The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2020

The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2020

Well, what a reading year so far! At the time of writing this post I have read a total of 72 books…I’m pretty sure that’s the most books I’ve ever consumed in 6 months.

While I set my goal at 100 books, I’m pretty sure that I will hit at least 120, if not more. So while I’m not freaking out I am excited to look back at the books I’ve been reading in the first very weird half of the year. If you want to see how it compares to 2019 you can click here.

Best Book Of The Year So Far

This is too hard, there are so many excellent books I’ve read this year so, top 3? Even that was super hard but they are all new to be books and the authors you’ll find out more about below!

Clap When You Land is an excellent YA novel about two girls who are sisters…but neither knew the other existed.

Hold Still is about a young woman who’s coping with the death of her best friend. It’s beautifully written and while it hurt my heart it also made it full.

Come Tumbling Down is the 5th book in the Wayward Children series and definitely my favourite but that is because I have a soft spot for Jack – I highly recommend the audiobook!

Best Sequel Of The Year So Far

The Eve Illusion - Giovanna and Tom Fletcher

The Eve Illusion – Tom and Giovanna Fletcher

I thought this was going to be good but I was blown away by the second in the series and the ending was incredible. Spoiler free review coming soon, keep your eyes peeled. 👀

A New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To

I am all about the Sapphic books this year, can’t get enough of them. This looks absolutely adorable and came out in June. It follows Saoirse who no longer believes in happy endings after her mother ends up with early onset dementia – something she may inherit.

That is until she meets a girl at a party who’s determined to give her a summer of fun, including movie cliches, rom-com moments and the promise it will end in the autumn.

This just screams cute to me and I need to get to it soon.

Most Anticipated Release Of Autumn/Winter

So Victoria Schwab has become an autobuy author, I’ve already preordered a signed special edition of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. A bargain is made by a young woman so that she can live forever – but to do so will mean that cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets. That is until she meets a man who remembers her name. Dun, dun, duuuuuuuun. Sounds so good, I’m so excited.

Also, Nina LaCour is now an autobuy author. This one looks a little different and has a paranormal element to it which is totally different to her other books but I find her writing beautiful and lyrical so obviously I need it.

Biggest Disappointment Of The Year So Far

Similar to last year I think I’ve outgrown Amanda Lovelace as an author. I’ve now read all of her poetry collections and while I loved her first, I just can’t get on with the others, they just seem to repeat.

Biggest Surprise So Far

I was one of the few people who couldn’t get into The Poet X, so I didn’t really keep an eye on Elizabeth Acevedo as an author but then I kept hearing about With The Fire On High and it peaked my interest.

After I read this I immediately wanted more of her writing and requested Clap When You Land, one of my favourite books of the year so far.

New Favourite Author (Debut/New To You)

I couldn’t pick just one…because this year I’ve found three authors I absolutely adore (all of which I found in lockdown). I tried Elizabeth Acevedo again this year and fell in love with two of her novels and absolutely devoured them.

Similarly, I started We Are Okay by Nina LaCour after getting it for Christmas and as soon as I could I ordered her first novel Hold Still. I’m looking forward to getting through the rest of her books.

Last but not least Seanan McGuire. I got through all of the Wayward Children series in record time while listening to the audiobooks (thank goodness for Scribd!).

Newest Fictional Crush

I don’t get crushes on fictional characters, sorry!

Your Newest Favourite Character

Eileen Cotton is adorable, fierce and lovely and I completely fell in love with her while reading Beth O’Leary’s second novel, The Switch. She’s the best.

A Book That Made You Cry

So I teared up at the end of this book, which means I can tell you absolutely nothing about the reasons why but I didn’t expect to because the rest of this book is absolutely hilarious.

A Book That Made You Happy

The Most Beautiful Book So Far

I bought this over Christmas while I was working in a book shop but only got around to it once I’d finished in January. Oh this is stunning, absolutely beautiful in both its illustration and its message. A good read for adults or kids too (I swear I’ll be trying to sell this book for the rest of time, it’s like muscle memory now).

Books You Need To Read By The End Of The Year

There are so many but out of the books I already own and are currently staring at me The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas (I know, I know!), The Missing of Claire de lune by Christelle Dabos and Everything Leads To You by Nina LaCour.

What have you loved so far this year? I’d love to hear your recommendations below!

Book Reviews: The Liar’s Daughter – Megan Cooley Peterson

Piper was raised in a cult.
She just doesn’t know it.

Seventeen-year-old Piper knows that Father is a Prophet. Infallible. The chosen one.

She would do anything for Father. That’s why she takes care of all her little sisters. That’s why she runs end-of-the-world drills. That’s why she never asks questions. Because Father knows best.

Until the day he doesn’t. Until the day the government raids the compound and separates Piper from her siblings, from Mother, from the Aunts, from all of Father’s followers–even from Caspian, the boy she loves.

Now Piper is living Outside. Among Them.

I can’t help but find myself intrigued by these kind of books about those who are raised in cults and don’t know any better, because they have had no choice. This is a story about Piper’s discovery of herself and questions about the world around her.

