BookTube: Would You Rather? Book Tag

Hi all! I’m sorry I’ve been around less – things have been a little busier now they are getting back to normal, especially now I’m back at work! But I managed to film a video today, and I finally answered Alex’s bookish Would you rather tag questions. You can find her video here and mine below.

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.

Angie Thomas can just do no wrong. I loved The Hate U Give and it’s been long overdue that I give On the Come Up a shot. I’m aware right now more than ever that we need to amplify Black voices and educate ourselves. And I will not be quiet, I will continue to educate myself and learn the importance of this beyond what is being shown (and slowly disappearing from) the news and social media cycle.

This book opened my eyes so much to Black culture. It opened my eyes to poverty and discrimination and the problems we face within our education systems. It left me shook to the core.

Let be real: We’re black kids from one of the worst neighborhoods in the city.

Bri was such a good character and I really liked reading about her story. Her passion and anger drove me to match her energy. She was young and flawed and made decisions which very much frustrated me in parts, but I understood why she reacted to certain situations with anger, which may have impaired her best judgement. On the Come Up did an incredible job of facing the difficulties of growing up, of family and friends, and paired them perfectly with the deep-rooted problems Bri faces with racism in the education system in particular.

Her passion for rapping and music was paramount, and I loved how it shone through in the plot. It gave her such an interesting way to release the anger she was feeling, and made the plot fast paced and have so much depth. Unfortunately I wasn’t quite hooked from the beginning and it took me a while to get used to being back in Garden Heights, which impacted my rating slightly.

All it takes is one of us messing up, and suddenly all of us messed up.

Once again, Angie Thomas has achieved in writing a beautiful, amazing and hard hitting novel tackling such important issues. Simply put, we all need to read books like this. This is just the beginning of educating ourselves.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Stacking the Shelves #18

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 bought something else a little different recently – in the form of a colouring book. I used to love colouring books and my friend and I used to colour and watch The Vampire Diaries together years ago. Funnily enough, my friend Amy has got me watching The Vampire Diaries again and I’m loving it, and I also bought a colouring book. It’s the new Heartstopper colouring book and I love the series so much I just had to pick it up!

The Heartstopper Colouring Book: Amazon.co.uk: Oseman, Alice ...

Waterstones

This beautiful colouring book contains all the fan favourite characters and scenes such as Nick and Charlie’s first kiss and their trip to Paris, plus guest appearances from Nellie, Tao and Ellie, Tara and Darcy and many more! Featuring some empty speech bubbles to fill in with your own creative thoughts, and the entire Tara/Darcy mini-comic to colour at the end, this book has something for everyone.
Celebrate the power of love and friendship, while becoming involved in the Heartstopper world in a truly interactive way.

What did you buy this week? 

-Beth

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Review: Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno

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Goodreads

Oh wow, I adored this book. I’ve been seeing this around on social media for a while, especially last year around it’s release date. I’ve been drawn to it for a while and I loved the cover, but I never knew how much I would really enjoy it.

Rosa is a girl who lives in a beautiful seaside town with her grandmother, who wants to know more about her Cuban heritage. She has a rocky relationship with her mother, and also with the sea, as she has been led to believe the women in her family are cursed when it comes to the sea, and especially the men who live and work on it. But when Rosa becomes attached to a boy who lives on the ocean, she has some answers to seek.

My first time in the sea felt like returning to something. I thought of my mother and abuela, the image of them sharp and sudden. I wanted to see what was on the other side.

This book was damn beautiful in so many ways. I adored the town, and the scenery was so well described. The relationships Rosa had with her friends and family were sometimes rocky but also beautiful and real. They all supported her so well. The writing was just delightful too, and some of the passages were heartbreaking, leaving me with tears in my eyes in parts.

The food was described in such detail, and was a big part of Rosa’s Cuban heritage. I can’t help but fall for books that describe food like this one did, which was so vivid, just like much of this book. It was absolutely beautiful, a love letter to family, food, Cuba and the sea. I was hooked.

I wanted to find what was lost. I wanted to know how to move forward… My only offering heart, humility, and these coins. My tongue was heavy with the wrong language.

The ending, although I enjoyed it, was the only thing that shocked me a little. It suddenly felt a little too mystical and out of reach, leaving me feeling a little detached from the final pages. Unfortunately it didn’t quite reach 5 stars for me because of that, but I absolutely loved this book all the same and would highly recommend it!

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: The Crow Rider (#1) by Kalyn Josephson

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Goodreads

Princess Thia, her allies, and her crow, Res, are planning a rebellion to defeat Queen Razel and Illucia once and for all. Thia must convince the neighboring kingdoms to come to her aid, and Res’s show of strength is the only thing that can help her.
But so many obstacles stand in her way. Res excels at his training, until he loses control of his magic, harming Thia in the process. She is also pursued by Prince Ericen, heir to the Illucian throne and the one person she can’t trust but can’t seem to stay away from.
As the rebel group prepares for war, Res’s magic grows more unstable. Thia has to decide if she can rely on herself and their bond enough to lead the rebellion and become the crow rider she was meant to be
.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I read the first book in this duology last year before it’s release, and I knew since then I wanted to pick up the next one. I adored the first book and found it such a lovely fantasy with a twist. The Crow Rider was no different, and I’m so glad I had a chance to read it!

