TikTok Sensation ‘Beach Bunny’: Live At Manchester O2 Ritz

With an electric performance at Manchester O2 Ritz, indie rock group Beach Bunny proved that they are a band to watch.

I thought I’d mix it up a little and review a concert instead of a book this week. I was lucky enough to see TikTok Sensation Beach Bunny live last week and it was the best gig I’ve ever been to. Read on to find out why…

🎸 🎸 🎸

The crowd was full of anticipation during the support act: the softly spoken Siv Jakobsen who’d come all the way from Norway for the gig. Whilst a tight band with gorgeous harmonies, Jakobsen was pretty different to the pop-punk chaos of Beach Bunny and not quite what I was expecting. However, the contrast may have been a strategic move from the band as the crowd was filled with energy when Beach Bunny finally took to the stage.

Opening with their most streamed song ‘Prom Queen’, Beach Bunny immediately captured a crowd who shouted every word. Unsurprising, as this was the song that shot the Californian-based rock group to fame when it went viral in 2018. Bands who found fame on TikTok sometimes lack the stage presence or the back catalogue to engage crowds – I haven’t heard amazing things about Wet Leg or Inhaler’s live performances. However, despite opening with their biggest song, the band proved that they could continue the energy and power packed into ‘Prom Queen’ for an entire set.

Through the next few songs, the band showcased their capacity for combining catchy melodies with meaningful lyrics. The real queen of the band is the lead singer, Lili Trifillio, who formed the band in 2015 and writes most of the songs. She effortlessly merges bedroom pop with indie-rock (I’ve heard Beach Bunny described as pop-punk but they’re a bit classier than that). Come for the music, but stay for the lyrics…

‘I’m tired of dumb boy talk’ – Lili Trifillio (center)

Appealing to a crowd of mostly early 20s at the O2 Ritz, Trifillio captured the joy and insecurity of teen love in songs like ‘Boys’ and ‘April’. Playing whilst wearing a ‘Prom Queen’ sash made by a fan, she regularly checked in with the audience, sharing insight and jokes. ‘You’ve turned my day around’ she once shouted to the crowd. At another point, she conducted us in ‘Happy Birthday’, which is a great example of how friendly and supportive the crowd was. It was clear everyone was having the time of their lives.

Undeniably, this feeling of closeness was emphasized by the iconic venue. A Manchester staple, The O2 Ritz has hosted some of the best bands of the last century, from The Smiths’s first ever gig to New Order and the Stone Roses. Beach Bunny brought some California sunshine to the venue and the crowd was one of the most energetic I’ve ever seen at an indie gig. At Trifillio’s command, the crowd would transform into a pulsing mosh pit across the Ritz’s iconic wooden floor. Even more unexpected was a ‘Wall of Death’ mosh near the end of the set – how many of them have you seen at a bedroom pop gig?

Arguably, the drive and edge behind songs like ‘Oxygen’ are lost in the Spotify recordings – I wasn’t expecting the crowd to be as lively they were. However, the sharper sound better suits the coming-of-age pain and power Trifillio evokes.

The set ended with Beach Bunny’s feminist anthems ‘Blame Game’ and ‘Good Girls Don’t Get Used’. Trifillio’s ability to transform a crowd on the verge of tears, phone lights in hand, into a screaming circle pit highlights the band’s power. The night finished triumphantly with an encore to the fan favorite ‘Painkiller’, leaving the crowd buzzing and exhausted.

Whatever the song may say, it’s clear that Beach Bunny are worthy of the title ‘Prom Queen’.

🎸 🎸 🎸

What’s the best gig you’ve ever been to? Are you a fan of Beach Bunny’s music? What do you think about bands who’ve found fame on social media? Let me know in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday 8/11/22: Series I’d Like To Finish

Can you sympathize with having a crazy TBR pile?

This weeks Top Ten Tuesday prompt is about series you’re mid way through and I thought it would be a good chance to recap on series I’ve begun and never finished… And there’s a lot more than I originally thought!

As always, this great tag was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish but is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. I know some people have to finish a series if they start it – what about you? It doesn’t really bother me to never find out how a series ends, are you the same? Let me know in the comments!

