Stacking the Shelves #59

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 may be misremembering, as I am away from home, but I think I’m right in saying that I only acquired two books this week and both were from the publishers as gifts. If I’m wrong, I will add other books I’ve missed onto next weeks update so look out for that one!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Mirabelle has always known she is a monster. When the glamour protecting her unusual family from the human world is torn and an orphaned brother and sister stumble upon Rookhaven, Mirabelle soon discovers that friendship can be found in the outside world.
But as something far more sinister comes to threaten them all, it quickly becomes clear that the true monsters aren’t necessarily the ones you can see.
A thought-provoking, chilling and beautifully written novel, Pádraig Kenny’s The Monsters of Rookhhaven, stunningly illustrated by Edward Bettison, explores difference and empathy through the eyes of characters you won’t want to let go.

Both of these books are middle grade, the first being The Monsters of Rookhaven which is our children’s book of the month at Waterstones where I work. I’d like to somehow read this before the month ends!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Do you dare read this collection of terrifyingly gruesome tales? In this gripping volume, author Jen Campbell offers young readers an edgy, contemporary, and inclusive take on classic fairy tales, taking them back to their gory beginnings while updating them for a modern audience with queer and disabled characters and positive representation of disfigurement.
Featuring fourteen short stories from China, India, Ireland, and across the globe, The Sister Who Ate Her Brothers is an international collection of the creepiest folk tales. Illustrated with Adam de Souza’s brooding art, this book’s style is a totally original blend of nineteenth-century Gothic engravings meets moody film noir graphic novels. Headlined by the Korean tale of a carnivorous child, The Sister Who Ate Her Brothers is a truly thrilling gift for brave young readers.

I was also sent this beautiful hardback by Thames and Hudson, and I’m so excited to get stuck into it. This is also a middle grade and I’m intrigued to how it is framed for younger readers! Another one I’d love to get to before Halloween if I can.

Which books did you buy or receive this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor (#2) by Hank Green

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Goodreads | Waterstones

The Carls disappeared the same way they appeared, in an instant. While they were on Earth, they caused confusion and destruction without ever lifting a finger. Well, that’s not exactly true. Part of their maelstrom was the sudden viral fame and untimely death of April May: a young woman who stumbled into Carl’s path, giving them their name, becoming their advocate, and putting herself in the middle of an avalanche of conspiracy theories.
Months later, the world is as confused as ever. Andy has picked up April’s mantle of fame, speaking at conferences and online about the world post-Carl; Maya, ravaged by grief, begins to follow a string of mysteries that she is convinced will lead her to April; and Miranda infiltrates a new scientific operation . . . one that might have repercussions beyond anyone’s comprehension.
As they each get further down their own paths, a series of clues arrive—mysterious books that seem to predict the future and control the actions of their readers; unexplained internet outages; and more—which seem to suggest April may be very much alive. In the midst of the gang’s possible reunion is a growing force, something that wants to capture our consciousness and even control our reality.

I was a little concerned this second book wouldn’t live up to the first one. I read An Absolutely Remarkable Thing earlier this year and I absolutely fell in love with it and read it in one afternoon. However, I went into the first book with little to no expectation, and had much higher expectations. But as soon as I picked up this one I knew I was going to just fall in love with it. The narrative is so, so unique and I don’t think I will ever find a series quite like this one.

I had no idea where this series would go, but I love where we ended up. This is told from quite a few different points of view, but it really worked. I feel like multiple POV is hard to get right when there is more than just two, but this one got it just right. The chapters were quite short and I really didn’t want to put this one down. I constantly wanted to get to the next chapter and find out what was happening in different parts of the story.

You will always struggle with not feeling productive until you accept that your own joy can be something you produce.

I loved reading about these characters, who aren’t entirely likeable as such but I feel like these books really feel like you are inside their heads and relate very closely to them. Because the characters felt so familiar from the first book, I very smoothly dived into this one even though it’s been 6 months since I read the first book.

Without giving too much away about the plot, these books are kind of sci-fi contemporary, which makes it super intriguing and easy to read. This book follows the characters trying to find out more information about what happened to April-May at the end of book one, and also so much more. There are so many levels to these books and I found each of them easy to follow but equally intriguing.

It is not the only thing you will make, nor should it be, but it is something valuable and beautiful.

Overall, this series is just incredible and I couldn’t not rate this one 5 stars. I absolutely loved both books and I’m so glad I carried on with this series!

