Review: Emma by Jane Austen

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Although described by Jane Austen as a character ‘whom no one but myself will much like’, the irrepressible Emma Woodhouse is one of her most beloved heroines. Clever, rich and beautiful, she sees no need for marriage, but loves interfering in the romantic lives of others, until her matchmaking plans unravel, with consequences that she never expected. Jane Austen’s novel of youthful exuberance and gradual self-knowledge is a brilliant, sparkling comic masterpiece. 

I’m slowly making my way through Austen’s books this autumn, and I’ve been mainly doing that through audio. This one is no different, and I decided to pick it as my first October audiobook. I love reading Austen on audio and the narrator of this one was brilliant. The voices really reflected each character and the story shone through well.

I cannot make speeches, Emma…If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more. But you know what I am. 

However, this is sadly probably my least favourite Austen so far. I believe this is one of her longest books and I’m so glad I read it on audio because it did feel quite long and drawn out. I feel like this one has the least plot and most nonsense out of all of the Austen books I’ve read so far. I was never quite sure where this book was going and felt like there was not much of an end point to strive for.

Although Emma as a main character could be unlikable at times, I did enjoy the idea of her being a female heroine and not necessarily looking for love. However, some of the other characters were highly annoying (I’m looking at you, Miss Bates!) and let me tell you, the narrator did a great job as portraying them as such.

You hear nothing but truth from me. I have blamed you, and lectured you, and you have borne it as no other woman in England would have borne it.

Overall, I feel like this one is going to be quite forgettable for me and feels very…scatterbrained. I’m still excited to read more from Austen and I didn’t dislike this book, just my least favourite so far!

★★★
3 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: On a Night Like This by Lindsey Kelk

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Within days of wishing she could change her life, Fran Cooper is acting assistant to a celebrity, on a yacht in the Mediterranean, and en route to a tiny Italian island and the glittering Crystal Ball, along with the world’s rich and famous.
When she – quite literally – bumps into a handsome American called Evan, a man able to keep his cool in the face of chaos, the magic really begins.
Evan makes her a promise: no last names, no life stories, just one unforgettable night. Yet Evan belongs at the Crystal Ball and Fran is a gatecrasher. They may be soulmates, but their homes are an ocean apart, and their lives a world apart. They’ll never meet again – unless, on a night like this, everything can change forever…

Thank you to Harper for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

It has taken me way too long to finally pick up a Lindsey Kelk book, but I jumped on the chance to read and review her upcoming release, On a Night Like This! In this book we follow Fran, who accepts a mysterious job as a personal assistant to megastar singer Juliette. Fran is thrown into a world of stardom and ends up reconsidering everything about her life back home because of it.

This book was so funny. I was immediately thrown into witty writing and laugh-out-loud one liners. I don’t often laugh out lout at books, but this one really did make me chuckle over and over again. The writing was so easy and felt less predictable than I expected. Once I picked this one up, I didn’t want to put it down. I was so absorbed in Fran’s story and just wanted to find out more about her life and how it would change as the book went on.

Fran made such a lovely main character and I clicked with her almost immediately. I sympathised so much with her and her situation, and it was so amazing to see how she learned about herself and grew as a person. Her friendship with Juliette was so entertaining to read about but also had some really heartfelt moments.

Overall, this book had such a beautiful mixture of self love, friendship and romance. It was both cliched in the best way put unpredictable at the same time. I really enjoyed reading it and I’m so glad I’ve finally picked up a Lindsey Kelk book!

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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September Wrap-Up

Hi all! It’s time for my September wrap-up and I read 15 books in September, which I’m honestly pretty happy with considering how busy I was in September with going back to uni. I also created this as a video which you can review on my YouTube channel (below)!

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Sense and Sensibility is a delightful comedy of manners in which the sisters Elinor and Marianne represent these two qualities. Elinor’s character is one of Augustan detachment, while Marianne, a fervent disciple of the Romantic Age, learns to curb her passionate nature in the interests of survival.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Kiki is a trainee witch. On her thirteenth birthday she must follow tradition and leave home to find a new village.
She knows she has to use only her powers to make a living, but Kiki’s no good at potions or spells…can she use her flying abilities to make her own way in the world?
She sets out with her beloved black cat Jiji on an exciting journey, making new friends along the way.

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

You are about to discover the secrets of ‘The Quick’ – but first you must travel to Victorian England, and there, in the wilds of Yorkshire, meet a brother and sister alone in the world, a pair bound by tragedy. You will, in time, enter the rooms of London’s mysterious Aegolius Club – a society of the richest, most powerful men in England. And at some point – we cannot say when – these worlds will collide. It is then, and only then, that a new world emerges, a world of romance, adventure and the most delicious of horrors – and the secrets of ‘The Quick’ are revealed.

