30 June 2019

Book Review: Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young *AD Gifted

Simon and Schuster Children's Books sent me a free electronic review copy of Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young via NetGalley.

When I first heard about Girls with Sharp Sticks I knew I wanted to read it - it has a few of my catnip tropes. Once my NetGalley wish was granted, I was excited to pick it up. And once I started reading, I was not disappointed.


Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young coverAdd to Goodreads button
The Girls of Innovations Academy are beautiful and well-behaved - it says so on their report cards. Under the watchful gaze of their Guardians, the all-girl boarding school offers an array of studies and activities, from “Growing a Beautiful and Prosperous Garden” to “Art Appreciation” and “Interior Design.” The girls learn to be the best society has to offer. Absent is the difficult math coursework, or the unnecessary sciences or current events. They are obedient young ladies, free from arrogance or defiance.

Until Mena starts to realize that their carefully controlled existence may not be quite as it appears.

As Mena and her friends begin to uncover the dark secrets of what’s actually happening there - and who they really are - the girls of Innovations will find out what they are truly capable of. Because some of the prettiest flowers have the sharpest thorns.

Amazon UK | Amazon US
Waterstones

5 Words: Control, manipulation, perfection, rebellion, life.

Content warnings: physical abuse, graphic violence, murder, PTSD, infertility, mental abuse and manipulation.

I have to admit that when I first picked up Girls with Sharp Sticks I had Expectations. It was promising to bring together some of my favoruite things: a boarding school setting, feminist themes, dystopian storyline. And this book blew my expectations out of the water.

Parts of this story had my toes curling. Parts of this story are terrifying. Parts of it broke my heart. And all of this is because of how scarily plausible the whole thing is. It's disturbing and compelling and I couldn't help but be fascinated by the world.

Mena was an excellent character - unreliable at times for Reasons, but a character who I loved reading about. I was rooting for her the whole time.

I really loved the questions this book posed about ownership, perfection, ethics, the standards people are held to, sexism... It's a bit of an issue book, all wrapped up in a gripping story.

I don't want to spoil the book, because you HAVE TO READ IT, but there was a twist that absolutely flabbergasting. This book kept me guessing. Once I got to the end the whole story felt different, and I know that when I reread it (and I will reread it) I'll see things in a new light and pick up on the clues that I may have missed.

So stop sleeping on this book. Go out and Read It because I need more people to talk about it with.

I'm starting to see how unusual our lives are here. And the more I recognize it... the more I want to change it.

28 June 2019

Book Beginnings #73

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 Needlemouse by Jane O'Connor.

Needlemouse by Jane O'Connor cover

I look forward to this day all year. Not because I enjoy getting older (heaven's no), but because Prof takes me out somewhere special for lunch on my birthday, just the two of us.
This book doesn't actually start with this line. It starts with an excerpt of information about the European Hedgehog, which was very fascinating and written by one of the characters in the book, but I wanted more of a feel for the writing so my first line is from the first chapter instead. Is this cheating?

I like that I'm learning a bit even from the start, although the thought of hedgehogs cooked in clay made me feel a little bit queasy. I think I'll enjoy the writing as I read.

I am starting this book as I type so anything more is a mystery to me. I hope I enjoy it.

He had a beautiful face for a man of his age. A face that spoke of a life filled with laughter and warmth and adventure, of summers on the beach and winters skiing down mountains.
This part from page 56 is giving me romance vibes, so I'm going to cross my fingers now. I'm in the mood for a romance! I jabbed my finger randomly at the page to pick out this quote so that I could avoid spoilers, but it also means that I have no context. Still, romance vibes.


What are you reading this week?

27 June 2019

Book Review: The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake by Sif Sigmarsdóttir *AD Gifted

BKMRK sent me a free review copy of The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake by Sif Sigmarsdóttir

I knew nothing about The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake by Sif Sigmarsdóttir when I first picked it up, except that it was going to be a pretty dark mystery. I was definitely not disappointed by the story I read, and I absolutely loved it.

The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake by Sif Sigmarsdóttir coverAdd to Goodreads button
The snow is falling thick and fast now. Snow in Iceland is dangerous.

Hannah Eiríksdóttir has been banished from her home in London to a place of eternal punishment for the wicked. No, not Hell, but close: Iceland. There, she faces a new life working as a journalist for her father's newspaper - a man she barely knows.

Imogen Collins has the perfect life as a social media influencer, showing off her glamorous London existence to adoring fans. But behind the filters lies a dark secret. She thought she'd buried it: But the Beast is back - a ghost from her past who's threatening to ruin her future.

When a man is found murdered at the edge of the road in snowy Iceland the girls' lives collide. Imogen had the motive. Can Hannah find out the truth, and discover the reality of the girl beneath the filters?