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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October + Spoopathon TBR

Hello everyone! I haven’t been posting my monthly TBR’s recently, but this one is extra exciting as it includes my Spoopathon TBR. If you didn’t know, Spoopathon is a readathon being hosted by Spoopyhol over on YouTube. If you want to know more, I’ll link the announcement video here and the Twitter here which has more information! I will also include this post in video format below for those of you who are interested in seeing it on my own YouTube channel.

This readathon follows us attempting to escape a haunted house by reading. How cool is that? Basically, we follow the prompts board (below) from the top to the bottom, collecting points along the way and trying to make it to the bottom. We gather points and bonus points for every book we read and enable us to defeat the ghosts and unlock the doors too. There are different teams that have different skills, and I’m on team spoop shifters which actually allows me to move diagonally across the board which is very helpful!

I’m only going to be attempting to escape the haunted house once, but I’m super excited! If you do happen to go through twice, then you have to start from a different point. The board below explains the scoring system in more detail and means I can add up as I go and make sure I have enough to defeat the ghosts and get through the doors.

Prompt 1 – Gifted to you

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Goodreads | Waterstones

When Fran Cooper accepts a mysterious temporary job as a PA to a celebrity, she is swept off her feet overnight. Working with internationally famous singer Juliette, Fran is the person charged with getting Juliette to the Crystal Ball, the glittering event when the world’s rich and famous gather on Panarea, a beautiful Mediterranean island, for a night like no other.
What Fran doesn’t know is that on this one night, everything will change for her too – that instead of standing on the sidelines, she’ll be putting on the most beautiful dress she’s ever seen and having the most unforgettable night of her life…

This one was gifted to me by the publisher (thank you so much Harper!), and I’m so excited for it. My boyfriend loves Lindsey Kelk’s work and I’ve wanted to read one of her books for a while because of that, so I grabbed the chance to read this new release! It also comes out early November, so I wanted to pick it up before then.

Bonus prompts: recommended to you Points overall: 75 points

Prompt 2: Autumnal cover

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Goodreads | Waterstones

I’m already going to be reading the first graphic novel in this series for my other October TBR (linked at the bottom of this post), and I knew I wanted to pick this one for autumnal cover as it is just…so perfect. I’ve heard so many good things about this series and I can’t wait to read it.

Bonus prompts: LGBTQIA+ rep/author, cover features team colour (pink) Points overall: 125

Prompt 3: 500+ pages

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Goodreads | Waterstones

In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.
But when the Eastwood sisters–James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna–join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.
There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.

I received a proof of this book from the publisher last year (thank you Hachette!) and I’ve been excited to read it ever since but knew I wanted to wait for autumn. I’m hoping to buddy read this one with Alex which also gets me some bonus points!

Bonus prompts: buddy read, spooky book Points overall: 125 points

Prompt 4: trick or treat

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Finnmark, Norway, 1617. Twenty-year-old Maren Magnusdatter stands on the craggy coast, watching the sea break into a sudden and reckless storm. Forty fishermen, including her brother and father, are drowned and left broken on the rocks below. With the menfolk wiped out, the women of the tiny Arctic town of Vardø must fend for themselves.
Three years later, a sinister figure arrives. Absalom Cornet comes from Scotland, where he burned witches in the northern isles. He brings with him his young Norwegian wife, Ursa, who is both heady with her husband’s authority and terrified by it. In Vardø, and in Maren, Ursa sees something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place untouched by God, and flooded with a mighty evil.
As Maren and Ursa are drawn to one another in ways that surprise them both, the island begins to close in on them, with Absalom’s iron rule threatening Vardø’s very existence.

I’ve been so excited to read this one for a while and I’m actually going to be buddy reading this one in October anyway with some friends so it fit so well!

For this prompt I actually used my spoop shifter ability to jump across the board to trick or treat. The prompt means you put a poll up with one book being a treat (one you really want to read) and one being a trick (one you don’t want to read so much/this month). You also don’t include which one is a trick and which is a treat. I put a poll on Twitter and you guys voted for my treat so thank you!

Bonus prompts: buddy read. Points overall: 75 points

Prompt 5: read after dark

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Exiled to a far-flung island by the whims of the gods, Medusa has little company except the snakes that adorn her head instead of hair. But when a charmed, beautiful boy called Perseus arrives on the island, her lonely existence is disrupted with the force of a supernova, unleashing desire, love, betrayal . and destiny itself.

