Review: Knife Edge (#2) by Malorie Blackman

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Where there has been love, now there is hate.
Two families have been shattered by the divided and violent society they live in.
Sephy Hadley – a Cross, supposedly powerful and privileged – has bound herself forever to her nought lover Callum McGregor’s family.
But Jude McGregor blames Sephy for all the tragedies his family has suffered. And he is determined to force her to take sides, and destroy her life . . . just like she destroyed his. . .

There is absolutely no doubt that these books shake you to the core. They are so powerful, shocking and hard hitting. Some of the scenes left me reeling.

But, and it is a big but. I was bored. It is so hard to balance a book which is important as this series is, with a concept behind it that is so needed and prominent and children’s literature, with the fact that I found the writing…not that great.

The media called us ruthless terrorists. We’re not. We’re just fighting for what’s right.

I remember being gripped by the first book, not wanting to put it down. I remember reading most of it in one sitting. But with this one, the only saving grace was Jude’s storyline. His heartbreaking sections were interesting and thought provoking. I still believe his thoughts and feelings could have been portrayed in a way that made him a little more three-dimensional, but for the most part his storyline was really enjoyable.

But unfortunately, it ended there. I found Sephy difficult to read about. She is obviously struggling, but it is not explained in detail why, with her instead pushing everything and everybody away and acting like a brat. I found the first half of this book much better than the second, which is rare for me. She just seemed much more rounded and well developed, then shutting herself off to the world in the second part, making her very two-dimensional. I understand that this may be the point with her depression, but it fell flat in the writing for me.

I also found a lot of the chapters very repetitive, especially those from the point of view of the mothers or other secondary characters. Meggie would often repeat herself for a whole page and fixate on one small issue, which I found frustrating to read about.

Being born a nought shouldn’t automatically slam shut myriad doors before you’ve even drawn your first breath.

Overall, I am very torn about this book. Blackman is incredibly talented, and it shines through in very small scenes, which show anger, passion and frustration for an oppressed community. I just found it to be in much smaller doses than I expected, which was an incredible disappointment.

★★★
3 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

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Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…
In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.
Separated by distance – and Papi’s secrets – the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.
Papi’s death uncovers all the painful truths he kept hidden, and the love he divided across an ocean. And now, Camino and Yahaira are both left to grapple with what this new sister means to them, and what it will now take to keep their dreams alive.

This book made me realise you should never judge a book because it is written in verse. Having just read two absolutely beautiful books written in verse, after not reading verse for years, I have been absolutely blown away.

The language is flowing, beautiful and tender. It explored the grief of two young girls, separated by an ocean, only beginning to learn that they are sisters. It made my heart ache with hurt and pain and grief. But there is no denying that it is pure beauty.

Can you be from a place

I feel like this book explores so many difficult topics in such a breathtaking way. It explores anger, hurt, loss, forgiveness, family, friendship and grief in a way I don’t think I’ve ever read about before. It captures you by the shoulders and shakes you, until your world feels just as upside down as Camino’s and Yahaira’s has been made by the death of their father.

I loved the way this book spanned oceans, exploring life in both the US and the Dominican Republic. It reflects an everyday tragedy in such rawness and tenderness, through the eyes of two girls who were deeply affected by a plane crash.

One of my only complaints is that in some ways I found it difficult to differentiate between the voices of the two girls, who felt very similar to me in tone. Although I can see this being intentional, I found it difficult to read, especially towards the end where their sections are shorter. My only other small complaint would be I felt something missing in parts, especially when it came to the two sisters meeting and coming to terms with the new relationship they had found with each other. I almost felt we left their story having not explored the relationship between them far enough.

you have never been?

