October + Spoopathon TBR

Hello everyone! I haven’t been posting my monthly TBR’s recently, but this one is extra exciting as it includes my Spoopathon TBR. If you didn’t know, Spoopathon is a readathon being hosted by Spoopyhol over on YouTube. If you want to know more, I’ll link the announcement video here and the Twitter here which has more information! I will also include this post in video format below for those of you who are interested in seeing it on my own YouTube channel.

This readathon follows us attempting to escape a haunted house by reading. How cool is that? Basically, we follow the prompts board (below) from the top to the bottom, collecting points along the way and trying to make it to the bottom. We gather points and bonus points for every book we read and enable us to defeat the ghosts and unlock the doors too. There are different teams that have different skills, and I’m on team spoop shifters which actually allows me to move diagonally across the board which is very helpful!

I’m only going to be attempting to escape the haunted house once, but I’m super excited! If you do happen to go through twice, then you have to start from a different point. The board below explains the scoring system in more detail and means I can add up as I go and make sure I have enough to defeat the ghosts and get through the doors.

Prompt 1 – Gifted to you

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Goodreads | Waterstones

When Fran Cooper accepts a mysterious temporary job as a PA to a celebrity, she is swept off her feet overnight. Working with internationally famous singer Juliette, Fran is the person charged with getting Juliette to the Crystal Ball, the glittering event when the world’s rich and famous gather on Panarea, a beautiful Mediterranean island, for a night like no other.
What Fran doesn’t know is that on this one night, everything will change for her too – that instead of standing on the sidelines, she’ll be putting on the most beautiful dress she’s ever seen and having the most unforgettable night of her life…

This one was gifted to me by the publisher (thank you so much Harper!), and I’m so excited for it. My boyfriend loves Lindsey Kelk’s work and I’ve wanted to read one of her books for a while because of that, so I grabbed the chance to read this new release! It also comes out early November, so I wanted to pick it up before then.

Bonus prompts: recommended to you Points overall: 75 points

Prompt 2: Autumnal cover

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I’m already going to be reading the first graphic novel in this series for my other October TBR (linked at the bottom of this post), and I knew I wanted to pick this one for autumnal cover as it is just…so perfect. I’ve heard so many good things about this series and I can’t wait to read it.

Bonus prompts: LGBTQIA+ rep/author, cover features team colour (pink) Points overall: 125

Prompt 3: 500+ pages

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In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.
But when the Eastwood sisters–James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna–join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.
There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.

I received a proof of this book from the publisher last year (thank you Hachette!) and I’ve been excited to read it ever since but knew I wanted to wait for autumn. I’m hoping to buddy read this one with Alex which also gets me some bonus points!

Bonus prompts: buddy read, spooky book Points overall: 125 points

Prompt 4: trick or treat

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Finnmark, Norway, 1617. Twenty-year-old Maren Magnusdatter stands on the craggy coast, watching the sea break into a sudden and reckless storm. Forty fishermen, including her brother and father, are drowned and left broken on the rocks below. With the menfolk wiped out, the women of the tiny Arctic town of Vardø must fend for themselves.
Three years later, a sinister figure arrives. Absalom Cornet comes from Scotland, where he burned witches in the northern isles. He brings with him his young Norwegian wife, Ursa, who is both heady with her husband’s authority and terrified by it. In Vardø, and in Maren, Ursa sees something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place untouched by God, and flooded with a mighty evil.
As Maren and Ursa are drawn to one another in ways that surprise them both, the island begins to close in on them, with Absalom’s iron rule threatening Vardø’s very existence.

I’ve been so excited to read this one for a while and I’m actually going to be buddy reading this one in October anyway with some friends so it fit so well!

For this prompt I actually used my spoop shifter ability to jump across the board to trick or treat. The prompt means you put a poll up with one book being a treat (one you really want to read) and one being a trick (one you don’t want to read so much/this month). You also don’t include which one is a trick and which is a treat. I put a poll on Twitter and you guys voted for my treat so thank you!

Bonus prompts: buddy read. Points overall: 75 points

Prompt 5: read after dark

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Exiled to a far-flung island by the whims of the gods, Medusa has little company except the snakes that adorn her head instead of hair. But when a charmed, beautiful boy called Perseus arrives on the island, her lonely existence is disrupted with the force of a supernova, unleashing desire, love, betrayal . and destiny itself.

I read after dark pretty much every night, but I decided to go for a shorter book so I can hopefully read the entire thing after dark over a few nights! This one sounds so interesting and accessible for someone like me who doesn’t read too much Greek mythology. I was also sent this one by the publisher, thank you Bloomsbury!

