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!

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson – A Review

Hi. It’s time for another review. I haven’t been able to get this book out of my mind since I read it, so I thought it deserves it’s own full review on here.

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
  • Publication date: May 22nd 2018
  • Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
  • Genre: Contemporary/Mystery

Monday Charles is missing, and only Claudia seems to notice. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable—more sisters than friends. So when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried. When she doesn’t show for the second day, or second week, Claudia knows that something is wrong. Monday wouldn’t just leave her to endure tests and bullies alone. Not after last year’s rumors and not with her grades on the line. Now Claudia needs her best—and only—friend more than ever. But Monday’s mother refuses to give Claudia a straight answer, and Monday’s sister April is even less help.

As Claudia digs deeper into her friend’s disappearance, she discovers that no one seems to remember the last time they saw Monday. How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone?

Books don’t make me cry often and I’m not a big crier in general, but… this one broke the dam.

I thought I knew what to expect going into this book, as the synopsis and the title are telling enough – this novel follows two friends, Claudia and Monday, and told from Claudia’s perspective it explores their friendship and lives from before and after Monday went missing.

I didn’t expect the story to hit me as hard as it did. I got invested in the lives of the two teens nearly from the get go. I really felt for Claudia, for losing her friend and having virtually no one listening to her when she raised her concerns about her friend. And I felt for Monday…

This story comes with many trigger warnings, child abuse being one of them, so it’s definitely not for everyone, but I found myself entirely captivated by Jackson’s writing. The way she told the story of these two girls was beautiful and touching. I loved that the narration was spilt between different timelines, it really worked for the story Jackson was telling, as we got a lot of glimpses into Monday and Claudia’s friendship, and how close the two girls were.

The ending broke me. It made my heart ache and left this heavy feeling in my chest I don’t get often. Monday’s not Coming is not an easy read, it’s not light, but it’s gut wrenching and emotional and I loved it. It’s definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year, if not my favourite.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Have you read this book or anything by the author? What did you think?

Thank you for reading!

Most Anticipated Releases of The Second Quarter of 2021

Hi! I can’t believe it’s already time for this post! March is quickly coming to an end and we’re about to enter the second quarter of 2021. Where did the time go? Here are some book releases for the months of April, May and June I’m looking forward to!

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

Release date: April 6th

First of all, look at this COVER! I used to say I hate people and faces on the cover, but there’s been many lovely covers with faces and florals lately that I think I need to retract that statement. House of Hollow is a YA mystery with elements of magical realism, and it sounds bizarre and weird and like a lot of fun. The early reviewers seem to love it, and Melissa Albert is one of them, so I’m sold.

The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Release date: April 6th

Another gorgeous book on April 6th is this one. The author said she combined her love of robots, superpowers and Jane Austen to write this book and honestly I don’t think I need anything else. I’ve been loving sci-fi lately and I’m looking forward to this one, because it sounds exciting, unique and like just my kind of a book.

Near the Bone by Christina Henry

Release date: April 13th

Christina Henry is back with another book which, unsurprisingly is a blend of horror and fantasy. I’ve yet to catch up on her works, but Near the Bone sounds so good, I’m definitely bumping it up on my TBR. The blurb says “A woman trapped on a mountain attempts to survive more than one kind of a monster” and I am hooked already.

Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart

Release date: April 20th

Also in April, we’re getting this fantasy debut which is Jamaican-inspired and about witches and revenge. I’ve been dying to pick up a rich and complex YA fantasy, because the genre has been disappointing me lately and I have really high hopes for this one.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Release date: May 4th

I haven’t read The Martian yet, but I’m still very excited for another book by Andy Weir. I know it might not make much sense… Anyway, sci-fi is one of my favourite genres and Project Hail Mary sounds like my kind of a book, because it’s part sci-fi and part mystery, and incredibly high stakes, too, according to the blurb.

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

Release date: May 6th

I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know much about this book at all. What I do know, though, makes me really interested in it. It’s a queer genre defying book about a pregnant teen that is meant to be a harrowing read. That ticks many boxes and sounds intriguing to me.

Illusionary by Zoraida Córdova

Release date: May 11th

This one is one of the three sequels I’m excited to get to, and they all release at around the same time, which is unlucky for me… Illusionary is the second installment in a fantasy series by Zoraida Córdova, inspired loosely by the Spanish Inquisition. I gave the first book 4 stars, and really enjoyed it, so I’m looking forward to continuing with the series.

The Serpent’s Curse by Lisa Maxwell

Release date: May 13th

Well, technically this releases on April 13th, but the paperback isn’t out until a month later which just so happens to be my birthday! And if that’s not a coincidence enough – it’s also the book I’m anticipating the most. I think The Last Magician series is super underrated for such a fantastic YA blend of fantasy and sci-fi. This is the second last book, I believe, and I am ITCHING to get my hands on it.

