‘The Mermaid’ spoiler-free review!

“Hope is a clinging, tenacious thing, almost impossible to dislodge.”

– Christina Henry, The Mermaid

 

Hi everyone! Today I’m reviewing The Mermaid, the latest book by Christina Henry. Having really enjoyed Lost Boy earlier this year and then falling in love with the movie The Greatest Showman, I just had to get my hands on this book!

 

What the book is about…

From the author of Lost Boy comes a beautiful historical fairytale about a mermaid who leaves the sea, only to become the star attraction of history’s greatest showman.

Once there was a mermaid called Amelia who could never be content in the sea, a mermaid who longed to know all the world and all its wonders, and so she came to live on land.

Once there was a man called P. T. Barnum, a man who longed to make his fortune by selling the wondrous and miraculous, and there is nothing more miraculous than a real mermaid.

Amelia agrees to play the mermaid for Barnum and walk among men in their world, believing she can leave anytime she likes. But Barnum has never given up a money-making scheme in his life, and he’s determined to hold on to his mermaid.

 

What I thought of it…

This was such a fantastic book. It took no time at all for me to become invested in the story of the mermaid. I loved the folklorish start but felt completely transported when the action moved to New York. I was flying through the pages.

Amelia was a brilliant protagonist. She is such an activist and I bloody loved her for it. She stands up for so many things – feminism, animal rights, racial minorities – and it added so much extra depth to what could have been a simple tale. By adding these issues, Christina Henry has created a multi-layered plot that defies categorisation.

I was also impressed with the Barnum that Henry created. Having recently watched The Greatest Showman, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t constantly picturing Hugh Jackman; however, Henry managed to give her Barnum a distinct personality and make him more morally grey than the all-singing, all-dancing movie version.

The writing itself was also beautiful. I flagged so many quotes that really spoke to me and I loved Henry’s message about accepting everyone no matter what.

I am so impressed with this one. Christina Henry is fast becoming a favourite author.

 

the mermaid christina henry book review

Have you read any of Christina Henry’s books? What did you think of them?

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‘Monday’s Not Coming’ spoiler-free review!

Hi everyone! Today I’m reviewing Monday’s Not Coming, the second novel from Tiffany D. Jackson. (I’m ridiculously late with my review of this one but I’m finally getting round to it.) Huge thanks to Harper360 for sending me an ARC!

 

What the book is about…

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?

 

What I thought of it…

Unfortunately, this one left me feeling a bit ‘meh’. I acknowledge that the author tackled an important topic that is not being given the attention it deserves in the media; sadly, I just didn’t particularly enjoy the execution of it.

The narrative voice felt VERY young, to the point that I felt like I was reading the thoughts of a ten-year-old at many points. (And don’t misunderstand me here, because I enjoy reading young narrators when it’s middle grade and they are supposed to sound like ten-year-olds.) The immaturity may have been a conscious choice on the part of the author (for reasons I can’t discuss because they would be gigantic spoilers) but the tone just felt really incongruous to the character’s age. The whole ‘secret language’ thing felt very childish.

The book also featured the most confusing timeline ever (and I didn’t really feel any less confused when it supposedly resolved itself. I still don’t know when certain scenes took place.) It made it difficult for me to become invested in the story; I didn’t feel gripped because I was constantly being pulled out of the action into random ‘filler’ scenes in the past (or what I believe was the past anyway). I wasn’t very shocked by the ‘twist’, though I did find some of the details quite harrowing.

It wasn’t all bad. I liked the use of colour throughout the book – it was an interesting technique that I haven’t seen done very often. I also loved Claudia’s dad as a character – he was parent goals! He was so supportive and helpful, and a great father, which is something we rarely get to see in YA literature.

Overall, I respect what the author tried to do here in raising awareness of an issue she believes is not acknowledged enough (as explained in her author’s note). I just didn’t particularly enjoy the execution of it. This was a fast read but I feel like, ultimately, it will be forgettable.

 

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Has anyone read this one? Or Tiffany Jackson’s first novel? What are your thoughts on books that tackle difficult current topics? 

