Mark’s Review: In Case You Missed It by Lindsey Kelk

Hello all, a little note before we begin to present you with a second review from Mark – my partner in crime, and sometimes, in reading. We occasionally will read a little together before going to sleep, read a few pages of our favourite books to one another, or even read together on a lovely summertime picnic, like pictured below. We always both have a book (or several!) on the go, and I’m here today to give you Mark’s review of one of the books he’s recently read, In Case You Missed It by Lindsey Kelk.

Lindsey Kelk, In Case You Missed It (2020)

Goodreads | Waterstones

When Ros comes home after three years away, she’s ready to pick up with life exactly where she left it. But her friends have moved on, her parents have rekindled their romance, and her bedroom is now a garden shed. All of a sudden, she’s swept up in nostalgia for the way things were.
Then her phone begins to ping, with messages from her old life. Including one number she thought she’d erased for good – the man who broke her heart. Is this her second chance at one big love? Sometimes we all want to see what we’ve been missing…

It’s best to start by admitting, at this point, I am unashamedly a fan of Lindsey Kelk. So feel free to call this a review, but definitely a biased one. Though know that I hope to convey a sample of my enjoyment in the hope you might find something similar in this, or another, of Kelk’s books.

The first time I read anything by Kelk it was unintentional and, I must shyly admit, in jest. At some point around 7 years ago in the kitchen of a shared house, I did a dramatic reading of a section of What A Girl Wants. A week later, after wondering what happened in the story after (and before) my performance piece I found myself ordering a copy of that book and the one that came before it. The Tess Brookes trilogy ended up helping me get through a very busy and incredibly stressful multi work contract year and ever since then Kelk’s novels have serendipitously arrived as the perfect…indulgence? Distraction? I am not sure what to call it… It’s honestly like a holiday with old friends when you didn’t realise you needed one.

As my interruptions in Beth’s blog will retrospectively prove, I’m not a massive reader of fiction and, even then, often not particularly contemporary fiction. So Kelk’s work is something of a rarity to me and I am probably a rarity in her traditional audience. Kelk is someone who’s books I will now blindly pick up and have, looking back, had with me during significant times over the last few years. One was in my kit bag shooting the last short film. Another I scoured late night supermarkets for to take with me for my first international marathon. And so we get to 2020 and In Case You Missed It. As the first lockdown in England was ending and, from the 10-15 hours of news I was still watching per day, I knew the rollercoaster ride was far from over, Beth messaged me one morning – simply “New Lindsey Kelk book!”.

As ever, Kelk writes a warm story, but one that will occasionally challenge you, yet always make you feel part of the gang. The story is the perfection of formula. Proof that something done well doesn’t have to be revolutionary to be fresh and work elegantly. You could call the outcome early on if you were given to, but if you did you would be missing the point. As with the best stories, the joy is not where it’s going but how you get there. Going on the ride and engaging with what it makes both you and the characters feel. This is neatly also a wider theme in the book, one that I was surprised to find oddly profound at points. Discovering that your life and your loved ones aren’t quite who you thought they were. Just as Ros raced back to London, I wonder how many of us will want to race back to some idealised old life when we call the pandemic officially over? And what we will later realise we missed along the way.

‘It has been a while, what if he’s changed?’
‘He could have been turned into a unicorn that’s tasked with protecting the Holy Grail and I still wouldn’t think it was a good idea to text him,’  she said, bluntly as ever ‘You were together six months and it’s taken you three years to get over him. Don’t do this to yourself.’
‘it was nine months,’ I corrected. ‘Almost ten.’

The book weaves a way through a range of memorably awkward locales in a convincingly homely London, a converted garden shed, a dark disco, a suburban tennis club, all on a collision course with both a video games convention and Ros’ Parents renewal of vows (which, thinking about it, my parents also did last year!). I have probably been reading this book since that day Beth brought me back a copy. Picking it up and putting it down, reading it through 2 more lockdowns. Never quite wanting it to end, but always finding it comfortable to come back to after say, the chaos of my return to work or whatever rude word you want to use to describe last Christmas. In Case You Missed It is like a hug from an old friend, right before they call you an embarrassing schoolyard nickname, on a night spent talking about the past and the future. It’s a friendly book about where we’re going in life, having nostalgic feelings but dealing with the reality of now.

