Coffee and…Oooh Another Book Haul

I have beaten that book ban into submission. So, join me for a coffee whilst I show off my latest haul. 

The Coffee: This week I’m drinking Kamwangi AA a Kenyan filter coffee from April Coffee Roasters in my trusty Ravenclaw mug because I am feeling the house pride. It tastes good but I am wishing I hadn’t smashed my chemex because I think it would have been amazing brewed that way.  

The Books: 

Change by Various (Awesome) Authors

I was lucky enough to be accepted for this on Netgalley, but I had to get a physical copy because it is absolutely OUTSTANDING. You can read my review here

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

So many people on my Twitter feed and on blogs I follow have been raving about this and promising it is a heart-breaker. I had to give it a go and test the theory. I adore that cover too. 

This Savage Song and Our Dark Duet by V. E. Schwab

I picked up Our Dark Duet as part of an offer and only later realised it was the second book, so I went back for the first. I can’t believe I have never read any of V. E. Schwab’s work yet- hoping to rectify that soon. 

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Look at that cover. I am in love with it. The cover art and the reference to George R.R. Martin sucked me in. The story sounds perfect too!

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie Steifvater is another author whose work I have never got around to reading. I know this series is well loved. If I’m totally honest I bought this solely for the tagline “if you kiss your true love, he will die” because that sounded right up my dark and twisty street. 

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

 Five people go into a detention and only four come out. Everyone is a suspect. I am all over this school murder mysery. I’m enjoying mystery/ thrillers this year and this one sounds unique. I can’t wait to read it!

The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

The lovely Amy of Golden Book Girls has been at me to read this for ages. It sounds like a lovely story and Amy has amazing taste. I adore the cover art too: that’s been a recurring theme in this book haul. 

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Sometimes I think I must be the only person who hasn’t read this. My Nana bought it for herself some time ago and couldn’t get into it. So she gave it to me to see if I got on any better. I’ve heard mixed reviews, so it will be interesting to see which camp I fall into. 

The Monstrous Child by Francesca Simon

Another one I picked up for the cover art. So much for never judging a book by its cover. I really don’t like the printed on Costa sticker in the corner, but the book sounds perfectly dark and wonderful. 

All the Kindle Books

Last up on my haul list are the kindle books I’ve bought recently. 

Torn, A Kiss in the Dark and Undone by Cat Clarke

I already love this woman’s books and I’ve not read any. Now I own the full collection and plan to start with Girlhood next week as my hospital read. 

Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

This sounds so good and it was on offer this week so it needed to be bought. 

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu 

Everyone has raved about and loved this book so I had to get it whilst it was a bargain. It sounds like the kind of kick-ass feminist read everyone needs. 

Arcs of Invictus, Charlotte Says and There’s Someone Inside Your House. 

Every other YALC related post seemed to include one of these books and since I couldn’t get to YALC this year I requested them on netgalley. I am so excited to have been approved for all of these.

What’s new on your shelf? Have you read any of these? 

Slaying my TBR: The Art of Being Normal, Crown of Midnight and Lobsters

This week’s reviews are a little later than normal as I’ve been away visiting relatives in the land that internet forgot. Sometimes it’s quite nice to switch off for a while. Other times, it’s annoying and you eat all your data allowance trying to load one tweet.

I’ve managed to read some great books since my last round up.

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

For months, people told me to get hold of this book. When I finally did, I soon discovered why it was so highly recommended. I love the cover, which is brilliantly designed!

When David Piper was 8, he told his class he wanted to be a girl. Now he is older, only his closest friends know this, and he’s working up to telling his parents (they think he’s gay). He is bullied at school by Harry for being different, a “freak show”. Leo Denton arrives at Eden Park school with a reputation and a desire to keep himself to himself. He only seems interested in finding his dad. Then he steps in to defend David from Harry and find himself the centre of attention and forming an unlikely friendship with David.

Hearing the story from both points of view gave a great insight to both character’s inner thoughts and feelings. At some points this is really poignant and makes you feel the emotions of the characters.

The Art of Being Normal
is a heart-warming story of being transgender at school and discovering how to be who you really are, in spite of the expectations of those around you. 

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas

It’s tricky to review the second book in a series without giving away spoilers for the first, so if you want to be totally sure to avoid any information about Throne of Glass then don’t read any further.

Crown of Midnight
continues the story of Calaena Sardothian. Calaena was my favourite character in Throne of Glass, so enjoyed learning more about her and her life before Endovier. She is a fascinating character who developed a lot in this sequel: her actions and the revelations about her past were pleasantly surprising and added a new, more mystical aspect to the story. We also learn a lot about Chaol and about the Prince and enjoy a burgeoning and dramatic romance.

