wrap up

January wrap-up

Does anyone else feel like January has flown by? I feel like Lockdown 3.0 and working from home mean that the days have all merged into one for me. I’m not sure I could really tell you what happened in January (I’m not sure anything really did) but at least it was mercifully quick. Still, I had a pretty good reading and blogging month – so that’s something I guess!

Books I’ve finished this month:

So I finished 7 books this month, which is great and puts me ahead of my Goodreads goal by about 3 books; I love getting ahead early because I know I will probably slip at some point this year and go into a reading slump.

  • The Mask Falling by Samantha Shannon*: The fourth book in the Bone Season series, which was released this month – and my favourite book of the series! 5 stars.
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi: I know I’m a bit late to the party here – but this was my favourite book of the month, and I feel like it could be in contention for my favourite book of the year. It’s taken me a while to write my review, but it should hopefully be posting this week! 5 stars.
  • White Ivy by Susie Yang*: This was a really engaging debut, beautifully written and thought-provoking. 4.5 stars.
  • Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller*: This book really wasn’t for me. I found it quite bleak and boring. 2 stars.
  • The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave: A very atmospheric read, set in the 1600s on a small island in Norway. The novel has a feminist spin, focusing on female independence. 4 stars.
  • The Magpie Society by Zoe Sugg & Amy McCulloch: This was my only YA read of the month and I found it quite disappointing, though I do realise I am not the target audience. 2 stars; review to come soon.
  • Open Water by Caleb Nelson Azumah*: I finished this book last night and I’m still thinking about/trying to wrap my head around it. An affecting, poetic and astonishing debut. 5 stars; review to come.

Books I’ve started (but not finished):

  • Confessions of a Curious Bookseller by Elizabeth Green*: This was an eARC from NetGalley that I was really interested in, thinking it sounded a bit like the Boy series by Meg Cabot (where the story is told through emails, texts, tweets, etc). However, I had to stop reading this book because it wasn’t very funny and I was 25% in and the main character was just sending long emails to her plumber. Not for me.
  • Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall: I’ve posted about this a few times this month – I’m still reading this and learning a lot from it.
  • Insatiable by Daisy Buchanan*: I started this book last night, and I’m enjoying it but I feel like it’s too soon to tell whether I will find it great or just entertaining.

(Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for a copy of these books in return for honest reviews.)

Post round-up

Here’s a round-up of my January posts, in case you have missed any and would like to catch up!

How has your month been? What was your favourite book of the month?

Let me know in the comments and feel free to leave a link to your own January wrap-up so I can check it out!

For more of my reviews, connect with me on Goodreads.

For more pictures of pretty books, follow me on Instagram.

discussion

10 books on my 2021 tbr

Hi all! Today I thought I’d talk about the books I’m most looking forward to reading this year. These aren’t necessarily 2021 releases (I might do a separate post for those) – though some are – but rather books I have on my bookshelf or my tbr list that I really want to read. (All links in this post are to Goodreads unless specified.)

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The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare

I’ve hear really amazing things about this one, and saw lots of people put this as one of their favourite books of 2020. I managed to get this one on Kindle for 99p – what a bargain! It’s about a Nigerian teenage girl who wants an education, and who won’t allow herself to be silenced.

Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall

I’m always looking for ways to broaden my knowledge and read outside of my own lived experiences, and I think this is one of the best ways to ensure that my feminism is as intersectional as possible. (I’m currently reading this one now!)

Dominicana by Angie Cruz

The fact that this is still on my to-read list is such an indictment of my reading last year! I usually read all of the Women’s Prize short list when it comes out, but this happened when I was in my [lockdown-1-long!] reading slump, and so I still haven’t got to this one!

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A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

I mean, basically just see above. This is a book inspired by Greek mythology, focusing on the women’s points of view. I love feminist retellings/books that go back to male-dominated points in history to focus on the women instead.

Lore by Alexandra Bracken

I really like Alexandra Bracken’s writing, and have read her previous series and enjoyed them a lot. I’m also very into Greek myths and retellings, so this one sounds right up my street!

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The Haunting of Alma Fielding by Kate Summerscale

I read another nonfiction book by Kate Summerscale – The Suspicions of Mr Whicher – over the Christmas break and absolutely loved it. You can read my review here. I’m very excited to read another book by her! This one is about a man who investigated paranormal activity in 1938.