‘We tend to assume we’re entitled to the things we have, we rewrite history to make life easier for ourselves. It’s not the case, Ros.’
‘I know, mum’ I said quietly.

From a lakeside read on a summer picnic (pictured above) to finishing it in the bath mere hours ago, I was once again happy to have been on a Lindsey Kelk adventure, with a set of new but invitingly familiar characters, during another weirdly intense period in time. With another book due next year, I find myself wondering…. what possible journey we’ll all go on next?

______________

It’s a random end note that, as a lifelong fan of pro wrestling, I always spotted occasional references in Kelk’s work that seemed too specific to be accidental. Later I would realise she is also a fan and now go looking for these nods, again this book didn’t disappoint. So this time, to bring my own, I used a WCW Arn Anderson trading card as a bookmark. No one needs to know this and the book itself will never appreciate it, but I had to tell someone to make it less odd.

-Mark

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker by Lauren James

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What if death is only the beginning?
When Harriet Stoker dies after falling from a balcony in a long-abandoned building, she discovers a group of ghosts, each with a special power.
Felix, Kasper, Rima and Leah welcome Harriet into their world, eager to make friends with the new arrival after decades alone. Yet Harriet is more interested in unleashing her own power, even if it means destroying everyone around her. But when all of eternity is at stake, the afterlife can be a dangerous place to make an enemy.

Lauren James never fails to blow my mind with her books. She has written some of the most original, unique stories I’ve ever read. Every time I read something new by her, I am astounded by her creativity and imagination. I always forget how amazing the twists and turns are, and how the endings absolutely hook you. I was left shocked in places with all of the plot twists, most of which I didn’t see coming! Whereas Lauren James usually writes science fiction, this book is very much paranormal.

This book starts with Harriet Stoker, a uni student who goes into an abandoned building in the grounds of her university to take photos, and falls to her death. She then becomes a ghost who is stuck in the building alongside every other ghost who has died on the grounds over the years. Harriet becomes frightened and in a panic, tries desperately to return to her grandmother. This makes her try everything and anything, making deals with the darker souls of the building and taking things from others.

Those early humans weren’t interested in entertainment. It hadn’t been invented yet. 

I found Harriet a very unlikable character for most of this story, which made me struggle to sympathise with her. I always struggle to truly enjoy a book where I dislike the main character, which is sadly what I found for most of this novel. Although she does have a redemption arc, and she isn’t the only one with a POV, it just felt like a large chunk of the book was not as enjoyable for me because of it.

We do learn more about why Harriet acts the way she does, which I very much appreciated and could sympathise with her more. She is also part of an amazing group of ghosts, centered around a particular friendship group, most of whom passed away in 1994 as residents of the building when it was student accommodation. This friendship group had such a lovely ‘found family’ feel to it which I loved, and the characters were really diverse. This was probably the best part of the book for me, alongside the amazing ending!

There were no happy endings or romance or heroes. The stories nearly always ended in death. 

I did find quite a lot of this book quite slow, and I did really notice the fact it was all set in one place. The ending almost makes up for it in terms of pace, as it is quite a payoff, but I still had mixed feelings about the pacing,

Overall, this was an incredibly creative read with some really well developed, interesting characters and amazing plot twists. Not everything was perfect, but it had such a great atmosphere and was such an easy, engaging read to fly through!

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Hero at the Fall (#3) by Alwyn Hamilton

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Once, in the desert country of Miraji, there was a Sultan without an heir.
The heir had been killed by his own brother, the treacherous Rebel Prince, who was consumed by jealousy and sought the throne for himself.
Or so it was said by some. There were others who said that the Rebel Prince was not a traitor but a hero…
In the final battle for the throne, Amani must fight for everything she believes in, but with the rebellion in pieces, and the Sultan’s armies advancing across the desert plains, who will lead, who will triumph, who will live and who will die?