I found Crown of Midnight captivating, both in terms of the story and the writing. I enjoyed it so much that I ordered the rest of the books in the series as soon as I finished reading. Definitely one to read if you enjoyed Throne of Glass

Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

Sam and Hannah are between A levels and university, waiting on results, attending parties and trying to lose their virginity, killing time until they find their lobster. Their friends are in much the same position.

is narrated by Sam and Hannah and it was interesting to see how they both interpret the same experiences in different ways. It also adds a sense of frustration for the reader as you find yourself urging them to just talk to each other.

It’s not a story that generally reflects my own experiences of early romantic relationships, but I certainly identified with the stress of waiting for results and the tensions within Hannah’s friendship group, especially Hannah’s relationship with Stella, and I enjoyed seeing how the groups of friends negotiated the changes in their lives.

At times I very much felt my age as I was reading it and at others it mademe laugh so hard I cried. But it also conveyed the tension and angst of that life stage very well and I am sure many readers will identify with the story. 
Have you read these books? What did you think? 

Coffee and… Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag

This week, my coffee and I are sitting down to the mid-year book freak out tag. I was tagged to do this by the lovely Grace Latter. I was thrilled to be tag by one of my favourite bloggers, and it’s been interesting looking back on the year so far (even if we are a bit past mid-year now!) I’ve not tagged anyone in this, but if you want to do it, please do and let me know your answers!

The Coffee: This week I’m drinking the Buf Peaberry, a Rwandan filter Coffee from my favourites over at Clifton, served black in my trusty Ravenclaw house mug.

The Books:

Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2017

I’ve read some truly fantastic books this year, but I’m going to say Strange the Dreamer because it was wonderfully imaginative and unique and I’m still a little haunted by it. A close second would be A Change is Gonna Come for the fabulous stories and introducing me to some new authors. 

Best Sequel of 2017 so Far

I haven’t read many sequels this year, but of those I have, The Scarecrow Queen takes the crown. This was a superb ending to The Sin Eater’s Daughter trilogy. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas is a close second, because the last couple of chapters blew me away.

New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To

Lord of Shadows. I love all things Shadowhunter and have had this on Kindle since the day it came out. I don’t really know why I haven’t read it yet.

Most Anticipated Release of the Second Half of 2017

There are so many good books due out this year, but The Book of Dust is the one I’m most excited for. His Dark Materials were THE books of my childhood. The Amber Spyglass was the first book release I was ever excited for. I can’t wait for this latest installment. I’m also excited for The Loneliest Girl in the Universe because I have heard amazing things from people who have read it.

Biggest Disappointment

At the risk of sounding like an echo of Grace: When Dimple Met Rishi. I liked it, it was cute and easy to read, but I didn’t love it and it didn’t live up to the hype for me.

Biggest Surprise

The Devil’s Poetry by Louise Cole. When I was asked if I wanted to read and review this book, I wasn’t expecting it to become a new favourite. It’s unlike anything I’ve read before. I really enjoyed it and can’t wait for the next installment.

Favourite New Author (Debut or New to You)

I can’t pick just one, I refuse. I’m going to just list some whose work I read for the first time this year and whose future books are now on my “instant buy” list: Alice Broadway, Melinda Salisbury, Keris Stainton, Simon James Green, Louise Cole, Lisa Hartley, Ayisha Malik, Laure Eve, Sara Barnard, Stephanie Garber, Emily Barr and Aisha Bushby. I’m sure I’ve missed a million others: I’ve discovered so many new favourites this year.

Newest Fictional Crush

Sofia Khan written by Ayisha Malik. I read both the Sofia Khan books this year and I love her. I want to be just like her when I grow up.

Newest Favourite Character

The Grandma from Noah Can’t Even written by Simon James Green. From her excellent advice to her escape plots, she’s one of the best characters I’ve come across.

Book That Made You Cry

Cry? Ha! I’m not a crier. It takes a lot to get emotions from my swinging-brick heart. Patrick Ness almost got me with Release: because I couldn’t bear some of the things that happened to the main character.

Book That Made You Happy

Sara Barnard’s A Quiet Kind of Thunder. I devoured this one in one sitting and it was just lovely!

Favourite Book to Movie Adaptation This Year

I have’t seen many adaptations this week. Can I count Fantastic Beasts? I’m going to. I love Eddie Redmayne’s portrayal of Newt Scamander and Niffler is the best little TV rascal.

Favourite Review You’ve Written This Year

Probably has to be this one for The Devil’s Poetry blog tour. It was my first blog tour and arc review, so it’s special to me.

Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought or Received This Year

Ink by Alice Broadway. I have never seen such a beautiful book cover.

