The Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag!

So this post was originally going to be a June wrap-up but after writing and rewriting the post about five times, I decided that I’m just not up to it. However, I managed to read thirteen books – eight physical and five eBooks (because I finally bought a Kobo!) I haven’t been tagged to do this but I’ve seen it all over Booktube and the wonderful Taryn’s blog so I thought I’d give it a shot anyway. 

1. THE BEST BOOK YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2017?
This was so difficult as I’ve hit the halfway mark with my reading challenge (50 out of 100 books!) so I’ve had to choose two. From the start of the year, my favourite has to be The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and my most recent favourite is Ragdoll by Daniel Cole. Both completely different – one a YA contemporary and the other a Crime Thriller but both have stayed with me to this day.

2. YOUR FAVOURITE SEQUEL OF 2017

Try and stop me using this book for the answer to every question though. This is the final book in the Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab and woah, didn’t it half end with a bang. This series has just been magical and diverse and funny and Lila and Rhy will forever be two of my favourite characters. I miss this world all the time! 
3. A NEW RELEASE YOU HAVEN’T READ BUT WANT TO


I have wanted this book from the second it was announced and now that it is finally out, I’ve got a TBR the size of a small child so I can’t get to it yet. However, it is getting amazing reviews so I may have to bump it up further. It is an incredibly diverse sci-fi novel which is exactly up my street so I encourage you guys to check it out too!


4. MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE FOR THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR


Yes, I am SO excited for Warcross by Marie Lu and 27 Hours by Tristina Wright but I would be lying if I didn’t say this amazing book right here wasn’t what I was most excited for. Not only is this a Wonder Woman story but it’s also written by one of my all time favourite authors. There’s a 99.9% I had a heart attack when it was announced. It will be released on August 29th!



5. YOUR BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

A lot of books were a disappointment this year but I think you have to choose one that you had high hopes for and for me, it was Flame in the Mist. I didn’t watch a lot of Disney movies when I was younger but the one I loved above all else was Mulan and to hear this was a retelling made me so happy. Although the book wasn’t terrible, it has problems with cultural and historical inaccuracies and bi-erasure. 

6. BIGGEST SURPRISE OF THE YEAR


This was a surprise for me because the one genre I’ve never really read has been memoirs/non-fiction. However, I picked this up because of the blurb and the fact that it was being sold for very cheap in a local supermarket. When I finished this book, I probably cried for about ten minutes and immediately started researching other popular memoirs on Goodreads. It surprised me how much I was invested in a story that was real life and I also come away with a line that stays with me to this day – “I can’t go on. I’ll go on.”



7. FAVE NEW TO YOU OR DEBUT AUTHOR

Ok, for this I’m going to choose Seanan McGuire who I discovered after reading Every Heart a Doorway. I just instantly fell in love with not just her twisted take on fairytales but also her imaginative and diverse writing. Definitely an author I’m going to keep up to date with.


8. YOUR NEW FICTIONAL CRUSH

I don’t really develop crushes on characters and if I do, I haven’t developed one this year but one of my newest loves is definitely Jessica from Not Your Sidekick. I just think she’s amazing and the hero of her own story and just somebody I’d want in my life so she’s getting this trophy. Sorry, Abby.

9. NEW FAVOURITE CHARACTER

 

I’m going to have to choose Molly from The Upside of Unrequited. She has just managed to stand out for me – she’s kind, very good at baking and is an avid fan of Pinterest. I think she’s just somebody you’d love to have as a friend. She’s written brilliantly, has amazing humour and is just a character I missed as soon as I finished the book.


10. A BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY

I think 99.9% of people who read this book got tears. I’m not kidding. This book isn’t fun to read. It’s heavy and heartbreaking and be aware of triggers for pretty much everything – suicide, self-harm, abuse. There’s nothing ‘little’ about A Little Life so don’t go into this expecting a light-hearted read. 

