Books I Read In August 2019!

And we are back on a roll people! August saw me read 10 books – that is totally down to all the wonderful books I picked up at YALC being on my now pretty full shelves. I got through 10 (!!) books this month and I’m super pleased. Here they are in their full glory.

First up I finished the audiobook of Eat, Drink, Run – How I Got Fit Without Going Too Mad by Bryony Gordon. I’ve really enjoyed Bryony’s other books looking at her life with mental illness. You can read all my thoughts in my review here. This is a 5 star read for me.

Next up was another YALC read – The Disconnect by Keren David is a short book that centers around a group of teenagers asked to give up their phones for 6 weeks in the name of research and a cash prize. This was a gifted book and more to come! I gave with 4 stars.

Next up was Birthday by Meredith Russo, I’ve been looking forward to this, I loved Meredith’s previous book If I Was Your Girl so this was highly anticipated. This was an incredible read, so incredibly well written and such an emotional read. I would definitely recommend, a 5 star read from me.

The Truth About Alice is by Jennifer Mathieu who also wrote the amazing Moxie, which was my reason for picking this novel up. This tackles the impact of rumours and slut shaming and it’s another strong book by Mathieu. I gave this 4 stars, a strong read.

I received an ARC from the publisher of American Royals by Katherine McGee and wow, wow, wow! American royalty, a bit of scandal? I adored this book and gave it 4.5 stars – you can read my full review here.

Next up way another YALC purchase, I know I hit it hard in August. This novel was set in post WW2 Germany and looks at the secrets left behind after an international war. I learnt a lot from this novel and highly recommend it – you can read my full review here.

I picked up Can Everyone Please Calm Down? A Guide to 21st Century Sexuality by comedian Mae Martin and it was an interesting and informative read probably aimed at teenage readers but I gave it 4 stars and would recommend.

I was sent an ARC of Aphrodite Made Me Do It by Trista Mateer, a poetry collection that had some promise but overall wasn’t for me. That said I would you like to read more to get a better opinion.

My last 2 books were both audiobooks and thank goodness because I was a so busy with work I barely had the option to pick up a physical book! First up was The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla – I wanted to read this a while back and finally got to it, this was worth the wait. Listening to these stories of what it means to be a BAME person in UK today was something I think everyone should read/listen to. A 4.5 star read for me.

My final read of the month was another audiobook, this time narrated by Carrie Hope Fletcher who’s voice I love! The Flat Share blew me away, it’s not something I would normally pick up but I was intrigued by the premise. Tiffy and Leon share a bed but they have never met. I couldn’t stop listening and absolutely adored it. I won’t spoil the plot but I was trying not to cry happy tears at the end.

A super strong month in terms of reading, more so at the beginning but I’ll take it. I read some excellent books and while September might not have as many reads I hope that I get to some good ones!

Book Review: The Stolen Ones - Vanessa Curtis

Book Review: The Stolen Ones – Vanessa Curtis

My name is Inge. I am sixteen. I live in Munich. Food is rationed, though the war ended years ago. My boyfriend is Jewish. My parents would not approve, so I hide this from them. I think they are hiding something from me, too. Letters arrive on my birthday, but they are not addressed to me. They are for a girl named Kasia. This is her story.

After picking this up at YALC I thought I knew what this book would be about and I was pleasantly proved wrong while reading The Stolen One. This has a lot of twists and turns throughout which I didn’t expect – it’s kind of part historical fiction, part mystery. Different, but I like it.

What stood out for me about this book is that it focused on the wider Nazi horrors and what they did to a large number of communities as well as the Jewish population. A lot of WW2 and post war fiction focuses on the Holocaust – and rightfully so! But, it means that I haven’t read much about others who were impacted by the Nazi regime.

I really liked Inge, I found her to be intelligent and headstrong but also realistic for a 16 year old who’s surrounded by secrets. It shows both the good and bad in people and that just because a war ends, doesn’t mean that things go back to normal. There is a lot of confusion, hurt and pain after such an event.

The relationships Inge have are vital to the plot and it was clear there was both planning and care that went into writing them. At times I felt the her conflict and confusion. The novel did a great job of capturing that age where you realise the adults around you are humans with their own flaws, thoughts and feelings that might not match yours.

I do wish that the book had been longer, I felt that there could have been even more to the novel and get into some more depth – I can’t pinpoint where I would have liked it because it would be a massive spoiler!

Last but not least, I learned a great deal from this book about parts of the war I knew nothing about and after reading I definitely want to do some of my own research. This was so well told – I really want to have a read of other novels by Vanessa Curtis at some point.

