Book Review: The Gravity Of Us - Phil Stamper

Book Review: The Gravity Of Us – Phil Stamper

As a successful social media journalist with half a million followers, seventeen-year-old Cal is used to sharing his life online. But when his pilot father is selected for a highly publicized NASA mission to Mars, Cal and his family relocate from Brooklyn to Houston and are thrust into a media circus.

Amidst the chaos, Cal meets sensitive and mysterious Leon, another “Astrokid,” and finds himself falling head over heels—fast. As the frenzy around the mission grows, so does their connection. But when secrets about the program are uncovered, Cal must find a way to reveal the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.

I requested this on NetGalley because I was SO excited about it. I’m lucky enough to have met Phil when we were both studying at Kingston University and we’ve stayed in touch a little. To see this all over the internet (mostly in the USA at this point) is amazing and there’s a reason there is such a buzz behind it.

Combining the idea of a new space project, young love and family tensions The Gravity of Us was an interesting concept. I’ll admit that I’ve never had that fascination with space like a lot of kids did. I think it’s cool and I’m down to read Sci-Fi and have a Star Wars marathon but it’s never been a big thing for me. The good thing is any worries I didn’t need to be!

This book is about astronauts and space missions but not in such a way that I felt like I was dumb or didn’t understand. In fact, after reading I really wanted to find out more about NASA and the work that they do.

I was really impressed by how social media is used within the book too, it’s really central to the plot and Cal as a person. While Cal is a kind of YouTuber type personality it was really refreshing to see this as a step to reach a bigger goal of being a journalist.

Also can we talk about the crushing and the romance? GUYS it put me in such a good mood and I loved the fact that the fact there were gay characters wasn’t used as a plot point at all. There was no shocking revelation that they were gay or big coming out moment. We need more of this in books.

I gave this book 4.5 stars, I really enjoyed the plot, the romance and Cal himself. This is clearly a book that has had a lot of heart put into it but also a great deal of research to back up the space element. This book deserves all of the hype it gets and of course I recommend it.

Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and Phil for this copy in exchange for an honest review.

Livin' La Vida Lockdown: Day Twenty-Two What I Read In March 2020

Livin’ La Vida Lockdown: Day Twenty-Two What I Read In March 2020

Better late than never, right?! March was a strange month and I found myself in a slump, particularly as news about the virus started to pick up speed. That said, I managed 4 physical books, 2 ebooks and 1 audiobook. Pretty good going, huh?

First up I finished my book club read of The Near Witch by V.E Schwab. Now I have loved everything I’ve read by Schwab but because of that I put off reading it until right before. In the words of Hermione Granger what an idiot. For a first novel this was pretty amazing and it was a 4.5 star read for me.

Next up I got to Great Goddesses by Nikita Gill that I borrowed from my friend Fred. I find Nikita Gill very hit and miss and this was no different. It was a 3 star read for me, while it was good I didn’t really know enough about greek mythology and had to keep stopping to look stuff up.

I got to a highly anticipated read of mine, partly because I knew the author at university and that is The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper. Two guys move to a NASA facility as their parents have been chosen for a space mission. There’s a love story, social media and space – the last of which I didn’t realise I’d be that interested in. A 4 star read for me and there’s a review coming soon, so keep your eyes peeled.

Another LGBTQ based book which explores the world of drag – The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta. This is a novel written in verse and while it did take me a little while to get into and get a rhythm with it. Because of the breaks I took while reading it I gave it 4 stars rather than 5. It also has a review coming soon.

I finally got around to getting to one of my Sara Barnard books that I won in a Twitter giveaway. Now, fair warning I love A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard book a whole lot. It features a girl who has selective mutism and a guy who is deaf and it’s their story of getting to know each other in a hearing and speaking world. It was excellent and, of course, it got 5 stars from me.

I also got Scribd in this month which meant I could catch up on some poetry collections I haven’t been able to get hold of or been able to afford before. Break Your Glass Slippers by Amanda Lovelace is the start of a new collection and it was okay. Again, this is another poet I have mixed feelings about. This collection was a 3 star read for me as the collections are starting to feel quite repetitive.

And last but not least another Scribd read and a book I’ve been curious about for a long time it’s The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren. This romance was excellent and I absolutely loved reading it. It’s enemies to lovers, it’s passionate without being over the top and I want to read more Christina Lauren soon.

Did you get through many books in March? Any recommendations for me? Let me know below!

Livin' The Vida Lockdown: Day Twenty - How I Did With The Easter Readathon 2020

Livin’ The Vida Lockdown: Day Twenty – How I Did With The Easter Readathon 2020

Hello, hello, hello!

