Book Review: ‘Theatrical’

Did I only buy this book because it says that it’s the UK’s Answer To Rainbow Rowell on the front? Possibly. Was it? Not a chance.


Name: Theatrical

Author: Maggie Harcourt

Published: 2018

Hope dreams of working backstage in a theatre, and she’s determined to make it without the help of her famous costume designer mum. So when she lands an internship on a major production, she tells no one. But with a stroppy Hollywood star and his hot young understudy upstaging Hope’s focus, she’s soon struggling to keep her cool… and her secret. 


With Theatrical, I was looking for a light, fun read so I didn’t have super high expectations. Luckily. It follows Hope, who’s working at a local theatre as they prepare for a new play, where she meets a handsome and mysterious understudy – but she has to hide her involvement from a famous mum and her over-achieving sisters. Have you heard any of that before? It just felt so predictable. I could go down a list ticking off all the staple components of a mediocre YA novel: mysterious boy with nice eyes, tick, hinted at gay best friend, lying to parents then everything comes crashing down; tick tick tick.

Next, there was no real aim. Hope ran errands for 75% of the book. Especially at first, this was half interesting and I’m genuinely interested in how it all works, but there were too many massive blocks of description or explanations. A lot of scenes in the theatre felt more like a guide to theatre basics than a story.

But that’s what acting is… right? It is being exposed and vulnerable – it’s not about putting on extra layers of protection and pretending to be someone else, it’s about taking them off and pretending they’re you.

– THEATRICAL

For me, it’s so important that the love interest is a character first and a love interest second. Theatrical is sold as a rom-com but all that we know about The Boy TM after 200 pages is the colour of his eyes (although I know A LOT about his eyes). I didn’t see the connection between Hope and Luke? He didn’t come across very strongly and they were both as hopelessly awkward as each other. Which didn’t make for a cute, bumbling relationship… it was the bad type of cringey.

Also, Theatrical is pretty long for a YA rom-com and so long for not much character development from Hope. I found myself much more invested in the side characters. Especially in the beginning, it was pretty funny; it reminded me of Holly’s Bourne’s sort of humour. But as the book went on, it became less about the jokes and more about theatre and Luke’s eyes and awkward stumbling into each other.

To sum up, Theatrical felt like such shame because it could have been so good. I’m genuinely interested in how theatre works but it dwindled through 400 pages of totally expected plot developments. I don’t know enough about fundamental book writing to technically fault it – or to technically identify what I’m feeling. I think it’s just a badly written book and I’m only scratching the surface with complaints about love interests or info dumps. I can see some people enjoying Theatrical but this type of rom-com isn’t for me.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

Have you read Theatrical? Were you also bored by descriptions of Luke’s eyes or did you enjoy it? Would you try it? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear another opinion.

Why Leigh Bardugo’s Crows ARE The Umbrella Academy

Look me in the eye and tell me that this doesn’t work perfectly.

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the Umbrella Academy, and while rewatching some episodes while I await Season 3 (yay!), I’ve noticed some… similarities between that and another Netflix show. Books. Anyway, do you think that this has any credibility? What were your opinions on Shadow And Bone? Let me know in the comments!


Number Five IS Kaz

Bloodthirsty teenager! Schemes! Revenge! I could also see Kaz wearing some sort of AC/DC-esque school uniform in an alternate reality.

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Klaus IS Jesper

It works so well! Okay, so maybe Jesper is addicted to gambling and Klaus is addicted to meth… but they’re Young Adult books. Might have been a little much.

Diego IS Inej

Knives.

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Vanya is (sort of) Wylan

I love you Wylan but you’re irritatingly finding flaws in my perfect system. I guess they’re both the members of the group whose skill set is only revealed later on. They would also both dance like this.

One of my favourite throw away lines in Shadow and Bone was when Kaz kept asking Jesper why he asked for a demolitions expert on all of the heists. Also, is it just me who was pronouncing Kruge wrong the entire time? That and Mathias’ name! Oops.

