The Geeky Stitching Co’s Little Book of Cross Stitch

Today I’m reviewing an unusual type of book for this blog – it’s non-fiction and practical! I used to love cross stitching when I was younger, but somehow I can never find the time anymore, although I’ll often grab a small kit if I see one I like. When I was offered the chance to review The Geeky Stitching Co’s Little Book of Cross Stitch as part of the blog tour, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to jump back in! This book was gifted to me by Authoright.

You will find over thirty of our bestselling designs in this book as well as seven new patterns to stitch up, we have everything from rainbows to fluffy animals and not a country cottage in sight!

A great book for beginners as well as experienced stitchers who are fans of stitching cute stuff and fun puns.

The Geeky Stitching Co’s Little Book of Cross Stitch is full of great designs. Living up to the company’s name, there’s more than a smidge of geek about them, and I’m looking forward to having a go. I had hoped that by the time I was finishing this blog post off, I would have made one of the designs, but alas, time was not on my side. However, I got far enough that I can say the designs are easy to follow, the key for each thread is clear, and it’s full of useful information if you’re a beginner, such as how to actually stitch, what fabric you need etc. I really liked that the front page of each design was very specific on the hoop and fabric size.

I maybe would have liked some information on the colour of aida they’d used – I ordered the threads and fabric I needed from an online store, and ended up picking a fabric wasn’t purple enough. I’m sure it won’t matter once I’ve finished, but it would have been a nice addition. I will also point out (because I’m a pedant – sorry, I can’t help myself) that there are a couple of spelling/grammatical mistakes, but they don’t really detract from the book.

The important thing is the designs are cute, easy to interpret/read and the instructions are clear enough that you could pick this book as a complete beginner and still produce a cute cross stitch design. What more could you want from a cross stitch book?

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour!

4/5

The Geeky Stitching Co’s Little Book of Cross Stitch is out now from Clink Street Publishing. Many thanks to Blue and Authoright for the gifted copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: London Made Us

A copy of this book was gifted to me by Canongate Books in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve never listened to Robert Elms’s radio show, but London Made Us sounded fascinating – a personal memoir, told through the history of London. Parts of it certainly were fascinating, but overall I found it a little bit disappointing.

‘London is a giant kaleidoscope, which is forever turning. Take your eye off it for more than a moment and you’re lost.’

Robert Elms has seen his beloved city change beyond all imagining. London in his lifetime has morphed from a piratical, bomb-scarred playground, to a swish cosmopolitan metropolis. Motorways driven through lost communities, accents changing, skyscrapers appearing. Yet still it remains to him the greatest place on earth.

Elms takes us back through time and place to myriad Londons. He is our guide through a place that has seen scientific experiments conducted in subterranean lairs and a small community declare itself an independent nation; a place his great-great-grandfather made the Elms’ home over a century ago and a city that has borne witness to world-changing events.

London Made Us is well-written, and Elms has a knack of carrying the reader with him through various, often bizarre or ridiculous, events. It’s full of local knowledge, and it’s clear that Elms loves this city with all his heart. As someone who loves her own city (and London) wholeheartedly, I could definitely relate to that. But all the way through the book, I couldn’t shake the feeling that Elms was almost looking down on those of us who aren’t from London. There’s a definite vibe of “London is best”, and I felt he sort of passed over some aspects of the darker side of the city.

I suppose, given it’s a memoir, I should have also expected the sheen of nostlagia that colours the whole book. Again, there’s a definite sense of the past being better than the present, and while I can agree in some ways (such as the destruction of London’s architectural heritage being a crime against the city – I have feelings about that), I do think it’s disingenuous to gloss over the many problems London has had in the last century.

