Fire round coming up … I’m going to give short statements as to why I DNF’d these books. I can say with absolute clarity and honestly that I will be going back to these books. They are not leaving my shelves. They have just been started, stopped and then removed from my bedside table (immediate book grabbing pile).
The first volume of Heartstopper grabs you with two gentle hands and gives you a warm hug! Charlie is a quiet and introverted, openly gay teenager at an all boys high school. He knows who he is and his friends and family are true and supportive. He sees the best in people and trusts them to be as kind as himself, however his current ‘boyfriend’ Ben, is not that. Ben chooses to sneak around with Charlie and manipulate Charlie into not speaking openly about their relationship. This is because Ben isn’t ready to explore his sexuality openly. Charlie is struggling with the back and forward of Ben’s feelings and desires – when he meets Nick Nelson.
Nick is the high school rugby lad who is loved by everyone and is 100% straight … until he gets to know Charlie. The strong feelings of friendship grow into more than ‘just best friend’ level, and seemingly overtake Nick’s thoughts. Nick has never questioned his sexuality before, therefore this first book really has a focus on Nick exploring what romantically liking Charlie could be like in his world.
Volume 1is introductory to Nick and Charlie, their friend groups, their schooling environments and the blooming first love. 💫 Butterfly feelings 💫 Exploration of self 💫 First kiss moment
Volume 2explores the newness of Nick and Charlies feelings and relationship. 💫 Joining new friendship groups 💫 Bullying 💫 More butterfly feelings 💫 Cute cinema scene 💫 “Boyfriends” 💫 Coming out
Volume 3looks at Nick and Charlie opening their relationship into the school environment and on their school excursion to Paris. 💫 Nick telling his extended family about Charlie 💫 Mental health and anorexia 💫 Second base romance 💫 More, more butterfly feelings 💫 Coming out to school friends 💫 Nick can speak fluent French?! (I’m excited to see this on the Netflix series) 💫 Tao and Elle accept their feelings for one another
Volume 4 gets deep people! So trigger warning for the content surrounding self-harm, mental health and anorexia. I really think Alice has brought light to these subjects to show the boys maturing and how their emotional intelligence grows as they move into a different stage of their life. Honestly, I didn’t see the series moving this way so I’m interested to see where she takes it in Volume 5. 💫 “I love you” 💫 Mental health unit admission 💫 Nick’s challenging relationship with his older brother comes to breaking point 💫 PDA at school 💫 More, More & more butterfly feelings 💫 Nick and Charlie’s first party attending as a couple 💫 Awkward family dinner 💫 A New Year’s kiss
Have you read the graphic novels of Heartstopper yet? Or tried the Netflix series? Let’s chat in the comments 💬
Crime Fiction. A murderous scream. One dead woman. Everyone in the reading room is a suspect.
Excitingly, Sulari is a close friend of ours at the bookstore, so we celebrated the book launch of ‘The Woman in the Library’ in style! She is adored by our local book community, our staff and our readers. For the month of June, ‘The Woman in the Library’ is the centre of our events, our discussions and our bookclubs. I am privileged enough to be organising an enlarged book club meeting with Sulari and three of our Collins Book Clubs. This will take place in a calm and relaxed setting, with myself and Sulari facilitating the conversations.
The Woman in The Library is about Hannah and Hannah is writing a crime fiction novel. The main character in Hannah’s crime fiction novel is Winifred, or Winnie. Winnie is also writing a novel, therefore the physical book in your hands has another book and ANOTHER BOOK inside of it. Trust me, it is harder to explain than it is to actually read this fantastic book 🤣 In Hannah’s world, there is a scream in the Boston Library Reading Room and of the people surrounding her in this Reading Room, one of them is the killer – but who is it …
I, for one, could not put this down! I will have a full review coming in the next few weeks as I re-read ‘The Woman in The Library’ ready for our book club event.
Maya is such a kind, caring and honest soul and this comes through in her novels. She writes country romance with all the drama, love and addictiveness that we all need in our lives!
