May 2021 Wrap Up

Hi! Another month gone… (insert lots of talk about months flying by, as per usual). I had a strange month, it started off strong and then I completely lost steam. I still managed to read 11 books, which isn’t bad.

Let’s get into my favourite part of the post – stats! May is my birthday month (I turned 28!) so you’ll see my physical TBR shot up quite a bit.

  • Number of books read: 11
  • Number of pages read: 4573
  • Average star rating: 3.4
  • DNF: 1
  • Physical TBR at the start of the month: 37
  • Books read: 2
  • Current TBR: 48

Illusionary by Zoraida Córdova

I have a full review on here if you’d like to check it out!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

I’ve also posted a full review for this one, here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Project by Courtney Summers

I’ve seen many mixed reviews about this book, mostly comparing it to Sadie, and how it was vastly different from it. I think Summers’ writing was just as good and the story she told in The Project interesting and well done. I guess I’m in the minority here, but I really liked it.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

This one is a blend of fantasy and mystery, and the mystery was what drove the plot, and I wished it was the other way around. I did like the book, but I think it would’ve benefited more from really focusing on the world building and political intrigue, and by giving us more depth, rather than mystery twists and turns. It was good, but it had the potential to be great.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells

What can I say? I love Murderbot. I kind of wish we got a full length novel, but these snippets are satisfactory for me and a great palate cleanser in between bigger books.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Sprinkle of Sorcery by Michelle Harrison

I found this second installment in the series fun, but slightly underwhelming. I usually love pirates in middle grade books, but I preferred the first books storyline and the magical elements of it. Charlie was once again my favourite Widdershin sister.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

This was a fun, if a bit predictable and formulaic read. I enjoyed the plot and found the book entertaining, but the last portion got too romance heavy for me to really enjoy it. That being said, it’s definitely just personal preference and I know many people would probably love it. I’m undecided on whether I’ll be continuing with the series for that reason.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Wicked as You Wish by Rin Chupeco

My first Rin Chupeco and sadly I didn’t enjoy it. I found the world building too much, it seems to be based off all and every fairytale AND myth the author could find. That paired up with a big cast of characters, too big to properly develop any, and it honestly turned into a bit of a disaster for me. I read it last month, and I already am struggling with remembering what it was about. Disappointing, but maybe their other books will work for me.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

The Serpent’s Curse by Lisa Maxwell

I honestly thought it was the last book in the series. At 75% I realised it couldn’t possibly be, because the plot was nowhere near wrapped up. I think this series is criminally underrated – rhis installment was fantastic and exciting, but I will admit I’m growing sick of the will they, won’t they romance.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Exit Strategy by Martha Wells

Once again, I love Murderbot. There isn’t much to say about these books, they’re bite size, fun and hilarious. I found Exit Strategy to be a bit less sarcastic and a bit more serious, though, and it made it my least favourite installment so far.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshy

I finally got my hands on this book. It’s been on my TBR since it was announced. I will be publishing a review for it soon, so I’ll leave my thoughts until then. Let me just tell you I’m intrigued but not totally sold on it just yet.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

And that is all. I’ve been wondering if you’d be interested in seeing my reading related spreads from my bullet journal in these wrap ups? Also, let me know if you’d like a full review for any of these?

How was your reading this month?

Talk soon!

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.

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!

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!

February 2021 Wrap Up

Hi! How is it March already? I can’t believe it we’re almost through a QUARTER of 2021. Madness.

February, although short, was a great reading month volume wise. I’ve read 10 books. Let’s look at stats!

  • Number of books read: 10
  • Number of pages read: 3241
  • Average star rating: 3.6
  • Physical TBR at the start of the month: 46
  • Books read: 3
  • Physical TBR: 43
  • DNF: 1

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

Full review here.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Recursion by Blake Crouch

Blake Crouch’s books always make me feel stupid. It’s not a bad thing. They’re just so well thought out and complex, it takes all my brain power to understand them. Recursion was no different. I enjoyed it a lot, as it deals with time travel, and we know how I feel about that! It was the right amount of mind bendy and confusing, but still engaging.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson

Full review to come soon. The idea was better than the execution which I find to be a thing for me a lot when it comes to thrillers. Still quite enjoyed the read.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers

In my opinion the weakest book in the Wayfarers’ series. Full review to come in a few days!

