Review: Black Joy by Various Authors

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Edited by award-winning journalist Charlie Brinkhust-Cuff and up-and-coming talent Timi Sotire, join twenty-eight inspirational voices in this uplifting and empowering anthology as they come together to celebrate being Black British, sharing their experiences of joy and what it means to them.

Thank you to Penguin for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

I don’t read a lot of non-fiction but this one was a must-read for me. This was a collection of essays by Black British people from across disciplines and industries, and it is full of Black joy. It was beautiful.

These essays are perfect for teenagers, but great for those of any age. All of them are around 10 pages long and are spaced out with illustrations and block quotes, making them accessible to read and approachable to read one or two at a time. It took me a while to read this one as I mainly read a chunk a day, which is exactly what I’d recommend if you’re going to pick this one up!

I loved the different subjects and aspects of Black Joy that were discussed throughout this collection. There’s essays about music, radio, literature, love and romance, to barber shop culture and connecting to nature. The way the authors weave in their own subjects and things that bring them Black Joy throughout their stories is beautiful.

There was not one essay in this book that didn’t capture my attention or make me want to read on. Every one made me feel more educated and I would recommend this one to anybody.

5 out of 5 stars


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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


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ARC Review: The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge


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Part ghost story, part Nordic thriller – this is a twisty, tense and spooky YA debut, perfect for fans of CORALINE and Michelle Paver.
Martha can tell things about a person just by touching their clothes, as if their emotions and memories have been absorbed into the material. It started the day she fell from the tree at her grandma’s cabin and became blind in one eye.
Determined to understand her strange ability, Martha sets off to visit her grandmother, Mormor – only to discover Mormor is dead, a peculiar boy is in her cabin and a terrifying creature is on the loose.
Then the spinning wheel starts creaking, books move around and terror creeps in . . .
Set in the remote snows of contemporary Norway, THE TWISTED TREE is a ghost story that twists and turns – and never takes you quite where you’d expect.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Hot Key Books in exchange for an honest review. This has not changed my views in any way.

The Twisted Tree was the perfect book to read this week around Halloween! The story follows Martha, a girl who can read people by touching their clothes. She travels to Norway to visit her grandmother, who she later finds out has recently passed away. In her abandoned cabin, she finds an interesting boy hiding. Together, they will find themselves in the midst of some eventful, and creepy, times..

I really enjoyed this book and I’m so glad I read it in October. I found this read so interesting and unique, and I loved the Norse mythology and Norwegian setting. Both things are ones that I don’t often see in YA, and were great to read about.

“You write the story of you every day with your thoughts, words and deeds.”

I loved Martha as a main character, and the female power in this book! Martha talks a lot about her ancestors, and it was awesome to read about the strong link between Martha, her grandmother and her ancestors before then. Martha was perfect as the heroine of this story. She was scarred, struggling and dealing with so much. I loved her flaws, and it was so interesting (and felt realistic) to read about her struggles with having a visual impairment.

“You create yourself. You get to decide your story. No one else. You.”

This book is urban fantasy, set in the real world, and I found that just brilliant. It was awesome to feel the genuine struggle of Martha and Stig coping with their struggles in the real world. I also loved reading about Martha’s mum and the rest of her family. It added an extra depth to the story that was lovely to find out about.

So overall, this book was a really good read perfect for Halloween! Look out for it on January 10th!

4 stars


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Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas


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Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s manoeuvrings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit – and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.
As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for allies in unexpected places. 

Can I please just take a second to mention soapgate? Because even though there is so much wrong with it (*cough* fanfic for profit *cough*), it has amused me highly and could not be more appropriate to this review.

I’m so glad that I’m leaving this book with tears in my eyes and love in my heart. Because I was daunted. Tiny letters and 700 pages and bad pacing? I doubted whether I would get through it at all, let alone as quickly. But Sarah J Maas has done it again, she took my heart and ripped it to shreds, but still made me fall in love.

“I would have waited five hundred more years for you.”

As mentioned above, let’s start with the bad pacing. My only downside of this book would have to be the slow pacing at the start. I spent so long having to push through the dreadfully slow parts before hitting the turn-paging last bits of the book. But I have to say, it was worth it to get to the good, turn-paging parts.

Also, the characters! I found it great having Feyre’s sisters in the family and I loved all of their different personalities. So many deeply personal scenes (shoutout to Mor and that scene between Feyre and her in the camp which I loved!), had me rooting for each and every character.

“A thousand years. And if this was all the time we were allowed to have… the wait was worth it.”

There is no other way to describe it, but everything in these books feels so alive. The characters, the land, the politics, the love…everything is vivid and real and crammed with emotion. The only thing I have to say is that I don’t know if I quite need another 3 books. I’m happy about the novella, but I’m also happy where this book left off. Although I loved them so much that I’m sure I’ll continue reading when the time comes, so who am I to complain?

Also, I cried.

5 stars


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Review: Legendary by Stephanie Garber


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A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.
After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.
The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.
Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.

I loved this book. But did it capture my heart? Not exactly, and that little fact makes me want to cry. You see, Legendary, for me, had a hell of a lot to live up to. Caraval was something extremely special, and it absolutely captured my heart. When I finished that book, I made mood boards and playlists. It made me feel like magic was really woven between the beautiful paper pages.

And although I still really loved and admired this gorgeous book, I don’t feel as though my heart has been captured right now. It’s really hard to describe what was wrong here, but I’m going to try. For a start, it took me a week to read. And yes, that’s a personal thing, and I have a lot on my mind at the moment, but I just didn’t feel as though I needed to be inside the pages of this book all the time. Trust me, there were parts when I couldn’t stop reading, but it wasn’t so constant.

“Her heart was still a little heavy,”

Let’s talk about the things I love. Well, I love Tella. I felt as though there has been enough space between the first book so I wasn’t too sad about missing Scarlett as a narrator, and I really liked Tella’s character. She just felt real – she had her own difficult decisions and confusion and she didn’t always know where her life was heading. I loved her struggles and her torture, because it made her the relatable and lovable girl she is.

I also really enjoyed the story and other characters. I liked the way Legendary explores Tella’s relationships and friendships with not just her mother but with many other characters. They provided a really interesting development for me, and I did want to read on to find out which paths Tella was about to choose. Can I just also mention something? THE LOVE. AHHH. Okay. So Garber still leaves me shipping couples, and the romance was definitely the best part of this book for me. God, Garber knows how to write romance and kisses.

“but she’d decided carrying it around would only maker her stronger.”

So thinking about all this, compared to other books, this one could easily be 5 stars. However, I can’t help but compare this to Caraval. And that makes me feel as though this series has just lost it’s vibrancy. I really wanted more vivid descriptions of the world and game itself, as I remember Caraval being very setting heavy. And that’s the reason why, I’m sorry to say, I’m going to give this one…

4 stars


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