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31 December 2019

Best of Books 2019

I saw this fabulous post from Steph at A Little But A Lot and I couldn't resist doing the Best of Books bit myself. It's nice to reflect and look back at what has been an incredible reading year.

2019 Reading Stats 

Number of books you read: 155
Number of rereads: 41
Genre you read most: Fantasy

Best of Books 2019

Best book you read in 2019?

The Year After You by Nina de Pass. This book absolutely blew me away, left me lost for words. It is outstanding and I have so much love for it.

Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more but didn’t?

Circe by Madeline Miller. I don't know what it was but I just didn't get on with it, which is a shame as it's gorgeous and recommended by everyone and should have been right up my street.

Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?

Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alender. This was actually a reread for me but WOW have I developed a lot as a person since I first read it. It was a bit of a revelation.

Book you “pushed” the most people to read (and they did)?

I'd like to hope it was The Year After You by Nina de Pass but I suspect it was actually A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer.

Best series you started in 2019?

The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie. It was such a joy to read that I read it about four times and I can't wait to see where it goes.

Best sequel of 2019?

The Girl The Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young. I was so excited for the companion to Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young and I wasn't disappointed!

Best series ender of 2019?

Perfect by Cecelia Ahern. I have no idea why I waited as long as I did to read Perfect but holy shit it was amazing.

Favorite new author you discovered in 2019?

I don't think there was anyone in particular that I discovered this year! I mostly read debuts or author's I have already read, and didn't seek out any back catalogues.

Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay. This book is, well. Well. It's not my usual cup of tea but I couldn't put it down and I've been recommending it everywhere.

Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer. It's a fantastic story that I loved with all of my heart.

Book you read in 2019 that you would be most likely to re-read next year?

The Year After You by Nina de Pass. I already have it lined up and I can't wait to read it again. Again. Again. It's truly wonderful.

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2019?

The Beholder by Anna Bright. I got a Fairyloot exclusive edition and it is STUNNING with pink sprayed edges and a shiny cover. So much pretty rose pink.

Most memorable character of 2019?

Mena from Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young. The book itself is pretty memorable, but Mena really is a standout.

Most beautifully written book read in 2019?

The Beholder by Anna Bright. It's not a super fast paced book, but I was so in love with the imagery.

Most thought-provoking/ life-changing book of 2019?

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo. It's a book that made me take a long, hard look at my life and what I value.

Book you can’t believe you waited until 2019 to finally read? 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. It's an absolutely stunning book and I can't believe I'd waited so long to read it.

Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2019?

She holds a hand up to stop me. "You're privileged, Cara. Don't confuse luck with circumstance - they are not the same thing.” - The Year After You by Nina de Pass.

Shortest & longest book you read in 2019?

Theatre of Cruelty by Terry Pratchett at 4 pages.
Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon at 963 pages.

Book that shocked you the most?

Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey. This book is Something Else. It's what Game of Thrones could only dream of being in terms of political intrigue, and I loved the way religion and beliefs were used and explored.

OTP of the year (you will go down with this ship!)?

Francis and Mary from Reign. Shhhh. I'm trash. And I'm counting this tie-in.

Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year?

Irina and Dean from Fashionistas: Irina by Sarra Manning. Yes, it's a reread. Yes, they do try it. But it doesn't work and they're excellent friends.

Favorite book you read in 2019 from an author you’ve read previously?

Meat Market by Juno Dawson. I think I have read every one of Juno's books, and I will continue to do so. She is an incredible writer.

Best book you read in 2019 that you read based solely on a recommendation from somebody else/peer pressure/bookstagram, etc.?

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. This year I read my first classic that I enjoyed. It's now one of my favourite books ever, and if I hadn't seen it everywhere I wouldn't have picked it up.

Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2019?

I don't really do fictional crushes! 

Best 2019 debut you read?

I have read so many amazing debuts this year that it seems a shame to do this but... The Year After You by Nina de Pass. You must be sick of me mentioning this book!

Best worldbuilding/most vivid setting you read this year?

Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey. The world is incredible, there is such scope!

Book that put a smile on your face/was the most fun to read?

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman. It's so pure and joyful, 

Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2019?

I cry so easily, so there are many that do this to me! But the most recent was Love, Secret Santa by SA Domingo.

Hidden gem of the year?

Oh no, here it comes again. It is The Year After You by Nina de Pass, mostly because it's small press so doesn't get the same coverage. I am In Love with this book. Absolute hidden gem.

Book that crushed your soul?

Suddenly Single by Carol Wyer. This book crushed my soul in a good way, and I came out better for it.