This series of Maya’s follows a family of sisters, with each individual novel showing each different sisters’ stories and perspectives. Paperbark Hill surrounds Diana and her four sons after a tough eighteen months. Diana is trying to get her family back into the routines of normal life when locum pharmacist, Ned Gardiner comes to town and creates a whole lot of change. Change in feelings, change in life plans, change in family structures. I am excited to feel all the feels and fall right into Maya’s comforting writing.
AHHHHHHHH!!!!! This is a finale I have been waiting all YEAR FOR!!
You guys know from my reviews, suggestions and recommendations – how much I adore Lynette Noni’s ‘Prison Healer’ series. I first discussed them in my ‘5 Reasons to read YA Fantasy’. I have raved about them in the shop and also listed the second novel in the series, ‘The Gilded Cage’ as one of my top books of 2021! Big call folks, big call ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This story will be the end of Kiva’s story and reading her as our main character. Kiva has been a prisoner in Zalindov for more than half her life. She practices as the inmate prison healer and learnt all her skills from her Father. Life is dull, dangerous and blood thirsty in Zalindov, until the Rebel Queen enters the prison unconscious and Kiva is tasked with healing her. An additional secret message finds Kiva; “Don’t let her die”. Being the Rebel Queen, many want her dead, so when she is sentenced to the Trial by Ordeal – a series of elemental trails and tasks that with the Queen being so sickly, she will surely die within the first minute of entering. Kiva bravely and cohesively takes her place – this is where her action packed story begins! This series is so fast-paced, full of heart dropping chapter endings and beautifully woven connections. The Blood Traitor is the third and final instalment. I am sure it will not disappoint!
Now this book, I have to admit honestly – captured my eye with its bright cover 😍 How spectacular is it! Additionally, there were a number of limited independent bookstore copies brought out especially with the BookBar in London, UK. I LOVEEE following this bookstore online!! Luckily, this bookstore is set to host Akwaeke for a signing and special book event which will include a number of funky giveaways.
The brightness and eclectiveness of this cover represents a romance novel at its core. Described as a decadent and delightful new age novel, our main character Feyi is about to be given the opportunity of a lifetime. Feyi has the chance to escape the City’s blistering heat for a dream island holiday: poolside cocktails, beach sunsets, and elaborate meals. As Feyi opens her heart to new experiences, new friendships and new romance, there is only one problem – she’s falling for the one man she absolutely cannot have. dun dun daaaaa… not to be dramatic but doesn’t this sound like a nice, fun read! When I’m needing my next “get me out of a book slump read” this will be it!
Will you be adding any of these books to your TBR? Are there any other new releases you’re excited about this month? Share them with me in the comments 💬
It’s here folks! Here you have it in all its glory – ‘My Year in Books (2021 edition)’ 🥳
2021 was such a fun reading year for me and honestly, probably the best ever in my reading life! This past year I read a total of 50 books and 17, 591 pages! If you’d like to see my individual ratings for each book, you can jump onto my GoodReads (click here) ⭐️
🔦 The TORCH emoji will indicate if these books were part of my Crime Fiction Fanatic Book Club
🎨 The ART PALETE emoji will indicate if these books were part of my Literature Lovers Book Club
🎙 The MICROPHONE emoji will indicate if these books have a review on my blog – have a read!
‘The Friend’ by Sigrid Nunez
‘Bridie’s Choice’ by Karly Lane (re-read)
‘The Dry’ by Jane Harper
‘Before the coffee gets cold’ by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
‘The Year of the Witching’ by Alexis Henderson
‘The 100 Years of Lenni and Margot’ by Marianne Cronin
‘Can’t Say it Went to Plan’ by Gabrielle Tozer
‘Our House’ by Louise Candlish
‘Roadtrip’ by Beth O’Leary
‘Consent’ by Vanessa Springora
‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ by Steig Larsson 🔦
New release time in the book shop is always a highlight for me. The mountain of books continue to grow and grow. The environment swells and readers eyes light up when seeing their anticipated books hit shelves – I’m one lucky girl to see those anticipated books as soon as they jump out of a box. Here are my 5 highly anticipated September new releases:
“In a kingdom where sickness stalks the streets and only the richest can afford a cure, King Harristan and his brother Prince Corrick are forced to rule with an iron fist. Tessa Cade is a masked outlaw marked for death, but she likes it that way. Together with the mysterious, handsome Weston, she robs from the rich to help the poor, distributing food and medicine to those who need it most. As it becomes clear that the only way to save her people is to assassinate the King, Tessa must face a deadly mission that will take her to the dark heart of the kingdom … and force her to work with the very people she intended to destroy.”