It was so lovely to delve back into this beautiful world. Josephson does a brilliant job of describing the world and cities, honestly some of the passages describing the markets and cities took my breath away. I was immediately enveloped once again into this world of castles and beauty.

The writing was beautiful and I kept wanting to go back for more. Whenever I picked up this book I didn’t want to stop, there was a weird kind of comfort I remember from reading The Storm Crow that only comes with knowing how much you are going to enjoy a book. Another thing that came back was the openness when Josephson discusses grief and depression. I had forgotten how this was discussed and it impressed me over again, especially when I read a specific passage. Not enough fantasy talks about mental health and I admire how this one does.

The magic and crows were amazing as ever. I loved having Res as a full character, even though he is actually a crow. The way Thia communicates with him fascinated me, and every time anybody insulted him by calling him chicken or pigeon it made me chuckle.

The only complaint I had is I didn’t feel as much connection to the characters as I wanted to, and I felt confused by them. I didn’t know who was who, which made the war councils and politics difficult too and I mainly just skim read the political scenes. However, I think a lot of this was from the fact I read the first book almost a year ago, and I wouldn’t have felt so confused if I had only just read the first book.

Overall, this was a brilliant, emotional and utterly beautiful conclusion to this duology. I loved it and would definitely recommend the series!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Heir of Fire (#3) by Sarah J Maas

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Consumed by guilt and rage, Celaena can’t bring herself to spill blood for the King of Adarlan. She must fight back…
The Immortal Queen will help her destroy the king – for a price. But as Celaena battles with her darkest memories and her heart breaks for a love that could never last, can she fulfil the bargain and head the almighty court of Terrasen? And who will stand with her?

After I loved Crown of Midnight so much, I had pretty high expectations for Heir of Fire. And I have to admit, this book did not quite live up to those high expectations. I didn’t feel as invested in this book, I found some of it quite predictable, some slow, and some I just couldn’t bring myself to be interested in at all.

I think a lot of my difficulties stemmed from the fact Celena was suddenly away from the castle and with new characters for new reasons. I missed the connections and conversations between her, Dorian and Chaol. Rowan made for a good substitute in some ways, even though I found him and Celena’s…friendship a little strange and uncomfortable at times.

“Because I am lost,” she whispered onto the earth.

I enjoyed Celena’s chapters quite a lot and I was still intrigued by her journey. The side characters were enjoyable to read about too, and I had a soft spot for those she worked with in the kitchen. I enjoyed the chapters back in the castle too, even though they felt like they were missing something without Celena. Sorscha was sweet and I liked the introduction of her character. Manon’s chapters was where I hit a real problem. I was confused by what was happening and I never had enough time to really sympathise with her at all.

Maas’ writing has definitely improved during these books and the world building is incredible. The pacing was pretty consistent and the fast-paced, action-packed scenes got me pretty invested in the story. The ending was especially brilliant, and made me remember how amazing these books can be.

“And I do not know the way.”

Overall, this was unfortunately my least favourite of the series so far, even though I did enjoy it, it was still disappointing compared to how much I adored Crown of Midnight.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Hideous Beauty by William Hussey

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Goodreads | Waterstones

When Dylan and Ellis’s secret relationship is exposed on social media, Dylan is forced to come out. To Dylan’s surprise they are met with support and congratulations, and an amazing reception at their highschool dance. Perhaps people aren’t as narrow-minded as he thought?
But Dylan’s happiness is short-lived. Ellis suddenly becomes angry, withdrawn, and as they drive home from the dance, he loses control of the car, sending it plunging into Hunter’s Lake. Barely conscious, Dylan is pulled free of the wreck, while Ellis is left to drown.
Grief-stricken, Dylan vows to discover what happened to Ellis that night and piece together the last months of his boyfriend’s life – and realises just how little he knew about the boy he loved.

Thank you to the publisher for an ARC copy!

I won this book at YALC last year in a competition and I was super excited. I’ve felt drawn to it for a while and I kept seeing amazing things about it online. And those thoughts were definitely not wrong, this book really impressed me!

The first thing I noticed was wow, this book is dark. I read the first 50 pages one night in one go and it was harrowing. I did not expect this to be so dark and truly upsetting, but it was also so downright beautiful. Dylan, Ellis and Mike were all such great characters. I felt so sympathetic towards sweet, emotional, sensitive Dylan and everything he had to go through. Although Ellis was up and down with the story, his charm and confidence made me chuckle. Mike and his family were downright some of my favourite characters, and the scenes with them touched my heart.