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

It has been twenty-seven long years since the last sunrise. For nearly three decades, vampires have waged war against humanity; building their eternal empire even as they tear down our own. Now, only a few tiny sparks of light endure in a sea of darkness.
Gabriel de León is a silversaint: a member of a holy brotherhood dedicated to defending realm and church from the creatures of the night. But even the Silver Order couldn’t stem the tide once daylight failed us, and now, only Gabriel remains.
Imprisoned by the very monsters he vowed to destroy, the last silversaint is forced to tell his story. A story of legendary battles and forbidden love, of faith lost and friendships won, of the Wars of the Blood and the Forever King and the quest for humanity’s last remaining hope:
The Holy Grail.

★★★
3 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

The summer is winding down in San Diego. Veronica is bored, caustically charismatic, and uninspired in her photography. Nico is insatiable, subversive, and obsessed with chaotic performance art. They’re artists first, best friends second. But that was before Mick. Delicate, lonely, magnetic Mick: the perfect subject, and Veronica’s dream girl. The days are long and hot―full of adventure―and soon they are falling in love. Falling so hard, they never imagine what comes next. One fire. Two murders. Three drowning bodies. One suspect . . . one stalker. This is a summer they won’t survive.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

In a kingdom where sickness stalks the streets and only the richest can afford a cure, King Harristan and his brother Prince Corrick are forced to rule with an iron fist.
Tessa Cade is a masked outlaw marked for death, but she likes it that way. Together with the mysterious, handsome Weston, she robs from the rich to help the poor, distributing food and medicine to those who need it most.
As it becomes clear that the only way to save her people is to assassinate the King, Tessa must face a deadly mission that will take her to the dark heart of the kingdom . and force her to work with the very people she intended to destroy.

★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

During an eventful season at Bath, young, naive Catherine Morland experiences the joys of fashionable society for the first time. She is delighted with her new acquaintances: flirtatious Isabella, who shares Catherine’s love of Gothic romance and horror, and sophisticated Henry and Eleanor Tilney, who invite her to their father’s mysterious house, Northanger Abbey. There, her imagination influenced by novels of sensation and intrigue, Catherine imagines terrible crimes committed by General Tilney. With its broad comedy and irrepressible heroine, this is the most youthful and and optimistic of Jane Austen’s works.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Caroline Murphy is a Hurricane Child.
Being born during a hurricane is unlucky, and 12-year-old Caroline has had her share of bad luck lately. She’s hated and bullied by everyone in her small school on St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands, a spirit only she can see won’t stop following her, and — worst of all — Caroline’s mother left home one day and never came back.
But when a new student named Kalinda arrives, Caroline’s luck begins to turn around. Kalinda, a solemn girl from Barbados with a special smile for everyone, becomes Caroline’s first and only friend — and the person for whom Caroline has begun to develop a crush.
Now, Caroline must find the strength to confront her feelings for Kalinda, brave the spirit stalking her through the islands, and face the reason her mother abandoned her. Together, Caroline and Kalinda must set out in a hurricane to find Caroline’s missing mother — before Caroline loses her forever.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

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Review | 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.

★★
2 out of 5 stars

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Review | 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.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Evangeline Fox was raised in her beloved father’s curiosity shop, where she grew up on legends about immortals, like the tragic Prince of Hearts. She knows his powers are mythic, his kiss is worth dying for, and that bargains with him rarely end well.
But when Evangeline learns that the love of her life is about to marry another, she becomes desperate enough to offer the Prince of Hearts whatever he wants in exchange for his help to stop the wedding. The prince only asks for three kisses. But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’s pledged. And he has plans for Evangeline that will either end in the greatest happily ever after, or the most exquisite tragedy…

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Will the princess save the beast?
For Princess Jaya Rao, nothing is more important than family. When the loathsome Emerson clan steps up their centuries-old feud to target Jaya’s little sister, nothing will keep Jaya from exacting her revenge. Then Jaya finds out she’ll be attending the same elite boarding school as Grey Emerson, and it feels like the opportunity of a lifetime. She knows what she must do: Make Grey fall in love with her and break his heart. But much to Jaya’s annoyance, Grey’s brooding demeanor and lupine blue eyes have drawn her in. There’s simply no way she and her sworn enemy could find their fairy-tale ending…right?
His Lordship Grey Emerson is a misanthrope. Thanks to an ancient curse by a Rao matriarch, Grey knows he’s doomed once he turns eighteen. Sequestered away in the mountains at St. Rosetta’s International Academy, he’s lived an isolated existence—until Jaya Rao bursts into his life, but he can’t shake the feeling that she’s hiding something. Something that might just have to do with the rose-shaped ruby pendant around her neck…
As the stars conspire to keep them apart, Jaya and Grey grapple with questions of love, loyalty, and whether it’s possible to write your own happy ending.