Luther IS Mathais

This was the point where my brain started to spiral. Gentle giant character? Tick. Has a very stoic (/stupid) sense of humour? Betrayed by a father figure? Tick Tick Tick.

Allison IS Nina

No one could really live up to the delight that is Nina Zenik, but I could see her becoming a movie star sometime in the future. And both her and Allison… kill people with words?

🌌 They Both Die At The End Cross-stitch 🌌

To celebrate the release of the UK cover of the What If It’s Us sequel, I thought I’d share one of the crosstitches I’ve made. (I’m ridiculously excited for that sequel). Adam Silvera is fast becoming one of my favourite authors – I started out reading What If It’s Us, and then They Both Die At The End. I’ve had More Happy Than Not on my shelf for a while, but I’m waiting until I’m more happy than not to try try one. The reviews of ‘gut wrenching’ and ‘devastating’ don’t bode well!

If you’ve missed my other posts, I got into cross-stitching in lockdown and I’ve been recreating some of my favourite book characters and quotes. I can’t draw for the life of me, so I guess this is sort of my way of doing fanart?

Now, I’ve done a full post on why They Both Die At The End is my comfort book (and probably shouldn’t be…) that you can find here. There are so many quotes that I could have chosen, but this one always stuck out to me. I feel like it’s more applicable to me everyday life than any ones about inescapable death – but seriously, this book is so beautiful I could have chosen anything. I also wanted to get in Mateo’s piano and books, and the water from Rufus’ past. Even if it doesn’t look much like water…

What do you think? Are they any hobbies that you’ve picked up during Lockdown? Have you read any Adam Silvera books? Let me know in the comments!

#TTT 11/5/21 – You Know It’s A Young Adult Book When…

This is not posted on a Wednesday. Your eyes decieve you.


As always, this great tag was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish but is now hosted over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Yesterday Today’s prompt is for books with nature on the cover… of which there is a worrying amount of Young Adult books. Of which there is a worrying amount of recurring tropes… that I’m going to talk about here! There’s a link there somewhere.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love Young Adult books. I love that there’s a genre where people progress past awkwardly holding hands, but can still go go on fairytale adventures without exploring the meaning of life. Is something bothering you? There’ll be a dozen Young Adult books on the subject and I just love it. But there are definitely some recurring tropes going on here, of which I’ve listed my top ten. Can you think of any more? So some of these Young Adult things boil your blood? Let me know in the comments!


10. Parents? What are those!

Whether it’s an obscure boating accident, or cancer, or my personal favourite as victims of the mythical beast the hero has to defeat at the end. Either way, the parents are rarely around. Or if they are, they never seem to care what their child is up to?

See the source image

9. Unimaginable trauma…that’s never dealt with

I WANT TO GET SO MANY OF THESE POOR CHILDREN INTO THERAPY.

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8. Inconsistent sizing

The first book will be 200 pages… and the last will be 750. Plus, if it’s any good Young Adult book then there will be at least 9 books in this world… or it will be a duology. There’s no in between.

7. ✨ Connections ✨

Everyone’s related to everyone else? The best friend will be related to the High Chancellor, or the hero will secretly be the long lost child of royalty (been there, seen that so many times). I guess it saves time trying to find the Head of Police when she’s your brother’s boyfriend’s mum, but it feels pretty unrealistic.

6. Protagonist who can’t understand why people think they’re pretty

But I’m so ugly! Honey, you’re probably a New York model who is complaining about her arm fat. Come on, body positivity!

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5. That one POV that’s SO unnescessary

Why do I need to hear the perspective of the protagonist’s least favourite teacher? (No, this is not necessarily a Snape-bashing). But Young Adult books, especially the ones from multiple perspectives, always manage to throw in the POVs you don’t care about during the best plot points.

4. Token/Stereotyped Diversity

It can get really complicated where token diversity ends and inclusive, well-written diversity begins. But the charatcer is incredibly stereotyped, then I don’t belive it can be progressive.