Points overall: 25

So working out my points across the entire board, I should leave the haunted house with a total of 525 points (including the bonus for exiting which is 100 points!). I have some other books I want to read in October including an entire other TBR game which gives me 5 different books, which you can view below on my YouTube channel.

Which books do you want to read in October?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #56

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

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

Bought

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Goodreads | Waterstones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blood and Ash DELUXE SET – Community

Goodreads

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

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

Gifted

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which books did you buy or receive this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevado

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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.

I had such high expectations for this book, and let me tell you it surpassed every last one. I can’t believe I didn’t pick this up sooner, but I’m so glad I’m finally did. It was so beautiful and full of joy, heartache, pain and forgiveness. It spans every emotion under the sun and I felt them all throughout reading this book.

There is something about books that discuss food that I can’t help falling in love with. I’m vegan, but even if that focus isn’t vegan, I still love it. I think it’s something to do with the magic of food, the connection that we feel when reading about such a tangible thing. It always really draws me into the story, and I felt that in this book like no other.

Emoni is a Black teen mum living with her elderly grandmother, and she has a natural talent for cooking. It’s all she wants to do, and when the opportunity comes up at her high school to take a culinary arts class that includes a trip to Spain, she knows she has to take it.

The world is a turntable that never stops spinning;

This book carries so much weight but was also so easy to read. The super short chapters were utterly addicting and I really didn’t want to put this book down. I was just so absorbed by Emoni’s story, and although I had a good idea what would happen at the end, it overjoyed me to be along for the ride. With the Fire on High has so many important discussions including about race, sexuality, family, friendship, relationships, teen pregnancy and how to deal with being your own person and having to look after a child at 17. I sometimes find teen pregnancy puts me off books (probably due to a highly disturbing one I read as a young teen that still sticks firmly in my mind, sadly), but this was just handled so well. I absolutely loved Emoni’s relationship with her family and I felt the difficult balance was written so genuinely and honestly. I really felt for her.

There was just so much I loved about this book, and I honestly don’t have anything to criticise, I could gush about it all day. It was the perfect contemporary with a twist that had so many heart warming elements and scenes. I really rooted for and felt connected to all of the characters, and there was a few scenes towards the end of the book that made me tear up because of the love I felt for them all.

as humans we merely choose the tracks we want to sit out and the ones that inspire us to dance.

Overall, this was an absolutely adorable and heart warming read with some heavy topics that I felt were handled really well. It was super enjoyable and had so many elements that worked well together, including Emoni’s love for food. I’m so glad I picked this one up!

CW: death of a parent (mentioned, in the past), teen pregnancy, discussions of sex

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

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The Carls just appeared. Coming home from work at three a.m., twenty-three-year-old April May stumbles across a giant sculpture. Delighted by its appearance and craftsmanship – like a ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armour – April and her friend Andy make a video with it, which Andy uploads to YouTube. The next day April wakes up to a viral video and a new life. News quickly spreads that there are Carls in dozens of cities around the world, and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the centre of an intense international media spotlight. 
Now April has to deal with the pressure on her relationships, her identity and her safety that this new position brings, all while being on the front lines of the quest to find out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.

This is the kind of book you have to take a deep breath after you finish it and try and pause for a while, just to make sure your brain can soak in all of that information. Honestly, it was just complete and utter genius. I had no idea what I would make of this book or even what it was really about. I did not expect the rollercoaster of a journey this book took me on at all, but I really, really loved it.

April is a bisexual twenty three year old art school graduate in an unsatisfactory job that means she works all hours of the day and night. One night, walking through New York City at 3am, she comes across a giant sculpture. After phoning her friend, they make a YouTube video about the sculpture, who they name Carl. The video goes viral and quickly makes April and Andy famous. April then has to navigate the world of fame, and is still caught up in the mystery of the Carls, after finding out there are 64 of them all over the world, and have been placed in very mysterious circumstances.

Just because someone has power over you doesn’t mean they’re going to use it to hurt you.

Just wow. I have no idea how to begin how to describe this wild ride of a book, but it is the kind of story that will blow your mind and make you see the world at just a slightly different angle. I’m so glad I picked it up as part of the 48 hour readathon I was taking part in, because it was very hard to put down. I was constantly craving the next part, and I needed to know the rest of the story. It’s not often I finish a book and feel like I immediately need the next one, but I really do want the next book in the series right now.