Son of the Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

Release date: May 13th

Also on my birthday we’re getting this new Orbit fantasy release. It kind of gives me Strange the Dreamer vibes because it’s about a scholar trying to find an island that isn’t meant to exist. I’m expecting it to be less whimsical and more of a high fantasy, but either way, it sounds great!

Mister Impossible by Maggie Stiefvater

Release date: May 18th

Another highly anticipated sequel, this one to Call Down the Hawk. I love Maggie Stiefbater, I need me some more of Ronan Lynch but… this cover and title are atrocious! Sorry, not sorry.

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Release date: May 27th

This one is least like what I tend to read, a mix of historical fiction, contemporary and romance, but Jenkins Reid seem to be the exception to the rule for me. I’ve read her two most recent books and loved them both, so even though I know close to nothing about Malibu Rising, other than it follows 4 siblings and a party, I am really looking forward to picking it up and discovering what the story is about.

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

Release date: June 1

It’s not a secret that I’ve been on a mystery/thriller kick for a while. This one is a debut, with a premise that is very real and I haven’t seen being written about – it follows two Black girls in publishing. Described as a mix of Get Out and The Devil Wears Prada, it sounds like my kind of a book!

Blackout Anthology

Release date: June 24th

Anthologies are usually a very mixed bag for me, and this is a romance one, but I have a feeling I’ll like it. I love Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone and Angie Thomas, and I’ve read from Ashley Woodfolk, and have Dhonielle Clayton on my TBR, so it’s a very promising lineup. And it seems like it’ll be a great and quick summer read.

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron

Release date: June 29th

Ms. Bayron is back with another retelling this June, and it’s one of The Secret Garden. Even though Cinderella is Dead wasn’t my absolute favourite, there was a lot of things I enjoyed about the book, and I want to give the author another chance. I loved The Secret Garden as a child. And… well. This cover is stunning!

Survive the Night by Riley Sager

Release date: June 29th

Last but not least we have another mystery/thriller which seems to be on many people’s radar, because Sager is a well known author. This one, I believe, is about a college student Charlie, and Josh, who may or may not be a serial killer, on a long drive together. Sounds great. I don’t need to know more.

Do you see any books already on your TBR?

As always, thank you for reading! Talk soon.

Should Reviewers Charge For Their Reviews – A Discussion

Hi! It’s been a while since I’ve come on here to ramble, rather than review books or tell you about what I read or plan on reading. I think of myself as a very opinionated person, so these discussion posts are very fun to write, so let’s just get into this. As you can tell from the title, we’re talking about paid reviews!

Sometime last week I’ve seen an Instagram story from a person telling book reviewers who charge for reviews they “should be ashamed!” and it didn’t sit right with me at all. There are many reasons as to why one should or shouldn’t charge for reviews, and I think there’s a lot more to consider here before labeling these bloggers and reviewers greedy and ungrateful.

The argument against charging for reviews mentioned things like, authors don’t get paid enough for their work as it is, and it’s not right to on top of receiving a free copy of their book, to also charge them for it. The person who posted said story/post said a free copy of a book should be payment enough; that we, as readers, enjoy books and it’s our hobby rather than a paid gig, so we shouldn’t expect to get paid for our opinions. And in most cases, sure, I agree that someone who reads and reviews for fun only shouldn’t get paid for the reviews. But there is a difference between people like me, who have a small reach – probably less than 2k people following on Instagram and here, altogether – and people with a successful accounts on either platform (or both, and YouTube!), with 20k plus follows, lots of engagement and therefore influence.

While it’s not true in all of those cases, most of these people take book blogging seriously – they post multiple times a day, their pictures are immaculate, they go live or update their stories daily AND still review the books they get. They’ve built up their following through hard work, and they write coherent, detailed reviews of each and every book they read. Yes, they love reading, and they probably receive lots of books for free, most times unsolicited, too. It’s apparent especially in the BookTube world, that those bloggers do not ask for all of these books, and most of them don’t even get featured on their channel, but reading review copies means the blogger has less time to spend on reading what they want and enjoy. Reading a book takes time. Reading critically and trying to digest a book to then write about it in detail takes even more time. While treating blogging as a full time job, I think those people deserve to get paid for their time.

Of course, there’s doubt when it comes to paid reviews. Are they honest, or did the blogger only rate it 5 stars because they got paid to do so? I think there’s always doubt, even with NetGalley reviews. You never know if the person is being honest, but in the end, I think the quality of the review can tell you whether the reader enjoyed it. If you thought a book was meh, it’d be hard to praise it for paragraphs and paragraphs on end.