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

A quite enjoyable Cinderella retelling. I appreciated the representation, though I think it read quite young and was predictable. One thing that definitely brought the rating down for me was the unnecessary “love triangle”.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi

I loved the premise of this one more than the execution. It’s about a pair of siblings with super powers. I think it’s best to go into it not knowing anything else. Sadly, the transitions made it hard for me to follow and took me out of the story a lot.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

I don’t understand anyone who says this is Sanderson’s worst book. Ahem… Warbreaker? I found Elantris really enjoyable and I really grew to love all of the characters. And! Hoid!!!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Galaxy and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers

A full review to come. I found this to be a great and satisfying ending to an overall fantastic series.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh

I don’t have much to say about this one at all. I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it. I think it was perfectly fine for what it was, a whimsical story about magical forest creatures and it’s definitely to many people’s taste, just not exactly my thing. I don’t regret picking it up, I just really don’t have anything to say about it.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Marly’s Ghost by David Levithan

I jinxed myself when I said Levithan can do no wrong. Everything I picked up by him since was not at all what I expected and I’ve been disappointed. Marly’s Ghost was predictable and had nothing that set it apart. Yes, I still do like Levithan’s writing, so I gave it 3 stars, even though objectively I think it deserves 2.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

How was your February? What’s the best book you read last month?

Thank you for reading. Talk soon!

Game Changer by Neal Schusterman – A Review

Hi! Happy Tuesday. It’s review time!

I usually post reviews ARC reviews on the publication date but it does make a bit more sense to post them before, to give people time to decide whether the book is for them or not, right? From now on I might try to aim to post a week in advance. So, here we are.

Game Changer by Neal Schusterman
  • Publication date: February 9th 2021
  • Publisher: Quill Tree Books
  • Genre: Sci-fi

All it takes is one hit on the football field, and suddenly Ash’s life doesn’t look quite the way he remembers it.

Impossible though it seems, he’s been hit into another dimension—and keeps on bouncing through worlds that are almost-but-not-really his own.

The changes start small, but they quickly spiral out of control as Ash slides into universes where he has everything he’s ever wanted, universes where society is stuck in the past…universes where he finds himself looking at life through entirely different eyes.

And if he isn’t careful, the world he’s learning to see more clearly could blink out of existence…

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

After reading and loving Schusterman’s Scythe trilogy, I was very excited to pick up this new release by him. Sci-fi is my jam and alternate realities a buzzword that alone makes me want to read a book, and with the pleasant previous experience with the author – I thought it was a recipe for a success.

I did like the general idea and premise for the book. Although I know nothing about football, nor do I have a clue how the game works, other than people slamming into each other, the sport part of the story didn’t put me off. I understood as much as I needed – Ash, the main character, gets slammed into an alternate reality during a game and things become quite messed up very fast. Sounds good.

The book was a breeze to get through. I liked the writing, the tone and the humour. Ashley was a fine protagonist, someone who’s point of view I enjoyed for most of the book. He wasn’t my favourite – that spot is dedicated to the Edwards, but I didn’t dislike him by any means. So why is the book a 3 star?

Now, I’m going to start by saying I think what Schusterman tried to do was valid and it’s needed in YA, but the way it was done just didn’t bring anything new to the table or have any particular merit in my eyes. The alternate realities bring up discussions about racism, sexism and homophobia, to describe it broadly. Yes, those issues are valid ones to talk about in YA literature and by all means should be discussed more and more, but maybe in a way that sounds less rehearsed and preachy. After all, Ash is a white, straight male in the first reality. His school is diverse racially and so is his friend circle, but he admits on many occasions how ignorant he’s been in the past and how his Black best friend called him out in those times. Ash admits that he has a lot to learn, yet we don’t see him learning much. I think the book misses the point completely and brings up issues and discussions without being willing to delve into all of them with the depth they deserve.

That being said, I didn’t dislike the book. I just think that it could’ve done more and done it better.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Have you read this one yet? Or is it on your radar?

Thank you for reading! Talk to you soon.

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig – A Review

Hi! It’s time for the first review of 2021.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate the lovely briefcase I got right before Christmas in a charity shop for… 5.50! It’s probably the best deal and purchase I made in all my nearly 28 years on this Earth. Also, before I move onto the review, let’s do a little self promo – if you like this photo, I have an instagram account full of them! I would be over the moon if you considered following me there. My handle is the same – imfullybooked!

Okay, now it’s review time!