My first thought after finishing this series is it is so underrated. I found them on a table in a bookshop years ago, and have heard little about them since, especially online. I enjoyed this more than some of the biggest YA fantasy/dystopian series and they should definitely have more hype! First of all, this series has been so unique and I loved the fact it was set in a desert. The worldbuilding in this series has been excellent and I could picture the desert and palace so clearly.

One of my favourite parts of this series was the friendship group, which had a real found family aspect to it. Although in this particular book I felt there was a little lack of character development and some of the side characters were a little interchangeable, the main few I really liked. Their banter and discussions felt natural and even made me chuckle in places. The end of the book was absolute roller-coaster and I had tears in my eyes in places. I really liked Amani and Jin’s relationship and the connection they had was beautifully written.

But even if the desert forgot a thousand and one of our stories, it was enough that they would tell of us at all. 

This last book was definitely the most action filled, which made it a very quick read. But unfortunately for me, I didn’t like it quite as much as the second, which I think was my favourite. I tend to prefer character focused books that I can feel a real connection to, rather than action packed books that leave me feeling a little disconnected from the characters. That’s how I felt about this book, just a little too disconnected from the characters to enjoy it as much as I hoped I would. The last part of this book almost made up for the parts I didn’t find quite so clear, but not quite. The ending reminded me of the end of Throne of Glass or A Court of Thorns and Roses when you just don’t know what is going to happen to the characters, or whether they will be okay.

Amani was an amazing, strong, brave female main character throughout this whole series, and she was one of my favourite things about it. She was such a great role model and I love how Jin complemented her but it was always clear she could be just fine on her own. It is subtle and in the background of the books until they are together and they burn so brightly, I loved seeing them together.

That long after our deaths, men and women sitting around a fire would hear that once, long ago, before we were all just stories, we lived.

Overall, I really liked this series. It was such a unique twist on YA fantasy and I haven’t read anything else quite like it. Also, it’s worth mentioning the covers are drop dead gorgeous!

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Persuasion by Jane Austen

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What does persuasion mean – a firm belief, or the action of persuading someone to think something else? Anne Elliot is one of Austen’s quietest heroines, but also one of the strongest and the most open to change. She lives at the time of the Napoleonic wars, a time of accident, adventure, the making of new fortunes and alliances.

Yay for my first Jane Austen book, second classic of the year and first one of my Wordsworth set that I am actually reading this copy of! This is a book Mark recommended to me, and I knew I wanted it to be the first one I read in this set. If a cold Autumn day is the best time to read a Jane Austen book, maybe a snowy winter one can be second. I felt so cosy settling down with this book in the evenings with my fairylights on, it was just perfect.

Like many classics, I did find this a little dense. I’m not much of a classics reader usually (I’m really trying to get into them this year a little more!). I always find it takes me a while to settle into a classic and get used to the writing. I also have to get used to it taking me around double the amount of time it takes me to read YA fantasy and contemporary which I’m reading for most of the time! I definitely think a reread would be beneficial.

I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures.

Something that really surprised me about this book was how humorous I found it. The writing is so poetic and beautiful, but also funny. Austen can be sassy and brutal and I loved it, it made me chuckle to myself in parts. I loved the writing in every sense, other than it being naturally a little difficult to read due to just not being used to the time period. It was lyrical and I wanted to savour it, and I definitely made sure to take my time with it and really appreciate the writing.

Anne made for a very likable main character and her discussions of love, friendship, women in society and family were so interesting and well done. I loved the subtle romance between her and Captain Wentworth, which was pining but not overwhelming to the story. The letter everyone talks about when it comes to this book is so beautiful and such a high point for this book. I love how we spend the whole book with Anne, to see the letter in return. What a beautiful scene.

None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.

