April Wrap-Up + May TBR

Hi everyone! I managed to read 15 books in April which I’m super happy with, especially considering I went back to work recently. I also read all of the books on my TBR and completed the Ember in the Ashes series with Alex as a buddy read. I recently put up videos on my BookTube channel for both my April wrap-up and May TBR, which you can watch below.

Books I read in April

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

The magical Peter Pan comes to the night nursery of the Darling children, Wendy, John and Michael. He teaches them to fly, then takes them through the sky to Never-Never Land, where they find Red Indians, Wolves, Mermaids and… Pirates.
The leader of the pirates is the sinister Captain Hook. His hand was bitten off by a crocodile, who, as Captain Hook explains ‘liked me arm so much that he has followed me ever since, licking his lips for the rest of me’. After lots of adventures, the story reaches its exciting climax as Peter, Wendy and the children do battle with Captain Hook and his band. 

★★★
2.5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Mary Lennox was horrid. Selfish and spoilt, she was sent to stay with her hunchback uncle in Yorkshire. She hated it.
But when she finds the way into a secret garden and begins to tend to it, a change comes over her and her life. She meets and befriends a local boy, the talented Dickon, and comes across her sickly cousin Colin who had been kept hidden from her. Between them, the three children work astonishing magic in themselves and those around them.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

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

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Saoirse doesn’t believe in love at first sight or happy endings. If they were real, her mother would still be able to remember her name and not in a care home with early onset dementia. A condition that Saoirse may one day turn out to have inherited. So she’s not looking for a relationship. She doesn’t see the point in igniting any romantic sparks if she’s bound to burn out.
But after a chance encounter at an end-of-term house party, Saoirse is about to break her own rules. For a girl with one blue freckle, an irresistible sense of mischief, and a passion for rom-coms.
Unbothered by Saoirse’s no-relationships rulebook, Ruby proposes a loophole: They don’t need true love to have one summer of fun, complete with every cliché, rom-com montage-worthy date they can dream up—and a binding agreement to end their romance come fall. It would be the perfect plan, if they weren’t forgetting one thing about the Falling in Love Montage: when it’s over, the characters actually fall in love… for real.

★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.
But when an actual stranger-a boy who seems to fade like smoke-appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.
The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.
As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know-about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.
But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.
It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars 

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

This powerful YA memoir-manifesto follows journalist and LGBTQ+ activist George M. Johnson as they explore their childhood, adolescence, and college years, growing up under the duality of being black and queer. From memories of getting their teeth kicked out by bullies at age five to their loving relationship with their grandmother, to their first sexual experience, the stories wrestle with triumph and tragedy and cover topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, inequality, consent, and Black joy.

★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

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Review (2020) | Goodreads | Waterstones

Alina Starkov doesn’t expect much from life. Orphaned by the Border Wars, she is sure of only one thing: her best friend, Mal–and her inconvenient crush on him. Until the day their army regiment enters the Fold, a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. When their convoy is attacked and Mal is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power not even she knew existed.
Ripped from everything she knows, Alina is taken to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. With Alina’s extraordinary power in his arsenal, he believes they can finally destory the Fold. Now Alina must find a way to master her untamed gift and somehow fit into her new life without Mal by her side. But nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. As the threat to the kingdom mounts and her dangerous attraction to the Darkling grows, Alina will uncover a secret that could tear her heart–and her country–in two. 

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

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Review (2020) | Goodreads | Waterstones

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Del has had a crush on Kiera Westing since kindergarten. And now, during their junior year, she’s finally available. So when Kiera volunteers for an opportunity at their church, Del’s right behind her. Though he quickly realizes he’s inadvertently signed up for a Purity Pledge.
His dad thinks his wires are crossed, and his best friend, Qwan, doesn’t believe any girl is worth the long game. But Del’s not about to lose his dream girl, and that’s where fellow pledger Jameer comes in. He can put in the good word. In exchange, Del just has to get answers to the Pledgers’ questions…about sex ed.
With other boys circling Kiera like sharks, Del needs to make his move fast. But as he plots and plans, he neglects to ask the most important question: What does Kiera want? He can’t think about that too much, though, because once he gets the girl, it’ll all sort itself out. Right?