11. A BOOK THAT MADE YOU HAPPY
This trilogy is bound to make anyone happy. It’s light-hearted, fun and just generally cute. Lara Jean is a likeable and relatable character, there is a strong family dynamic especially between the Song sisters and the story lines are typical coming-of-age issues. They are just books you can fly through in one sitting and just have your heart warmed by its contents.


12. FAVE BOOK TO MOVIE ADAPTATION YOU’VE SEEN THIS YEAR

I haven’t actually seen one? I’m not the hugest fan of book to movie adaptations anyway but there’s none I can think of this year.


13. FAVE BOOK POST PUBLISHED THIS YEAR
I’m super proud of a lot of posts we’ve made this year, especially our diverse recommendations but my favourite has to be our post featuring books with bisexual characters which you can find here. We’ve since posted a part II here.


14. MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK YOU’VE BOUGHT/RECEIVED

So my initial choice would have been The Tiger’s Daughter because I fell in love with that cover art as soon as I saw it but I don’t technically own it as I read the ARC from Netgalley. So if I had to choose one I do own, I’d choose the Russian fairytale The Bear and the Nightingale. Like most books, this has different editions but each one manages to be stunning! 



15. WHAT ARE SOME BOOKS YOU NEED TO READ BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR?


So, in reality, the answer to this question would be the entirety of my TBR which is, no exaggeration, the size of a fridge but these are the five that have already been released and that I want to get around to reading ASAP. I’ve got some fantasy, crime thriller, sci-fi and contemporary so I think this is a good mix.

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And that’s the tag. I tag everybody who reads this to do this tag, whether it’s on their blog or Youtube channel. Especially the bloggers who are just starting out! I’m happy with the way my reading is going this year – I have delved into the world of non-fiction and gone back to my favourite genre growing up which was crime fiction. Can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings in terms of reading!
Love Angharad @

May Wrap Up II

* Becky’s Reads *

So I felt as though this was quite a slow reading month for me (mostly because I had my final deadlines for my degree, got into a bit of a slump and somehow spent four weeks finishing one book?) but I definitely read some books that I really enjoyed throughout May!




The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig


Although it took me almost a month to read this (I’m not exactly sure what happened there?) I really loved this book and I think I’d even say that I preferred it to the first one! I have always loved both mythology and history, so a world that includes them both is absolutely perfect for me. The world-building was absolutely lush, to the extent that I could almost smell the sea breeze purely from descriptions, or imagine that I was walking through the streets of modern-day New York (a city that I’ve never visited). 




To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

So as it’s coming up to the summer, I was in the mood for a light contemporary read and after hearing about this series, I thought it would be perfect. It’s a quick read with important family dynamics, a diverse main character (Korean/American) and a whole lot of baking goodness. I quickly finished the rest of the series within a few days and I can safely say that I recommend it. 




Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

This book was definitely a mixed bag for me. The first half of the book took me a while to get into, I wasn’t too invested with the plot or the romance but then the second half definitely improved to the point I gave this book four stars. However, since reading it, we have read some mixed reviews from Own Voice readers such as problems with bi-erasure and inaccuracies with Japanese history. We will be posting a full review soon!




When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Although this was a fast read, I really enjoyed it! It has a diverse cast, it is really lighthearted, cute and fun but at the same time touched on important issues. Dimple wasn’t a typical YA contemporary protagonist and I loved learning about all of the Indian traditions. I’m just excited for whatever this amazing author releases next!



A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Although I thought ACOWAR wrapped up the trilogy really well (I definitely cried more than once) for the most part I was so happy with how things turned out, there are a couple of issues that needed discussing with this book (such as biphobia and ace phobia.) However, without overlooking these issues, I did really enjoy ACOWAR and have loved this series so much as a whole. I think in the future, Sarah J. Maas definitely needs to focus on bringing more diversity to her worlds and stop describing penises as ‘velvet steel.’
So that was my reading month! I’m looking forward to the month of June (and not just because I’m going on holiday.) What was your favourite read this month?
Love Becky @

Our May Wrap Up!