1. The Dark Artifices Trilogy

Who hasn’t got at least one Cassandra Clare series on the go? Life gets in the way, or you run out of money because her books are so expensive. Or, in this case, you learn how many pages are in the last book – 900! – and think you’d rather not…

But I did love the first two books of this series, and will definitely finish it some day! Find out why I fell in love with the characters of Lady Midnight here.

2. The Infernal Devices Series

Again Cassandra Clare! I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first book in this series, The Clockwork Angel – find out why in my review here. But I read it immediately after the The Mortal Instruments so I needed a bit of a break from the author. How many of her series have you read? She has so many I honestly lose track…

3. The Eldest Curses Series

Who doesn’t love Magnus Bane? The Bane Chronicles were so, so fun (find my joyful review of the llamas and loafers here) and The Red Scrolls Of Magic was even better. Time runs away from me – I can’t believe it’s been a year since I read the first book in this series and I must get round to the second one!

(Cassandra Clare’s series win the prize for the most obscure names for her series. I really don’t get how a lot of them relate to the books, and get them all very confused, do you?)

4. The Aurora Rising Series

Like The Infernal Devices, I was a bit put off the series by the first book, Aurora Rising. Amongst other things, the Percy-Jackson-Wannabe writing style irritated me – find out my other problems in my review here. However, you guys have said brilliant things about the series as a whole in my comments, and implored me to keep reading. When I get a chance, I might pick it back up again!

5. The Locked Tomb Trilogy

I haven’t finished this series, but not for want of trying. I’m so excited for book three! However, due to Waterstones’ shipping problems, I still haven’t received Nona The Ninth but I can’t wait can’t wait can’t wait to read it. I’m obsessed with this addictive, beautiful series – find my rant on these badass bone nuns in Gideon The Ninth here and Harrow The Ninth here.

6. The Dreamer Trilogy

Maggie Stiefvater is my favorite author. Even further than favorite books, she is so consistently amazing that I know anything she writes will be superb. Stiefvater has my favorite style, my favorite writing, my favorite author. Her books don’t fail to captivate and terrify and entice; the Dreamers Trilogy is no different. I can’t wait to read the Greywaren, what about you?

7. The Serpent And Dove Series

I’m not sure why I ever finished this series? I really enjoyed Serpent and Dove (find out why in my review here!) but it was never really a priority to finish. I suppose when series don’t end on a cliffhanger you’re not that incentivized to finish it…

I know some people have to finish a series if they start it – what about you? It doesn’t really bother me to never find out how a series ends, are you the same? Let me know in the comments!

The Future Of The Murder Mystery? ‘The Appeal’ Review

Can you write a complex murder mystery only using emails? Well, the answer is yes and no…

Name: The Appeal

Author: Janice Hallet

Published: 2021

In a town full of secrets… Someone was murdered. Someone went to prison. And everyone’s a suspect. Can you uncover the truth?

Dear Reader – enclosed are all the documents you need to solve a case. It starts with the arrival of two mysterious newcomers to the small town of Lockwood, and ends with a tragic death. Someone has already been convicted of this brutal murder and is currently in prison, but we suspect they are innocent. What’s more, we believe far darker secrets have yet to be revealed.

Throughout the Fairway Players’ staging of All My Sons and the charity appeal for little Poppy Reswick’s life-saving medical treatment, the murderer hid in plain sight. Yet we believe they gave themselves away. In writing. The evidence is all here, between the lines, waiting to be discovered. Will you accept the challenge? Can you uncover the truth?

From the blurb, it sounds as if you’re going to be playing Cleudo. Originally, I felt far too lazy to solve the mystery myself – isn’t that what the characters are for? But I was soon immersed in the hierarchal and tangled web of the Fairway Players, and thoroughly enjoyed this thoroughly unconventional mystery.

The Appeal is a bit like a murder mystery in reverse. Written entirely in emails and the occasional text message, it is a ‘modern take on the epistolary novel’. Two law students are given correspondences leading up to a murder to deduce if someone is wrongfully convicted. (Wow! Like an Appeal!). The idea was that the students go in blind and objective, so Femi and Charlotte are presented with the same information as the reader, which was very fun.

While Femi and Charlotte make some impressive deductions that I had no hope of catching, the mystery itself felt a little predictable. Around half way, the narrative became a bit stagnant and repetitive now that the characters personalities had been set out. I wanted more explanation of the law students – what is their relationship to each other? Did they struggle to solve it? Why is their boss Mr Tanner so emotionally involved in the case?