I think that if I’d known of Elms, or listened to his radio show, before I read this book I would probably have enjoyed it more for what it was, rather than wishing for something different. I suspect that the tone wouldn’t have felt so snobbish if I knew how he sounded anyway. I know that a lot of people loved London Made Us, and I can see why, especially if you happened to be a Londoner yourself. But I hadn’t done any of that, and the book felt to me, as a northerner and more specifically, a scouser, less accessible because of it. And that’s why it was disappointing. You shouldn’t need to already know the author to enjoy reading their book.

3/5

London Made Us is out now from Canongate Books

Book Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

I was gifted a free e-arc of this book from the publisher, Titan Books, via Netgalley.

I don’t think anyone who’s read this blog would be surprised if I said I was a massive fan of V E Schwab. I love all her work, and I’ve been dying to read The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue since she first spoke about it. It therefore also won’t be a surprise when I tell you that I loved it with every fibre of my being.

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever-and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore, and he remembers her name.

I don’t even really know where to start or what to say. Addie’s story spans 300 years, although we see the most detail from her first 100 years and the current time (which in the book is 2014), and I just loved it. I shared Addie’s hurts and frustrations, her loneliness and her shock at finally meeting someone who remembers her. I loved seeing the ways she adapted to her situation, finding clothes to wear and places to sleep, but never being able to leave a mark. I really, really loved the epigraphs that began each section, showing the impact Addie had had over the 300 years of her life.

I realise I’m not going into much detail here, but I do think you should experience this book as free from knowledge as you can possibly be. What you need to know is this: it is beautifully written. Seriously, so beautiful. One of my joys of the last 6 years has been watching V’s writing improve with every book – and she was brilliant to begin with. Addie LaRue is not like anything she’s ever written before though. It feels very different, but I’m not sure I can put into words why it feels so different so you’ll just have to trust me. If you’ve not picked up a V E Schwab book before, this is the one to start with.

The characters are fantastic. Not just Addie, Henry and Luc, but all the people we meet in the course of the book. Even the landlady who forgets Addie has paid a week’s rent in advance sticks in the memory, which is testament to V’s skills. I couldn’t put it down until I finished it because I needed to know what happened to these people. I’m not saying I didn’t guess some of the plot turns, because I did, but it didn’t matter.

I could carry on gushing about The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, but that seems a bit pointless, so I’ll end here. Just know that this is a wonderful, beautiful book that takes you on a journey with its protagonist that you will remember forever, and you will not regret picking it up.

5/5

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is out today, 6th October, from Titan Books

Blog Tour: The White Phoenix

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Today I’m on the blog tour for The White Phoenix by Catherine Randall, thanks to Kaleidoscopic Tours who gifted me a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

The White Phoenix is a historical MG book, set in London in 1666, so I was sold immediately, and I really enjoyed it. Lizzie is a character you can really root for, and I shared her frustrations at the people and world around her.

The White Phoenix

London, 1666. After the sudden death of her father, thirteen-year-old Lizzie Hopper and her mother must take over THE WHITE PHOENIX – the family bookshop in the shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral. But England is at war with France and dire prophecies abound. As rumours of invasion and plague spread, Lizzie battles prejudice, blackmail and mob violence to protect the bookshop she loves. When the Great Fire of London breaks out, Lizzie must rescue more than just the bookshop. Can she now save the friend she wasn’t supposed to have? CAN THE WHITE PHOENIX RISE FROM THE ASHES?

Bookshops, London and the Great Fire – what more could you want in your book?! I did genuinely find the subject matter very interesting – I’ve always been fascinated by the Great Fire of London, and it was good to see it from the point of view of someone deeply affected by it. I hadn’t particularly been aware of the situation in which it occurred, with England at war with France and a general wave of suspicion being directed at anyone foreign (although I knew the fire was believed by many to have been started as a Catholic plot), so I enjoyed learning something new too!

As I said above, Lizzie was a great lead character. Only thirteen, she finds herself trying to keep the family bookshop going after her father’s death, against a number of difficulties, not least Master Pedley, the bookbinder next door. Pedley is creepy from the get go, and I was praying that Lizzie’s mother would not be taken in by him!