The mystery aspect of this novel was so compelling and made the pages fly. Once I got passed halfway I read the rest of the book in one night, I just didn’t want to stop and I was so drawn into the book and finding out what happened to Ellis and Dylan on that fateful night. I didn’t manage to pick this up often as I was reading it alongside the Throne of Glass books, but when I did, I didn’t want to stop.

The last part of the book left me with tears in my eyes. It was beautifully written, and really burrowed into my heart and made me feel so sad but hopeful. I think the best books leave you with that, a little bright ember of hope.

The book was written in a non-linear timeline, flicking between ‘then’ and ‘now’. This kept the pace so quick and the plot flying, and I always felt so intrigued to find out what was going to happen when we flicked back or forwards. But even though this book was most definitely plot-driven, it also showed the characters in a depth I really admired. I love how it didn’t shy away from Dylan’s difficult coming-out story, and his friend Mike’s difficult situation.

Overall, this book was a beautifully written, harrowing and poignant mystery with a great cast of characters.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Celaena Sardothien, royal assassin, is the King of Adarlan’s deadliest weapon. She must win her freedom through his enemies’ blood – but she cannot bear to kill for the crown. And every death Celaena fakes, every lie she tells, put those she loves at risk.
Torn between her two protectors – a captain and a prince – and battling a dark force far greater than the king, Celaena must decide what she will fight for: her liberty, her heart or the fate of a kingdom…

If Throne of Glass was good, Crown of Midnight was something different. Something new. Something quite magical. It had everything that Throne of Glass was missing. I wonder how much of this was due to the fact me and Alex decided to read The Assassin’s Blade before jumping into the second book, and I definitely felt a difference going into the book with the knowledge I had gained from reading the short story prequel collection.

I definitely had a new found respect for Celena having learned everything she went through before the events that occurred in Throne of Glass. I felt closer to her and more understanding of the decisions she makes throughout the book, and sympathetic towards her.

“You’ll figure it out. And when you do…” She shook her head, knowing she shouldn’t say it, but doing it anyway. 

Again, the castle and city were both beautiful, and some of the scenes in the library made me so happy, I love how integral the library is to the story. I cannot describe how Sarah J Maas approaches places, but I adore the way she does. I felt towards these places the way Feyre feels towards these places, they felt close to my heart, her bedroom, the castle, the library, the city, the grounds. I felt intertwined with it all.

The characters were brilliant and the romance surprised me, especially how much I adored reading about it so soon after reading The Assassin’s Blade. The brief part of this book that felt happy, felt like a pause and reset before we continued with the wild ride. And my, what a rollercoaster it was. I knew this series would be a complete series of ups and downs, and it really starts here. I never want to put it down, and the last few days I really wanted to pick it back up in the morning.

“When you do, I want you to remember that it wouldn’t have made any difference to me. It’s never made any difference to me when it came to you. I’d still pick you. I’ll always pick you.”

Overall, this book was such a ride and I loved it, definitely my favourite Throne of Glass book so far and it’s made me supremely excited for the rest of the series!

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Stacking the Shelves #15

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 readers! I am sure I am not alone with my Stacking the Shelves post this week as I bought a book that the book community has been incredibly excited for. I managed to grab one of the beautiful Waterstones editions too and I’m so glad I did, it’s so pretty! I haven’t read The Hunger Games in a long time, but I’m still really excited to pick up this one.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.
The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined — every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute . . . and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.

What did you buy this week? Did you grab a copy of A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes?

-Beth

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Review: The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J Maas

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan’s most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin’s Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed novellas – together in one edition for the first time – Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn’s orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free? Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine to find out. 

Alex and I were really unsure about when to read this collection and eventually decided on after Throne of Glass and before Crown of Midnight and I was really happy with reading it here! I think if we had gone into it before the first book I would have been confused and daunted by the world, but I’m happy to go into the rest of the books with the background knowledge that comes with The Assassin’s Blade.

This was a brilliant short story collection. Some were better/more enjoyable than others, but the flow between them all was really well put together. Having all of the stories in order of the time in which they actually happened allowed for the flow to be natural.

She was fire, she was darkness,

The writing was definitely better in this book too, Maas has grown as an author and grew past the first story too, really grasping my attention with the second. The emotion came through, I felt more connected to the characters, and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series with a new found connection to Celena herself.

I did have a few questions about Celena while reading the first book and these stories pretty much answered them all. It gave me a better understanding of what she had gone through to get to the point of where Throne of Glass begins and I know I will sympathise with her much more now when she mentions certain characters!

she was dust and blood and shadow

I find short stories can be hit and miss and a few of these I genuinely do not remember much about merely days after reading them. However, The Assassin and the Desert and The Assassin and the Underworld were both favourites of mine and I became utterly enthralled with the stories.

Honestly, if this is what to expect from the Throne of Glass world, I’m really excited by what’s to come! And I feel like I will want to re-read a few of these stories when I get further into the series itself.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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