In short, a lot was riding on the eventual reveal. However, to add to the author’s commitment to defying conventions, the ending wasn’t all over in a few paragraphs. Femi and Charlotte would present a theory that you’re sure is the truth, but Tanner would supply a non chronological piece of the puzzle that would change the whole picture. I loved how the explanation blossoms for about 100 pages – you’re drip fed all these clues; little reveals after little reveals.

‘Dearest Helen, Martin and family, I am in shock. Poor Poppy. My heart goes out to you all. Send my love to Helen and Paige. Assure them that if they need anything, however small, you know where we are. I remember when Harley fell off his bike and had a severe concussion. It was the worst few hours of my life, so I know how you must be feeling.’

– The Appeal

Any review of The Appeal wouldn’t be complete without talking about the ’email’ discourse structure. I was surprised with the amount of personality conveyed from just emails. It’s like being inside the characters’ heads, and the emails were cleverly written. Effective and often funny. They add a distinct human quality to the characters and I can imagine a lot of the interactions actually occurring – like in the quote above, discussing a cancer diagnosis… A lot comes from a little. Some personalities shined through; Issy and Martin had really strong voices but some, of the many, many characters, fell a little flat or felt irrelevant.

It is a big cast; it detracts from dramatic reveals when you can’t remember who the characters even are, doesn’t it? Some readers may find the various different storylines overwhelming. But while there are a lot of characters, it’s manageable if you put a bit of work in. Aside from that, The Appeal is quite an easy read and I flew through it.

I fluctuated between 4 and 5 stars throughout reading. Admittedly, the ’email’ discourse structure sometimes felt a little lazy. Some plots were left ambiguous or not properly concluded because of the excuse of the information not being something you’d mention in an email. However, almost every review of The Appeal begins with groundbreaking or revolutionary, and they’re not wrong. I can see the temptation to write in this format – why ever bother with prose again? Emails are much more common in out daily lives and, as Janice Halley has proven, they can create rich and vibrant characters.

What do you think: could this format be the future of the murder mystery?

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Future Of Fantasy: ‘The Witch King’ Review

The Witch King is original. Truly something special. What makes it so different is…

Name: The Witch King

Author: H. E. Edgmon

Published: June 2021

To save a fae kingdom, a trans witch must face his traumatic past and the royal fiancé he left behind. This debut YA fantasy will leave you spellbound.

In Asalin, fae rule and witches like Wyatt Croft…don’t. Wyatt’s betrothal to his best friend, fae prince Emyr North, was supposed to change that. But when Wyatt lost control of his magic one devastating night, he fled to the human world.

Now a coldly distant Emyr has hunted him down. Despite transgender Wyatt’s newfound identity and troubling past, Emyr has no intention of dissolving their engagement. In fact, he claims they must marry now or risk losing the throne. Jaded, Wyatt strikes a deal with the enemy, hoping to escape Asalin forever. But as he gets to know Emyr, Wyatt realizes the boy he once loved may still exist. And as the witches face worsening conditions, he must decide once and for all what’s more important—his people or his freedom.

Romantic and fantastical and fierce: let me introduce The Witch King by H. E Edgmon. Alongside amazing trans representation is a powerful cast, a fiery fantasy world and a heartfelt romance.

This year, I’d seen so many gushing reviews of The Witch King, but hadn’t seen the book in any English bookshops. My hunt for the sequel has proved that this series is almost as difficult to get in the UK as decent weather, but I haven’t given up looking! It was only when I went on holiday abroad that I actually found the book… so I had to buy it. And I’m so glad I did! Read on to find out why…

The Witch King is original. Truly something special. What makes it so different is how the author mixes technology in with a portal fantasy setting to create this (hilarious) blended magical world. As far as I’ve seen, technology and fantasy is rarely done outside the realms of sci-fi and I really enjoyed it.

Who doesn’t love a dark, fast paced fantasy? The whole concept feels genuinely unique – fae and witches have been done a million times, but I feel like rarely with so many queer characters and identity exploration (LOVE LOVE LOVE). As well as a complicated plot and complex characters, you can find strong plot twists and politics. As part of his magical gifts, Wyatt can sense people’s energies – like an aura – which wasn’t overcomplicated but felt really different.