I really liked the way Randall was able to make the story very relatable, despite being set nearly 400 years ago. The attitudes towards foreigners displayed by many people in the book are, sadly, still prevalent today, as are some of the attitudes towards women. For many of the people around the Hoppers in the book, it’s unthinkable that a woman should attempt to carry on her husband’s business. And to be caught binding a Catholic prayer book?! It’s made clear that Lizzie’s parents do not share these attitudes – as long as a person likes books, they are welcome in the bookshop – but the fact that they are willing to entertain Catholics is something that can be (and is) used against Lizzie and the shop. And while Catholics might not suffer in England in the 21st century, it’s easy to see the same prejudices aimed at other groups. I think The White Phoenix would make a great starting point for a discussion with children in the target age group.

I very much enjoyed the actual story too. Knowing that it was leading up to the Great Fire lent the book a great deal of tension, which was only made greater by Lizzie’s friendships with both a French customer and the apprentice next door, who got a bit too caught up in conspiracy theories. There’s genuine danger too, and not just from the fire, and I raced through the book very quickly as a result.

I definitely recommend The White Phoenix to anyone with an interest in history but also anyone who enjoys a good story, well told!

4/5

The White Phoenix is out today from The Book Guild

Book Review: Bookish and the Beast

I was gifted a free copy of this book by the publisher, Quirk Books, in exchange for an honest review.

I was so excited to be given the opportunity to review Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston. Although Geekerella didn’t really spark joy for me, I loved the second book in the series, The Princess and the Fangirl and I was really looking forward to seeing what Ashley did with a Beauty and the Beast retelling. I wasn’t disappointed!

bookish and the beast

Rosie Thorne is feeling stuck—on her college application essays, in her small town, and on that mysterious General Sond cosplayer she met at ExcelsiCon. Most of all, she’s stuck in her grief over her mother’s death. Her only solace was her late mother’s library of rare Starfield novels, but even that disappeared when they sold it to pay off hospital bills.

On the other hand, Vance Reigns has been Hollywood royalty for as long as he can remember—with all the privilege and scrutiny that entails. When a tabloid scandal catches up to him, he’s forced to hide out somewhere the paparazzi would never expect to find him: Small Town USA. At least there’s a library in the house. Too bad he doesn’t read.

When Rosie and Vance’s paths collide and a rare book is accidentally destroyed, Rosie finds herself working to repay the debt. And while most Starfield superfans would jump at the chance to work in close proximity to the Vance Reigns, Rosie has discovered something about Vance: he’s a jerk, and she can’t stand him. The feeling is mutual.

But as Vance and Rosie begrudgingly get to know each other, their careful masks come off—and they may just find that there’s more risk in shutting each other out than in opening their hearts.

I think it’s important to be clear from the start that Bookish and the Beast is very predictable. I knew what was going to happen right from the start, and I’m not just talking about the romance. But I didn’t care, because the way it was written was so good I just wanted to lose myself in the story. I think this might be my favourite of the Once Upon A Con series, and whether that’s because it’s based on Beauty and the Beast, or it’s just my level of sweet romance I don’t know, but it is. Put it like this: it arrived at 10am, I started reading it at 3pm and had finished it by 5.30pm! It also arrived at the point where it was exactly what I was looking for in terms of mood reading, which probably helped.

I loved the two households we spent our time with – Rosie and her dad, and Vance and Elias – which both had a adorable family vibe (even if Vance and Elias aren’t a traditional family unit), and the moments when they interacted were some of my favourites in the book. But I also enjoyed the tension between Rosie and Vance and was rooting for them from the start, even while Vance was being a jerk and I loved that Rosie was a bookworm as well as a fandom nerd.

Speaking of being a fandom nerd, I have seen people saying that there were too many pop culture references in the book, and no one actually speaks to each other that way. Clearly those people are not members of SFF fandoms! I personally loved all the references, even the ones I didn’t get, because to me they showed a real love of fandom and what it means to people. This book was written by someone who gets it, and people absolutely do speak in quotes and references when they know the person they’re talking will appreciate it (and sometimes even when they don’t!).

