Music Monday: A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you’re all having a great start to your week.

I’ve had this song in my head ever since watching Good Omens recently so, of course, I had to play it 😉

A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square is another one of those songs that has been covered so many times that it’s difficult to know who had the original! It is a British classic.

The song was written by Manning Sherwin, with lyrics by Eric Maschwitz.

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Harry Potter 10 Years On: The Deathly Hallows

The journey is over! I have completed my first reread of the Harry Potter series in a decade. And it was every bit as magical as I hoped it would be. You know when you reread an old favourite after a really long time and it doesn’t hold up to the memory you have? Thank goodness that didn’t happen here.

If you’ve missed my reaction posts to the first six books, you can find them here:-

Harry Potter 10 Years On: The Philosopher’s Stone

Harry Potter 10 Years On: The Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter 10 Years On: The Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter 10 Years On: The Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter 10 Years On: The Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter 10 Years On: The Half-Blood Prince

And now it’s time to take a look at my reactions to rereading this final book!


Initial Thoughts…

It’s nearly over 😦

I know they add to the story but I can’t help getting a bit bored by the newspaper articles at the start – I just want to get back to the action!

Actually crying already.

I can’t cope, this book is brutal.

Hermione is bloody brilliant.

The trio sassing the minister is hilarious.

Every family has an Auntie Muriel.

I love the magical wedding! Such a nice scene.

Harry reading his mum’s letter hits me way too hard in the feels.

The argument between Harry and Remus never fails to make me uncomfortable.

The change in Kreacher is too cute.

This book is STRESSFUL.

Ron’s attitude is so upsetting.

Chapter 16, oh my heart.

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Bathilda freaks me out!

I love the Tale of the Three Brothers. It’s such a great addition to the story.

The radio show is very cool too.

The whole chapter at Malfoy Manor destroys me.

BRB, crying again.

Reading about Gringotts makes me so excited for the studio tour!!

Neville’s gran, what a badass.

Ghostly backstory, yasss.

Shit is going DOWN.

No no no no no no

“Not my daughter, you bitch!”

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Thoughts Upon Finishing…

Honestly, I’m not surprised they had to make two movies out of this book because SO much happens. I feel breathless even typing out those reactions. This book is an exhilarating ride from start to finish (apart from those newspaper articles!)

I was worried that some of the emotion would have been lost in the ten years since I last read this book. But I needn’t have feared. I cried at least 3 times rereading this. The losses were still just as painful and the emotions still so raw, even with knowing what the outcomes would be. This was one of the first ‘proper’ books I read where significant characters were killed off and, to this day, it feels like those of us who grew up with Harry, Ron and Hermione lost real friends in the Battle of Hogwarts.

Seriously, this story still blows my mind all these years later. The way Rowling ties everything together, the big reveal after all the clues she has been dropping for the last six books – it’s truly masterful. Yes, some of the magic is being steadily worn away these days as she goes back and tries to add in extra things but let’s ignore that, shall we? Taking the original seven-book series as a separate entity, I can honestly say that Harry Potter is a masterpiece and deserves to become ‘classic’ literature in the years to come. So many people have had their lives shaped by this story, myself included. I have no doubt that if I were to reread these books in another ten years, I would still find them just as magical.

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Well, I hope you’ve all enjoyed reading my posts detailing my Harry Potter reread! I’ve had such fun putting them together. And now I’m so excited to be heading over to Watford on Monday for the studio tour!! I will post about my trip when I get back and share some pictures! x

‘Horizontal Collaboration’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! I’m delighted to be on the blog tour today for Horizontal Collaboration, a graphic novel originally published in French, written by Navie and illustrated by Carole Maurel. I haven’t read a lot of graphic novels but they’ve been catching my eye lately (particularly thanks to bloggers with great recommendations, such as the lovely Sara!) So I took a chance on this one when I was offered a copy for review and I’m really glad I did.

horizontal collaboration


synopsis

“Horizontal Collaboration” is a term used to describe the sexual and romantic relationships that some French women had with members of the occupying German forces during World War II. In this poignant, female-centered graphic novel created by writer/artist duo Carole Maurel and Mademoiselle Navie, the taboo of “sleeping with the enemy” is explored through the story of a passionate, and forbidden, affair.

