Book Review – Vicious – V.E Schwab

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Well, this was a bit bloody brilliant wasn’t it? Vicious was the first V.E Schwab book I read and I’m more than a little bit in love with the novel and plot. Victor and Eli are both stand out characters and, more so, I was just knocked sideways by how smart the plot was.

When I first started reading the novel I did get a bit confused, there’s quite a few characters to start with quite early on, we’re going between modern day for the characters and 10 years ago. That took quite a bit of getting used to and I had to really concentrate at times to make sure I knew what was going on. However, once I got past that I was obsessed with this book.

Personally, I love Victor he was definitely my favourite character, even if he wasn’t always likeable. I feel that all of the characters were interesting but there was just something about Victor that I found so interesting, possibly in his way of thinking, his motives. I didn’t quite connect with Eli the same way but I might in the next novel, who knows?

This is a book that really kept me reading, I needed to know what what going to happen – how the ‘game’ was going to play out and more importantly who was going to survive. And I was completely hooked. I also had a huge soft soft for Sydney and needed to know what was going to happen to her.

Also, no spoilers but that ending, THAT ENDING. I absolutely loved it and I’m quite glad I picked up both novels after Vengeful was released because while I am taking time to process between books I can go to the next one without that much of a wait.

I gave this 5 stars, I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone. I am kicking myself for not picking up a V.E Schwab novel sooner. She is clearly an incredible story teller and I can’t wait to see what happens in Vengeful.

Book Review: Birthday – Meredith Russo

Two kids, Morgan and Eric, are bonded for life after being born on the same day at the same time. We meet them once a year on their shared birthday as they grow and change: as Eric figures out who he is and how he fits into the world, and as Morgan makes the difficult choice to live as her true self. Over the years, they will drift apart, come together, fight, make up, and break up—and ultimately, realize how inextricably they are a part of each other. 

After reading Meredith Russo’s first novel and absolutely adoring it I knew I had to pick up this one as soon as I could get my hands on it. And, as I hoped, the book did not disappoint.

The fact this book is spread out across 5 years just adds to how impressed I was by it. It’s not easy to have characters show growth in such a short space of time and it was pulled off really well. Both Eric and Morgan evolve throughout the novel but also keep the essence of who they are when we meet them in the first chapter.

I think the book could have been double the length and I’d still have loved it. I can understand why it wasn’t but the issues within are so complex I wanted to know even more. In particular, I wanted to know more about the relationship between them both when they were small, more about Morgan’s mother and their relationship.

It’s undeniable that this is an incredibly tough read at times, I fought back tears while reading and wanted to reach through the book and hug both of the characters. That said, most of my love went to Morgan, I can’t imagine what it’s like to live in a body that isn’t mine and have to pretend around the people you love. It also made me consider the fact that we really don’t know what’s going on in a someones head and the need to be kind to people.

Meredith Russo herself is a trans women and I think this only adds to what we can learn as a reader. Russo is writing Morgan’s struggle with her body through the lense of someone who has been through it. We definitely need more own voices novels and Russo is one to watch.

I don’t think it’s going to be any surprise that I gave this 5 stars. This was incredibly well written and I felt very emotional reading. While I am not trans, I can appreciate that as Russo writes, she is writing from the heart. I’ve recommended this to so many friends already as soon as I finished it.

Book Review: Heartstopper Volume 2

“Nick and Charlie are best friends. Nick knows Charlie’s gay, and Charlie is sure that Nick isn’t. But love works in surprising ways, and Nick is discovering all kinds of things about his friends, his family … and himself.”

Heartstopper Volume 1 was one of my favourite reads of this year and then Volume 2 came along and cemented it. I’ve been a fan of Alice Oseman for a while – she’s a clearly a talented writer, but also seems like a lovely human being (I’m determined to get to a signing this year. Seeing as this is about Volume 2 it will contain some spoilers if you haven’t read the first book – so pop back once you have!

We start off with the aftermath of Charlie and Nick’s first kiss which I am ALL about and squealed when it happened, but was it the right thing to do? As both boys question what happened and how they feel about it I found myself rooting for them even harder than I had before.

Charlie and Nick are absolutely adorable but they also become real people and I feel in the second volume we get to know them much more. We meet their families, get to know their friends and how they feel about themselves and their sexuality.

I also appreciate the fact that Oseman doesn’t assume in this book. I’ve seen it before in novels were there is one kiss and suddenly the person is gay, there’s not thinking about it. For Nick especially there is a question mark, he does have to work himself out and there’s no pressure. Also there is fantastic representation of all those who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Also we had a short story at the back about Tara and Darcey. Can we please have more of that? Because I also love them and I would love to see more cute stories about f/f romance as well as m/m romance.