While I intended to writer yesterday on Easter Sunday, when it came down to it I didn’t want to. It was a pretty weird day for me – the first Easter I’ve ever spent without my family. We’re not religious but like to get together for any occasion that we can make fun. So, for now, the egg hunt has been postponed but I did get a special delivery.

Apparently the Easter Bunny does delivery now, who knew? But I am very thankful for the bag of goodies that arrived on our doorstep for me and Ali to enjoy.

Not going out meant that I could spend the whole day reading and cracking on with the Easter Readathon – my first one! And it was definitely a great one to start with. While I didn’t tick off all the tasks I think I did pretty well. So – what books did I get to and finish? Well, since you asked so nicely…

Day One & Two

On day one I started Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan, a novel about a group of teenage friends who want to do more to support women’s rights in their school. I think this would work maybe for a younger reader who is looking for inspiration on setting up a feminism club or similar. For me though it didn’t do anything new or memorable.

This was a 3 star read for me and was 1 book down!

At the end of day 1 I also started one of my most anticipated reads for a WHILE…

Day 3

The Eve Illusion - Giovanna and Tom Fletcher

I got an ARC of The Eve Illusion which is the follow up to Eve of Man which was a 5 star read for me back in 2018 and while at first I had to really remind myself of what had happened at the end.

As much as I want to rave about it I can’t say much without ruining the first book for those of you who haven’t read it but once again I couldn’t put it down. Also, this gets darker but in the very best way.

Beneath The Sugar Sky - Seanan McGuire

I also finished listening to Beneath The Sugar Sky, the third installment of the Wayward Children series – I’ve actually got through all three in lockdown so far and I’m pretty sure I will have listened to all five by the end of the week…

This was a 4 star read for me, another excellent addition and I wouldn’t advise listening on an empty stomach.

Day 4

Today was probably the hardest day, I didn’t finish anything although I did start Before The Coffee Gets Cold and The Love Hypothesis so that’s a start!

Overall, I’m pretty happy it’s definitely kick started my reading mojo again and I’m sure I’ll be back on it tomorrow, starting with the 4th Wayward Children book to listen to…

Livin' The Vida Lockdown: Day Eighteen - Reading The Time Away

Livin’ The Vida Lockdown: Day Eighteen – Reading The Time Away

As I mentioned in my last blog, I decided to take part in the Easter Readathon! Five Prompts, four days and me. As of writing I’ve finished one book, Watch Us Rise, and I’m 60% through my second and I think that’s pretty good going, especially seeing as I struggled to get into the reading mindset today. While I woke up early my brain needed frequent breaks – one of which made me very proud of myself.

I’ve been struggling a lot with going outside, something I touched upon in previous blogs because of anxiety and panic attacks. I wanted to get out in the sunshine but taking our normal route made me feel uncomfortable because it’s around and through a big park…which meant idiots. Lots of them.

Now, we don’t have a garden. You can bet if we did I would have been sat there with a pile of books and a large glass of something depending on the time of day. What we do have, however, is a little bit of grass to the side and behind our building. I decided it was a good test of my levels right now and made sure I could get some air.

It worked! I managed to sit out for about an hour and not once did I have any kind of panic attack. People ask but why do you have them? I wish I could tell you. Anxiety and panic attacks are rarely logical – that’s the most frustrating thing.

Coming back inside I sat down and read, and I mean really read. I got through almost 50% of The Eve Illusion in a few hours and felt my superpower coming back. My mountain of books I haven’t read now seems like a challenge rather than a guilty secret.

This reader is back guys!

Beneath The Sugar Sky - Seanan McGuire

Livin’ The Vida Lockdown: Day Seventeen – Easter Readathon

Two bookish posts in one day!? I know, I’m spoiling you all. So, after seeing over on Kate’s Twitter that she is hosting an Easter Readathon I thought why not join? I’ve never seriously done a Readathon before and I think now is a great time to try…because I have no other obligations what so ever -yippie!

So how does it work? The Readathon runs from 12.01am on Friday 10th and finishes at 11.59pm on Monday 13th April. You can find more info and Kate’s post here, make sure to give her a follow too!

As with most Readathons there are prompts, for this one they are:

[Image description: Post reads Easter Readathon 2020 Prompts 1. Read a book that gives you Spring Vibes. 2. Read a book about new beginnings. 3. Read a book that’s under 250 pages. 4. Read a book with yellow or green cover. 5. Read a book involving family/friends.]

I’ve had a look and I’m going to try and complete the challenges – but if I get a load of reading done that’s absolutely fine with me!

Read a book about new beginnings

The Eve Illusion – Tom and Giovanna Fletcher

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this today and while I can’t say too much as it’s a sequel there’s definitely some new beginnings in it.

Read a book that’s under 250 pages

Beneath The Sugar Sky - Seanan McGuire

Beneath The Sugar Sky – Seanan McGuire

Ok so *technically* I started this before the Readathon started and it’s an audiobook BUT I’m desperate to finish it!