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

I read a real mix of books this month and I feel like I had a very positive reading month. My least favourite was sadly Peter Pan and my favourite was With the Fire on High, which both surprised me for different reasons!

Books I Want to Read in May

Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery
Ruin and Rising – Leigh Bardugo
Six of Crows – Leigh Barugo
Crooked Kingdom – Leigh Bardugo
King of Scars – Leigh Bardugo
Rule of Wolves – Leigh Bardugo
Don’t Breathe a Word – Jordyn Taylor
The (Un)Popular Vote – Jasper Sanchez
Threadneedle – Cari Thomas

May really is the month of Leigh Bardugo for me! I was planning on rereading King of Scars before reading Rule of Wolves, but I never expected to reread all of the Grisha books. However, here we are! I’m doing most of these as buddy reads with Alex, which is super lovely. I also want to read a few ARCs this month before their releases!

I’ve already read a few of these books, so I’m pretty confident I can finish this TBR, I’m just unsure if I’ll be able to finish Threadneedle as it is quite chunky. I’m sure I’ll at least start it before the end of the month though!

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

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Anne Shirley is an eleven-year-old orphan who has hung on determinedly to an optimistic spirit and a wildly creative imagination through her early deprivations. She erupts into the lives of aging brother and sister Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, a girl instead of the boy they had sent for. Thus begins a story of transformation for all three; indeed the whole rural community of Avonlea comes under Anne’s influence in some way. We see her grow from a girl to a young woman of sixteen, making her mistakes, and not always learning from them. Intelligent, hot-headed as her own red hair, unwilling to take a moral truth as read until she works it out for herself, she must also face grief and loss and learn the true meaning of love. 

I’ve been reading a classic per month this year from my Wordsworth collectors set, specifically recommended to me by my friends. My friend Harri recommended Anne of Green Gables and I’m so glad I picked this up, it was so entertaining! This felt so reminiscent of My Naughty Little Sister, which was a book I loved when I was little about a child who kept getting into mischief. I never read Anne as a child but I very much enjoyed it now!

I listened to the audiobook of Anne which I really enjoyed. The narrator (Barbara Caruso) felt perfect for the role and really brought the characters to life. It felt like one of the most effortless and easy to listen to audiobooks I’ve read so far. Anne was such a lovely main character who was so lively and wonderful. Her vivid imagination brought the scenery to life and I loved the surroundings of Green Gables. I could picture the island so perfectly because of her chatter!

I’m so glad I live in a world 

This book is also just so entertaining from beginning to end. Anne is always getting up to something and I couldn’t wait to hear what the next bit of mischief would be. Her friends and surrounding characters were also a joy to read about and I love how she had a group of friends at school. On the subject of characters, I also really liked how Anne changed those around her and they grew with her. I especially loved the character of Marilla, and how she softened throughout the book because of having Anne around. It warmed my heart so much to see her character develop! I also felt like everybody had their own distinct characteristics and all brought something to the book.

Anne was such a delightful character and she was such a strong girl who developed into a strong and independent woman. I love how this book shows strong female characters and gives them the option of living on their own and without the support of a husband, which did surprise me considering the age of the book.

where there are Octobers.

I wish I’d read this book when I was little, as I really think this one would have been a favourite for me as a kid. It’s so entertaining and witty, but also heartfelt and really emotional towards the end. It is also one I’d highly recommend as an audiobook as I really enjoyed it!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #43

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 received and bought some really exciting books in the past few weeks and I thought I’d tell you about some of them today. There are so many books being released in the next few months that I can’t wait for!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

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 actually pre-ordered the Fairyloot copy of this because I’m so excited for it, and then Harper 360 sent me a proof copy! I can’t wait to read it soon.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

The second book from the author of A Kind Of Spark, with Neurodivergent characters you’ll root for and a moving friendship at its heart. When Cora’s brother drags her along to his boss’s house, she doesn’t expect to strike up a friendship with Adrien, son of the intimidating CEO of Pomegranate Technologies. As she becomes part of Adrien’s life, she is also drawn into the mysterious projects at Pomegranate. At first, she’s intrigued by them – Pomegranate is using AI to recreate real people in hologram form. As she digs deeper, however, she uncovers darker secrets… Cora knows she must unravel their plans, but can she fight to make her voice heard, whilst never losing sight of herself? 

