Stacking the Shelves #41

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

Hi everyone! I haven’t actually bought too many books recently, although I have ordered a few more recently that I’m very excited to arrive. I might be speaking too soon, but I definitely feel like adding to my TBR has gotten better, and I’m buying more duplicate editions instead! Whether that’s a good thing or not is your own judgement 😉

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Nesta Archeron has always been prickly – proud, swift to anger and slow to forgive. And since the war – since being made High Fae against her will – she’s struggled to forget the horrors she endured and find a place for herself within the strange and deadly Night Court. The person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred, winged warrior who is there at Nesta’s every turn. But her temper isn’t the only thing Cassian ignites. And when they are forced to train in battle together, sparks become flame. As the threat of war casts its shadow over them once again, Nesta and Cassian must fight monsters from within and without if they are to stand a chance of halting the enemies of their court. But the ultimate risk will be searching for acceptance – and healing – in each other’s arms.

This edition is actually the edition that turned up with my Illumicrate dust jackets, which are absolutely beautiful! I also picked up my Waterstones edition.

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Goodreads

A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.
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.

I had one last collectors edition of The Invisible Life of Addie Larue to pick up, which was this gorgeous Forbidden Planet version. I recently managed (with some help from my boyfriend) to pick up this edition, which looks amazing as part of my collection!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

I’ve also had two out of three copies of Rule of Wolves that I had preordered arrive – the Waterstones and Illumicrate versions. They have the same dust jackets but the designs underneath are absolutely drop dead gorgeous!

Which books did you buy or receive this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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March Wrap Up + April TBR

Hi all! Today I’m here with my March wrap-up and April TBR. I read a whopping 16 books in March, which I’m so proud of! This was definitely helped massively by the Bookoplathon, which you can read my blog post about here. I read 8 books that one weekend, and 8 more books over the rest of the month! I also managed to read all of the books I mentioned in my March TBR on this post, which is always good. You can see this post in video format on my YouTube channel here and below.

Books I Read in March

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

WHEN ISABELLA SWAN MOVES TO THE gloomy town of Forks and meets the mysterious, alluring Edward Cullen, her life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. With his porcelain skin, golden eyes, mesmerizing voice, and supernatural gifts, Edward is both irresistible and enigmatic.
WHAT BELLA DOESN’T REALIZE IS THE CLOSER she gets to him, the more she is putting herself and those around her at risk. And, it might be too late to turn back…
DEEPLY SEDUCTIVE AND EXTRAORDINARILY suspenseful, Twilight has enraptured millions and become a modern classic, redefining genres within young adult literature and inspiring a phenomenon that has had readers yearning for more.
This special tenth anniversary dual edition includes a foreword by the author as well as a complete reimagining of the original novel. Turn this book over to read Life and Death.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Little Women is one of the best-loved children’s stories of all time, based on the author’s own youthful experiences. It describes the family of the four March sisters living in a small New England community. Meg, the eldest, is pretty and wishes to be a lady; Jo, at fifteen is ungainly and unconventional with an ambition to be an author; Beth is a delicate child of thirteen with a taste for music and Amy is a blonde beauty of twelve. The story of their domestic adventures, their attempts to increase the family income, their friendship with the neighbouring Laurence family, and their later love affairs remains as fresh and beguiling as ever.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Raised in isolation and home-schooled by her strict grandparents, the only experience Birdie has had of the outside world is through her favourite crime books.
But everything changes when she takes a summer job working the night shift at a historic Seattle hotel. There she meets Daniel Aoki, the hotel’s charismatic driver, and together they stumble upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—is secretly meeting someone at the hotel.
To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell, and in doing so, realize that the most confounding mystery of all may just be her growing feelings for Daniel.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations. The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince.
As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Good Wives is the second story about the March family. Three years on from Little Women, the March girls and their friend Laurie are young adults with their futures ahead of them. Although they all face painful trials along the way – from Meg’s sad lesson in housekeeping to Laurie’s disappointment in love and a tragedy which touches them all – each of the girls finally finds happiness, if not always in the way they expect. The book includes a behind-the-scenes journey, including an author profile, a guide to who’s who, activities and more.. 

