Book Review: The Near Witch - V.E Schwab

Book Review: The Near Witch – V.E Schwab

The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.

And there are no strangers in the town of Near.

Lexi has grown up with the stories of the Near Witch with little thought to them other than to scare children. But not long after a mysterious stranger arrives and children start to go missing from their beds, Lexi needs to find out the truth – and make sure her sister doesn’t become one of the missing children.

I meant to pick this up a while ago but it slipped my mind, it was only when I saw the gorgeous sprayed edges edition that I knew I needed to buy and read it. I also managed to persuade my book club to read it too!

Lexi is an excellent character, she’s intelligent but also has a softer side, it’s great to see a character that has both. While she’s dealing with the death of her father and what is expected of her in her village she’s also fiercely determined and wants to do the right thing.

I was also fascinated by Cole (this edition also included a short story about him at the end which I wish had been a whole book in itself), the element of mystery really kept me reading. Who was he? Was he the Near Witch? Could he be trusted? So many questions.

I’m not entirely clear when or where in the world this is meant to be set but it gives me a old worldy vibe because of the way the town acts and the types of jobs that are mentioned – which I enjoyed.

When you consider that this is her debut and something that she was writing while at university it’s even more impressive. I lost myself in this story and this world once I started reading.

This was a 4.5 star read for me. An engaging story and while at the beginning it was slightly slower than I’d have liked, when it picked up it was an enjoyable read. I’d actually quite like to know what happened after.

Book Review: Roomies - Christina Lauren

Book Review: Roomies – Christina Lauren

While Holland has watched her favourite street musician for months with deepening feelings she’s never had the courage to talk to him, until he rescues her from a drunken attack and disappears. She decides to find him again after her Uncle is desperate for an incredible musician and she knows that Calvin could fit the bill. While everyone falls in love with his talent there’s one catch – he’s in the US illegally after overstaying his student visa.

Fed up of being a second character in her own story Holland decides to take a risk and marry him – even though he has no ideas of her feelings. They’re going to have to put on the show of their lives, but at one point does it stop becoming an act?

I’d heard about Christina Lauren a few times and this is the second book of theirs that I’ve picked up and I’m so glad I did. This is a romance that includes music, theatre and a protagonist that isn’t sure what she wants to do with her life. That ticks a lot of boxes for me!

I listened to the audiobook of this on Scribd and it was a really enjoyable experience, particularly as the narrator has a knack for the variety of accents that this story needs. It’s worth nothing as well that the characters lend themselves to the diversity that a city like New York would have.

While you cannot hear the music and performance that is being discussed, it didn’t matter – it was as if I could feel it through the page. The heart and the soul that these characters were connected by felt second nature to me. Now, I don’t know if this is the case because I have a passion and love for music myself but it touched my heart.

I also found myself feeling connected to the characters – I cared deeply about their lives and wanted the very best for them. I felt like I knew them. I was constantly rooting for Holland and Calvin to find love in each other and have a shot at happiness together. It’s safe to say I was wrapped up in this book from the first page.

This was a 5 star read for me. It’s a fantastic romance that I could not put down. I needed to know what was going to happen, was the relationships going to stick? Would Calvin fall in love with Holland? Would the law catch up with them? Of course, I won’t spoil anything for you but I really enjoyed this book. I’d also recommend the audiobook as a fun read.

Book Review: Clap When You Land - Elizabeth Acevedo

Book Review: Clap When You Land – Elizabeth Acevedo

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance – and Papi’s secrets – the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

After reading Acevedo’s novel With The Fire on High I knew I needed to read Clap When You Land. I was fascinated by the idea of a tragedy bringing together unknown family members and the difficulties they have after learning the truth. 

This is ultimately a story about grief, family and secrecy. While both Camino and Yaharia share a father, their lives couldn’t be more different. One is used to living in New York in reasonable comfort, while the other is keeping her head above water with her aunt in a struggling neighbourhood. 

As with Acevedo’s other book I read there are a number of diverse characters in terms of race and sexuality as well as looking at forms of intimidation women may face around the world. 

The way in which this is written is beautiful, I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the Dominican Republic and Camino’s sense of community and love for those around her. Overall I think I felt more connected to Camino, simply because I was rooting for her the whole time. That’s not to say I wasn’t rooting for Yaharia, it was just a different kind of connection. 

For me this was a 4.5 star read, I can’t talk about the ending without risk of spoilers but I wanted to see more of that happened after the endpoint. I would definitely read a second book about the girls. I wish I could say more but I refuse to spoil this wonderful book for anyone. 

Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for review. 

Bite Me: The Twilight Reread

Bite Me: Announcing The 2020 Twilight Reread

Let’s take it waaaaay back to 2008. I’m 13 years old, I’m seeing this boy that I kind of really like and there’s this film called Twilight being advertised everywhere for later in the year. It’s one of my friends favourite books and so I buy a copy, and then the next and the next and the next. The cute boy is still my boyfriend in December and takes me to see the film of one of my new favourite series of all time. 

To say I was a Twilight fan wouldn’t be accurate. To say I was a Twihard would be bang on. Those books took over. I had the posters, the soundtracks, the movie books. On a family holiday to the states in 2009 I went to Hot Topic and let myself loose coming home with pin badges, a hoodie, patches and a limited edition record. I fell hard. 

When the Bree Tanner book came out I went and picked up my pre order and read it in a day. While I gave up on the films after Eclipse, the books have always had a place on my shelves (although it has been dangerously close to being donated multiple times)…and now we have Midnight Sun. 

Now, most people read the leaked versions online but I didn’t, if it wasn’t meant to be published I didn’t want to read it. So I don’t really know what it was like, the quality, how different it was etc.

As a 20-something woman I know Twilight is problematic but I can’t lie and say I didn’t love that series. As a teenager I adored it and so did millions of us. Did I find the imprinting thing super weird? Yes, yes I did it was and still is beyond bizarre, more than a bit creepy and I’m still not ok with that element.

I read an article this morning that wondered if we would see Edward’s behaviour highlighted as toxic and not ideal. I don’t know if we will but it’s going to be interesting to see this in a post me-too era.

With Midnight Sun coming out in a matter of months(?!) I thought it would be the perfect time to get around to that Twilight reread I’d been considering. Of course I’m going to take you guys along for the ride and a new bookish series on the blog appropriately called Bite Me.I hope you’ll join me because I am damn nervous about rereading a book that meant so much to me as a teenager.

Are you going to be reading Midnight Sun? I’d love to know!

P.S That boy I kinda liked? It’s the one I’m marrying, if you hadn’t guessed. 😉

What I Read In April 2020 – Part 2

Welcome to the second part of my April reading wrap-up. Will I do as well in May? Who knows? I’m hoping to focus on some longer books on my physical TBR. Missed part 1? You can catch up here.

Let’s get on with the next reads.

As part of the Easter Readathon I also read Before The Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, a Japanese short novel about time travel. It can be quite an emotional read. I thought it was interesting, it was a 3 star read for me.

I then wanted to pick up a few more graphic based books to make me laugh which lead me to All My Friends Are Dead by Avery Monsen and Jory John. This is a quick flick through and quite funny – a 3 star read for me.

I also found the Sarah’s Scribbles books by Sarah Andersen after really enjoying the first one. These are short cartoons but I found myself laughing along and seeing myself in them. Big Mushy Happy Lump was a 4 star read for me and Herding Cats was a 3 star.

All My Friends Are Still Dead by Avery Monsen and Jory John I found was better than the first volume and really came into its own.

Next up number 4 in the Wayward Children’s series, In An Absent Dream this follows Lundy and her story. I found this one a little slow to start with but still enjoyable and worthy of 4 stars.

Us by Curtis Wicklund is a really sweet collection of sketches that he drew over a year of him and his partner. A really sweet and quick read – 3.5 stars.

Ok, so Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire was amaaaaaazing. Another look at Jack and Jill in a different light and that’s all I can say but I loved it and it was a solid 5 stars.

I got an ARC from Netgalley of Love Your Body by Jessica Sanders and illustrated by Carol Rossetti is a wonderful book about body positivity and diversity. Beautifully illustrated and with a great message – I can’t wait to get a physical copy.

There are cartoons of Lady Stuff online so I thought I might as well give Lady Stuff: Secrets To Being A Woman by Loryn Brantz a go. It was quite repetitive and not that memorable, a 2 star read for me.

Debbie Tung’s Quiet Girl In A Noisy World – Debbie Tung made me feel seen. It was very much like reading my life, particularly the working situations. I love Debbie’s illustrations and I *think* there is another one coming out soon about relationships – I hope I can get hold of it in the UK.

I also picked up another Christina Lauren audiobook and adored it. Roomies is set in New York, it has music and arts and romance and everything was just perfect. The little musical theatre geek in me was squealing with happiness. Is it any surprise it was a 5 star read for me?