★★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

The trials are over. WICKED is planning to restore the survivors’ memories and complete the final cure for the Flare.
But Thomas has already remembered more than they think. And he knows WICKED can’t be trusted.
The time for lies is over. But the truth is more dangerous than Thomas could ever imagine. Will anyone survive the Death Cure?

★★★
3 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.
When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.
However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie up some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

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Review | 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.

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

Although I had a few mixed reads, most of my thoughts were really positive and I read some new favourites. My favourite of the month was definitely A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor and my least favourite has to be Jay’s Gay Agenda.

What did you read in September?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #58

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 been a little more controlled with my book buying this week, and actually 75% of the books I’m hauling today were very kindly gifted to me by publishers (and let me tell you, I am so excited for them)!

Bought

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The one book I did pick up this week was this beautiful sprayed edged Waterstones edition of The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik. I haven’t read the first one yet, and I do already have a proof of this one, but I wanted a hardback to match the first book properly!

Gifted

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When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead.
Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop’s owner to locals and the ferryman to souls who need to cross over.
But Wallace isn’t ready to abandon the life he barely lived. With Hugo’s help he finally starts to learn about all the things he missed in life.
When the Manager, a curious and powerful being, arrives at the tea shop and gives Wallace one week to cross over, Wallace sets about living a lifetime in seven days.

This is definitely the proof I’m most excited for and can’t wait to dive into! The House in the Cerulean Sea is my favourite book of the year so far and I feel so honoured to have a copy of this one. Thank you so much to Tor for this beautiful book!

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I read the first book in this series after having a copy from the publishers, so thank you once again for sending this to me, Simon & Schuster!

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Ivy, Mateo, and Cal used to be close. Back in middle school they were best friends. So, when Cal pulls into campus late for class, and runs into Ivy and Mateo, it seems like the perfect opportunity to turn a bad day around. They’ll ditch school and go into the city. Just the three of them, like old times. Why did they stop hanging out, anyway?
As soon as they pull out of the parking lot Cal knows why. Ivy’s already freaking out about missing class, and heartthrob Mateo is asleep in the backseat, too cool to even pretend like he wants to be there. The truth is they have nothing in common anymore.
At least they don’t until they run into the fourth student ditching school that day. Brian “Boney” Mahoney is supposed to be accepting his newly won office of class president. Which is why Ivy follows him into an empty building, only to walk into the middle of a murder scene. Cal, Ivy, and Mateo all know the person lying on the ground of that building, and now they need to come clean. They’re all hiding something. And maybe their chance reconnection wasn’t by chance after all.

Although this is not the only Karen M McManus proof I own, it is the first one I’ve been sent by the publisher. I really like her books so I’m very honoured to have received a proof, thank you Penguin!

Which books did you buy or receive this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #57

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 bought a lot of books in the past week and also had some very exciting preorders come through. Let’s see what I picked up.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Meet the Wild Ones: girls who have been hurt, abandoned, and betrayed all their lives. It all began with Paheli, who was once betrayed by her mother and sold to a man in exchange for a favor. When Paheli escapes, she runs headlong into a boy with stars in his eyes. This boy, as battered as she is, tosses Paheli a box of stars before disappearing.
With the stars, Paheli gains access to the Between, a place of pure magic and mystery. Now, Paheli collects girls like herself and these Wild Ones use their magic to travel the world, helping the hopeless and saving others from the fates they suffered.
Then Paheli and the Wild Ones learn that the boy who gave them the stars, Taraana, is in danger. He’s on the run from powerful forces within the world of magic. But if Taraana is no longer safe and free, neither are the Wild Ones. And that…is a fate the Wild Ones refuse to accept. Ever again.

In my trip to London last weekend, I spotted this gorgeous cover and became intrigued by the synopsis too. I couldn’t resist!