What Books Do You Need to Read by the End of the Year

ALL THE BOOKS. Is this the section where I list all the books I’m slightly ashamed I haven’t read yet? Okay. Here goes: Girlhood, THUG, The Fallen Children, Wing Jones, The State of Grace, The Girl of Ink and Stars, Truth or Dare, Countless, The Call, Lord of Shadows, Moxie, Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda, This Savage Song, The Raven Boys, Unconventional, One Italian Summer, The Paper Magician, The Bone Season, Red Rising…and about a million others. If you haven’t yet disowned me and one of these is a MUST READ, then let me know in the comments which one and why I need to bump it up the list?

Slaying my TBR – 4th August 2017

This week I’ve been mainly reading ARCs from Netgalley again. I requested a lot of them, again. This week has had some absolute gems: 

A Change is Gonna Come

A Change is Gonna Come is the highly anticipated collection of short stories and poems from BAME authors. Some authors, I was already familiar with but many were new to me. All the pieces relate to being marginalised or oppressed in some way and show the need for change. I loved that there was an index of issues covered as a kind of trigger-warning for readers and also a resources section for anyone affected by the issues raised.

Everything in the collection is brilliant and has a different take on the subject of change. My favourite in the collection was Aisha Bushby’s Marionette Girl,  a story about Amani, who has OCD, trying to negotiate a world with rituals, until one day something happens that forces her to do something brave. I also loved Hackney Moon by Tanya Burne, which offers a different narrative perspective and tells the story of Esther on thr precipice of an important decision. I loved seeing how Esther grew and changed and the ending melted my heart. We Who by Nikesh Shukla  was one of the most heart-breaking in the collection, telling a story of friendship and racism that stuck in my mind long after I finished it. Every piece in this collection is wonderful in its own way.

I really can’t recommend A Change is Gonna Come highly enough: every reader needs a copy on their shelf. 

 Editing Emma by Chloe Seager 

I’m definitely not a teenager any more. That ship has sailed, but Editing Emma made me remember so vividly what it was like that I felt the embarrassment of those years all over again. Editing Emma is the story of being a teen whose life is lived out on social media. Her “boyfriend” has ghosted her and gone public with another girl. Emma is distraught. In Emma’s world, relationships aren’t real unless they’re “Facebook official” and everything is about getting comments and likes. The lack of photos of her and Leon, and the abundance of him with his new girlfriend lead her to question her identity. So, it’s no real surprise that Emma turns to blogging as an outlet for her emotions. This might be a world away from my own teen years with our scribbled notes and over emotional paper diaries, but a lot is the same: Emma is obsessing over potential boyfriends, comparing herself to others and trying to be popular. Emma’s emotions are the same “going round and round in circles”. Her friends have their own squabbles and difficulties. Emma also has the usual teenage issues with her mother, whose own dating life gives us a comparison to Emma’s throughout the book. At points, the book makes some really sensible suggestions that I hope younger readers will take on board. My favourite of these was “DO NOT make life decisions that will actually affect your future based around someone you like. Even if you think you may ‘love’ them. It is not worth it.”

 Chloe has written a book that encapsulates the difficulty of being a teenager perfectly, and one which makes me feel grateful I was a teen long before social media was a thing.

Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss 

Forest Dark
tells the stories of two people who go to Israel, attempting to transform their lives in some way, shedding their past. It is also about Kafka and Israel. These different stories of metamophosis (presumably a theme tied back to Kafka) run alternately through the narrative. At times, it is very beautifully written. Nicole writes wonderful descriptions of place and some ofher anecdotes in her characters lives are very evocative: the story of selling grandad’s roses ostensibly for charity, but really to buy sweets, and then struggling with the guilt is one that really stood out for me. I can’t honestly say that I followed the threads of the various stories though. For me, the story was often lost amongst deep philosopical prose and historical facts and so I ended the novel not entirely sure what I’d been reading. I imagine someone with a better knowledge of Kafka and more nuanced interest in philosophy would enjoy it more. 
Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

Daughter of the Burning City is an amazing dark fantasy novel! It is the story of the travelling circus city of Gomorrah and Sorina, a 16 year old illusion worker in the city’s “freak show”. Sorina has no family of her own, except her adoptive father Villem who runs Gomorrah, so she has built her own family from her illusions. Non-traditional family structures in YA fantasy was the topic of my dissertaion and so this is an aspect I found particularly fascinating.  Sorina talks a lot in the book about family and what it means to her and it is a big part of the story.

One day someone starts to murder Sorina’s illusions. She befriends Luca, an unusual character from outside the city and together they investigate the murders. But there is something far more sinister at the heart of Gomorrah that will change Sorina forever.