Last but not least, I won a copy of Noelle Stevenson’s The Fire Never Goes Out in Kate’s Easter giveaway. I’d seen it recommended and the illustrations looked great. Plus, I’m interested in memoirs from late teens/early twenties. This is a great read and looked at creativity, depression and identity – a 4 star read for me. It also made me finally order a copy of Nimona.

And that’s that! Over 20 reads – have you read any of them or do you want to? Let me know in the comments below!

What I Read In April 2020 – Part 1

Posting my what I read post within the first few days of the month? Who am I? April was a funny old month, wasn’t it? The outside was pretty terrible and it was demanded we stay home. It turns out staying in for an entire month can do wonders for your reading – who knew.

I read over 20 books this month, most of them are short because my concentration has been shot but overall I’m past half way on my Goodreads goal. Woo! Because there were quite a few I’ve separated this into 2 blogs. It might be a long one so let’s get going.

The first book I finished this month was With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo. It’s about a teenager with dreams of becoming a chef but she’s also a teenage Mum and trying to work her way through life for herself and her daughter. I LOVED this book, it was quite chill but had beautiful writing and I was cheering Emoni on the whole way. A 5 star read.

Next up, I got Scribd and realised there was a LOT of poetry on there so I downloaded To Drink Coffee With A Ghost by Amanda Lovelace. This was an ok read, there were some good parts but they’re starting to become very similar and merge into one…

I also read To Make Monsters Out of Girls by the same author and honestly I read it a month ago and I can’t remember much about it at all apart from the fact that it’s about a toxic mother daughter relationship. 2 stars.

After hearing about Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire on BookTube a LOT and I finally had access to the audiobook. At first I was very confused and it is a very strange novel but also it’s so good. I needed the next one straight away (I ended up listening to the whole series in a few weeks and I can’t wait for the next one). It’s all about children who come back from magical worlds. It was a 4.5 star read for me.

And go on to the next book I did – Down Among The Sticks And Bones! Jack and Jill are probably my favourite characters in the series but they’re not entirely likeable. I just find them and their world fascinating. In this book we learn more about them and it’s probably my favourite of the series – 4.5 stars!

Next up was Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan and was for the Easter Readathon. I’ve had this for a while and not got around to it, it’s about 2 high schoolers who want to start a women’s rights group. This was an ok read – there are some really important points but overall, for me, it was just ok. A 3 star read.

The third installment of the Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire – I told you I got through them! Beneath The Sugar Sky was a really odd one, I enjoyed it but this is about a land of nonsense. Another 4 star read and a return from a few past characters.

I was also lucky enough to get an ARC of The Eve Illusion by Tom and Giovanna Fletcher, the second book of the Eve of Man trilogy. Oh this was so worth the wait and so, so good. I read it in a day and then ordered the physical book.

Discovering Debbie Tung’s books made me SO happy. Book Love is one for book lovers and I want to buy a copy for all my bookish friends because it’s so true but also adorable.

I also finally got to read Heavy Vinyl Vol 1 and damn I loved it. Good representation and I can’t wait for volume 2.

That’s the end of part 1 of what I read in April! Have you read any of these? I’d love to know your thoughts below or catch me on Twitter! Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for part 2!

Book Review: The Black Flamingo - Dean Atta

Book Review: The Black Flamingo – Dean Atta

A boy comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen – then at university he finds his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo. A bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness. Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers – to show ourselves to the world in bold colour.

*I masquerade in makeup and feathers and I am applauded.*

This book is definitely a coming of age novel with a twist. I, personally, have never read a book about how someone becomes a drag queen. Personally, I think it is an amazing creative art form and the make up skills? Damn.

A few people I know have pushed back from reading this because it’s written in verse, which I understand. When I read my first novel in verse as a teenager I didn’t get it BUT now I see it as a really creative way of telling a story. If you’re new to novels in verse this is a great place to start because it flows so well and it’s easy to just read it and forget because you’re so absorbed in the story.

This is a story about finding who you are, about balancing expectations and family with your own truth. It looks at the LGBTQ community and drag but I think this could speak to anyone who has struggled with working out who they are and who they want to be. I could relate because I also started to work myself out at university and found confidence I didn’t know I had.

The story also follows Michael’s realisation that he is gay and what this meant for him as well as his crushes, relationships and the like. I’m pretty sure all of us can relate to teenage crushes.

The poetry within the pages were absolutely beautiful! Also the flow from around the middle to the second half seemed effortless, even though I know it must have taken a long time to put together.

This was a 4 star read for me, incredibly interesting, well written and, for me at least, very original in both the way it was written and the story it told. I will say that towards the beginning I struggled a little bit, particularly with Michael’s younger years but found as he got to university I could relate.