I read after dark pretty much every night, but I decided to go for a shorter book so I can hopefully read the entire thing after dark over a few nights! This one sounds so interesting and accessible for someone like me who doesn’t read too much Greek mythology. I was also sent this one by the publisher, thank you Bloomsbury!

Points overall: 25

So working out my points across the entire board, I should leave the haunted house with a total of 525 points (including the bonus for exiting which is 100 points!). I have some other books I want to read in October including an entire other TBR game which gives me 5 different books, which you can view below on my YouTube channel.

Which books do you want to read in October?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: This Poison Heart (#1) by Kalynn Bayron

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Briseis has a gift: she can grow plants from tiny seeds to rich blooms with a single touch.
When Briseis’s aunt dies and wills her a dilapidated estate in rural New York, Bri and her parents decide to leave Brooklyn behind for the summer. Hopefully there, surrounded by plants and flowers, Bri will finally learn to control her gift. But their new home is sinister in ways they could never have imagined–it comes with a specific set of instructions, an old-school apothecary, and a walled garden filled with the deadliest botanicals in the world that can only be entered by those who share Bri’s unique family lineage.
When strangers begin to arrive on their doorstep, asking for tinctures and elixirs, Bri learns she has a surprising talent for creating them. One of the visitors is Marie, a mysterious young woman who Bri befriends, only to find that Marie is keeping dark secrets about the history of the estate and its surrounding community. There is more to Bri’s sudden inheritance than she could have imagined, and she is determined to uncover it . . . until a nefarious group comes after her in search of a rare and dangerous immortality elixir. Up against a centuries-old curse and the deadliest plant on earth, Bri must harness her gift to protect herself and her family.

I love that this is a retelling of The Secret Garden, and it was done so damn well. I read Cinderella is Dead by the same author earlier this year and I really enjoyed it, and I knew I wanted to pick this one up. Trust me, it didn’t disappoint! This was such a clever and modern twist on the original story, and I loved the way it reflected the original book while bringing something so fresh and interesting.

Briseis was such a great main character and I loved her a lot. She spends this book struggling with her own power, learning about herself and those around her. She also has an amazing support network in her parents, and I loved their sapphic relationship! It was so wholesome and felt so real, and I just fell in love with their family dynamic.

The people we love are never really gone from us,” Mom said. “Try to remember that. I know it’s hard.

The house itself felt like a true reflection of the manor in The Secret Garden and I could picture it so well. It was perfectly creepy but also beautiful, and I loved how it bought out Briseis’ power. I loved how visual Bayron’s writing was, and it made picturing the entire story so easy. I chose this book for my bookoplathon TBR for the prompt gods/myths/legends, as it was steeped in Greek mythology, but in a way I found so much more accessible than some other books I’ve read recently

The plot was so compelling and I honestly found it hard to put this book down. It was so easy to read and the plot was changing all the time. Especially towards the end, we had so many unpredictable plot twists that made it so hard to stop reading!

 It feels like the whole world should just stop spinnin’, but it doesn’t. And we’ve gotta find a way to pick up the pieces.

Overall, I really loved this book and I feel like it’s one I will remember for a while to come. If you’re a fan of The Secret Garden but want something with a twist, this is perfect!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Jay’s Gay Agenda (#1) by Jason June

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Goodreads | Waterstones

There’s one thing Jay Collier knows for sure—he’s a statistical anomaly as the only out gay kid in his small rural Washington town. While all this friends can’t stop talking about their heterosexual hookups and relationships, Jay can only dream of his own firsts, compiling a romance to-do list of all the things he hopes to one day experience—his Gay Agenda.
Then, against all odds, Jay’s family moves to Seattle and he starts his senior year at a new high school with a thriving LGBTQIA+ community. For the first time ever, Jay feels like he’s found where he truly belongs, where he can flirt with Very Sexy Boys and search for love. But as Jay begins crossing items off his list, he’ll soon be torn between his heart and his hormones, his old friends and his new ones…because after all, life and love don’t always go according to plan.

Do you ever just want to….throw a book against a wall? Because that is exactly how I felt with this one, over and over again. It’s not often I rate a book lower than 3 stars. I either know what to avoid, or I can find some good in it. Sometimes I slip up though, and want to try a book that could go either way. And there is just not enough good in this book for me to actually say I liked it.