Most unique book you read in 2019?

Jane Eyre: A Retelling by Tanya Landman. It's incredible how well such a beloved classic has been retold for reluctant readers. It's perfect for a Jane Eyre fix when you haven't got time for a full reread, and retains the soul of the story.

Book that made you the most mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

The Liars by Jennifer Mathieu. This book made me so frustrated, but in the best ways! It's excellent, as are the author's other books.


So there we have it! My Best Books of 2019!

What was your favourite read of 2019?


11 December 2019

Blog Tour: Love, Secret Santa by SA Domingo *AD Gifted

Hodder Children's Books sent me a review copy of Love, Secret Santa by SA Domingo ahead of the blog tour.

What Inspired Me to Write the Book

Winter – and Christmas especially – is a time of year that is almost inherently romantic. It’s perfect for snuggling up together, for confessing true feelings and it’s also a time of year for giving. So, it seemed like the ideal setting for a romantic story! I was very interested in showcasing a young black girl as the main character, and Angel’s academic side is something I could relate to. I was really keen to write about someone like her. It was also important to me to show a romantic relationship between two black kids in general, and I love the idea of former friends having drifted apart and then finding that actually they’re meant to be together. So all of these ingredients combined to make Love, Secret Santa a story that I was really glad to have the chance to bring to life!



Love, Secret Santa by SA Domingo coverAdd to Goodreads button
It's nearly Christmas, but Angel Green isn't celebrating - she's too busy studying for a scholarship exam. On top of that, she's organising her school's charity fundraising campaign to help a local hospice. Unfortunately, her fundraising partner is Caspar Johnson: handsome, creative and fun, but TOTALLY unreliable.

Thank goodness for her Secret Santa who keeps leaving her amazing presents, including an intriguing hand-made advent calendar! Angel is dying to find out who her secret admirer is...

As they spend time together planning festive events, Angel realises that Caspar has hidden depths - and a secret that he's hiding behind his easy-going facade. Her advent calendar encourages Angel to take risks and open her heart - but has she left it too late to tell Caspar how she really feels?


Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy

5 Words: Friendship, family, hard-work, Christmas, respect.

You could probably tell from my Book Beginnings last week that I very much enjoyed this book from the first page. I even love the cover, it's perfectly festive and I love the fonts and the fairylights. 

Love, Secret Santa was a fantastic quick read that put me right in the mood for Christmas and had me reaching for a hot drink. It's a cosy slow-burn that warms your heart, with characters that you can't help but care about. I love the little dramas and the insecurities and Angel's amazing freaking Hufflepuff heart.

The story itself is sweet, exploring themes of grief and friendship and respect and taking care of yourself. It examines boundaries and challenging yourself to step outside your comfort zone and putting your trust in someone else. I loved the way it all came together, even if there were points where I wanted to cry.

I do have to say that I had a whole lot of second hand embarrassment for Angel. I physically cringed at times like yikes girl take a step back. But I absolutely loved her as a character, and I cared about her and I wanted to see what was going to happen next.

Love, Secret Santa is the perfect antidote to the stresses of the festive season. I really want to see it as a Netflix film, because it's so full of cheese and cheer.

10 December 2019

Ten Quick Reads to Smash Your Goodreads Challenge

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

Top Ten Tuesday
This week is Top Ten 
Quick Reads to Smash Your Goodreads Challenge
It's that time of year where you look at your Goodreads challenge total and do a little Eek. Because time is almost up. But not to fear! Check out these quick reads and smash your challenge target.

It's a mix of graphic novels, comic bind ups, short stories, poetry collections, and books that were so amazing I couldn't help but race through them. And I loved every one.
  • Heartstopper Volume 1 by Alice Oseman
  • Not Hungry by Kate Karyus Quinn
  • Letting Go by Cat Clarke
  • Blackbird, Vol. 1 by Sam Humphries, Jen Bartel, Triona Farrell
  • The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake by Sif Sigmarsdóttir
  • The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie
  • The Mermaid's Voice Returns in This One by Amanda Lovelace
  • Stay A Little Longer by Bali Rai
  • The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge
  • Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
What are you reading to finish up your challenge?

09 December 2019

The 2019 UKYA Quiz

I wanted to do something to celebrate the amazing books I've read this year, and I wanted it to be fun. So here's a wee informal UKYA quiz featuring some of my favourite 2019 releases, there are no prizes (sorry, I'm skint!). I'd been debating whether to post this now or leave it for the post-Christmas lull, but I have no patience and Twitter decided for me so here it is.

