Review: Glass Houses (Morganville #1) by Rachel Caine

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College freshman Claire Danvers has had enough of her nightmarish dorm situation. When Claire heads off-campus, the imposing old house where she finds a room may not be much better. Her new roommates don’t show many signs of life, but they’ll have Claire’s back when the town’s deepest secrets come crawling out, hungry for fresh blood. Will she be able to face the town’s terror or will she drown like everyone else?

I have owned most of these books for years, but unfortunately I stopped at book 5 on my first read of them because I didn’t have all of the books! It’s now almost 3 years later, and I’ve managed to collect the whole series pretty much secondhand. This might sound weird, as it’s a 16 book long series and a big commitment – but I finally picked it up again because I needed something easy. I needed comfort. Life is busy at the moment, and I knew picking up and re-reading the first 5 books before I carry on with the series is just what I wanted right now.

I honestly wasn’t sure how I’d feel about these books. I was a lot younger – and hadn’t read quite as many books – when I read them 3 years ago. But I have to say I had a pleasant surprise, and I still really enjoyed this one.

‘”Damn, Claire. Warn a guy before you do a face-plant on the floor next time.”‘

I mean, to a degree it just is what it is. It’s definitely more of a guilty pleasure read than anything else for me. It’s a little trashy, and the writing isn’t exactly going to blow your mind. But sometimes you just need a bit of trash.

I have very vague, sporadic memories of the first 5 books of this series, but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment. I was drawn into Morganville from the first chapter, and I found it so fast paced that I didn’t stop reading. I got through this one in around a day, which is super quick for me!

‘”I could have looked all heroic and caught you or something.”‘

Although there are many plot holes in this series, I love it enough to ignore them. The characters are funny and real and love each other more than anything. They’re sometimes stupid, too, but it just makes me love them even more. I’m so glad I finally decided it was time to pick this back up!

The bottom line is, these books aren’t going to blow your mind. But if you need some entertainment, and an easy-going read, they’re just the thing.

★★★★ 
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

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Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.
Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

I can’t believe I didn’t read this book sooner! I didn’t pick it up until late, and by that point I’d broken an important bookworm code and watched the movie. 90% of the time I will read the book first, but this time I just happened to watch the Dumplin’ adaptation with my boyfriend when it came out and we both loved it!

I don’t think watching the movie first impacted my opinion too much – thank God they stayed very similar with the adaptation – but I did picture all of the characters as they are in the movie. So Will’s mum was Jennifer Aniston all the way.

‘All my life I’ve had a body worth commenting on’

Anyway, onto the book! Honestly, I loved it so much and it flew by. I haven’t been reading overly fast recently I guess, but I read this one in under 2 days. It was so unexpected, but this is one of those books I could just sit and read for hours on end and not even watch the page numbers. It had such a good flow and pace, and I adored it.

As for the characters, I loved them all. I had my issues with Will but the fact she’s not always perfect is kind of the point. She’s growing up and it’s such a great coming-of-age story. She learns throughout the book and I love that El called bulls**t on her. No one in this story is perfect, everyone is flawed and that felt so real and relatable. I loved how proud she was of her own body, and it made me so proud of her too.

‘and if living in my skin has taught me anything it’s that if it’s not your body, it’s not yours to comment on.’

Honestly, this book was such a pleasant surprise. YA contemporary was my favourite genre for a long time, but I’m just not in that space anymore. And I’m completely fine with that. Having said that, coming across gems every once in a while is so lovely. I don’t think I’ll ever completely stop reading the genre, and this book is proof of how much I love the odd one!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare

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Fans of The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices can get to know warlock Magnus Bane like never before in this paperback collection of New York Times bestselling tales, each with comic-style art.
This collection of eleven short stories illuminates the life of the enigmatic Magnus Bane, whose alluring personality, flamboyant style, and sharp wit populate the pages of the #1 New York Times bestselling series, The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices.
Originally released one-by-one as e-only short stories by Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, and Sarah Rees Brennan, this compilation presents all ten together in print and includes a special eleventh tale, as well as eleven comic illustrations.

This book was a strange one to dive into straight after East of Eden, but like a comfort blanket of being back in the Shadow world. I wasn’t sure what to expect with The Bane Chronicles, but I ended up enjoying it so much!

It has all of the fabulous flamboyant-ness of Magnus, and made me laugh out loud so many times. The humour was definitely the most impressive part of this book. I never really laugh out loud at books. I’ll find things funny, but rarely do I actually chuckle or laugh. But this one did.

‘The universe could be a wondrous thing.’

If you love Magnus (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?), you’ll definitely enjoy this. Although short stories can sometimes be difficult and hard to get right, this collection had a certain flow. It wasn’t in a complete linear order like Tales of the Shadowhunter Academy, but it had enough of a recognisable order that it didn’t feel all over the place!

The pacing was pretty spot on, too. I got through this in just over a weekend, simply because it was so easy to pick up the next story!

‘The universe had outdone herself. The universe would be getting flowers.’

Honestly, this book was a bit of fun. It’s nothing outstanding or breath taking, but any fans of Shadowhunters will enjoy it for sure. I found it so nostalgic and comforting to read about Magnus’ adventures throughout the years of The Infernal Devices and The Mortal Instruments, and the laughter was definitely a plus!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

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Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid’s voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy’s bidding but only for a terrible price. This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves.

This book is absolutely stunning. I can’t believe it’s taken me until now to read this, but I find short stories so hit and miss! Some (*cough* Tales of Beedle the Bard *cough*) can be blatant gimmicks. And others, like this, can be downright beauty.