Overall, this was a beautifully told tale full of romance, lust and persistence. I felt very involved in the story, I loved the setting and the writing, and I can’t wait to read more from Jane Austen!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Stacking the Shelves #37

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 a little better at buying books recently, but I have something very exciting to show you all today! My lovely boyfriend Mark gifted me a book for Valentine’s day that I am so, so happy and excited about. I have been looking for the Owlcrate version of The Invisible Life of Addie Larue for a while now, and I’d almost given up on being able to find one I could afford. I was just trying to convince myself I didn’t need this beautiful edition, when Mark gave me this one. I couldn’t believe it!

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Credit: bookishluna.com

This is the beautiful back cover of the book, with the front cover being similar to the American hardback. I can’t wait to see them next to each other on the shelf!

What have you bought this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Traitor to the Throne (#2) by Alwyn Hamilton

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Nearly a year has passed since Amani and the rebels won their epic battle at Fahali. Amani has come into both her powers and her reputation as the Blue-Eyed Bandit, and the Rebel Prince’s message has spread across the desert – and some might say out of control. But when a surprise encounter turns into a brutal kidnapping, Amani finds herself betrayed in the cruellest manner possible.
Stripped of her powers and her identity, and torn from the man she loves, Amani must return to her desert-girl’s instinct for survival. For the Sultan’s palace is a dangerous one, and the harem is a viper’s nest of suspicion, fear and intrigue. Just the right place for a spy to thrive… But spying is a dangerous game, and when ghosts from Amani’s past emerge to haunt her, she begins to wonder if she can trust her own treacherous heart.

I’m reading this series with Alex and we’re really enjoying it! I liked Rebel of the Sands a lot but I wasn’t sure where this story would go. However, I actually enjoyed this more than the first book. It was even more of an emotional rollercoaster with so many twists and turns, me and Alex were messaging each other every day with our reactions and there were a lot of ‘did you get to this bit yet?’ messages too. Having read the first book, I felt a lot less daunted by this one and enjoyed it a lot more than going into the first one with no background to the characters and their story.

Again, I loved Amani as a main character. She is such a strong female lead, and the romance takes a backseat but I still really like the relationship Amani and Jin have. It feels like Amani is complemented by Jin rather than being supported by him, which I really liked. I also loved the supporting cast of characters yet again, and Sam was a great addition to the story. I feel like having a new character introduced into the second book in the series really helps boost the story and Sam made me laugh so much.

But then, this was what the desert did to us. 

I really liked the setting of this book. Rather than being the wider desert, it’s set in a palace which I loved. I felt like I could picture the palace so clearly and having the majority of the book being set in the palace helped a lot. I definitely preferred it being set around the palace than the wider desert! Looking back, I feel like this book should have been a slow burner. But although it’s hard to tell with this being a buddy read and reading a set amount of pages a day, I feel like this was actually quite a quick read. I just wanted to keep reading as this book just had so much tension.

Once again in this book, I really liked the found family element of this story. Even though Amani is on her own in the palace throughout this, she is surrounded from a distance by her supportive friends. I couldn’t help but feel a little emotional in places but genuinely chuckle to myself in others. These books kind of have it all!

It made us dreamers with weapons.

I’m very glad to say this book definitely didn’t have second book syndrome, and I really enjoyed it. I can’t wait to see what the last book has to give!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

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For Penny Lee, high school was a nonevent. She got decent grades, had a few friends, and even a boyfriend by senior year but basically she was invisible. Having just graduated from high school, she’s heading off to college in Austin, Texas, and she’s ready for it.
Sam has had a rougher time over the last few years. He grew up in a trailer park and had to bail when he caught his addict mom taking out credit cards in his name to buy more crap from the Home Shopping Network. He gets a job at a café whose owner is kind enough to let him crash on a mattress in a spare room upstairs. He wants to go to film school and become a great director but at the moment he has $17 in his checking account and his laptop is dying.
When Penny and Sam cross paths it’s not exactly a Hollywood meet cute: they’re both too socially awkward for that. But they exchange numbers and stay in touch—almost entirely by text message, a form that allows them to get to know each other while being witty and snarky and intimate without the uncomfortable weirdness of, you know, actually having to see each other in person. 