The 2019 UKYA Quiz


If you leave your Twitter handle then I'll let you know your scores, and I'll post the full answers in the New Year,

Huge thanks to Charlotte at Charlotte, Somewhere and Nicola at Fantastic Book Dragon for volunteering to test this quiz and give me some feedback.



How do you think you did?


08 December 2019

Blog Tour: Book Review: A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan *AD Gifted

HQ sent me a free review copy of A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan ahead of the blog tour.

A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan coverAdd to Goodreads button
In the snowy perfection of Aspen, the White family gathers for youngest daughter Rosie's whirlwind Christmas wedding.

First to arrive are the bride’s parents, Maggie and Nick. Their daughter’s marriage is a milestone they are determined to celebrate wholeheartedly, but they are hiding a huge secret about their own: they are on the brink of divorce. After living apart for the last six months, the last thing they need is to be trapped together in an irresistibly romantic winter wonderland.

Rosie’s older sister Katie is also dreading the wedding. Worried that impulsive, sweet-hearted Rosie is making a mistake, Katie is determined to save her sister from herself. If only the irritatingly good-looking best man, Jordan, would stop interfering with her plans...

Bride-to-be Rosie loves her fiance but is having serious second thoughts. Except everyone has arrived – how can she tell them she's not sure? As the big day gets closer, and emotions run even higher, this is one White family Christmas none of them will ever forget.


Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy

5 Words: Christmas, family, expectations, love, change.

Sarah Morgan can do no wrong, especially when it comes to Christmas. This is a perfect cosy family drama and charming romance, and I loved it.

I think my favourite thing about A Wedding in December was the setting. It was so real and I felt like I was there. And it was COLD. But even though we've barely had ice, I could almost see snow every time I looked up from this book and out of the window.

I felt so sorry for Maggie at times. Her life is falling apart and she feels like she's missing out on Rosie's life a bit, and everything is slipping from her and she feels so uninvolved. It tugged at my heartstrings so much.

I loved the relationship between Rosie and Katie. There was something so real about it, the small ways in which they thought they knew each other better than themselves, and thought that they each knew best. Rosie is the "impulsive one" but I think Katie is too at heart, and I loved how fiercely protective she was of her sister.

Actually, A Wedding in December explores a lot of relationships. It really delves down in to them, picks them apart with surprising consequences, and I loved the way it all played out.

Now I can't wait for Christmas!



07 December 2019

Fantasy Dorothy Perkins Haul

I'm bored, I'm skint, I'm going window shopping!

Today I'm scouring the Dorothy Perkins website and putting together an outfit that I would love for present shopping, mooching around markets, and walking under the Christmas light displays. I'm looking for comfort and practicality, and things that can easily be integrated into other outfits.

So yeah, here's my imaginary Dorothy Perkins haul!

Dorothy Perkins - Petite Cobalt Ribbed Stitch Jumper
First up this gorgeous jumper. I'm a sucker for cobalt blue, it brings out the green in my eyes and the red in my hair, and it's probably the only really bright colour I'll wear year round. The knit is really pretty and I love the shape of the collar. I think this also looks pretty smart so it'll join my work wardrobe.


Dorothy Perkins Petite Black Corduroy Frankie Jeans
I think I was about ten the last time I wore corduroy, but I'm feeling a bit nostalgic and I remember it being quite warm. And it's winter so I need warm. Especially when I'm outside braving the elements between shops and sitting on unheated buses and metros. Being corduroy I don't think I'd wear them for anything other than generally nipping around the shops, but they're really pretty.


Dorothy Perkins - Black 'Millie' Fur Hiker Boots
I love a pair of boots, and the more like walking boots they look the better. I actually already have about five pairs of boots that look really similar to these, but they're in various shades of brown and stages of wear because I have a problem and if I like something I won't stop buying it. I feel like these would work well on a dog walk too, they have a good tread.


Dorothy Perkins - Multi Colour Check Print Scarf
So far I feel like my outfit is pretty tame in terms of shades, so I thought I'd add some colour and personality. I love this checked scarf and how it has So Many Colours. I've started wearing my hair in a knot on the back of my head, so I no longer benefit from my own hair knitting around my neck like a scarf and keeping me warm. Actual scarf to the rescue!

Dorothy Perkins - Petite Grey Unlined Coat
Basically I really bloody badly need a new coat and have done since I put my last one away in the spring. This probably wouldn't be the warmest, but paired with the outfit I think it'd be really stylish and if I swapped the corduroys for leather look trousers and the boots for a pair of stilettos I think it'd make this a perfect Christmas Drinks ensemble.