Overall, this is such a beautiful verse novel, and I can’t wait to read more by Acevedo. It pulled on my heartstrings and left me so full of emotion, warmth and hope in light of the darkness.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Nick and Charlie (#1.5) by Alice Oseman

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CHARLIE: “I have been going out with Nick Nelson for two years. He likes rugby, Formula 1, dogs, the Marvel universe, the sound felt-tips make on paper, rain and drawing on shoes. He also likes me.”
NICK: “Things me and Charlie Spring do together include: Watch films. Sit in the same room on different laptops. Text each other from different rooms. Make out. Make food. Make drinks. Get drunk. Talk. Argue. Laugh. Maybe we’re kind of boring. But that’s fine with us.”
Everyone knows that Nick and Charlie are the perfect couple – that they’re inseparable. But now Nick is leaving for university, and Charlie will be left behind at Sixth Form. Everyone’s asking if they’re staying together, which is a stupid question – they’re ‘Nick and Charlie’ for God’s sake!
But as the time to say goodbye gets inevitably closer, both Nick and Charlie question whether their love is strong enough to survive being apart. Or are they delaying the inevitable? Because everyone knows that first loves rarely last forever … 

I wasn’t sure whether to do a review for this book or not seeing as it is a short novella I flew threw in an hour or so. But I found myself finishing it with so many thoughts I just wanted to write them all down!

Firstly, you’ve got to have some talent to make me laugh, cry and break my heart all in 158 pages. But Alice Oseman can do that. I know we’re not necessarily introduced to the characters in this novella, as I have been reading about them in my much loved Heartstopper for a year and a half, but it still shocked me how quickly I built up an emotional connection with these boys.

Charlie curled up so beautifully in my bed, the orange street-lamp light shining on his skin,

This novella hit me so hard because it’s something so real and raw that so many teenagers go through – I certainly did as a young adult – and I related to it so much. Although I am much more secure and confident in myself now, I could still see myself reflected in Nick and Charlie’s insecurities and it made me so emotional.

I can’t write this review without mentioning the physical book itself. I have the Waterstones limited signed edition and it is beautiful. I loved the chapter pages, I loved the illustrations. It was all just downright adorable. I have read other reviews expressing concern for the publishers money-grabbing by this being a thing, but although I agree, I can’t be mad. Because I want this on my shelf so badly. It is utterly gorgeous, and looks amazing with her other books. It made me so happy.

and I felt like if I was going to die, this would be what I wanted to see last.

Overall, this was the sweetest and softest novella about Nick and Charlie from Heartstopper. I would definitely recommend it for all Heartstopper fans, it is just so adorable and you won’t be able to put it down! It was much more hard-hitting and raw than the graphic novels, showing a tougher side to teenage relationships, which I loved. I don’t think I can rate this anything less than 5 stars!

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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BookTube: Beth Finally Reads the Grisha Trilogy: A Summary

Hi loves! Today I thought I’d do a bit of a different video and film a little discussion. I’ve been finding my reaction to the Grisha trilogy interesting, having read all of Leigh’s other books first, so thought I’d have a bit of a chat about how I found the series!

-Beth

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Review: Shadow and Bone (#1) by Leigh Bardugo

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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. 

Having read Leigh’s books in the complete wrong order, I had no idea how this series would feel for me. I began with Six of Crows, then Crooked Kingdom, The Language of Thorns and have even read King of Scars, which kind of ruins some of this series for me. I still wanted to give it a go though, and especially considering I don’t remember much of King of Scars at all, I don’t feel like it spoiled too much for me.

Having read her later writing first, I definitely noticed a difference in this book being earlier. Bardugo’s writing develops so much throughout her releases, but in a lot of ways it actually made Shadow and Bone really enjoyable for me. The writing is simpler, less complicated and felt like a good place to start in the universe, for Bardugo herself and for the reader. In a lot of ways I really do wish I’d started with this series, as I remember how long it took me to get into Six of Crows the first time around.

“The problem with wanting,” he whispered,

Although a lot of the plot was predictable in places, I really liked learning Alina’s story. She made a great protagonist to introduce this world with, as she is learning about the magic system herself and starting from scratch. Talking of, I really liked how the magic system was put together and portrayed. The Grisha themselves are really cool and unique magic wielders, and I love reading about their world.

Although Alina made a great female protagonist, I didn’t enjoy the love triangle so much. Love triangles always put me off a little, and this one was no different. I did really like the Darkling, however, and I thought he was a very cleverly written ploy.