* Angharad’s Reads *

So after months and months of not doing a wrap-up and being caught up with our new business, we’ve decided to stop abandoning this blog (yay!) Although I’m behind on my reading challenge at the moment, I read more books this month than I thought I did! Some let me down but I also found another all time favourite so it was worth it. So without further ado, here’s the books I read this month and what I thought about them. 

A Dance with Dragons 2: After the Feast by George R.R. Martin

So I’ve finally caught up with the ASOIAF series! This isn’t a quick read series or even a happy series (it has more death than a graveyard) but the amount of magic and world building in these books is hard to beat. I don’t watch the show anymore but these books more than make up for it! The unfortunate thing about catching up is that I now have to wait like everyone else for the next book. Wish me luck.

The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace

I have wanted to pick up this book of poetry for ages and then a miracle happened when I won a copy in a giveaway! I follow Amanda on Twitter and she seems like the most beautiful person so I just knew this would come across in her book. Her poems are raw and real, heartbreaking but beautiful. As the title suggests, this is the story of a princess who saves herself, a damsel who becomes queen, a girl who picks herself up. I also loved the size of this book as poetry books can definitely be too sparse. 
P.S. I Still Love You & Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

The second and third instalment in the Lara Jean trilogy. I read the first book in April after hearing about it being a cute little contemporary with a Korean American protagonist and it didn’t disappoint. They are your typical coming-of-age stories but with beautiful scenes between Lara and her family as she deals with future plans and a more than complicated love life. I would definitely recommend this series as they are quick and perfect for the summer. 

Idiot Verse by Keaton Henson

For those who didn’t know, Keaton Henson is a very talented singer/songwriter who also happens to do a bit of art and poetry on the side. When I heard about this book, I ordered it immediately and finished it in just a few minutes (it’s very short and a few pages are dedicated to his own illustrations.) Despite being a huge fan of his, unfortunately this book of poetry just didn’t resonate with me but don’t let this put you off as I believe poetry is subjective and others may love it! Plus, look at that cover art.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

I am a HUGE sucker for post apocalyptic stories even though they have been done almost to death (har har.) This book has been on my shelves for about a year and the other day I decided to pick it up and ended up reading it in one sitting and it has become a new favourite of mine. This isn’t an action-packed novel, it hardly even has a plot but it is about the characters and how they have survived and kept going since the world ‘ended.’ It shows how humanity rebuilds and how nature reclaims its domain and this is everything I’ve been looking for in a book.

A Jarful of Moonlight by Nazanin Mirsadeghi

We were sent this small book of poetry in exchange for an honest review.  The book is split into five parts with a small poem on each page but by the end, they come together to form a story of love, heartbreak and grief. For me, my end review is a bit of a mixed bag. Some poems resonated with me, some didn’t and some reminded me of poems I’ve read before, either by other authors or on Tumblr. Our full review here!



Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh 

I have been highly anticipating this read since hearing about it and the reason for that is because as a person who didn’t watch a lot of disney films as a child, the one I loved more than anything with Mulan. And what’s this? A Mulan retelling! Unfortunately, for reasons that will be discussed in a future review, I was left disappointed. Although it was very atmospheric and I enjoyed the main character, there were problems with bi-erasure amongst other things. However, if I could rate the book on cover alone it would be a full five stars.



Girl A

This is a memoir written by the victim who stopped the infamous Rochdale sex ring. Remaining anonymous, ‘Hannah’ tells the story of the abuse she, and other young girls, suffered at the hands of older men which for many years was ignored by social services and the police force. I decided to pick this up after watching the BBC drama, Three Girls and even after finishing it, I feel it is a book I can’t rate. It’s harrowing, it’s difficult and it’s a story that never should have to be told, especially by a young girl. 