I was incredibly lucky to get my hands on a pre-release edition of this novel. I was thrilled to learn that Brigid Kemmerer had a new series on the way as I adored her trilogy ‘A Curse so Dark and Lonely’. I have made a start on this one and I’m surprised to see that it has some Covidy elements to it. It seems like a lot of YA fantasy and contemporary will be pulling on our recent climate for inspiration in world building and environment.
“Whenever I say I was at university with Eve, people ask me what she was like, sceptical perhaps that she could have always been as whole and self-assured as she now appears. To which I say something like: ‘People are infinitely complex.’ But I say it in such a way–so pregnant with misanthropy–that it’s obvious I hate her. Michaela and Eve are two bright, bold women who befriend each other their first year at a residential college at university, where they live in adjacent rooms. They could not be more different; one assured and popular – the other uncertain and eager-to-please. But something happens one night in O-week – a drunken encounter, a foggy memory that will force them to confront the realities of consent and wrestle with the dynamics of power. Initially bonded by their wit and sharp eye for the colleges’ mix of material wealth and moral poverty, Michaela and Eve soon discover how fragile friendship is, and how capable of betrayal they both are.”
Now this one folks, is pretty exciting! Through my work I was invited to jump on a zoom meeting with the one and only Diana Reid and her publishers, Ultimo Press. What an incredibly talented human being and now debut author Diana is. Said to be the Australian Sally Rooney, I am very much looking forward to seeing how Diana has crafted life at university through the lens of women my age. Seriously pre-order this one book lovers, it’s going to be HUGE!
“Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a distribution warehouse, and asks him if he’d like to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend Eileen is getting over a break-up, and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood. Alice, Felix, Eileen and Simon are still young-but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart. They have sex, they worry about sex, they worry about their friendships and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?”
Now I haven’t actually read any Sally Rooney myself. I have ummd and ahhed about reading her debut novel, ‘Normal People’, (I watched the mini-series #whoops) but for some reason my brain keeps saying, no don’t do it – it is too literature for you. I know her stories are hard hitting but blurry at the same time which I don’t always enjoy in a novel. ‘Beautiful World, Where Are You’ has already been a stand out this year in pre-orders and now it has hit shelves. I am mainly thinking of reading it to see what all the hype is about …
“1986- The teenage daughter of a wealthy Vietnamese family gets lost in an abandoned rubber plantation while fleeing her angry father, and is forever changed by the experience.
2011- Twenty-five years later, a young, unhappy American named Winnie disappears from her new home in Saigon without a trace.
The fates of these two women are inescapably linked, bound together by past generations, by ghosts and ancestors, by the history of possessed bodies and possessed lands. Barrelling through the sweaty nightclubs of Saigon to ramshackle zoos, colonial mansions and haunted forests, Violet Kupersmith’s heart-pounding fever dream of a novel deftly combines Vietnamese history and folklore to create an immersive, playful, utterly unforgettable debut.”
Emma Roberts the awesome actor, actually runs a feminist/intelligent woman/inspiring/culturally diverse book club called Belletrist (you should really check out some of their picks). This is her September read and my gosh, doesn’t it sound gooooddd!!
“Florence Given will explore all progressive corners of the feminist conversation; from insecurity projection and refusing to find comfort in other women’s flaws, to deciding whether to date or dump them, all the way through to unpacking the male gaze and how it shapes our identity.