There’s no surprise that I gave this 5 stars. Alice Oseman knows how to write not only a love story but also a story about friendship which is rare. A truly wonderful and uplifting book and I can’t wait for Volume 3!

Have you read and of Alice Oseman’s books? Let me know what your favourites are in the comments below!

What I Read In July 2019

Another month gone and 9 more books read. Yep, this month I managed to read 9 books and I’m pretty chuffed with myself! July was a super busy month so I didn’t have much hope. That said, it was a good mix of graphic novels, poetry, audiobooks and physical books.

Heartstopper volume 2 came out in July and it was just as perfect as volume 1 , perhaps even more so? I can’t say too much because it would spoil the first one but this is such a cute read and it’s going to be a TV show and I am SO THERE.

Next up was an ARC I was excited to receive because I LOVED Disconnected Vol 1 , this was just as good and I can’t stop thinking about it a month after reading. A full review to come closer to release!

I listened to Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want To Come by Jessica Pan as an audiobook and it was an interesting book. Following Jessica’s attempts to be an extrovert definitely gave her some interesting challenges and also made me consider my own life as an introvert. I gave it 4 stars and would recommend giving the audiobook a go.

I picked up Look Closer by Stewart Lewis at YALC last year and didn’t get around to it but I’m really kicking myself for not getting to it. Tegan’s story is touching and looks at the abilities she gains while grieving her father’s death.

I finally got around to The Power by Naomi Alderman for my new book group I’m a part of it’s set in an alternate world where women can use an electrical current that runs through them and they gain power all over the world. I liked this book and gave it a 4/5 stars – my book group liked it too!

Next up, Calm the F**k Down by Sarah Knight. I like Sarah Knight’s book for the pick me up they give me. She’s straight talking and I always feel more focused after listening. I’m already working on when I should use my freak out funds, 4.5 stars.

I read 2 of my YALC books in July. First up was Misfit by Charli Howard, a memoir of her life living with an eating disorder and in the modelling world. This was a 3.5 star for me and quite hard to read. I’d definitely say to go into this knowing it could be difficult if you’ve had any problems with eating or weight in the past – just a heads up.

Next was There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé by Morgan Parker. I’d picked this up in the bookshop a few times and then saw it half price at YALC. Unfortunately this one wasn’t for me. I gave it a 2 star rating – there were a few poems I liked but overall I just couldn’t get on with the style.

I just finished Vicious a few hours before midnight on the 31st July and wow, just wow. I can’t believe I waited so long to pick up a V.E Schwab. I met her at YALC and she was absolutely lovely (I was half way through this when meeting her) and very excited that it was my first novel of hers. I’m now eyeing all her other books and can’t wait to get on to Vengeful.

What did you read in July? Let me know in the comments below!

Book Review: White Rose – Kip Wilson

Disillusioned by the propaganda of Nazi Germany, Sophie Scholl, her brother, and his fellow soldiers formed the White Rose, a group that wrote and distributed anonymous letters criticizing the Nazi regime and calling for action from their fellow German citizens. The following year, Sophie and her brother were arrested for treason and interrogated for information about their collaborators.

I heard about Sophie and the White Rose a while ago after watching a short documentary so when I heard that this would coming out I was intrigued – particularly as it is written in verse. The book spans a few years of Sophie’s life as she tries to make sense of the world around her, be a young woman and fight for justice.

This is very much Sophie’s story. While, of course, the others members are mentioned if you’d like to know more about them there is definitely more research that can be done and that’s something I will undertake myself. We see events unfolding through her perspective, which her feelings towards those she loves and what her motivations would have been.

The book is a fairly quick read as it is written in verse, which isn’t something I pick up often. While I do appreciate the way it was written and think it was impactful I felt there was a certain level of information lacking so if you’re looking for something with a lot of detail this might not be the right book for you. That said, Sophie and her story does really come alive in this, so I would still recommend picking it up as a starting point to her story and that of the White Rose.

Overall I gave this book 4 stars. It’s a really clever way to tell Sophie’s story and I think it will definitely show a whole new audience her courage and bravery in the face of the Nazis. As mentioned I would have liked to have known more about the others who were executed alongside Sophie but this her story and what lead to the end of her life.