The novel is told before and after the raid. In the time before the raid we see Piper and what she believes to be her siblings being raised under strict rules by the Aunts with visits from her mother and father – the heads of the compound. All she wants is to care for her younger siblings and prove herself to her father. Although she is starting to question memories and practices in the house.

In the after sections, however, Piper is struggling. She doesn’t trust anyone and thinks that this is the real kidnapping, living with a woman who claims to be her mother. She also starts therapy which was incredibly interesting. Seeing her attempt to unlearn years of lies and pressure.

There is also a romantic element which, at first, I was unsure about whether it was necessary in terms of the wider plot, but the more I read the more I understood. When there is a lack of people around, it isn’t surprising that you would have feelings for one of the people who show kindness.

I really wanted to know more about what happened after the children were rescued, how they coped and while we do see some of this I found myself wondering if they ever saw each other again. That said, I understand that wasn’t the intent of the book.

This was a 4 star read for me. I read it incredibly quickly and found myself absorbed in the story and even through I knew that Piper and the other children would be rescued at times I forgot while reading – that’s how absorbed I was in the story.

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. 

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.

Book Review: Carrie - Stephen King

Book Review: Carrie – Stephen King

A modern classic, Carrie introduced a distinctive new voice in American fiction — Stephen King. The story of misunderstood high school girl Carrie White, her extraordinary telekinetic powers, and her violent rampage of revenge, remains one of the most barrier-breaking and shocking novels of all time.

Make a date with terror and live the nightmare that is…Carrie

I have a confession to make – before Carrie I’d never read a Stephen King book. I’d always wanted to but all of the ones I’d been interested in looked really long, also I’m a total scaredy cat…I won’t be reading IT any time soon or possibly ever.

That said, I’ve been intrigued by the novel for a while and even tempted to watch it. I managed to pick up a copy of the book discounted and thought 2020 is the year that I finally read a Stephen King book…and I thought it was excellent.

The story centers a teenage girl in small town USA. She’s seen as quite strange by her peers and is controlled by her ultra-religious mother. But Carrie knows something that they don’t…she has a kind of talent. After an incident of bullying goes too far the whole town will see what happens when she’s push too far and humiliated by her classmates.

The novel is broken down in ways that I didn’t expect with interviews of people who witnessed the incident, papers from the investigation after and police reports etc. While at first I was a little confused by this I grew to enjoy the style and found I could build up a much better picture in my head. Having never seen the movie, it was great to come into this book with only my own imagination to guide me.

What I was particularly impressed by is how King has managed to portray a teenage girl in a way that most grown men couldn’t have. I didn’t feel like I was reading a guy writing a teenage girl which was a relief. Instead I felt an overwhelming sadness for a young woman that pretty much never had a chance.

This was a 4.5 star read for me it’s incredibly well written and while it might be considered a horror I think it also makes some crucial points about how much a person can take. Also it takes a lot to feel sorry for someone who kills as many people as possible and I really did. I’m already looking forward to my next Stephen King read, below.

Book Review: Diary Of A Confused Feminist - Kate Weston

Book Review: Diary Of A Confused Feminist – Kate Weston

Kat wants to do GOOD FEMINISM, although she’s not always sure what that means. She also wants to be a writer, get together with Hot Josh (is this a feminist ambition?), win at her coursework and not make a TOTAL EMBARRASSMENT of herself at all times.

Join Kat AKA the Confused Feminist as she navigates EVERYTHING from menstrual cups and mental health to Instagram likes and #TimesUp in her HILARIOUS, OUTRAGEOUS and VERY EMBARRASSING diary.

While I was working in a book shop over the Christmas period this was left in a pile of ARCS that we could take home and I was instantly drawn to it. A teenage feminist trying to navigate her life and feelings? Hell to the yes please, and I wasn’t disappointed.

There were times while reading where I wondered if I was too old for the book. Did I speak like this as a teenager? Were teenagers this petty over things? The answer is yes, I remember arguing with one of my friends over something ridiculous and then refusing to sit next to each other in our art class. In fact Weston has completely got the characters right.

While reading I felt like this had Caitlin Moran vibes to it (whos book How To Be A Woman changed my whole perception on feminism) there were important points but at the same time it was incredibly funny. It also took me back to when I was the same age trying to work out my on again off again relationship with feminism, because it is bloody confusing!

What skyrocketed my rating for this was the mental health element. There are some hints early on that Kat was struggling but seeing these explored was really excellent and I feel that it could help young people reading. As well as the anxiety that Kat struggles with the pressure to keep up and be interesting on social media.

This was a 4.5 star read for me. I think Kate Weston is definitely one to watch. When I got to the end I KNEW I needed a sequel which will hopefully happen.

Book Review: The Good Immigrant - Edited By Nikesh Shukla

Book Review: The Good Immigrant – Edited By Nikesh Shukla

Bringing together 21 exciting black, Asian and minority ethnic voices emerging in Britain today, The Good Immigrant explores why immigrants come to the UK, why they stay and what it means to be ‘other’ in a country that doesn’t seem to want you, doesn’t truly accept you – however many generations you’ve been here – but still needs you for its diversity monitoring forms.