I expected to like this book. Hell, a part of me thought I might even love it. But I didn’t expect to find an emotional connection to it so deep that it made me cry.

This book is the story of Penny and Sam, a woman who has just started at college and a man who works in a coffee shop. Their paths cross somewhat unexpectedly, and they find themselves drawn to one another but are, of course, too socially awkward to do anything about it. When Penny saves Sam from having a panic attack on the street, they become each other’s ’emergency contacts’, just, y’know, in case something happens.

You can see where this is going. Penny and Sam become texting buddies, talking about anything and everything all hours of the day and night. They become each other’s support through difficult stages in their lives – dealing with mom trouble, girl trouble, friend trouble and everything in between.

Loving someone was traumatizing. 

I adored the messed up characters of Penny and Sam. This book is told in alternating POV between the two of them, and both of them leap off the page. They are both real, with real problems, friendships and relationships that made me sympathise with them. But the reason I fell in love with Penny and Sam so deeply was because they reminded me of my own relationship. A few months before me and my boyfriend started dating, we started texting. And just as Penny and Sam did, we would message at all hours about anything and everything. We would have deep conversations in the middle of the night. And we fell in love.

As this book went on, it reminded me more and more of me and Mark. And my connection to this book deepened. I saw myself on the page – I saw our sweet interactions and first kisses. I realised how grateful and lucky I am to have found my emergency contact.

On a less subjective note, this book dips between being quite slow (it’s definitely a slow-burn romance!) and really addictive. I did find it slow at first but this is definitely more of a character focused than plot focused book and is bound to be a little on the slow side! I really liked how this didn’t shy away from some of the difficulties young adults face, especially as they moved away from home and the relationship with their parents changed. There are many real life issues discussed through the main characters and side characters – nothing is shied away from. It is dark and depressing in places, but it is reflective of real life and real struggles.

You never knew what would happen to them out there in the world. Everything precious was also vulnerable.

I can totally understand why this book is not for some people. It is slow in parts and the characters can be unlikable. It’s also super dark in places and sometimes that’s not what people look for in fiction. But personally, I absolutely adored it. I admit that is partly because of how I related to it on a personal level, but I think that’s okay sometimes!

CW: rape, pregnancy, drug use, drinking, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, racism

★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Rebel of the Sands (#1) by Alwyn Hamilton

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A sharpshooter. A dreamer. A damn good liar.
Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mythical beasts still roam the wild and remote areas, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinn still perform their magic. For humans, it s an unforgiving place, especially if you re poor, orphaned, or female.
Amani Al Hiza is all three. She s a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim, but she can t shoot her way out of Dustwalk, the back-country town where she s destined to wind up wed or dead.Then she meets Jin, a rakish foreigner, in a shooting contest, and sees him as the perfect escape route. But though she s spent years dreaming of leaving Dustwalk, she never imagined she d gallop away on a mythical horse or that it would take a foreign fugitive to show her the heart of the desert she thought she knew. 

This book is one of those I picked up years ago, read a bit and decided to put down. At the time, I just couldn’t get into the story and knew I would get more out of it at another time. And luckily, I was right! I still understand why I didn’t get into this the first time, but I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to. I bought this whole series as it came out as they have absolutely stunning covers and I felt confident I would enjoy the story at a different time! Now I’ve read a lot more fantasy, I felt a lot less daunted by this series. I buddy read this with Alex which was so much fun! We’re reading the whole series together over the next few weeks which I’m really excited for.

I still felt like the start of this book definitely threw me in at the deep end and felt a little bit of an odd place to start. This book starts in an intense scene and I understand why I put it down the first time. However, after 50 pages ago, the first scene ends and it also felt like the book was starting again. It’s hard to explain, but the start of the next ‘day’ in the book felt like a fresh start to the story and look at Amani.

Tell me that and we’ll go. Right now. Save ourselves and leave this place to burn. 

I really enjoyed reading about Amani as a female main character, who was determined, strong and individual. The romance took a real backseat to the story which I enjoyed, and I felt like it didn’t take anything away from Amani as an individual. The world building was spot on and the world felt so tangible. I could picture it so clearly and it felt like such a rich description.