There were a few things that stopped this being a five star read for me. There was a potential background queer romance that just seemed to get dropped, and I would have loved a bit more development on that. Also, while I liked Rosie’s friends, I don’t think we really got to know them well enough, which was a real shame, although I did enjoy their mission to take down the jerk who thought he was entitled to Rosie’s attention.

I should probably also mention the library, which sounded amazing. In fact, the entire house sounded amazing, and I am so jealous of anyone who gets to live in anything similar! I would maybe have liked slightly more at a con given that is the usual premise of this series, but the library definitely made up for it! And I thought the story fitted really well into the original Beauty and the Beast. Yes, it was obvious, but there’s nothing wrong with that!

Overall then, I really enjoyed Bookish and the Beast. I wouldn’t go into it expecting surprises, but if you want a lovely, bookish, nerdy YA romance then I definitely recommend it!

4/5

Bookish and the Beast is out in the UK today, 4th August 2020

Review Catch-Up: Titan Books

All books discussed in this post were gifted to me by Titan Books in exchange for an honest review.

I am so far behind in my reviews at the moment that I’ve decided to do a few publisher round-ups to try and catch up. This is the first, covering some of the books the very lovely people at Titan Books have sent me. I’m hoping that if I can clear the decks a bit, I’ll be able to actually post reviews at a point that approximates to the book’s release date. We’ll see how this goes.

 

Cursed ed. by Marie O’Regan and Paul Kane

Cursed is an anthology of stories based on fairytales, edited by the same people who did the Wonderland anthology of Alice-inspired stories (see my review here). I’d really enjoyed Wonderland and was hoping for more of the same from Cursed, but unfortunately, this time the stories had a much stronger horror bent, and they weren’t really for me. I could see they were well-written, and I’m sure if you’re a fan of horror they were great, but my sensibilities are just a bit too delicate to have properly enjoyed the collection. Because of that, I found it a bit of a slog to get through but I still chose to rate it 3/5 because it wasn’t a bad book.

Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland

I read Dread Nation last year and absolutely loved it. Zombies are not usually my thing (in much the same way as horror isn’t), but the whole idea of the dead rising at Gettysburg and then over-running the US is fascinating. The duology presents such a likely alternative history for those circumstances that, even though it’s horrific, you can’t help getting caught up in it. But more than that, I love Jane and Katherine and their reluctant journey to friendship (and maybe something more?). I think I loved Deathless Divide more than I loved Dread Nation, and that’s saying something. It’s up there as one of the best books I’ve read this year, and I rated it 5/5.

The Library of the Unwritten by A J Hackwith

I wasn’t sure what this book would actually be like when I read the synopsis but I did like the idea of it being set in Hell’s library, where every book never written is stored. But what happens when a character escapes? Well, the head librarian gives chase of course! There’s more to it than that but to give any more details would be to spoil the twists and turns, and I wouldn’t want to do that. I really enjoyed this book – it maybe dragged a little bit in the middle, but I liked the way we were given bits of the library’s history and the stories of those who came before Claire, our main character, and the main plot was good without losing character development – and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel! I rated it 4/5.

Skein Island by Aliya Whiteley

Well, this was a very interesting book! It kind of defies categorisation to be honest. It’s the story of Marianne, who is sent an invitaton to Skein Island, a private refuge for women. Normally, a woman applies for her place, and Marianne has no idea why she’s been sent an invitation – but she knows about the island because seventeen years earlier her mother visited it and never came home. The way Whiteley layers the story with flashbacks and interludes which slowly tie together is excellent, and it’s a genuinely fascinating book which looks at the roles we all play. It did take me a while to read it, because it’s quite a slow book, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I rated it 4/5.