So that is all my reads for the month of May. It was a mixed month but I read a lot more than I thought I did and I’m looking forward to June as I have a few books I’m so excited for. 
What did you guys read? What was your favourite?
Love Angharad @

A Jarful for Moonlight by Nazanin Mirsadeghi



Huge thanks to Bahar Books Publishing for this copy.
 
 
A Jarful of Moonlight is a collection of short love poems. For me, poetry books can be hit or miss but that is only because poetry is subjective, it either makes you feel something or it doesn’t. However, I am always open-minded. The book is split into five parts with a small poem on each page but by the end, they come together to form a story of love, heartbreak and grief. 
For me, my end review is a bit of a mixed bag. Some poems resonated with me, some didn’t and some reminded me of poems I’ve read before, either by other authors or on Tumblr. I don’t know if Nazanin was heavily inspired by other works but I saw a lot of familiarity. I read the book in around ten minutes but it is easily a book you can pick up again or use to mark your favourite poems. I would recommend this collection if you’re a fan of love poems in general or Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur and Salt by Nayyirah Waheed. 
 
 
 
 
Goodreads | Amazon
 
 
 

 

 
To conclude, I am assuming this is the author’s first collection of poetry and because of this, I would give it around 3 stars! It is always hard to rate poetry as your experiences with it may be the complete opposite from somebody else’s. However, for me, only one or two poems stuck out to me. It’s clear that Nazanin is a gifted poet and her poems easily depict the feeling of love and self-discovery. I hope she continues to bare her soul to us through her poetry and I would definitely pick it up. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Love,

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

“You’re a storyteller. Dream up something wild and improbable,” she pleaded. “Something beautiful and full of monsters.”

“Beautiful and full of monsters?”


“All the best stories are.” 


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I’ve been a huge fan of Laini Taylor ever since reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone all those years ago, so Strange the Dreamer was such a highly anticipated read for me. I’m so happy to say that it didn’t disappoint.
I’ve taken my time writing this review but, for those of you who haven’t read this book yet, I’ll be avoiding spoilers throughout this post!
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So, as always, Laini’s writing was absolutely magical; Strange the Dreamer truly felt like a fairytale, and I could almost taste and sense the beautiful descriptions being weaved throughout this story. I didn’t think it was possible, but I think Laini’s writing has improved so much since DOSAB – despite that being such a beautifully written trilogy, she’s somehow managed to grow within her writing and surpass it.
Although the story is fairly slow paced, the world building and character development means that this isn’t an issue in any way. I have to admit that Lazlo Strange is definitely one of my fictional crushes now – the gentle giant trope, his love of books, and just the general fact that overall, he is a dreamer – he was a perfect main character, and that’s coming from someone who often struggles to read novels with male main characters. Besides Lazlo, I adored all of the characters, and immediately fell in love with Sarai and her story. The way in which each characters path intertwines to connect each thread of the story together worked in the most perfect way, and although there weren’t necessarily any huge plot twists or surprises in my opinion, Strange the Dreamer had such a wonderfully woven plot and left me craving the sequel. 
Without giving away too much, I also loved how easily Strange the Dreamer could be linked to the world of DOSAB, in terms of its mythical and magical aspects, especially within the world building (although I’m not sure if this was purposeful). irregardless, I enjoyed forming the connections between the two stories.
Overall, Strange the Dreamer is a story of gods and monsters, of an orphaned librarian and a half-human girl with dreams that they can’t escape, of lost cities and lost histories, of long-standing prejudices spanning centuries, and of a dreamer who just wants to be the hero of the story, despite believing that he has no skill to ever achieve that goal. It brings together a strong social commentary on how grudges can be held against a group of people based purely on the actions of their predecessors and a simple overarching message to never give up your dream. If, deep down, you have a storytellers mind and a dreamer’s soul, this is the book for you.
love Becky @

Hunted by Meagan Spooner

Beauty and the Beast has never been my favourite story, but when I saw that this BATB retelling was set in medieval Russia and incorporated aspects of Ivan Tsarevitch, the Firebird and the Gray Wolf, it went straight onto my TBR list!

