Review: My True Love Gave to Me – Various Authors

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On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me …This beautiful collection features twelve gorgeously romantic stories set during the festive period, by some of the most talented and exciting YA authors writing today. The stories are filled with the magic of first love and the magic of the holidays.

As this book is full of little stories, I’m going to review them all separately! This was such a fun read and it was perfect for the festive season.

Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell – 5 out of 5 stars
Let’s start this on a high! I’ve read this short story before and it’s honestly brilliant, 26 pages flies by with this year-by-year tale. It’s so simple but focuses on the characters which I adored, the ability to build characters in such a short amount of time is incredible. Perfect for New Year, as it’s set on New Year’s Eve hence the title!

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link – 2 out of 5 stars
Honestly, this one really didn’t do it for me. The only real positive is that it did have a Christmassy feel, but otherwise it was downright confusing and a little weird. I’m all for a little weird, but I just didn’t know what was going on. At all.

Angels in the Snow by Matt De La Pena – 4 out of 5 stars
This story was so cute! I’m all for Christmas fantasy, but adorable festive contemporary romance is where its at. This story is one of Shy and the girl upstairs over Christmas, and it manages to not only be cute but be raw and honest and kind of beautiful in such a short amount of pages.

Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han – 4 out of 5 stars
This story was so overwhelmingly Christmassy! You can’t get much better than a story set in the North Pole for Christmas, surrounded by elves. I liked the protagonist, Natalie, who was the only human to ever live in the North Pole. It made such a unique story which was so fun to read!

It’s a Yuletide Miracle… by Stephanie Perkins – 5 out of 5 stars
Perkins does it again! I remember this from Summer Days and Summer Nights – if anyone can write an amazing short, it’s Perkins. This story was unique, with likeable characters and a beautiful backdrop. I would read a whole book about these two happily.

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan – 4 out of 5 stars
I always find levithan a little hit and miss, but I really enjoyed this story! It’s about a guy called Connor who asks his boyfriend to dress up as santa to keep Christmas magic alive for his little sister. It was a really cute contemporary with a cast of different characters who I enjoyed reading about, however I do feel like too many conversations with different characters were fitted into a very short story!

Krampuslauf by Holly Black – 3 out of 5 stars
I’m really not sure how to feel about this one. Build up a quirky contemporary with a group of friends and a New Year’s party on a trailer park, throw some drama in and then sprinkle it with magic. I think the magic was my main issue, because it just felt forced and like a last minute edition. It threw the story off kilter and threw me off too. Very weird.

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman – 4 out of 5 stars
Contemporary romance definitely suits festive short stories better than contemporary and a weird mix of fantasy. I’m still holding out for a full on fantasy though? Anyway, Forman really brought out holiday cheer with carol singers and pie and a little twist with Hannukah which I loved! It’s the story of (surprise) Sophie Roth, a college student who isnt yet home for Christmas. Its about new discoveries and making mistakes, and although it wasn’t perfect, I damn well enjoyed it!

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire – 3.5 out of 5 stars
I can’t say I disliked this story, it was Christmassy enough and enjoyable. But I just found it strange and I felt so disconnected to the characters! It followed a guy who had to do community service for a church at Christmas, which was an interesting concept but it just wasn’t all there for me!

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten white – 5 out of 5 stars
Yes! I didn’t think I would find another story to match Stephanie Perkins, but this one sure did. It follows the story of a girl who lives in Christmas, CA and their Christmas traditions. It was heartwarming, heartbreaking and heartfelt. All in 40 pages.

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter – 4 out of 5 stars
Another story, another Christmassy town ! I really enjoyed this one too, although it lacked the depth that made me love Welcome to Christmas, CA so much. Still a unique and heartwarming tale of a girl trying to escape her life and ends up finding a family of her own.

The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – 2 out of 5 stars
This was so weird?? I don’t even know what was going on? I stand by the fact that fantasy doesn’t work as well as contemporary in these kinds of situations usually – world building just isn’t possible in 30 pages. I didn’t properly understand the world or the story, therefore I didn’t enjoy it. The pages were used to explain the town rather than the characters, and I related only to the protagonist. It didn’t feel Christmassy either! It did have a satisfying ending, however.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and it was perfect to start the New Year with. Although the stories are very mixed, it’s great to give new authors a chance with books like this one. Sure, I didn’t enjoy a few but that’s bound to happen. And I loved a number of stories enough to rate this book highly! I’ll definitely be giving some of these a re-read next Christmas.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Twelve Days of Christmas – Day 3

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Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her high school teachers who think the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules. Viv’s mum was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates Moxie, a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond and spread the Moxie message. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realises that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

Honestly, I understand why everyone loved this book so much. And I definitely enjoyed it. But it’s just not up there for me…and honestly, I felt like it had a lot of problems. Really? Feminism is great. It’s brilliant. But have you ever thought it’s going too far the other way? I believe more in equal-ism than feminism. Girls are not better. We suffer the same, we should have the same opportunities. 

I understand how important this book is, I really do. And I can’t disagree that sometimes being a woman can still feel different than being a man. But I have to say that the biggest problem I had with Moxie was that it very much overshadowed men, and I would constantly feel myself thinking ‘men suffer too. Not all men do this to woman. They shouldn’t be grouped, and they shouldn’t be discounted. It’s so unfair.’

It occurs to me that this is what it means to be a feminist. Not a humanist or an equalist or whatever. But a feminist. It’s not a bad word.”

Other than all of these issues, I did enjoy actually reading this book. The characters are pretty cool, and I loved the focus on family and friendship groups. It’s always good to be able to find out about parents and grandparents, which was great and gave the book an interesting dynamic. 