So there we have it, my attempts to put together something that isn't cotton tees and skinny jeans! I think I might be getting there when it come style. Ha.

OK so I accidentally actually bought that jumper oops. I guess I better actually wear it while I'm Christmas shopping! 

06 December 2019

Book Beginnings: Love, Secret Santa by SA Domingo

For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

I am currently reading Love, Secret Santa by S.A. Domingo.
Love, Secret Santa by S.A. Domingo cover
Fat, soft flakes of snow swirled down towards the concourse below as Angel Green gazed out of the café window. Finally. It was really starting to feel like Christmas was around the corner, even if she had so much to cram in between now and the end of term.
I love these first lines, they're getting me right in the mood for Christmas! I love the cover, it's perfectly festive and I love the fonts and the fairylights

I'm on the blog tour for Love, Secret Santa by S.A. Domingo next week so I'm getting started on it this weekend.
"But... But nobody actually chooses the liver and onions..."
Angel chewed, swallowed, then grimaced, watching Ola and Izzy's horrified faces across the canteen table at lunchtime.
This book is perfect for cheering you up and making you smile. Angel is a little bit cringe and the second hand embarrassment is Real, but wow it's a tonic for stress. I can't wait to see how the rest of the story pans out because I am loving it so far.

What are you reading this week?

05 December 2019

What I'm Looking Forward To This Month

2019 started out as an honestly terrible year. Everything pretty much fell apart and I was at one of the lowest points of my life, but things have turned right around and I am seeing the year out on a high.

I am so grateful to all of my friends who have let me rant and moan and bitch and be utterly selfish (because lets face it I've been a pretty self involved person this year) because now I'm not only back to being Me, but I think I'm a slightly better me.

What I'm Looking Forward To This Month

Today I'm going to be sharing some of the things I'm looking forward to before the year is out
  • Cuddles with my Baby Nephew
  • Reading Festive Books (and rereading some favourites)
  • Oldest Pubs Pub-Crawl
  • Watching Cheesy Christmas Films (like these)
  • Edinburgh Weekend Break
  • Christmas at the Botanics
  • Christmas Markets
  • Finishing the Triwizardathon (team Durmstrang represent!)
  • Feeding the Deer at Whitworth Hall (again)
  • Enchanted Belsay
  • Wrapping Presents
  • Christmas Dinner
  • Playing with my Nephew's Doll House
What are you looking forward to?


04 December 2019

Feed the Deer at Whitworth Hall Deer Park

Saturday morning was bright and clear and cold, and we were going on an adventure.

Our end goal was a walk up Slitt Wood in Westgate because there are waterfalls all up the trail to the ruins of Low Slitt Mine, and I love waterfalls. But we wanted to stop off somewhere a bit different on the way, because we had seen someone in a local walking group post pictures and it looked amazing. Our first destination? Whitworth Hall near Spennymoor. I wanted to see the deer.

Feeding the Deer at Whitworth Hall Deer Park

It was really easy to get there by car, Google Maps led us straight to the car park. But even if we hadn't had our technological companion to lead the way, Whitworth Hall was well signposted. The drive once you turn in to the property is long and sweeping and really pretty, not quite a single track but close.

We arrived at about ten in the morning, and it was easy to get parked opposite the deer park - there are not a lot of spaces so I would recommend getting there early. We made our way around the corner to the hotel reception, and warmed ourselves by the log fire as we waited to buy some feed. It was £3 for two bags of feed, and they were pretty big - considering parking and is free and there is no entry cost, this was a real bargain. We were told that we wouldn't be able to go into the park itself, but could feed the deer through the fence, and we're assuming this is because it is the tail end of rutting season here in the UK. Safety first!


The deer knew what was coming and we had a crowd of easily thirty deer waiting for us by the time we reached the fence, with more coming over as we fed them. We managed to space it out quite a bit, throwing a few handfuls to the deer at the back and hand feeding those closest to us. I did feel a little bit sorry for the smaller ones at the back so we split us and I sneakily fed them further up the fence while my boyfriend fed the antler boys.


Avoiding antlers turned into a skill for us, as those boys were hungry and pushed straight to the front. But they were gentle as we fed them and we even managed to stroke them through the fence while they ate from our hands. They're so trusting and friendly and curious, and it made for some excellent photograph opportunities, especially with the low sun shining through the trees.


It was a pretty messy experience! The deer had surprisingly muddy noses given that the ground was frozen solid, and I'm so glad we have provisions in the car for cleaning ourselves up after. There was a wedding setting up so we didn't want to get in the way by asking to wash our hands in the toilets.

It was great fun, the park is stunning and dramatic and picturesque, and the deer were adorable. I can't wait to go back again, and I feel like this will be a semi-regular treat for us.


03 December 2019

Ten Holiday Reads for the Festive Season

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

Top Ten Tuesday
This week is Top Ten 
Ten Holiday Reads
I absolutely adore festive reading in December. I generally prepare my TBR of festive books in November and then I have to keep myself from picking them up until then. Today I've lined up a selection of my favourites, including a YA thriller wildcard.

The links below are affiliate links, if you purchase the books through the links I'll make a couple of pennies to help pay for my domain renewal (eek).
What are your favourite festive reads?

02 December 2019

Gifts Based on Hogwarts Houses

Sometimes it can be hard to buy presents for the non-muggles in your life.

So check out this gift guide, featuring small businesses and books for the magical people in your life.

Gifts Based on Hogwarts Houses


Gryffindor

  • Gryffindors are adventurous, so get them this gorgeous notebook they can use to keep track of their travels.
  • STAGS by MA Bennett (I was gifted a review copy of this book)
    STAGS is a gripping thriller, filled with twists and turns and danger and death. Think Skins set in Downton Abbey with a dash of Mean Girls, and you're just about there. Just add some huntin', shootin, fishin'. Your friendly neighbourhood Gryffindor will love it.


Hufflepuff

  • Hufflepuffs like their home comforts and their food and their hot drinks, and this adorable coaster with the house animal is perfect. Take it from me. A Hufflepuff.
  • The Year After You by Nina de Pass (I was gifted a review copy of this book)
    This book just has such a Hufflepuff vibe. I reviewed it earlier this year and loved the exploration of friendship and loyalty and grief. It also has a lesbian Hufflepuff secondary character to give you the warm fuzzies. (While you're at it, buy them this adorable badger on a bike bookmark.)


Ravenclaw



Slytherin

  • ONAIE Handmade Sheepskin Slippers (I was gifted a review pair of slippers)
    Slytherin's love a bit of luxury, and they appreciate the finer things in life. Each pair of slippers from Onaie are handmade by a team of skilled craftspeople in the Polish Highlands, so every one is unique.
  • The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake by Sif Sigmarsdóttir (I was gifted a review copy of this book)
    The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake takes a long hard look at the way we present ourselves online, the carefully curated personality we display on Instagram. A little bit of introspection for the Slytherin in your life.



Did you forget to buy Christmas Cards? Check out these small makers:


01 December 2019

Should I Do Blogmas?

When it comes to Blogmas, I don't have the best track record. Things (life) seems to get in the way and I inevitably fail. But every year I try again, because it's actually quite fun and I get to be a bit creative.

Should I Do Blogmas?

I'm still not decided as to how many days I'll do this year. 12 days? 24? 25? The whole month of December? I guess we'll see.

What I do know is that I'm going to give it another bash. I won't just set myself any concrete targets this year, because I do not need to put that pressure on myself.

Some Tips for Blogmas

  • Prepare
    It's difficult to write a new post every day, so jot down every tiny idea and keep it ready.
  • Be Flexible
    Life will get in the way - it's the end of the year and there's a lot happening. Just chill and let it flow and don't stress if you miss a day or post retrospectively with a back date.
  • Get Creative
    This is the perfect time to venture outside of your niche and try something different. If you usually post book reviews why not try some self care or a recipe or a review of a restaurant?
  • Treat Yourself
    Sit yourself down with a hot chocolate and make some Me Time. Read blog posts, scroll insta, pick up a book, just don't forget yourself.
  • Have Fun
    Honestly there's no point doing it if it's not fun. Don't make it a slog for yourself and don't be afraid to stop if it's just not you.

Are you doing Blogmas?


28 November 2019

Book Review: The Stopover by TL Swan

I was looking for a trash romance to read - you know the type, when it's so bad it's almost good and you can kind of rage read. I was browsing Kindle Unlimited when I spotted The Stopover by TL Swan and I thought, bingo. But I was wrong. The Stopover by TL Swan is actually pretty excellent and I couldn't stop reading for all of the right reasons.

The Stopover by TL Swan coverAdd to Goodreads button
A memorable night of passion refuses to stay just a memory in this sizzling and scandalous romance from bestselling author T L Swan.

I was upgraded to first class on a flight from London to New York.

