arranged marriage like her sister Ruby.
Running is a quiet rebellion. But Amber wants so much more – and she’s ready to fight for it.
It’s time for a revolution.

This book was so amazing, I passed it over to my mum and she loved it too!

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…
In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.
Separated by distance – and Papi’s secrets – the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.
Papi’s death uncovers all the painful truths he kept hidden, and the love he divided across an ocean. And now, Camino and Yahaira are both left to grapple with what this new sister means to them, and what it will now take to keep their dreams alive.

I then read another verse novel and loved this one too!

Overall, I had a really good month! My favourite was Loveless and my least favourite was Lot.

Books I Want to Read in September

Knife Edge (#2) – Malorie Blackman
Checkmate (#3) – Malorie Blackman
Double Cross (#4) – Malorie Blackman

I only want to read the rest of the Noughts and Crosses series (that I own) this month, and I might even do a random pick of some others to read!

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

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…
In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.
Separated by distance – and Papi’s secrets – the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.
Papi’s death uncovers all the painful truths he kept hidden, and the love he divided across an ocean. And now, Camino and Yahaira are both left to grapple with what this new sister means to them, and what it will now take to keep their dreams alive.

This book made me realise you should never judge a book because it is written in verse. Having just read two absolutely beautiful books written in verse, after not reading verse for years, I have been absolutely blown away.

The language is flowing, beautiful and tender. It explored the grief of two young girls, separated by an ocean, only beginning to learn that they are sisters. It made my heart ache with hurt and pain and grief. But there is no denying that it is pure beauty.

Can you be from a place

I feel like this book explores so many difficult topics in such a breathtaking way. It explores anger, hurt, loss, forgiveness, family, friendship and grief in a way I don’t think I’ve ever read about before. It captures you by the shoulders and shakes you, until your world feels just as upside down as Camino’s and Yahaira’s has been made by the death of their father.

I loved the way this book spanned oceans, exploring life in both the US and the Dominican Republic. It reflects an everyday tragedy in such rawness and tenderness, through the eyes of two girls who were deeply affected by a plane crash.

One of my only complaints is that in some ways I found it difficult to differentiate between the voices of the two girls, who felt very similar to me in tone. Although I can see this being intentional, I found it difficult to read, especially towards the end where their sections are shorter. My only other small complaint would be I felt something missing in parts, especially when it came to the two sisters meeting and coming to terms with the new relationship they had found with each other. I almost felt we left their story having not explored the relationship between them far enough.

you have never been?

Overall, this is such a beautiful verse novel, and I can’t wait to read more by Acevedo. It pulled on my heartstrings and left me so full of emotion, warmth and hope in light of the darkness.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Run, Rebel by Manjeet Mann

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Goodreads | Waterstones

When Amber runs, it’s the only time she feels completely free – far away from her claustrophobic home life. Her father wants her to be a dutiful daughter, waiting for an arranged marriage like her sister Ruby.
Running is a quiet rebellion. But Amber wants so much more – and she’s ready to fight for it.
It’s time for a revolution.

It’s been a long time (I mean years) since I’ve read a book written in verse, and I don’t remember ever finding one that I really clicked with. But this one was so, so different. It was bold and hard hitting and full of hope. I loved it.

This feels like a strange thing to say, but I thought I would really feel as though I was reading verse. In a way that would drag me out of the story if I was always aware of it, but I found it so much more hard hitting and engaging than expected!

This book follows the story of Amber Rai, the daughter to two illiterate immigrant parents. Her father is abusive towards her mother, her sister Ruby has left home for an arranged marriage, and Amber is controlled by her family’s expectations for her. This means she is not allowed to do anything outside of school, including running track, and is expected to follow Ruby’s footsteps and have an arranged marriage herself.

Run, Rebel is the story of Amber’s relationship with her mother, slowly realising they can rebel. It’s the story of her friends, who Amber is jealous of because they are free to do whatever they please. It’s the story of her sister, Ruby, who is finding out who she is with a young daughter and in an arranged marriage. It is heart breaking, anger-inducing, but so full of hope. I adored it.

This was so tough to read, but I really appreciated the difficult conversations. I felt like I was learning, truly, how hard things were for Amber and her mother. Her heartache was so raw, open and honest. I couldn’t help but feel like I was right there with Amber and her suffering. I just wanted to root for her and her mother and see them rebel from such a broken home.

I also really appreciated some of the side-characters, especially the men. I found myself very grateful to have other men in relationships that offset the actions of Amber’s father. Especially Ruby’s husband and Amber’s friend David, who were both so supportive and lovely in their relationships.