I also enjoyed reading about the diverse cast of characters, especially Amani and Jin. But later on in the story, I liked the group of friends who had a ‘found family’ feel to them! I really enjoyed the plot and this book just felt like it had more and more to give. I also found the writing really easy to read and felt it was a brilliant way of writing a high fantasy novel. It felt accessible which is exactly what I want from fantasy!

Tell me that’s how you want your story to go and we’ll write it straight across the sand.

I’m so glad that I’ve finally started to read this series and it definitely gave me a pleasant surprise after I put it down all those years ago. I’m looking forward to reading more of the series and I can’t wait to see where this story goes!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Let’s Discuss! Anticipated Releases January-April 2021

I know what you’re all thinking, how late is this post? I’ve been wanting to do this post for a while but just haven’t gotten around to doing it. But even though we’re now into February, I still want to include January releases and shout about them, as I haven’t personally gotten around to reading any on this list!

January

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5th January

Goodreads | Waterstones

Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.
Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family’s sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt’s promises of eternal glory. For years she’s pushed away any thought of revenge against the man–now a god–responsible for their deaths.
Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods.
The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore’s decision to bind her fate to Athena’s and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost–and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees.

I really want to read more books (or any at all, really!) about Greek mythology – and this one looks beautiful.

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12th January

Goodreads | Waterstones

With his King Lord dad in prison and his mom working two jobs, seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter helps the only way he knows how: slinging drugs. Life’s not perfect, but he’s got everything under control. Until he finds out he’s a father…
Suddenly it’s not so easy to deal drugs and finish school with a baby dependent on him for everything. So when he’s offered the chance to go straight, he takes it. But when King Lord blood runs through your veins, you don’t get to just walk away.

I had no idea this book was being published until around a month ago, but I love Angie Thomas’ books and I can’t wait to read this one.

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21st January

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Felipe is fat. And he doesn’t need anyone to remind him, which is, of course, what everyone does. That’s why he’s been waiting for summer: a break from school and the classmates who tease him incessantly. His plans include catching up on TV, finishing his TBR pile, and watching YouTube tutorials on skills he’ll never actually put into practice.
But things get a little out of hand when Felipe’s mom informs him that Caio, the neighbour kid from apartment 57, will be spending the next fifteen days with them while his parents are on vacation. Felipe is distraught because A) he’s had a crush on Caio since, well, for ever, and B) Felipe has a list of body image insecurities and absolutely NO idea how he’s going to entertain his neighbor for two full weeks.
Suddenly, the days ahead of him that once promised rest and relaxation (not to mention some epic Netflix bingeing) end up bringing a whirlwind of feelings, forcing Felipe to dive head-first into every unresolved issue he has had with himself – but maybe, just maybe, he’ll manage to win over Caio, too.

I’ve been seeing this around on Bookstagram for a while, and I had to add it to my TBR!

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January 26th

Goodreads | Waterstones

I still haven’t read A Heart so Fierce and Broken, but I loved the first book in this series and I really want to read the next two!

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28th January

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It’s been more than a year since Simon and Blue turned their anonymous online flirtation into an IRL relationship, and just a few months since Abby and Leah’s unforgettable night at senior prom.
Now the Creekwood High crew are first years at different colleges, navigating friendship and romance the way their story began—on email.

I love all of Becky Albertalli’s books and the idea of jumping back into this world with a novella really appeals to me.

February

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2nd February

Goodreads | Waterstones

Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat.
People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter.
But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing–he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her? UGHHH. Everything is now officially a MESS.

This book looks so good and that cover is gorgeous. I can’t wait to pick up a copy!

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4th February

Goodreads | Waterstones

When Hugo and Ada travel to their friend Dorian’s planet for the holidays, android Hugo is anxious about being accepted by Dorian’s powerful family. But when they arrive on Hydrox, there are more pressing things to worry about, as the planet has been overrun by refugee butterflies. Displaced from their home by climate change, the butterflies have been offered sanctuary by Dorian’s parents, but they’re quickly running out of space. Meanwhile, beneath the seas, a strange creature is wreaking all kinds of havoc …
Can Hugo, Dorian and Ada step in before the crisis gets out of control?

