LGBT History Month Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves

Whilst I normally read a lot of LGBT books, I wanted to read something to celebrate history month in February. Honestly, I normally avoid LGBT romances set in the past because they never seem to end well (Song Of Achilles who?), but I thought this was a fitting time to read Lies We Tell Ourselves. Plus, it’s been on my shelf for too long. The main theme is racism in 1960’s America, but how Sally and Linda dealt with their feelings and how they felt for each other between was also a key part. Here’s my review 🙂


Name: Lies We Tell Ourselves

Author: Robin Talley

Published: 2014

Song: Ain’t Got No – I Got Life by Nina Simone

In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily. Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept separate but equal.

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.
Synopsis and photos from Goodreads


If the beginning of a book was 5 stars, the middle was 3 stars but the very end was 5 stars again…. what rating do I give it? For me, Lies We Tell Ourselves wasn’t a consistent 4 star book, some bits were better and some bits were boring. It’s the story of two girls on polar opposite ends of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. I’m sure you picked that up from the blurb (and I really should have too) but Linda’s attitude towards Sarah at the beginning still surprised me.

The book is split into two perspectives, and Linda’s point of view is interesting. The story of the white students in these situations is a story that isn’t really told – and one I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear. The abuse faced by Sarah and her peers is horrendous and disgusting and pretty hard to read about. Linda’s point of view doesn’t justify it in any way, but is perhaps a glimpse into how brainwashed the white students were – although I’m still not sure that I ship her with Sarah. It was an uncomfortable one. Initially, I was sure that Sarah’s love interest would be one of the ones defending the black students, not one of the ring leaders. I guess it makes for character development?

This is my last point on Linda, but she became a bit painful. She would almost make progress in how she treated the black students and I’d believe she would to do something, but then would spout the same rubbish. It felt like one step forward, one step back and there were about 30 pages that were very repetitive. It was frustrating! Whilst the pace was brilliant and super engaging for the majority, it did drag in the middle and that might have added to my irritation at Linda. In the middle, the girls were trying to figure out their feelings; I’m not sure what I expected but it was a bit of a depressing take on sexuality. Being a lesbian is evil, I get the message! However, I liked how it tackled sexuality and religion and I was really interested in how dating worked in the 60’s. It’s a weird world of going steady and class rings and married out of high school… I loved it!

“Other people will try to decide things for you, she says. They’ll try to tell you who you are. Remember, no matter what they say, you’re the only who really decides.”

– LIES WE TELL OURSELVES

Then, the formatting is BEAUTIFUL. Each chapter starts with a ‘lie’ but the epilogue chapters were labeled with a ‘truth’ and ahhh I loved it so much. The cover on my copy is gorgeous (despite not the most subtle lol) but I’m also a fan of the yearbook vibes of this edition. Which do you prefer?

To conclude, this is a great book. I can’t comment on the representation, but Sarah was a brilliant character. I felt that she wasn’t too invulnerable, but was headstrong and spoke her mind. This isn’t a light book. Whilst the dialogue between Sarah and Linda sometimes strayed on the far side of realistic, the interactions between her and the other students felt all too real. I was scared for all the characters throughout, mainly due to how well detailed side characters were, especially Sarah’s sister. Lies We Tell Ourselves gave me goosebumps. This is an important and powerful book that I’d recommend to anyone and everyone.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Two Fantasy Reader Tags

When I saw that I’d been nominated for two tags about reading fantasy in the same week, it seemed like a great coincidence! A big thanks to Hannah’s Book Reviews for nominating me for the Get To Know The Fantasy Reader Tag – you can find her answers here 🙂 Hope you enjoy these tags, they’re really fun!

Rules:

  • Make sure you give credit to the original creators of this tag – this tag was originally created by Bree Hill.
  • If you want to, pingback to the post you first saw this tag
  • Have fun!

The Questions

What is your fantasy origin story? (The first fantasy you read)
I was brought up on a strong diet of Enid Blyton (I basically spent my entire childhood begging to transfer to Malory Towers) so the first fantasy book I ever read was probably the Magic Wishing Chair Series. I was also majorly obsessed with the Rainbow Magic fairy books growing up.

If you could be the hero/heroine in a fantasy novel, who would be the author and what’s one trope you’d insist be in the story?
See, most of my favourite authors’ characters DIE PAINFUL DEATHS. That’s the problem with being a fantasy heroine – as cool as it would be to live in these magical places, the places are generally pretty violent! To be honest, I think I would be a terrible heroine (ie. very useless) but if I had to pick, I’d have Holly Black write me into one of her Folk of the Aire books because I’d love to visit the world.