I also love how this book centered around running. I’ve been running for around 6 months now and I could really relate to how Amber felt with how free running made her feel. The only small niggle I had was sometimes how Amber treated those around her – although I feel like it made her a very real and well-rounded character.

Overall, this was certainly a page-turner, and I read it in 2 sittings. It was so compelling and I couldn’t put it down. It broke my heart but left me feeling hopeful. I loved it, and I can’t wait to read more by this author!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Ruin and Rising (#3) by Leigh Bardugo

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Goodreads | Waterstones

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.
Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.
Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.
Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

I really enjoyed this book, but it wasn’t the epic conclusion to the series I’d hoped for. Instead, I actually found the most problems with this one than probably any in the series. For such an epic build up, I just found it fell a little flat.

I think a lot of this was due to the fact I missed having a new character. We were obviously introduced to everybody in Shadow and Bone, and then had the introduction of Nikolai in Siege and Storm, who I loved as a character. Not having somebody new to explore made me slightly….bored? I also missed having Nikolai around for most of the story, which I won’t say any more about as I don’t want to spoil anything.

Na razrusha’ya. I am not ruined. 

I also found myself not being quite so compelled by the story until the last 100 pages or so, although I still finished it in just a couple of days! I really enjoyed the characters, including the ‘found family’ element which reminded me of the court in Throne of Glass. Some of the scenes of the group travelling really reminded me of the scenes and conversations in the later Throne of Glass books, and I loved it. We also had a chance to find out more of the backstory of some of the main characters, especially the Darkling himself.

I’ve heard a lot of people express disappointment about the ending of this book, but I actually really enjoyed it and felt satisfied by the end. Bardugo broke my heart into a million pieces and pieced it back together. I loved it, it made me so emotional and left me with tears in my eyes in places.

E’ya razrushost. I am ruination.

It’s mainly due to the ending of this book that I couldn’t bring myself to decrease my rating from 4 stars to lower. I did have a lot of problems and disappointments, but I still really enjoyed it and there is no question that Bardugo’s writing really develops throughout this series and this book in particular.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Nick and Charlie (#1.5) by Alice Oseman

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Goodreads | Waterstones

CHARLIE: “I have been going out with Nick Nelson for two years. He likes rugby, Formula 1, dogs, the Marvel universe, the sound felt-tips make on paper, rain and drawing on shoes. He also likes me.”
NICK: “Things me and Charlie Spring do together include: Watch films. Sit in the same room on different laptops. Text each other from different rooms. Make out. Make food. Make drinks. Get drunk. Talk. Argue. Laugh. Maybe we’re kind of boring. But that’s fine with us.”
Everyone knows that Nick and Charlie are the perfect couple – that they’re inseparable. But now Nick is leaving for university, and Charlie will be left behind at Sixth Form. Everyone’s asking if they’re staying together, which is a stupid question – they’re ‘Nick and Charlie’ for God’s sake!
But as the time to say goodbye gets inevitably closer, both Nick and Charlie question whether their love is strong enough to survive being apart. Or are they delaying the inevitable? Because everyone knows that first loves rarely last forever … 

I wasn’t sure whether to do a review for this book or not seeing as it is a short novella I flew threw in an hour or so. But I found myself finishing it with so many thoughts I just wanted to write them all down!

Firstly, you’ve got to have some talent to make me laugh, cry and break my heart all in 158 pages. But Alice Oseman can do that. I know we’re not necessarily introduced to the characters in this novella, as I have been reading about them in my much loved Heartstopper for a year and a half, but it still shocked me how quickly I built up an emotional connection with these boys.

Charlie curled up so beautifully in my bed, the orange street-lamp light shining on his skin,

This novella hit me so hard because it’s something so real and raw that so many teenagers go through – I certainly did as a young adult – and I related to it so much. Although I am much more secure and confident in myself now, I could still see myself reflected in Nick and Charlie’s insecurities and it made me so emotional.

I can’t write this review without mentioning the physical book itself. I have the Waterstones limited signed edition and it is beautiful. I loved the chapter pages, I loved the illustrations. It was all just downright adorable. I have read other reviews expressing concern for the publishers money-grabbing by this being a thing, but although I agree, I can’t be mad. Because I want this on my shelf so badly. It is utterly gorgeous, and looks amazing with her other books. It made me so happy.

and I felt like if I was going to die, this would be what I wanted to see last.