I also ended up really liking the character of April. This was another unexpected factor, as April’s character is written to be unlikable. She makes so many questionable decisions and mistakes. But she is human, and she is real, and I kind of loved her. The way this narrative is written is so unique, and I think it’s what made me appreciate April for who she was. I also really appreciated the cast of characters that surrounded April, who were diverse and great in their own rights.

Hank Green really opens up so, so many conversations with this book. Topics on and off the world we know, about fame and social media, but also about control and human nature. It made the story so compelling, interesting and truly like nothing else I have ever read. It was super nerdy but also so amazingly clever.

People who believe that tend to either be: People who have been victims of that sort of behavior, or . . .People who, if given power, will use it to hurt you.

This was so witty, fun, entertaining but also had heavy topics interwoven throughout. It was such an entertaining and riveting read and I’ll be recommending it to many people!

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Fangirl Vol. 1: The Manga by Sam Maggs, Rainbow Rowell + Gabi Nam

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Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, everybody is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life. Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath just can’t let go…
Cath doesn’t need friends IRL. She has her twin sister, Wren, and she’s a popular fanfic writer in the Simon Snow community with thousands of fans online. But now that she’s in college, Cath is completely outside of her comfort zone. There are suddenly all these new people in her life. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming boyfriend, a writing professor who thinks fanfiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome new writing partner…

As soon as I found out there was a Fangirl manga coming out, I knew I wanted to read it. I haven’t read Fangirl in a really long time, but I really enjoyed it and thought this would be a great way to revisit the story. However, I’m finding it so hard to discuss or rate this book because it felt like an odd re-read of the first part of the Fangirl book.

The manga stays very faithful to the original story, and I couldn’t pick anything up that felt different (although it has been a long time since I read it). I did enjoy the art style and I felt like the story fit the art style well. It was very expressive and the characters looked exactly how I pictured them – especially Cath. I really liked seeing Cath in picture format and I could really feel her emotions leap off the page. I also feel like this can really stand alone as a manga without knowing the original story at all.

Check out the first 20 pages of the FANGIRL Manga! | The Fandom
Copyright Viz Media (2020)

I also really enjoyed seeing Snowbaz in this format and I felt like it fit them well. However, I did feel like the way Simon Snow’s story was blended into Cath’s story felt a little jumpy and didn’t always fit too well. I liked each in their own right a lot, but they didn’t quite work as well as the prose version in my opinion.

I’m both excited and apprehensive to see where this series goes as a manga, as I feel like there are parts of the Fangirl original story that I will find questionable as a reader now and would have turned a blind eye to when I read the story before. However, I do want to see where this manga goes and I am enjoying the style of it!

★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #40

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

Hi everyone! I’ve received a couple of books recently that are helping to complete some of the series I have or have read the first book of. I’m super excited to carry on with them!

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I read The Last Namsara a while ago and I really enjoyed it. Me and Alex are hoping to buddy read the whole series this year so I picked up the second one recently!

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Both of my copies of Chain of Iron also arrived recently around the release. I managed to nab this standard edition with a beautiful dust jacket, which was the virtual tour edition.

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I also managed to grab one of these beautiful Waterstones editions and have it redirected it to my house as it was going to the shop I work at. I’m so glad it arrived safely. Even though I haven’t read Chain of Gold yet and I’m not planning to read this series soon, I’m super happy to have them all on my shelf because they look so beautiful.

Which books did you buy or receive this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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February Wrap-Up + March TBR

Hi everyone! I’m here today with my February Wrap Up and March TBR. I managed to read 11 books in February, which I’m pretty happy with. I read a mix of books with most of them being 3.5-4 stars, so it was a solid month with a lot of enjoyable reads!

Books I Read in February

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Emilia and her twin sister Victoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Victoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin…desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to discover who did this, and to seek vengeance at any cost—even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.
Then Emilia meets Wrath, the outlier among the seven demon brethren, always choosing duty over pleasure. He’s been tasked by his master with investigating a series of women’s murders on the island. When Emilia and Wrath’s fates collide, it’s clear this disturbing mystery will take a bewitching turn…

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.
But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.
And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

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

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

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

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

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

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

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

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

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Cover art by Trần Nguyên
Following her father’s death, Jane North-Robinson and her mom move from sunny California to the dreary, dilapidated old house in Maine where her mother grew up. All they want is a fresh start, but behind North Manor’s doors lurks a history that leaves them feeling more alone…and more tormented.
As the cold New England autumn arrives, and Jane settles in to her new home, she finds solace in old books and memories of her dad. She steadily begins making new friends, but also faces bullying from the resident “bad seed,” struggling to tamp down her own worst nature in response. Jane’s mom also seems to be spiralling with the return of her childhood home, but she won’t reveal why. Then Jane discovers that the “storage room” her mom has kept locked isn’t for storage at all — it’s a little girl’s bedroom, left untouched for years and not quite as empty of inhabitants as it appears….
Is it grief? Mental illness? Or something more… horrid?

