Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon – A Review

Hi!

Happy (UK) publication date to Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon! I’m very excited to be sharing this review with you.

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon
  • Publication date: May 6th 2021
  • Publisher: Merky Books
  • Genre: Fantasy

Vern – seven months pregnant and desperate to escape the strict religious compound where she was raised – flees for the shelter of the woods. There, she gives birth to twins, and plans to raise them far from the influence of the outside world.

But even in the forest, Vern is a hunted woman. Forced to fight back against the community that refuses to let her go, she unleashes incredible brutality far beyond what a person should be capable of, her body wracked by inexplicable and uncanny changes.

To understand her metamorphosis and to protect her small family, Vern has to face the past, and more troublingly, the future – outside the woods. Finding the truth will mean uncovering the secrets of the compound she fled but also the violent history in America that produced it.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with and audio ARC of this book in exchange for and honest review.

I’m not sure how to approach writing this review. I’ve never read anything by Solomon, I had no idea at all what to expect, apart from the short and somewhat vague blurb. I had no expectations, other than hope that I would enjoy it. The experience of reading this book surpassed all the expectations I could’ve had.

Sorrowland is not an easy book, nor a book that is for everyone. I’ve realised recently that I enjoy “weird” books – books that don’t fit a specific genre, ones that do unconventional things with the plot, narration or the characters. This is exactly what Sorrowland did. Solomon touches on so many issues in this book, and although the story itself is speculative, the issues very much apply to our real world. It is brutal, honest and talks about race, identity, sexuality, gender and so much more.

I loved the writing. After reading Sorrowland, I swiftly added all of the other books by the author to my TBR. It was lyrical, without sounding pretentious; incredibly atmospheric and beautiful, even the horrifying and brutal parts.

Vern was a really strong and interesting character. I enjoyed following her throughout the story as she learned about who she was and what Cainland did to her. I really liked her children, too, and the relationship they had. Well developed familial relationships are something I love in books, no matter the genre.

I’ve seen people complain about how slow the middle of the book was, but I couldn’t disagree more. I think Solomon paced the story really well, and it flowed naturally. It was a perfect blend of action and character development. I found the book interesting all throughout.

The only thing about Sorrowland I didn’t enjoy were the overly explicit sex scenes. They didn’t ruin it for me, and I understand why the author has put them in, but I don’t ever find them necessary, and prefer the fade to black approach.

I can’t say much more without spoiling anything about the book. I think it’s best to go into it knowing very little, and watching it unfold.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thank you for reading! Is Sorrowland on your TBR?

Until the next time!

May Hopefuls

Hi. I’ve written a few TBR posts before but I haven’t really stuck to them at all. This month I’m being quite ambitious, though, and I thought what better way to keep myself accountable than with a TBR? So, here are my May “hopefuls” – books I’d like to get to, if possible.

First of all, I have a few NetGalley books I am planning to read.

I got approved for these three recently and I already made a dent in two, so I’m quite convinced I’ll read them soon. Spin the Dawn isn’t a new release and I’m not sure why it was on NetGalley, maybe because the second book is coming out this month and people will be more likely to request it and review it if they also get the first book – but I was smart and requested just one, in case I don’t enjoy it. I have a feeling I will, though.

It’s my birthday halfway through the month and I’m lucky to be getting MANY books. I picked a few I already own, and a few I’ll be receiving to read physically. It’s quite a big stack of books, but it’s the 2nd and I’m already halfway through one. Many of these are my most anticipated releases of this and last year and I think I’ll fly through them.

Audiobooks really boost my numbers every month, and I enjoy them immensely. I can journal, clean or shop AND read all at once! There are a few audiobooks on Spotify, which I’ll definitely be listening to.

And lastly, I’d like to continue with some series I have as ebooks. Luckily, all of these are novellas, rather than full length novels. Although I’d like to read all of them, I’d be happy with reading one of each.

That makes… 19 books. More than I’ve ever read in a month. If I read them all – perfect. If not, I’m positive I can read MOST of them.

Any books on here you’re looking forward to reading? Or maybe you’ve read them already? What did you think?

Thanks for reading. As always, talk soon!

April 2021 Wrap Up

Hi, there!

April is over. I’ve had a strange month for productivity, and an even stranger reading month. I did manage a good few books, though, so here are the stats.