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Nesta Archeron has always been prickly-proud, swift to anger, and slow to forgive. And ever since being forced into the Cauldron and becoming High Fae against her will, she’s struggled to find a place for herself within the strange, deadly world she inhabits. Worse, she can’t seem to move past the horrors of the war with Hybern and all she lost in it.
The one person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred warrior whose position in Rhysand and Feyre’s Night Court keeps him constantly in Nesta’s orbit. But her temper isn’t the only thing Cassian ignites. The fire between them is undeniable, and only burns hotter as they are forced into close quarters with each other.
Meanwhile, the treacherous human queens who returned to the Continent during the last war have forged a dangerous new alliance, threatening the fragile peace that has settled over the realms. And the key to halting them might very well rely on Cassian and Nesta facing their haunting pasts.
Against the sweeping backdrop of a world seared by war and plagued with uncertainty, Nesta and Cassian battle monsters from within and without as they search for acceptance-and healing-in each other’s arms.

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Review | 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.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

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.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

The “IT” book of the early 2000s with the original cast is back–Nico! Karolina! Molly! Chase! Old Lace! And, could it be…GERT?!
The heart of the Runaways died years ago, but you won’t believe how she returns! Superstar author Rainbow Rowell (Eleanor & Park, Carry On) makes her Marvel debut with fan-favorite artist Kris Anka (ALL-NEW X-MEN, CAPTAIN MARVEL) in the series that will shock you and break your heart! Did Chase and Gert’s love survive their time apart? Have Karolina and Nico’s feelings made their friendship impossible? What emotional landmines lie in wait to DESTROY the Runaways?!

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Review | Goodreads | Blackwells

Lewis Carroll’s classic story of Alice and her incredible adventures in Wonderland is brought to life in this brand new slipcase edition. Follow curious Alice as she ventures down a rabbit hole and into a magical world, filled with unforgettable characters such as the March Hare, the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat and the Queen of Hearts. Illustrated with John Tenniel’s iconic original drawings, this beautiful book is guaranteed to enchant young readers aged 7 and up.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

The Carls just appeared. Coming home from work at three a.m., twenty-three-year-old April May stumbles across a giant sculpture. Delighted by its appearance and craftsmanship–like a ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armor–April and her friend Andy make a video with it, which Andy uploads to YouTube. The next day April wakes up to a viral video and a new life. News quickly spreads that there are Carls in dozens of cities around the world–everywhere from Beijing to Buenos Aires–and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the center of an intense international media spotlight.
Now April has to deal with the pressure on her relationships, her identity, and her safety that this new position brings, all while being on the front lines of the quest to find out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

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!

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

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.

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Review | 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.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable.
When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding.
But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick’s changing landscape, or lose it all.

My least favourite book was definitely Life and Death, which I actually published a YouTube video about because I had so much to say about it! My favourite book was definitely An Absolutely Remarkable Thing which was a massive surprise to me.

Books I Want to Read in April

Peter Pan – J.M. Barrie
The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Falling in Love Montage – Ciara Smyth
An Ember in the Ashes – Sabaa Tahir
A Torch Against the Night – Sabaa Tahir
A Reaper at the Gates – Sabaa Tahir
A Sky Beyond the Storm – Sabaa Tahir

I’ve already read a few of these books as part of a readathon over the Easter weekend, and me and Alex are going to be reading the Ember in the Ashes series over the month!

What did you read in March and what are you hoping to read in April?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined by Stephanie Meyer

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Goodreads | Waterstones

You know Bella and Edward, now get to know Beau and Edythe.
When Beaufort Swan moves to the gloomy town of Forks and meets the mysterious, alluring Edythe Cullen, his life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. With her porcelain skin, golden eyes, mesmerizing voice, and supernatural gifts, Edythe is both irresistible and enigmatic.
What Beau doesn’t realize is the closer he gets to her, the more he is putting himself and those around him at risk. And, it might be too late to turn back….
With a foreword and afterword by Stephenie Meyer, this compelling reimagining of the iconic love story is a must-read for Twilight fans everywhere.

Oh, look, I managed to find the worst book I’ve ever read.

We all know and love (well, maybe that’s pushing it) Twilight. I read it probably around 5 years ago, and although I could acknowledge at the time that the writing wasn’t the best, teenage me did at least enjoy it. Life and Death, however, takes any bad writing and problems that arose in Twilight and amplify them by 100 times. I would argue this is the most pointless, unnecessary book that has ever written. I had countless gripes with the book, other than the writing being so all over the place it was actually laughable in places (quote included will show an hilarious example of this). I have recorded a long, rant-y video to explain some of the problems I found with the book, and I will be publishing that on my blog when I edit it and get it up on YouTube.

The biggest problem with this book was the whole gender swap itself. Instead of doing something revolutionary, it brought up more problems than I could ever expect. Instead of feeling fresh and interesting, it fell flat and also fell into gender stereotypes of the opposite gender. Covered a little in this article with comparisons of Twilight and Life and Death, instead of defying gender roles, small comments in this book feed into them. For example, where Bella would cry in Twilight, Beau would repress his emotions in Life and Death. Where Bella will comment briefly about how attractive a man is, Beau will ramble and sexualise any attractive woman he sees.