Overall, this was the sweetest and softest novella about Nick and Charlie from Heartstopper. I would definitely recommend it for all Heartstopper fans, it is just so adorable and you won’t be able to put it down! It was much more hard-hitting and raw than the graphic novels, showing a tougher side to teenage relationships, which I loved. I don’t think I can rate this anything less than 5 stars!

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Siege and Storm (#2) by Leigh Bardugo

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.
The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her—or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

I didn’t quite read this one as quickly as Shadow and Bone, but I very easily could have. The only reason I didn’t was in fact I took a break to do other things I needed to focus my time on. But even so, I did still read it in practically three sittings – one time reading around 115 pages, the next time reading around 200 pages, and then finishing off with a short 65 sprint.

This book didn’t capture my attention quite as much as the first one, I’ll admit. But I still loved a lot about it, including Nikolai. Forget the Darkling, Nikolai was such a good character. I loved his dialogue and banter and complicated nature. I wish the love triangle (or square, or whatever-the-hell it is by now) just wasn’t a thing, as I really think having Nikolai as just a super cool friend would have appealed more to me in all honesty. But having him in this book was awesome, and I loved his character.

The less you say,

Alina really progresses in this book and becomes a character with a much deeper, darker nature, constantly battling her own demons. I felt like I was riding such a rollercoaster with her, and wow that ending left me wanting more. Sometimes the plot of this series can come across as predictable, but I was so lulled into the story that the last 20 or so pages really shook me.

The tone of this series is brilliant. I love the world Bardugo has created, especially with the dark, steampunk undertones constantly shining through. Considering a third of this book is set on a ship with pirates (sorry, privateers), it’s a shock how much I loved it, as I usually drift away from anything set on the ocean for some reason. However, the characters were just so intensely well written that I was so drawn in!

the more weight your words will carry.

Overall, this book felt much the same as the first for me. I loved the plot and the story, but the romance let me down. The characters are very well written and have depth, which only expands in the second one. I’m very excited to see where the last one takes me!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Shadow and Bone (#1) by Leigh Bardugo

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Alina Starkov doesn’t expect much from life. Orphaned by the Border Wars, she is sure of only one thing: her best friend, Mal–and her inconvenient crush on him. Until the day their army regiment enters the Fold, a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. When their convoy is attacked and Mal is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power not even she knew existed.
Ripped from everything she knows, Alina is taken to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. With Alina’s extraordinary power in his arsenal, he believes they can finally destory the Fold. Now Alina must find a way to master her untamed gift and somehow fit into her new life without Mal by her side. But nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. As the threat to the kingdom mounts and her dangerous attraction to the Darkling grows, Alina will uncover a secret that could tear her heart–and her country–in two. 

Having read Leigh’s books in the complete wrong order, I had no idea how this series would feel for me. I began with Six of Crows, then Crooked Kingdom, The Language of Thorns and have even read King of Scars, which kind of ruins some of this series for me. I still wanted to give it a go though, and especially considering I don’t remember much of King of Scars at all, I don’t feel like it spoiled too much for me.

Having read her later writing first, I definitely noticed a difference in this book being earlier. Bardugo’s writing develops so much throughout her releases, but in a lot of ways it actually made Shadow and Bone really enjoyable for me. The writing is simpler, less complicated and felt like a good place to start in the universe, for Bardugo herself and for the reader. In a lot of ways I really do wish I’d started with this series, as I remember how long it took me to get into Six of Crows the first time around.

“The problem with wanting,” he whispered,

Although a lot of the plot was predictable in places, I really liked learning Alina’s story. She made a great protagonist to introduce this world with, as she is learning about the magic system herself and starting from scratch. Talking of, I really liked how the magic system was put together and portrayed. The Grisha themselves are really cool and unique magic wielders, and I love reading about their world.

Although Alina made a great female protagonist, I didn’t enjoy the love triangle so much. Love triangles always put me off a little, and this one was no different. I did really like the Darkling, however, and I thought he was a very cleverly written ploy.

I can’t write this review without telling you guys how I read the entire thing in a day. Not 24-hours. I literally read it from morning to evening. I read 170 pages in one go. Although it didn’t quite make this book 5 stars for me, I cannot hide how purely enthralling and page-turning a book has to be for me to pick it up like that and simply not want to put it down. I was captivated.

his mouth trailing along my jaw until it hovered over my lips, “is that it makes us weak.”

Overall, this book let me down in places and the plot could be predictable, but I really loved it and wish I’d picked it up sooner. What a story. It grabs you by the shoulders and doesn’t let go. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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