I picked up a signed copy of this recently and also was lucky enough to be sent a copy by Knights of. I passed one onto Courtney so we can both read it! I’ve heard such good things about this one and I can’t wait to read it soon.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.
To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.
As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

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Goodreads | Waterstones

I’ve been wondering about grabbing this series for a while as I’ve heard mixed reviews about them. However, I managed to get the hardbacks through work and I really want to give them a go!

Which books did you buy or receive this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Del has had a crush on Kiera Westing since kindergarten. And now, during their junior year, she’s finally available. So when Kiera volunteers for an opportunity at their church, Del’s right behind her. Though he quickly realizes he’s inadvertently signed up for a Purity Pledge.
His dad thinks his wires are crossed, and his best friend, Qwan, doesn’t believe any girl is worth the long game. But Del’s not about to lose his dream girl, and that’s where fellow pledger Jameer comes in. He can put in the good word. In exchange, Del just has to get answers to the Pledgers’ questions…about sex ed.
With other boys circling Kiera like sharks, Del needs to make his move fast. But as he plots and plans, he neglects to ask the most important question: What does Kiera want? He can’t think about that too much, though, because once he gets the girl, it’ll all sort itself out. Right?

I’m going to really struggle to write this review because heck, this was the most frustrating read. I started listening to it on audio and picked up the physical copy for the second half. The tone of this book was funny, easy to read and super quick. But I really, really didn’t like the main character, Del, for the vast majority of the story. He was sexist, made a lot of questionable comments about women, seemed to have an oversexualised view of women in general, and spent most of his time pining after a girl who obviously wasn’t interested. This does develop throughout the book and his views do change, but the redemption arc was a bit too little, too late for my liking.

The tone of this book was definitely centered towards teenage boys – which is great, because there is really not enough YA contemporary fiction out there for them. But although I could understand a lot of why Del thought the way he did, I definitely couldn’t relate to it in the same way I imagine a teenage boy might. There was a lot of mentions of porn, masturbation and women, which just really frustrated me in places.

I’d told the truth.

Although the plot and premise of the book also made me uncomfortable in places, it was fun and interesting to read about. I found the depiction of religion was very up-and-down, but I liked how it wasn’t portrayed particularly negatively and centered around the idea that there is space in the church for everyone. However, some characters, one in particular, didn’t face consequences for their actions which disappointed me.

I really enjoyed the dialogue and the found-family feel the friendship group had, which is one of my favourite tropes. Some of the surrounding characters, including Del’s sister Cressie, were very well written and diverse. Although they are obviously in the story to teach Del, they didn’t feel shoehorned in. They also felt like well-rounded characters in their own right, with different qualities and interests.

That shouldn’t be wrong, but the truth could be a weapon depending on who used it

This book feels very needed and I would love to see teenage boys picking this up, as I feel like it has a lot to teach. The plot is engaging and I really flew through the book. The narrative is sharp and witty and the friendships are portrayed really well. There was a lot to like, but sadly also a bit to dislike, which is where I am on the fence. This is definitely one you need to really stick with to have a satisfying outcome, but I did appreciate the way it ended.

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: War Storm (#4) by Victoria Aveyard

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Mare Barrow learned this all too well when Cal’s betrayal nearly destroyed her. Now determined to protect her heart—and secure freedom for Reds and newbloods like her—Mare resolves to overthrow the kingdom of Norta once and for all… starting with the crown on Maven’s head.
But no battle is won alone, and before the Reds may rise as one, Mare must side with the boy who broke her heart in order to defeat the boy who almost broke her. Cal’s powerful Silver allies, alongside Mare and the Scarlet Guard, prove a formidable force. But Maven is driven by an obsession so deep, he will stop at nothing to have Mare as his own again, even if it means demolishing everything—and everyone—in his path.
War is coming, and all Mare has fought for hangs in the balance. Will victory be enough to topple the Silver kingdoms? Or will the little lightning girl be forever silenced?