What is a fantasy series you’ve read this year, that you want more people to read?
I’ve read a surprising amount of fantasy already! Back in January, I read The Night Circus by Erin Morgernstern and whilst I had a few problems with it, it’s the height of fantasy. You can find my review here 🙂

What is your favourite fantasy subgenre? 
I have to admit that I didn’t know much about fantasy subgenres, but after doing some digging I’ve discovered that I prefer high fantasy books. I feel very fancy using these terms! I love the idea of starting from scratch with a fantasy world that the author can shape however they want, because quite often, urban fantasy books are quite similar with the whole we must hide our identity from the real world… There’s also a lot less painful scenes where the characters are shocked by this new world revealed to them because, well, they’ve lived there their whole lives. Although information dumps are definitely a problem in high fantasy!

What subgenre have you not read much from?
Did you know that steampunk fantasy is a thing? Or about The New Weird subgenre? I didn’t. My research brought up some pretty cool books that I really want to try! As for new subgenres, I recently tried my first portal fantasy graphic novel, The Hazards Of Love. It sounds a bit strange, but was SO good. Here’s my review 🙂

Who is one of your auto-buy fantasy authors?
I love me a bit of Ransom Riggs.

How do you typically find fantasy recommendations? (Goodreads, Youtube, Podcasts, Instagram..)
Mostly through Goodreads, but I like to take recommendations from friends or other bloggers. Pre-COVID, I used to love going to the bookshop and just picking the prettiest books I could find, but hopefully we’ll be able to do that again soon.

What is an upcoming fantasy release you’re excited for?
5 words: Rule of Wolves. Leigh Bardugo.

What is one misconception about fantasy you would like to lay to rest?
Fantasy is only for children. Believe me, I’ve read enough of From Blood And Ash to know that that is not for kids… Find my review here!

Also, it annoys me when people think that the chosen one trope starts and ends with Harry Potter. Whilst that series is a flipping brilliant example of how in-depth fantasy worlds can be, the chosen one trope has been around for – well, forever. Look at Dune by Frank Herbert! That was released in 1965 (speaking of, you can find my review here 😉 ). And then there’s more modern books like Carry On or even the Shadow and Bone series. These authors aren’t stealing from a more popular book just because they have similar themes.

If someone had never read a fantasy before and asked you to recommend the first 3 books that come to mind as places to start, what would those recommendations be?
Ahhhh I feel like most of my favourite fantasy books might be a bit full-on for a novice fantasy reader (Gideon the Ninth who?) but I’d have to go with:

Who is the most recent fantasy reading content creator you came across that you’d like to shoutout?
I really helpful site when I was looking at the subgenres of fantasy was Thoughts On Fantasy, so go and check out their site!

I’m tagging: 

YOU!

If this looks like a tag that you want to give a go, let me know in the comments and I’ll link up your site 🙂


The Fantasy Winter Retreat Book Tag

The next one! (Wow just doing one tag is enough effort 😅). This tag was created by Sumedha, and I was tagged by Paperbacktomes – you can find their take on it here.

The Fantasy Winter Retreat Book Tag Summary

You get to go on a week-long retreat to chill and have fun after the stressful 2020 experience. Set the scene of your dream winter retreat and, using the prompts, round up the characters you’d like to vacation with!

Step One:

Travel destination and accommodation
After being stuck in England, going to somewhere hot would be very nice! And somewhere where it doesn’t rain that much because, like I said… England.

Step Two: Who’s Joining?

I’m picking some of my favourite fantasy characters and heading to the beach – Normals, muggles or Mundanes need not apply. Who are you inviting?

A fun character who’s presence would cheer up any situation
I don’t know how much glitter we’d need at the beach, but I’m sure Magnus Bane from the Mortal Instruments would provide more than enough…

A character who would parent everyone
James Potter is the true mother hen of the Marauders. Fight me. Also, if James is going, looks like Remus and Sirius are coming too (I need my unlimited supply of chocolate!). However, it wouldn’t be the wildest coincidence if Peter’s banned from the plane…

A character who would plan games and other activities
Alby from the Maze Runner might like something to plan other than, you know, how to survive a deadly maze. Although, the only thing on my agenda is lazing on the COVID-free beach.