Ghosts by Dolly Alderton

As a lover of Everything I Know About Love, it’s a wonder that I haven’t gotten to this book yet – Dolly Alderton’s debut fiction novel. I’ve seen a lot of good stuff, and I can’t wait to get round to it!

Luster by Raven Leilani

This book has recently been released in the UK, and I’ve seen nothing but rave reviews about it! I absolutely need to get my hands on it immediately. It’s supposed to be a darkly comic novel about a young Black artist – it sounds very millenial, ala Normal People, Exciting Times, etc.

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The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai 

The Mountains Sing is a multi-generational tale, set against the backdrop of the Vietnam war. Since Homegoing, I’ve been really wanting to read more generational stories, and I’ve seen rave reviews of this one! It sounds beautiful.

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

I’ve only seen this one recently, but it’s intrigued me as it’s a crime thriller where the main character is investigating a disappearance for her true crime podcast. Crime media is starting to get a bit meta!

What books are on your 2021 tbr? Have you read any of these books – what did you think?

For more reviews, connect with me on Goodreads.

For pictures of pretty books, follow me on Instagram.

book review

Review: The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

The Mercies: Amazon.co.uk: Millwood Hargrave, Kiran: 9781529005103: Books

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Mercies is set in the 1600s, on an island called Vardo in the far north of Norway. The novel opens with a freak storm, which drowns the majority of the island’s men, who had just set out to fish. With their men gone, the women of Vardo must learn to fend for themselves. There are two main characters in this novel: Maren, a 20 year old woman who loses her husband and brother to the storm, and Ursa, who comes to the island as the new wife of a commissioner. The commissioner is appointed to Vardo to keep an eye on the women, as news has spread around of them fishing and doing ‘manly activities’, which is considered ungodly.

The writing in this novel is beautiful. I found it lyrical, and it brought an eerie feeling to the novel at times. The author was particularly good at creating the island – as something so outside of my realm of experience, I could picture Vardo and the life there vividly. The author clearly put in the research to create such a detailed and lifelike depiction of this time period and place.

What I struggled with in this novel was the pacing. Nothing much happens for the first half of the book or so – it’s just life, the women surviving – which I didn’t mind at all (though I could see how it might not be others’ cup of tea)! But I think this was a case of the blurb of the novel really spoiling and placing too much expectation on the book. The blurb introduces Absalom (Ursa’s husband; the commissioner) and mentions that he was a witch-hunter in Scotland. The blurb also says that the novel was inspired by the real events of the storm and the 1621 witch trials. So I knew to expect witch trials, but this doesn’t really come into play in the book until 3/4 of the way through, at least. From there, the ending came quickly and felt really rushed. I think this could have been improved by two things – firstly, don’t mention something that happens 3/4 of the way through in the blurb!! This frustrates me (though this is obviously not the author’s fault, but the publisher’s). And secondly, I felt like we could’ve spent a lot more time with the witch trail aspect to the novel. The book wraps up quite quickly after this is introduced, and I think it doesn’t build the tension in the way that it should. It was captivating and moving to read, but I wasn’t on the edge of my seat in the way I should’ve been. The idea of suspicion and the women turning against each other was a well-planted seed, but it just didn’t pay off in the best way.

This brings me to my next issue with the novel: I found the ending to the novel wasn’t really deserved. By this I don’t mean whether a character did not morally/karmically deserve what happened to them, but that the ending felt like it was tacked on the end of a different book? The best endings to me are when you read them and you think ‘I wasn’t expecting that to happen, but now I look back I can see these seeds’. I didn’t think that at all with this one; I thought ‘I wasn’t expecting that to happen, and looking back, I still think it comes out of the blue’. I just think the emotional pay-off wasn’t there, to be honest.

Despite the issues with the pacing and ending, I did really enjoy the process of reading this book. It was captivating, I loved the writing and the setting, and I was really intrigued by both the characters of Maren and Ursa. I thought they were well-developed. Maren is grieving the loss of her brother and father, as well as the loss of her betrothed and the life that they would’ve had together. Ursa struggles with her new husband – a marriage arranged by her father, which takes her away from her beloved sister and the only life she’s ever known (well-off in the city of Bergen) to a hostile and unfamiliar environment. Maren and Ursa develop a deep and dangerous bond between them – I loved the development of their relationship, I thought it was really well done.

I loved the feminist aspect of this novel; there is a feeling of pure joy when the women first fish together and learn they can fend for themselves. It’s lovely to see women empower themselves. And it’s important to remember that feminism is about things as simple as being able to live and provide for yourself, in whatever way you want – and it’s sad and terrifying to see scared and cowardly men tear these women down because they do things they don’t understand. This book really hammers home the high cost of independence for women.