Alex’s Alphabeticals! ‘D’

Hi friends! It’s been quite a while since I did one of these but I want to get back into it so, without further ado, it’s time for the fourth instalment of my blog series ‘Alex’s Alphabeticals’! Before I get started, I want to thank everyone who has shown so much interest in this series – I’ve had a few people asking if they can make their own posts and that’s amazing! Of course you may! I’d love to see them. All I ask is that you credit me for the idea/link back to me in the same way you would with a Top Ten Tuesday/Waiting on Wednesday post. Post at your own pace, do as many or as few letters as you want; the idea is just to post your favourite authors, books and characters (ABCs) for a particular letter of the alphabet. We’ll call it the ‘Alphabetical’ tag. One lovely blogger who already got on board is Rita – you can check out her ‘A’ post here. Any other questions, drop me a comment at the end of this post!

And now, onto my ‘D’ favourites!

 

Authors beginning with ‘D’

Charles Dickens

I don’t know if I can call Dickens a favourite when I’ve only read 2 of his books… but I really enjoyed Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol and I’d like to read more from him in the future. It’s not just the books he wrote himself either; I find him a fascinating subject to read about and always enjoy picking up works inspired by his life or reimaginings of his stories.

 

Roald Dahl

No-one can deny the everlasting appeal of Dahl’s children’s stories. My favourites were always George’s Marvellous Medicine, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and, of course, Matilda. I haven’t read a great deal of his books for adults but they’re on my list!

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Books beginning with ‘D’

The Diabolic

I read this book with my book club in 2017 and I was really pleasantly surprised by it! I tend to be a little intimidated by sci-fi books but the premise of this one was interesting enough to catch my attention, and I thought it would be easier to handle as it was YA. I ended up really liking it; it was a twisty story with a badass protagonist and I’d definitely recommend it to others who, like me, are a bit scared of sci-fi. Just treat it as a standalone though; the sequel kind of ruined things for me!

 

The Dress Shop of Dreams

Another read from last year, this was an adorable little book that was so much more than I thought it would be. At a time when I was feeling burnt out by heavier reads, I was admittedly looking for a ‘bit of fluff’ – but what I got was a meaningful story filled with great characters and sprinklings of magical realism (my favourite). This book came into my life at the perfect time and I now definitely want to read more from the author!

 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy

My introduction to the goddess that is Laini Taylor! I love the stunning setting of Prague and the fantastic characters. This series is even more special to me because I actually went to a signing event where I got to meet Laini as well as one of my favourite people from the bookstagram community, @ab_reads! Special memories.

 

Daughter of the Burning City

I loved the rich and complex world-building in this story and could totally see it being made into a Tim Burton movie! Dark and atmospheric, this wasn’t a straightforward fantasy novel but a murder mystery too. And you guys know how much I love a circus!

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The Dollmaker of Krakow

I read this in January this year and absolutely adored it! I already know it will be on my favourites list for 2018. This is a completely magical read and, in case you missed it, you can read my full spoiler-free review here.

 

Characters beginning with ‘D’

Death

Many authors have provided their own take on a personification of Death. There are two in particular that I love. The first is Markus Zusak’s incarnation in The Book Thief; having a book narrated from the perspective of Death is such a unique concept and made for such a compelling and beautiful read. And the other representation I love is from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. Pratchett’s version of Death is more satirical and definitely gives me a giggle!

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Daenerys Targaryen

Dany is one of my favourite characters in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Her character development is superb and she is a truly FIERCE queen. I’m not holding my breath waiting for The Winds of Winter but I’m definitely curious to see where Dany’s story goes.

 

Diana (Wonder Woman)

So I still haven’t seen the DC movie but I really enjoyed Leigh Bardugo’s take on this character! Like Daenerys, Diana is a badass woman who fights for what she believes in, and is definitely the kind of role model we need more of in YA literature.

 

Dobby

And finally, a special mention for the absolute hero that is Dobby the house elf. He is brave and selfless, and I’ll never be over it.

 

I forgot how fun these posts are to write! I seem to love a lots of books beginning with ‘D’ but not many authors!

Who are some of your favourite authors/books/characters beginning with ‘D’? Let me know in the comments or feel free to make your own post and link me to it so I can read it! 🙂 

‘The Language of Thorns’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! I’m still catching up on reviews after my mammoth reading month in June so please bear with me!

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo was one of my favourite reads of last month. Before I tell you why, here’s the synopsis…

 

What the book is about…

Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid’s voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a love-struck boy’s bidding but only for a terrible price.

Inspired by myth, fairytale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.

This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves.