Women Don’t Owe You Pretty is an accessible leap into feminism, for people at all stages of their journey who are seeking to reshape and transform the way they view themselves. In a world that tells women we’re either not enough or too much, it’s time we stop directing our anger and insecurities onto ourselves, and start fighting back to re-shape the toxic structures of our patriarchal society.”
Now when I saw this land in store, I was so pumped! ‘This Small Edition’ is a brand-new shortened version of Florence’s most important and poignant points throughout her book Woman Don’t Owe You Pretty. For those of us who are short on time (me 👈🏼) and has over 50 book on her TBR (me👈🏼, hehe) finding an awesome short and sweet version of this book was a must-have!! A friend of mine originally recommenced this to me and suggested I follow her social media – I highly recommend you do the same. She’s a real change driver and helps you to start rethinking all we have been taught in a male ruling society.
Reading tastes are like a wave, they come and go, they morph and evolve. And you know what readers, this is okay! In my opinion, it can mean that you are growing as a person 🌱 What you may have enjoyed a month, 6 months or a year ago is now different. It can also mean that your environment or situational experiences at the current time of your book selection just didn’t correlate with your feelings at the time. And again, this is okay! Books draw you in at different times of your life – that’s why I find it hard to let go of them 😉📚
Legendborn by Tracey Deonn
At the moment, this YA Fantasy isn’t for me. Myself and a lovely friend were planning on marathoning this book for the month of September but sadly, it’s not gripping me.
I give a book 100 pages before sinking my teeth in and settling in for the reading ride. I gave this 111 and still wasn’t feeling connected. The magical language, environment and events of the first 100 pages lost me… I will give it another go soon.
Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane
I was looking for a romance book, then it turned sad! REAL QUICK! This isn’t a bad thing and I can see that the book has potential. I’ve laughed and been left thinking about some scenes throughout this book but again, it wasn’t giving me the feels I was looking for.
DNF’ed for now. I purchased this on Kindle when it was on sale, therefore I am not overly upset about setting it aside. It will stay on the Kindle until it jumps out to me again.
Careless by Kirsty Capes
Now, now, now – this book is temporarily on hold but I am determined to finish it! A debut novel with stunning reviews, young adult challenges and first person fictional experience of the foster care system in the UK. These are all topics that interest me, yet at the moment I’m looking for something with quick, fast-paced and immediately immersive writing. This has beautiful lyrical writing that I want to savour. I’m sadly just not wanting that in my reading this month therefore, Careless is staying very close to my bedside and ready to resume next month 📚
Contemporary romance is a favoured genre of mine – if it’s done well! One of my favourite authors to recommend in the bookshop is Beth O’Leary. She is an English author who can bring spice, relationship pining and romance into the perfect novel! In my eyes, I believe she can do no wrong. Let’s go through her titles and why I’d recommend each one 📚
OHH how the relationship of Tiffy and Leon spun my reading and had me up until all hours of the morning laughing, gushy and desperate for more!
Tiffy and Leon share a flat. Tiffy and Leon share a bed. Tiffy and Leon have never met… until one day they do and my gosh it is funny! One of them may be exiting the bathroom naked while the other may entering. A towel is nearly dropped and a horrific initial meeting starts a whirlwind of events.
Tiffy works during the day and Leon works night shift, therefore they never cross paths. They leave food in the fridge for each other, bottles of wine out and post it notes on the fridge, keeping one another up to date on their personal lives and work. This book is gushy and romantically wholesome but still has depth. That’s what I really like about Beth’s writing. She hits topics of mental health, unhealthy romantic relationships and disconnection from family members, yet they aren’t pushed on you as the reader or felt overdone. This is my favourite of her novels.
Okay I want you to think of the old school Lindsey Lohan movie, Freaky Friday. Remember how they switches lives and suddenly had to figure out how to navigate a different lifestyle, generation and technology. That’s ‘The Switch’ all over – but replace the body swapping with a Grandma and her Granddaughter swapping lives for a couple of months.