I have reached the end of the epic conclusion of Red Queen and honestly this series got a little better at the end. War Storm is an absolute beast and I’m glad I read this on audiobook as the paperback is a little daunting! I actually really appreciated the length of this book in some ways, however, because it allowed us so much time with the characters. Aveyard writes characters so well and some of the scenes in this book really allowed us some insight into their minds.

I actually found myself enjoying Evangaline’s chapters the most in this book, which was a shock to me. I found myself growing fonder and fonder of her character over the books and couldn’t wait to get to her chapters. I really like the variety of characters and the variations in their stories. Evangaline is the only LGBT character in the series and I like how her story was integrated.

I am different from what my world demands I be.

The more I read this series, the stronger I felt about how clever it is. Most of these characters were oppressed or looked down upon in some way, but for different reasons. This allowed for a lot of different narratives within the story, which I enjoyed. I also liked how War Storm has more narratives from the points of view of Silvers, including Iris. As with the other books, I really like Aveyard’s writing, which is very poetic and works particularly well in scenes in close scenes between a few characters, which were frequent in this book and enjoyable to read.

The plot was very up and down, and quite slow. For such a large book, I’m honestly struggling to remember what happened or find much to talk about, which is a bit of a disappointment. Saying that, I did find the ending satisfying enough and I really like the way Aveyard writes action scenes. I always find myself very caught up in the action and I felt immersed in the story.

And I am not worse for it.

Overall, I am torn about this book, and this whole series. I did really enjoy it and I think the concept is brilliant, but there is definitely something missing. I just feel like so much more could have been done, and over time I definitely drifted away from Mare’s story and more towards Evangaline.

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #42

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!

We are in for a wild ride with this post today. I’ve received a lot of books in the past few weeks, with England being slightly more back to normal, working in a bookshop again and seeing friends a bit more has meant a lot of book gathering. So today’s post is kind of going to be a bit of a bumper issue separated out into a few sections! I also posted a video on my YouTube the other day with all of the books I bought in lockdown, which I’ll link below if it interests you.

Bought

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Goodreads

I was lucky enough to snag this beautiful Illumicrate edition of Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo, which is a lovely match to my Waterstones edition.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Half-Fae, half-human Bryce Quinlan loves her life. Every night is a party and Bryce is going to savour all the pleasures Lunathion – also known as Crescent City – has to offer. But then a brutal murder shakes the very foundations of the city, and brings Bryce’s world crashing down.
Two years later, Bryce still haunts the city’s most notorious nightclubs – but seeking only oblivion now. Then the murderer attacks again. And when an infamous Fallen angel, Hunt Athalar, is assigned to watch her every footstep, Bryce knows she can’t forget any longer.
As Bryce and Hunt fight to unravel the mystery, and their own dark pasts, the threads they tug ripple through the underbelly of the city, across warring continents, and down to the deepest levels of Hel, where things that have been sleeping for millennia are beginning to stir …

I knew when I saw this beautiful paperback I wanted to pick it up, even though I still haven’t read my hardback I know I’ll love it!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

I’ve read every Lauren James book (bar one) so far, and I knew I wanted this one. This is the sequel to the dyslexia friendly The Starlight Watchmaker, which I really enjoyed.

The Gilded Ones: Signed Bookplate Edition - Gilded (Paperback)

Goodreads | Waterstones

Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.
But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity–and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.
Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki–near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat.
Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be–not even Deka herself.

I found the last signed exclusive copy I had of this at work and I knew I wanted to snag it! It’s so beautiful and I can’t wait to read it.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

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

I finally managed to get my Waterstones edition of this, as it had arrived at the bookshop I work in over lockdown.

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Goodreads | Blackwells

Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.
In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.
Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.
When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

I’ve been wanting to buy these books for a while and I love these new editions. I managed to get the entire set on Blackwells recently, which I was really happy about.

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Goodreads

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around – and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.
What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?
The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries – including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

I also managed to find this beautiful UK edition of Strange the Dreamer, which I can’t wait to read.