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3. “I let out a breath I didn’t know that I was holding”

Needs no explanation. I don’t see this a lot, but whenever I do it just obliterates the quality of the book.

2. Quirky Characteristics

Why are there so many resemblances between Y/N and the heroines of YA books? Sometimes, I just want to shake some of these authors and yell, ‘Being clumsy or tidy can’t be someone’s entire personality trait!

And Number One Goes To…

1. EVERYTHING IS A SCIENCE EXPERIMENT!

Do you have a lot of plot holes? Here’s an easy fix: blame it on the evil group who will be revealed in the last book to have created the plot of this entire series as a psychological experiment. Boom.

Llamas and Loafers: ‘The Bane Chronicles’ Book Review

My most unexpected favourite of 2021…


Name: The Bane Chronicles

Authors: Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson

Published: 2014

It’s not easy being Magnus Bane. As a warlock, he’s often called upon to fix the problems of others, his life has been long and his loves have been many. And Magnus has a way of making sure he’s in the right place at the right – or perhaps the wrong – time. The French Revolution, Prohibition, the first great battle between Valentine and the New York Institute… Magnus was there, and usually in the middle of it. Magnus will never be able to tell all of his tales. No one would believe him. But these eleven stories shed a little light on his often inscrutable character. They are the stories he probably wishes had never got out.
Image and synopsis from Goodreads


I had told myself that I would never read another book in the ‘weird incest series’ universe, as my friends know it as from me. (They’ve never read the books. I’ve never clarified.). It’s not that The Mortal Instruments are inherently bad, I just think that I got off on the wrong foot with them and could never shake that feeling. However, The Bane Chronicles took all the best parts of Cassandra Clare’s writing – the pacing, the humour, the characters – and focused on them instead of… incest.

This was such a cinematic book. It’s a novella of short stories that follow Magnus on his various adventures, but there’s more than enough content to create a well-developed, good-length book. Even if his personality seemed to consist mainly of glitter and sarcasm, Magnus was one of my favourite characters reading The Mortal Instruments and I enjoyed learning more about him past a quirky fashion sense. (Although there was plenty of that too). Covering the AIDS epidemic, Prohibition, Victorian London – the historical context was just *chef’s kiss*. Also, I really enjoyed how Magnus discussed his immortality; how he coped with outliving most of the human race.

“A great sadness welled up in Magnus at the sight of him. It was human to age and die, and Jem stood outside that humanity now, outside the light that burned so brightly and so briefly. It was cold outside that light and fire. No one had greater cause to know that cold than Magnus did.”

– THE BANE CHRONICLES

Leading on from immortality, there was a few dodgy age gaps. I guess if you’re immortal, the age gaps will always pretty big, but in one instance Magnus was really sexualising this girl and then described her as ‘barely a child’ pages later. It might have just been description that seemed weird because it’s all through Magnus’ eyes but I was a bit confused. I was glad it was cleared up later on that the warlocks didn’t date anyone under 18…. although I think Alec was 17 when they first went out? Immortal x mortal relationships always sit a bit weirdly with me; you have to make sure that it’s a comfortable power dynamic if you’re pushing this as a healthy relationship. *Cough* Stephanie Meyers *Cough*.

Despite a few flicks through Shadowhuntersfandom.com – which is a real thing! – I could just about piece together the timeline to smile at a reference; so I can imagine that avid readers adored the name dropping. This isn’t a good introduction to the ‘weird incest series’ universe because there are too many specifics. Honestly, I would sometimes forget that The Bane Chronicles were set in the shadowhunters world and just wanted to enjoy this stupidly funny man and his interesting taste in fashion.

Magnus was sure that the llama stampede he witnessed was a coincidence. The llamas could not be judging him.