Behind perfection often lies unbearable ugliness.


5 Words: Family, secrets, conspiracy, influence, belonging.

Content Warnings: Sexual assault.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I first picked up The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake by Sif Sigmarsdóttir. All I knew was that I was picking up a Nordic mystery with a stunning cover.

Once I started reading The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake I couldn't put it down. I loved this book and I loved the characters. I couldn't help but pick out quotes while I was reading.

Both Imogen and Hannah, vastly different characters, resonated with me. I could relate to them both and I loved that. Their voices were so distinct that I knew instantly who was narrating.

I really enjoyed the social media aspect of this story. It was necessary to the story, and I loved how self-worth and validation was explored through the medium. And social media wasn't vilified, it wasn't an "evil" in the story. I liked how each of the characters projected different images, how they acknowledged that what they put out wasn't necessarily quite true.

The ending. Wow, the ending. I loved it, the way everything came together. Ish. I'd happily read more set in this version of Iceland, with the same intrigues as this story, and the ending of The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake left it kind of open to that possibility.

I will absolutely read more by this author, The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake by Sif Sigmarsdóttir was excellent.
Through experience she's come to learn that life is random. As it turns out, so is death.

25 June 2019

Ten Books on my YALC 2019 List

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 
Books On My Summer 2019 TBR 
Books on my YALC 2019 List
This was supposed to be a summer TBR but I kinda did a little one earlier in the month inspired by The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie, so instead I'm doing a YALC panic TBR/list of books I want to take. It's a month to go, so I better crack on!

I've handily ticked off the books I've already read.

Here are ten books on my YALC 2019 list:
  1. Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young ✓
  2. The Tesla Legacy by KK Perez
  3. The Wrath and The Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
  4. The Truth About Keeping Secrets by Savannah Brown ✓
  5. The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie ✓
  6. Other Words for Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin ✓
  7. No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter
  8. Rose, Interrupted by Patrice Lawrence ✓
  9. The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
  10. The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake by Sif Sigmarsdóttir ✓
Some of these will be a case of me trying to read the electronic review copy before the event so that I can fan-girl at the authors understand their talks a bit better, and I'm a little bit sad that I won't be able to get actual books signed by some of them.
What's on your summer reading list?

22 June 2019

Book Review: The Beholder by Anna Bright

I got a copy of The Beholder by Anna Bright in my May 2019 Fairyloot box, and I was pretty excited - it had been on my radar for a while because of that beautiful cover. And that beautiful cover (and gorgeous pink sprayed edges) delivered and I absolutely adored reading this book.

The Beholder by Anna Bright coverAdd to Goodreads button
Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.

But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.

From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending.

Amazon UK | Amazon US
Waterstones

Source: Fairyloot

5 Words: Family, duty, betrayal, politics, survival.

I'm struggling to review The Beholder - it's a book I enjoyed immensely and struggled to put down, but at the same time I can't quite put my finger on why I loved it.

First off, this book is beautifully written. Every so often there was a line that would stop me reading, because I had to read it over and over and make a note of it. It's almost lyrical, poetic, at times.

Something I really liked was the abundance of fashion. So many pretty dresses and intricate jewellery. I also loved how the characters would talk about them and have fun. There's a part where Selah and another character just play around with makeup and dresses while getting ready and YES I need more of this please.

I think it has a lot to do with Selah.

Selah is such a darling, an absolute delight to read about, someone whose every action seems filled with good. She has such a big heart, and she wears it on her sleeve and give her love freely, and it was so endearing. But at the same time she's a little bit stubborn and strong-willed and knows what she wants. She's an incredibly well written character, so many layers and nuances bring her to life on the page.

I can understand how The Beholder will not be everyone's cup of tea, but I adored it. I loved the slower pace, the time spent getting to know each character, how I couldn't help but get fully invested in Selah and heart.

After how The Beholder ended, I can't wait to read the next one. I'm so glad that this is the start of a series, because I need more of Selah and her generous heart.

 My heart was a lit candle, a forest fire, a burning star.

21 June 2019

Book Beginnings #72

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 The Beholder by Anna Bright.


The Beholder by Anna Bright cover

Once upon a time always began on nights like tonight.
Isn't this a great first line? I think it really sets the tone of the story, gives a hint at the fairytale-with-a-hint-of-snark quality the writing has.

I'm reading The Beholder by Anna Bright for the Fairyloot readalong. It came in the May Fairyloot box, and I probably would have picked it up anyway as the cover is stunning. It reminds me of the introduction for Black Sails, so I've immediately got ideas of pirates floating round my head.

My father had never looked so defeated.
This is actually from page 55 as page 56 is blank!