Ahhhh Wyatt…

“I am not the golden goose. I am more like an actual goose, hissing and honking and attacking small children who just want to give me bread.” 

― We <3 Wyatt, 

Wyatt was one of the highlights of the book. He was written so well – there’s enough page time given to exploring his trans identity so that he feels fully realised, but without decimating the story with deadnaming and misgendering. Personality wise, Wyatt was also really likeable and had strong character development.

There’s more to his character than being trans. Unfortunately as opposed to other books I’ve read with trans MCs, it felt refreshing and again sets the book apart. The Witch King is not a queer pain story. As well as arson and political rebellions, it’s a book about love – for others and for yourself.

I was absolutely rooting for Wyatt’s romantic plot – I’ve haven’t been this invested in a romance for ages. Such a heartfelt love story. A few of the scenes were a little cliched, but I think the author knew what he was doing… Whose really complaining about the ‘only-one-bed’ trope or the old ‘long-lost-fiance’. They’re classics for a reason…

So if you’re lucky enough to have The Witch King in your local bookshops, first I’m jealous, and also buy it buy it buy it. Entertaining, funny, powerful; I absolutely sped through it. There are plot twists galore, it’s genuinely interesting and so well put together. I think the reason I’m struggling to find this book is because of its indie publishing. It’s vital to support smaller publishers and Own Voices authors so they can keep creating great books like this one!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

LGBTQ+ Historical Icons Book Tag

This is so cool – I love that you can educate people and share book recommendations at the same time! I’m honoured to be nominated by the creator The Corner of Laura and you can find their post here.

I think it’s so important to keep sharing queer books during and especially after June, to be Proud after pride and to keep supporting indie authors. This tag taught me a few things, and I hope you learn something too!

Also, it’s not a book but I just finished the Heartbreak High reboot on Netflix and it was SO GOOD. It’s the sort of programme you can just lose yourself in (ie, it’s trash, but it’s great trash) and the queer rep is phenomenal. Have you see it? Let me know in the comments!

My favorite proper book of poetry is Emily Dickinson, Assorted Poems by Ted Hughes. It’s such a gorgeous mix of poems, and I’m pretty sure Emily Dickinson was also queer, so it fits really well with the prompt!

There were many characters in Girl Woman Other who had a pretty tricky lot, but what was so powerful about the book was how they faced it. A truly incredible read – find out why this book genuinely changed my life in my review here.

I’m obsessed with the cover for Casey McQuiston’s I Kissed Shara Wheeler and the contents are just as gorgeous as the cover. I think their books are getting prettier and prettier they gain popularity and I can’t wait to see what their next book is like! Find out why I think Shara Wheeler deserves more hype here.

Do you have books that never really left you? I read The Memory Book aeons ago, but every so often I remember it… and I remember how it honestly broke me. It’s clever; the dairy entries of a terminally ill teenager, but written in the present tense as she takes her laptop everywhere she goes. And the ending… it was so long ago but I think I can still remember every line. Find out why in my review here.

One of the most romantic and fantastical and fierce and fiery books I’ve ever read: The Witch King by H. E Edgmon. Alongside amazing trans representation is a powerful cast, a portal fantasy (my favorite) and a load of magical powers that I would definitely want on my team. Unfortunately, it seems you can only get the sequel in America but I haven’t given up looking! Review incoming…

I finally read The Secret History! I don’t think you can get any more academic than that book, and while the setting was flawless (I could almost smell the dusty, damp colleges) I didn’t enjoy as much as I thought I would. While the vibes were immaculate, the substance wasn’t really there, and as Shakespeare said, ‘A book don’t work on vibes alone’. Find out why in my review here!

Ooooh this was a tricky one? I have to go for Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (although it may be in the second book 😬) because Adam’s court scene with his father honestly moved me to tears. I love The Raven Boys so much… and am unbelievably excited for the third and final Dream Thieves book this month.

They’re so special to me that I haven’t many of them because it’s too hard to express my love without turning into incomprehensible fangirling. But you can find my (reasonably understandable) comparison of my experience reading The Dream Thieves vs audiobooking The Raven Boys here!

I Nominate…

Booktok Lied To Me: The Secret History Review

Did I enjoy The Secret History? No. But were the vibes immaculate? Yes.

Name: The Secret History

Author: Donna Tartt

Published: 1997

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and for ever.