A character who would rather cozy up in blankets and sleep/laze around all day
Nina Zenik. That’s it. She’s the cat.

A character who had to cancel other plans to be here
I’m hoping that Dorian and Ezra from The Starless Sea would have had to cancel a lot of dates to come to the beach – because they have a serious amount of catching up to do!

A character who brought their work along with them
I have the same answer as Isha from Paperbacktomes but I think he’s the perfect answer. David Kostyk from Shadow and Bone is definitely the sort of person to be working on holiday until he passes out from sunstroke.

A character who would not leave their partner’s side
Post Any Way The Wind Blows Simon and Baz will definitely deserve to be at the beach.

A character who is amused by everyone’s antics
Harrowhark from Harrow the Ninth would never do something as juvenile as play in the sea (well, maybe when no one’s watching…). Although, I’m assuming she’s still in full satanic nun outfit and makeup, so I’m interested what that looks like 😂

I’m tagging:

YOU!

If this looks like a tag that you want to give a go, let me know in the comments and I’ll link up your site 🙂

Jane Austen Investigates: The Abbey Mystery

A big thanks to the publishers for providing me with Julia Golding’s new childrens mystery through Netgalley – it was such a fun read!

Name: Jane Austen Investigates: The Abbey Mystery

Author: Julia Golding

Release Date: 23/4/2021

It’s 1789 and a young Jane Austen turns detective as she seeks to solve the mysterious happenings at Southmoor Abbey. When a carriage accident forces a change of plans, 13-year-old Jane is sent to be a companion to Lady Cromwell for a week as the household prepares to celebrate the eldest son’s coming-of-age party. While there, Jane vows to solve the mystery of the ghostly monk in the Abbey grounds – for she does not believe in such stories!

But this is not the only strange occurrence for the adventurous young Jane to investigate. There are shivery night-time investigations, an Indian girl with secret talents, a library fire, two prize horses in danger, and friends to save from false accusations.

With notebook in hand and her faithful dog Grandison by her side, will Jane overcome the continuous obstacles and find out the truth?
Synopsis from Goodreads


Ahhh just look at that cover! Now whilst I’m not the biggest classics fan, when I saw the words Jane Austen and historical detective, I was all in. Plus, the cover is BEAUTIFUL. ‘The Abbey Mystery’ follows a young Jane Austen sent away to a rich landowners’ estate and has to solve, not a murder as I’d first thought, but a robbery. Whilst you may ask, ‘do I need to know Jane Austen books to read this one?’ My answer is not in the least. To be honest, I thought it was a bit of unrelated detail that she was Jane Austen – the only reference to her growing up to be the great woman herself was that this Jane enjoyed writing. And had the same name. It felt more of a way to grab your attention without having to create an entirely new heroine, but I really enjoyed Jane’s character all the same.

“Words were Jane’s greatest treasure and she spent hers carefully.”

– THE ABBEY MYSTERY

I always love the omniscient narrator trope. The one where the narrator will correct the other characters – like if someone says ‘There will be no drama at the ball’ and the narrator cuts in with, ‘They couldn’t be more wrong’. It was used a few times in this book to create humor or tension – both of which were expertly done. I haven’t read Julia Golding’s other books, but after reading this, I think I’d like to.

Whilst The Abbey Mystery is aimed at children, the vocabulary isn’t childish and it’s well written. I loved this world of petticoats and prized horses – if you enjoyed the setting of Bridgerton, this is the book for you! (I was almost going to say ‘if you enjoyed Bridgerton, this is the book for you’ but would like to clarify that this is definitely not the same market 😂).

Also, I thought that the clues for the actual mystery were concise but consistent enough to keep you guessing. And whilst the actual explanation felt a bit rushed (I had to think about it for a while), it was a short book so I understand why Golding kept it brief.

Finally, Jane is a brilliant character and pretty funny – I actually laughed out loud a few times! There was some really empowering quotes; it was feminist in the way that a lot of historical children’s mysteries are. I’d recommend The Abbey Mystery for fans of the Murder Most Unladylike series by Robin Stevens or the Lady Grace series by Grave Cavendish (which I’d forgotten I used to be obsessed with) – or anyone looking for a fun light read.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

#WWW Wednesday – 17/2/21

Hey everyone! This is one of my favourite weekly tags, so many people do it that it’s really fun. WWW Wednesday is hosted over at Taking On A World Of Words, check out their site 🙂 If you’ve had a go at this tag, feel free to link your post in the comments. Anyway, here’s what I’ve been up to this week!