The Bone Garden by Heather Kassner

I must admit, when I first requested this book, I was not expecting it to be a middle grade book. I didn’t even know Titan published middle grade! Fortunately, I love a good children’s book, and this was indeed a good children’s book. It was definitely creepy (in a good way), and I really liked the character development. I think if you were actually giving it to a child to read, you’d have to be pretty sure they could deal with the themes though – the main antagonist is essentially a Dr Frankenstein, creating children from bone dust, and there are some very creepy moments. I was a bit wary of reading it at bedtime, and I’m a fully grown adult! I rated it 4/5.

I quite like this short review format, so I might do this more often in the future, and not just as a way to get through more reviews! Let me know what you think of this review post format – yay or nay?

Book Review: The Rules

A copy of this book was gifted to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

I’ve been promising this review since April, and as The Rules by Tracy Darnton finally came out last week, I thought it was about time I actually wrote the post! I really loved this book, so many thanks to Charlie at Stripes for sending it to me.

the rules cover

Amber’s an expert when it comes to staying hidden – she’s been trained her whole life for it. But what happens when the person you’re hiding from taught you everything you know?

When a letter from her dad arrives, Amber knows she’s got to move – and fast. He’s managed to find her and she knows he’ll stop at nothing to draw her back into the extreme survivalist way of life he believes in.

All of a sudden the Rules she’s spent so long trying to escape are the ones keeping her safe. But for how long?

If you’ve read Stripes’ short story collection, I’ll Be Home For Christmas (and if you haven’t, you should), you’ve already met Amber, the lead character in The Rules. Tracy Darnton won a competition to have her story featured in the anthology, and that story was Amber receiving a letter from her dad via her social worker. I loved the story, so I was excited to read The Rules and see what happened next.

It’s not an exaggeration to say what happened next was nailbiting and I was genuinely surprised at how much I loved it. Amber is terrified of her dad catching up with her. It took a long time for her and her mum to escape him in the first place, and now she’s on her own and she knows he’s getting closer. Darnton dripfeeds us the background in flashbacks throughout the book so we don’t learn everything at once, but we can feel Amber’s fear and desperation and the suspense is sky high. There is a sense throughout that Amber is hiding something, and I really liked this aspect, which really paid off at the end. Amber is not a particularly likeable character, but as the extent of the abuse she suffered becomes clear, you understand her. At the same time, she’s not defined by that abuse, which I think is important.

I also really liked her relatonship with Josh, even if she did make some obvious mistakes which wound the tension even more because of it. Having someone there who knew and liked her, and occasionally reined her in helped Amber grow as a character too, and it was nice that it was more of a friendship than anything else.

I highly recommend The Rules. I can’t remember the last book I read that left me actually breathless with the tension when reading, and if that’s your sort of book, it’s definitely worth picking up. Just be aware that there are a number of content warnings listed in the book (well done to Stripes and Tracy for including them – there are so many publishers and authors that don’t) and take care of yourself.

4.5/5

Blog Tour: Midnight’s Twins

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I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour for Midnight’s Twins by Holly Race today. Many thanks to Faye Rogers and Hot Key Books for my gifted copy of the book!

The Midnight's Twins

Fern King is about to uncover a place that she could not have imagined in all her wildest dreams. Annwn is the dream mirror of our world, a place where Dreamers walk in their slumber, their dreams playing out all around them. An enchanted, mysterious place that feeds our own world – as without dreams, without a place where our imaginations and minds can be nourished, what kind of humans would we be?

But Annwn is a place as full of dangers as it is wonders: it is a place where dreams can kill you. Annwn and its Dreamers are protected by an ancient order known as the Knights – and when Fern’s hated twin Ollie is chosen to join their ranks, Fern will have to do whatever she can to prove she is one of them too.