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Goodreads

And last but not least, I’ve been slowly collecting the hardback Throne of Glass books. I know I already have the paperbacks, but there is a special reason I’ve been getting these that will become clear soon…

Gifted by friends

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Within the boroughs of London, nestled among its streets, hides another city, filled with magic.
‘Magic and love. Love and magic. They destroy everything in the end …’
Anna’s Aunt has always warned her of the dangers of magic. Its twists. Its knots. Its deadly consequences.
Now Anna counts down the days to the ceremony that will bind her magic forever.
Until she meets Effie and Attis.
They open her eyes to a London she never knew existed. A shop that sells memories. A secret library where the librarian feeds off words. A club where revellers lose themselves in a haze of spells.
But as she is swept deeper into this world, Anna begins to wonder if her Aunt was right all along.

And this is the first book gifted to me recently by my lovely friend and co-worker Jo! She was sent two copies of this book by the publisher and decided to pass one to me. I’m really excited for this one as it really intrigues me!

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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. 

The lovely Alex from Alex’s Books decided to pass this to me after I was hunting down the Fairyloot edition. It’s so beautiful and I’ve been seeing it everywhere!

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And when Blue from Bookish Blue found out they’d ordered two copies of this, they decided to give me a copy! Thank you Blue!

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When Rin aced the Keju – the test to find the most talented students in the Empire – it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who had hoped to get rich by marrying her off; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free from a life of servitude. That she got into Sinegard – the most elite military school in Nikan – was even more surprising.
But surprises aren’t always good.
Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Fighting the prejudice of rival classmates, Rin discovers that she possesses a lethal, unearthly power – an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of psychoactive substances and a seemingly insane teacher, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive – and that mastering these powers could mean more than just surviving school.
For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most people calmly go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away…

This one is another book gifted to me by Alex, as she recently bought the Fairyloot set and passed me the paperback. I’ve wanted to read this series for a while!

Gifted by publishers

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The Storys are the envy of their neighbours: owners of the largest property on their East Coast island, they are rich, beautiful, and close. Until it all falls apart. The four children are suddenly dropped by their mother with a single sentence:
You know what you did.
They never hear from her again.
Years later, when 18-year-old cousins Aubrey, Milly and Jonah Story receive a mysterious invitation to spend the summer at their grandmother’s resort, they have no choice but to follow their curiosity and meet the woman who’s been such an enigma their entire lives.
This entire family is built on secrets, right? It’s the Story legacy.
This summer, the teenagers are determined to discover the truth at the heart of their family. But some secrets are better left alone.

This is a strange one, as I received a copy from Alex and from the publisher recently – so thank you both to Penguin and Alex.

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In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys.
Both a primer for teens eager to be allies as well as a reassuring testimony for young queer men of color, All Boys Aren’t Blue covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy. Johnson’s emotionally frank style of writing will appeal directly to young adults. 

I also received a copy of All Boys Aren’t Blue from Penguin, which I’m currently reading. Thank you for my copy!

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Vaseline on the teeth makes a smile shine. It’s a cheap stunt, but Mark Adams knows it’s optics that can win or ruin an election.
Everything Mark learned about politics, he learned from his father, the congressman who still pretends he has a daughter and not a son. To protect his father’s image, Mark promises to keep his past hidden and pretend to be the cis guy everyone assumes he is. But when he sees a manipulatively charming candidate for student body president inflame dangerous rhetoric, Mark decides to risk the low profile he assured his father and insert himself as a political challenger.
One big problem? No one really knows Mark. He didn’t grow up in this town, and he has few friends; plus, the ones he does have aren’t exactly with the in-crowd. Still, thanks to countless seasons of Scandal and The West Wing, these nerds know where to start: from campaign stops to voter polling to a fashion makeover. Soon Mark feels emboldened to get in front of and engage with voters—and even start a new romance. But with an investigative journalist digging into his past, a father trying to silence him, and a bully front-runner who stands in his way, Mark will have to decide which matters most: perception or truth, when both are just as dangerous.

And the last two books on this list were sent to me by Harper 360 and I’m very excited to get to them soon. When I found out the main character of this one had the same exact name as my boyfriend, I couldn’t resist! It also sounds really enjoyable.