  • Number of books read: 9
  • Number of pages read: 3523
  • Average star rating: 3.2
  • Physical TBR at the start of the month: 35
  • Books read: 5
  • Current TBR: 37
  • DNF: 1

I might’ve gotten some new books… and getting more soon, because it’s my birthday in 12 days. Am I ever going to get through my physical TBR? Unlikely…

The Darkest Bloom: Shadowscent by P.M. Freestone

I have written a review of sorts for this book, you can check it out here.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare

I think it’s time to accept I might’ve grown out of my love for Clare’s books. Chain of Iron was a bit better than the first book in the series, yet it didn’t really grab me, and I am not attached to those characters, no matter how hard I’m trying to make myself attached to them. While the story was somewhat interesting, the amount of drama was unjustifiable, in my opinion.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

For Esme, with Love and Squalor – and Other Stories by J.D. Salinger

I love Salinger’s writing and characters, though they’re definitely an acquired taste. All of the stories in this collection were good, but I enjoyed the opening and the closing ones the most.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

The Glass Hotel was not what I expected. I enjoyed the reading process of it all, mainly due to the stunning writing, but I kept waiting for things to happen and they didn’t. Don’t get me wrong – I like character driven stories. I just don’t think this one is just that. I honestly don’t know where I stand here. On one hand, I found some parts of it engaging and enjoyable, and on the other hand… I don’t understand its point? I am not sure it makes sense, but it’s exactly how I felt about it.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo

I couldn’t have hoped for a better conclusion to a fantastic duology. The Grishaverse became very dear to my heart, thanks to Nikolai Lantsov and Zoya Nazyaensky (and Kaz Brekker, but he and I go way back). Being back in this world was great. I loved everything about it, to be perfectly honest, because it wrapped up the story perfectly, and left us with a hopeful next book in a certain well loved series… I’m really trying to not spoil anything.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky

I think I hyped up this book too much for myself, because, although I’m not exactly disappointed, Children of Time didn’t live up to my expectations. I don’t know what I thought when I heard “giant, intelligent spiders”, but it wasn’t what I got. The story was good and for most of it engaging, but I found it quite repetitive in plot and narration. I’m not sure if I’ll be continuing with the series.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Dark Stars by Danielle Rollins

Yet another absolute gem that saved this somewhat bad/average reading month. This is the last book in a criminally underrated YA sci-fi series of the same title, and I flew through it. I really enjoyed getting back into this world and coming back to the characters I grew to love. I think the reviews are split when it comes to this one, but I thought the ending made a lot of sense and wrapped up everything nicely.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder

I kind of want to make a separate post ranting about Yelena and Valek, specifically about Valek calling her “love” on every single page of this damned book (and the other two books, too), but I’m not sure that’s entertaining. I don’t know why I thought I was enjoying this series, because this one was frustrating to say the least. I could honestly rant for a long time – it was formulaic, every exciting scene faded to black before it even began, and had Yelena wake up rescued. The political intrigue got lost between all the unnecessary character drama. I did not enjoy it…

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi

Speaking of being fooled in thinking I was enjoying a series… this book! I don’t know what happened, but I found Children of Virtue and Vengeance to be so vastly different from the first book in the series, it was hard to believe the same author wrote it. I adored Children of Blood and Bone. I thought the plot was fresh and exciting. I feel in love with the characters and how deep and real they were. The world was vibrant, the magic system… *chef’s kiss*. None of these were true in this second installment, but what hurt the most was the fact that it felt like the characters were completely different. I am so disappointed I might be skipping the last book altogether.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

And that is all I read in April. How was your reading month? Let me know in the comments.

Why Is Cancel Culture Within The Bookish Community Toxic – A Discussion

Hi. You can tell from the title of this post what I’ll be talking about today. I wanna preface this post by saying that the opinions I am stating on here are my own – I am not claiming I am right – but this is what I think and how I feel about the current situation. I am willing to discuss this issue further in the comments, and I welcome people to disagree with me in a respectful manner, as what I am writing on here is not aimed to harm anyone and I will not welcome any harm directed back at me. I have a voice and I will use it in a way I see fit, as long as I am not harming others by it.

We all know what this is about – the absolute shit storm concerning Emily A. Duncan and Jay Kristoff. In the light of the current stop AAPI hate movement, and an ongoing BLM movement that has gotten a lot of traction last summer, both authors were called out as racist and bullies, for different reasons. I am not basing this post off those two and their behaviour, on anyone else who is involved in the conversation and controversy, and I am definitely not here to make excuses for anyone. If you expect a post shit talking an author and pointing out every single thing they did and said wrong, move along. I am here to talk about the fallout after these things were mentioned, and how we handle it as a bookish community, and why I think that’s wrong.