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
  • Publication date: August 6th 2019
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press
  • Genre: YA Fantasy/Retelling/Horror

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

Oh boy, did this book take me on a rollercoaster!

I’m not sure how to articulate my feelings towards House of Salt and Sorrows. On one hand, I was sure it would be a 5 star read until about 35% in, and then after partial redemption about 65% in. And on the other hand… everything that happened in between those times was just so disjointed from the rest of the story and hence jarring, and I can’t with good conscience give it anything more than 3 stars.

The story grabbed me from the start. I didn’t know what to expect, I had no clue what it was really about, other than 12 sisters who kept dying one by one, and I genuinely didn’t know it was a retelling (nor do I know the original story). It would probably be wiser for me to read the blurb beyond the first 2 sentences, but I like going into things blindly. The book opens with a funeral, which really set up the atmosphere, and the elements of mystery and possible supernatural elements had me super intriguing. It really seemed like my cup of tea. Until…

I am not sure what happened around 35% in. The atmosphere and pacing changed. The overall mood of the story changed. What started out dark and moody, turned into fluffy adventure and love story. Spooky supernatural elements disappeared. It really had me confused – I wasn’t sure what I was reading anymore. The feel I got from it at the start of atmospheric, ghosty mystery changed. And then when I was losing hope, it changed again! And again.

I would definitely enjoy it a lot more has it stayed with one mood, and didn’t jump around so much, undecided what it actually was. I think some of the ideas were fantastic. As was a lot of the execution. I loved all of the Thaumas sisters and I really cared about them all. But what grabbed me at the start just didn’t carry through the book. Twists and turns are great, but when they keep the same tone. The book is marketed as a YA horror, but a lot of it doesn’t read like horror at all. It made the ending feel super disjointed. I feel like the author tried to do too much in 400 pages. It’s a shame.

I’ll be picking the authors other book once it comes out, as I think she’s a skilled writer. Hopefully that one will work for me more.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Have you read this one? What did you think? Do you agree with me, or did you love it? Let me know down below.

Thank you so much for reading, and apologies for the shameless promo at the start.

Until the next one!

2020 Reading Stats

Hi, everyone.

It’s been a while. I tend to say it in every post, but it really HAS been a while. The last months of the year have been a big struggle in every aspect of life, though I’m sure I’m not the only person who experienced that, and I got way too overwhelmed to read and post.

This might not be a post for everyone. We’ll be looking at all my reading stats from last year. At the end of 2019 I also posted all my favourites, least favourites, most surprising and disappointing books, but since we’re already 11 days into the new year, I will include some of the info here instead of posting separately.

Okay, let’s get to it!

In 2020 I’ve read… 92 books. It’s the most I’ve read in a single year probably ever. I’ve been a reader most of my life, but I’ve also been a library user until I got a job and was able to afford books – so, my choices were fewer.

Here’s a look at the stats in my bullet journal.

The total number of pages I read is 35 692! That includes the 7 DNFs from the year, most of which I gave until around 40% in before I put them down.

I have read 27 physical books, 30 audio books and 35 ebooks. Out of those 35 ebooks 12 were ARCs. I also DNFed 2 ARCs and read 2 physical review copies. My reading slowed down in October, as you can see, and the only thing that saved me were audio books. Anyone who says audio books don’t count as reading… you’re wrong!

My most read genre was unsurprisingly fantasy. It accounted for 47% of all the books I read. Other genres I read multiple books of were sci-fi, contemporary, mystery and horror. I even managed 3 non-fiction, which is usually not my genre of choice. A discovery I made this year that surprised me is that I like horror books. I am not a horror movie fan, but the few books I read in the genre I really enjoyed!

As for star ratings – my overall rating for the year is 3.78 stars, which is quite high in my opinion. Although the numbers don’t reflect this I feel like from September onwards I wasn’t reading many books I really enjoyed, and it’s probably because I felt very slumpish and unmotivated. In reality, all my favourite, least favourite, most surprising and disappointing books were mixed evenly throughout the year.

Favourites

Least Favourite

Most Surprising

Most Disappointing

Now, that last one definitely has some controversial titles.

To wrap it all up before I head away – I’ve had a really good year number wise, fairly good year rating wise, although quite a disappointing one when it comes to some big books I was very excited to read. Here’s to doing better in 2021!

How many books have you read in 2020? Did you have a good reading year? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading.