May 2020 Roundup

‘Bee, why am I reading a May Roundup in July?’ I hear you ask. Well, funny story that’s not actually that funny. I consistently forgot about this post all the way through June and my perfectionism hates the idea of missing a month, so we’re about to take a look at the top 5 books I read in May. Don’t worry though- you’ll get my June favourites next week (hopefully)! Without further ado let’s get into the post, since it’s already a month late.

Book 1: Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson

Genre: young adult, crime, contemporary, mystery, thriller

What I liked: I absolutely loved this book, and when I write my full-length review it will be GLOWING. Holly Jackson does an incredible job of building suspense, creating vivid and loveable characters and dropping tiny clues throughout leading to the final revelation.

What I didn’t like: There isn’t another one yet

I’d recommend it to: fans of true crime, fans of young adult books, people who like a really good, suspenseful crime investigation

Book 2: Leonard and Hungry Paul by Ronan Hession

Genre: I don’t really know how to describe it. Contemporary fiction, but not like I’ve ever read before.

What I liked: This story doesn’t really have any conflict. At all. It is a celebration of the everyday, with gentle, elegant writing and human characters you grow an affection for.

What I didn’t like: There isn’t really anything I disliked, although I can see how some people who like lots of action might find it a bit boring

I’d recommend it to: anyone who wants to look at the ordinary world with new eyes, anyone looking for a book that’s easy to read and a little different.

Book 3: Hope is the Thing with Feathers by Emily Dickinson

Genre: poetry

What I liked: Everything. I adore Emily Dickinson’s poetry, I think it’s stunning. For a longer review, check out one I wrote earlier

What I didn’t like: Nothing. I would have loved to know her.

I’d recommend it to: fans of poetry. Anyone who can appreciate brilliant writing.

Book 4: The Madness Vase by Andrea Gibson

Genre: poetry

What I liked: the long poems, a series of different topics all flowing into one another seamlessly. The vivid language, frequent and precise use of metaphors and similes and personification. Gibson isn’t afraid to talk about big topics such as politics, the patriarchy and gender norms. My favourite poem was ‘I Sing the Body Electric, Especially When My Power’s Out’.

What I didn’t like: Poetry books are too short. I need more poems!

I’d recommend it to: fans of poetry that addresses a wide variety of topics including gender, sexuality, politics, the patriarchy, capitalism and much more.

Book 5: Gemsigns by Stephanie Saulter

Genre: fantasy, fiction, science fiction

What I liked: I loved the political element of this novel, and the way Saulter takes a look at issues such as race, class and religion in a futuristic society, while examining moral issues and creating a cast of fascinating characters and an intriguing world.

What I didn’t like: I found this book a little hard to connect with at times, but overall I really enjoyed reading it. The start is maybe a bit slow?

I’d recommend it to: fans of fantasy and futuristic society, those interested in genetic modifications and the social implications of the issue.

So, that brings us to the end of my top 5 books of May! I definitely had to take a look at the notes I made while reading these books, because they’re not as fresh in my mind as they should have been if I had written this a month ago. I’ve just found lockdown, even several months in, has completely thrown my sense of routine and organisation. My room is a mess! Has lockdown made you more or less organised? Let me know down below in the comments or on one of my social platforms- I love hearing from you. 🙂

A Book For Every Colour of the Rainbow

People all over the country have been putting pictures of rainbows up in their windows and outside their houses in order to cheer everyone up in these not-so-great times, so I thought I’d do my part and try and cheer you all up with a book for every colour of the rainbow! I’ve done both a paperback and a hardback rainbow, although I have to admit my paperback one is a lot better. Why do I own so many dark hardbacks?!

Paperback Rainbow

From left to right:

  • A succulent
  • The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon– I can’t wait for The Mask Falling to come out! I read the first three of this series a while ago, and I absolutely adored them. I’m definitely going to have fun rereading them in anticipation for The Mask Falling.
  • The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones- I read this with my mum as a child, and while I can’t actually remember what happens, I remember that it was awesome! Diana Wynne Jones is an incredible author, and I adore Howl’s Moving Castle.
  • The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee- I read this quite recently, having had it sitting on my shelf for months. The gossip girl comparison is accurate and the ending left me furious, so as to whether I read the rest is a mystery.
  • This Vicious Cure by Emily Suvada- The only one on this list I haven’t read, This Vicious Cure is the conclusion to a trilogy. I thought the previous books were great, so I have no doubts that this one will be too.
  • Shift by Hugh Howey- I am actually in the middle of this at the moment. It’s quite a change of pace from Wool, being a prequel, but it’s just as gripping. This is truly brilliant science fiction.
  • The Rose & the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh- Another one I read a while ago, but I loved The Rose and the Dagger, it’s a complete whirlwind of magic and drama in the desert.
  • A Smuggler’s Path by I.L. Cruz- I was gifted this in return for review, and although it is chaotic at times, A Smuggler’s Path is never boring and I look forward ti reading the third book in the series
  • A succulent

Hardback Rainbow

From left to right:

  • A succulent
  • Bedlam by Derek Landy- when I read the first series of Skulduggery Pleasant, I was obsessed. I loved everything about Valkyrie and Skulduggery and their relationship and the various characters they knew. In the revival Valkyrie is very different, and I miss the old her, but Landy’s writing is brilliant as ever and I look forward to reading this one.
  • The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon- this is currently my favourite book, and has been since I first read it. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to write a review, because a) it’s massive and b) I love it too much. A female-led fantasy epic with a slow-burn sapphic relationship and dragons? Just take my money.
  • Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch- you might have noticed that this rainbow has not one, but three Ben Aaronovitch books on. This is because I am completely obsessed with the Rivers of London series and I managed to get my mum hooked as well. Pure brilliance. A modern London detective series with magic and crime and humour that I will continue to recommend to everyone I meet.
  • False Value by Ben Aaronovitch- I will admit I have not read this one yet, because I cannot bear for it to end. It came out recently and my mum ordered it immediately but I just can’t bring myself to step into Peter Grant’s world because inevitably I’ll have to leave. Also the cover glows in the dark which I think is the coolest thing ever.
  • The Wicked King by Holly Black- the second book in a delicious trilogy filled with magic and faeries and betrayal. Holly Black is a brilliant writer and I had the privilege of meeting her last year. She has blue hair which I think automatically elevates her to awesome.
  • Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch- I honestly devoured this series. They’re so easy to dive into and I am emotionally attached to all of the characters and the books are the perfect mix between reality and magic.
  • Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman- I read this last week and it is pretty much the perfect YA sci-fi. A badass space crew, mysterious girl from the past, all the sass and the occasional battle? Just my cup of intergalactic tea.
  • A succulent

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and it at least made you smile a little bit. Keep going and stay home, save lives. Shoutout to the NHS for being absolute superheroes!

Why not make your own book rainbows and post them on instagram or twitter? Remember to tag me so I can see your favourite books!

The Chalk Pit Review

The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths

I cannot believe that this is the ninth book in the Ruth Galloway series I have read! It feels like just yesterday that Ruth was a happily single woman just focused on archaeology at the university. Oh, how times have changed. And yet some things stay the same, and these books have a kind of comfortable rhythm in them so I simultaneously have no idea what is going to happen but feel safe enough with this world that I can slip right back in every time I read a new book. This is one of my favourite series and I am always excited to return.

The Blurb:

Boiled human bones have been found in Norwich’s web of underground tunnels. When Dr Ruth Galloway discovers they are recent – the boiling not the medieval curiosity she thought – DCI Nelson has a murder enquiry on his hands.

Meanwhile, DS Judy Johnson is investigating the disappearance of a local rough sleeper. The only trace of her is the rumour that she’s gone ‘underground’. This might be a figure of speech, but with the discovery of the bones and the rumours both Ruth and the police have heard of a vast network of old chalk-mining tunnels under King’s Lynn, home to a vast community of rough sleepers, the clues point in only one direction. Local academic Martin Kellerman knows all about the tunnels and their history – but can his assertions of cannibalism and ritual killing possibly be true?

As the weather gets hotter, tensions rise. A local woman goes missing and the police are under attack. Ruth and Nelson must unravel the dark secrets of The Underground and discover just what gruesome secrets lurk at its heart – before it claims another victim.

As I was expecting the book started off slowly, but with a few murders to keep you on your toes. With some books a slow start means boring but it never is with Elly Griffiths, it just means it’s intriguing and laying the foundations for the fast paced tension ahead. When the connections begin between all the different, seemingly unrelated areas of the plot I get a little thrill, link after link being revealed yet not coming together to produce a coherent picture then the story picks up and the crimes become more frequent until BAM you reach the climax and I’m so tense I am physically attached to the book.

With subtle humour and more plot twists than I can count I am slowly absorbed into the lives of the characters, yet the domesticity slips away and I end up on the edge of my seat every time. Brilliant. Elly Griffiths truly manages to cover everything in her books, from racism and religion to childcare and Alice in Wonderland. The recurring but not main characters get developed over the years without too much focus taken away from main story, and Griffiths knows the exact moment to switch to the other point of view to keep me on edge and desperate to know what happens in both situations.

If you can’t tell from this review, I love the Ruth Galloway series and I will be reading the next one as soon as I can get my hands on it. Would I survive? In the story I would as long as I was careful, although if I get one more dramatic twist in real life my heart may give out.

A Twist in Time Review

A Twist in Time by Julie McElwain

(Picture from Goodreads since I read it as an ebook)

The Kendra Donovan Mysteries are, in my humble opinion, a hugely underrated series. They follow the adventures of ex-FBI agent Kendra Donovan after she is somehow transported back to 1815. A Twist in Time is the second book in the series, the first being a Murder in Time. This review will include minor spoilers for the first book, so if you intend to read it and don’t want spoilers, please don’t read on!

In A Twist in Time Kendra is unfortunately (for her, not the reader) still in the past despite her best efforts to get back to the twenty first century. She is called to London along with the Duke she is staying with after his nephew is suspected of the murder of Lady Dover. This book is full of more people being shocked by Kendra’s ‘American’ (future) manners, murder and crime, Alec and Kendra irritating each other and high society in 1815. Amazing.

I really enjoy the plot and writing style and characters of these books. It’s the perfect trifecta. The plot is well paced, with lots of action and constantly moving. The writing style flows smoothly and carried me along through the story, ramping up the tension in some places and drawing moments out in others keeping the reader gripped. Kendra’s twenty first century background means that she notices everything different between the past and present, therefore alerting the reader to key differences between the centuries especially when considering the different classes. Kendra coming from an FBI background as well means she is very observant and is always shaking things up within the 1815 method of solving crimes.

A Twist in Time is a brilliantly written historical crime novel which carries on from the excitement of the first book excellently, full of rich descriptions and historical details. I desperately want to read the next book and I will somehow get my hands on it, even if neither of the counties I have library cards for have it! I’m not sure if I could survive in the 19th century- no toilets or proper cleaning materials sounds like a nightmare, not to mention how restricted women were!

This Lie Will Kill You Review

This Lie Will Kill You by Chelsea Pitcher

Slightly confusingly, I am posting this review before the review of All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban, despite reading it after. I mention this because my first thought when seeing the premise was that it seemed like the one for All Your Twisted Secrets- a mixture of students invited to a location to get some prize money. I was wrong. The books had two similarities- the one just mentioned, and that they were both awesome. Apart from that, they went in different directions with different styles.

This Lie Will Kill You follows a bunch of students who are invited to a mysterious mansion for a murder mystery game, the prize being $50,000. It starts with a thrilling prologue, mysteriously introducing the antagonist. The first few chapters are labelled with the role of the character it is following- class act, drama queen, golden boy, meat head and lone wolf. The multiple character, third person perspective continues throughout the book, allowing the reader insight into the drama happening simultaneously throughout the large mansion. Throughout, there are lots of references to an event that happened at a party the year earlier which all the characters were somehow involved him. Clues are dropped at various points, leaving the reader increasingly curious and trying and piece together what happened.

The atmosphere is consistently tense, as well as being very intense. The story swallowed me up and left me willing to kill to know what happened. Even the memories the characters reflect on from the past are mysterious, only providing small bits of context and explanation at a time. The ending was a total surprise, with so many twists. Every time you thought you had resolved something, another layer of the web was revealed. Would I survive this book? Probably, because I don’t go to parties so wouldn’t have gone to the one the year before.

All Your Twisted Secrets Review

All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban

I’ll start by saying I was very kindly gifted and advance copy of this by Harper Teen, so thank you! I’m on a bit of a YA crime streak at the moment- I recently read two Karen M. McManus books, and my next book to read is This Lie Will Kill You. I never think of this as one of my favourite genres, but after all these I think I may reconsider because I’ve really enjoyed them. All Your Twisted Secrets will be released in two days, on the 17th March 2020.

All Your Twisted Secrets is Diana Urban’s debut novel, and honestly I can’t wait for her next one. It follows the queen bee, star athlete, valedictorian, stoner, loser and music geek after they are invited to a scholarship dinner, then locked in there. They are given a choice- poison someone or a bomb will kill them all. They have one hour.

The main viewpoint followed is that of the music geek, Amber Prescott. Diana quickly and smoothly establishes the setting and characters without it being obvious or clunky. There are two different storylines followed, the present in the scholarship dinner and the past. The present stretches over the course of an hour, while the past follows the events over the course of about a year. The characters are all linked in different ways, some obvious and some less so, and all the characters are well rounded and interesting, especially the ways in which they change under pressure. All the characters are around my age, 17, which was a bit strange because a lot of their drama and secrets could never happen to me. Nonetheless, I was engaged throughout and could hardly put it down.

The setting of this novel was perfect. An empty restaurant, the locked room, the elaborate dining setup and the rising temperature of the room. As the heat increases so do tensions, with incredible sensory descriptions to immerse the reader in the situation. The drama which unfolds is a mix of secrets being revealed and the consequences of the students’ actions as they desperately try to escape the room. Alliances are made and broken all in the space of an hour, under the watching eye of a ticking bomb.