In June 1942, married Rose (whose husband is a prisoner of war) intervenes in the detainment of her Jewish friend and then accidentally embarks on a secret relationship with the investigating German officer, Mark. There is only one step between heroism and treason, and it’s often a dangerous one. Inside an apartment building on Paris’s 11th arrondissement, little escapes the notice of the blind husband of the concierge. Through his sightless but all-knowing eyes, we learn of Rose and Mark’s hidden relationship, and also of the intertwined stories and problems of the other tenants, largely women and children, who face such complex issues as domestic violence, incest, and prostitution.

This fascinating graphic novel tackles the still-sensitive topic of who it is acceptable to love, and how, and the story’s drama is brought vividly to life by intimate and atmospheric illustrations.


my thoughtsAs I mentioned in my introduction, I haven’t read many graphic novels but I’m going to do my best to review this one well because it deserves it. I’ll start by talking about the art itself since obviously that is a large percentage of the story.

Before I even started reading, I flicked through the pages and I was struck by the beauty of the colour scheme. The neutrals and muted tones really added to the book and allowed the story to shine. There were, however, pops of brighter citrus colours at appropriate moments, which I loved because they added emphasis to important plot points.

The illustrations were also really beautiful. I’ve photographed a couple of my favourite spreads for you to see!

Now in terms of the story, I thought this was a very unique take on a period of history that has been written about often. I have a soft spot for WWII fiction but I acknowledge that the market is somewhat saturated. However, this is the first time I have read about that era from this perspective. Navie captures the innocence of children, the hardships of war and the complexities of loveless marriages with nuance.

I will admit that I would occasionally lose my bearings while reading, as the scenes would change very quickly and without warning. I don’t think it helped that I was tired while reading though! I was able to sort things out in my mind without too much difficulty and didn’t have any problems understanding what was going on.

Finally, I enjoyed how the characters’ stories all interlinked and I was impressed with the amount of empathy the author and illustrator were able to evoke from me in such a short amount of pages. The ending was very poignant.

I definitely recommend this one to fans of WWII fiction! Thank you to the publisher and Anne Cater/Random Things Tours for providing me with a free copy!

horizontal collab


If you’re interested in this one, keep an eye open for the rest of the stops on the tour!

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Can you recommend some more graphic novels that I should try? I think I’ve got the bug now! xsignature (2)

Alex’s Alphabeticals: F

Ok, ok. You don’t need to say it. I’m ashamed of myself for how this blog series is going. I want to give a special shoutout to those of you who are doing much better than me at regularly posting 😀 You are motivating me to do better!

If anyone else wants to jump on board, here’s how to participate!

  1. Credit/link back to me so I can see your posts!
  2. List your favourite Authors, Books and Characters beginning with a certain letter of the alphabet
  3. Do as many or as few letters as you want

Simple as that! Some people also add on Series, which you are welcome to do if you wish 🙂 The point is to have fun!


Authors beginning with ‘F’

perfect crimeHelen Fields

Helen Fields is the author of my favourite thriller series; she blows me away with each instalment. I recently received book five from the publisher and I’m planning to read it soon!

hell's teeth.jpgJames Fahy

I discovered James Fahy over on Instagram and he’s always stimulating interesting conversations. He also writes seriously badass female characters in his Phoebe Harkness series.

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Dana Fraedrich

Dana is an American indie author whom I had the pleasure of interviewing right here on the blog! She is the author of the brilliant Broken Gears series, which I definitely recommend if you like steampunk. Feel free to check out my reviews of Out of the Shadows and Raven’s Cry.

daughter of the burning city.jpgAmanda Foody

So I’ve only read one book by Amanda Foody but I absolutely adored it. It was 100% my aesthetic. I’ve got Ace of Shades on my TBR shelf and since the sequel came out recently, I’m thinking of bumping it up the list!