There was also countless problematic comments, including about taking drugs to help you sleep, use of the word ‘spastically’ and describing a 14/15 year old girl as very pretty and sexualising her. There was also a scene describing the female body (I think Edythe’s, but I can’t remember) as ‘perfect’ when you could see her ribs, and describing Beau as ‘OCD’ and the use of ‘OCD’ as an adjective in general.

On top of this, I found Beau and Edythe’s relationship incredibly unhealthy and problematic. Much like Bella and Edward in Twilight, they fall in love almost instantly and without knowing much about each other at all. From there on in, they cannot bear to be apart for more than a few hours and never let each other out of sight. The whole portrayal of their relationship felt fake and made me generally uncomfortable. As in Twilight, Edythe also breaks into Beau’s house and watches him sleep, which he didn’t care about at all when he found out, and in fact, found it romantic. It is not romantic. It is stalker-ish, uncomfortable, and downright illegal. They are not in a relationship when this occurs and barely know each other at all, which is what made me so aggravated by the concept.

I didn’t feel the need to rub it in to every cheeseburger I conquered.

As I mentioned before, the writing is terrible, but also the plot is so damn holey. It’s almost as if Stephanie ignores the way the plot would really go with how the vampire’s powers work, and instead of factoring them into the end scenes, pretend they don’t exist. On top of this, the book is not diverse at all, and is full of heterosexual relationships. It’s like there is no other option for any of the characters, and was most prominent for me when Charlie was talking to Beau about possible relationships, and immediately presumed he would be with a girl and that was the only option for him.

Even if we attempt to overlook all of the problems that arose within this story, it is very difficult to ignore the fact it is not Twilight, reimagined. It is Twilight, run through a thesaurus. I was very aware from the first part of this book that it felt incredibly similar to Twilight, and the scenes played out in the exact same order I remembered them. But it took me most of the book to actually open my copy of Twilight and compare a passage (below). Not only was most of the dialogue the same word for word, the scenes played out in the exact same way every time. The only part of the book that was any different was the last 2-3 chapters.

Twilight
I shivered.
“It’s not pleasant, you see.”
“Edward said that it was very hard to do…I don’t quite understand,” I said.
“We’re also like sharks in a way. Once we taste the blood, or even smell it for that matter, it becomes very hard to keep from feeding. Sometimes impossible. So you see, to actually bite someone, to taste the blood, it would begin the frenzy. It’s difficult on both sides–the bloodlust on one hand, the awful pain on the other.”

Life and Death
I shuddered.
“It’s not pleasant, no.”
“Edythe said it was very hard to do…but that sounds simple enough.”
“We’re also like sharks in a way. Once we taste blood, or even smell it for that matter, it becomes very hard to keep from feeding. Impossible, even. So you see, to actually bite someone, to taste the blood, it would begin the frenzy. It’s difficult on both sides–the bloodlust on the one hand, the awful pain on the other.”

This whole book was such an utter and complete disappointment. There was a chance here that this book would change, evolve, become better and more modern. More diverse. Actually making an effort to defy gender boundaries. But the best word I can find to describe this book is lazy. It is the laziest, most unnecessary piece of writing I’ve ever known to exist. And the whole thing fills me with aggravation at what an exploitation of readers this is. I will definitely not be reading Midnight Sun, or anything else by Stephanie Meyer.

I am not one to rate books as low as I rated this one. I’m also not one to usually post such a hateful review, but I’m sorry, this was utter bullsh*t.


1 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #39

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

Hi everyone! I’ve had some really exciting bookmail recently that I can’t wait to tell you about. I’ve been buying a lot of special editions recently in lockdown and a few of them arrived this week.

An Ember in the Ashes DELUXE SET – Community

Goodreads

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
 There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

I actually ordered this set back in November and it arrived last week! It’s such a beautiful set, I’m so happy I bought it.

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Goodreads

Nesta Archeron has always been prickly-proud, swift to anger, and slow to forgive. And ever since being forced into the Cauldron and becoming High Fae against her will, she’s struggled to find a place for herself within the strange, deadly world she inhabits. Worse, she can’t seem to move past the horrors of the war with Hybern and all she lost in it.
The one person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred warrior whose position in Rhysand and Feyre’s Night Court keeps him constantly in Nesta’s orbit. But her temper isn’t the only thing Cassian ignites. The fire between them is undeniable, and only burns hotter as they are forced into close quarters with each other.
Meanwhile, the treacherous human queens who returned to the Continent during the last war have forged a dangerous new alliance, threatening the fragile peace that has settled over the realms. And the key to halting them might very well rely on Cassian and Nesta facing their haunting pasts.

I’m so happy that after so much grief (I will be covering this more on my YouTube channel soon!), my tour edition of A Court of Silver Flames finally arrived. I can’t wait to read it!

What have you bought this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Bizarre Romance by Audrey Niffenegger and Eddie Campbell

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Goodreads | Waterstones

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.

This book was without a doubt the weirdest, wackiest, most bizarre I’ve ever read. And I loved it. It turned out to be nothing like I expected, and instead of being about the authors’ relationship like I thought, it ended up being about love of art, of animals, of people, of magic and mystical beings. I really liked finding where love came into each story, whether it was a comic with fantasy elements or literary fiction.

As with any collection of short stories, I preferred some over others. I found the art style jarring at times, but I still really liked some of the comics. I ended up having two joint favourites, Thursday’s, Six to Eight p.m. and The Church of the Funnies. Thursday’s, Six to Eight p.m. was the first story in this book, and was in comic format. This story was pretty standard fiction, and I really liked it being about a bibliophile. It was very unexpected with twists and turns and I was hooked for the whole story! The Church of the Funnies was the penultimate story in this collection, and was a love letter to art (at least, in my mind). It left me with a smile on my face. The vast majority of these stories were published before for different reasons, and this one was actually a sermon written by Niffenegger and was delivered at Manchester Cathedral as part of Manchester Literary Festival in 2014.

I also ended up really liking some of the stories with fantasy elements, like the unexpected ghost story Secret Life with Cats, and the darker ones such as Digging Up the Cat. Every story had something I liked, and I related to each of them on one level or another. It appealed to the deepest, darkest and weirdest parts of me, and when I embraced it, I really enjoyed it.

I’m going to do a quick list with summaries of each story and my ratings of each!

Thursday’s, Six to Eight p.m.★★★

Comic. As I mentioned, my joint favourite story in this series. A couple get married, but he wants to have two hours on a Thursday night to himself, and doesn’t explain why. After a while, she gets suspicious and tries to find out why he wants the time alone….

The Composite Boyfriend – ★★★

Prose. This one was a lovely introduction to the prose in this book. A short story about a history of boyfriends, all of them being not ‘the one’.

RoseRedSnowRidingBeautyShoesHoodSleepingWhite – ★★★

Comic. A very odd fantasy story about siblings looking for Halloween costumes, but ended up being mystical, magical and poignant.

Secret Life, With Cats – ★★★

Prose. Another one of my favourites and I really enjoyed it. A surreal ghost story with love being a central theme (and a lot of cats).

The Ruin of Grant Lowery – ★★★

Comic. A very odd story about a man who meets a group of faeries in a bar, with an ending that made me laugh.

Girl on a Roof★★★

Prose. A short story about a girl called Nan who has not seen her girlfriend Sylvie since the floods began in New Orleans. A beautiful love story that had such a heavy, poignant feeling.

Jakob Wywialowski and the Angels – ★★★

Comic. Another wacky comic about a man with angels in his roof, that he gets the pest control in to deal with. Again, this one had a surprising, emotional ending that I really liked.

At the Movies★★★

Prose. Another one I quite enjoyed, about a couple making a movie. A simple but heartfelt story I resonated with.

Motion Studies: Getting out of Bed – ★★★

Comic. An odd story about a woman who posed for life drawing classes and was now part of what was seemingly a photography project. I really enjoyed how the thoughts and feelings of the woman were intertwined with the drawings.

The Wrong Fairy – ★★★

Prose. Another poignant story about an elderly man who had been committed to a mental asylum. Again, we had fantasy elements which were wacky but really enjoyable.

Digging up the Cat – ★★★

Prose. As previously mentioned, another one of my favourites and I really liked this one. A dark story about a family who were digging up their pet cat who had been buried for 7 years, and wanted to add another recently deceased pet to be buried with it.

The Church of the Funnies – ★★★

Prose. A joint favourite for me alongside Tuesday’s, Six to Eight p.m.. A love letter to art that I really liked and left me quietly chuckling to myself.

Backwards in Seville – ★★★

Comic. An emotional story about a middle aged woman had joined her aging father on a cruise. This ended up being very sweet and I quite liked the art style.

There is nothing that explains this book as well as this quote from the introduction of the book itself, and I couldn’t sum it up better myself: “sometimes romantic, sometimes star-crossed, or merely discombobulated, but all are at least a tiny bit bizarre.”