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Present Day:
Eva has never felt like she belonged… not in her own family or with her friends in New York City, and certainly not at a fancy boarding school like Hardwick Preparatory Academy. So when she is invited to join the Fives, an elite secret society, she jumps at the opportunity to finally be a part of something.
But what if the Fives are about more than just having the best parties and receiving special privileges from the school? What if they are also responsible for keeping some of Hardwick’s biggest secrets buried?
1962:
There is only one reason why Connie would volunteer to be one of the six students to participate in testing Hardwick’s nuclear fallout shelter: Craig Allenby. While the thought of nuclear war sends her into a panic, she can’t pass up the opportunity to spend four days locked in with the school’s golden boy. However, Connie and the other students quickly discover that there is more to this “test” than they previously thought. As they are forced to follow an escalating series of commands, Connie realizes that one wrong move could have dangerous consequences.
Separated by sixty years , Eva’s and Connie’s stories become inextricably intertwined as Eva unravels the mystery of how six students went into the fallout shelter all those years ago . . . but only five came out.

I also received this one from Harper (thank you Harper!) and I’m very drawn to this one as well. It sounds super interesting!

Thank you for reaching the end of this post, and well done if you did – there’s a lot of books here! I have been very lucky to be able to buy or receive all of these books in such a short space of time, and I just want to take a second to acknowledge all of the ways I am privileged enough to be able to do that. Between some lovely gifts, working in a bookshop and buying smartly, I haven’t spent an extortionate amount on these and I recognise I am very lucky to be able to say that! Thank you to Blue, Alex, Jo and the publishers mentioned in this post.

Which books did you buy or receive this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Autoboyography by Chrstina Lauren

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Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.
But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.
It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him. 

Okay, I expected to like this book. I didn’t expect to love it. This has been on my shelves for a long time and I’m so glad I picked it up out of my TBR jar recently because it finally forced me to read, and thoroughly enjoy, this story.

This book has very similar vibes to Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit, which I liked but didn’t love. The gripes I had with that book luckily didn’t appear in Autoboyography, and I really loved the story. I was absolutely addicted to this book and read it in a couple of days, even though I was reading it alongside two others. Once I hit the 200 page mark, I was hooked. I became so invested in these characters and I just wanted to know what was going to happen, and found I couldn’t put it down until I’d finished the book.

Tanner and Sebastian were just so adorable. Neither are perfect, and both definitely have their own issues. But they are both teenage boys figuring out their sexualities, their religions and their place in the world. Of course they are going to make mistakes and decisions that are not always the right one’s, and I love how this book worked out these mistakes with the support of the side characters.

I don’t actually care if you break my heart, Sebastian. I went into this knowing it could happen and I gave it to you anyway.

I really liked how both ends of the scale are portrayed here – Tanner is secure in his sexuality and his identity and is supported by his family in that. Also, his family is not deeply religious. Sebastian is Mormon, largely influenced by the church and his family, who are very closed in their viewpoints and would not be happy to find out Sebastian is, in fact, attracted to guys. This book is told largely from the point of view of Tanner, but in no means overshadows what Sebastian is going through in terms of figuring out his sexuality.

I also really enjoyed the cast of side characters, including siblings, parents and even teachers. They all have different outlooks on the world and nothing is shied away from – the discussion of religion in this book is particularly heavy and hard to read about at times. Some of the discussions among Sebastian’s family are particularly painful to read later in the story. If I did have any small complains about this book, it’s about how Mormonism is portrayed, however I am not educated enough on the topic to discuss any further! I also found that coming from outside any religion, I did have to search a few terms from this book, as I didn’t even know what LDS stood for.

But I don’t want you to break your own. You have so much space in your heart for your church, but does it have space for you?

Overall, there was just so much I adored about this book. The two main characters really carried this story in a way I didn’t expect and I found myself rooting for them so much that I had tears rolling down my cheeks as the story ended. The side characters were also brilliantly written and diverse, and I did for the most part love the friendship Tanner had with Autumn. The plot was fast paced and I could never completely guess where it was going, which is why I couldn’t put it down! Bar a few small plot holes and discussions that didn’t sit quite right with me, I absolutely loved this book and I will definitely be recommending it to friends.