What I Finished Recently

Recently, I’ve been talking quite a lot about the Simonverse – mainly because I just finished Love Creekwood and you can find my review of this adorable book here. I’ve also been rewatching the film and was inspired to make a cross-stitch of my OTP, which you can find here 😁.

This week, I also finished Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley which was a moving story about two girls who fall in love during the racial tension of 1960s America. I was also lucky enough to receive an ARC copy of Jane Austen Investigates which was as fun as it sounds, and a bit of light reading!

What I’m Currently Reading

Did you know that there’s a fifth Maze Runner book? I didn’t… so when I saw it and immediately bought it, I forgot that I couldn’t remember a thing about what happened in the series. So, I’m currently rereading them and I’d also forgot how good they are.

Literally, I could read this for hours. It’s been months since I read a book that actually had me ignoring other things that I should be doing (including sleeping. So I might be a bit tired. But it was worth it!). These books are the best dystopian premise I’ve ever read. It’s the sort of book where every chapter ends on a cliff hanger AND ITS SO HARD NOT TO LOOK AT IT! Has that ever happened to you?

However, I must admit that the whole killer virus wipes out half the population and leaves world in apocalypse felt a little bit close to home, so I might be waiting a little before I read the next book!

What I Want To Read Next

I don’t know whether to be excited for this. I am, but I don’t want to be let down? However, I’ve seen a lot of people say that it’s even better than From Blood And Ash, so I’m interested how!

❤️ ‘Love, Simon’ Cross-stitch ❤️

Can you spot the oreos?

Hey! I’m continuing my cross-stitch collection, and today it’s Simon and Blue from Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda. Or ‘Love, Simon’ depending on whether you prefer the film. And whilst I didn’t, I can see why they shortened the name!

Recently, I’ve been talking quite a lot about the Simonverse (I’m moving onto Kingdom Of Flesh And Fire next week, I promise!). Mainly because I just finished Love Creekwood and you can find my review of this adorable book here. I’ve also been rewatching the film and whilst I’m enjoying it more on a second rewatch, I guess I love the book so much that I’m annoyed by my favourite parts that were missed out. And by the things that were added – who is this strange Vice Principla who has no respect for personal space? Wow. And why is Nora now a baking 11 year old? And since when did Leah have a crush on Simon? But I suppose that I’m never going to be happy with it unless it’s a direct reading of them book!

So, I thought I’d celebrate all the things I love about the universe. I think that all the characters are really well cast, and it’s still pretty cool to have a decent gay teen rom-com, even if I miss all the scenes at the end. So, here’s my favourite quote from the last line of the book: Maybe this is a holy freaking huge awesome deal. Maybe I want it to be. It didn’t come up that well on the photo! Simon’s wearing a cardigan (because he would, wouldn’t he?), glasses and a hint of an Elliott Smith tshirt, whilst Blue’s in… blue. I am a comic genius, I know 🙂

What do you think! Have you taken up any hobbies during Lockdown? Got any tips for cross-stiching? Let me know in the comments!

Valentine’s Day Review: Love Creekwood

IT’S SO ADORABLE… and now I’m crying.

Name: Love Creekwood

Author: Becky Albertalli

Published: 2021

Fall in love all over again with the characters from the bestselling Simonverse novels in this highly anticipated epilogue novella.

It’s been more than a year since Simon and Blue turned their anonymous online flirtation into an IRL relationship, and just a few months since Abby and Leah’s unforgettable night at senior prom. Now the Creekwood High crew are first years at different colleges, navigating friendship and romance the way their story began—on email.
Synopsis from Goodreads


I’m simultaneously very happy and very sad that I’m reviewing this book. Ever since I read ‘Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda’ a few years ago, I’ve been following the Simonverse through its various successors and I’ve loved it all all the books (we don’t talk about the film). So, it both warmed and broke my heart when I heard about ‘Love Creekwood’ because it’s an epilogue novella but at the same, IT’S AN EPILOGUE NOVELLA! This happens every time I finish a series, but I don’t want to think that there will not be any more books about these gorgeous, funny characters. Or will there? (Becky Albertalli I will pay you so much money for more books).

Anyway. The novella purely consists of emails. At first, I thought I might get bored of just one format, but the style and length and recipients of the emails ranges enough to keep you engaged. In ‘Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda’, the emails between Simon and Blue were one of the highlights of the books for me and I think that Albertalli is excellent at writing them.