For more of my reviews, connect with me on Goodreads.

For pictures of pretty books, follow me on Instagram.

book meme

WWW Wednesday | 27 Jan

Hi everyone! I’m back with another WWW Wednesday, hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

The three Ws to be answered are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

(All links below are to Goodreads.)

What are you currently reading?

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I literally just finished a book last night, so I haven’t picked up a new book yet. However, I do know that my next read will be Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson. I’ve seen amazing things about this one, and it comes out on 4th Feb, so I want to read it and hopefully post a review before then. According to the blurb, it is a ‘A stunning, shattering debut novel about two Black British artists falling in and out of love’. I can’t wait to be shattered by it, haha! (Seriously though, books that shatter you are the best – see A Little Life!)

I’m also still reading Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall. I’m enjoying taking my time with this and absorbing everything. As I’m reading, I find myself writing down quotes/taking pictures of passages that I feel resonate with me. I’m getting so much from this book, and I also feel like it’s informing conversations I have with other people – which is a really good thing.

Here’s a quote I wrote down the other day:

The reality is that white, mainstream feminism has to confront the idea that the power to do harm rests in women too.

Mikki Kendall, Hood Feminism

What did you recently finish reading?

I’ve finished two books in the last week, which I’m very happy about.

The first is The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. This is a novel set on a Norwegian island in the 1600s. When a great storm kills all of the men of the island, the women are left to fend for themselves. As word of what the women are doing spreads, a new commissioner is sent to the island to watch over them, with fears that what they are doing is ungodly. I enjoyed the writing and themes in this book a lot, but I did think the pacing was a bit off and the ending felt very rushed to me – my review will be posting soon on this!

The other books I’ve finished is The Magpie Society by Amy McCulloch and Zoe Sugg. I was really interested in the premise of this book – a death at a boarding school, a mysterious podcast that claims the death was murder, two students who team up to solve it – but it really fell flat to me. Now, I know that I’m no longer the target audience of YA novels, but I really felt like this novel was too surface-level for me? The characters weren’t very well developed, the writing was average, the twists were signposted from a mile away and the entire book felt like set up for the next ones. The way the novel ended particularly annoying – we don’t get any answers at all, it just ends in a cliff hanger for the next book in the series. I think that writing books in a series is a balance, as you have to both have a full plot that ties up at the end of the book, while leaving it open for the next – and this didn’t tie anything up. It was just like the book ended too early. Unfortunately, I won’t be picking up the next book in this series.

What do you think you’ll read next?

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Probably Insatiable by Daisy Buchanan – I’m really excited for this one and I’ve heard great things. I’ve got a review copy from NetGalley and am hoping to read and post my review before the pub date (11 Feb). According to the blurb on Goodreads, ‘Insatiable is about women and desire – lust, longing and the desire to be loved’. I’m very on board! (As a side note, I also think the cover is really good and it actually reminds me of The Supper Club – another book I have on my tbr, which I’m very interested in reading.)

What are you currently reading? How are you finding it? And what are you planning to read next?

book review

Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Publisher: Fig Tree, Penguin

Pub date: 28 Jan 2021

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

What if the life you have always known is taken from you in an instant? What would you do to get it back?

Twins Jeanie and Julius have always been different from other people. At 51 years old, they still live with their mother, Dot, in rural isolation and poverty. Their rented cottage is simultaneously their armour against the world and their sanctuary. Inside its walls they make music, in its garden they grow (and sometimes kill) everything they need for sustenance.

But when Dot dies suddenly, threats to their livelihood start raining down. At risk of losing everything, Jeanie and her brother must fight to survive in an increasingly dangerous world as their mother’s secrets unfold, putting everything they thought they knew about their lives at stake.

Blurb

I found this novel incredibly difficult to read, and considered giving up on it multiple times. To be honest, the only reason I kept reading it was because I don’t like not knowing how things turn out in books with mysteries – but even the ‘reveals’ were disappointing and anticlimactic, and they weren’t worth hanging around for.

There was nothing much wrong with Claire Fuller’s writing, but I found the book really difficult to sink into. It felt cold and distant, and I struggled to connect to any of the characters. On top of this, I was never really hooked by anything that was happening – mostly because, for the majority of the novel, nothing really was happening. The ‘twists’ were easy to work out, but they weren’t even really that interesting.