In the end, our Bookstagram accounts, or blogs, or Booktube channels are perfect for advertising. In the past week I’ve had my picture being shared on a different Instagram account to promote a book, which post then got reposted AGAIN by the author. And although they’ve both sort of credited me, no one asked me if it’s okay to repost that photo in the first place. No, I don’t want to be paid for it, but asking permission would be nice, especially since it wasn’t a shoutout kind of a post, I was just tagged at the bottom of it with no indication what for. The photo was screenshotted and zoomed in and lost all of its quality, too, which is a shame. These photos and posts are free advertising. People in marketing get paid to source these free things. So why should we, the people who actually do the work, not get paid? It doesn’t make any sense. I’ve put effort into something, and if the publisher thinks it’s good enough for them to repost and use it in their advertising campaign, then it’s good enough to be paid for.

That being said, I am very against book bloggers approaching self published authors asking if they would like their book reviewed, and then demand to get paid for it. But I’m also against authors reaching out to bloggers regardless what their review policy is, spamming them with messages to review their book. I’ve been approached a few times with a link to their book on Amazon, saying that they think it’s something I’d enjoy and they want me to review it and it’s only 1.99 on Kindle so I should also pay for it. Now, that’s something to be ashamed about.

That concludes my little ramble about book reviewers and whether or not they should get paid for their work. I think in a lot of cases, it’s up to the publisher to if they want to invest in that kind of advertisement, or waste money on sending out review and finished copies to people who are unlikely to read them. I definitely think getting paid for reviews in not an outrageous idea, especially for people who spend a lot of time reading and reviewing books full time. I don’t think those reviewers should be shamed. I’d never dream of charging for reviews myself because I don’t think I have that kind of influence over my followers and it wouldn’t seem fair, as I definitely blog in my spare time only and have not made the commitment to do it full time. But there are people out there who deserve to be paid.

What do you think? Do you think all book reviewers should treat it as a hobby and accept a free copy of a book as a “payment”? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear other people’s opinions on this matter.

If you’ve read through all this and are still here – thank you!

Talk soon, and until then please take care and stay safe.

Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson – A Review

Hello! Every Vow You Break releases tomorrow in Ireland and UK, and next week in the US, which means it’s time for a review!

Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson
  • Publication date: March 18th 2021
  • Publisher: Faber Faber
  • Genre: Thriller

Abigail Baskin was in her early twenties – working two jobs to make rent on the crummy apartment she shared with two strangers, saddled with crippling student loan debt, and nursing a secret desire to become a novelist – when she met Bruce Lamb.

A freshly-minted tech millionaire from Silicon Valley, Bruce is completely genuine, completely generous, and completely in love with Abigail. On their third date, he told her he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. Six months later, he asked her to marry him. It was a fairytale romance.

But now, three days before the wedding, Abigail had a received an unsettling email. And she has no idea that this email signals the beginning of a nightmare she may never escape.

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

I’m very rarely blown away by thrillers and I’ve accepted that a long time ago. I’ve read from Peter Swanson in the past and enjoyed the writing and plot, so I was delighted to receive and arc of this book.

Every Vow You Break is about Abigail, who’s about to marry a millionaire and ends up having a one night stand on her bachelorette’s weekend away. She decides to move on and forget about it until the day she leaves for her honeymoon and finds out the man she slept with has followed her and her husband. What follows is definitely NOT what you expect.

Or maybe it just wasn’t what I personally expected from the book. I am usually pretty good at calling the ending early or halfway through, and the predictability of the plot is not something I dislike in thrillers, because being able to predict things means it all makes sense. However, that also usually means that even though it might be enjoyable, the read won’t score anything above 3-4 stars.

Every Vow You Break falls into the 3 star category, because even though it surprised me, I didn’t find it too believable or… thrilling. I definitely liked the first 3/4 of the book more than I liked the ending. Abigail was an interesting protagonist and I quite enjoyed her voice. The plot itself was promising, I really liked the idea and the direction it took until the very plot twist. And the honeymoon destination, though nice on the surface, was honestly quite unsettling, with it being an island cut away from the world, with no mobile phones and largely populated by men.

Swanson’s writing didn’t disappoint. I’ve noticed similarities in the structure of this book and the other novel I read by him, The Kind Worth Killing, and I quite enjoy the way he tells stories and his plot twists. It does make the read more predictable, as you expect plot twists at certain points of the book, but I don’t think it’s something thriller readers mind.

Overall, this was a fun, quick read and although I enjoyed it, I wish it did some things differently. If you liked other Swanson’s books, I’m sure you will enjoy this one just as much. 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Thank you for reading. Will you be picking up the book once it releases?

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers – A Review

Hi. As promised, I’m here to post the last reviews of the Wayfarer’s series and then we’re done and I have maaaany books to talk about. So bear with me, please.