“When we say we want to freeze time, what we mean is that we want to control our memories. We want to choose which moments we’ll keep forever. We want to guarantee the best ones won’t slip away from us somehow. So when something beautiful happens, there’s this impulse to press pause and save the game. We want to make sure we can find our way back to that moment.” 

– LOVE CREEKWOOD

I’m not sure how to feel about how the timelines for the Love Simon spinoff, Love Victor, intersects with this novella. I can’t comment on how many Easter eggs or references to the show there are in Love Creekwood because it’s on Hulu; I haven’t been able to watch it as I live in the UK. However, I do know that the long-distance relationship problems faced by Simon and Blue in the novella are resolved when they’re shown in Love Victor, so at least some of the show is set after this novella. Which I find a bit weird, especially as this is supposed to be the epilogue of these characters. I guess I’m always going to be biased towards the books, but I’d prefer if they were different timelines?

My only other criticism is that I wanted a more succinct, clear ending. Whilst it was pretty conclusive, this is the last book ever (feel sad just typing that) so I want a really clear, preferably happy, future for Simon and Blue. Although, that may be the aftershock of finishing this series and it being OVER (still processing, sorry!). Another thing is that you have to pay attention to the little details. Multiple times, there’s references to previous sections of the novella (I only figured out one quite literally whilst writing this post) which are freaking adorable if you were paying attention, but I had to do some looking on Reddit for explanations. Hint: look at the subject lines! But, once I’d worked it out, just thinking about it makes me smile because it’s so. Freaking. Cute.

Look at Spongebob. Spongebob is me reading Love Creekwood. There are so many references and inside jokes to the other books – which I love as an avid fan, but make sure that you read Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda and Leah On The Offbeat first. You can find links to my reviews by clicking on the title. But it’s so domestic and gay and THEY HAVE PET NAMES FOR EACH OTHER. Leah and Abby are hilarious. It’s too short. That’s it – I could read an entire book of these adorable emails, but so much is crammed into 100 pages. It’s not all happiness. Love Creekwood looks at the difficulties of long term relationships and how the change from high school to university can be tough. Also, it puts down the age-old trope of finishing a series with an engagement – which I agree is often stupid with the characters’ ages, but my heart for a moment. Wow.

To sum up, Love Creekwood is an adorable book. Whilst the characters have dilemmas, it’s very fluffy and a perfect read for Valentine’s Day. And just Valentine’s Day, because I read this in one sitting. Love Creekwood is so cute and sad and real that I’m caught between laughing and smiling through tears. Becky Albertalli has been consolidated as one of my favourite authors, and I just I really, really love this squad. Happy Valentine’s Day 🙂

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Reread Book Tag

A big thanks to The Sassy Library Fox for nominating me for this tag. You can check out their site here, it’s brilliant! Hope you enjoy this tag, it’s a really fun one 🙂

Rules:

The Prompts

A Newer Favourite You Would Reread
Okay. So in my mind, there are two different types of rereaders. Some people will reread the same books over and over, whilst for others (like me) reading a book twice times means that it’s a big favourite! I think the most I’ve ever reread a book is about 4 times. What type of rereader are you? However, I’ve been thinking of rereading They Both Die At The End for a while – just waiting for when everything’s a bit happier to a read a book with that title…

.

A childhood favorite you could read 100 times and still love
This leads on from my last point, but when I was younger I’d mostly read famous books just to tick them off my bucket list and then never look at them again! So, there’s a lot of series that I read too young (Noughts And Crosses who?) or can’t remember anything about and want to reread to understand all the jokes on Tumblr (*cough* Percy Jackson *cough*).

.

A book you’ve read but want to listen to the audiobook
Did you know that LIN MANUEL MIRANDA narrates the audiobook for Aristotle and Dante Discovers The Secrets Of The Universe? Not only is it a gorgeous book… but it’s Lin Manuel Miranda (I’m a big musicals fan 😊).I’m not the biggest fan of audiobooks, but when actors or celebrities I like narrate them, it’s always really fun to recognize their voice.

.

A Classic You Read In School But Want To Try Again
Luckily, I haven’t been made to read too bad books for school, but I think that it takes some of the magic out of reading when you’re analyzing the author’s intentions of every other word. I started Of Mice And Men last year, and actually still have my copy because Corona never gave me an opportunity to give it back, so I might give it another go!