The ending was perfection. I loved it. Despite all the twists and turns, I never saw this one coming. Oh My Goodness. Would I survive this book? That would be spoilers.

February 2020 Round-Up

So here we are again. The end of a month, where I round up my favourite books of the month/ scream into the void hoping it will choose the books for me. Since it is a leap year so February has an extra day, and also because I can do whatever I like on my blog, I am going to give my favourite book from this month, followed by a few more which were awesome

THE WINNER – QUEEN OF NOTHING BY HOLLY BLACK

Let me have everything I ever wanted, everything I ever dreamed, and eternal misery along with it. Let me live on with an ice shard through my heart.

Holly Black, Queen of Nothing

What I liked about it: everything. Jude. Cardan. Faeries. Humour and beauty. Plot twists galore. AN epic conclusion to this trilogy.

What I didn’t like about it: it’s the end of the series 😥

My favourite character: Jude all the wayyyyyyyy. She’s so badass and powerful and unashamed of wanting power.

Position in series: 3/3

Genres: young adult, fantasy, romance

THE OTHERS THAT I LOVED

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

What I liked about it: murder. It is set near where I live. Andie just straight up ignoring everyone who tells her what to do. The tension. The mixture of formats including transcripts and case notes.

What I didn’t like about it: I did not know there’s meant to be a sequel released this year. Also, the sequel hasn’t been released yet, which is very upsetting.

My favourite character: Andie. She just does what she wants but in a nice way.

Position in series: 1/3?

Genres: crime, young adult, contemporary, mystery, thriller

The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne

What I liked about it: the emotions. The contrast of past and present. More emotions. The slow unravelling of the story.

What I didn’t like about it: I have mentioned three authors on this page so far and they’re all called Holly. This is beyond confusing.

My favourite character: Amelie, my poor sweetheart.

Position in series: 1/1

Genres: contemporary, young adult, romance-ish

It’s Not OK to Feel Blue and Other Lies

What I liked about it: honest, diverse, emotional, easy to read because it’s made up of lots of short pieces.

What I didn’t like about it: Sometimes I got a bit confused because occasionally a sentence would be in massive letters to emphasise it. But that’s probably just me.

Genres: nonfiction, mental health

Pride, collected by Juno Dawson

What I liked about it: A range of genres, easy to read and lots of adorable LGBTQ+ relationships

What I didn’t like about it:  It wasn’t long enough

My favourite character: Can’t remember her name but the girl with the phoenix

Position in series: N/A

Genres: LGBTQ+, short stories, anthology, poetry

And so that concludes my February roundup! February has seemed a very, very long time, and I don’t think it’s just because of the extra day. With three family birthdays, a hospital appointment, college, half term, two new piercings, a couple of cinema trips, a museum trip, a talk from Mary Beard and 17 books read, I’m definitely ready for some rest and relaxation in March. Preferably with more reading time. I hope you’ve all had a good February, and I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to.

The Woman in Blue Review

The Woman in Blue by Elly Griffiths

I’d like to start by directing your attention to the title. Not because I have anything deep to say about it, but it rhymes which made me grin. So let’s take a moment to appreciate the rhyme.

Done? Please continue.

I really, really like the Ruth Galloway mysteries and I would definitely recommend reading them in order for maximum enjoyment, but if you really have to start partway through a series, this one isn’t too bad, since each is a mystery of its own. Of course, you won’t know any of the characters or past references, but I think it would still be enjoyable.

The Woman in Blue involves Ruth Galloway, female priests, a place known for sightings of Mary (mother of Jesus), Cathbad house-sitting, religion and hate letters. As usual, Ruth somehow ends up entangled with the police investigation after a couple of murders and several assaults on women. And Cathbad being an absolute legend, as usual.

Elly Griffiths is a queen of ramping up tension, and the blurred lines between religion and reality in this small village add an excellent amount of confusion to the mystery.  I’m now familiar with Griffiths’ style, with the clues appearing at the start, mysterious sightings and barely related events then towards the end things suddenly pull together I am tenser than I have ever been in my life. There’s a couple of jump scares which were fun, a dead end and excellent passing of time, never too fast or too slow. I didn’t fine this book as tense as previous ones, it was a rather slower mystery, it all culminating in one short scene which I read as fast as humanly possible.

The final scene has great atmosphere, the religious fervour, the crowds, the ominous letters. I am never disappointed by the ending of an Elly Griffiths book. Would I survive this book? Yeah, I reckon I would. Only a couple of people die, and I don’t attend many large religious gatherings. Or any at all.