I can’t write this review without telling you guys how I read the entire thing in a day. Not 24-hours. I literally read it from morning to evening. I read 170 pages in one go. Although it didn’t quite make this book 5 stars for me, I cannot hide how purely enthralling and page-turning a book has to be for me to pick it up like that and simply not want to put it down. I was captivated.

his mouth trailing along my jaw until it hovered over my lips, “is that it makes us weak.”

Overall, this book let me down in places and the plot could be predictable, but I really loved it and wish I’d picked it up sooner. What a story. It grabs you by the shoulders and doesn’t let go. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Loveless by Alice Oseman

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Georgia has never been in love, never kissed anyone, never even had a crush – but as a fanfic-obsessed romantic she’s sure she’ll find her person one day.
As she starts university with her best friends, Pip and Jason, in a whole new town far from home, Georgia’s ready to find romance, and with her outgoing roommate on her side and a place in the Shakespeare Society, her ‘teenage dream’ is in sight.
But when her romance plan wreaks havoc amongst her friends, Georgia ends up in her own comedy of errors, and she starts to question why love seems so easy for other people but not for her. With new terms thrown at her – asexual, aromantic – Georgia is more uncertain about her feelings than ever.
Is she destined to remain loveless? Or has she been looking for the wrong thing all along?

Oh my gosh. We don’t need to talk about how much I love Alice Oseman, but it has to be said that this is her best writing yet. I just clicked with it immediately in a way I haven’t with her other books – it captured me from the off and I didn’t want to stop reading. Georgia was such a relatable character who was struggling with finding out who she is, which I think is something we have all found in life, whatever sexuality.

Although I’m not asexual myself, I found Loveless made me reflect a lot on my own sexuality. Almost a year ago, I realised I am demisexual/demiromantic, which means I am only sexually and romantically attracted to people I have an emotional connection with. Some of the stark and raw conversations Georgia and her friends have about sex were so bold and relatable and we simply need more of this in YA. These conversations not only made me chuckle, but it taught me a lot about why I am the way I am with relationships and my sex life.

Give your friendships the magic you would give a romance.

I (mostly) loved the cast of characters. Although they could be annoying at times, I think it was only because they were all learning and discovering things about themselves, which only prompted the story to be more realistic and relatable. The discussions the characters had were not only heartfelt, but incredibly sex-positive and funny. Hardly any books make me actually laugh out loud, but I couldn’t stop chuckling!

The plot was entertaining, and even if a little predictable at times, I still loved it. The diversity was amazing. The casual way Oseman would drop in white privilege and racial issues had me reeling. If she can do it, anybody can do it. It’s just not that hard. The diversity felt natural, added to the story, avoided stereotypes and tokenism. It was executed with grace and thought.

The friendships were also so great and well written. The way this book showed how friendships are just as important as relationship is perfect. I have felt this so many times in my life, and I definitely agree that friendships are just as important and meaningful as romantic relationships are. There is still love and adoration and fear and intimacy. I cannot express how grateful I am for Alice to writing this and these characters and this book.

Because they’re just as important.

I think the underlying most important thing about this book is we need it so badly. We need more books discussing sexuality. Exploring how identifying as a certain sexuality might mean a different life and that this is not weird or bad. We need more sex-positive books that talk openly about sex lives and masturbation and how it varies for different people. We need for teenagers, children and adults to be able to see themselves in books. Loveless taught me so much about asexuality. If all books did what Alice Oseman has done, how much could we learn?

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Let’s Discuss! August Releases I’m Excited For

Hi all! I know we’re a week into the month already but I thought today I’d talk a little about August releases I’m excited for! There are just too many I have on my shelf or I want to read to avoid shouting about them.

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Everyone knows that Nick and Charlie are the perfect couple – that they’re inseparable. But now Nick is leaving for university, and Charlie will be left behind at Sixth Form. Everyone’s asking if they’re staying together, which is a stupid question – they’re ‘Nick and Charlie’ for God’s sake!
But as the time to say goodbye gets inevitably closer, both Nick and Charlie question whether their love is strong enough to survive being apart. Or are they delaying the inevitable? Because everyone knows that first loves rarely last forever…

My copy of Nick and Charlie arrived yesterday and I’m so excited to read it. It looks so pretty alongside Alice’s other books!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Robin Cooper’s life is falling apart.
While his friends prepare to head off to university, Robin is looking at a pile of rejection letters from drama schools up and down the country, and facing a future without the people he loves the most. Everything seems like it’s ending, and Robin is scrabbling to find his feet.
Unsure about what to do next and whether he has the talent to follow his dreams, he and his best friends go and drown their sorrows at a local drag show, where Robin realises there might be a different, more sequinned path for him . . .
With a mother who won’t stop talking, a boyfriend who won’t acknowledge him and a best friend who is dying to cover him in glitter make up, there’s only one thing for Robin to do: bring it to the runway.