But the world Fern discovers in Annwn, in this dream mirror of her London, is a fragile one, threatened by vicious nightmares. Nightmares that are harder and harder for the Knights to defeat. Something dark is jeopardising the peace and stability of Annwn, something that must be rooted out at all costs. And gradually, Fern realises that the danger lurking inside our sleep is more insidious and terrifying than any nightmare. Because if you can influence someone’s dreams, you can control their thoughts …

I really enjoyed Midnight’s Twins. It gripped me from the very start and I was desperate to see what happened, and to find out what had happened to Fern previously.

Even though Fern and Ollie had their flaws and problems, I found them both really relatable and could understand where they were both coming from. I also loved their character development. I think they read as a little bit older than they were supposed to be – the book starts when they’re 15, but I found it difficult to remember that’s how old they are. That’s true of the other characters who become their friends too, especially Ramesh. However, given the circumstances they find themselves in, I guess you could expect them to grow up quite quickly.

I enjoyed the magical dream world of Annwn a lot. Alternative London and urban fantasy is very much my thing, so a London where fantastic dreams and nightmares stalk the streets is definitely up my alley. I loved St Paul’s as Tintagel too and I hope future books in this series allow us to see the other thanedoms around the country and what they use as their castles!

I would have liked to see more of how a life in Annwn affects your life in Ithr (our reality). We know that all the knights have real world lives, but does spending your nights in Annwn mean you don’t get a proper rest? Are people tempted to live in Annwn permanently? I think there’s a lot more to be explored there and I would love to see it in a future book.

As for the plot, I don’t want to go into detail because I don’t want to spoil anyone, but it absolutely raced along and easily took me with it. I found it very hard to put the book down, which was unfortunate as I had a lot of other things to be doing! Some of the plot was pretty predictable but it was told so well I didn’t really care, and there were still a couple of turns that took my breath away. I should probably warn you that there is a body count and it is quite high, but i actually liked that. These characters are fighting a war, and there would be casualties. I was impressed at how much I cared about those who died though.

Overall then, Midnight’s Twins is a fast-moving, young adult, urban fantasy, with two main characters who grow and develop over the course of the book. I really enjoyed it, and I’m already looking forward to the sequel!

4/5

Midnight’s Twins is released today, 11th June, by Hot Key Books.

 

 

Six for Sunday: Favourite Book Ones

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Six for Sunday is a weekly meme devised by Steph over at A Little But A Lot. Steph also kindly provided the above graphic for this week’s topic, which is favourite book one in a series.

  1. Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch- the perfect start to a series about a police constable discovering that magic exists and sometimes the law needs to deal with it. I love this series, which now includes 8 books and 2 novellas, and this book is still one of my favourites.
  2. Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend – everything I love about MG books, Nevermoor is incredibly fun, full of magic and adventure and amazing characters.
  3. Soulless by Gail Carriger – this book starts with a Victorian society lady killing a vampire at a ball, and moves on through werewolves, ghosts and automatons in a steampunk Victorian London. I fell for Alexia Tarrabotti and her nemesis/paramour Conall Maccon immediately and I’m still sad that their adventures are now over.
  4. Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor – this hooked me with the very first chapter, and I just loved the lyrical writing, the world building and the characters. It’s a truly beautiful book, and the sequel didn’t quite live up to it for me.
  5. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black – this was another book that hooked me immediately, and it was the perfect introduction to The Folk of the Air series, for many of the same reasons Strange The Dreamer worked for me.
  6. Starfell: Willow Moss and the Lost Day by Dominique Valente – this is just a lovely book about a young witch finding her place and coming to terms with grief and loss. Willow and her friends are wonderful characters and I was desperate for the next book as soon as I’d finished this one.

I would like to note that I could have filled this list ten times over, and it was really hard to narrow it down to six!

Have you participated in this week’s Six for Sunday? Link me to your post in the comments!

April Wrap Up

Well. It’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these, isn’t it? As much as lockdown in the UK is for a terrible reason, I appreciate actually having time to do everything I want to! My blog has been terribly neglected for, well, most of its existence if I’m being honest, for various reasons, but hopefully this enforced period of staying at home will get me into better habits!