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Henri “Halti” Haltiwanger can charm just about anyone. He is a star debater and popular student at the prestigious FATE academy, the dutiful first-generation Haitian son, and the trusted dog walker for his wealthy New York City neighbors. But his easy smiles mask a burning ambition to attend his dream college, Columbia University.
There is only one person who seems immune to Henri’s charms: his “intense” classmate and neighbor Corinne Troy. When she uncovers Henri’s less-than-honest dog-walking scheme, she blackmails him into helping her change her image at school. Henri agrees, seeing a potential upside for himself.
Soon what started as a mutual hustle turns into something more surprising than either of them ever bargained for. . . .

This one has been on my want-to-buy list for so long, so I had to pick it up when I saw it!

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Don’t you just love the smell of old books in the morning?
Madeline Moore does. Books & Moore, the musty bookstore her family has owned for generations, is where she feels most herself. Nothing is going to stop her from coming back after college to take over the store from her beloved aunt.
Nothing, that is—until a chain bookstore called Prologue opens across the street and threatens to shut them down.
Madeline sets out to demolish the competition, but Jasper, the guy who works over at Prologue, seems intent on ruining her life. Not only is he taking her customers, he has the unbelievable audacity to be… extremely cute.
But that doesn’t matter. Jasper is the enemy and he will be destroyed. After all—all’s fair in love and (book) wars.

This one sounds so good and I’ve been seeing it around for a while. I can’t wait to read it!

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My Fairyloot edition of Gods and Monsters finally came through this week and I was am so excited to have this series complete. I’m hoping to pick it up soon!

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I also finally picked up the other two books in this series in anticipation for a readalong of these books I’m hosting with Alex on YouTube this month! Here’s our announcement video if you’re interested.

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For centuries, witches have maintained the climate, their power from the sun peaking in the season of their birth. But now their control is faltering as the atmosphere becomes more erratic. All hope lies with Clara, an Everwitch whose rare magic is tied to every season.
In Autumn, Clara wants nothing to do with her power. It’s wild and volatile, and the price of her magic―losing the ones she loves―is too high, despite the need to control the increasingly dangerous weather.
In Winter, the world is on the precipice of disaster. Fires burn, storms rage, and Clara accepts that she’s the only one who can make a difference.
In Spring, she falls for Sang, the witch training her. As her magic grows, so do her feelings, until she’s terrified Sang will be the next one she loses.
In Summer, Clara must choose between her power and her happiness, her duty and the people she loves… before she loses Sang, her magic, and thrusts the world into chaos.

I’ve been hearing mixed things about this one but I have actually given into the hype and picked up a second hand copy of this as it sounds really interesting.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Evangeline Fox was raised in her beloved father’s curiosity shop, where she grew up on legends about immortals, like the tragic Prince of Hearts. She knows his powers are mythic, his kiss is worth dying for, and that bargains with him rarely end well.
But when Evangeline learns that the love of her life is about to marry another, she becomes desperate enough to offer the Prince of Hearts whatever he wants in exchange for his help to stop the wedding. The prince only asks for three kisses. But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’s pledged. And he has plans for Evangeline that will either end in the greatest happily ever after, or the most exquisite tragedy…

Two of my copies of Once Upon a Broken Heart came through this week! They’re both so beautiful.

I was also lucky enough to receive a proof of The Invisible Life of Addie Larue which I recently traded for and I am so happy to have! I was also sent a stunning proof of Twin Crowns by Harper, which I am so excited for. Thank you Harper!

Which books did you buy or receive this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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www.etsy.com/uk/shop/thebooksareverywhere

Stacking the Shelves #56

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!

It’s been a couple of weeks since I last posted a book haul, but I’ve bought and received even more than I thought I had – oops.

Bought

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Julia has followed her mum and dad to live on a remote island for the summer – her dad, for work; her mother, on a determined mission to find the elusive Greenland shark. But when her mother’s obsession threatens to submerge them all, Julia finds herself on an adventure with dark depths and a lighthouse full of hope…

I couldn’t help but pick this one up as soon as it came out – this husband and wife team have created such a beautiful book and I managed to grab a signed edition!

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He expected nothing. But they gave him everything . . .
Linus Baker leads a quiet life. At forty, he has a tiny house with a devious cat and his beloved records for company. And at the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, he’s spent many dull years monitoring their orphanages.
Then one day, Linus is summoned by Extremely Upper Management and given a highly classified assignment. He must travel to an orphanage where six dangerous children reside, including the Antichrist. There, Linus must somehow determine if they could bring on the end of days. But their guardian, charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, will do anything to protect his wards. As Arthur and Linus grow ever closer, Linus must choose between duty and his dreams.