I haven’t picked up my copy of Boy Queen yet, but I’m really looking forward to it because it sounds amazing.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

It’s 200 years since Cinderella found her prince, but the fairytale is over.
Sophia knows the story though, off by heart. Because every girl has to recite it daily, from when she’s tiny until the night she’s sent to the royal ball for choosing. And every girl knows that she has only one chance. For the lives of those not chosen by a man at the ball . are forfeit.
But Sophia doesn’t want to be chosen – she’s in love with her best friend, Erin, and hates the idea of being traded like cattle. And when Sophia’s night at the ball goes horribly wrong, she must run for her life. Alone and terrified, she finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s tomb. And there she meets someone who will show her that she has the power to remake her world.

I’ve heard so many good things about Cinderella is Dead and I really want to pick up a copy myself!

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Ashley Bennett and her friends are living the charmed life. It’s the end of senior year and they’re spending more time at the beach than in the classroom. They can already feel the sunny days and endless possibilities of summer.
Everything changes one afternoon in April, when four LAPD officers are acquitted after beating a black man named Rodney King half to death. Suddenly, Ashley’s not just one of the girls. She’s one of the black kids.
As violent protests engulf LA and the city burns, Ashley tries to continue on as if life were normal. Even as her self-destructive sister gets dangerously involved in the riots. Even as the model black family façade her wealthy and prominent parents have built starts to crumble. Even as her best friends help spread a rumor that could completely derail the future of her classmate and fellow black kid, LaShawn Johnson.
With her world splintering around her, Ashley, along with the rest of LA, is left to question who is the us? And who is the them?

I have an ecopy of this book through NetGalley and I’m really desperate to read it – in fact it’s next on my list after Loveless!

Which books are you excited for this month?

-Beth

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Review: Kingdom of Ash (#7) by Sarah J Maas

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Aelin Galathynius’s journey from slave to assassin to queen reaches its heart-rending finale as war erupts across her world…
She has risked everything to save her people – but at a tremendous cost. Locked in an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will to endure the months of torture inflicted upon her. The knowledge that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, but her resolve is unravelling with each passing day…
With Aelin imprisoned, Aedion and Lysandra are the last line of defence keeping Terrasen from utter destruction. But even the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save the kingdom.
Scattered throughout the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian must forge their own paths to meet their destinies. And across the sea Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen – before she is lost to him. Some bonds will deepen and others be severed forever, but as the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight if they are to find salvation – and a better world.

Wow. Leaving this series behind after 8 books following this glorious cast of characters is going to be hard and leave a hole in my heart for a while. I can’t imagine not reading about them anymore!

This book has daunted me since it came out. In fact, I think it trumps Queen of Air and Darkness in being the longest book I’ve ever read. But it’s saying something that I really didn’t feel the length of this book at all, I never got bored and I left the book feeling like everything I needed answering had been answered. The pacing was just perfect for me. Reading this series with Alex has really helped me keep on top of reading them, but even when I fell behind in our schedule towards the end after a busy few days, I had no problem reading around 200 pages in a day to catch up with the schedule!

‘There are no gods left to watch, I’m afraid. And there are no gods left to help you now, Aelin Galathynius.’

I love the cast of characters we have followed over this series, and it was so satisfying to see them all reach different ends to their stories. Even though in some of the books I was more fixated on some characters than others, by the time we got to Kingdom of Ash, I just wanted to know about all of them. I never got bored or wanted to skip certain characters chapters, I wanted to know it all. I fell in love with all of them for their own reasons, and I truly felt like I was part of Aelin’s court myself and I never wanted to leave.