So, April. I know a lot of people have been finding it difficult to read at the moment, but I don’t appear to have the same problem. In fact, if anything, I’ve had the opposite problem – I read instead of doing the many, many other things I should be doing! As a result, I have read twenty-five books in April. Twenty-five! I usually manage somewhere between ten and sixteen, so twenty-five is a bit ridiculous. I’ve also found myself reading a lot of adult romance, which is not something I pick up very often, but has very definitely suited my mood in the latter half of this month.

april books

Five Star Reads

  • The Pieces of Ourselves by Maggie Harcourt. I love Maggie’s books, and this was no exception. In some ways it’s quite different to her previous two books, but it has a wonderful romance at its heart and I absolutely loved learning the history that Hal had come to uncover. Flora, the main character, has also been diagnosed with bipolar ii, and I thought the impact of that on her was explored really well.
  • Steel Crow Saga by Paul Krueger. So, confession time – I was sent this a really long time ago by Gollancz and had just never got round to reading it. I’d heard lots of good things about it, but it had been buried in the TBR pile, and having excavated it at the end of March, I decided it was time to finally read it. And it blew me away. I loved the way the four main characters’ stories interweaved, and the character development was fantastic, as was the world building. It did actually feel like a saga in the way it was written too.
  • Hold Back The Tide by Melinda Salisbury. I’m a huge fan of Mel, and so I can say with confidence that this is by far her best book yet. The setting, the characters, the plot, all of it was amazing and I was genuinely creeped out, even reading it on a bright sunny day. Also, can we talk about that ending?! Brilliant.
  • Wed Wabbit by Lissa Evans. I talked about this in my Easter readathon wrap up. Weird but brilliant is a good summary though.
  • Before Mars by Emma Newman. Also in my Easter readathon wrap up.
  • The Deck of Omens by Christine Lynn Herman. Reviewed here.
  • Get A Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert. This was the start of my adult romance kick. I’d seen a few people talking about this, and it was only £2.99 on kindle so I thought I’d give it a try. And it was brilliant. Chloe Brown is a plus-sized, chronically ill person of colour, and a complete disaster. I laughed out loud many times at the situations she found herself in, but the romance was also wonderful. I’m so glad I picked it up!
  • Wonderland by Juno Dawson. I received an early copy of this via Netgalley, and it was actually the last book I read in April. I thought it was fantastic, and is possibly Juno’s best. It’s an Alice in Wonderland retelling, and the way Juno weaved in the original plot and characters while staying true to the story she was telling, was amazing. I loved Alice, with all her secrets and self-doubt, and I really liked the way it tied in with Clean (and, to a lesser extent, Meat Market). It’s out at the end of May, and I definitely recommend you pick it up, although be aware that there are a number of content warnings listed at the front of the book.