I also bought the beautiful Waterstones exclusive paperback of my favourite book of the year so far. It has yellow sprayed edges and I love it!

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Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.
There is one other person in the house—a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known. 

I also picked this one up because of wanting this beautiful edition with purple sprayed edges – I’ve been meaning to pick this up for a while and I couldn’t resist.

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In the world of Divergent, society is divided into five factions – Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful) and Erudite (the intelligent). Every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. Beatrice Prior must choose between staying with her family and being who she really is. Her choice shocks everyone – including herself.
During the initiation that follows, Tris and her fellow initiates undergo extreme tests with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them, Tris must determine who her friends really are – and whether she can trust the man who both threatens and protects her.
Because Tris has a deadly secret. And as growing conflict threatens to unravel their seemingly perfect society, this secret might save those she loves … or it might destroy her. 

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I’ve been meaning to pick up and swap out my editions of Divergent with these 10th anniversary copies since their release, and I finally did it with some money on my Waterstones card as a treat to myself.

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After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, Greta learns about the dying art form of tea dragon care-taking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik. As she befriends them and their shy ward, Minette, Greta sees how the craft enriches their lives—and eventually her own.

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I also picked up this beautiful graphic novel series as the hardbacks are slowly going out of print and I wanted a matching hardback set. I’m hoping to get to them in autumn sometime!

Blood and Ash DELUXE SET – Community

Goodreads

A Maiden…
Chosen from birth to usher in a new era, Poppy’s life has never been her own. The life of the Maiden is solitary. Never to be touched. Never to be looked upon. Never to be spoken to. Never to experience pleasure. Waiting for the day of her Ascension, she would rather be with the guards, fighting back the evil that took her family, than preparing to be found worthy by the gods. But the choice has never been hers.
A Duty…
The entire kingdom’s future rests on Poppy’s shoulders, something she’s not even quite sure she wants for herself. Because a Maiden has a heart. And a soul. And longing. And when Hawke, a golden-eyed guard honor bound to ensure her Ascension, enters her life, destiny and duty become tangled with desire and need. He incites her anger, makes her question everything she believes in, and tempts her with the forbidden.
A Kingdom…
Forsaken by the gods and feared by mortals, a fallen kingdom is rising once more, determined to take back what they believe is theirs through violence and vengeance. And as the shadow of those cursed draws closer, the line between what is forbidden and what is right becomes blurred. Poppy is not only on the verge of losing her heart and being found unworthy by the gods, but also her life when every blood-soaked thread that holds her world together begins to unravel.

My beautiful Fairyloot set of From Blood and Ash also arrived and I love it. I haven’t read these yet but I hope I love them.

Gifted

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Sold by her mother. Enslaved in Pompeii’s brothel. Determined to survive. Her name is Amara. Welcome to the Wolf Den…
Amara was once a beloved daughter, until her father’s death plunged her family into penury. Now she is a slave in Pompeii’s infamous brothel, owned by a man she despises. Sharp, clever and resourceful, Amara is forced to hide her talents. For as a she-wolf, her only value lies in the desire she can stir in others.
But Amara’s spirit is far from broken.
By day, she walks the streets with her fellow she-wolves, finding comfort in the laughter and dreams they share. For the streets of Pompeii are alive with opportunity. Out here, even the lowest slave can secure a reversal in fortune. Amara has learnt that everything in this city has its price. But how much is her freedom going to cost her?

I finally picked up a copy of this one as it was sent to the bookshop I work at by the publisher. One of my colleagues absolutely adores this book and it’s definitely convinced me to pick it up.

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Hannah Ashton wakes up to silence. The entire city around her is empty, except for one other person: Leo Sterling. Leo might be hottest boy ever (and not just because he’s the only one left), but he’s also too charming, too selfish, and too devastating for his own good, let alone Hannah’s.
Stuck with only each other, they explore a world with no parents, no friends, and no school and realize that they can be themselves instead of playing the parts everyone expects of them. Hannah doesn’t have to be just an overachieving, music-box-perfect ballerina, and Leo can be more than a slacker, 80s-glam-metal-obsessed guitarist. Leo is a burst of honesty and fun that draws Hannah out, and Hannah’s got Leo thinking about someone other than himself for the first time.
Together, they search for answers amid crushing isolation, but while their empty world may appear harmless . . . it’s not. Because nothing is quite as it seems, and if Hannah and Leo don’t figure out what’s going on, they might just be torn apart forever.

Scholastic sent me a copy of this one after I requested it – thank you!