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-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

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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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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

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Review | Goodreads

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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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

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

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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

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

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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: Find Me (#2) by Andre Aciman

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Elio believes he has left behind his first love – but as an affair with an older man intensifies, his thoughts turn to the past and to Oliver.
Oliver, a college professor, husband and father, is preparing to leave New York. The imminent trip stirs up longing and regret, awakening an old desire and propelling him towards a decision that could change everything.
In Call Me By Your Name, we fell in love with Oliver and Elio. Find Me returns to these unforgettable characters, exploring how love can ripple out from the past and into the future.

I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this book after not enjoying Call Me By Your Name when I read it a few years ago. However, I was intrigued by Find Me, especially when I found out it contained a story about Elio’s dad. The discussion Elio has with his dad in Call Me By Your Name was one of my favourite parts of the book, so when I heard I could read more about him I jumped at the chance.

However, I unfortunately can’t say I enjoyed this much more. It was mainly quite bland and just okay. I read it mostly on audiobook (probably around 80% and 20% physical) and I’m glad I did. Although Aciman’s writing is very beautiful, it is quite deep and therefore difficult to get through in my opinion. Reading the audiobook definitely helped with this!

Each of us is like a moon that shows only a few facets to earth, but never its full sphere.

I’ve heard a lot of readers were disappointed by this book because they expected more Elio and Oliver, and I can see why. The first half of the book follows Samuel, Elio’s dad, which I actually enjoyed the most. He meets a woman by chance on a train, called Miranda, and they fall in love in a whirlwind 24 hour journey. Although I felt it was quite unrealistic, I loved the stark honesty of their feelings for each other and some of the discussions they had. However, the romance did feel odd at times, in the pure desire and love they felt for each other merely hours after having met. There was also some incredibly odd and problematic scenes and discussions between them, including some very problematic discussions of sex and abuse.

Elio’s story follows, and then Oliver’s. They are all set years after Call Me By Your Name, and I think Oliver’s section was set 20 years after. I quite enjoyed Elio’s story, which was also a whirlwind romance with a strange amount of mystery surrounding a sheet of music, which it became clear was the idea for the chapters of the book. The relationship in Elio’s section felt more realistic, but was not without it’s problems in discussion.

Oliver’s section of the book showed him married, but seemingly fantasising at length about a threesome with two of his friends. This just felt uncomfortable and conflicting to the story. We eventually end the book with the characters all coming together, in a way.

Most of us never meet those who’ll understand our full rounded self. I show people only that sliver of me I think they’ll grasp.

As I felt about Call Me By Your Name, this book was very problematic in some of it’s discussion and in a lot of ways, feels like a way for the author to play out his own very weird fantasies. Although I did enjoy some elements of this book, including the beautiful setting and beautiful writing, there was just too many problems for me to enjoy it.

★★★
2.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Four (#0.1-0.4) by Veronica Roth

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Readers first encountered Tobias Eaton as “Four” in Divergent. His voice is an integral part of Allegiant. Readers will find more of this charismatic character’s backstory told from his own perspective in Four: A Divergent Collection. When read together, these long narrative pieces illuminate the defining moments in Tobias Eaton’s life.
The first three pieces in this volume – “The Transfer,” “The Initiate,” and “The Son” – follow Tobias’s transfer from Abnegation to Dauntless, his Dauntless initiation, and the first clues that a foul plan is brewing in the leadership of two factions.
The fourth story, “The Traitor,” runs parallel with the events of Divergent, giving readers a glimpse into the decisions of loyalty – and love – that Tobias makes in the weeks after he meets Tris Prior.

This one pleasantly surprised me, actually. I actually left this book trying to analyse why I may have enjoyed this ever so slightly more than the series itself, and I think it all comes down to Four. This book followed Tobias before and during his transfer from Abnegation to Dauntless, and the first time he meets Tris. Even though you learn a lot about his history in the Divergent series itself. it was really enjoyable to read from his point of view.

I stopped allowing myself to dream, 

I think a lot of this comes from how annoying I found Tris as a narrator of the main series. I enjoyed reading from Tobias’ point of view in Allegiant and finding out that he was meant to be the main character of the series surprised me. I think I may have enjoyed it a lot more as a whole if he was! I thought some of his dialogue in the main series was quite harsh, but reading from his point of view made a lot more sense to me.

Even though I knew the bare bones of most of Tobias’ story, I did quite enjoy reading it and finding out his justifications for his actions. I read this in about 12 hours and a couple of sittings, it was super quick!

because it was more painful to long for things and never get them than to deal with whatever was in front of me.

Overall, I can’t believe I enjoyed this more than the series, but it really shows how much a character can change things.

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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