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A Series You Want To Reread For An Adaptation
Three words: Shadow and Bone. You don’t know how excited I am to watch this show… although it makes me all the more scared that they’ll mess it up 😬. I’ve got some very strategic rereading of the series planned for the weeks before the release – although I’ll probably reread all the other Grishaverse books too. Because why not?

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A book you DNF’ed but would be willing to give a second chance
Generally, I try to stick out books to the bitter end, so if I DNF’ed it, it would be for a big reason. The only one that really comes to mind is The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han that I put down after about 10 pages! As a fan reader of dark fantasy (and maybe a bit of a book snob), I feel like the title was enough of a reason to DNF…

.

A book you hated and never want to read again
I’m honestly struggling to come up with a book where my feelings were this strong against it. There’s been a few that I wouldn’t reread in a long time, but nothing super severe?

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A series you want to reread for the fun of it
I’ve been struggling to not answer Harry Potter for all of these questions because I read the books 4 YEARS AGO and have never reread them – it’s a travesty, I know. Even worse, I’d call myself a big Potterhead, so rereading these is definitely a necessity. I’m really interested to see how my perception of the plot and the characters will have changed know that I have so much prior knowledge about the series.

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I love everything and anything Holly Black and I’d love to reread the Spiderwick chronicles when libraries are open again.


I Nominate

The Night Circus

Only Erin Morgenstern could make me smile so much with just ‘The circus arrives without warning‘.

Name: The Night Circus

Author: Erin Morgenstern

Published: 2011

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love – a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.
Synopsis from Goodreads


I had HIGH expectations of The Night Circus. Last year, I read Morgenstern’s second novel, The Starless Sea, and just fell in love with her writing style. Before that, I’d been an ardent reader of young adult romance… and that was about it. I guess I can thank COVID for giving me so much time to fill that I really broadened the genres of books I read, and I haven’t looked back (goodbye John Green!). So The Starless Sea was my first real exposure to quality fantasy writing – and believe me when I say that these books are quality fantasy writing.

The Night Circus follows, well, a circus throughout its development, running, and the lives of its perfomers. It also shows the perspective of the people who visit the circus, which I really enjoyed. But the circus is also the site of a game of manipulation and magic between Marco and Celia who (inevitably 🙄) fall in love. This idea of a ‘game’ is referenced throughout the book and I really enjoyed all the metaphors and this different fantasy angle.

There are so many different plots throughout the book. I think Erin Morgenstern loves to build up seperate storylines that you think are going to amount to everything but end up meaning little at all. This got a bit confusing in The Starless Sea but there isn’t quite the same intense volume of stories present here. Not to say there wasn’t a lot!

Sometimes I’d forget about these little stories or think they’re a bit boring, but then remember them later and think OH! So if that’s them… then who’s that?… When I was only halfway through, I had a strong urge to reread the entire book again to try and fully appreciate all the storylines!

Above them, the clock continues to turn it’s pages, pushing stories too miniscule to read ever onwards.

– THE NIGHT CIRCUS

In a way, I feel like you need to read the majority of the book before you can begin to really enjoy it. In the beginning, I thought it was dragging a little and I was too busy trying to get my head around this world to actually… look at the world. To fully appreciate the story, to be able to back up the story with previous knowledge and world building, you need to have read a good chunk of the book. However, even on top of that, I thought it took a while to get going.

Additionally, I’m really struggling to find quotes. There’s nothing that really stood out to me, the whole thing was just remarkable. But I think that reflects the entire book – it was all brilliant but very steady! There was no build up to a peak, just a lot of very nice description. And whilst that works fine for a lot of books and people, I just wanted a bit more especially with a romance aspect to it.

“I would have written to you myself, if I could put down in words everything I want to say to you. A sea of ink would not be enough.”

“But you built me dreams instead,” Celia said looking up at him. “And I built you tents you hardly see.”

A STARLESS SEA OF INK? (I’M SO FUNNY)

Finally, the ending felt a bit abrupt. Marco and Celia had been playing this game for 20 years and over 450 pages, but the actual conclusion was very short. And confusing. Up until that point, I’d survived pretty well with clarity. Obviously, most aspects of a circus are pretty every-day, but it would have been nice if tarot cardswere explained proeperly! I know the basic concept but there’d be a dramatic ending to a story that was like then the eNcHaNtReSs cArD was pulled out! and I’m left here asking what does that meannnnn?