I gave this 4 stars, I thought this book was interesting and there were quite a few twists that I didn’t see coming which was really appreciated. If you enjoy fiction about WW2 this will be a good read for you even though it is set after the end of the war. I’d really love to know more about what happens to the characters after the end of the novel as well which is a sign they were well written.

Book Review: Eat, Drink, Run How I Got Fit Without Going Too Mad – Bryony Gordon

Bryony Gordon was not a runner. A loafer, a dawdler, a drinker, a smoker, yes. A runner, no. In April 2017, less than a year after she had weighed herself at over 16 stone but stepped off the scales and started training anyway, Bryony Gordon ran all 26 and 3/4 miles of the London Marathon.

If you’re friends with me on Goodreads you’ll know that I’ve adored every book I have read by Bryony Gordon – she’s funny, intelligent and just gets it. Although, this is the one I took longest to pick up. It was about running, something I can’t stand at all – would I really enjoy it? Read on friend, but I think you’ll work out pretty early on what the answer is.

One of the things I like most about Bryony is that she doesn’t take herself too seriously. She knows how to laugh at herself and it’s a relief, you feel like you can laugh along too. Calling Prince Harry Hazza? Classic Bryony. Signing up the London Marathon without knowing how long it was? I laughed a lot while reading this and I think most people will.

This is more than a story of just running a marathon, it’s about battling your mental health, finding comfort in others and not giving up. Bryony started something called Mental Health Mates (more about it here) where a bunch of ‘mad’ people could have a get together and walk which is a bloody brilliant idea.

Again, Bryony covers another section of her life and health with unflinching honesty. She talks about the toll that writing Mad Girl had on her mental health and how walking and running gave her a little bit of sanity. Also, if you’re a fan of her other books, there are plenty of Harry’s brilliant reactions to Bryony’s shenanigans too.

If you’re worried this will be a prechy and self righteous book about the power of exercise, don’t be. Yes, Bryony found a love for running but she doesn’t try and force it on the reader at all, she simply writes about the joy and the many challenges she faced.

I found this to be funny, relatable and because of that I gave it 5 stars. Another excellent and honest book by Bryony – she truly is a wonderful human and I can’t wait to see what she gets up to next. Also, I listened to this as an audiobook and can highly recommend!

Unpopular Opinions Book Tag 2019 Edition

Unpopular Opinions Book Tag 2019 Edition

A while ago I did the Unpopular Opinions Tag and you guys seem to have really enjoyed it so how about a round 2? Brace yourselves guys, this might just get ugly. I’m kidding but I might just hit you in the feels.

What is a popular book or series that you didn’t like?

My Sister the Serial Killer – I listened to the audiobook and was bored. I’d heard so many good things about it but I just couldn’t get on with the plot or narration. But it’s up for a load of awards so other people seem to like it.

What is a popular book or series that everyone else seems to hate but you love?

I’ve gone back a little bit here (I couldn’t find anything recent that would fit this) – there is so much hate online for Looking For Alaska by John Green. Now, it has been a long time since I read it but I really, really enjoyed the book.

I think it was the second book by John Green I ever read and I thought it was well written and can’t remember having any issues with it.

What is a love triangle in a book or series where the main character ended up with the person you did not want them to end up with?

I actually can’t think of any, I guess the closest I can think of is Katniss and Peeta in The Hunger Games. Peeta was so pure and kind and I just don’t see it working with the two of them. Sorry not sorry.

What is a popular book genre that you hardly reach for?

Horror isn’t something I choose to read, I think if it had a really interesting plot I might try it but I just can’t seem to get into it! That and I have a really vivid imagination for that kind of stuff and will probably have the worst nightmares.

What is a popular or beloved character that you do not like?

There is a lot of love for Draco Malfoy in the Potter fandom and personally I don’t get it. He was a brat and a bully throughout the series and ultimately he was a coward. Nope, no love for Draco although a LOT of love for Tom Felton because he’s amazing.

Who is a popular author that you can’t seem to get into?

Rainbow Rowell. I tried to read Fangirl and I just really struggled to care and none of the other books interest me.

What is a popular book trope that you are tired of seeing?

Quiet girl who has been a nobody catches the eye of the most popular guy in school, romance ensues *swoon*. Nope, nope, nope. It gets so boring.

What is a popular book or series that you have no interest in reading?

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, I tried Fangirl and found it really boring and when I tried to read it it just seemed like a Harry Potter rip off – oops!

What is a movie or TV show adaption of a book or series that you like more than the book/s?

Only because of the length but Game of Thrones. The first book took me so long to get through and there were so many names and so much going on. I might change my mind when I pick them up again.

Did you agree with any of my unpopular opinions? Or do you have any of your own? Let me know in the comments below!

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!