Maybe to say I didn’t enjoy it is a little dramatic; I’ve read worse. But it’s the sort of book you appreciate more after you’ve read it than during.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt is tantalizingly character based. While this is fascinating to analyze when you’ve finished the book, but for me, it didn’t make for a gripping read. When something did happen in the plot, combined with the previous character studies and powerful writing style, it was amazing. I sailed through the last 60 pages, and felt genuinely scared when Bunny died.

But the rest of the book? It was the five getting drunk and passing out, or getting drunk and going for a walk, or getting drunk and arguing. Julian wasn’t this mastermind he was set out to be and the weather had as much page time as Francis.

The biggest disappointment? I have to admit, The Secret History is the epitome of ‘Booktok made me read it’. I’d seen so many raving reviews praising the atmosphere that I went into reading with high expectations. I’d expected a pretentious read – sure, there’d be lot of classical references but enough substance to pull through.

And yes, in some ways, The Secret History was worth the hype. A few passages will stay with me for a very long time, and I’m left with a very strong impression of youth and classical civilization and murder and cold weather. But whilst reading? Boring as anything.

What about you? Have you had a similar experiences where Booktok let you down? Or any other overhyped books that just weren’t as good as you expected? Let me know in the comments!

If you wanna find more of this type of content, check out my Worth the Hype series here! From The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo to Red White and Royal Blue, I’m reading popular books so you don’t have to. To answer the question once and for all… are any of these books really worth the hype?

ARC Review: Not Good For Maidens

Not for the faint of hearts or weak of knees, this is an incredibly visceral, brutal book. In short: bi panic means aunt is nearly eaten by sexy goblins, while her ace niece uses ace superpowers to avoid goblin seduction… but her family cracks under weight of witchy lies.

Name: Not Good For Maidens

Author: Tori Bovalino

Publish date: 13th September 2022

Louisa doesn’t believe in magic, until her teenage aunt Neela is kidnapped to the goblin market.

The market is a place of magic, where twisting streets, succulent fruits, glimmering jewels, and death are on offer to the unwary human. An enticing place that her mother and aunt barely escaped seventeen years ago, paying a terrible price.

With only three days before the market disappears, Lou must navigate the treacherous market, controlled by bloodthirsty goblins who crave vengeance against her family. She must learn the songs and tricks of the goblins to save Neela, or the market might just end up claiming her too.

Thank you to the publishers for providing me with an ARC copy through Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Are you a fan of fairytale retellings? Amidst the popularity of A Court of Thorns and Roses and The Lunar Chronicles, we’re certainly seeing a rise in YA authors putting their own spin on old tales. However, Not Good For Maidens veers away from romantic retellings, standing apart as a bloody retelling of Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market”.

Set amongst the cobbled streets of York, this book follows two generations of girls who are seduced and subsequently destroyed by the Goblin Market. With brilliant queer representation, this book explores identity and its relation to sexuality, family and place… as well as its relation to witchy covens and underground goblin markets.

The best part? It’s crammed with strong female characters. There’s a very heavy family focus and I enjoyed Lou’s exploration of her identity. Casually queer, I loved Lou and Neela’s supportive relationship. Instead of predictable, Lou has an inevitable character development, although I feel the author could have pushed her eventual empowerment a bit more.

My other favourite thing was the magic. Not Good For Maidens has excellently researched and thought out lore, which I always love – with modern covens and modern witches. How cool is the idea that all the witches, all the police, all of York even, is banded together against the Goblin Market? If you’ve ever been to York, you’ll have felt the old magic in its old streets, and the supernatural underbelly of old English cities is perfectly encapsulated in this book. While Lou’s nationality appeals to American readers, Not Good For Maidens is rooted in England. If you’re a Northerner and enjoy YA fantasy, this is a must read.

“She didn’t want to feel the pull of the market. None of them did. May left the Witchery as the sun sank lower snd lower and dyed the sky red. She slipped into the twilight, into the hour that was not good for maidens, as the stars blinked and cluttered the night sky.”


However, my biggest issue was that despite being marketed as such, this isn’t horror. This isn’t horror because that implies tension – ‘Not Good For Maidens’ relies instead on gore. Rather than the lingering fear embedded in horror, this was a few seconds of blunt impact. Not for the faint of hearts or the weak of knees, this is an incredibly visceral, brutal book, but I would class it more as thriller or a gory fantasy book than horror. The writing falls on the ‘tell not show’ side, which does take away some of the suspense. Horror should be about the unknown.