I don’t know a single person who has never in their life been disrespectful, racist, dismissive or oppressive in any shape or form. Whether we did things intentionally and meant it in a malicious way, or said things due to miseducation or simply ignorance, we have definitely done things that harmed others in some capacity. There is always room to improve, always a stance we can educate ourselves on, especially those who are not part of a minority. Yes, I am a white, straight passing female – I was born into a life where I didn’t have to worry about being oppressed, because of my race, religion or culture. My opinions on this issue may not be the most valid as I don’t have the authority to speak on things that don’t concern me personally. However, I can do my part in spreading awareness, and try to reach people who already listen to what I want to say and maybe change their opinions. Doing that is great and I think everyone with a platform should speak up on issues concerning racism, sexism, bullying and many other.

Where is this going, then, you ask? I have been noticing every single time someone calls out a famous author, many other people jump on that hate train without doing any research themselves and without educating themselves on the matter. It’s not enough to repost Instagram or Twitter posts, bashing said author and telling people to stop reading their work and promoting it, if you yourself don’t look deep into the issue and make sure that you really understand what’s going on. I have seen so many stories, linking to an Instagram post, basically captioning it – I don’t know the whole story, BUT read this post to educate yourself. I know, I know… it’s not their JOB to tell me, the follower, what is happening and why it’s bad, but if they really felt strongly about the matter, they would do EVERYTHING to reach the people who might still be ignorant, and not just repost an info graphic etc. That is not doing the work. That is false accountability just to not be called out. It creates a vacuum of people repeating the same things without really understanding them. People who tell you to educate yourself half the time forget to do the same. Those people then take the time out of their day to, for a lack of a better word, harass others because they post or read books by certain authors.

Do you see where I’m going with this? The time and efforts are completely misplaced. Instead of going onto someone’s post to shit talk them for posting about a book they’ve enjoyed, how about you make sure that you post alternatives to said books on your platform. Uplift marginalised voices ALWAYS, instead of posting a story saying “I can’t believe X amount of people I follow STILL follow that author and didn’t delete photos of their books off their feed”. Being bitter achieves nothing.

This is what cancel culture does, in a nutshell. It’s okay to call out an author who appropriates cultures that are not their own. It’s okay to take a stance and say it’s not a voice that should be uplifted. But there’s a fine line between appropriation and inspiration. Jay Kristoff can’t write about anything Japanese inspired, because he’s not Japanese, and a white male, but Sarah J. Maas can base her world on the UK and Ireland and make the Irish the evil fairies? Is it okay for Kiersten White to write about genderbent Vlad the Impaler, or for Leigh Bardugo to base her world of the Russian Empire? If the answer is no to any of these, then why are those books still insanely popular, and those authors reaching the bestsellers list with any new books they come out with? Why are bookstagrammers, book bloggers and booktubers those who suffer the most in the fallout? For such a small community, we should be uplifting others, instead of bringing them down. We should be making sure that our voices are heard by the authors doing wrong things and their teams and their publishers. And we should let those authors apologise and give time to do better. And lastly… we need to respect people’s boundaries. No, not everyone has the privilege to be comfortable at all times, and there are situations in which we need to step out of that comfort zone to have important conversations. But it’s no one’s right to impose on other’s comfort zone, as in can do more harm than good.

This post is really long, and I’m not sure if in the end I made myself clear. The subject is very broad, and this is just one side of it. And anyone who knows me knows I get rambly all the time. It’s probably not good enough for many as I haven’t called out authors on anything, but, like I said I am not the authority on the issues and no one needs another white person getting outraged on the Internet.

If you’ve read up to this point – thank you. I’d love to know your thoughts, if you’re willing to share them in the comments.

Talk soon.

Books I’ve Recently DNFed

Hi. Today’s post is short and sweet. I have talked about my reasons for DNFing books back at the end of 2019 and I’ve mentioned 12 books I have DNFed since I’ve decided to stop reading books that just don’t agree with me. Although the list only doubled since, I thought I’d mention the few books I’ve DNFed in the last 6 to 12 months. That might not be recently, but somehow the title “Books I’ve DNFed in the last 6 to 12 months” doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily.

  • Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver – I’ve heard good things about it and what little I knew about it had me sold. But thanks to that book I’ve realised that I do not like gothic fiction at all. I didn’t find it atmospheric, on the contrary, it was quite dull for me and the pacing was terrible. This is one hundred percent personal preference and I’ll know for the future that the genre is not for me.
  • The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker by Lauren James – This has been one of my most anticipated releases last year and I got the eARC, which makes it extra sad I’ve DNFed it. In theory, the story sounded exactly up my alley. Found family trope, LGBTQA+ rep. I got around 40% in and I just couldn’t do it. I hated the main character, and none of the other characters grabbed me enough to continue with the story. I don’t think the book itself was bad – after all it has a 3.71 rating on Goodreads, which is pretty decent, but once again… it was not for me.
  • The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White – I wanted to love it. In my head, it was THE book that I would absolutely love and rave about. I’ve added the whole damn series to my to-read shelf on Goodreads. All of that after DNFing Slayer by the same author. Turns out, I don’t like Ms White’s writing. I did like it in The Conqueror’s Saga, or I liked it at the time I read it, but I could not get through these 2 from page one purely because of the writing. Will I be picking up anything by her again? Probably not. Am I happy for people who enjoy her books? ABSOLUTELY.
  • Beyond The Shadowed Earth by Joanna Ruth Meyer – I made an oopsie. I picked up a second book in the series without a) knowing it was a series, and b) reading the first book. Needless to say, I was confused. I also didn’t like the writing at all, so I decided to DNF it rather than try book one first.
  • 84K by Claire North – I have learned from my past mistakes. I loved 2 out of 4 Claire North books I’ve read. The End of the Day did not work for me at all, but I pushed through it just to be disappointed. So, this 5th one ended up in my DNF pile, because it simply didn’t work for me. North’s writing style is very specific to her and although I did love 2 books by her I’ve read, she tends to make her stories overly complicated and confusing by throwing in inner monologue and unfinished, choppy sentences, which was the case with 84K. I had to reread paragraphs over and over again to decipher what they meant and it was not enjoyable.
  • The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro – this one is my most recent DNF and I honestly can only blame myself for not looking into the genre and reviews of this book. I wanted to read more by Kazuo Ishiguro, because the one book I did read by him, Never Let Me Go, is one of my favourite books of all time. I do not like historical fiction, though, especially when it isn’t mixed with other aspects (historical fantasy is absolutely fine). Yet I picked up this book. I DNFed it pretty early, because I realised what it was and found it boring. I’ll know for the future to check.
  • The Mask of Mirrors by M.A. Carrick – yet another highly anticipated book that did not live up to my expectations. I gave it a fair chance to convert me. This one is one that I could rant about, because the heaps and heaps of potential were wasted, but I’ll just say that the pacing didn’t work for me at all and it nearly put me in a reading slump, because I’m choosing positivity today.

That is all for today. Do you DNF books? What is your most recent DNF?

Thank you for reading! Talk soon.

The Darkest Bloom by P.M. Freestone – A “Review” aka why I hate YA fantasy

Hi! I was meant to post a review today and I started writing one for The Darkest Bloom – a book I finished recently. But apparently I was feeling quite ranty instead. Big disclaimer! I don’t actually hate YA fantasy, don’t come for me, please, I’m just being overly dramatic. Okay, now that everything is cleared up…

The Darkest Bloom by P.M. Freestone
  • Publication date: February 7th 2019
  • Publisher: Scholastic
  • Genre: Fantasy

In the empire of Aramtesh, scent has power.

When disaster strikes and the crown prince lies poisoned, long suppressed rivalries threaten to blow the empire apart. It’s up to a poor village girl with a talent for fragrances and the prince’s loyal bodyguard to find an antidote.

To succeed, the pair must uncover secrets – cryptic, ancient tales as well as buried truths from their own pasts – in an adventure that will ignite your senses. 

I am tired of reading the same YA fantasy over and over again. I thought this book would be different considering I thought it had a magic system based on different scents, but alas…

The scent based magic would be a great and fresh idea, if that’s what the author decided to do. But the problem here is… there isn’t much magic in it at all. Think of the Rebel of the Sands, except while that book was low on magic, it gave us heaps and heaps of world building and really introduced us to the characters.

The Darkest Bloom failed to do either. The first line of the synopsis mentions an empire and I think it gave me grand ideas. After finishing the book I can’t tell you a single thing about said empire and I am quite a careful reader. The only politics we get are the precious little that concerns our crown prince. The world building beyond the fact that “scent has power” is nonexistent. We’re thrown into a story with little to no explanation of why things that are happening are important, and we’re given nothing to care about. Maybe after spending time writing about these characters, the author got so familiar with them, they forgot we weren’t and we wouldn’t care if a prince we’ve met for 3 seconds was poisoned.