But apart from minor gripes, this was an extremely well written book. I think I’m always going to prefer the book I read first (find my review of the Starless Sea here), but I’d recommend The Night Circus to anyone who loves fantasy. Once I hit the point where the story took off, it flew. Even if it did take half the book to get there. But let’s go back to my nice bird metaphor 🙂

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Top Ten Books To Read On Valentine’s Day If You’re Single And Don’t Want To Feel It

AKA: The happiest, fluffiest romance books I’ve ever read. Because we all need a bit of fluff sometimes.

Hi! As always, this great tag was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish but is now hosted over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Today’s prompt is a Valentine’s Freebie’, so I’m on a mission to find the cutest romance books to read on Valentines Day – because sometimes the only thing we have going for us is fictional characters 😃 But also, so many romance novels end in heartbreak or death (I had to rule out a worrying number of books because the love interest literally died) but these are all strictly happy reads. What are some of your favourite romance books? Any other bookish things that drive you mad? Let me know in the comments ! 🙂


🏳️‍🌈 = LGBTQ+ romance 😙 = Young Adult 😚 = for older readers (although they’re mostly just older YA)

10. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell 😙

Personally, I prefer Eleanor and Park to Fangirl, however that book doesn’t quite… meet the criteria of this post (no spoilers!). But, Fangirl is a gorgeously written romance about fan fiction and first love.

(Added bonus: you can read Carry On afterwards!)
Find my review of this book here

9. Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuinnston 🏳️‍🌈 😚

What would happen if the Prince of England and the son of the president fell in lurveee? If you like enemies-to-lovers books, royal drama and very cute relationships… read this. I have to admit, I wasn’t totally hooked the first time I tried it, but I’d love to read it again because I was maybe definitely a bit young haha.

8. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins 😚

I used to be obsessed with this series – and I have to admit it still makes me smile. Isla and the Happily Ever After is the last book in a trilogy that follows a group of friends around Paris, then New York, then back to Paris for this final book. You can read them in any order, but I particularly loved this book because all the storylines tie back together. It’s a sort of stupid but sweet series, a great pick me up.

7. Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe by Benjamin Alire 🏳️‍🌈 😙

THIS BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL BOOK! It’s more… substantial than Isla and the Happily Ever After (ie it’s made of holy water, not trash) and maybe not an adorable romance book, but makes you think and Alire’s writing is just poetry. It reminds me of Call Me By Your Name (although I have to admit I’ve only seen the film *runs away*).

Find my review of this book here

6. Floored by Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson, Eleanor Wood 😚

This is the story of 6 strangers who meet once, and then again every year on the anniversary of an event. It follows each of the characters and is incredibly moving and sweet. Would highly recommend!

Find my attempt at crosstiching the front cover here

5. I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver 🏳️‍🌈 😙

This is a gorgeous, gorgeous book about a non-binary teen who is kicked out of their house – but it’s happy, I promise! Okay, my next point is about how much it made me cry so maybe not 100% happy but Mason Deaver creates brilliantly told romance and characters.

Find my review of this book here

4. It Only Happens In The Movies by Holly Bourne 😚

Not as cheesy as you might think! After all, it is Holly Bourne haha. This is a funny, clever book about falling in love with others… and yourself. Also, the main character tries to combat why romance movies are bad, but in turn manages to complete a few of the cliches herself. So there’s loads of great rom-com recommendations! In short, a funny, feminist book about falling in love.

Find my review of this book here

3. Pumpkinheads by Erin Faith Hicks and Rainbow Rowell 😙

This is technically a graphic novel butttt it’s extremely cute and will make you smile. So I think technicalities are fine.

Find my review of this book here

2. What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera 🏳️‍🌈 😚

This is a very very cute book. It’s about two boys who accidentally meet in a post office in NYC and end up going on loads of first dates because they keep messing up. It’s full of musicals (if you get the reference in the title, be my friend?), heart warming cringe and gorgeous characters.

And Number One Goes To…

1. Leah On The Offbeat by Becky Albertalli 🏳️‍🌈 😙

I figured I couldn’t list the all of the Simonverse books (because believe me, they would be the entire list), but Simon vs the Homo Sapiens and Leah On The Offbeat are my comfort books. I – just read them! You won’t regret it 🙂

Last week, I bought the epilogue novella (*starts crying at the words epilogue*) to the world, Love Creekwood, so I just had to binge read one of my favourite series. It was a very enjoyable experience! If you want to hear about the adorable domestic gayness that was Love Creekwood, I should have my review up on Sunday.