I also wish the goblins had a more dominant characteristic. Like how Holly Black’s faeries are beautiful and cruel, or Cassandra Clare’s fae can’t lie. The goblins were compellingly written (Eitra and May are really vibrant and moving at points, as forbidden love always is) but I wanted something more. However the whole premise is pretty original and I haven’t seen goblin markets before in Young Adult books. Have you? Let me know in the comments!

This is quite a simple book, but that’s not necessarily a fault. Not Good For Maidens isn’t the sort of book with elaborate plot twists – or any plot twists really. As there are two storylines alternating between the past and present, you can assume or have already been told exactly what will happen. But overall, it’s not a bad thing. The simplicity matches the overall feel of the book; the blunt writing and the archaic, brutal goblin magic. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Gideon the Ninth Review… Take Two!

Brutal. This book is gloriously, gorgeously brutal – it takes no prisoners, and your breath away.

Name: Gideon the Ninth (Locked Tomb Series: Book 1)

Author: Tamsyn Muir

Published: 2019

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.

Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.

Of course, some things are better left dead.

I make a big deal on this site about evolving your writing style. About two years ago, I read and reviewed Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir; then with the third book in the Locked Tomb series released at the end of the month, I thought I’d reread it. My mind is like a sieve with fantasy book plots.

Surprisingly, my opinion of the book had changed so much! I found that two years ago, I misread characters, totally missed majors plot points and now emerge with the feeling of reading basically a different book. So, because my writing style has changed a lot from two years ago, because I feel it no longer represents my actual opinion and because it made me physically cringe to read, I’ve rewritten my original review of Gideon the Ninth – with far fewer bone jokes and dancing skeleton gifs.

The first (and only, if carnage is all it takes for you to go hell noooo) thing you need to know about Gideon the Ninth is that it’s gory. Gory in plot, undeniably, but this is heightened by gore in the writing style. Doors crunch, lightbulbs scream, floors crack; everything is broken or breaking, from the characters to the adjectives. It’s unnerving. It feeds subtly into the incredible, incredible world building – until you too feel the claustrophobic paranoia of necromancers on a distant planet as they’re picked off one by one by a vengeful energy form. Pretty sick, right?

It’s difficult for me to explain the Locked Tomb series eloquently, without deteriorating into just pushing the book into your hands and screaming Read it! Read it! (It’s one of those books.) But if you like intricate characters and people being stabbed in the back until their guts fall out? This book is for you. If you like flawless world building and arcane necromancy? This book is for you. And if you like authors that are slightly insane and plot twists that make you lose your mind (but in a good way) and lesbians vying for God’s affection by sword fighting on tables ? Then this book is certainly for you.

It’s the type of book with plot twists that get you so excited you want to share it with your friends, but just explaining why the twist is important would take hours and a colour coded character map and some yarn. And I love it.

Her adept said: “I’ll keep it off you. Nav, show them what the Ninth House does.”

Gideon lifted her sword. The construct worked itself free of its last confines of masonry and rotten wood and heaved before them, flexing itself like a butterfly.

We do bones, motherf*cker,” she said.”


So, what were the big changes from when I first read Gideon the Ninth? One of the biggest differences was how I totally misread relationships. There are a lot of characters, with an unhelpful majority with very similar names, but consulting the character list every other page helped me greatly. This unlocked a whole new experience where I understood characters and their relationships instead of seeing everyone as an odd Palamedes/Pelleamena/Protesilaus mashup.

The worst relationship I think I misread was Gideon and Harrow’s – instead of being convinced they should be together, now I swear they’re just friends! There’s the ambiguous scene in the training room pool, but I think that was a transition from enemies to something less hostile. Sure, they’re both queer but that doesn’t mean they have to date, tut tut me-from-two-years-ago. What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

The other big change was my reaction to the swearing. Tamsyn Muir uses profanities sparingly, but does love a good sprinkle here and there. While this had kind of irritated me the first time through, I must admit, it felt pretty cool this time around. Not to be overused, but swear words in descriptions can create a very strong sense of person and place.