Jay is one of the most self-centered and annoying characters I have ever come across in fiction. He repeatedly lies (or at best, emits the truth) to everyone around him without realising it is only going to end badly. He cheats (honestly one of the worst tropes I personally could ever read about), but with the softest, most vulnerable and kind hearted boy ever, which just made it so much worse.

My whole body wanted him, my entire soul too, and it hit me that an item on the Gay Agenda always should have been to find Albert.

I understand that the aim of this book was to write a coming-of-age novel about a gay teen who has never been around other queer people. I get that it was trying to be sex-positive and open about finding yourself and making a lot of mistakes in the process, but it really backfired in my opinion. There was a lot of diversity, including a gender queer side character, but I also found an issue early on in the book that made me uncomfortable from then on.

The gender queer side character, Max, has a conversation with Jay about pronouns. Max says, I quote, ‘I’m an open book, so none of the pronouns really feel one hundred percent right. But you can address your Gay Guide as he/him or she/her. My body is male, my energy is feminine, and I’m down for paying tribute to both.’. So we’ve addressed that Max uses multiple pronouns, but for the rest of the book, Max is only referred to as he/him. By the narrator (Jay), and by other characters. What was the point of having a character using multiple pronouns and having a conversation about it if they’re never going to be used?

After noticing this, I looked into the author, who also uses he/him and she/her pronouns. So this feels like something that should have been celebrated rather than ignored, and makes me worry if it was changed further down the line in editing or proofreading. If anyone else has read this I would really appreciate a comment letting me know if you think this is an issue too/picked up on it! I have had a lot of conversations with others about this while reading, and I would love to hear any other viewpoint.

To find the guy who could set my spirit and sexuality on fire all at the same time.

This book wasn’t all bad, and did have some interesting conversations about stereotypes and sexuality. I also loved some of the side characters, and these two redeeming qualities are the only reason why my rating is two stars rather than one.

★★
2 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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August Wrap-Up

I can’t believe it’s time for my August wrap-up already and that we’re heading in to the autumn season. I’m super excited for some autumnal reads, but I also managed to read 14 books in August. That’s the same amount as I read in July and I’m pretty happy with that! You can also find my August wrap-up on my YouTube channel below.

Books I read in August

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Everyone has a reason to fear the boy with the gun…
10:00 a.m.: The principal of Opportunity, Alabama’s high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.
10:02 a.m.: The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.
10:03: The auditorium doors won’t open.
10:05: Someone starts shooting.
In 54 minutes, four students must confront their greatest hopes, and darkest fears, as they come face-to-face with the boy with the gun.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads

Cee has been trapped on an abandoned island for three years without any recollection of how she arrived, or memories from her life prior. All she knows is that somewhere out there, beyond the horizon, she has a sister named Kay, and it’s up to Cee to cross the ocean and find her.
In a world apart, 16-year-old STEM prodigy Kasey Mizuhara lives in an eco-city built for people who protected the planet―and now need protecting from it. With natural disasters on the rise due to climate change, eco-cities provide clean air, water, and shelter. Their residents, in exchange, must spend at least a third of their time in stasis pods, conducting business virtually whenever possible to reduce their environmental footprint. While Kasey, an introvert and loner, doesn’t mind the lifestyle, her sister Celia hated it. Popular and lovable, Celia much preferred the outside world. But no one could have predicted that Celia would take a boat out to sea, never to return.
Now it’s been three months since Celia’s disappearance, and Kasey has given up hope. Logic says that her sister must be dead. But nevertheless, she decides to retrace Celia’s last steps. Where they’ll lead her, she does not know. Her sister was full of secrets. But Kasey has a secret of her own.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Amari Peters knows three things.
Her big brother Quinton has gone missing.
No one will talk about it.
His mysterious job holds the secret . . .
So when Amari gets an invitation to the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, she’s certain this is her chance to find Quinton. But first she has to get her head around the new world of the Bureau, where mermaids, aliens and magicians are real, and her roommate is a weredragon.
Amari must compete against kids who’ve known about the supernatural world their whole lives, and when each trainee is awarded a special supernatural talent, Amari is given an illegal talent – one that the Bureau views as dangerous.
With an evil magician threatening the whole supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she is the enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t pass the three tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton . . .

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

When a mysterious sailor dies in sinister circumstances at the Admiral Benbow inn, young Jim Hawkins stumbles across a treasure map among the dead man’s possessions. But Jim soon becomes only too aware that he is not the only one who knows of the map’s existence, and his bravery and cunning are tested to the full when, with his friends Squire Trelawney and Dr Livesey, he sets sail in the Hispaniola to track down the treasure. With its swift-moving plot and memorably drawn characters – Blind Pew and Black Dog, the castaway Ben Gunn and the charming but dangerous Long John Silver – Stevenson’s tale of pirates, treachery and heroism was an immediate success when it was first published in 1883 and has retained its place as one of the greatest of all adventure stories.

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

A Kind of Spark: Exclusive Edition (Paperback)

Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

A Kind of Spark tells the story of 11-year-old Addie as she campaigns for a memorial in memory of the witch trials that took place in her Scottish hometown. Addie knows there’s more to the story of these ‘witches’, just like there is more to hers.
Can Addie challenge how the people in her town see her, and make her voice heard? A story about friendship, courage and self-belief, perfect for fans of The Goldfish Boy, Addie’s story was born from Elle’s own experiences of neurodiversity and her commitment to seeing greater representation in children’s books
.

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Olivia is an expert at falling in love . . . and at being dumped. But after the fallout from her last breakup has left her an outcast at school and at home, she’s determined to turn over a new leaf. A crush-free weekend at Farmland Music and Arts Festival with her best friend is just what she needs to get her mind off the senior year that awaits her.
Toni is one week away from starting college, and it’s the last place she wants to be. Unsure about who she wants to become and still reeling in the wake of the loss of her musician-turned-roadie father, she’s heading back to the music festival that changed his life in hopes that following in his footsteps will help her find her own way forward.
When the two arrive at Farmland, the last thing they expect is to realize that they’ll need to join forces in order to get what they’re searching for out of the weekend. As they work together, the festival becomes so much more complicated than they bargained for, and Olivia and Toni will find that they need each other, and music, more than they ever could have imagined.

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Ash Persaud is about to become a reaper in the afterlife, but she is determined to see her first love Poppy Morgan again, the only thing that separates them is death.
Car headlights.
The last thing Ash hears is the snap of breaking glass as the windscreen hits her and breaks into a million pieces like stars.
But she made it, she’s still here. Or is she?
This New Year’s Eve, Ash is gets an RSVP from the afterlife she can’t decline: to join a clan of fierce girl reapers who take the souls of the city’s dead to await their fate.
But Ash can’t forget her first love, Poppy, and she will do anything to see her again… even if it means they only get a few more days together. Dead or alive…

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Ever felt anxious or alone? Like you don’t belong anywhere? Like you’re almost… invisible? Find your kindred spirits at The Sad Ghost Club.
This is the story of one of those days – a day so bad you can barely get out of bed, when it’s a struggle to leave the house, and when you do, you wish you hadn’t. But even the worst of days can surprise you. When one sad ghost, lost and alone at a crowded party, spies another sad ghost across the room, they decide to leave together. What happens next changes everything. Because that night they start the The Sad Ghost Club – a secret society for the anxious and alone, a club for people who think they don’t belong.

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.
Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.
When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.
But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can’t imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there’s certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures.
But then, there’s this gorgeous girl on the train.
Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane. Jane with her rough edges and swoopy hair and soft smile, showing up in a leather jacket to save August’s day when she needed it most. August’s subway crush becomes the best part of her day, but pretty soon, she discovers there’s one big problem: Jane doesn’t just look like an old school punk rocker. She’s literally displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her. Maybe it’s time to start believing in some things, after all.

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.
Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.
As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

I honestly had such an amazing reading month in terms of liking the books I read, I can’t remember the last time I had this many 4 and 5 star reads in a month! It’s hard to pick my favourite, but The House in the Cerulean Sea absolutely blew me away. My least favourite was Treasure Island, but I wouldn’t say I disliked any of my August reads.

What did you read in August?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: House of Earth and Blood (#1) by Sarah J Maas

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.
Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.
As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

Argh. I want to equally hug this and throw it across the room. I really liked this one, but sadly it ended up being my least favourite Sarah J Maas book so far (and now I’ve read all of them!). I don’t often find that her books feel long, but this one did. This took me almost 2 weeks to read and I struggled to want to pick it up, which I found so sad after managing to read A Court of Silver Flames in a couple of days and not wanting to put it down.