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Dive into the epic world of international bestselling author Leigh Bardugo with this beautifully illustrated replica of The Lives of Saints, the Istorii Sankt’ya, featuring tales of saints drawn from the beloved novels and beyond. Out of the pages of the Shadow and Bone trilogy, from the hands of Alina Starkov to yours, the Istorii Sankt’ya is a magical keepsake from the Grishaverse.
These tales include miracles and martyrdoms from familiar saints like Sankta Lizabeta of the Roses and Sankt Ilya in Chains, to the strange and obscure stories of Sankta Ursula, Sankta Maradi, and the Starless Saint.
This beautiful collection includes stunning full-color illustrations of each story.

My favourite read this month was definitely Emergency Contact, and my least favourite was The Guest List.

Books I Want to Read in March

Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
Twilight: Life and Death – Stephanie Meyer
Serious Moonlight – Jenn Bennett
Red, White and Royal Blue – Casey McQuinston
King’s Cage – Victoria Aveyard

I don’t have a super set-in-stone TBR for March, but I do want to read these if I can!

What did you read in February and what are you hoping to read in March?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #38

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!

I don’t have a massive amount of books on preorder right now, but this was one of them. Although I haven’t actually read the 5th book in the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children yet, I definitely want to finally finish this series! I enjoyed the original trilogy a lot and I liked A Map of Days, so I am looking forward to carrying on with this story. As far as I’m aware, this is actually going to be the last Miss Peregrine’s book, but we shall see!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

What have you bought this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker by Lauren James

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Goodreads | Waterstones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Capturing the Devil (#4) by Kerri Maniscalco

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Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell have landed in America, a bold, brash land unlike the genteel streets of London they knew. But like London, the city of Chicago hides its dark secrets well. When the two attend the spectacular World’s Fair, they find the once-in-a-lifetime event tainted with reports of missing people and unsolved murders.
Determined to help, Audrey Rose and Thomas begin their investigations, only to find themselves facing a serial killer unlike any they’ve heard of before. Identifying him is one thing, but capturing him—and getting dangerously lost in the infamous Murder Hotel he constructed as a terrifying torture device—is another.
Will Audrey Rose and Thomas see their last mystery to the end—together and in love—or will their fortunes finally run out when their most depraved adversary makes one final, devastating kill?

I really didn’t know if Kerri could top Escaping from Houdini and then she pulled this out of the bag. I knew I was saving that half star for a reason and she didn’t let me down! I’ve been reading this series with my lovely friends Amy and Jo and it’s been so fun – we’re also going to be buddy reading Kingdom of the Wicked soon and I can’t wait to read it. This series improved ever so slightly with every book and I could see Kerri’s writing getting better and more enthralling.

The characters in this book are my absolute favourite and I adore them. I became more connected to Thomas and Audrey Rose with each book and I really went on a rollercoaster with them throughout Capturing the Devil! It left my gasping, shocked, in tears and also with a warmth in my heart. Even though I had an idea of where this book would lead, I was absolutely hooked at the twists and turns.

Love is immortal. 

Audrey Rose is honestly one of my favourite female leads ever. Her character and romance with Thomas is absolutely timeless. Her determination and individualism is amazing, especially for the time, and I admire her so much. She suffers from an injury at the end of Escaping From Houdini that leaves her with a limp and she uses a cane throughout this book. Not only is this disability rep, but is also Own Voices as Kerri has a disability herself!

I adored the setting of this book and I really enjoyed reading about New York and Chicago! Reading about the Chicago World Fair was enchanting and I loved that element of the book, it allowed me to really picture it. I also really enjoyed the Author’s Note at the back of the book which explained the inspirations for the story, what was based on real events and places, and even how to visit where the locations of this book are set! I really appreciate Kerri adding these little details as it fascinated me.

Death can neither touch nor steal it.

Overall, this was an epic rollercoaster of a conclusion to a series I’ve really enjoyed. It has some of the best characters I’ve read and has made me fall in love with a historical series which I would not usually pick up! Thank you Amy for introducing me and Jo to this series!

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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