This book lacks charm and it feels so incredibly bleak. Maybe this is my fault, and I just wasn’t in the right headspace at the time, but there was no contrast to the bleakness. There was never really a moment of fun or light-heartedness to balance out the intense feeling of bleakness throughout the novel.

The reason I haven’t given this one star is that I thought Claire Fuller’s writing was the best thing about the novel – her writing could be beautiful at times, but the story didn’t capture me. This one is not for me, but I feel like someone else out there might appreciate it, especially if you are already a fan of her novels.

For more of my reviews, connect with me on Goodreads.

For pictures of pretty books, follow me on Instagram.

book meme

WWW Wednesday | 20 Jan

Hi everyone! I’m back with another WWW Wednesday, hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

The three Ws to be answered are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall and The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. Funny that the latter one wasn’t on last week’s list of what I was going to read next! I just really felt like picking it up.

I’m really enjoying Hood Feminism, which is written in the form of short essays about different areas that Mikki Kendall argues should be part of mainstream feminism. She looks at these areas (lack of education, medical care, living wage, safe neighbourhoods) through the lens of intersectional feminism, focusing specifically on Black womxn. I’ve found all of her essays incredibly insightful, a blend of fact and personal stories – and I will definitely come away from this book with a lot to think about.

I don’t usually read two books at a time, but I find that I best digest these essays reading one or two at a time, and then giving myself the breathing space to really think about them. I’m over halfway through, and I could’ve read more by now, but I really want to absorb what they’re saying instead of rushing through them! I picked up The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave to fill the gaps in between reading Hood Feminism – and I’m really enjoying this too. This novel is set in the 1600s, on a Norweigan coastal village after a great storm killed most of the men in the village. The women have to adapt to survive, breaking social norms at the time. When Absalom Cornet (a witchhunter from Scotland) arrives, he sees a place untouched by God and flooded with evil. The writing in this book is beautiful, and I’m excited to see where it goes.

What did you recently finish reading?

I haven’t actually finished reading anything since last week. I feel like I haven’t had much of a chance to read during weekdays at the moment – work is very busy and by the end of the day I don’t necessarily feel like concentrating on reading. So I made progress with my two books at the weekend, but didn’t finish anything!

What do you think you’ll read next?

I know I didn’t follow any of the things I mentioned in this section last week, but I do think I will read Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson next. This is a debut novel about two Black British artists who fall in and out of love. This is what the Goodreads blurb says:

At once at achingly beautiful love story and potent insight into race and masculinity, Open Water asks what it means to be a person in a world that sees you only as a Black body, to be vulnerable when you are only respected for strength, to find safety in love, only to lose it.

How amazing does that sound?? I have the eARC for the novel (thanks to NetGalley and the publishers), and want to read it before it publishes on 4 February.

So that’s it from me this week! I hope your reading week has been slightly better than mine! What are you currently reading and how are you finding it?

book review

White Ivy by Susie Yang

White Ivy: Amazon.co.uk: 9781982100599: Books

Publisher: Headline

Pub date: 7 Jan 2021

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Ivy Lin, a Chinese immigrant growing up in a low-income apartment complex outside Boston, is desperate to assimilate with her American peers. Her parents disapprove, berating her for her mediocre grades and what they see as her lazy, entitled attitude. But Ivy has a secret weapon, her grandmother Meifeng, from whom she learns to shoplift to get the things she needs to fit in.

Ivy develops a taste for winning and for wealth. As an adult, she reconnects with the blond-haired golden boy of a prominent political family, and thinks it’s fate. But just as Ivy is about to have everything she’s ever wanted, a ghost from her past resurfaces, threatening the almost-perfect life she’s worked so hard to build.

Filled with surprising twists, and offering sharp insights into the immigrant experience, White Ivy is both a love triangle and a coming-of-age story – as well as a dark glimpse at what can happen when we yearn for success at any cost.

Blurb

White Ivy is a coming-of-age story about Ivy Ling, a girl who moved to America from China when she was four. The main thing to know about Ivy is that she wants – the whole book and her character is defined by wanting for things: to assimilate, to fit in, to be rich, to have power, to have ‘peace’, as she calls it.