I am so, so happy that this one fell into the latter. All 6 of these stories are based on classic fairytales, but with a new and fresh take set in the Grisha universe. I haven’t actually read the Grisha trilogy yet, but I loved Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom! What I love about this book is you don’t actually have to read any of Bardugo’s books to understand any of the tales.

“They pray that their children will be brave and clever and strong, that they will tell the true stories instead of the easy ones.”

I actually can’t chose a favourite of these stories, because they’re all so beautiful in their own ways. Ayama and the Thorn Wood, The Witch of Duva and The Water Sang Fire definitely all stood out for me though! I love how each story took up around 50 pages, and I think having that time and space is just crucial for the reader to know the character enough to connect fully to the story.

I can’t write this blog post without telling you all about the incredible illustrations that come with the hardback edition I own! Round every single page there’s a band of illustrations which build up as the story progresses. For example, in one story we start with a fox, and slowly the band builds up until we have trees and other forest creatures around the perimeter of the double-page spread. I can’t even begin to explain the beauty here, the amount these drawings add to each story and make them feel like fairytales.

“They pray for sons with red eyes and daughters with horns.”

I honestly have so much to say about this book that I’m going to have to stop myself from rambling and just say this. Leigh Bardugo, you have done short stories right. I have never experienced a novella quite like this one. It stands out in the fairytale experience, and it took me to many different worlds between the pages. I found it perfect for this festive time of year, so comforting and interesting. I’m sure these stories are ones I will come back to many times again!

★★★★★
5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: The Art of Harry Potter by Marc Sumerak

 

I got this beautiful book for my birthday from my other half and I decided to properly read it! It’s one of those books that you would usually flick through occasionally, but I felt like reading it was so satisfying and wonderful! I’ve been a big Harry Potter fan since I read the books earlier this year and watched the movies soon after. This book was the perfect way to delve even deeper into the world.

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Chapter One: The Wizarding World contains beautiful scenes of the Muggle world, Hogwarts, Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade, Wizarding homes and even the Quidditch World Cup!

This was, by far, my favourite chapter in this book. Seeing so many incredible views of the world were just breathtaking. The paper is glossy and shows colours so well, each picture giving off such a rich and lifelike feel.

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Chapter Two: Wizards, Witches, and Muggles. This chapter includes Hogwarts students, the Order of the Phoenix, Hogwarts staff, dark forces and even goes into detail about the Triwizard tournament.

Character sketches include in a location, concept sketches, outfit planning and studies. They are, again, beautiful, and it becomes evident how hard the staff worked on getting every little detail just right.

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Chapter Three: Magical Creatures includes those such as companions, dragons, house elves, Forbidden Forest dwellers and dark creatures.

This topic also happens to contain my favourite page in the entire book – the patronus of Severus Snape. The glow that seems to shine from this page is just incredible, and I had to include a picture above to show you all. I also includes the funniest page – a study of different House Elves! They were never used in the movie but they made me and Josh laugh out loud.

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Chapter Four: Artifacts includes so many items, such as wands, brooms, Quidditch items, dark objects, Horcruxes, portraits and items from Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes.

Again, you can really see the detail when flicking through these beautiful, complicated studies of seemingly trivial items. The thing that really hit me, when reading these chapters, was the amount that makes up this magical world. Such small items require work, and make the world what it is.

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The last chapter is a more shocking one, Graphic Art of the Wizarding World. This includes book covers, Quidditch posters, documents, blueprints magazines and newspapers, food and drink and even potion bottle labels!

I have to say, this one surprised me. What might seem trivial turned out to be the beating heart of this world. These things are the foundations that the Wizarding World is built upon, the glue that holds it together. And they are absolutely beautiful and full of colour and detail.

Overall, I found this book pure comfort. It felt so relaxing to be able to be in this world once more, but in a fresh and different way. It’s the perfect book to read in bed on a quiet evening.

It’s absolute beauty. It’s breathtaking magic.

★★★★★
5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

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Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.
Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.
But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?
Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.
Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.
But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?
What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?
What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?
But what if it is?

If there are two people who are destined to write together, it’s Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli. They go together like salt and pepper, and I love what came out of their partnership in What If It’s Us!

I’m a big fan of both authors and I felt their characters complimented each other perfectly, but still had their own voices. I could just about feel the differences between the way both characters were written that gave them each a unique feel.

“I barely know him. I guess that is every relationship.”

I loved the plot! I remember Adam talking when I met him last week, and I know him and Becky really wanted to write about the difficult parts of relationships as they develop and not just the getting together part. I loved how this book tackled the struggles and not just the Broadway worthy scenes, and it made this book so relatable.

Arthur and Ben were just the cutest, but they were so flawed too! There were parts when I couldn’t help but feel like both of them were just being assholes, but that’s the charm of these characters. They’re so real, they mess up, they accept it, they move on.

“You start with nothing and maybe end with everything.”

I also loved the side characters, friends and family! Not enough YA includes intimate family scenes and I love how their whole lives were included, as well as scenes at home. There’s a specific scene including both of Arthur and Ben’s parents, and it was so heartfelt and lovely.

The only slight issue I had with this book is that it took a long time for me to get into. Maybe 100/150 pages in I got it, but when I did get into this book I couldn’t stop reading! It took me almost a week to read 100 pages, and then a couple of days to read the last 300. So I’d definitely say it’s worth the wait.

★★★★
4 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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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

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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