Leena Cotton is made to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work. She decides to escape to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest and relaxation – or so she thinks. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen. I mean there is her grumpy next door neighbour but her is far from an eligible bachelor. Leena decides to set Eileen off on an adventure to London, go enjoy the city lights, shop and maybe even her on a dating app or two. This warming and funny swap of lives throws you into fits of laughter. Grandma gets her sexy pizazz back and Leena has a group of oldies in the Yorkshire village setting her up with a single school teacher. I would re-read ‘The Switch’ in a heartbeat!
Now … The Road Trip is going to be up there with one of my favourite books of 2021 thus far. After loving her two previous novels, I was and am at the point now that whatever Beth O’Leary writes – I will automatically purchase and read. I had higher expectations for this novel as I had seen it hyped everywhere and it defiantly did not disappoint.
Picture a Mini Cooper. A wedding in Scotland. A road trip. Then imagine a whirlwind romance in Europe that developed into a two year relationship to then end traumatically. That previous couple haven’t spoken in over a year and they are now suck in this tiny car together road tripping to a mutual friend’s wedding. You’ve also got the ‘trouble-maker’ friend who contributed to the couple breaking up in the first place. Then you’ve got a new mother with an express breast pump, trying to bottle milk on the way to a wedding, all while her sexual desires and fantasies are overtaking her every normal thought (hilarious)! Lastly, you’ve got this random guy/friend of the bride who hitched a ride and nobody really knows who he is or how he got invited. These 5 fabulous characters in a Mini Cooper spells disaster!
The quick witted humour, flicking back and forward in time periods, dramatic relationship building and streamy scenes really made this novel a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 star read for me. I was lucky enough to read an advanced copy and desperately continue to recommend this to all my regular readers who want to pull an all nighter, laugh so hard you frighten the people around you and crave that buzzing feeling of old flames lighting back up again.
By now, I think you’ve probably gathered that I am excited, highly anticipating and cannot WAIT for the publication for Beth O’Leary’s next novel. The No-Show follows three women, three dates and one missing man …
Extract from Good Reads:
“8.52. Siobhan’s been looking forward to her breakfast date with Joseph. She was surprised when he suggested it – she normally sees him late at night in her hotel room. Breakfast with Joseph on Valentine’s Day surely means something … so where is he?
14.43. Miranda’s hoping that a Valentine’s Day lunch with Carter will be the perfect way to celebrate her new job. It’s a fresh start and a sign that her grown-up life is finally falling into place: she’s been dating Carter for five months now and things are getting serious. But why hasn’t he shown up?
18.30. Joseph Carter agreed to be Jane’s fake boyfriend at a colleague’s engagement party. They’ve not known each other long but their friendship is fast becoming the brightest part of her new life in Winchester. Joseph promised to save Jane tonight. But he’s not here…
Meet Joseph Carter. That is, if you can find him.”
What is a Memoir you ask? A Memoir is a historical account of a person or groups personal knowledge, predominantly written in a narrative style.
I resonate with memoirs that are from a female perspective. I enjoy reading about themes of mental health, work place hierarchy challenges, feminist POV’s and outcomes or changed life paths due to a particular experience or conflict. Here are 3 Memoirs that I would like to read by the end of 2021.
“I never thought I would say this, but I broke. I give up. I am done. I am handing back my dream of becoming a surgeon.” In February of 2019, Yumiko blogged about her experiences as a trainee in the health system and she opened with these words. Talking all things Asian heritage and educational expectations she experienced growing up, male domination in particular health fields and being called ’emotional’ or ‘too confident’ about her work, Yumiko couldn’t take it any more. Her mental health deteriorated and so did her goal of practicing as a Plastic Surgeon.
‘Gripping, transcendent, tender and, at times, infuriating. With a daughter’s heart and a lawyer’s mind, Amani Haydar maps the territory that connects the wars we fight abroad to the wars we endure in our homes.’ Jess Hill (Author of See What You Made Me Do)
I initially learned of ‘The Mother Wound’ via social media. I could not take my eyes off the cover for one but then I discovered what it was really about. Domestic violence, as I agree with the words of Jess Hill’s Stella Prize book ‘See What You Made Me Do’, a national emergency. In Amani’s memoir, she reflects on what kind of mother she hopes to be when her life experiences are scarred by the horrific murder of her mother – at the hands of her father. Deep diving into witnessing and living with coercive control growing up, as well as reflecting on her parents emotional relationship, Amani sounds like an incredibly strong human being.