So far, The Beholder by Anna Bright is a bit Cinderella, a lot of plotting and political intrigue, and a crisis of confidence. I love how already I am so invested in Selah and her life. I really feel for her, she and those around her are being manipulated, and it's like she's the only one who can see that. And she's not in a position to do anything about it.

Selah and her father have such a sweet relationship, this bit hit me in the feels.

Also the significance of the cover now makes sense! I spent a while flipping back and forth.


What are you reading this week?

19 June 2019

Book Review: Forget My Name by JS Monroe *AD Gifted

Head of Zeus sent me a free electronic review copy of Forget My Name by JS Monroe.

I thought that this was a very clever domestic thriller and although I was expecting a twist (there's always a twist) this one surprised me quite a bit.

Forget My Name by JS Monroe coverAdd to Goodreads button
How do you know who to trust...
...when you don't even know who you are?

You are outside your front door. 
There are strangers in your house.
Then you realise. You can't remember your name.

She arrived at the train station after a difficult week at work. Her bag had been stolen, and with it, her identity. Her whole life was in there – passport, wallet, house key. When she tried to report the theft, she couldn’t remember her own name. All she knew was her own address.

Now she's outside Tony and Laura's front door. She says she lives in their home. They say they have never met her before.

One of them is lying.


5 Words: Secrets, lies, memory, manipulation, mystery.

Forget My Name was an quick and compelling read, one that was difficult to put down. It presented so many mysteries that I was desperate to solve and slowly became more and more sinister as the story progressed.

Our mystery women is quite quickly called Jemma with a "J" by Tony, and this is pretty much where the fun starts. With a main character unable to remember even her name, the narrator is immediately wholly unreliable. As the story unfolds she becomes even more unreliable as she is influenced by everyone around her.

I loved how unpredictable this book was. I was surprised again and again. It is definitely more of a mystery than a thriller, but it did have me on the edge of my seat at times.

I thought that Forget My Name by JS Monroe was a very clever read, I liked the way the story twisted and turned, and how I never knew who to trust or what was true. It is a compelling read that I couldn't put down.

18 June 2019

Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2019

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 
Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2019

    What books are you looking forward to?

    15 June 2019

    My Paper & Hearts Society Summer Reading List *AD Gifted

    BKMRK sent me a free electronic review copy of The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie.

    The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie is not only filled with fabulous friendships, but an excellent book club. The pages are bursting with recommendations, and I loved the passion of the characters when they were talking about the books.

    I was inspired while reading to pick up a few of the books recommended by various characters, and compile my own summer reading list solely from the recommendations of The Paper & Hearts Society.
    "Are any of you really going to read them just because I said so?"
    "Yes!" Olivia replied, her voice raising "That's the whole point of the book club."
    There were so many excellent recommendations, from One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton to Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt, a fair few of which I have already read. Every time I came across a book, I jotted it down, then I whittled it down to a manageable summer reading list.

    We all know how I do when I set myself a TBR, it's either a resounding success like #TheReadingQuest Reading Challenge or it's a complete failure like the the UK Re-Readathon.

    So what's on my Summer TBR?
    • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
    • Nimona by Noella Stevenson
    • One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg
    • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
    • Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
    I deliberately picked out things I wouldn't ordinarily pick for myself, and it just so happens that I can also knock off some of my 30 Classics Before 30 as well.


    14 June 2019

    Book Beginnings #71

    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 Forget My Name by J.S. Monroe.


    Forget My Name by J.S. Monroe

    I can't remember my own name.
    I think this is and excellent first line, it's dramatic and striking and has me asking so many questions, I can't wait to go on!

    Judging from the cover and the blurb, I'm expecting Forget My Name to be one of those books that really gets in your head and has you questioning everything, and I can't wait to read it!
    She looks unsteady on her feet and slumps down at the kitchen table, holding her head in her hands. "I'm sorry for coming here today, for walking into your life like this, you house, and I apologise if I've somehow upset you tonight."

    I am well past this bit in the book, but it gives a good peek at what's to come. The characters hold a lot of regret and guilt and prejudice, their own preconceptions of each other.

    It's a great story so far and although I haven't worked out what's going on yet, I'm intrigued and addicted.


    What are you reading this week?

    13 June 2019

    Release Day Book Review: The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie *AD Gifted

    BKMRK sent me a free review copy of The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie. I also somehow ended up buying myself multiple finished copies oops.

    The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie is filled with friendship and self-discovery and a great love of books, and I enjoyed it so much that I have already reread it multiple times. Oops.


    The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie coverAdd to Goodreads button
    Tabby Brown is tired of trying to fit in. She doesn't want to go to parties - in fact, she would much rather snuggle up on the sofa with her favourite book.

    It's like she hasn't found her people...

    Then Tabby joins a club that promises to celebrate books. What could go wrong? EVERYTHING - especially when making new friends brings out an AWKWARD BUZZING feeling all over her body.