– RELATABLE, MAGNUS

Peeve: ‘When Magnus walked down the road lots of ladies looked at him. And gentlemen. Because Magnus is bisexual and this author is inclusive, so don’t forget it!’ This happened way too much. Just put ‘everyone looked at him’. Or find a less clunky way of phrasing it – it’s not going to take away from his sexuality if you don’t punch the reader in the face with this aggresive inclusivity. Also, I wish the stories were in a better order, like chronological, because the book ended on a pretty sad one. There was a lot fewer Malec stories than I’d expected, so it looks like I’ll have to read The Eldest Curses to make up for it! But they had such cool names: The Last Stand Of The New York Institute; The Fall Of The Hotel Dumort. Like I said, pretty cinematic!

Once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down. The Bane Chronicles took all my favourite parts of the Cassandra Clare’s engaging writing and I adored the addition of all the historical context. (Raphael and Ragnor are my new favourite friendship.) It’s funny and well written and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Aesthete Blog Award!!

This is the most gorgeous tag I’ve ever been nominated for and I’m so excited to share it with you all.

A few weeks ago, I was nominated by the creator of this tag over at The Fictional Journal. You can find Ashmita’s gorgeous post here, but I’ve included a lot of how she described the tag because it’s such a beautiful idea! I never thought I’d stick out blogging as long as I have, and it’s become something that I genuinely look forward to. Connecting with other bloggers is one of my favourite parts, so celebrating you all is something I always want to do more of. I don’t think my sentiments could be expressed any better than how Ashmita put it:

Before being a blogger, I never knew about such talented people who make such thoughtful content out there. I realized that it’s near impossible to try to fathom the sheer number of such people out there, and I accept it. But this makes me sad because that would mean giving up on beauty of this world, the beauty which lies in her creative people. So, I thought of coming up with this award – “The Aesthete Blogger Award.”

Now, why aesthete? “Aesthete” means a person who is appreciative of, or sensitive to, art and beauty. You might be one if you’ve ever been moved by a work of art or beauty. I think that every creative person out there is an “aesthete” because if you create things, then I believe you must have been moved by someone else’s creations at least once, if not more.

This award is to honor every creative person, irrespective of their number of followers and views. Because, as long as you create, that is all that matters. This award is for those bloggers who put an insane amount of thought in each of their posts and for those who spread creativity like wildfire!

– Pretty cool, right?

The Rules:

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  • Use the official logo/graphic of the award and display it on your blog.
  • List the rules.
  • Show some love to the one who nominated you!
  • Mention the creator (Asmita@ the Fictional Journal) and link it back to the original post.
  • Tell me a something about this world that you admire.
  • What is your favourite form of creativity?
  • Nominate some lovely people and notify them by commenting on their posts; spread some love!
  • Ask your nominees 4 questions.
  • Share something you created. (can be anything!)
  • And lastly, just so you know: I LOVE YOUR CREATIONS!

Ashmita’s Questions:

These are the most bizzare and wonderful questions I’ve ever anwered.

What colour is your soul?
This isn’t something I’ve thought a lot about, but I might go for a purple? There’s probably some meaning behind which colour you’d pick for your soul… but I just like the colour purple.

Think about your happiest memory. Then tell me the book/song that you are reminded of?
Spotify seems to have some hidden agenda, in that it’s constantly playing Heroes by David Bowie. I’m talking multiple times a day, whenever I’ve finished the song I originally put on, it will play. It’s certainly warmed on me.

从这里下载的!把它整透明了!! | Cute love gif, Cute gif, Turtle gif

Finish the sentence: once upon a time, there lived a turtle on…
The moon! Because why not?

Do you have an aesthetic?/What is your favourite aesthetic?
I’d like to say that I got for the grunge/skater look, but it’s more that I just like wearing flannel and whatever I’ve found on my floor. Also, I’m definitely not good enough at eyeliner to properly complete these aesthetics, but I try!

My Questions

  • If your life was a movie, what song play in the montage you’re in at the moment?
  • Where’s one place you really want to visit?
  • Three books you want to read before you die?
  • What’s one thing you really want to try?

I Nominate…

If you’ve made it this far, consider yourself nominated! If you want to give it a go, let me know in the comments and I’ll link up your site 🙂 There are so many other amazing bloggers that I could have nominated, but my hands would have fallen off if I had included anyone else. You all inspire me.