Even though the plot was pretty predictable, there was enough ups and downs to keep me interesting. I did feel the need to keep reading and find out what was going to happen to Moxie. 

But I also have to say that the issues were so many that it felt…forced? Like, I understand that girls go through some sh*t. But to have one issue after another with absolutely no support from any kind authority felt so unrealistic? 

“After today it might be my favorite word. Because really all it is is girls supporting each other and wanting to be treated like human beings in a world that’s always finding ways to tell them they’re not.”

Overall, very very mixed thoughts on this one. In one way, it’s a step in the right direction, and we do need more books like this. But it’s also in the danger of taking the subject a little too far, and could be incredibly damaging to young girls and their views of guys.

★★★
3 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #74

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

Twelve Days of Christmas – Day 2

It’s another week of book collecting! I’ve visited the secondhand bookshop near me twice in the past couple of weeks as I’ve been able to show both my lovely friend Courtney and co-blogger Pete my favourite bookshop. It’s been awesome to show them around and I managed to pick up some great finds!

I’ve been looking for second hand copies of The Grisha Trilogy as I love Leigh Bardugo and Six of Crows. As lovely as the new paperbacks are, I still prefer the old ones. So I was very happy to come across this!

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Goodreads | Amazon

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. 

Did you buy any books this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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T5W: Gifts for Harry Potter Fans

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Lainey. You get a new topic every Wednesday, and you list your Top 5 books related to that topic. If you’d like to take part, join the Goodreads group, and add your name to the list of bloggers & booktubers!

This week’s T5W is officially Books to Give ______ as Gifts. I could have gone for purely books to give a Harry Potter fan, but I thought general gifts could be more interesting!

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I adore this book has a Harry Potter fan! It’s just so gorgeous and you can see my full thoughts and many pictures in my review here.

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Amazon

Okay this is my absolute dream. How incredible is this Lego set? And if, like me, this might be a little out of your price range…they have many other cute sets available!

I couldn’t write this post without including WANDS! It’s the only thing I’m seriously considering buying when I visit the Studio in January.

The Crimes of Grindelwald - Baby Nifflers 2-Pack Vinyl Figures

Aren’t these just the cutest? I also might be lucky enough to find these babies in my stocking 😉 

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I had to include food in here somewhere! I love the idea of food from fictional worlds – here’s a whole post about it.

What would you recommend for Harry Potter fans?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Beautiful Quotes #107 / The Upside of Unrequited

Beautiful Quotes is a weekly meme hosted by me, where I post some of my favourite quotes. Any other bloggers are welcome to join me in this and just link my blog!

Hi everyone! As the Christmas festivities are in full swing, I’ve been looking back on the books I’ve read so far this year. I’ve also been celebrating the festive season!

  • Over the weekend, my boyfriend and I went out with my family to a Christmas food festival. I had one of the little marshmallow teacakes I love so much!
  • I’ve spent all evening wrapping presents in preparation for the big day.
  • I finish uni this week for the holidays, so I’ve been working on my project which is due in the New Year!

So here’s a quote from one of the books I enjoyed this year!

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“Something like that. But you know, there’s an upside here. Because when you spend so much time just intensely wanting something, and then you actually get the thing? It’s magic.”
― Becky Albertalli, The Upside of Unrequited

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

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It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.
Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.
But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.

I can’t even explain to you how much I adored this book, but I’m going to damn well try. Shirin is a teenage girl in America just after 9/11, and she is Muslim. I cannot even tell you how much I adored this concept. So often, YA is too focused on a romance, friendship, family, dystopia or fantasy world. Never, is religion the focus. And I absolutely loved that this book centered more than anything else around Muslim culture.

I may not have experienced this kind of discrimination first hand, but I have friends who have suffered because of their religion. I’ve listened to their stories, and every time, they break my heart into tiny little pieces.

“I didn’t believe it was possible to hide a woman’s beauty. I thought women were gorgeous no matter what they wore, and I didn’t think they owed anyone an explanation for their sartorial choices.”

I love how raw this book is. The events were so emotional and sad, but hit home so much for me. I cannot even begin to express how important this book is. This is so different to anything I’ve read in YA, and frankly, it’s about time that a Muslim teen gets to tell her story. In fact, we are way past that time. This should be normal, this should happen every day. But unfortunately, we still live in a world that experiences events just as Shirin does in this book. But stories like these, words like these? They’re the most amazing kind of start.

I loved Shirin in every way. She was such a well-rounded and well-developed character, and I loved the conversations she has with her brother, her teachers, her friends, her family. Everyone is included in this book and it was done so well. Ocean was a beautiful contrast to Shirin as a love interest, and it was brilliant how he broke down her barriers and had such a deep love for her.

“Different women felt comfortable in different outfits.”

Honestly, this might be one of my favourite books of this year. It has absolutely blown me away. Along with all of these compliments, it took me under 2 days to read this beauty. I have only one criticism for this book, which is that I wish Shirin’s parents would have found out about Ocean. I loved the relationship Shirin had with her family, and it would have been such an interesting scene to read about.

This book broke my heart a thousand times over, and glued it back together with strings of hope as strong and as bright as the stars.

★★★★★
5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #70

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

Hi guys! I’m currently reading the first book I bought (50 pages to go!) and I’m really enjoying it. My review should be up later this week.

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Goodreads | Amazon

When I saw Ransom recently, I also picked up a copy of A Map of Days to have signed!

 

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Goodreads | Amazon

It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.
Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.
But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.

I also picked up this book, Taherah Mafi’s new book, A Very Large Expanse of Sea. I’m enjoying Shatter Me and it’ll be interesting to see her write something different!

Did you buy any books this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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