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Aspiring actor August Greene just landed a coveted spot at the prestigious School of Performing Arts in New York. There’s only one problem: His conservative parents won’t accept that he’s transgender. And to stay with his aunt in the city, August must promise them he won’t transition.
August is convinced he can play the part his parents want while acting cool and confident in the company of his talented new friends.
But who is August when the lights go down? And where will he turn when the roles start hitting a little too close to home?

And I had another beautiful gift in the form of this one from Harper. I’ve read some great books from Harper so far this year and I’m excited for this one too!

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There’s nothing Marietta Stelle loves more than ballet, but after Christmas, her dreams will be over as she is obligated to take her place in Edwardian society. While she is chafing against such suffocating traditions, a mysterious man purchases the neighbouring townhouse. Dr Drosselmeier is a charming but calculating figure who wins over the rest of the Stelle family with his enchanting toys and wondrous mechanisms.
When Drosselmeier constructs an elaborate set for Marietta’s final ballet performance, she discovers it carries a magic all of its own. On the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve, she is transported to a snowy forest, where she encounters danger at every turn: ice giants, shadow goblins and the shrieking mist all lurk amidst the firs and frozen waterfalls and ice cliffs. After being rescued by the butterscotch-eyed captain of the king’s guard, she is escorted to the frozen sugar palace. At once, Marietta is enchanted by this glittering world of glamorous gowns, gingerbread houses, miniature reindeer and the most delicious confectionary.
But all is not as it seems and Marietta is soon trapped in the sumptuous palace by the sadistic King Gelum, who claims her as his own. She is confined to a gilded prison with his other pets; Dellara, whose words are as sharp as her teeth, and Pirlipata, a princess from another land. Marietta must forge an alliance with the two women to carve a way free from this sugar-coated but treacherous world and back home to follow her dreams. Yet in a hedonistic world brimming with rebellion and a forbidden romance that risks everything, such a path will never be easy.

This one is definitely on the list of one’s I’m most looking forward to in 2021 as I heard so much about it late 2020 when the hardback proofs were released – it’s a nutcracker retelling and I feel very lucky to have received a proof of it.

Which books did you buy or receive this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender

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Caroline Murphy is a Hurricane Child.
Being born during a hurricane is unlucky, and 12-year-old Caroline has had her share of bad luck lately. She’s hated and bullied by everyone in her small school on St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands, a spirit only she can see won’t stop following her, and — worst of all — Caroline’s mother left home one day and never came back.
But when a new student named Kalinda arrives, Caroline’s luck begins to turn around. Kalinda, a solemn girl from Barbados with a special smile for everyone, becomes Caroline’s first and only friend — and the person for whom Caroline has begun to develop a crush.
Now, Caroline must find the strength to confront her feelings for Kalinda, brave the spirit stalking her through the islands, and face the reason her mother abandoned her. Together, Caroline and Kalinda must set out in a hurricane to find Caroline’s missing mother — before Caroline loses her forever.

I absolutely loved Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender, so when I found that they also write middle grade I knew I wanted to pick one up. I’ve heard such good things about their other middle grade book King of the Dragonflies and this one was really enjoyable too!

Clocking in at just over 200 pages, this one was a super easy read and I flew threw it. With this one being a middle grade as well, I found it very easy to read – but don’t be fooled. This book does include some very important and deep topics, especially for a middle grade read.

The idea of not being alone — of having someone who sees me, same way I see the things that no one else can see, makes me feel like I’m real.

We follow Caroline, a 12 year old girl who was born in a hurricane. She lives in the small island of St Thomas, and her mother has disappeared. I really like how this book didn’t shy away from difficult topics and introduced them as part of the main plot. There are going to be so many children out there going through similar things to Caroline, and I think it’s so important we don’t keep stories from them, because it may make them feel less alone to see characters having similar experiences to them.

This book also included some discussions of sexuality, which I really loved. I feel like we definitely don’t see enough of these discussions in middle grade yet again, but it was portrayed in a really innocent way and I feel like it will be really accessible and relatable for young teens and tweens. We also see some discussions of sexuality in relation to religion, which I really liked.

Like I deserve to exist on this planet alongside everyone else. That I get to be here because there’s someone else who wants me here too.

Overall, this was a super enjoyable read and I loved how it didn’t shy away from the discussions it had. This book is quite short so I didn’t feel a really strong connection to the characters, but I did enjoy it a lot.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: She’s Too Pretty to Burn by Wendy Heard

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The summer is winding down in San Diego. Veronica is bored, caustically charismatic, and uninspired in her photography. Nico is insatiable, subversive, and obsessed with chaotic performance art. They’re artists first, best friends second. But that was before Mick. Delicate, lonely, magnetic Mick: the perfect subject, and Veronica’s dream girl. The days are long and hot―full of adventure―and soon they are falling in love. Falling so hard, they never imagine what comes next. One fire. Two murders. Three drowning bodies. One suspect . . . one stalker. This is a summer they won’t survive.