This novel is gripping from start to finish, and the big twist hits the reader like a tonne of bricks. I finished this a couple of days ago, but I am still not over that ending

Let me know what you think and if you plan to read any of these? 

Coffee and…Me, Ranting

This week I’m sitting down with coffee to rant about book bans.

The Coffee: I’m drinking Kagumoini, a Kenyan filter from Clifton Coffee (one of my favourite roasters) and it is tasting awesome! Kenyans are my favourite coffees when they’re in season. I’m drinking it in my epic mug that turns from black to…something sinister when it heats up.

The Book Rant:

Anyone who has been paying any attention whatsoever to my blog or twitter feed will know that I announced a book buying ban last month. This week, I decided book buying bans are total crap. Here’s why:

I have had a shit week. I fell over at school, running and panicking that my small child was missing (he wasn’t, he’d just gone back to class to rescue a carton of milk). Moral of the story: don’t run, it’s bad for you. I cracked a bone in my ankle and tore a bunch of ligaments; my entire foot and half of my calf are still working their way through the full colour spectrum of bruising. I can’t move a lot and I keep waking up in the night when the covers get heavy or I try to move and my foot reminds me it is hurting. Consequently, I have had a lot of time to sit, read, and contemplate my poor life choices. Firstly, why did I request so many Netgalley books with the same release date? (good work brain, good work). Secondly, what is the point of this stupid book buying ban?

Yes, I know. It’s supposed to be about getting my TBR under control. I have some issues with that too.

My TBR (I’m going to call him Ted) did not exactly sneak up on me and attack unawares. Ted has been a work in progress for the last six years. I know exactly when and how he grew; he isn’t so much out of control as out of sync. I read anything in the region of 100-130 books a year, but for almost two years after my son was born, maybe longer, I couldn’t read books at all. My brain couldn’t concentrate on more than a few pages and I wouldn’t remember the story from one day to the next. This didn’t stop me buying books I knew I wanted to read, I just bought them anyway, and Ted took care of them. I didn’t worry: a home library is a wonderful thing. Books are never bad. Ted is a giant heap of possibility.

I don’t know if other readers do this, but I have always had a knack for finding the books I need to read at the time I need to read them. I read Divergent at a time when I needed to be brave; I re-discovered Sabriel learning to live without her dad after my beloved Grandad died; I picked up The Trick is to Keep Breathing when my depression was trying to get the better of me. Not every book I read is like this: most of the time I read whatever takes my fancy for no reason other than I want to. That said, my knack for choosing the right books at the right times means I’ve avoided almost all possible reading slumps. After the boy arrived, I needed THE book that would speak to me, but I couldn’t find it. I had lost my knack. For the first time I can remember, Ted did not have the answers. (For anyone remotely interested it was Twilight followed by Game of Thrones that pulled me out of the slump eventually). I searched everywhere: I downloaded something like 250 free books in one sleepless night searching for the book I needed to read (mostly misery memoirs). I never found the book I needed: it didn’t exist, but I found a lot of other books. I still couldn’t read them. I bought them, and Ted took care of them. Ted grew.

When I am sad, or stressed, or ill, I read books. I buy books to make myself feel better. I’m not claiming that this is excellent adulting, but it’s how I roll. So, telling myself I wasn’t allowed to buy books this week just made me more cross. I thought a lot about why I imposed a ban, then part way through making a list of all the books I was going to buy as soon as it was over, I started to wonder WHAT IS THE POINT? Why be on a book ban if you’re going to buy all the books anyway? It’s pointless: buy the books a few at a time over the month or buy all the books in one great binge after the “ban”? It’s still the same net result. You have less money and more books. Is that even a ban? What are you achieving? Nothing. The only thing you gain is misery and the opportunity to constantly whine about not buying any books (and I manage to whine about quite enough already)!

Banning myself from buying books is a bit like putting myself on a diet: I could do it if I wanted to, but as soon as I tell myself I’m not doing a thing, I just want to do it. I want to eat the chocolate, cheat on the workout regime, buy the books. I want to do it more. I worked out some creative ways of circumventing the ban, and got myself two “allowed” books. Husband promised me one if I could find an acceptable t-shirt in his dresser (spoiler: I can do anything for a book). I started a Twitter poll to get opinions on whether this was cheating (58% said no, 18% said yes and the rest didn’t know what the actual fuck I was on about). I love the book community on Twitter. I’d already decided I didn’t even care: I was getting that book. Leading me to question even more loudly WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU DOING CHARLOTTE? Just buy the damn books.

Reader, I bought the damn books. I bought four books. I love them. So does Ted.