CW: heavy discussion of religion, homophobia, sex (not particularly graphic/mentioned before or after)

★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: The Near Witch by V.E. Schwab

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The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.
If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.
And there are no strangers in the town of Near.

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life. But when an actual stranger-a boy who seems to fade like smoke-appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.
The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.
As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know-about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy
.

I’ve been putting off this book for a while as I was a little hesitant about how much I would enjoy it. With The Invisible Life of Addie Larue grabbing top spot and being my favourite book of 2020, I am now so worried about not loving her other works quite as much. But although this didn’t quite match up, I still absolutely loved it!

The Near Witch is part fairy-tale, part love story, part nightmare. It opens on a scene where the main character, Lexi, is telling her little sister a bedtime story, and the book never strays far from that tone. Reading this book has the feeling of going on a rambling journey and becoming enchanted by a creepy tale. This definitely ended up being darker than I expected but in a gentle way that wasn’t too intense or overwhelming, and I really liked it. It was creepy in the way fairy-tales can be, rather than a typical horror!

Maybe one day the words will pour out like so many others, easy and smooth and on their own.

One of my favourite things about V.E. Schwab is her incredible writing. The writing in this was mystical and beautiful and I adored it. She chooses every word purposefully and it shows, and I feel like that’s the reason it took me slightly longer to read than I expected, as I wanted to make sure I really absorbed every part of this book and every single word on the page.

The writing also showcased the amazing world this book is set in. Near is a village on moorland, surrounded by rolling countryside and forests. I loved the vibe this gave off with the creepy, foggy, vast moor and forests, with cottages few and far between. I could picture the world so clearly and it felt like the perfect setting for this story. I also really liked the main characters and that bubbled along in the background of this story. And I could really empathise with how Lexi was struggling with how those around her were acting throughout this story.

Right now they take pieces of me with them.

Overall, this was a beautiful and haunting tale that I really enjoyed reading. It also had such an incredible atmosphere which I loved.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #41

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

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

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

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

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A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.
France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.
But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

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

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

Which books did you buy or receive this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: An Ember in the Ashes (#1) by Sabaa Tahir

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

I’ve been hearing so much about this series recently and after finding out how much my lovely friend Charlotte enjoyed it, I knew I wanted to read this series. I’ve been buddy-reading this series with Alex and I’m so glad we’re reading it together! This felt like YA fantasy with a slight twist, and I really enjoyed it. I also loved the two points of view, which I was hesitant about going into the story as I sometimes find multiple POV mean you want to skip one and go to the next. However, I enjoyed these two equally and for different reasons, and felt like they worked well together.

These two points of view include Laia, who ends up as a slave for the somewhat evil commandant of the Blackcliff Academy, who she is also spying on. The commandant also happens to be the mother of our second character, Elias, who is a soldier at the academy. Both of these characters are questioning authority for different reasons, and are brought together by the decisions they make along the way.

You are an ember in the ashes, Elias Veturius.

This story is definitely a more of a character and plot driven story than a location heavy one, which let me down slightly. I personally love setting heavy stories and a lot of world building, and I did struggle to vividly picture the world throughout the story. Some scenes were better than others, and I’m hoping as the series goes on we learn more about the world and surroundings. I also really liked the characters and felt a lot of sympathy for them – both me and Alex were getting emotional towards the end! I found myself thinking about these characters even when I wasn’t reading (or had picked up something else when I finished my pages for the day), which proves how much I was drawn to their stories.

The plot definitely drove the story which was perfect for reading it over a 4 day readathon. The writing was so easy to read and I didn’t want to put the book down, which bodes well for the rest of the series! But despite it being super compelling, Sabaa Tahir didn’t steer away from difficult topics. The beautiful writing occasionally gave way to brutality and violence, which neither me or Alex quite expected so much of. This is definitely not one for the fainthearted, and has a lot of mentions/scenes of killing, rape and torture.

You will spark and burn, ravage and destroy. You cannot change it. You cannot stop it.

I’m holding out my 5 stars for now as I feel like this has got more to give and I’m really looking forward to seeing where this series goes. However, this was a really enjoyable, fast-paced fantasy read with likable characters and an unpredictable plot that made me want to keep on reading!

CW: sexual assault, torture, violence, death, imprisonment

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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