Hunted follows Yeva (nicknamed Beauty by her family), a young girl who’s a skilled hunter after training for years beside her father in the woods close to their village. Yeva has a comfortable life with her father and two sisters, spending most of her days accompanying the baronessa of the village with a group of other women. However, she grows tired of living up to the standards of high society, and longs to live in the woods and carry on hunting – and also to meet someone who will understand her unconventional ways and treat her as an equal with admirable skills, rather than a submissive woman. 

When Yeva’s father loses his fortune, her family is forced to move back to his small hunting cabin deep in the woods. This may seem like a blessing in disguise for Yeva, who is finally able to escape the confines of high society, until the day that her father goes missing after becoming convinced that there is a beast living in the forest chasing away his prey. Yeva is then forced to go deep into the woods to search for him. What follows becomes a merging of Beauty and the Beast alongside Ivan and the Firebird, mixed with multiple other Russian folktales that I’ve come to love over the years.
I generally have three problems with Beauty and the Beast, and thankfully, Hunted eradicates all of them. First off, the stockholm syndrome. Yeva gets to know the Beast and forms a bond with him before knowing that he is the one who imprisoned her, and once she finds out, she struggles with her fondness for her mysterious friend Ivan, and the beast who chained her up and who she believes hurt her father. There is also a conversation between Yeva and a friend of hers about abusive relationships – something which I’ve definitely never seen in a Beauty and the Beast retelling before, and which improved the story as a whole so much. Issues like this need to be addressed in these sort of stories, and I was so thankful that Meagan Spooner took the time to add this conversation into the book. 
Second, I’ve never really liked Belle/Beauty in these stories. Thankfully, Yeva was a much more interesting character – she’s a strong female character (and we can never have too many of those, in my opinion), she had depth, she was incredibly selfless and always put others before her (even those who hurt her), she was determined and she knew exactly what she wanted, and I really came to relate to her story. The author’s note at the back of Hunted points out that this is very much a coming of age story that the author herself feels relates to her own life, and I could also relate to so much of it, so Yeva really grew on me. 

Third, the sisters. I don’t think I’ve ever read or seen a version of Beauty and the Beast where Beauty’s sisters aren’t awful to her, but Yeva’s sisters, Lena and Asenka, are both wonderful characters in their own right and are always looking out for their younger sister. I really enjoyed both of their individual stories and would definitely read more about them. 
Fourth (I think) the Gaston character. We’ve all seen this guy be the typical douche (lets take Tamlin in ACOTAR, for example) but Yeva’s suitor, Solmir, is actually such a nice person and admires Yeva’s talent for hunting and tracking – he doesn’t treat her like she’s below him or expect her to be the typical wife figure, and constantly reassures her that he’d never impose any expectations on her if they were to marry. When she’s unsure about being with him, he doesn’t push her at all and promises to protect her family when she leaves the cabin to search for their father. There was honestly a small part of me that was shipping him with Yeva, he was just that lovely!
And finally, the ‘fall in love to break the spell’ trope. Without spoiling anything, I’m so happy to say that the Beast isn’t constantly trying to force Yeva to fall in love with him in order to break his curse. He believes that his curse has to be broken in other ways that require Yeva’s help – but I won’t say anything else on this as it’ll spoil too much of the plot! 
I have to say that the incorporation of Ivan Tsarevitch, the Firebird and the Gray Wolf worked so perfectly with this story, and the second half of this book is definitely more of a retelling of this folktale than of Beauty and the Beast. It was done in such a clever way, and I’m still in awe at the way that the author managed to weave the two together and set the result in medieval Russia so perfectly. I’m always on the lookout for new books inspired by Russian folklore, and I’m so glad that I came across Hunted.