Four Star Reads

  • Boy Queen by George Lester. Easter readathon again!
  • The Rules by Tracey Darnton. And again!
  • Harley In The Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman. Another one from the Easter readathon!
  • Atlas Alone by Emma Newman. I love Emma Newman (pretty certain I’ve mentioned this before) and her Planetfall books have all been brilliant, covering a wide range of mental health issues, just in a sci-fi setting. I’ve rated all the previous books 5 stars, but I’m not sure what it was about this one that just didn’t click as well. Maybe because it’s the first one that’s a direct sequel? It can still be read as a standalone, but we’re with characters we met in After Atlas (which is my favourite of the series) and I just found it a bit more difficult to read. I enjoyed the spaceship and gaming setting though, and it was still good, just not as good as the prevous three books. I was sent this as a review copy by Gollancz (although I also bought a copy because I’m an idiot).
  • The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman. This was a reread after I finished The Deck of Omens, because I wanted to spend more time in Four Paths, and I greatly enjoyed going back to the beginning of the story.
  • Hex Life, edited by Christopher Golden and Rachel Autumn Deering. This was a review copy from Titan Books, and I started reading it in October. And then my dad died and I really didn’t feel like reading about witches anymore. I finally picked it back up a week ago and finished it, and I enjoyed it a lot. There were some stories in there that I hated, but there were a lot more that I liked, and a couple that I loved (but most of them I read in October and I have no chance of remembering which ones now!). It’s a really well put together anthology, and even though not all the stories were for me, there was enough good stuff for me to rate it 4 stars.
  • 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne. I got this out of the library after a friend had been raving about The Hating Game by the same author (which the library didn’t have). It’s another adult romance, and although the main character is rather abrasive, I liked her, and the story,  a lot. I notice from goodreads that a lot of people who read this after The Hating Game were disappointed, but without having read that first, I thought 99 Percent Mine was great.
  • The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren. So many people have been raving about this, and as it was only 99p on kindle and I’d loved Autoboyography by the same authors, I thought I’d give it a go. And it was good! But I didn’t love it, and I downright hated the way Olive is treated for good portions of the book. Still, it was good enough overall to merit four stars.
  • That Kind Of Guy by Talia Hibbert. This was the fifth Talia Hibbert book I read in April, and my second favourite. It’s part of the Ravenswood series, set in a small English town where everyone knows everyone else’s business. By the time I got to this book, I knew almost all of the characters already and I don’t know if that made me more invested in the relationship than in the prevous three books, or if it was the fact that Rae, the main character, was my age and therefore more relatable than another 20-something. Whatever it was, I really enjoyed this book and would love to see more of the central relationship.

Three Star Reads

  • Word Nerd by Susan Nielsen. I read this right at the beginning of the month in an attempt to clear some of my TBR. The idea was to read a chapter and decide if I wanted to carry on with, except I couldn’t bring myself to stop. This was a nice enough read, nothing special, but I did like Ambrose as the main character.
  • Sky Thieves by Dan Walker. Read for the same reason as above. This was so nearly a four star book, but it didn’t quite make it. Very enjoyable though, and I’d be interested in reading the sequel.
  • The Girls’ Guide To Summer by Sarah Mlynowski. Again read for the same reason as the above two, again it came close to getting four stars. I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed this book, because I’d heard not great things about it, but it was a fun, summery YA read. I’m not someone who has a huge problem with instalove though, so that might be why!
  • The Other Half of Happiness by Ayisha Malik. I talked about this in my Easter readathon wrap up.
  • All Out edited by Saundra Mitchell. This is an anthology of LGBTQ+ historical stories, and I so wanted to love it. Sadly, for me, the quality of the stories just wasn’t consistent enough and I was quite disappointed. Some of the stories were great, but it really was a minority.
  • A Girl Like Her, Damaged Goods and Untouchable by Talia Hibbert. Grouping these together because my thoughts are pretty much the same on all of them. They were fun stories, I like that Hibbert’s characters have a lot of things going on with them, and the romances in all of them were incredibly hot. There just wasn’t the same depth in these stories as there was in That Kind of Guy or Get A Life, Chloe Brown, hence the three stars.

DNF

  • I didn’t finish The Sacrifice Box by Martin Stewart. It wasn’t bad, I just got 100 pages in and realised it really wasn’t my thing and I didn’t want to waste time reading it. It’s a shame, because I’ve met Martin and he was lovely, but this type of book just isn’t for me.

And that’s it for April! I can’t tell you how many books I’ve acquired in April because I completely failed to keep track, but there’s at least seven in the above list, plus I pre-ordered a copy of The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L D Lapinski, which arrived on the 30th.

I suspect May will be a quieter reading month, not least because I’m back in the office two days a week instead of sitting at home constantly. However, I did finish a book this morning and I’ve bought four which are all due this month, so maybe it won’t be as quiet as I expect!

Let me know in the comments if you a) managed to make it through that screed, b) if you’ve read any of the above books, or c) what you’ve been reading!