There is a formula in YA fantasy and many of the recent books I’ve read in the genre follow it.

There is a world A which has all these things that make it unique and interesting, but instead of developing it and delving into it, the author decided to just name drop them and never explain the significance and meaning of them. Enter mentioned “long suppressed rivalries”.

There’s a character B, that has a personal mission they absolutely have to embark on and they’re really good at (insert a skill here), but because of that, they get roped into helping someone else with an issue that’s so much bigger. Enter the second character C. They’re not someone character B wants to work with or trust, but they have to make do. Add some magic-non-magic into the equation – lucky dip, really, anything that has not been used in a different book recently, in this case scent. Sounds cool, right? But I still don’t know how scent is in any way magical in this world. Add a bare minimum to the story to tie in that element, and to make it sound like it’s part of the world, change some common sayings to mention said not-magic-system (this being one of my absolute biggest pet peeves EVER). Oh, and have character B and C fall in love in the end, or almost fall in love. Ta-daaa! There you have it – that’s Shadowscent and many more current YA fantasies.

Needless to say…

Rating: 2 out of 5.

This might not be the greatest review OR discussion post, but I had to get it off my chest.

Please recommend me some good YA fantasies in the comments, I’m begging you.

Until next time.

Middle Grade Recommendations

Hi. I haven’t posted any recommendations in a while, and I thought middle grade was an easy one to post as I’ve been reading quite a bit of it. I don’t think I need to say it, but in case I do – everyone can read and appreciate middle grade, no matter the age. Oftentimes the books are beautifully written and whimsical and a tonne of fun.

These are in no particular order, by the way!

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Starting off strong, with an oldie – Anne of Green Gables. This series was one of my absolute favourites growing up and I identified with Anne as a character. I think it’s a great series to grow up with, as it starts off as middle grade and ages slowly with each and every book. The writing is beautiful and lyrical, and I find it to be a great cosy read for the autumn months. I can’t explain why it suits that season the most, but it does.

If you somehow don’t know what Anne of Green Gables is about – it’s a story of a red headed orphan, Anne, who mistakenly gets adopted by two elderly siblings – Marilla and Matthew. She’s a peculiar little child, with a huge imagination and a penchant for the dramatic. It’s just a story of her life, of finding a place where she belongs, of friendships and heartbreak. It’s honestly beautiful, and definitely my favourite off this list.

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morringan Crow by Jessica Townsend

It’s been a while since I read Nevermoor and I’ve to yet continue with the series (and no doubt I will), but it is still quite fresh in my mind. This one follows Morrigan, a girl born on the unluckiest day of the year and cursed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday. That is until she’s whisked away by a peculiar gentleman into Nevermoor – a magical and secret city; but to stay there, she has to join a prestigious society and compete with other children to do so.

Nevermoor was one of the books that gave me the idea to post middle grade recommendations. I don’t see it talked about nearly as much as it should be. I think it’s the perfect read for those of us who were raised on and loved Harry Potter, but decided against supporting it any further because of the obvious reasons (but let’s not get into that for now). I think there’s a few similarities plot wise, but mostly Nevermoor gave me THAT feeling I had while reading the aforementioned series. The cosy, whimsical, “warm blanket” feeling. I think for younger readers it could be that series they keep coming back to for nostalgia reasons. It’s really well written and structured, and a great engaging story.

The Land of Roar by Jenny McLachlan

This one is definitely one I think younger readers will enjoy a lot more than people my age. I know I said middle grade can be read by anyone, and I stand by it, but there is a reason some books are written and marketed for a younger audience. I find that to be the case with The Land of Roar.

This book follows 2 siblings who, although really close in the past, slowly start to drift apart. When they’re visiting their grandad, they remember a game they used to play when they were younger – a game where they visited Roar – an imaginary world in which they had many adventures. But when their grandad goes missing they realise that Roar might not be so imaginary after all. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it was a very quick read. The blurb compares it to Narnia and Neverland and I honestly think that’s spot on. Roar is truly a vivid and magical world. If you have a young reader in your life – this is THE perfect gift. Or it’s a good read if you enjoy middle grade, or need a palate cleanser.