New Years Reading Challenge Wrap Up and Mystery Blogger Award

The Mystery Blogger Award

Thanks to Meg’s Magical Musings for nominating me for this tag!

Rules

  • Display the award logo on your blog
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog 
  • Mention Okoto Enigma, the creator of the award
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself 
  • Answer 5 questions from the blogger who nominated you 
  • Nominate 10-20 bloggers
  • Notify your nominees by leaving a comment on their blog 
  • Ask your nominees 5 questions of your choice, including 1 weird or funny question 
  • Share the link to your best post 

3 Things About Me

  1. I really really like David Bowie
  2. My favourite film is probably Oceans 8, but I love the entire franchise. Or Labyrinth (see point 1)
  3. My bookshelves are arranged in colour order – this may seem insignificant to non-book lovers but is the question on everyone’s lips when they meet a fellow reader! And no, I do not split up my series *shudders*

The Questions

What are some countries you’d love to visit?  
I’d love to visit Venice before it, you know, sinks into the sea

What are some rereads you hope to read? 
I’m the sort of person who keeps looking at books, thinks That was sooo goood I need to reread it… and then never do! But the one that comes to mind at the moment is ’The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle’ because, to quote myself, it’s really good!

Which musical theatre character would you love to see a musical with? 
My favourite musical theatre character is JD from heathers (Just clarifying, do not relate with him haha just think he has some great songs!), but I think going to see a musical with him… wouldn’t be the best idea.

What book do you hope to own, but don’t have yet? 
As contrary as I am to some of her books, I really really really want to read The Magnus bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare.

What literary love triangles do you love? 
I’m not a big fan of love triangles. Mainly because they never are triangles… it’s just another word for the main personality trait of a character to have two boys in love with her. Featuring: the-childhood-best-friend-whose-always-loved-her-she’s-just-painfully-oblivious and the all new lets-go-through-some-trauma-together-and-then-I-will-probably-emotionally-abuse-you hottie!!

So yeah, not a big fan of love triangles.

My Questions

  • Are there some series that you don’t think you’ll ever read?
  • What was your biggest book hangover?
  • Favourite bookish podcast?
  • What’s your favourite object (can be a book, or anything!)
  • If you could take back a film/tv adaptation of a book so it didn’t exist any more, what would you pick?
  • What’s your favourite tv show?

Nominating…


New Years Reading Challenge Wrap Up

This was such a fun new years book challenge that I started back in January – and these are the results! A big thanks to Sabrina from Notes From A Paper Plane Nomad for tagging me. You can find my original post for the challenge here. This was such a creative tag and a great way to make sure I actually keep to my New Years reading resolutions for once…

Rules:

  • Link back to the original creator (The Corner of Laura) and link back to the challenge page or the original creator won’t get a notification.
  • Thank whoever tagged you and link back to their post
  • Tag 5 or more other people.
  • Read books that fit the description. There are some recommendations in the original post to help you pick but you can read anything that fits the brief!
  • The deadline for the challenge is six weeks after you were originally tagged (which, statistically, is the point when 80% of people give up their New Year’s Resolutions) e.g. if you were tagged in the original tag, the deadline is 12th February.
  • Post a wrap-up when you’re done to show how you got on.

The Challenge:

The Books I Read

There’s some ARCS in here, as well as me binge reading the Simonverse novels because I’d just bought Love Creekwood and wanted an opportunity to relive one of my favourite series. It was a very enjoyable experience 🙂 I should have my rant about the adorable domestic gayness that was Love Creekwood up next week.

  • Learn A New Skill – The Hazards Of Love by Stan Stanley
    Find my review of this book here
  • Exercise More – From Blood And Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout
    Find my review of this book here
  • Save Money – Secrets Of The Starcrossed by Clara O’Connor
    Find my review of this book here
  • Reduce Stress – Love Creekwood by Becky Albertalli
    Find my review of this book here
  • Travel More – City Of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare
    Find my review of this book here
  • Spend More Time With Friends – Crier’s War by Nina Valera
    Find my review of this book here
  • Stop Procrastinating – City Of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
    Find my review of this book here
  • Focus On Self Care – More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer
    Find my review of this book here
  • Screw Resolutions – Simon Vs The Homosapiens Agenda By Becky Albertalli
    Find my review of this book here

That was the New Years Reading Challenge Wrap Up and Mystery Blogger Award! Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!