Book Review – Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

Are you ready for one of your favourite books of the year? You might have seen this book all over social media and rightfully so. I heard about this earlier in the year and so I pre-ordered it and then it went to sold out on the day of release, my local bookshop was also meant to have it on order (I covered my bases) and it had run into issues with the publisher. I waited 2 agonising weeks before I finally got it in my hands. It was SO worth it.

Our protagonist is Alex, the first son of the United States after his mother becomes president he meets all kinds of people along with his sister June and their best friend Nora. One of those is Prince Henry of Wales and the two instantly hate each other. So when they both cause a scandal at a royal wedding it’s time for damage control, but no one intends for it to become more.

To me, and a lot of other people on the internet, this book is perfection and as it’s a debut I can’t believe how well written it is. I fell in love with Alex and Henry equally as an enemies to friends to lovers situation unfolds. They really came alive to me as did the other characters. I adored all of the other characters too June and Nora were amazing and the book has so much representation I could write a whole post on just that.

It’s also told in a mix of Alex’s perspective and emails between the two which I absolutely loved and adds to the humor and romance of the two. These are two guys trying to work out their feelings and falling in love. They make mistakes, they try and navigate whether they can make it work with such public lives – all in all they just feel like real people.

It is worth noting that this is very much a New Adult novel meaning, yes, there are sex scenes and they are excellent. The author doesn’t shy away from the fact that two young people in love will have sex *shocker*. But it’s definitely done in a natural way, there’s no scandal about sex and it happens when it happens. It was quite refreshing to read about characters having a sex life not just ‘and then we went to the bedroom..’ because sex actually happens.

What makes this book so worthy of all the praise it is getting is that this is a genuine love story that many of us would love to see in the world. The sons of two of the most powerful families in the world falling in love? I’d love to see that and maybe one day we will see more LGBT representation in powerful positions. My heart melted for these characters and I loved getting to know their lives, their friends and you can bet I carried on thinking about this book long after I finished it.

Is there any other rating I could have given this book other than 5 stars? I’ve been recommending this book to everyone I think would enjoy it. It’s a truly wonderful novel and definitely a contender for my favourite book of the year.

My5 YALC 2019 Book Recommendations

My 5 YALC 2019 Book Recommendations

YALC is fast becoming one of my favourite events of the year a whole convention of bookish people. My kind of people. Last year I had such a great time I had to split my post into 2, part 1 was about the day itself and part 2 was my huge haul. This year I’ll only be going on the Saturday but with 3 days of amazing authors I wish I was going for all 3, maybe next year I’ll treat myself.

Here are 5 books and authors that will be appearing this year who I highly recommend checking out.

Heartstopper Volume 1 & 2 – Alice Oseman (appearing Friday)

Alice Oseman is an incredible writer with three novels under her belt, one amazing graphic novel and her second graphic novel out in July she is killing it. Aslo after following her on social media for the past year she seems like a lovely person too.

Heartstopper is a sweet story of two guys falling for each other and is one of the most wonderful graphic novels I’ve ever read, review here. It has all the heart and feels you need and as I write I have volume 2 staring at me to devour once I’ve finished writing this (see, always thinking of you guys first). Also her novel, Radio Silence is one of my favourite YA novels.

The Paper & Hearts Society – Lucy Powrie (appearing Saturday)

The lovely Lucy Powrie announced her first novel and the promise was a novel about books and friendships. I was gifted a copy by the publisher to give a review after requesting it.

If you like to read about bookish love, friendships and tackling anxieties. You can read my full review here.

The Exact Opposite of Okay & A Girl Called Shameless – Laura Steven (appearing Friday)

Ok I might have slipped 2 in here but they are part of a series and I love them equally. Laura Steven is one of my favourite YA authors and these two novels are absolutely hilarious. Fun, feminist and fiesty I don’t think I could recommend this more.

You can read my review of the first book The Exact Opposite of Okay here.

One of Us Is Lying – Karen M McManus (appearing Saturday)

This was an excellent thriller that I read back in 2017, think The Breakfast Club with added murder. I absolutely loved it, I haven’t gotten to her latest release Two Can Keep A Secret.

If you’re looking for a good thriller I’d recommend picking this up before the next in the series comes out. My review is here.

The Year I Didn’t Eat – Samuel Pollen (appearing Sunday)

I was asked earlier in the year if I’d like to be sent a copy of Samuels debut novel about a young boy with an eating disorder. This is a really important book that I hope does well because it truly deserves to.

We’re really lacking in YA books with male protagonists who have eating disorders, I can only think of two I have ever read. You can read my full review here.

What are you looking excited forward to at YALC this year? Have you read any of the above? Let me know in the comments below!