However, after spending the first half feeling like it was a little bit of a slog, the second half picked up so much and I absolutely loved it. It took me so long to feel like I was totally into the story, but I did feel completely different about the second half to the first. I think part of this is because this is the first Sarah J Maas book I’ve read that has an urban setting rather than a more medieval feeling setting. I just didn’t expect to have phones, TV and all other modern technology and it did really throw me at first.

Through love,

There was still a lot I loved in this book, including the characters. Although it took me a while to start rooting for them, I did really love them and reading about the slow burn romance we had throughout. On that note, I must admit the sexual tension in this book made me want to throw it against a wall sometimes, but I have heard that Crescent City 2 is meant to be the smuttiest yet! Which I’m not sure how I feel about, as I found A Court of Silver Flames had so much smut that it took away from the plot. Argh, we’ll see how it is!

I also love (and feel like Sarah J Maas does this really well) how grief and mental health shines through in Bryce’s character. I feel like we don’t often see mental health issues reflected in fantasy and it’s something that makes the characters feel so much more real and relatable. This also made me feel like my heart was being stomped all over in the final pages and I was so nervous about what was happening to them!

 all is possible.

Although this is my least favourite Sarah J Maas book so far, I did still really enjoy it and I’m so excited for the second book which comes out in February 2022!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #51

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 slightly better about buying books in the past couple of weeks (I think). I definitely feel like I’ve been restraining myself a little better when it comes to purchasing!

Myths, Monsters and Mayhem in Ancient Greece (Hardback)

Waterstones

I was also sent this beautiful picture book about Greek Mythology, which feels like exactly what I need. Thank you to the publishers, Templar, for sending me a copy!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

I was also sent the second Deadly Education book by the publishers – thank you Cornerstone! I’m hoping it gives me the motivation to pick up the first book.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

A young woman picks up a book left behind by a stranger. Inside it are his margin notes, which reveal a reader entranced by the story and by its mysterious author. She responds with notes of her own, leaving the book for the stranger, and so begins an unlikely conversation that plunges them both into the unknown.
THE BOOK: Ship of Theseus, the final novel by a prolific but enigmatic writer named V. M. Straka, in which a man with no past is shanghaied onto a strange ship with a monstrous crew and launched onto a disorienting and perilous journey.
THE WRITER: Straka, the incendiary and secretive subject of one of the world’s greatest mysteries, a revolutionary about whom the world knows nothing apart from the words he wrote and the rumours that swirl around him.
THE READERS: Jennifer and Eric, a college senior and a disgraced grad student, both facing crucial decisions about who they are, who they might become, and how much they’re willing to trust another person with their passions, hurts, and fears.

I recently found out a copy of this book had been sent into the bookshop I work in and couldn’t resist picking up. It’s the only book I will admit to buying because of Tiktok!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Way out in the furthest part of the known world, a tiny stronghold exists all on its own, cut off from the rest of human-kin by monsters that lurk beneath the Snow Sea.
There, a little boy called Ash waits for the return of his parents, singing a forbidden lullaby to remind him of them… and doing his best to avoid his very, VERY grumpy yeti guardian, Tobu.
But life is about to get a whole lot more crazy-adventurous for Ash.
When a brave rescue attempt reveals he has amazing magical powers, he’s whisked aboard the Frostheart, a sleigh packed full of daring explorers who could use his help. But can they help him find his family . . . ?

My friend at work recently got rid of her copy of Frostheart and after hearing Gav from How To Train Your Gavin talking about this series, I decided to pick it up!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Enter a school of magic unlike any you have ever encountered.
There are no teachers, no holidays, friendships are purely strategic, and the odds of survival are never equal.
Once you’re inside, there are only two ways out: you graduate or you die.
El Higgins is uniquely prepared for the school’s many dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out untold millions – never mind easily destroy the countless monsters that prowl the school.
Except, she might accidentally kill all the other students, too. So El is trying her hardest not to use it… that is, unless she has no other choice.

I also swapped my Illumicrate copy of A Deadly Education for the standard hardback copy, mainly because it matches my proof of The Last Graduate really well. I also found the Illumicrate edition stood out on my shelves because of the gold colour it was, and it is one of very few books I’m finding I prefer the standard hardback overall!

Which books did you buy or receive this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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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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