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers
  • Publication date: February 18th 2021
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
  • Genre: Sci-fi

With no water, no air, and no native life, the planet Gora is unremarkable. The only thing it has going for it is a chance proximity to more popular worlds, making it a decent stopover for ships traveling between the wormholes that keep the Galactic Commons connected. If deep space is a highway, Gora is just your average truck stop.

At the Five-Hop One-Stop, long-haul spacers can stretch their legs (if they have legs, that is), and get fuel, transit permits, and assorted supplies. The Five-Hop is run by an enterprising alien and her sometimes helpful child, who work hard to provide a little piece of home to everyone passing through.

When a freak technological failure halts all traffic to and from Gora, three strangers—all different species with different aims—are thrown together at the Five-Hop. Grounded, with nothing to do but wait, the trio—an exiled artist with an appointment to keep, a cargo runner at a personal crossroads, and a mysterious individual doing her best to help those on the fringes—are compelled to confront where they’ve been, where they might go, and what they are, or could be, to each other.

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

I am so very sad this series is over. And I think it ended the best way possible.

I’m not going to give it all 5 stars for a simple reason… although once again, I got super invested into the characters we followed in this one (especially Pei), I will forever love the Wayfarer’s crew the most – Lovey included. Those will have my heart for the eternity.

But… saying that, I think this one is only half a step behind the second installment for me (the first being the best one, still) because I really loved everything about it. I know it makes no sense, but my ratings are really based on my feelings, rather than a rating made up of different, smaller aspects – like, CAWPILE. I might read a book that is perfectly written and has a riveting plot and vivid characters, but still rate it 4 stars, because it didn’t evoke a certain feeling in me. But I digress…

I think there are still places, characters and situations this series could explore, but I respect Chambers’ decision to end it here. It was a lovely ending. One that made a full circle, of sorts, with Pei going to visit Ashby in the end.

This book focused a lot on family and it was once again a very cosy read, even though many things that happened in it were not cosy by definition. It spoke of mother-child, father-child and sibling relationships and did it in a lovely way, once again showing the “humanity” in each species and how no matter where we come from, there are so many things we can relate to and agree on.

I see myself rereading this series in the future. After marathoning all 4 books in a short period of time, Chambers became one of my favourite authors, and I will be picking up everything by her. So, even if you’re not a big sci fi fan, I think this series could be for you, and I know I’m repeating myself at this point, but I really mean it.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Thank you for sticking around! I hope you’re doing well, and I’ll speak to you soon!

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers – A Review

Hi! I decided to continue with my Wayfarers’ reviews today, as I basically marathoned the series. So here’s what I thought about the Record of a Spaceborn Few!

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers
  • Publication date: July 24th 2018
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
  • Genre: Sci-fi

Centuries after the last humans left Earth, the Exodus Fleet is a living relic, a place many are from but few outsiders have seen. Humanity has finally been accepted into the galactic community, but while this has opened doors for many, those who have not yet left for alien cities fear that their carefully cultivated way of life is under threat.

Tessa chose to stay home when her brother Ashby left for the stars, but has to question that decision when her position in the Fleet is threatened.

Kip, a reluctant young apprentice, itches for change but doesn’t know where to find it.

Sawyer, a lost and lonely newcomer, is just looking for a place to belong.

When a disaster rocks this already fragile community, those Exodans who still call the Fleet their home can no longer avoid the inescapable question:

What is the purpose of a ship that has reached its destination?

I’ve gushed about this series in my previous two reviews just to be slightly disappointed by this book. I think it did a lot of great things, but ultimately, I didn’t care as much about the characters in this one, as in the first two.

I think my enjoyment of this series stems from the cosiness of it and the emotional attachment, which this one was lacking. Tessa, even though she’s Ashby’s sister, wasn’t someone I cared about before, and so I wasn’t much invested in her story line. Kip was probably the most interesting, as we got a perspective into a life of a normal teenager, which none of the other books explored. As for Sawyer… I wanted to enjoy his POV more but before I did, it was cut short. The book definitely did get better in the last third, but it was too late for me to connect and care – by the time I sort of did, it ended.

Becky Chambers’ writing was immaculate, as always, and the story itself was engaging enough for me to still enjoy the read. Like I mentioned before, it explores a lot of perspectives we haven’t gotten before. Sawyer is an immigrant and an outsider and the way he’s treated reflects a lot how we humans treat people we think “don’t belong”/ I think Chambers’ ideas are stellar and the way she approached each book was quite unique, and the fact I am rating it lower than other ones is down to personal preference.

I think Record of a Spaceborn Few is the weakest book in the Wayfarers’ series, but still a good read. Maybe upon rereading it I’ll think differently and be able to take more out of it. But for now…

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I have one more review left and then I swear I’ll talk about other books. As always, thank you for reading/ It means the world to me. Talk soon, stay safe!