April 2020 Round-Up

Hello and welcome to my April 2020 round-up! I honestly cannot believe it’s the end of April already and we are all stuck inside watching the weather through our windows. This is not how I thought 2020 was going to go, but I’m trying to make the best of the situation. I’ve been writing daily for Camp NaNoWriMo and making pom-poms like there’s no tomorrow. There is something incredibly therapeutic about winding wool round and round and round, especially while watching one of my favourite movies like Burlesque. Back to the books, I’m struggling to read as much as I did before, but I try to read a little each day, even if it is only a couple of pages. I’ve been feeling quite overwhelmed, so thanks for bearing with me while my blog posts are very sporadic. I will try to get some book reviews up soon!

Top 3 novels I read in April

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

What I liked about it: the unique format, the drama, the way she writes about music

What I did not like about it: Nothing that I can think of.

My favourite character: Camila. What an amazing woman.

Position in series: 1/1

Genre: Historical fiction, music

Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

What I liked about it: sassy misfit crew, aliens, lots of sarcasm, the action and excitement

What I did not like about it: my heart exploding

My favourite character: Tyler or Zila. I didn’t realise how awesome I think Tyler is until I actually considered it.

Position in series: 1/3

Genre: young adult, science fiction, fantasy

Dust by Hugh Howey

What I liked about it: an incredible conclusion to the Wool trilogy, the worldbuilding, the unravelling of the plot

What I did not like about it: DEATHS.

My favourite character: Jules. I would die for that woman. Amazing.

Position in series: 3/3

Genre: science fiction, post-apocalyptic

Poetry of the month: Wild Embers by Nikita Gill

What I liked about it: emotional and empowering

What I did not like about it: that it wasn’t longer!

My favourite poem: For Her

Genre: poetry, feminism

Special mention: Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Why: this book means more to me than I can put into words. It has saved lives and reminds you that at no point are you alone. You can get through than this. There is more to life than your mental illness.

Genre: nonfiction, mental health

And that, folks, is my April in books. For a full list of everything I read in April, check out my goodreads which I try my best to keep up to date! I hope you’re all well, even if you’re feeling unmotivated like I am. Wishing you and your families all the best, and if you ever want to talk you can reach me through my contact page here, Instagram here or twitter here.

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.

Fight Like a Girl Review

Fight Like a Girl by Sheena Kamal

Happy International Women’s Day everyone! I hope you have a great day and I’d love to hear what books you’re reading today!

Fight Like a Girl is Sheena Kamal’s debut novel released on the 10th March, and it is one whopper of an entrance. I was kindly gifted it by Hot Key Books and from the moment I saw it I found the blurb intriguing, especially since it tells us that Trisha kills her father straight up. This book is an emotional tapestry of love and violence, based around Trisha, a badass Muay Thai kickboxer of Trinidadian descent. From the blurb I had no idea how hardcore this book was going to be, but I loved it.

The story is told in first person, Trisha, who lives with her mum and her mum’s new boyfriend who moves in soon after her father dies. The main locations are her house and the Muay Thai gym which I found quite interesting since a lot of YA contemporary books have a heavy focus on school, whereas in this it is barely mentioned. This brings the events of the novel into higher definition and prevents any distractions, showing Trisha’s decline in excruciating detail.

Sheena Kamal nails the tone, ramping up the tension and mystery as time goes on with an excellent amount of sensory descriptions to immerse you in the scenes. Kamal somehow conveys a feeling of something being off without explicitly describing it, causing the reader to question both their own and Trisha’s paranoia. This book had a darker tone than I was expecting, although looking back I wonder why because it does involve patricide in the blurb!

The ending does leave some things as a mystery, but I found that okay, I think the epilogue covered the most important things. Overall this book is filled with twists and turns, harsh love and one fighter’s changing world.

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.

It’s Not OK to Feel Blue Review

It’s Not OK to Feel Blue, edited by Scarlett Curtis

It’s Not Ok To Feel Blue and other lies is a vast collection of writings from various celebrities and activists on mental health. It includes personal anecdotes, poetry, song lyrics and even an illustration. With such a diverse array of minds with a variety of experiences with their mental health, there really is something for everyone.

I think anyone who reads this would take away something different from it depending on who you are, how your mental health is and what you need right now. I will attempt to explain what I thought were the best bits, but I highly recommend reading this for yourself.

This book did cause me to have a minor existential crisis, when I realised I have no idea what I want with my life. That being said, the collection is overall hopeful and quite inspiring, with statistics used sparingly and only when very relevant. It wasn’t a bad existential crisis, it just really made me consider areas of my own life. I found reading other people publicly sharing their experiences quite liberating, as they addressed the shame and stigma around sharing your own mental health problems. The contributions were funny at times, heart-breaking in others, just filled with so much honesty and vulnerability.

The book addresses mental health in conjunction with cancer, being a woman, race and class among other things. It is not simply personal experiences, but also how to be an LGBTQ+ ally and what you can do or say to help when a friend or family member is struggling with their mental health. This is not just a book for those with mental health problems, because everyone has mental health and as a whole society could do with talking about it more.

So read this book. Talk to someone. Cut out toxic things in your life. Make a change, one baby step at a time. Ask your friend if they’re truly okay. Things can, and do get better.

If you want to find out more or need some support, I’ll link a few websites below that are for general mental health but if you are looking for something specific a quick google will often bring one up, especially if you don’t live in the US or UK. If you have any questions or just want to talk, feel free to contact me 🙂

UK

Childline , Shout , Mind , Time to Change , Young Minds , SANE

US

National Alliance for Mental Illness , To Write Love On Her Arms , The Trevor Project , Mental Health America

For the Immortal Review

For the Immortal by Emily Hauser

If you’ve read my review of the previous book in this trilogy, For the Winner, you’ll know that I LOVE Emily Hauser’s writing of Greek myths from a female perspective. Seriously, I found out she is a lecturer of classics at Exeter university and began considering it to apply to!

For the immortal is the stunning conclusion to Hauser’s Golden Apple trilogy, following two viewpoints- Queen of the Amazons Hippolyta and Admete, a friend of Hercules. Admete’s brother becomes ill so she goes with Hercules to first visit the amazons, then to find a golden apple.

Hippolyta is bold and brave and powerful, plagued by a mysterious past which is slowly revealed. I enjoyed Hauser’s interpretation of the amazons, them being a nomadic society of men and women. When she is captured her loneliness, pride and shame are so vividly illustrated and her actions always for the best of her people. While I found Hippolyta’s viewpoint interesting, I personally preferred Admete’s. Through her eyes the reader sees Hercules change, from Admete’s closest friend to a jerk obsessed with chasing glory. Admete is not as obviously courageous as Hippolyta, yet she confronts someone from her past, travels with a group of men who don’t want her there and thrives among the Amazons while cultivating her skills in herb healing.

Hauser has a beautiful writing style, full of descriptions weaved into the fabric of the story and little details that make the scenes all the more immersive. The prose is breath-taking from the prologue, the vast amount of time covered never boring and the alliances of the capricious Greek gods fascinating. 

The ending of the book, and therefore conclusion of the series, pulls the trilogy together in an unexpected way, linking them in ways I never foresaw. These unique interpretations of three well known myths weave gods, mortals and ancient Greek customs together, illustrating an alien world with vastly different customs in an accessible way. And there’s an epic final battle, so what more could you want?

Would I survive this book? No. I can’t live without a hot shower and lots of books. Not to mention freedom from being sold as a bride.

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.