 

What I thought of it…

This book is everything I never knew I needed. I love the way Bardugo subverted all the fairytale clichés with this collection, giving us dark and twisted endings, unexpected romances, defying notions of beauty and speaking out for women and minority groups everywhere.

As always, the writing is seriously gorgeous. For some reason, I always forget how great Bardugo is at descriptions – this book definitely serves as a reminder. There were phrases in this book that moved me to tears (not something I’d expected!) Bardugo’s beautiful writing really helped to convey the messages at the heart of each story, all of which were so powerful and impactful.

The tales read like classic fables, reminiscent of Rudyard Kipling, Aesop and, of course, Hans Christian Andersen. However, there is an originality here that showcases Bardugo’s wonderful imagination. She would pull me in with what seemed like a simple fairytale and then I’d be absolutely floored by the endings!

There was also SO MUCH FOOD in this book and I was living for it. I love a foody description and this book was filled to the brim with them.

My favourite story in the collection was When Water Sang Fire. It is the longest and most developed tale in the book and I adored it. It was everything I wanted from The Surface Breaks but didn’t get. This right here is how you write a feminist take on The Little Mermaid.

Finally, a special mention for the illustrator because this book is truly a work of art. The drawings grow with every page, ending in full double-page illustrations, and they are things of beauty. I wish every book looked like this.

I hate that I waited so long to read this. Please pick it up if you haven’t already!

 

the language of thorns leigh bardugo

I don’t know why the book looks blurry in this picture, but I’ve noticed even on Goodreads it looks like this?! It clearly does not like to be photographed! *cries*

 

Who else has read this one? Please leave a comment below and fangirl with me! x

‘Her Name Was Rose’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! I was recently sent a copy of Her Name Was Rose by the lovely people at Avon Books and it was such a fun read!

 

What the book was about…

Her name was Rose. You watched her die. And her death has created a vacancy.

When Emily lets a stranger step out in front of her, she never imagines that split second will change her life. But after Emily watches a car plough into the young mother – killing her instantly – she finds herself unable to move on.

And then she makes a decision she can never take back.

Because Rose had everything Emily had ever dreamed of. A beautiful, loving family, a great job and a stunning home. And now Rose’s husband misses his wife, and their son needs a mother. Why couldn’t Emily fill that space?

But as Emily is about to discover, no-one’s life is perfect … and not everything is as it seems.

 

What I thought of it…

Guys, this book was crazy! It was like a car crash that you are unable to look away from (perhaps that’s the wrong choice of words given how the book starts but I can’t think of a more accurate description). The twists and turns had me racing through the pages, desperate to know what was going on. And just when I thought I had it figured out, things would get flipped on their head again!

At first, I really didn’t like the main character but I weirdly found myself warming to her as the book progressed and the author revealed more details. I found myself not necessarily empathising with her or excusing her poor choices but I gradually found her less hateful!

Her Name Was Rose was a fascinating exploration of the human psyche and the author tackled some heavy topics in a sensitive manner. I don’t want to say too much for fear of spoilers but I really liked the author’s choice of themes and the way they impacted my feelings towards the characters and the story.

Overall, this book was a wild ride and a great debut thriller from Claire Allan!

 

her name was rose review

Who else has read this one? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! x

June Wrap-Up! (In which I devour the most books I’ve ever read in a single month)

Hi lovely friends! Brace yourselves because this is the most insane wrap-up I’ve ever written. I managed to read 22 books in June! I’ll try to keep my thoughts on each book short so that I’m not keeping you here all day haha.

 

 

Classics

The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells

I’ve been loving the classic sci-fi lately. This one wasn’t a new favourite, feeling a bit more farcical, but I am still determined to make my way through Wells’ catalogue as I enjoy his style.

 

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

Definitely not a book for dog lovers! I’m sure there are some valid themes in here but the degree of animal abuse was just too much for me to overlook.

 

The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole

As a huge fan of all things Gothic, I’m glad to say I’ve read this, the first of its kind. However, I can’t say it was an enjoyable read. It really hasn’t aged well. The dialogue felt completely ridiculous and I really had to force myself to get through this one.

 

Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter

A charming story reminiscent of Anne of Green Gables, with one of the best catalysts for action I’ve found in a children’s classic. A bit too sweet to become a new favourite but a lovely read with a valuable message at its heart.

 

 

Review Books/Books I was sent

The Spirit Photographer by Jon Michael Varese

A really interesting read with some fantastic historical detail. Though it felt a little slow at times, the quality of this debut was excellent. My full spoiler-free review is here.

 

Big Sister by Gunnar Staalesen

There was a good story here but the execution disappointed me. The pacing felt off and I found the book very tame compared to other Scandinavian thrillers I’ve read. You can find my full thoughts here.

 

Song by Michelle Jana Chan

I was honoured to be part of the blog tour for this book. The writing was superb and I loved the characters. The book tackled a lot of heavy topics but, overall, had an inspiring message at its heart.

 

Her Name Was Rose by Claire Allan

This was a crazy twisty read that had me flying through the pages to figure out what was going on! I’ll be reviewing it in full within the next couple of days.

 

 

Books from my TBR

If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino

I read this as part of #translatedjune which was hosted by Abbie on Instagram. I’m glad she hosted this, as this book could have sat on my shelf for years otherwise. I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did; it was hilariously clever and one of the most ‘meta’ things I’ve ever read!

 

The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill

This book really seems to be dividing people and, unfortunately, I landed on the negative side of things. I really didn’t like how sensitive topics were handled. In case you managed to miss my scathing review, you can find it here.

 

Love and Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

Another fun read from one of my favourite contemporary series. It made me giggle on numerous occasions.

 

Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman

I spent a few days in June visiting family, and my young cousin (who knows I’m a huge Gaiman fan) left his copy of this book on my bed the night I arrived. Too sweet. I managed to read the whole thing in less than an hour and definitely found it to be one of the more childish of Gaiman’s works but it was fun and I loved Chris Riddell’s artwork.

 

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

This was my second read from Sarah Addison Allen but, sadly, I didn’t enjoy it as much as Garden Spells. I didn’t really feel a connection with any of the characters, it was very slow to get going, and it felt much more twee. ‘Nice’ is the strongest word I have for this one.

 

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

This was perfection. A new all-time favourite! I loved everything about it. For more details, check out my gushing spoiler-free review here.

 

Boy Underwater by Adam Baron

This was a sweet middle-grade with a very strong narrative voice. It was incredibly fast-paced and I read it in one sitting! I’ll have a review of this one coming your way soon.

 

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

I’m kicking myself for waiting so long to read this one! This is how you write feminist fairytales (side eye for The Surface Breaks haha). The writing was seriously gorgeous and I loved how Bardugo subverted all the usual fairytale clichés.

 

The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson

Another sweet middle grade, this one was an interesting and original take on Baba Yaga. I found it a little repetitive at times but enjoyable overall. Like Boy Underwater, I plan to review this one properly soon.

 

Arrowood by Laura McHugh

I love stories about creepy old houses and this Southern Gothic mystery was so atmospheric! The author created a constant sense of tension and made good use of red herrings to keep me guessing. And this was perfect to read during the heatwave we’ve been having!

 

 

Rereads

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

I reread this one in preparation for the sequel, Legendary, as I couldn’t remember very much about it. It was nice to come back to it when the hype wasn’t at its peak and I felt I was able to be more objective about it this time around. I still loved the magical world that Garber has created but I could see this time why it might not work for everyone.

 

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

This was my choice for the BookBum bookclub theme, ‘Movie Nights’. Rereading this one reminded me of what I love about classic Gaiman. You can find out for yourself here 😉

 

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Having struggled a lot this month with my mental health, I reread this one to get a little perspective. It was a more difficult read this time round due to the headspace I was in but I still think it’s a hugely valuable book and I think everyone should read it.

 

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

A pure comfort read, this is one of my favourite books of all time. I can’t even put into words how much I love it.

 

 

Stats

Total pages: 6288

Average pages per day: 209.6

Longest book: Song (464 pages)

Shortest book: The Castle of Otranto (125 pages)

Favourite read of the month: Bone Gap

Biggest disappointment of the month: The Surface Breaks

Male authors: 9 (2 books by Gaiman)

Female authors: 12

Books read towards Pop Sugar Reading Challenge: 7

 

june wrap up

Well done you if you made it all the way to the end! This was definitely not an average month for me but I’m delighted to have ticked so many books off my TBR. While I had a few disappointing reads, I also found some new favourites. I can’t wait to see what July brings! 

My favourite blog posts of June 2018!

I’ve seen a few people doing posts like this recently and I really like the idea of showing some love for fellow bloggers so I wanted to make a contribution too! I won’t be able to keep up with a weekly post like many of you amazing bloggers do but I will try to do a round-up at the end of each month, highlighting blog posts I’ve loved that month!

So here’s what I hope will be the first of many ‘favourites’ posts! 🙂

 

Reviews

Joanna @ Bookneeders gave a glowing review to The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton. This is a book I’ve been wanting to read for some months now but still haven’t got my hands on – Joanna’s review makes me want to go out and buy it tomorrow!

Cat @ Tack Fiction wrote a wonderful review of The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (you guys know how I love him). She raises some really interesting points and now has me itching to reread this one!

Rachel @ Pace Amore Libri wrote a great balanced review of The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar. Rachel’s reviews are always so eloquent but I particularly enjoyed this one focusing on a book I’ve been interested in for a while.

Jenna @ Bookmark Your Thoughts wrote a fantastically detailed review of Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young, a YA Viking-inspired tale that I would love to read!

Tina @ Reading Between the Pages gave a great, succinct review of Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier. Lately, I’ve been reading a lot more thrillers than usual and I like the sound of this one with its multiple perspectives.

Zuky @ Book Bum brought to my attention a book I had not heard of but which sounds fantastic! The Beloveds by Maureen Lindley seems like a book I would really enjoy.

Melanie @ Mel To The Any wrote a stunning review of Radio Silence by Alice Oseman. In all honesty, I could have picked any one of Melanie’s posts to feature because she writes with such obvious passion; every time she uploads a glowing review, I add another book to my wishlist! But in this case, her review was so powerful that I ordered the book right then and there.

Wendy @ What The Log Had To Say reviewed All Out, an anthology of queer YA short stories which I’m really interested in reading. I particularly liked the way Wendy was able to outline what the stories were about while not falling into the trap of making her review too lengthy.

LaRonda @ Flying Paperbacks reviewed When the Moon was Ours and made me question yet again why I still have not read an Anna-Marie McLemore book. They sound perfect for me!

 

Discussion posts

Kelly @ Just Another Book in the Wall wrote a really interesting post about why she loves anti-heroes. Some of my favourite books are about anti-heroes but I sometimes struggle to articulate why; Kelly’s post perfectly puts into words why I find these kinds of stories so fascinating.

Krysta @ Pages Unbound wrote a post about how rereading can boost your blog. As I’ve been rereading a lot of books lately, I found this post really helpful for giving me some ideas of how to incorporate these rereads into my blogging schedule!

 

Other fun posts

Becky Wright wrote a delightful post about the basis of all books being like an onion. If you want to know more, you’ll have to read her post 😉

The Orangutan Librarian wrote a list of bookish dreams and it made me crazy happy! Gotta dream big, right? 😉

Jodie @ Read the Write Act provided some great advice on how to get review copies. This is something I’m starting to think about since I’ve been blogging for a good while now (while I obviously blog because I’m passionate about it, I’d be lying if I said the free books weren’t a huge bonus.) I love being able to promote debut authors and new titles so I’m sure I will find Jodie’s post hugely helpful!

Mandy @ Book Princess Reviews completed the Bookish Academy Awards tag and caused me to add a ton of books to my wishlist!

Callum wrote a piece comparing the movie adaptation of Rosemary’s Baby to the book. Callum’s writing is always intelligent and insightful, and I thought he raised some great points here.

 

Bonus travel posts!

A couple of the book bloggers I follow also post about their travels and they give me serious wanderlust every time!

Marie @ Drizzle Hurricane Books wrote an online travel diary of her time in Berlin and I loved the feel of the whole post. Marie’s combination of words and pictures have definitely made me interested in visiting Germany!

Rachel @ What Rachel Did has been chronicling her travels in New York and this post about Greenwich Village was great. I loved reading about all the places she visited (especially as a fellow F.R.I.E.N.D.S fan!)

 

So those were my favourite blog posts of June 2018! Thank you everyone for providing such high quality content and for keeping me entertained 😉 Here’s to another great month of blogging in July!