See My Star Wars Cross-stitch You Must

I don’t talk about my love for galaxies far far away as much as I probably could, so I thought I’d grace you with something I’ve made!

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I got into cross-stitch over lockdown and have kept it up ever since. I’ve been really enjoying the total range of things you can make – you can find my other cross-stitches of fanfics, book covers, characters and favourite quotes here. Like I said, a range!

Are there any crafts or hobbies you’ve been enjoying recently? What is your favourite Star Wars film? Or have you read the books? (I haven’t and I’m so interested in what people think.). Let me know in the comments!

Discussion and Predictions: Shadow And Bone TV Show

Shadow and Bone comes out TODAY! It’s been this far-off date for so long that it feels strange I can now see it in my continue watching pile on Netflix. Or watch again because I will make some waffles and finish it in a day. When I first heard Shadow and Bone would be a TV show, I wasn’t that bothered. I wasn’t sure what implications it would have for the series – I still hate the new Six Of Crows covers. Why would you ruin that beauty?! But it’s safe to say that the anticipation (and massive stretch of time since then) has really got me excited.

This is going to be a shorter post, but I just wanted to make some quick predictions and maybe interact with some of you about the show. Let me know any of your thoughts in the comments, I’d love to see what other people think!

I apolagise to everyone who has no clue what I’m on about… you’ll find out soon enough!

I Predict…

  1. This show will either be horrendous or my new favourite program. There will be no inbetween. However, the trailers look brilliant so I’m hoping it will be the first one.
  2. There are going to be loads of new Grishaverse fans who haven’t read the books.
  3. The producers will mess up at least one thing, and there will be internet uproar. I’m calling Kaz and Inej kissing (THAT’S LIKE ONE OF THE BIGGEST THINGS IN THEIR RELATIONSHIP). But hopefully it won’t be too un-canon because I think Leigh Bardugo is one of the writers.

Things I’m Excited For…

  1. Kaz smashing heads in with and his cane in real, HD cinema. No more needs to be said. Who are you most excited to see?
  2. THE FAN EDITS. I’ve seen all the madness created by Hunger Games fans and Percy Jackson fans (and Marauders fans with 5 seconds of film and various random fan edits) soI’m so ready for my Tik Tok to be flooded with fan edits to pop songs.
  3. I’m more excited for whatever Crows screen time we get over the Darkling and Alina any day. Can you tell?

Finally, one thing I can’t believe: BEN BARNES IS THE DARKLING? I’m sorry, what? I hadn’t really processed that it was him – the entire 2012 Marauders fandom is probably buzzing for all the new content of ‘Sirius’ in floppy shirts. Also, he is 39. I swear Alina is supposed to be like 16; the actress is 25, which isn’t too bad, but still. Why can’t we cast teenagers as actual teenagers?

#WWW Wednesday – 21/4/21

This one of my favourite weekly tags, so many people do it that it’s really fun – and it’s always nice to rant about how excited I am for my next read. WWW Wednesday is hosted over at Taking On A World Of Words, go and check out their site! If you’ve had a go at this tag, feel free to link your post in the comments. And here’s what I’ve been up to this week!


What I Finished Recently

I’ve been lucky these past few weeks. I read two books I’d been waiting forever for and wow, were they worth it. You can find my review for Rule Of Wolves here (still feels amazing to be able to say that) and Yes No Maybe So here. I can’t believe that Shadow and Bone is coming out on Friday – it’s been this far-off date for so long it’s strange it’s now a weekday. Honestly, I have too many thoughts to fit on here (and I don’t want it to get mixed up with WWW Wednesday stuff) so I’m going to do a discussion and predictions tomorrow or Friday, so keep an eye out for that! I’d love to see what other people think.

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What I’m Currently Reading

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I have fallen in love with this book. It’s absolutely gorgeous, from the idea to the characters. If I could, everything I say about The Falling In Love Montage book would be in italics. It’s a rom-com about lesbians in Ireland and a cynic and her girlfriend who teaches her to believe in romcoms. What more could you want!!