It’s been almost a week since I read this book and I still don’t quite know what to make of it. It terrified me to my very core. But I also kind of loved it.

This is one of those books that I would never go into lightly and I would struggle to recommend to others because of the amount of graphic content. But on the other hand, I loved a lot about it and I do really want to recommend. Although this book starts off quite innocent and has a very contemporary romance feel, it gets very dark as the book goes on. I also listened to the audiobook for most of my reading experience, and I felt so immersed in the experience it spooked me even more. There is a certain narrator that appeared very close to the end, and hearing their voice for the first time honestly shocked me to my core. The fact that the audiobook has a whole cast also made it feel very well done.

Why are you apologizing when you didn’t do anything wrong? 

This is completely and utterly a psychological thriller and there is a real mixture of art, danger, power and a twisted kind of romance. I did struggle to like the main characters at some points, but their actions definitely play into the whole idea and plot of the story and what happens to them throughout. It also lives up to it’s ‘sexy, psychological thriller’ tagline in the beautiful writing and provocative and sometimes hypnotic plot. I felt so glued to this book towards the end that I just had to finish it. It is one of those books you have to shake yourself back into the real world after putting it down because it just sucks you in completely.

I really loved the characters and relationships in this book. They all felt like real, troubled and flawed characters who learn slowly to rely on and support one another. Although their relationships were far from perfect, I softened for them over and over again. I particularly loved Veronica and her darkroom obsession, and it made me miss my darkroom! I completely understood her fascination with photography and I feel like this is a story art students will relate to.

That’s something we teach girls to do—always apologize, never be a burden. You have a right to take up space.

Overall, this was an emotional rollercoaster and a terrifying ride, but there is a lot to love about it. I felt utterly entranced by this story, but it’s not something I would recommend to everyone. Tread carefully if you’re considering picking it up, but if you do you won’t want to put it down!

Content warnings: animal death, car accident, child death, death, emotional abuse, kidnapping, panic attacks/disorders, murder, and violence, implied sexual assault, drowning

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff

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It has been twenty-seven long years since the last sunrise. For nearly three decades, vampires have waged war against humanity; building their eternal empire even as they tear down our own. Now, only a few tiny sparks of light endure in a sea of darkness.
Gabriel de León is a silversaint: a member of a holy brotherhood dedicated to defending realm and church from the creatures of the night. But even the Silver Order couldn’t stem the tide once daylight failed us, and now, only Gabriel remains.
Imprisoned by the very monsters he vowed to destroy, the last silversaint is forced to tell his story. A story of legendary battles and forbidden love, of faith lost and friendships won, of the Wars of the Blood and the Forever King and the quest for humanity’s last remaining hope:
The Holy Grail.

Thank you so much to Harper Voyager for providing me with an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Argh. I wanted to love this book. Heck, I would have taken like. This is one of those books that has made me really sit down and consider the pressure we put on ourselves as a community sometimes with hyped books, new releases and especially proof copies.

Because I’ve got to be completely honest with myself and all of you. This just…wasn’t for me. To be frank, I was bored, I was confused, and I found this book way too long. I had no motivation to pick it up and I was finding it really hard to get into, but I pushed through. I had been reading it for almost a week when the book was released in the UK and I switched over to the audiobook, which honestly saved me. Although I’m sure I would have finished it eventually with just the physical copy, the audio definitely helped me out a LOT in this case.

Although I was finding this really slow to start, I had heard other readers with similar feelings who felt it picked up halfway, so I pushed through to then. Do you want to know where I found it picked up for me? With less than 100 pages to go. If the entire book had been the same experience for me as the final 50-100 pages, it may have been a 4 or even 5 star. But it honestly took me over 600 of 720 pages to get into, and I think if I was anyone else I would have given up.

After all that ranting, I wouldn’t say that this book was bad or that I didn’t enjoy it. It is highly entertaining and there were a lot of scenes I loved a lot, I just found the links between them very hard to find and they all felt very disjointed and jarring. I also enjoyed the found family aspect a lot and the relationships between the main characters were very interesting to read about. The plot twists really got me, especially at the end in the last 100 pages which I loved.