Also reading about a candy land over the Easter weekend? That seems too good to pass up.

Read a book with a yellow or green cover

Watch Us Rise – Rene Watson

It’s on my April TBR and I really enjoyed the last two Rene Watson books that I read and they were quick reads so I’m hoping this will be a fast read.

Read a book involving family/friends

Crescent City – Sarah J. Maas

Ok it is a STRETCH but this is, another one I’ve already started but I’m really into. Also, do I think I’ll finish this over the next few days? No, no I don’t. That said, it’s started to get interesting.

Read a book that gives you Spring vibes

This is one I need a few recommendations for – please leave them below!

Are you joining in? Also leave your suggestions down below!

Book Review: The Five - The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper - Hallie Rubenhold

Book Review: The Five – The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper – Hallie Rubenhold

Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden, and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers.

What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888. The person responsible was never identified, but the character created by the press to fill that gap has become far more famous than any of these five women.

I saw this book advertised and thought it looked intriguing after seeing it on a YouTube channel – a few days later it appeared as an Audible deal so I snapped it up for £1.99 and I’m so glad I did.

The focus in history is always on Jack the Ripper. Who was he? What was his motive? What did these women do to cross his path? There was hardly a mention of them women, who they were and what happened in their lives. I’ll admit that like most people I hadn’t considered more than what I was told.

Learning about these women, about their lives, families and their circumstances was fascinating. The lengths that Rubenhold has gone to to research their stories is incredible and this deserves all of the awards it has won. The book is more than just life stories, we can look at Victorian society and the ever changing landscape of the industrial revolution and the people who were struggling to get by.

I had no idea about the level of addiction at the time for normal everyday people and the impact this had on women in particular. It also humanised these women, that they simply fell into hard times and paid the ultimate price. The suggestion that they were prostitutes were mostly unfounded and another hit at the ‘downtrodden women’.

Of course this is embellished for the book, there is no way of knowing what the women were thinking or their exact movements but this doesn’t take away from the information we are given. I am awestruck by Rubenhold’s ability to really draw us in to these women’s stories and feel for them.

Without a doubt this was a 5 star read for me. Seeing this other side of history feels like we are giving some kind of voice to those women who have been ignored in their own deaths. An excellent book and I would also highly recommend the audiobook.

Livin' The Vida Lockdown: Day Eight - Books To Cheer You Up In Lockdown

Livin’ The Vida Lockdown: Day Eight – Books To Cheer You Up In Lockdown

We’ve made it over a week into lockdown and my reading mojo is back! Yippie! When I was looking at my shelves to plan for this post I realised something – I don’t reach for happy or cheerful books first.

Recently though I’ve found myself really liking romance books as a way to escape, which has come in handy during lockdown as they’ve been the books getting me out of my slump.

So these are some of the books I’ve read that I think will make you smile or cheer you up – also I definitely need to invest in some more cheerful books once things are back to normal…

Red White and Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston

This was huge online last year and for good reason! The First Son of the USA and the Prince of Wales, enemies to lovers and some steamy chapters. What’s not to love in this? Like the sound of it? You can read my review here.

How To be Champion – Sarah Millican

I’m a big fan of Sarah’s comedy and had planned to pick up her book but it happened to come into my life at just the right time. I’d lost my job and was in need of a little boost and this was perfect. It’s really funny and I’d recommend checking out the audiobook too. You can check out my review here.

The Flatshare – Beth O’Leary

I did warn you I like romances at the moment! This has been everywhere recently and for good reason. It’s an absolutely adorable story with a few twists and turns one of which make me shout ‘oh my god you bastard’ out loud while listening. Thankfully I was in my own home while listening…

Also I adored the audiobook, in which Carrie Hope Fletcher narrated as Tiffy. All of my thoughts are here.

Heartstopper – Alice Oseman

One of my favourites and there are 3 volumes out right now so you can really enjoy it! Two teenage friends who fall in love. It is absolutely adorable.

Although, as a warning, things to get more serious in volume 3. You can read my review of volume 1 here to give you and idea of how damn sweet it is.

Dear Girls – Ali Wong

Ali Wong is hilarious, just watch her stand up and she only went and wrote a book too! Equal parts nose snorting funny and really sweet, I highly recommend…as long as you’re not easily offended. Review here.

The Paper & Hearts Society – Lucy Powrie

A book about friendship and finding your place in the world. The second book is due to come out this year so it’s the perfect time to get started in this absolutely wonderful series. I wrote about it here.

These are some that I thought would make you smile right now, while some might have a part which isn’t as happy I’m sure by the end of it.

Do you have any you’d recommend? Let me know below!