The food, champagne, and service were impeccable. The blue-eyed man sitting next to me, even better. He was suave and intelligent. We talked and laughed, and something clicked. Fate took over and the plane was grounded, and we had an unexpected stopover for the night.

With no plans, we made our own. We danced and laughed our way around Boston and had a night of crazy passion that no woman would ever forget.

That was twelve months ago, and I haven’t heard from him—until today.

I started a new job and met the CEO. You can imagine my surprise to see those naughty blue eyes dance with delight when he saw me across the mahogany desk.

But I’m not that carefree girl anymore. My life has changed, I have responsibilities. I just got an email. He wants to see me in his office for a private meeting at 8:00 a.m. Naughty blue eyes have no place in the workplace.

What kind of private meeting does he have in mind?


Source: Purchase, Kindle Unlimited

5 Words: Attraction, lust, power, control, sabotage.

I have to say that for a while I was disappointed in The Stopover. I'd gone in expecting trash romance, the kind filled with problematic tropes and dubious romance and bad characters. But that wasn't what I got. I found The Stopover to be well fleshed out and while it did have some problematic elements (holy power imbalance, batman!) I thoroughly enjoyed it for all of the right reasons. Colour me surprised.

I do have to say that I was not expecting it to be as long a story. And it is long, it's over 500 pages worth of romance and flirting and work-place drama. And it works. I couldn't stop reading The Stopover.

In The Stopover, I loved the build up between Emily and Jameson, I liked the instant attraction between them. And I kind of loved the infatuation? Normally this would set my alarm bells ringing, but there was something about the writing that I loved and it fit so well.

I really appreciated the non-romance elements of the story as well. I loved how  it fleshed out the characters and added some intrigue and complicated everything. And loved how the drama surrounding it played out too.

Overall I loved The Stopover, and I can't wait to read more books of The Miles High Club and find out what's happening in the romantic lives of the other brothers.

19 November 2019

Blog Tour: Book Review: Through the Wall by Caroline Corcoran *AD Gifted

Avon sent me a free review copy of Through the Wall by Caroline Corcoran ahead of the blog tour.

Through the Wall by Caroline Corcoran coverAdd to Goodreads button
Lexie loves her home. She feels safe and secure in it – and loved, thanks to her boyfriend Tom.

But recently, something’s not been quite right. A book out of place. A wardrobe door left open. A set of keys going missing…

Tom thinks Lexie’s going mad – but then, he’s away more often than he’s at home nowadays, so he wouldn’t understand.

Because Lexie isn’t losing it. She knows there’s someone out there watching her. And, deep down, she knows there’s nothing she can do to make them stop…


Source: Review copy

5 Words: Jealousy, relationships, family, perfection, perception.

I loved how the narrative split between the characters, so we saw it all from different viewpoints. It was easier to understand some of their actions and empathise with them a little, as you could see things from their perspectives. The character development was incredible.

Although it took me a little while to get in to the story, the chapters in Through the Wall by Caroline Corcoran are short, and I absolutely flew through this book. They helped to add to the fast pace and building tension, and I could not put it down. Through the Wall is absolutely a compulsive read, it's atmospheric and cleverly written. It gave me goosebumps and freaked me out.

I think one of my favourite things about this book is the importance of sound - I thought it was a really clever way to build the tension in the story and for characters to be driven by.

I liked how the story explored how people present what they want to, and that not everything is as it seems (especially online). I liked the jealousy of the characters, how they thought the grass was greener.

I will absolutely read more by Caroline Corcoran.

Through the Wall by Caroline Corcoran blog tour banner

18 November 2019

Triwizard Tournament Readthon: First Task Wrap Up

So something amazing happened this past week. I took part in a readathon and I stuck to my TBR and I even read every book I'd planned. I'm having such a fun time with this readathon that I'm going to do mini wrap-ups for every task so I can track my progress.


Triwizard Tournament Readthon: First Task Wrap Up

I am in Durmstrang so I had to defeat the Swedish Short-Snout. And since I was ill in bed with nothing to do, I threw everything at it and completed every challenge prompt. Go me!

What I Read

  • For the first challenge I had to defeat the Swedish Short-Snout by rereading a favourite that makes me feel protected. I reread Fashionistas: Laura by Sarra Manning.
  • The first method I chose was Speed, and I read the graphic novel Heartstopper Volume 2 by Alice Oseman during sprints on the first evening.
  • I followed up with the Conjunctivitis Curse reading Fashionistas: Irina by Sarra Manning because of the eyes on the cover.
  • Next I decided to send my dragon into a Bewitched Sleep with a book I read in bed. Honestly I was ill enough that I've done all of my reading in bed, but I read Jane Eyre: A Retelling by Tanya Landman in a single sitting.
  • It took me ages to pick a book with an animal on the cover for Distraction, I was scanning my bookshleves when my eyes hit upon Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman. It has a jellyfish, a starfish, and a turtle on the cover.

My favourite book for the first task of the Triwizard Tournament Readathon was definitely Heartstopper Volume 2 by Alice Oseman. I was almost in tears by the end because it gave me such feels, honestly my heart is full, and it truly fit the prompt as I sped through it.

Total Books Read: 5
Total Pages Read: 1456

Are you taking part in the Triwizard Tournament Readathon?
What have you read recently?

15 November 2019

Book Beginnings #84

For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

I am currently reading Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman.
Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman cover
Mom doesn't show up. 
I shouldn't be surprised - she never shows up - but I can't get rid of the empty, twisted feeling in my stomach. Emery always says that being alone isn't the same thing as being lonely, but sometimes it feels like they're exactly the same thing.
I'm reading Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman for my final prompt for Triwizardathon (it has animals on the cover). It's a book that'd been on my radar since it came out, and I have heard so much about it. I'm a bit nervous going in because hype can be so damaging on my perceptions of a book, but I love the first lines. I love the way that Kiko's disappointment comes through, as well as her lack of surprise.
Because my borthers and I can't all be strong. Somebody has to be on Mom's target board - i think Taro would rather it was me than him.
This bit from page 56 just hit me right in the feels. Poor Kiko. This book is an emotional ride, that's for sure, and I feel so much for Kiko. It's also beautifully written and although I'm taking my time I can't put it down.

I'm excited to see where the story goes.

What are you reading this week?

07 November 2019

Triwizard Tournament Readathon TBR

The Triwizard Tournament Readathon will be split into three week-long rounds, each themed around and representing one of the tasks from the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Everyone taking part will be selected as a champion for one of the three schools and will be given reading challenges to complete in order to compete to win the Triwizard Cup.

It sounds like a nice and chilled readathon, with plenty of time between the tasks to help lift the pressure I will doubtless put myself under.

Follow the official page on twitter – @triwizardathon!

Triwizard Tournament Readathon TBR

The school you will represent is determined by your birthday.
Beauxbatons: January – April
Durmstrang: May – August
Hogwarts: September – December

So I am representing Durmstrang, and I am going to desperately try not to let my school down and remember to actually update the score sheet. The page count for each school counts as the score, and each challenge must be a separate book so no sneaky combing is allowed. The score for the first take determines your first challenge for the second task.

With that in mind, I'm going to set out a bit of a TBR so that I'm not caught out by the various challenges as the readathon progresses. I'm going to keep a note of the page count for each book too.

Triwizard Tournament Readathon TBR - First Task - Dragons

FIRST TASK – DRAGONS

Monday 11th November – Sunday 17th November 2019

Challenge One - The Dragon

Each school will battle a certain dragon. Beauxbatons will defeat the Hungarian Horntail, Durmstrang will defeat the Swedish Short-Snout, and Hogwarts will defeat the Common Welsh Green.

Swedish Short-Snout: These dragons are sought after to use their skin to make shields and gloves, re-read a favourite that makes you feel protected.
  • Fashionistas: Laura by Sarra Manning - 320
    • I love rereading books and usually my top rereads are a little more... Hard hitting. And make me cry. And also I've already reread them this year. Except for the Fashionistas series by Sarra Manning, so I'll be picking up book one to make me feel amazeballs for the first task.

Challenge Two - The Method

What method are you going to use when you face your dragon? Pick one or do more for extra skill points.

Conjunctivitis Curse: Temporarily blind your dragon by reading a book with eyes on the cover.
  • Fashionistas: Irina by Sarra Manning - 336
    • This was a late addition to my TBR after I read Fashionistas: Laura by Sarra Manning, I just knew that I had to read on. Also Irina's eyes are on the cover so it fits the prompt perfectly.
Bewitched Sleep: Send your dragon to sleep by reading a whole book in bed.
  • Jane Eyre: A Retelling by Tanya Landman - 128
    • So when I'm in bed I tend to fall asleep. In order to read a whole book in bed it needs to be a short book. I recently read Jane Eyre for the first and fell in love with the story so I can't wait to read Tanya Landman's retelling.
Speed: Race past your dragon to retrieve the egg by reading a graphic novel.
  • Heartstopper Volume 2 by Alice Oseman - 320
    • I knew that I was keeping this back for a reason, and apparently it's because my wee witchy brain knew I'd need it for this readathon. And I can't wait.
Distraction: Distract your dragon by transfiguring a rock into an animal, read a book with an animal on the cover.
  • Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman - 352
    • I have been meaning to read this book since it came out. I have heard so much about it and I have a feeling it will be a tough read, but the cover has a jellyfish and a starfish and a turtle, so animals.
Triwizard Tournament Readathon TBR - Second Task - The Lake