Despite this book being so long, I could definitely read more about these lovely characters if it was available to me, and I would totally lap up a novella like A Court of Frost and Starlight but for these characters. The only slight complaint I have that tainted the story for me was that everything felt a little too perfect. I just wish one or more of the characters could have been happy and badass on their own, and didn’t need to get married or have children in their future to be happy. Not that I didn’t ship everyone of course, it just made me almost roll my eyes sometimes!

Aelin smiled, and Goldryn burned brighter. ‘I am a god.’

I always said A Court of Thorns and Roses was my Sarah J Maas series, but you know, this one is up there. I can’t believe how much I adored this series and these characters and this world, and the battle scenes were immense. Thank you for another wonderful fantasy series, Sarah J Maas. Now I can’t wait for the next one!

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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July Wrap Up + August TBR

Hi everyone! I’m here today with my July wrap up and August TBR. I read 5 books in July, which isn’t my best amount I’ve read in a month, but does include some super long one’s like Kingdom of Ash so I’m trying not to be too disappointed!

Books I Read in July

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Goodreads | Waterstones

They never should have met…The comet’s arrival is imminent, and Taki puts his plan into action to save Mitsuha and the people he has come to care for during his time in her body. Convincing a whole town of skeptics that the sky is falling will take some doing – and a little delinquency – but if Taki wants any hope of a future with Mitsuha, they will have to save the town in the here and now…!

I finally decided to pick up the third manga in this series, and I loved it of course. It was so lovely and felt like a re-read as I have read the light novel and seen the movie a number of times!

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Twenty-nine year old Roberta has spent her whole life hungry – until the day she invents Supper Club.
Supper Club is a secret society for hungry women. Women who are sick of bad men and bad sex, of hinted expectations to talk less, take less, be less. So they gather after dark and feast until they are sick. They drink and dance and roar. And, month by month, their bodies expand.
At the centre of the Supper Club stands Roberta – cynical yet anxious, precocious and lost. She is seeking the answer to a simple question: if you feed a starving woman, what will she grow into?

I was on the blog tour for this book and it turned out to be super interesting!

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Chaol Westfall and Nesryn Faliq have arrived in the shining city of Antica to forge an alliance with the Khagan of the Southern Continent, whose vast armies are Erilea’s last hope. But they have also come to Antica for another purpose: to seek healing at the famed Torre Cesme for the wounds Chaol received in Rifthold.
After enduring unspeakable horrors as a child, Yrene Towers has no desire to help the young lord from Adarlan, let alone heal him. Yet she has sworn an oath to assist those in need—and will honor it. But Lord Westfall carries shadows from his own past, and Yrene soon comes to realize they could engulf them both.

Tower of Dawn ended up being my favourite book in the Throne of Glass series, I adored it.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Eighteen-year-old Amir Azadi always knew coming out to his Muslim family would be messy–he just didn’t think it would end in an airport interrogation room. But when faced with a failed relationship, bullies, and blackmail, running away to Rome is his only option. Right?
Soon, late nights with new friends and dates in the Sistine Chapel start to feel like second nature… until his old life comes knocking on his door. Now, Amir has to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth to a US Customs officer, or risk losing his hard-won freedom.

This book was definitely my most disappointing of the month, and I didn’t enjoy it much unfortunately!

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Aelin has risked everything to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…
With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation―and a better world.
And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen―before she is lost to him forever.

I just finished Kingdom of Ash, but as I read it mostly in July I’m counting it in my July wrap up! It’s also the longest book I’ve ever read, clocking in at 980 pages.

My favourite book of the month was Tower of Dawn, and my least favourite was unsurprisingly How It All Blew Up.

Books I Want to Read in August

Lot – Bryan Washington
Far From Perfect – Holly Smale
The Black Kids – Christina Hammonds Reed
Shadow and Bone – Leigh Bardugo
Siege and Storm – Leigh Bardugo
Ruin and Rising – Leigh Bardugo

I have a few ARC books I need to read this month and I definitely want to finally read the Grisha trilogy which I’ve promised to read now I’m done with Throne of Glass!

What did you read in July and what do you want to read in August?

-Beth

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