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

I needed to include this one on the list even though I think with Schwab’s name attached to it, it’s pretty popular as it is. City of Ghosts is a story of Cassidy Blake – a girl who can see ghosts. Add in the fact her parents are somewhat obsessed with the paranormal and have a TV show where they visit most haunted cities and you have the plot laid out clear as day. Each installment takes place in a different city, where Cassidy gets to solve a ghost related mystery.

These books are really fun, atmospheric and a tad bit spooky at times. I’ve yet to read book 3 – apparently the last book in the series, at least for now, but I’ve enjoyed the fist two installments thoroughly. This definitely reads different from all of the other Schwab books I’ve read (all of them, minus the Everyday Angel series), as the writing is age group appropriate, but it’s still very well done.

The Witches of Willow Cove by Josh Roberts

Staying in the paranormal genre is a book I recommended already last Halloween. I haven’t seen it talked about so I’m doing it again. The Witches of Willow Cove follows 2 best friends, Abby and Robby, as on Halloween night they embark on an adventure and discover magic and witches. There is a mystery those two need to solve, and Abby has a great deal to learn about her own identity.

I loved how perfectly friendships, mystery, magic and history were blended in this one, with also a lot of attention being focused on the atmosphere and pacing of the story. It’s not often you see a book that can do all of those simultaneously, and keep the reader engaged. It was quite a page turner and definitely a must read for people who like witchy stories. As far as I know, it’s a standalone, but the ending did hint on a possibility of it being a series.

A Pinch of Magic by Michelle Harrison

My last middle grade read (worth mentioning that is), was also a magical/witchy story. A Pinch of Magic follows three sisters, three magical objects and a family curse. It is also a trilogy, although I haven’t read anything past book one.

I am a sucker for familial relationships done right, and the bond these three sisters have was lovely and well done. The book features a story within a story, which was lot of fun and added more depth without feeling info dumpy. A Pinch of Magic is full of adventure and a perfect blend of seriousness and humour. It’s fun and fast paced for most of it, although the beginning is quite slow.

The Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggit-Phillips

This one was a total surprise for me. The Beast and the Bethany follows two very unlikeable characters – Bethany and Ebenezer. Bethany is an orphan and Ebenezer a 511 year old man with a beast who gives him an anti aging potion every time he feeds it something yummy (be it rare birds or even children). They’re both quite selfish, but when stuck together, they develop and unlikely relationship and learn from each other.

This book was probably one of the funnest, most original middle grades I’ve ever read. It was strange and whimsical and laugh out loud funny. Everything about it was ridiculous in the best way possible. The Beast and the Bethany gave me big Lemony Snickett vibes and I think a reader of any age will enjoy it – I can’t see why they wouldn’t.

The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar

I could gush about this book for a really long time, because it was everything I want from a middle grade. The Ship of Shadows follows Aleja, who always wanted to travel but is told that girls can’t be explorers. But her dream comes true when due to some false accusations she finds refuge on a ship. It’s not any ship either – it’s a pirate ship, and a legendary one, as well called The Ship of Shadows. And it’s crewed by females only!

This is book is brim full of adventure and greatness. It’s rich and addictive and written in such a way that evokes your imagination. Honestly, thinking back on it, I got confused whether things happened in the book or if for some reason I’ve seen something super similar on TV. My overactive imagination plays a movie in my head whenever I read, but it’s rarely ever written in a way when I confuse it with a movie. I am sad I couldn’t have read this book as a child – the crew of the ship stole my heart and I think the women in the book would be super inspirational to young girls to read about.

The Storm Keeper’s Island by Catherine Doyle

And lastly we have this absolute gem of a book written by an Irish author and set in Ireland. The Storm Keeper’s Island follows Fionn who goes to visit his old and eccentric grandad on the island of Arranmore. The island is full of magic and Fionn finds out his grandad is the Storm Keeper. As the story progresses, Fionn finds out about magic and discovers a lot about himself and his family’s past.

Everything about this book is magical, from the setting, to the story line and, obviously, the magic itself. The last one is super unique. Once again, there’s some great familial relationships, both between Fionn and his sister, and Fionn and his somewhat estranged grandfather. I’ve yet to continue with the series, but it shapes up to be a great one and one worth growing up with, Too bad I’m almost 28.

And that is it for my recommendations post. Have you read any of these? Do you like middle grade?

Thank you for reading.

Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock – A Review

Hello again. It is once again time for a review, although just a head up, this one will be more of a brief one, and not because I don’t have much to say about it but rather that I think too much would spoil the experience of reading the book.

Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town by Bonnie-Sue Hitchock
  • Publication date: April 20th 2021
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber
  • Genre: Contemporary Anthology

Come on a journey across the rural American West…

Meet the teenagers who live in the small towns across these states, separated by distance, but whose stories are woven together in the most unexpected of ways.

Whether they are brought together by the spread of wildfire, by the abusive priest who’s moved from state to state or by the hunt for a missing child, these incredible tales blaze with secrets, rage and love.

A novel like no other, this intricate, intense and beautiful book will take your breath away.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I don’t have very many thoughts about this book other that it’s one of the best ones I read this year.

Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town is a collection of short stories from multiple POVs of various teenagers, which connect through characters and situations, creating an overarching story of what life in a small town is like. They’re very short and talk about many different subjects, and you slowly discover connections between every single one of them, and it’s honestly fascinating seeing how it comes full circle.

The misconception about small towns is that of no anonymity and no secrets, as everyone knows each other. This book proves that isn’t exactly true, and life in a small town is still full of secrets, lies, heartbreak and everything else that life itself has to offer. Both good and bad things happen. The people you thought you knew might not be who you thought they were all this time. This book comes with some difficult subjects, some trigger warnings – it’s definitely not sunshine and rainbows. But it is so worth a read.

Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town left me with a heavy feeling in my chest. Not many books can manage that. It’s one I think you need to go into somewhat blind and discover things for yourself. I really really enjoyed it and now I wanna read everything by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock, as this was my first book by this author.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Thanks for reading!

Bookish Buzzwords

Hi, there! I’ve been thinking about making this post for a while. Every now and then I mention I want to read a book purely because it has a certain buzzword attached to it and it makes me instantly interested. So, instead of repeating myself constantly, I thought I’d compile this list for future reference. These are in no particular order.

  • Time Travel

Anyone who knows me at all, knows that my favourite movie is Back to the Future. Why? I honestly do not know – I’ve seen it as a kid and was instantly obsessed, and that obsession did not go away for probably over 20 years now. I love me some time travel, especially when done well. It is a tricky one, I know, but if the blurb tells me time travel is involved, I will read the book. I did that with Stolen Time by Danielle Rollins, a book I didn’t buy for myself and had very little interest in, because it was blurbed as a romance, BUT it ended up being an instant favourite.

  • Con artists

Oh my goodness, nothing gets me more excited than a promise of con artists, especially in a fantasy setting. Those characters usually become my absolute favourites. Funny, smart, a bit too confident… I clearly have a type *cough* Locke Lamora *cough*.

  • Heists

This was an obvious transition, right? Where there are con artists, there’s probably a heist or some sort of a secret mission, and I live for it. Heists are something I will never get tired of. A good heist is exciting, super high stakes and gets your heart racing. What else could you want?!

  • Found Family

Yet another popular trope I don’t see myself ever being sick of. I’ll take a found family over any real family or relationship, especially if those characters don’t fit together at first glace. It’s those unconventional and seemingly unlikely ones that tend to be the fiercest and they really get me.

  • Superpowers

This one is a tough one to explain, because I’m not too into your typical superheroes – think all the Marvel ones ever. But at the same time, I love X-Men. The distinction to me is obvious, in fact, so obvious, I can’t really point out what it is. I guess it’s just more about the power aspect than the hero, because I like supervillains, and super-morally-grey-characters, too. I know I’m making it more complicated than it has to be. My buzzword encompasses all the stories with individuals with powers that don’t use them to either destroy or save the world. Now, I think that’s explained.

  • “Groundhog” day/year/life

Last, but definitely not least, we have the character reliving the same day, month, year, life etc. I haven’t read very many of these, but I am obsessed with that concept and I add every single book that mentions it to my TBR instantly! I think, similarly to the time travel buzzword, I like when the character can influence something that happened to them or someone else in the past, or use it to solve a mystery. There are just infinite possibilities in those stories, and I live for them!

Do you have any buzzwords of your own? Or maybe recommendations you wanna throw my way of some books that have these?

Thank you so much for reading, as always. I hope you have a great weekend!

March 2021 Wrap Up

Hi! Happy April!

I have read quite a bit in March, so I won’t be babbling on for too long about the books. I will link my full reviews to all of them that I’ve written, and if you would like to know my detailed thoughts on any of the other ones, just drop me a comment down below and I’ll post one on here.

Time for stats.