    But Olivia, Cassie, Henry and Ed have something that makes Tabby come back. Maybe it's the Austen-themed fancy-dress parties, or Ed's fluffy cat Mrs Simpkins, or could it be Henry himself...

    Can Tabby let her weird out AND live THE BEST BOOKISH LIFE POSSIBLE?


    5 Words: Family, friendship, books, self-discovery, bullying.

    This. Book.

    I first read The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie back in April when BKMRK kindly sent me a review copy. Then pretty much as soon as it was first spotted in the wild in June I read it again, this time armed with a pencil for underlining and annotations.

    As much as I loved Tabby, the main character, I related so much with Olivia that she is definitely my favourite. It was astounding to see myself so clearly in a book, in a side character so fleshed out that they came to life. I saw me - I was represented. It was a shock to me how much I felt seen.

    I think one of my favourite things about The Paper & Hearts Society was how it was packed with a huge love for books. I loved spotting books that I'd read, bumping books up my existing TBR, and adding books I hadn't heard of. Check back on Saturday for my own Paper & Hearts Society summer reading list, inspired by the books that the characters discuss.

    I really liked the conflict in this book - it was so natural and so real. The friendship group came to life to such an extent that I almost forgot they were characters in a book, and every interaction between them was natural.

    I loved the road trip, how it was another factor in the changing dynamics of the group. And all of the destinations were already on my literary travel bucket list, so it was great to see them come alive. It made me wonder how the Paper & Hearts Society would react to Barter Books and Alnwick Castle - they should definitely head up North and do a flying lesson at Hogwarts.

    The Paper & Hearts Society is one of those books that lifts you up, and it's fast becoming a self-care reread book for me. Read it, pre-order the next one, reread it.

    11 June 2019

    Ten Unpopular Bookish Opinions

    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 
    Unpopular Bookish Opinions
    This is my first time doing Top Ten Tuesday this year, and hasn't time flown since I posted My Top Ten Favourite Posts This Year back in December? I really felt like letting my bitchy side out this week.
    • Books aren't meant to stay pristine.
      Books are there to be read and loved Spines should be broken and pages should be dogeared and annotations should be written. As long as they're your books you can do what you like.
    • DNF reviews are good and helpful.
      I like to know why it didn't work out for you, because your idea of hell could be my idea of heaven.
    • A 5 star rating system is more helpful than a 10 star rating system.
      You have to be more harsh in your judgement to decide whether you will round a half star up or down. The more stars you have to rate with the easier it gets to smack a 7 or 8 on everything and frankly that's useless.
    • Sometimes the film is better.
      I'm looking at you, Pride & Prejudice. Although this could be because I an Keira Knightley trash.
    • Love triangles aren't all bad.
      Sometimes they are excellent and they can build conflict and chemistry so well. Also, they're kind of a guilty pleasure, I love the WHICH ONE WILL THEY CHOSE moments.
    • Backwards Books are OK.
      I personally have a lot of my books displayed page out on my shelves rather than spine out. They make small, dark rooms lighter, they're a good backdrop from Instagram, sometimes the noise of all of the spines is too much.
    • Content warnings should be on every book they apply to.
      Honestly, a single line at the beginning would be amazing. So many times I have been surprised by shock triggering content, and while I've been OK others may not have been. I always try to include them in my reviews.
    • Blurbing a book in your review is just lazy and spoilery.
      If I want to know what a book is about, I will read the blurb. When I read a review I want to know what you think and why, I don't want the story rehashed for three paragraphs before a single short line on why you liked it.
    • Umbridge is the best Harry Potter character.
      She is so complex and layered, and I love how she is so set in her conviction that she is right and that she is the hero
    • Most of Bookstagram is boring
      It's the same books in the same flat-lay themes over and over. Where has the creativity gone?

      What are your unpopular bookish opinions?

      07 June 2019

      Book Beginnings #70

      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 The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie.


      The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie cover

      Tabitha Brown's heart thudded in her chest as she read the Instagram caption on her phone. Best night with my favourite girls!
      This is a book that I am rereading already, despite having just read it in April and it not even being released for another week. I just can't help myself.

      The Paper & Hearts Society is full of friendship and self-discovery and books. It makes me so happy to read it, and get lost in a book club I wish I were a part of.
      "That's the second time you've mentioned bringing Jane Austen back from the dead now, Livs," Henry replied. "I think you might have a problem."

      One of my favourite things about The Paper & Hearts Society is the sheer adoration of books within the story. Even if Cassie plays it cool and pretends she's not a reader, once she's started on graphic novels there's no stopping her. I love the UKYA books and authors name dropped in the pages. I also love the friendship dynamics, the way they gently tease each other, but always in good fun.


      What are you reading this week?