Books beginning with ‘F’

five children and it

Five Children and It

I never read this children’s classic when I was a youngster but I loved it when I finally discovered it. Obviously, there are a couple of problematic moments that are an unavoidable by-product of the era but overall, this is a wholesome and charming story with an endearing cast of characters.

frozen charlotte.jpgFrozen Charlotte

A surprisingly creepy YA horror! I enjoyed getting immersed in this one on a stormy afternoon; definitely recommend reading it in October!

fangirlFangirl

Would you believe, it’s been so long since I read this that I don’t even have a review up on Goodreads?! I’m due a reread very soon. But I do remember really relating to Cath and loving the whole autumn college aesthetic.

the forgotten girlThe Forgotten Girl

A recent favourite! I took part in the blog tour for this one last month, pushing myself out of my comfort zone in the process. And I really really enjoyed it!


Characters beginning with ‘F’

bone gapFinn

You better believe that I will take every possible opportunity to shout about Bone Gap, because it is one of my all-time favourites. Finn is such a sweet and special character.

scorpioFinn

Speaking of Finns, this one is pretty good too. He adds so much to this already-amazing book.


So those are my favourite authors, books and characters beginning with ‘F’! Hopefully it won’t take me as long to get my ‘G’ post done!! xsignature (2)

Music Monday: Your Song (Elton John)

With the recent release of the Elton John biopic, Rocketman, I’ve had a lot of requests for his songs! So I thought I would start with one of his most well-known and well-loved songs.

The song was composed by Elton, with lyrics written by Bernie Taupin. The song was originally released in 1970 by American band, Three Dog Night, a band that Elton John used to open for. Elton then released it himself and it charted in the top ten in both America and the UK.

In 1998, the song was inducted into the Grammy hall of fame and in 2004, it was included on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. It has been covered many times.

Have a great week everyone! 🙂

‘The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone, hope you’re all having a great week 🙂 Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone by Felicity McClean. Thank you Anne Cater/Point Blank Books for providing me with an ARC!

van apfel girls are gone


synopsis

‘We lost all three girls that summer. Let them slip away like the words of some half-remembered song and when one came back, she wasn’t the one we were trying to recall to begin with.’

So begins Tikka Molloy’s recount of the summer of 1992 – the summer the Van Apfel sisters, Hannah, the beautiful Cordelia and Ruth – disappear.

Eleven and one-sixth years old, Tikka is the precocious narrator of this fabulously endearing coming-of-age story, set in an eerie Australian river valley suburb with an unexplained stench. The Van Apfel girls vanish from the valley during the school’s ‘Showstopper’ concert, held at the outdoor amphitheatre by the river. While the search for the sisters unites the small community on Sydney’s urban fringe, the mystery of their disappearance remains unsolved forever.


my thoughts

One of my favourite things about this book is the setting. I could picture it so vividly from the very first page. The stifling heat almost seems to radiate from the pages, which definitely adds to the tension. I always think of atmospheric books as being cold or gloomy but this is definitely an atmospheric book if ever I read one. Admittedly, some of the Australian words and phrases would throw me off occasionally – but it’s always good to learn some new lingo when reading, right? 😉

This is a slow-burning but sinister thriller, with some real jaw-dropping moments. Honestly, things would be going along quite nicely and something would happen out of the blue that would truly shock me. Yet at the book’s heart is an endearing coming-of-age story. In that sense, it’s quite difficult to categorise this book; at times it almost felt like YA due to the narrator recounting her childhood, but there are definitely a lot of dark adult themes throughout.

I will say that the book is very open-ended and doesn’t wrap everything up neatly in a bow. So if you are a reader who likes to have all of your questions answered, you might not be satisfied with how this one concludes. But I think the point is not to reach a conclusive answer; it is to make the journey with the protagonist as she deals with her emotions surrounding what happened.

It’s hard to say much more about this one without giving away spoilers. So I’ll just end by saying I think this would be a great summer read for anyone who enjoys slow-burning thrillers with a bit of a twist!

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If you’re interested in this book, check out the other stops on the tour! x

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‘The Girl in Red’ spoiler-free review!