love Becky @


Latinx Book Recommendations

In light of an upcoming book which appears to have severe themes of cultural appropriation for the Latinx community, here are some books from the community, with majority being Own Voice novels. Support these books and their authors and let their voices be heard as they tell their histories and their stories and be careful of the damage caused by supporting misinformation and appropriation. 
Goodreads | Book Depository
The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera

After ‘borrowing’ her father’s credit card without permission, Margot finds herself having to work in the grocery store owned by her family as punishment and to pay off her debts. Margot is desperate to maintain her fought-for reputation at her private school, and refuses to let her family get in the way of her attending the ultimate beach party. The Education of Margot Sanchez looks at class and cultural issues, family secrets, and the building of new relationships whilst trying to maintain old relationships, with friends who could never understand the situation that you’re in. 



Goodreads






I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

A YA contemporary telling the story of Julia, a young girl left to pick up the broken pieces after her sister dies in a tragic accident. Unlike her ‘perfect’ sister, Julia still lives at home and becomes the brunt of their mother’s grief as all her failures get pointed out. However, what if her sister wasn’t as perfect as everyone thought? This is a story of self-discovery, secrets and what happens to the ones left behind. This book will be released on October 17th, 2017.






Goodreads



Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

Not only being blessed by the world’s prettiest cover, this magic-realism story follows the Nomeolvides women who have tended the beautiful estate of La Pradera whose magic entices guests from all over the world. However, these women have a tragic legacy: if they love too deeply, their lovers will mysteriously vanish and after years of this, a strange boy appears in their gardens. One of the women, Estrella becomes enamoured by this mysterious boy who doesn’t know where he is or where he has come from. This book will be published on October 3rd, 2017.




Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

This short but powerful novel follows Sierra Santiago, a budding artist from Brooklyn. She is looking forward to a good summer but that is until a strange guy turns up to a party, starting a chain of unusual events in New York. Sierra soon discovers the Shadowshapers, a supernatural order who can connect with spirits via paintings, music and stories. Finding out not just about this order but also about her family’s history, is Sierra ready to face her destiny? The sequel, Shadowhouse Fall, will be released on September 12th, 2017.






Goodreads | Book Depository



Proof of Lies by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

A YA mystery novel following Anastasia Phoenix, the always odd girl out plus black belt plus speaker of four languages. Moving to an International city with her scientist parents is hard enough without being the sister of a mission girl who is presumably dead. Anastasia is the only person certain her sister is still alive and when she finds a trail of evidence, she becomes part of a conspiracy much bigger than she anticipated. But her only goal is to find her sister. Joined by Marcus, your typical bad-boy with a heap of secrets, the two try to uncover the secrets around her sister’s disappearance but everything is not as it appears.




Goodreads





The Go-Between by Veronica Chambers 

Being the envy of every teenage girl in Mexico City, Camilla del Valle Cammi is used to a life of private planes and paparazzi. It comes with being the daughter of a telenovela actress and a voice-over artist for blockbuster films. However, when her mum gets cast in an American television show, everything changes when the family move to LA and things aren’t quite as glamorous anymore. For once in her life, Camilla is struggling to fit in, especially when her new friends thinks she is a scholarship kid and daughter of a domestic. This book will be released on May 9th, 2017.







Goodreads


They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Adam Silvera strikes again with a book you just know is gonna make you cry and smile, probably at the same time. Following the story of Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio, this young-adult novel joins them on their last day on Earth as they meet over an app and agree to spend their last hours together. Going from strangers to friends in just a couple of hours isn’t something either of them expected but knowing you’ll both be dead in a few hours tends to speed things up. Heartbreaking, profound and proof that your entire life can change in a day. This will be released on September 5th, 2017.









Are there any Latinx books that you’re anticipating? 
Let us know in the comments ready for the second part of this post.
Love Angharad @