Overall, this one was such a rollercoaster and I just wish I liked it more than I had, but you can’t love them all!

★★★
3 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #55

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’ve been buying more books again recently and I seemingly can’t keep away! I’ve been lucky to receive some preorders in the past few weesks too which has been really exciting.

Bought

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Greece in the age of Heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. Here he is nobody, just another unwanted boy living in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles.
Achilles, “best of all the Greeks,” is everything Patroclus is not—strong, beautiful, the child of a goddess—and by all rights their paths should never cross. Yet one day, Achilles takes the shamed prince under his wing and soon their tentative connection gives way to a steadfast friendship. As they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something far deeper—despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.
Fate is never far from the heels of Achilles. When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows Achilles into war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they have learned, everything they hold dear. And that, before he is ready, he will be forced to surrender his friend to the hands of Fate.

My preorder of this beautiful hardback anniversary edition of The Song of Achilles came through recently. Even though I haven’t read this one yet I feel like I will really enjoy it and I couldn’t resist this beautiful copy.

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I’ve been waiting on this one to be reprinted and it finally came through! I’ve had the third one for a while and now I can finally read this one and carry on with the series.

XOXO by Axie Oh – Community

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Cello prodigy Jenny has one goal: to get into a prestigious music conservatory. When she meets mysterious, handsome Jaewoo in her uncle’s Los Angeles karaoke bar, it’s clear he’s the kind of boy who would uproot her careful plans. But in a moment of spontaneity, she allows him to pull her out of her comfort zone for one unforgettable night of adventure…before he disappears without a word.
Three months later, when Jenny and her mother arrive in South Korea to take care of her ailing grandmother, she’s shocked to discover that Jaewoo is a student at the same elite arts academy where she’s enrolled for the semester. And he’s not just any student. He’s a member of one of the biggest K-pop bands in the world—and he’s strictly forbidden from dating.
When a relationship means throwing Jenny’s life off the path she’s spent years mapping out, she’ll have to decide once and for all just how much she’s willing to risk for love.

I also had a preorder of the Fairyloot edition of XOXO which is beautiful. I read a proof copy earlier in the year and loved it, so I’m really glad I picked up this copy!

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Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor in London, is summoned to Crythin Gifford to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow, and to sort through her papers before returning to London. It is here that Kipps first sees the woman in black and begins to gain an impression of the mystery surrounding her. From the funeral he travels to Eel Marsh House and sees the woman again; he also hears the terrifying sounds on the marsh.
Despite Kipps’s experiences he resolves to spend the night at the house and fulfil his professional duty. It is this night at Eel Marsh House that contains the greatest horror for Kipps. Kipps later discovers the reasons behind the hauntings at Eel Marsh House. The book ends with the woman in black exacting a final, terrible revenge.

My mum and I visited a £3 bookshop and I grabbed a copy of The Woman in Black, as my boyfriend Mark suggested I read it and I wanted to pick it up in October.

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In the same bookshop I also found Wayfarer, which I was missing from this duology. Maybe I will actually read the first one now I finally have both!

Gifted

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Edited by award-winning journalist Charlie Brinkhust-Cuff and up-and-coming talent Timi Sotire, join twenty-eight inspirational voices in this uplifting and empowering anthology as they come together to celebrate being Black British, sharing their experiences of joy and what it means to them.

I was also lucky enough to receive a few books, including Black Joy. This one is non-fiction and it sounds really interesting – thank you to Penguin for sending this one to me!

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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…

My lovely friend Amy also gave me some books, including the Fairyloot edition of Afterlove which I read in August and adored. Thank you so much for this one Amy!

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When Addie LaRue makes a deal with devil, she trades her soul for immortality. But the devil takes away her place in the world, cursing her to be forgotten by everyone.
Addie flees her tiny home town in 18th-Century France, beginning a journey that takes her across the world, learning to live a life where no one remembers her and everything she owns is lost and broken. Existing only as a muse for artists throughout history, she learns to fall in love anew every single day.
Her only companion on this journey is her dark devil with hypnotic green eyes, who visits her each year on the anniversary of their deal. Alone in the world, Addie has no choice but to confront him, to understand him, maybe to beat him.
Until one day, in a second hand bookshop in Manhattan, Addie meets someone who remembers her. Suddenly thrust back into a real, normal life, Addie realises she can’t escape her fate forever.

Amy also gifted me a US proof copy of The Invisible Life of Addie Larue, which is my favourite book ever! I feel very, very lucky to have been able to add it to my collection, thank you to Amy for making it happen!

Which books did you buy or receive this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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