 

the girl in red

Hello lovely people! Today is my stop on the social media tour for The Girl in Red by Christina Henry! I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m a huge fan of Henry’s dark fairytale retellings so when Titan Books offered me a copy of her latest book to review, I jumped at the chance.


synopsis

It’s not safe for anyone alone in the woods. There are predators that come out at night: critters and coyotes, snakes and wolves. But the woman in the red jacket has no choice. Not since the Crisis came, decimated the population, and sent those who survived fleeing into quarantine camps that serve as breeding grounds for death, destruction, and disease. She is just a woman trying not to get killed in a world that doesn’t look anything like the one she grew up in, the one that was perfectly sane and normal and boring until three months ago.

There are worse threats in the woods than the things that stalk their prey at night. Sometimes, there are men. Men with dark desires, weak wills, and evil intents. Men in uniform with classified information, deadly secrets, and unforgiving orders. And sometimes, just sometimes, there’s something worse than all of the horrible people and vicious beasts combined.

Red doesn’t like to think of herself as a killer, but she isn’t about to let herself get eaten up just because she is a woman alone in the woods…


my thoughtsSo I’ve already mentioned that I’m a huge fan of this author. Which means my expectations for this book were HIGH. And I’m delighted to say that I wasn’t disappointed.

The protagonist, Red, is FIERCE. She is one of my favourite characters that Henry has written to date. Red is a woman of colour with a brilliant mind and she is definitely someone I would want on my team in a crisis. I was really pleased that Henry didn’t just tell us how great Red was, but actually showed it through her choices and actions throughout the book. She is not the typical badass female we have come to expect in stories these days; instead, she is competent and level-headed, and she makes lots of nerdy movie references, all of which adds to her ‘realness’. She’s just a normal woman trying her best to deal with the rotten hand she has been dealt. To be honest, if I was the kind of person who had feelings towards fictional characters, I would have a bit of a girl crush on her.

Of course, it would be remiss of me not to mention the disability rep. It is fabulous. I loved that Henry portrayed something we don’t often see represented and did it in a way that totally normalised it. This is exactly what we need from our books!

Henry’s writing throughout this book was the high quality that I have come to expect from her in her previous works. I will say that there were a lot of brackets used and some disjointed sentences that weren’t always the easiest to read in terms of flow, but they made sense in that they represented Red’s conscious stream of thinking and this enabled the reader to really empathise with her.

The chapters were also rather long but I didn’t have an issue with this as it enabled me to become immersed in the story. I only mention it as I know some readers prefer shorter chapters 😉

Overall, this is another great offering from Christina Henry that takes a fairytale we are all familiar with and twists it into something even more awesome. Henry never shies away from the gory details and darker themes such as mental health and racism. I love what this author is doing and hope that she continues long into the future!

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Have you read any of Christina Henry’s dark fairytales? Which is your favourite? Are you planning to read this one? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

 

Music Monday: In the Mood (Glenn Miller)

Hey everyone! I hope you’re all feeling positive about the week ahead. I’ve got something a bit more upbeat for you this week so if you’re feeling the Monday blues, crank up the volume and have a boogie haha.

I recently watched the episode of Gilmore Girls where they have a 24-hour danceathon and all the music was this type of stuff, so I knew I needed to post this one 😉

In the Mood is a popular big-band hit, arranged by Joe Garland based on a pre-existing melody. Andy Razaf wrote the lyrics. The tune was made popular by Glenn Miller and his band, topping the American charts for 13 weeks in 1940. It is included in the list of 100 most important American musical works of the 20th century.

Have a great week everyone! x

Harry Potter 10 Years On: The Half-Blood Prince

Time to reflect on my reread of the penultimate book in the Harry Potter series! Two weeks tomorrow, I’ll be flying to London for the studio tour!

Previous posts in this series can be found here:-

Harry Potter 10 Years On: The Philosopher’s Stone

Harry Potter 10 Years On: The Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter 10 Years On: The Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter 10 Years On: The Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter 10 Years On: The Order of the Phoenix


Initial Thoughts…

I forgot how much I like this one! The opening scene is great.