SECOND TASK – THE LAKE

Monday 25th November – Sunday 1st December 2019

Challenge One - What Was Taken

Who do you need to save from the lake? You can find out which one you have to do by submitting your score for the first task, or checking back here once the first task is over. Want extra points? Rescue your own loved one, pick the method, then rescue the others too!

Significant Other: Read a book with a romance. 
  • A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan - 464
    • I absolutely adore Sarah Morgan's Christmas books, so I can't wait to read A Wedding in December. If I don't have to save my Significant Other in this challenge I will definitely rescue them after my own loved one!
Sibling: Read a book about siblings.
  • Grace & Fury by Tracy Banghart - 320
    • A couple of hours before writing this post I read Charlotte, Somwhere's mini review of Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart and it got me excited for it. So what better excuse?
Friend: Read a book about friendship.
  • Remix by Non Pratt - 304
    • Friendship, music, and lies. I can't wait to experience it all over again and reread Remix by Non Pratt - it's been a long time since I first read it!

Challenge Two - The Method

How are you going to get through the lake in order to save the person that has been taken from you? Pick one method for this challenge!

Gillyweed: Gillyweed will allow you to breathe and move underwater, read a book with water on the cover.
  • The Alibi Girl by C.J. Skuse - 384
    • The cover for The Alibi Girl is bright pink with a cloud of black in that looks as though it's been dropped into water, so imma class it as water, because close enough. And also if this is anything as dark as Sweetpea then I'm desperate to read it.
Bubble-Head Charm: This charm gives you a continuous supply of oxygen, read a book set in space where this charm could also be useful.
  • Collision by Victor Dixen - 736
    • This book is a BEAST at over 700 pages long so I'm going to keep my fingers crossed that I can actually finish it haha. I absolutely loved Ascension and Distortion, the prior books in the Phobos Series by Victor Dixen.
Transfiguration: Partially transfigure yourself into a sea creature by reading a book about a sea creature.
  • The Bone Ships by RJ Barker - 496
    • I mean... I think The Bone Ships by RJ Barker has a sea creature? Do the dragons live in the sea? Fingers crossed!


Triwizard Tournament Readathon TBR - Third Task - The Maze

THIRD TASK – THE MAZE

Monday 9th December – Sunday 15th December 2019

Challenge One - The Obstacles

You will face many obstacles within the maze, you must complete at least one of these challenges, but may complete as many as you can for extra points.

Blast-Ended Skrewt: This is a hybrid creature, read a book outside your comfort zone.
  • Roaring Girls by Holly Kyte - 464
    • This is a British Historical Social & Urban History Biography so... Yeah. Not in my comfort zone, I'd say!
Boggart: Read a book that contains something you fear.
  • Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton - 384
    • I saw this book described as Black Mirror with a touch of Westworld re-wiring and... Well. Nope. Nope nope nope.
Acromantula: You may need help to defeat this creature, read a book recommended by a friend.
  • I need help with this prompt! Please leave me suggestions.
Sphinx: Solve its riddle by reading a book about or with a puzzle.
  • Unleashed by Amy McCulloch - 352
    • I absolutely love Jinxed by Amy McCulloch when I read it last year so I've been itching to fit Unleashed into my TBR to see where it goes next. Lacey wakes up in a hospital room with no recollection of how she got there, so it'd definitely going to be a puzzle to solve.
Golden Mist: The mist turns everything upside down, read a book with something upside down on the cover.
  • The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg - 464
    • One of the castles is upside-down like a reflection so I'm counting it haha. I started this ages ago on the train back from YALC but had to put it down and for Reasons never picked it back up, so I'm going to start again.

Challenge Two - Get The Cup

You made it through the maze, but can you take the cup?

Make sure it’s not a Portkey and read a book that involves travel of any kind for your final challenge to take the cup and complete the Triwizard Tournament!
  • The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L.D. Lapinski - 384
    • I couldn't resist. At the Strangeworlds Travel Agency, each suitcase transports you to a different world, and so it fits this prompt perfectly.

Are you joining the Triwizard Tournament Readathon? 
Which school are you representing? 
What's on your TBR?