  • Number of books read: 13
  • Number of pages read: 4969
  • Average star rating: 3.3
  • Physical TBR at the start of the month: 43
  • Books read: 10
  • Current physical TBR: 35
  • DNF: 1

As you can see, I am trying to get through my physical TBR at the moment. It doesn’t help I’ve ordered 5 books in the last couple of days.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

This book just didn’t work for me at all. I expected a story about regular people in a world full of the chosen ones. I guess what I expected would’ve been quite bland and boring – because in reality, these kids, though without superpowers (well, all but one) still get into some supernatural shenanigans. I didn’t much care for the characters, nor did I like the plot. Somehow, the bland and boring still very much applied.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

I’ll be posting a full review closer to the publication date – it releases in the UK on the 20th of April. It was just my kind of a story, even though the format of it (told in short stories/vignettes from different POVs) might not be what I reach for usually. I loved it and it took me completely by surprise.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A Pinch of Magic by Michelle Harris

This was a nice and breezy middle-grade about 3 sisters and a family curse. It took me a good few chapters to get invested in the story, but once I did, I really enjoyed it. Charlie is hands down my favourite character – I laughed out loud a few times reading the scenes with her.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Mermaid by Christina Henry

I expected a dark retelling of the Little Mermaid. Why? Because I read Lost Boy and that’s what it was – a horroresque retelling of a story we know. This wasn’t quite either. I still liked it, as Christina Henry is a skilled writer, but it just wasn’t what I wanted from the story, going into it.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Havenfall by Sara Holland

The longer I sit on this book, the more I want to lower my rating. Havenfall was a cover buy. I didn’t have huge expectations going in but the idea of a magical inn connecting different worlds was fantastic, and it sounded like a good time, especially with the mystery element promised in the blurb. I am quite disappointed, even though my expectations were low. This book did nothing new or exciting, it was your middle of the road standard YA fantasy and I’ve had my fill with them by now… to bad, because it had potential.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Continuing on the last thought… Legendborn was so much different and a reason enough not to give up on the YA fantasy genre. It did remind me a bit of The Mortal Instruments at the start, but it blossomed into something different, intricate and well developed and written. Honestly, it was heaps of fun and I really enjoyed the story. It’s a King Arthur retelling, too, which is always a plus (or is it, since the last few I read I either DNFed or hated).

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

I’ve seen EVERYONE rave about this book. I caved. I picked it up expecting to also love it. And although the first third or maybe half was interesting and promising, in the end the book became more of a self-help kind of book full of long winded cliches. I understand what Haig tried to do, but that’s what I wanted from him, I’d pick up his non-fiction.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

Full review here.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

I talked a lot about Swanson recently, and I’ve mentioned I like his writing even though it follows a certain formula I very much expect from thrillers. Well, this one was COMPLETELY different and… I’m impressed. It wasn’t quite a 5 star read for me, but definitely the best book I read by the author so far. It was smart and twisty and just overall really well done.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates

In March I also picked up a non-fiction. I’ve been wanting to read Everyday Sexism for a long while now. I think it’s always relevant. I listened to it on audio, but I feel like have I read it physically I would’ve skimmed many parts. Don’t get me wrong, the book is important and like I already said, still very relevant, but the way it’s done is incredibly repetitive. The book makes very few points, but manages to make up in length by repeating them every so often. I read non-fiction for educational purposes, obviously, but I learnt nothing I haven’t already in my nearly 28 years of being a woman.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

This was my first Ruth Ware, and incidentally also her first book, and it didn’t knock my socks off, but I did enjoy the writing and so I will be picking up more by the author. I’ve been in a thriller kick and it satisfied the craving, but I found the characters incredibly unlikeable and the plot quite predictable. Still, not a bad read.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

I have many bad things to say about this one, but I’m choosing positivity today. I didn’t like The Iron Trial and I won’t be picking up the rest of the series. I know middle grades written in the last 10-15 years sometimes suffer from the Harry Potter syndrome, but this one tried just a bit too hard for me, and the countless similarities were too much.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

Yet another thriller in this wrap up that I quite enjoyed. I read thrillers to be entertained and a bit unsettled and My Lovely Wife delivered in both cases, though significantly less in the latter. It was fun, though, and I’d like to pick up more by the author, because I found the writing quite engaging.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

And these are all of the books I read in the month of March.

How was your reading month? Did you read any new favourites? How’s your Goodreads challenge going?

Thank you for reading!