If you have read any of my other posts or follow me on any of my social media channels you will know that I am a white woman. I haven’t had to grow up having experiences based on the colour of my skin. Nor have I had to struggle because of racism in my life and the bias that people have.

So, why did I pick this up? Because I want to know more, I want to better understand what others go through and to be more educated on the subject. I don’t think there’s any excuse to be ignorant when we have such easy access to education in this country.

I listened to the audiobook of this collection of personal experiences and I highly recommend it because it made the stories come to life. Hear these from real people reminded me just how many people experience racism in their everyday life.

Of course, there were some parts which were upsetting and anger inducing at the unfairness people face for no reason at all. But, I actually found myself laughing along with some of the more silly stories.

One thing that made me burst out laughing was a slight rant on chai tea – which apparently translates as tea, tea. I laughed while shaking my head because, well, it was hilarious and I wonder how many other things like this there are.

I found myself learning a lot about other cultures, how people within those cultures grow up and some of their experiences. Can I say this really encompasses what it’s like to grow up as an ethnic minority in the UK? No but I do feel as if I’ve learnt from it.

I gave this 4 stars. An interesting read and something I think we need more of. Of course, there were some essays I liked more than others but that’s inevitable Again I’d really recommend the audiobook it was a brilliant listen and I learnt a lot.

What I Read In February 2020

What I Read in February 2020

February may be a short month but that didn’t stop me reading. I did find myself in a little bit of a slump in Feb, I think because I read so much in January my brain needed shorter reads. So, here they are – have you read any of them?

On my trip to Brighton I found a copy of Renée Watson’s latest novel What Momma Left Me and I couldn’t leave without it. This is a story about a young girl who’s life changes after the death of her mother. It’s about family, secrets and finding your place in the world. This got 4 stars from me.

Next I picked up an ARC from Netgalley that I was granted. Sincerely, is a sweet collection of poems that was written as part of a proposal. A lovely concept with some sweet poems and a 3 star read for me.

Another NetGalley ARC I received, The Voice Of My Mind, came next and this one just wasn’t for me. It was also a poetry collection (I’ve been pretty into them this month) but I just couldn’t connect with the tone of voice. A 2 star read for me.

I read Always Here For You as part of a book tour I took part in, you can read the post here. This is for younger teenagers and looks at who you’re really talking to online and how young people may find themselves in this situation. A good read that would do well in schools. 4 stars from me.

This Soul Estranged was sent to me by the author for free in exchange for my thoughts. I enjoyed this collection and felt that I could connect with the poems and the tone of voice. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next. A 3 star read for me.

Next up another Netgalley ARC, this time it was a graphic novel/information type book. A Quick & Easy Guide To Sex and Disability was a really interesting read and had a good message. I would be interested in a longer guide but obviously that doesn’t match the title! A 4 star read for me!

I got an ARC copy of Diary of a Confused Feminist while working over Christmas but only just got around to it! I wasn’t sure at first because I felt super old (I’m 10 years older than the protagonist eeek) but the second half of the book I was hooked. If you like Holly Bourne I think you’ll like this. Another 4 star read for me.

A bit of a light read (note the sarcasm), Fascism and Democracy is super short but I thought it was incredibly relevant in today’s world. Now, I’ve read a bit of Orwell before and I stand by my earlier assessment that his non-fiction work is long winded. That said, this had interesting ideas and was good to see it through the lense of the 1940s while Hitler was in power. 3 stars from me.

I received an ARC of What Kind of Girl and also bought a physical copy because I really enjoy Alyssa Sheinmel’s way of writing. This looks at domestic violence in young adult relationships. It’s pretty heavy and there’s also details about mental illness and methods of self harm so know that going in if that’s something you struggle with. Another very well written book. 4.5 stars from me.

I also read Letters On Motherhood incredibly quickly because it was such a sweet and wholesome read. In this Giovanna writes letters to her three sons, her husband, parents and herself about motherhood. While I don’t have children I fell in love with this collection and felt it was so honest about the highs and lows. A great read.

I read the poetry collection Surge for a post that you’ll find out about soon! It’s a collection that looks at race in Britain starting with the New Cross Fire, also known as the New Cross Massacre in which 13 young black people were killed. Political, personal and a new perspective this is a really interesting collection. 4 stars and you’ll find out more about it soon.

And finally I picked up a copy of You’re Crushing It by Lex Croucher which I’ve been meaning to get to for ages. It’s a quick book which made me laugh out loud more than a few times while reading. It was a 4 star read for me and a nice pick me up.

And finally, thanks to the extra day in the month I also finished A Danger To Herself and Others also by Alyssa Sheinmel which I’ve had on my TBR for a while. It’s an exploration of mental illness and it can be quite a tough read but another excellent book. This got 4.5 stars from me.

I haven’t listened to an audiobook this month – for some reason I’ve struggled getting into them but I’m sure I’ll come out of that soon. Did you read anything good in February? Let me know below!