I found this novel incredibly compelling. The character of Ivy is unlikeable in many ways, but I think she is realistic and I think a lot of people will see a bit of themselves in her. Maybe not to the extreme of Ivy, who is manipulative and opportunistic at almost every opportunity – but I think the way that she wants things to such a strong degree is very relatable. As a child, Ivy wants to fit in with all of the rich white children at school – she feels ashamed of her more humble upbringing and at the ways that her family is different from other peoples’. Susie Yang creates a brilliant and tense atmosphere, and you truly feel the otherness that Ivy feels in her life. It makes all of the feelings of shame and humiliation tauter, and the negatives in her character more understandable, more forgivable.

My favourite part of the novel was Ivy’s relationship with her mother and grandmother. They are complicated, and she often clashes with Nan (her mum) and Meifeng (her grandmother), but I loved learning more about them and the choices that they made in their lives. As Ivy learns more about them too, you see that they are more alike than she’s ever thought. As Ivy’s relationship with Gideon is mostly born out of a want for more in life, her connections with her family are really the backbone of the novel.

I’ve seen this book described as a thriller, and I can see why (it definitely takes some twists and turns) but it is more slow burn than you would expect. It is more character-driven and a coming-of-age story, with thriller elements interspersed. I would say I found the final twist predictable, but after I had guessed what was going to happen, I was very invested and spent a lot of the time with my head metaphorically in my hands, thinking: no, Ivy, no!

Roux was a much more interesting character than Gideon for me (and I think he’s meant to be!), and I really liked their dynamic – he was the only one that really saw Ivy for who she was, and he liked her anyway. Ivy says that what she really wants in life is peace – the peace knowing she’s reached the top, the peace knowing that you have ‘something no one could take away from you’. This is linked of course to the fact that she was a Chinese immigrant from a lower income family, that she went to school surrounding my white and wealthy people – Ivy has never felt secure, has never felt admired, has never felt like she is top of the pile. So she dedicates her life to reaching the top and achieving peace – and really, how can you blame her for wanting that?

Roux, from a similar background as Ivy, says the most important thing is leverage. She dismisses this is ‘unused power’, as not important – but she finds by the end of the novel that Roux is right, and leverage is how she will achieve peace.

This is a compelling and tense novel, full of sharp storytelling, and I really enjoyed it! I thought the ending was perfect, and exactly what Ivy deserved – I was wondering how the story could possibly be wrapped up, but the author did a very good job of it. This was a brilliant debut, and I will absolutely want to see what Susie Yang does next.

For more of my reviews, connect with me on Goodreads.

For pictures of pretty books, follow me on Instagram.

book review

Review: The Mask Falling by Samantha Shannon (spoiler free!)

Pub date: 26 January 2020

The Mask Falling (The Bone Season, #4) by Samantha Shannon

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for a copy of this book in return for an honest review!

I’ve seen Samantha Shannon refer to The Mask Falling – the fourth book in her seven-book series – as ‘the heart of the series’. And oh wow, was she correct. In my review of book three, The Song Rising, you may recall me saying that I thought she’d got the pace right, but was hoping that she’d invest more time into relationship and character development. And that’s exactly what she did!

The Mask Falling is just as action-packed and fast-paced as The Song Rising, but it’s also more reflective. While the stakes have never been higher, there is still the time and space in this novel for us to truly explore Paige’s mental health, her character development and her relationship with Warden. My little shipper heart lapped up every second of this novel, loving the blend of action and character.

I think this is the book where everything started to pull together and the threads from the other novels all built into one overarching plot, rather than the slightly more broken-up feeling from the previous three books. This novel is set in Paris, and I really enjoyed seeing the syndicate in a different country, and the way that Samantha Shannon describes Paris was beautiful. She certainly has a knack for creating a world and setting the scene. She really upped the stakes in this novel, expanding Paige’s remit not just from the underworld of London to, well, the whole world, really.

I will warn you: once again, this book ends on an INSANE cliff hanger. The end of the novel was enough to give me heart palpitations, and I immediately want the next book in the series. This is definitely the first book in the series that has made me immediately want to pick up the next.

I really recommend this series for dystopian/fantasy lovers, and if you read the rest of the series a while back and are wondering whether to get stuck into it again, I can only say: do it.

For more of my reviews, connect with me on Goodreads.

For pictures of pretty books, follow me on Instagram.

book meme

WWW Wednesday | 13 Jan

Hi everyone! I’m back with another WWW Wednesday, hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

The three Ws to be answered are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

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I have literally just picked up Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall, which I’m very excited to get into. Hood Feminism looks at the women that women that the feminist movement forgot, making the point that while privileged (white) women often focus their feminism on gaining more privilege, they forget and leave behind the women that are struggling to survive – through lack of education, medical care, living wages, safe neighbourhoods etc. The book takes the form short essays covering all of these topics (and ones I haven’t mentioned), and I’m really excited to get into it properly!