I’m a little behind on reading them, but I will buy anything Lauren James writes. She is an auto-buy author for me and I really enjoy her books!

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9th February

Goodreads | Waterstones

If Bao Nguyen had to describe himself, he’d say he was a rock. Steady and strong, but not particularly interesting. His grades are average, his social status unremarkable. He works at his parents’ pho restaurant, and even there, he is his parents’ fifth favorite employee.
If Linh Mai had to describe herself, she’d say she was a firecracker. Stable when unlit, but full of potential for joy and spark and fire. She loves art, and she dreams of making a career of it one day. The only problem? Her parents rely on her in ways they’re not willing to admit, including expecting her to work practically full-time at their family’s pho restaurant.
For decades, the Mais and the Nguyens have been at odds, having owned competing, neighboring pho restaurants. Bao and Linh have resolved never to befriend each other, for fear of pushing too far and bringing on undue heartbreak. But when a chance encounter brings Linh and Bao closer, sparks fly . . .
Can Linh and Bao’s love survive in the midst of feuding families and complicated histories?

Anything that includes discussions of food are a must-buy for me, so I had to add this one to my TBR!

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16th February

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.

Although I probably won’t be reading it right away, I’m still so excited to have a copy of this book and the opportunity to jump back into this magical world.

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23rd February

Goodreads | Waterstones

I have similar feelings about this book and even though I may not read it straight away it will feel so nice to complete the set!

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23rd February

Goodreads

With her newly completed PhD in astronomy in hand, twenty-eight-year-old Grace Porter goes on a girls’ trip to Vegas to celebrate. She’s a straight A, work-through-the-summer certified high achiever. She is not the kind of person who goes to Vegas and gets drunkenly married to a woman whose name she doesn’t know…until she does exactly that.
This one moment of departure from her stern ex-military father’s plans for her life has Grace wondering why she doesn’t feel more fulfilled from completing her degree. Staggering under the weight of her father’s expectations, a struggling job market and feelings of burnout, Grace flees her home in Portland for a summer in New York with the wife she barely knows.
In New York, she’s able to ignore all the annoying questions about her future plans and falls hard for her creative and beautiful wife, Yuki Yamamoto. But when reality comes crashing in, Grace must face what she’s been running from all along—the fears that make us human, the family scars that need to heal and the longing for connection, especially when navigating the messiness of adulthood.

I only just added this one to this list but it sounds amazing, and I adore the cover.

March

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2nd March

Goodreads | Waterstones

Emma is a die-hard romantic. She loves a meet-cute Netflix movie, her pet, Lady Catulet, and dreaming up the Gay Rom Com of her heart for the film festival competition she and her friends are entering. If only they’d listen to her ideas. . .
Sophia is pragmatic. She’s big into boycotts, namely 1) relationships, 2) teen boys and their BO (reason #2347683 she’s a lesbian), and 3) Emma’s nauseating ideas. Forget starry-eyed romance, Sophia knows what will win: an artistic film with a message.
Cue the drama. The movie is doomed before they even start shooting . . . until a real-life plot twist unfolds behind the camera when Emma and Sophia start seeing each other through a different lens. Suddenly their rivalry is starting to feel like an actual rom-com. 

Another subject I love to read about is films and the film world. I’m having similar vibes from this book as Everything Leads to You, which is one of my favourite books!

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2nd March

Goodreads | Waterstones

Another one on this list I may not read straight away as I would quite like to wait for the trilogy to be completed! But I can’t wait to have the multiple editions I have preordered…

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30th March

Goodreads | Waterstones

Hopefully it won’t take me too long to get to this one, although I would like to reread King of Scars before I read it.

April

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1st April

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.

This one has been on my TBR for a while as it sounds so good and I fell in love with the cover! It sounds so thrilling.

Which books do you have on preorder?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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