I want a Pygmy Puff!

I wish Neville and Luna had a bit more faith in themselves, they break my heart.

I get so panicked when Harry is stuck in the train!

Rowling continues to astound me with her character and plot development.

The backstory! Gah.

Ron and Ginny arguing about snogging, hahaha

Oh my days, the angst is REAL.

The Christmas chapters are always sooo good.

Harry putting the minister in his place, yasss go on son.

Dumbledore is so sassy in this book.

Luna commentating on the Quidditch game gives me life.

Ron’s comedy is some of its best in this book.

The horcrux plot is honestly mind-blowing.

The room of requirement scene! The clues! The foreshadowing!

“I am not worried, Harry. I am with you.” Crying.

The end of this book is so dark and dramatic.

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Thoughts Upon Finishing…

I vividly remember queuing in W.H.Smith to get this on release day. This series was such a formative influence in my youth and I am completely loving revisiting it.

I always think I don’t like this book as much as I do but it’s actually the movie that irritates me, because it leaves out so much awesome stuff and focuses mostly on the romantic angst! I think I disagree with the director’s choice to make the relationships as big a deal as the Voldemort plot haha.

Yet again, Rowling’s character development is superb and the way she leaves little clues of what is to come has made this such a rewarding series to revisit. Even if it does have me shouting at the pages trying to warn everybody!

I’m now so excited to complete this journey with the final book! Though I’m not ready to be emotionally destroyed…

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Where does this book rank for you? What are your thoughts on the movie adaptation? Let me know in the comments! x

“I Will Not Be Erased” – Our Stories About Growing Up As People Of Colour

 

gal-dem I will not be erased review

Hey everyone! Today is release day for a collection of essays by gal-dem, published by Walker Books! I’m going to be totally honest, I had not heard of gal-dem before being invited to review this book so I had to do a little research. Basically, they are a group of women and non-binary people of colour who run an online magazine promoting writers from marginalised groups. I think this is such a great initiative and I’m really glad I got the chance to read this book.


synopsis

Fourteen joyous, funny and life-affirming essays from gal-dem, the award-winning magazine created by young women and non-binary people of colour.

gal-dem, the award-winning online and print magazine, is created by women and non-binary people of colour. In this thought-provoking and moving collection of fourteen essays, gal-dem’s writers use raw material from their teenage years – diaries, poems and chat histories – to explore growing up. gal-dem have been described by the Guardian as “the agents of change we need”, and these essays tackle important subjects including race, gender, mental health and activism, making this essential reading for any young person.


my thoughts

Now obviously, I have to start out by saying that I do not come from a marginalised background. Maybe some people will think that should have disqualified me from commenting on this book but I disagree. I think books like this are so important, not only in giving marginalised readers a place where they can be seen and heard, but also in educating readers like myself who come from a more privileged social position. I’m really glad to see the publishing industry making an effort to provide us with more literature like this and giving everyone the representation they deserve.

I will say that even though I couldn’t necessarily relate to the struggles of the writers on a fundamental level (ie. I’m not a person of colour), there were still themes that resonated with me very deeply. I think this book is a great gateway to opening up some important conversations and I genuinely hope it finds its way into schools because this should be required reading for all young people. 

In terms of the book itself, it was extremely readable. Each essay is only a few pages long and punctuated with cute illustrations, meaning it is easy to dip in and out of when you have a few spare minutes. I was really intrigued by the authors’ use of real raw material such as poems and diary entries from their teenage years. I thought this really added to the emotion throughout the book.

And wow, was there a lot of emotion. My heart broke for these young girls. Knowing that bullying and racism like this occurs is one thing but to have it written down on the page in front of you is difficult and eye-opening. I can only hope that things have improved from when these women were going through their teenage years, and that we will all continue to learn and improve. Books like this are surely a great step forward in educating people.

Overall, this is an important and necessary collection that I think everyone should read. Thank you to Walker Books for providing me with a free copy!

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What are some books you think are important? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)