‘Heartbreak does not seem to be a brand of grief we respect. And so we are left in the middle of the ocean, floating in a dinghy with no anchor, while the world waits for us to be okay again.’ (except from Heartsick)
I was recommended this book by a dear friend who had read the short story type memoir herself. Jessie Stephens actually focused in on three seperate stories and allowed the people to tell share their individual experiences in a narrative type retelling. You would not believe that these three people were strangers as their experiences, traumas and whole body reaction to the feeling of heartbreak are all so similar. We all at some point on our lives feel heart sick, it’s a form of grief yet we don’t socially accept or recognise its impact. Here is my GoodReads review:
“I was undecided if this was the type of book that would grip me. We learn about three different stories about being in love, the high, the heartbreak, the grief, the up and down challenges of relationships and that burnt feeling you get after being let down over and over again. The disjointedness of each biographical recount actually reads so well and you can only lend a piece of your heart out to each person in this book. I feel understood, I am resonating with some stories, feelings and experiences. I really think this is a universal read for all human beings” – Mel (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/5)
I am not shy to admit that I really enjoy reading Young Adult Fantasy. Give me the snug season of winter, a love triangle, action packed scenes, steamy romance, betrayal and plot twists … I’m transported and I love it 😍
Let me give you 5 reasons to try a YA fantasy novel and maybe even a series…
Fantastic world building is one of the most magical, imaginative and enjoyable experiences in reading. You are seeing a new world forming in front of your eyes for the first time. Once it is there, it stays in the memory bank forever and it only continues to grow. Your heart and mind will be invested for a long time!
I would highly recommend for ‘world building and reading experience’, Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas.
Climactic plot structure and twists. Following characters in their fictional, magical world can become addictive and you get let in on their inside secrets. It is feels as if you’re ahead of all the other characters by knowing the plans, plots and perspectives that will determine our main character’s next action move. You’re drip fed this information which keeps you just wanting more twists.
For ‘plot twist’, I loved and would recommend, The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni.
Character intricacy and growth. I believe there is a misconception that young adult novels don’t hold depth. Trust me when I say that most young adult books will hit hard topics and important topics that broaden the minds of adolescence and provide them with more scope for their imagination and future lives ahead of them. Character growth is always such a pivotal aspect because as a book series continues to be published, the reader their self is growing up. They are reading these books and developing as they go – just like the characters.
Prepare to be mind blown for ‘character growth’ in Cassandra Clare’s, Dark Artifices trilogy. (Actually, anything Cassandra Clare .. let’s be honest here)
Steamy Romance. If you want to be pining over character relationships, disagreements, political matchings, hot hott HOTTT sexy scenes and (mostly) happy endings – tell me again why you haven’t tried YA fantasy? 😉 Nothing makes a YA fantasy novel more juicy, immersive and swoon-worthy than a fantastical relationship between fae, shapeshifters or witches. I know this can sound a little silly and immature but once you’re hooked, you’re in hook-line-and-sinker my friends.
No one does it better thanSarah J Mass, in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series.
Fast-paced and unputdownable. When you start – you won’t be able to stop. Time and time again I give recommendations in the bookshop of book one in a YA Fantasy trilogy or series. Within the next 5-7 days, the customer is back desperate for the second book and telling me that I have crushed their plans for the weekend because this book is all they can think about. Almost always, YA Fantasy will move very quickly through character introduction, physical character qualities and dialogue. This creates a straight-into-it feeling in the first few chapters. There may be a raid, or an attack, a capture or an explosive discussion. You get straight into the world and connecting with how the character feels which leaves you wanting to know what’s going to happen next. And next. And next.
Unputdownable trilogies I would recommend are, Ruined by Amy Tintera & A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer.
Comment down below if you have read any of these titles and more YA Fantasy suggestions 🛡📚