What did you recently finish reading?

The last week has been a great reading week for me, so I’ve got quite a few to mention (lockdown 3 has definitely helped here!). I haven’t written reviews for these yet, but they are all coming!

  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi – This was a five star read for me – I found it absolutely phenomenal, so vivid and vibrant and full of humanity. I found myself slowing my reading down to truly savour the experience, as I was enjoying it so much. There’s so much to unpack and discuss about this book that I’m looking forward to sitting down and properly writing my review on it!
  • White Ivy by Susie Yang – Another very accomplished debut! I’m still a bit undecided about my rating for it, but it will probably fall somewhere in the 4 to 5 star range. I’m still thinking about this book days after I finished it, and it’s another I’m looking forward to writing the review on.
  • Unsettled Ground by Clare Fuller (eARC, NetGalley) – I was on such a run of good books for the year, and unfortunately this book really let me down. I found it overly bleak and quite…boring? I never really felt invested in it and I left the book feeling a bit like I wasted my time, which is not what you want to feel after finishing a book!
  • Confessions of a Curious Bookseller by Elizabeth Green (eARC, NetGalley) – this was actually a dnf for me. I feel bad about putting books down unfinished, especially when I’ve been sent them for review, but I just couldn’t continue with this one. Written in the form of epistolary, combining emails, letters and diary entries, I was expecting to really like this one, having been such a big fan of Meg Cabot’s Boy series (heartily recommend if you love rom coms), which follows this structure. But this book was not fun, the character was rude and unlikeable, and 25% of the way in, there was no plot – just the main character emailing back and forth with plumbers and catering companies.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Ooh, this is a tough one! I’ve recently gone on a bit of a book-buying frenzy, with some Christmas money and also just because there’s nothing else really to do during lockdown – so I have a lot of good ones to choose from! I think I’ve narrowed by choice for the next read down to a couple though!

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I have the eARC of Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson to read by 4th February, which I’m very excited about as I’ve seen amazing reviews. I also want to read The Magpie Society by Zoe Sugg and Amy McCulloch, as I bought this Nov/Dec time and had planned to read it by the end of the year. Another book high up on my to-read list is The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré, which I bought on Kindle (for 99p, bargain!) after hearing rave reviews and seeing people mark it as their fave book of 2020.

What are you currently reading? How are you finding it?

book review

Review: The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon

Rating: 4 out of 5.
The Song Rising eBook by Samantha Shannon - 9781408877869 | Rakuten Kobo  United Kingdom

The Song Rising is the third book in The Bone Season series. In this book, we pick up with Paige exactly where we last left off, after a shocker of a cliff-hanger. And from there, the pace really doesn’t abate in this book. This is the first book in the series so far that I haven’t had a problem with the pacing – the last book especially struggled with it – but this one was fast-moving and action packed right to the very end. As always, the last 100 pages or so were unputdownable, and I finished them off in one go. Samantha Shannon definitely knows how to raise the stakes with every book that passes.

I did feel like the plot was almost too pacey at times (this definitely makes me seem contradictory, as I’d complained about the slow pace in the beginning of The Mime Order) – I felt like for a long time it was a lot of Paige goes here and then here and then here, without much pause for character development. I do feel like the romantic relationship in this book really suffers because of this – it’s a very contrived-feeling keeping apart of the two characters, in order to create some tension. I’m hoping that, given the way this book ended, the next book will see the two of them together more – to really give them a chance to connect and grow and develop.

As I said, the last 100 pages of the book were so fast-paced, and I really liked where she took us. This book was different to the previous two, as it doesn’t end on a cliff hanger than will be picked up immediately at the beginning of the next book (Shannon’s format is cliff hanger, first chapter addresses it, then time jump before second chapter), and I did enjoy that. The majority of the plot in this book was tied up within it, giving us a new start for book 4. Though I like where it’s left us, it does add to the slightly formulaic feel of this book – as though the events had to happen to tie a few loose ends off, as though we were moving pawns on a chessboard.

I am, though, interested in and excited by where the book left us, and really looking forward to reading The Mask Falling, which is being published at the end of January. Despite my issues with some of it, I actually thought this was probably the best book so far – I feel truly settled into the world now and enjoyed the tighter pace. If Shannon can add to this with some deeper character and relationship development, I will be very happy.