I’m not going to be posting a full review because I just wanted to enjoy reading without making notes on every other page. Or spending hours trying to get my love for this book into words (it would have taken hours). Also, if I went into problems, I’d end up down a rabbit hole of picking apart flaws. There are a few problems, and I know some people would find the main character irritating, but you know what? We’re not going to think about that. It’s a rom-com about lesbians in Ireland – what more could you want?

What I Want To Read Next

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I may have forgotten everything that happened in The Mortal Instruments, but I didn’t forget my bestie Magnus and I want to see the chaos he’s created since then. For all the flaws I had with the original series, I’m pretty excited to try this. There are illustrations!! Do you know why is it written by three authors? If you can clear that up in the comments I’d be very greatful haha.


What are you reading? Have you tried any of these? Let me know in the comments!

Slooowww Burn: ‘Yes No Maybe So’ Book Review

Happy Ramadan to everyone celebrating! I’d been meaning to read Yes No Maybe So for weeks, so it seemed good timing to read a book set during Ramadan… during Ramadan. Literally the only things I knew going in was when it was set; that it was well received and co written by Becky Albertalli. Which is enough for me!


Name: Yes No Maybe So

Authors: Aisha Saeed and Becky Albertalli

Published: 2020

Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state candidate – as long as he’s behind the scenes. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.

Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is cancelled, her parents are separating and now her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing – with some awkward guy she hardly knows … 

Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer – and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural crush of the century is another thing entirely. 

Blurb and image from Goodreads


I’m English. And I think that’s a factor I should have considered more before I read a YA book about teens canvassing for an American election. Which is certainly a unique premise for a rom-com. As you’d expect, there’s quite a bit on the American electoral system (and Target) that I don’t really understand. The politics both interested me and bored me because I don’t fully know how American politics works. It was quite funny how anti-Trump the book was (I loved it) but if you prefer your books to be more neutral then that’s a factor to consider.

“But I’m not talking about the world righting itself. I’m talking about us righting the world.” 
– Yes No Maybe So

It was nice that the boy was the klutz for once, but Jamie was the male embodiment of Bella Swan. Unconfident and shy, I could see a very obvious character development for someone who wanted to become president – and had to give a big speech at the end of the book. But the story dragged out for so long that the development wasn’t that concise. Three hundred pages in, the canvassing felt repetitive and I wasn’t entirely sure what had happened to fill that many pages. However, the end quarter (it’s pretty long for a contemporary!) went off-piste and wasn’t as predictable, which I enjoyed.

Also, I found it strange that the font and chapter formatting was exactly the same as Becky Albertalli’s other co written book, What if It’s Us. You can find my review here. That collab is one of my favourite books of all time, so I was playing the dangerous game of comparing the Yes No Maybe So to it. One of the reasons my rating dropped was because Yes No Maybe So just wasn’t as good as I thought it would be – it’s also aimed at a younger audience than What if It’s Us.

“It’s ridiculous. Women are problematic if they show too much skin and problematic if they don’t show enough?” 
– My favourite quote

I loved the activism in Yes No Maybe So. Despite the fact I was rooting for the side characters more than Maya and Jamie, it had a strong, political message and here was decent queer representation that I thought was well handled. I’ve seen some reviews criticising Maya’s character – it’s not my place to comment, but they said said that she fell under the trope of Muslim women having to step away from their faith to date white men.

To sum up, Yes No Maybe So is an easy read with a strong message. Despite its considerable size, I barely noticed how fast I was getting through it and it’s a pretty funny book. The cover is adorable too! It felt so obvious what would happen that some of the canvassing could have been cut, but I liked that the ending wasn’t what I expected. Yes No Maybe So tackled more serious issues than I’d first expected in a really well- thought out way and I’m encouraged to try some of Aisha Saeed’s other books – if you have any recommendations, let me know in the comments!

Rating: 4 out of 5.