The last difference I found: that I’m older and arguably better at reading and that I actually understood the plot! I can’t lie, Gideon the Ninth does take effort to follow but it’s worth it. What you put in, you get out, right? So if you let yourself, you can become fully immersed in the splintering, dangerous world of Gideon the Ninth.

Then pick it back up two years later and find it’s even better!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

TTT 30/8/22: Why Were These Books Banned? Should They Stay Banned?

Why are books banned? There’s certainly some crazy reasons out there. Whenever I see banned books lists, it often bugs me that it doesn’t say why they were banned in the first place. So, I thought I’d do some research for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday and compile a list for you!

Reading banned books is important for so many reasons. It shows that even reading can be an act of rebellion; even if you don’t always agree with them, reading about a variety of opinions gives you a balanced view of the world. It’s also interesting to question the difference between a ‘classic book’ and a ‘good book’.

I don’t agree with banning books. Unless in extreme places, surely what’s ‘appropriate’ to read should be decided by the individual, not a distant board of education, right? Plus, another pro of banned books: it feels pretty cool to say you’re reading something that was once illegal.

As always, this great tag was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish but is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. It’s such a fascinating topic, what do you think – should books should be banned? Do you enjoy reading banned books? Let me know in the comments!

1) Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

What’s it about? I’d never heard of this book until I started my summer challenge of watching all of Winona Ryder’s movies! In rawness and emotional power, Girl Interrupted surpasses Edward Scissorhands and even Heathers; I really enjoyed this portrayal of teen girls in a 1960s mental health hospital. It was deeply moving. Plus, it has an all star female cast with Angelina Jolie alongside Ryder, Whoopi Goldberg and Brittany Murphy. What’s not to like?

Why was this book banned? Both memoir and film cover quite triggering subjects, but that’s not necessarily a problem as long as you supply trigger warnings. In the early 2000s, New York officials physically ripped out pages of Girl, Interrupted and removed it from school reading lists. It’s since been returned, because it’s incredibly important that we understand how the treatment mental health has changed, and read about real people’s experiences. The book is a snapshot into 1960s life and I’d highly recommend it.

2) The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

What’s it about? THUG is one of the strongest young adult books I’ve read. It combines an empathetic cast with a powerful story and makes you really think – everyone should read it. It’s at the top of my recommendations list of young adult books that tackle racism, which you can find here.

Why was this book banned? In 2017, The Hate U Give was challenged for having explicit language. I don’t understand schools’ obsession with avoiding books with profanities – have they never heard teenagers speak? In this case, it seems like a pretty weak reason to deny students this incredible book. What do you think?

3) The Wizard Of Oz by L. Frank Baum

What’s it about? When someone says banned books, you don’t really think of Dorothy and the Yellow Brick Road. This book needs no synopsis, but is one of the most iconic kids books out there. Did you know that Baum intended for there to be child eating flowers in The Wizard of Oz, but his publisher said it wasn’t really appropriate. I wonder why…

Why was this book banned? I bet you didn’t know this. In 1928, the Chicago Public Library banned The Wizard of Oz because it was supposedly ungodly. Why? Because it ‘depicted women in strong leadership roles’.

4) Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

What’s it about? You’ve probably read, studied or, at the very least, seen Sinise’s film adaptation of this classic American novel. A few years ago, I analyzed it in an English class and found the bittersweet narrative cinematic and moving. This book is like a time machine back to The Great Depression.

Why was this book banned? It’s an interesting one. After being accused of racism, Of Mice and Men was removed from many school reading lists. When I studied it, our teacher read an unabridged copy aloud and I remember them excusing racial slurs as ‘a product of the time’. Needless to say, it was an uncomfortable book to analyze, for both me and black classmates.

There’s the argument that books like Steinbeck’s are valuable classics… but maybe it’s time we study new classics. There’s a plethora of worthy books out there that empower and educate, rather than being another stuck record plagued with racism. I’m not saying we can’t learn from Of Mice and Men. But there the ‘product of its time’ argument is wearing a bit thin. There will be similar books set in the 1920s that we could study in school that don’t make students uncomfortable… books I’ve never even heard of because I was busy studying Steinbeck.

5) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol

What’s it about? This deliciously trippy kid’s book was the basis of my childhood. It’s weird and wacky and has inspired countless portal fantasies, including the Johnny Depp films and a play I did in drama about Wonderland being drug induced haze for coping with grief. Bet you didn’t know that!