5 reasons to read Neil Gaiman’s ‘Stardust’

I recently read Stardust for the second time and was reminded why it’s one of my favourite Neil Gaiman novels. I know many people say that the movie is better – and, while that may or may not be true, I believe the book is still worthy of a read. So I thought I’d put together a list of 5 reasons why I love this book and why you should give it a go if you haven’t already!

(This is also the book I picked for Zuky’s book club theme this month – a book made into a movie – but since it was a reread, I didn’t want to do another straight-up review.)

So here are 5 reasons to read Stardust!

 

It reads like a classic fairytale…

There’s no shortage of fairytale retellings out there these days. However, Gaiman manages to capture that fairytale feel we love but in a completely original story! It’s magical from start to finish but especially the larger portion of the tale which takes place in the realm of Faerie. You’ve got all the classic elements of a Grimm’s story – magical beings, spells and curses, royalty, romance and, of course, a quest.

 

…but with a modern twist

While the classic ingredients might be there, Gaiman’s tale also has a thoroughly modern feel to it. It takes the dark undertones from the likes of the Brothers Grimm but goes a step further with it. First-time readers may be surprised to find sex scenes and substantial gore within Stardust’s pages (which definitely keeps it from being another boring old fairytale!)

 

The characters are great

You’ve got the quintessential fairytale cast right here. Freaky old witches who need to steal hearts to regain their youth, royal lords who are so Slytherin it hurts, the classic naïve hero and diva love interest. There are many more I can’t even talk about because SPOILERS but they are all fantastic and you need to meet them. One character in particular is so salty and I loved it.

 

Gaiman keeps it real

How many fantasy books have you read where the protagonist goes on some crazy long quest and never once needs to eat? Other than the works of Tolkien, I can’t call to mind a single instance where a hero complains about being hungry or needs to stop for a snack break. So when Tristran does it, I was cheering so loudly for this tiny realistic detail. Thank you Mr Gaiman for your digestive realness.

 

It’s short and fast-paced

If you’re completely new to Gaiman, this is a perfect place to start because it’s not as intimidating as some of his larger works. If you’re behind on your Goodreads challenge, this will give you an easy boost. And who doesn’t love that sense of achievement when you get through a book quickly?!

 

neil gaiman stardust

 

So those are my 5 reasons to read Stardust! If you’ve read it, do you agree with my reasons? And if not, would this potentially persuade you to pick it up? 😉

Please let me know if this is the kind of post you’d like to see more of – I’m thinking of turning it into a regular series!

‘Song’ spoiler-free review!

Hi everyone! Today, I am honoured to be the first stop on the blog tour for Song by Michelle Jana Chan. This was such a powerful story and I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

 

What the book was about…

Opening in the mid-nineteenth-century, this dazzling debut novel traces the voyage of Song, a boy who leaves his impoverished family in rural China to seek his fortune. Song may have survived the perilous journey to the colony of British Guiana in the Caribbean, but once there he discovers riches are hard to come by, as he finds himself working as an indentured plantation worker.

Between places, between peoples, and increasingly aware that circumstances of birth carry more weight than accomplishments or good deeds, Song fears he may live as an outsider forever. This is a far-reaching and atmospheric story spanning nearly half a century and half the globe, and though it is set in the past, Song’s story of emigration and the quest for opportunity is, in many ways, a very contemporary tale.

 

What I thought of it….

I am so pleased that people pledged money to have this book published because it is a definitely a story worth telling.

In technical terms, the writing is superb. The author sets the scenes so perfectly, with sumptuous and evocative descriptions that really helped me to visualise a country I have neither seen nor read much about. There were some gorgeous foody bits (something you know I love) and I could almost feel the heat under the mosquito nets and see the shops on the dusty streets.

Song is such a great main character. His resilience is truly inspiring and I was rooting for him the whole way – though he is by means a perfect character. He has flaws and makes some bad decisions but I felt that there was an inherent goodness in him. And to come from the start he had in life, he could quite easily have taken a different direction. It was uncomfortable to read about Song as a 9-year-old boy going through all the hardships he faced but the author was very sensitive in her portrayal of these scenes.

It was not only the main character whom I loved in this novel. Father Holmes was a complete joy to read about; he is a priest in a severely deprived area and he believes everyone deserves a chance. He is so kind and lovely, teaching Song the importance of learning and not just accepting things as they are. Even minor characters felt well-developed; the author’s portrayal of women was something I really appreciated. Sassy Jingy was a particular favourite.

There are some wonderful moral questions raised in this book, which was definitely one of my favourite aspects. The author highlights racism and corruption in the Church, exploring how even priests and church-going citizens can segregate certain groups of people. (This is not me making any kind of judgement on religion, by the way – I’m merely highlighting that the author raised an important and valid issue.) I loved the way the author called out this discrimination and it had me feeling so righteous on Song’s behalf!

This book was so inspiring. At it’s heart, it’s a wonderful Steinbeck-esque tale of trying to make something of yourself and get that small piece of land to call your own. It conveys the message that we should all believe in the power of our dreams and dare to strive for something bigger. I highly recommend.

 

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Thank you to Anne Cater, Unbound Publishing and Michelle Jana Chan for providing me with a copy of this stunning debut!  

 

Make sure you check out the other stops on the tour!

Song Blog Tour Poster

Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag! 2018

I’ve seen people doing this one recently and I remembered being a bit late with it in 2017, so I’m making a point of doing it on time this year!! I always love analysing what I’ve been reading, choosing favourites and seeing other readers doing the same so make sure you leave me a comment with a link to your post if I’ve missed it!

 

BEST BOOK YOU’VE READ YET IN 2018

For how it’s stayed with me, I’d probably choose Strange the Dreamer (I know it came out last year but I was late to the party!) You can find out why I’ve picked this one by reading my gushing review. However, I’m reluctant to hand out this award because I’ve read some really gorgeous books and I’m hoping for many more before the year is finished. I want it to be excrutiatingly difficult to compile my top ten this year!!

 

BEST SEQUEL YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2018

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This is the year that I have discovered The Seven Sisters series by Lucinda Riley so I’m choosing The Storm Sister for this one because it was every bit as fantastic as the first book in the series. Usually, I adore first books and then find things tend to slide a little; however, Riley kept me just as rapt with her second book, making me laugh, cry and flail like a madwoman. If you hadn’t already guessed, I adore this series.

 

NEW RELEASE YOU HAVEN’T READ YET BUT WANT TO

…I could go on.

 

MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE FOR THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR

Nearly every one of these posts I’ve seen has picked Muse of Nightmares for this category – and with good reason! I’m dying to see how Laini Taylor will finish off this duology. I also want to give an honorary mention to another duology which will be completing in October this year but that I don’t see people talk about very often. Wicked like a Wildfire was one of my favourite books of last year and I’m hoping the sequel will be just as stunning!

 

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

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In case you missed my review of this extremely problematic book, you can find it here.

 

BIGGEST SURPRISE

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I recently read If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino and I really didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did! It was so fun.

 

FAVOURITE NEW AUTHOR

I’d probably choose either Lucinda Riley or Susanna Kearsley for this one. Both are authors I’ve read for the first time this year (though Kearsley was on my radar for a while before that). Clearly, I’ve been in the mood for historical fiction with a bit of romance!

 

NEWEST FICTIONAL CRUSH

I don’t really get crushes on book characters but, if I had to pick, I’d echo what many people have said and go with Lazlo Strange. He’s the perfect book boyfriend.

 

NEWEST FAVOURITE CHARACTER

Any one of the characters from Bone Gap. This novel was a recent read and it has one of the most well-developed casts of characters I’ve come across in literature.

 

BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY

These are the four books that have made me shed tears in 2018 so far.

 

BOOK THAT MADE YOU HAPPY

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This novella set in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone world details the first date of one of my favourite ever female characters, Zuzanna. It was such a freaking cute read with great illustrations!

 

FAVOURITE BOOK TO FILM ADAPTATION

I haven’t watched any new adaptations this year!

 

FAVOURITE POST YOU HAVE DONE THIS YEAR

I really liked my discussion post about the benefits of reading for our mental health.

 

MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK YOU’VE BOUGHT THIS YEAR

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A double award for Bone Gap! Not only does this book have a stunning cover, it is a truly beautiful story as well.

 

WHAT BOOKS DO YOU NEED TO READ BY THE END OF THE YEAR?

ALL OF THEM! In all honesty though, I would like to finish some series that I’ve had on the go for a while. I’ve also been keeping some books for Halloween/Christmas-time because I love a good seasonal read, so I’m looking forward to reading those!

 

Have you done the ‘mid-year freakout’ tag yet? If not, I tag you! 🙂