Why was this book banned? In 1931, certain regions of China banned this book because it portrayed animals as equally intelligent as humans. Supposedly, if children learned to view animals as equal to humans, it would be ‘disastrous’. Wonder what the RSPCA would say about that…

Books That Changed My Life: ‘Girl, Woman, Other’ Review

As much as I cringe to say it, this book changed my life. ‘Girl, Woman, Other’ came to me at a time when I really needed it. At once inspiration, education and aspirational, I have a lingering sense of empowerment and challenge from turning the final page.

Name: Girl, Woman, Other

Author: Bernadine Evaristo

Published: May 2019

Teeming with life and crackling with energy – a love song to modern Britain and black womanhood

Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years.

Joyfully polyphonic and vibrantly contemporary, this is a gloriously new kind of history, a novel of our times: celebratory, ever-dynamic and utterly irresistible.

Here are three truths: ‘Girl, Woman, Other’ is a book about 12 women. It is one of those intangible books that are very hard to describe. It is the best book I’ve ever read.

Do you cringe when people say that a book changed their life? It’s normally followed by gushing, maybe some tears, and always looks suspiciously like they’re being bribed by the author to say such a dramatic statement. But I can confidently say, firstly, I am not being bribed (although I would pay Bernadine Evaristo to bribe me) and secondly, that this book did change my life. No cringe needed. It educated me on feminism, black womanhood, marriage, immigration, sexuality, the education system… life itself really. ‘Girl, Woman, Other’ is an essential for any feminist’s reading list – or non-feminist; because you’ll undoubtedly be one when you turn the final page.

“Ageing is nothing to be ashamed of
Especially when the entire human race is in it together
Although sometimes it seems that she alone among her friends wants to celebrate getting older
Because it’s such a privilege to not die prematurely” 


The book follows 12 women, whose stories are loosely interwoven in a web that spans over three generations and across Britain. At first, I was worried that all the stories would become similar in content, or at least in structure. But each one focuses on different joys or trials of being a black British woman and is so different to the last. There are opinions and life choices for everyone. Educational, inspirational and aspirational, the stories covered different perspectives fused often by feminism and always by this constant discovery of womanhood.

 Personally, my favourite story was Amma’s because she’s the centerpiece of this book, I found her voice bitingly hilarious and I’m fascinated by the queer, rebellious underworld she was a part of. I loved how my opinion of her develops as other people’s views of her muddy the waters – plus, she seems really really cool. My other favorite stories were Bummi because Bernadine Evaristo created such an empathetic character and I just wanted her to succeed! I also loved Yazz, because as a teen, she felt intensely relatable; I was amazed with the fluidity that the author skimmed between different ages and opinions.

“white people are only required to represent themselves, not an entire race” 


  The characters are so strong they feel alive. Furthermore, with only 40 or so pages dedicated to each character, it’s truly incredible how much life spills out. My least favourite story was Winsome, because while I loved that Evaristo lets you come to your own conclusions (if not with an ironic undercurrent tugging you the way she desires), Winsome was… just a bit weird.

 One warning: this book only has full stops at the end of chapters. As in, sentences go unchecked, and indents mark the end of them, not full stops. While some people don’t like the lack of punctuation (my mum thinks it shows ‘a lack of language’), I think it creates a powerful, strong voice. The lack of full stops create a sarcastic wit, heavy with irony, and the speech becomes vivid voices. Despite poets often overusing it, Evaristo uses short lines sparingly so it’s genuinely impactful. Self consciously hilarious, insightful, educational – utterly brilliant, ‘Girl, Woman, Other’ came to me at a time when I really needed it. I have a lingering sense of empowerment and challenge from turning the final page – it genuinely changed my life.

As Jane Austen once said, ‘If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more’. Maybe I’m just a sucker for Emma, but that feels particularly pertinent here. I found it hard to put into words how deeply this book affected me, but I hope I’ve enthused enough of my joy into you to make you read ‘Girl, Woman, Other’.

Who knows? It might just change your life.

While the diversity in my book recommendations is nowhere near perfect, I’m always trying to read books about challenging subjects. ‘Girl Woman Other’ is not a young adult book, but I mostly read YA and feel more confident recommending it. Young adult books I’d recommend that tackle racism include: