My Top 12 of 2018

My 12 Top Books of 2018!

I have been dithering over this post for SO long. I head over 100 books this year and trying to decide which ones came out on top was really hard. 

It is because of that there have been many drafts of this post, at one point it had over 30 books in it…yep. I’ve managed to whittle it down to 12, I mean there are 12 months in the year… 

A Court Of Thorns And Roses
A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas 

In 2018 I found one of my favourite new series’s. I’d heard all about this online and I fell in love and devoured the series as well as getting 2 of my closest friends hooked. 

This was initially a Beauty and the Beat retelling but becomes so much more. I couldn’t put these down and I can’t wait for the next in the series. My review for the first book is here

The Exact Opposite of Okay - Laura Steven
The Exact Opposite Of Okay – Laura Steven

Laura Steven’s debut was incredible. The protagonist, Izzy, is an aspiring comic and screenwriter whose life is turned upside down after a picture of her with a politicians son goes viral. 

This was not only a really funny read, but it also had a heart to it. What was unique to this novel is that the protagonist takes hold of what those are saying about her and keeps herself going with a ‘screw you’ attitude – without being robotic. Oh, and it has a kick-ass Feminist vibe. I wrote all about my love for this book here

Vox
Vox – Christina Dalcher 

I made it my mission to a get copy of this at YALC this year. A dystopian future America where women are limited to 100 words a day and confined to their homes. Until one of them is needed.

This was pretty dark and incredibly relevant to what’s happening to women’s voices and something we cannot ignore. I wrote a review after I stayed up way too late finishing it. 

This Is Going To Hurt
This Is Going To Hurt – Adam Kay 

A non-fiction book I think that everyone should read, in particular those making decisions about the NHS. Adam Kay was a Doctor in Gynaecology, taking us through the highs and the many lows this was a huge eye opener. 

I laughed while reading this, but I was also in tears at other moments. All I wanted to do when I finished was thank each and every one of my doctors. An incredible book that deserves all the praise it is getting. Review here

Orbiting Jupiter - Gary D. Schmidt
Orbiting Jupiter – Gary D. Schmidt 

When I bought this at YALC I had no idea I would be so emotionally invested in the story. A family take in a teenager who has been in a juvenile facility and is a teenage father, told through the perspective of a young boy who becomes his foster brother. 

The ending truly shocked me and it was incredibly well written as well as being quite short. You’ll love it, I want to read it again but I don’t think I’m ready for the emotions. Here’s my review.

Notes on a Nervous Planet - Matt Haig
Notes On A Nervous Planet – Matt Haig

Matt Haig’s first book was brilliant, and then he released the follow-up. Matt has a way of speaking to you through whatever is going on in your life.

Feeling anxious? Ill at ease with the state of the world or what’s going on around you? This is the book for you. More info here.  

New Erotica For Feminists
New Erotica For Feminists 

Three words. Satire. Feminism. Humour. 

That’s all you need to know to fall in love with this collection. I laughed so hard but also felt really empowered after reading – all my thoughts are here.

Feminists Don't Wear Pink
Feminists Don’t Wear Pink And Other Lies

This is an amazing collection from women across all backgrounds about not just Feminism, but also what it means to be a woman. 

Not only was this a joy, it was also easy to read and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone. You can read my review over here

Girl Made of Stars
Girl Made Of Stars – Ashley Herring Blake 

Something within this book spoke to my heart. Following the unimaginable pain of being caught between a best friend and brother – she has accused him of rape. She wouldn’t lie, but how could he do that? 

It took a true talent to write this book. Also, plus points for a bisexual protagonist where their sexuality isn’t the plot. My full review is here

Only Child - Rhiannon Navin
Only Child – Rhiannon Navin

I could not stop thinking about this novel after I read it. Set during and after a school shooting we see the world through the eyes of six-year-old Zach after he survives, but his older brother doesn’t. 

This will break your heart but it’s such an important read. I couldn’t believe this was a debut novel it is so well written and I think Rhiannon Navin is one to watch. I was also part of the book tour.  

Love, Hate And Other Filters
Love, Hate & Other Filters – Samira Ahmed

The first book I finished in 2018 made it to my top 12. This was an incredible debut that spoke out in defiance of hate and Islamophobia. 

I also fell in love with the protagonist Maya and her coming to terms with her own identity. This is also an own voices novel. I wrote a review about why I love it so much here

Moonrise
Moonrise – Sarah Crossan

Well, did this break my heart? Yes it did. I’d read one of Sarah Crossan’s novels before and couldn’t get on with it but the premise of this was too incredible not to try. I’m so glad I did. 

Written in poetry and telling the story of a family facing the execution of a loved one, it not only made me tear up but also want to give it to everyone I know.

There we have it, my top 12 of the year! Did any of your favourites make the list? Let me know in the comments below! 

Top 10 Books I Read in Winter

Top 10 Books I Read in Winter

It’s not a secret that Winter isn’t my fave, once Christmas is done I’m pretty much over it. BUT I did get through some cracking books in the dark winter months and I thought I’d share with you my personal top 10 from the previous season and hopefully give you some inspiration!

 

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The Exact Opposite of Okay – Laura Steven

A sneak peek of an upcoming review but I LOVED this novel so much. The main character made me laugh so much, I thought she was incredible and what we need more of in YA. This surrounds a young woman and a sex scandal. It’s not been out long but you’re going to want to pick this up.

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This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay

I feel like this should be required reading for anyone who wants to make cuts to the NHS. Adams account had me both laughing and crying because it was a whirlwind. This is incredibly honest and so well written. Amazing.

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Misogynation – Laura Bates 

It’s no secret that I think Laura is an excellent writer and fierce female. This is her latest collection and I absolutely LOVED it. Every time I read one of these I just feel better?

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Only Child – Rhiannon Navin 

This novel will break your heart. I was lucky enough to get an early copy and be a part of the blog tour after talking about how much I loved it! My review is here, this was a stunning debut.

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A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J Maas

This series has been all over the book blogs and Booktube for ages and I finally picked it up…and then it sat on my TBR pile for 2 months. Why didn’t I start this magnificent series earlier! I am in love with Maas’s writing and my review of the first novel here.

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Love, Hate & Other Filters – Samira Ahmed 

This is one of the first books I read in 2018 and I’m so glad I did! This is a novel about growing up, facing racism and following your passion. I absolutely loved it and if it doesn’t win prizes in YA something is wrong with the world. You can read my full review here.

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Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls 2

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know I loved the first Goodnight Stories book (review here) and then there was a second and it was as equally badass as the first. You’re not going to want to miss it.

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Nobody Told Me – Hollie McNish 

I’m not a parent but that didn’t stop me falling in love with Hollie’s collection of diary entries and poetry as a first time Mum. We’re taken from Hollie finding out she’s pregnant (on the way to Glastonbury no less) to her daughter at 3 years old. A wonderful and unique book.

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Brave – Rose McGowan 

 Rose was the first to blow the Weinstein scandal wide open with her accusation of rape. I hate writing that because I 100% believe her. This chronicles Rose’s turbulent life and the movement that she started. She’s one to watch.

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Everything I Know About Love – Dolly Alderton

Dolly tells it how it is, your twenties are confusing and this is a great insight. It certainly made me feel less anxious. You can read my review here.

 

What have your top reads been this Winter and what are you looking forward to in the Spring? Let me know in the comments below!

February Book Wrap Up

February Wrap Up!

 

Here we are again with another month worth of reading! Just like January, I managed to get a good number of books in…9! So here’s my monthly round up for you all!

Brave – Rose McGowan

Almost everyone has heard the name Rose McGowan in the past few months. This is the story of her life and the ‘cult of Hollywood’ as she describes it. The first woman to speak out against Harvey Weinstein after he raped her and started a movement. I gave this 5 stars, a tough but much-needed read.

A Court of Mist and Fury – Sarah J Maas

Last month I couldn’t help but rave about the amazing A Court of Thorns and Roses last month (review to come) I had to read the next one as soon as possible. This was the biggest one in the trilogy and I loved it, I’m 100% a fan of the series. This one also got 5 stars.

Clean – Juno Dawson

I used to like Juno Dawson’s books but this one just wasn’t good in my opinion. It made me incredibly angry and I don’t want to say anymore because there’s no point in being mean but nope, would not recommend. This got 2 stars.

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body – Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay looks at the body in this non-fiction book, specifically hers and what our impressions are of ‘fat’ bodies. She talks about how being raped impacted her and how she now feels about her body. I gave it 3 stars.

Time Bomb – Joelle Charbonneau

This was an advance reader copy I received on Netgalley. The story focuses on a range of different characters and their perspectives of being inside their high school when a bomb goes off. They all need to work together while trying to protect themselves. This was an ok book, I read it quite quickly but I didn’t think it was that memorable!  This one got 3 stars.

But You Did Not Come Back – Marceline Loridan-Ivens

This was heartbreaking, really, really heartbreaking. This is a letter from Marceline to her father who was murdered in Auschwitz after they were separated. The things she would have told him in response to a letter he managed to get smuggled to her in the camp. I picked this up in passing and I’m so glad I did, it’s something that needs to be read. I gave this 5 stars.

Why Have Kids? – Jessica Valenti

I’ve read Valenti’s work before in Sex Object but this was different. I don’t have children but found this interesting from both sides. This would be a very controversial read but I still enjoyed it. That could change later on in my life. I gave it 3 stars.

A Court of Wings and Ruin – Sarah J Maas

The final piece of the A Court of Thorns and Roses series. This didn’t go exactly how I thought it would but it was still brilliant. I couldn’t wait to get through and see what happened at the end. I’m glad there’s a 4th book coming soon!

This is Really Happening – Erin Chack

Buzzfeed writer Erin Chack wrote a collection of essays about her working life, having Cancer at the age of 19 and meeting her partner whilst still a teenager. I listened to this and I enjoyed it but at times it felt a little all over the place, which is why I gave it 3 stars.

Mysogynation – Laura Bates 

I’m still reading this at the time of writing this post BUT once again Laura Bates has written brilliantly. The book is a collection of pieces she has written and published. So far, so good!

Don’t forget if you want to keep up with what I’m reading we can connect on Goodreads! What are you reading at the moment? Let me know in the comments below!

 

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Unpopular Opinions Book Tag!

Well, I wouldn’t be a good book blogger if I didn’t talk about the good and the bad! I loved watching this when Cece over at Problems of a Book Nerd did this tag! Keep in mind these are my opinions but I’d love to know yours at the end of this post!

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

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I really hated the twist to me it just seemed kind of boring? I’ve met very few people who agree with me!

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

So, I took a look at this list to see what people had claimed to hate. I couldn’t believe Jane Eyre was on there, I absolutely adored it! It was incredible and a wonderful novel.

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?

This is a difficult one, most of the time I agree with what the author says BUT I didn’t like what happened in The Hunger Games. It didn’t feel like Katniss got the ending she deserved, not did Gale, nor did Peeta.

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

Romance, it’s not something that I’m interested in and I find them too samey.

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

Snape. I don’t care what he did towards the end he was a bully and a coward. Sorry, not sorry.

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

E.L. James, I don’t get the 50 Shades thing, I had to read some for uni and before that, I wanted to know what the fuss was about. The writing was awful, truly, truly awful.

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

People being arseholes/ terrible people and the only reason given is that they have a mental illness. Over it, add some depth.

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

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. I read Meyer’s Heartless a while ago and it just wasn’t the kind of book I thought it would be and I was disappointed with the plot. It’s because of that I won’t be picking up the Lunar Chronicles.

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

Bridget Jones! I couldn’t stand the books when I read them, I couldn’t get on with the writing style at all but I absolutely love the films.

 

What unpopular opinions do you have? Are you going to do the tag? Let me know in the comments below!

January – A Great Month For Books!

We’re almost through the first month of the year already which, let’s be honest, is welcome for many of us (anyone else crawling towards payday?). That said it’s been an absolutely brilliant month for books, in total I’ve read 13 books at the time of writing in this month (!!).

I don’t quite know how I’ve managed so many this month but I’m happy with it, especially as 8 of them were 4 and 5 star reads. So, why not share them with you and hopefully you can get some great recommendations and it’s a varied lot for you all.

Love, Hate & Other Filters – Samira Ahmed 

A wonderful debut about growing up and balancing cultures in the US today. This was a wonderfully written novel and tackles Islamaphobia head on. You can read my review here.

Night – Elie Wiesel

Deemed a classic piece of Holocaust literature I wanted to read this. It’s an absolutely heartbreaking novel and reiterated the horrors of the camps.

Promise Me, Dad – Joe Biden 

I read this after watching an interview with Joe Biden and Stephen Colbert. Joe seemed like a genuinely nice guy who cared a lot about his country. I listened to the audiobook of this and hearing the emotion in his voice broke my heart. A truly unique look at dealing with the loss of a loved one.

Only Child – Rhiannon Niven 

This is going to be a bestseller and if it’s not there’s something wrong with the world. This is brilliantly written and emotional novel, from the perspective of a child who survived a school shooting, losing his older brother in the process. An incredibly emotional read. Look out for my blog tour post on the 22nd Feb!

Everything I Know About Love – Dolly Alderton 

A brilliantly funny but also open look into the life of Dolly Alderton. This was a great read and I feel like it talks to twenty-somethings about similar experiences. I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of this book and my review will be coming up on Thursday!

The Secret History of Us – Jessi Kirby 

I was sent this by the lovely people at Harper 360 and wow, wow, wow. Memory loss, complicated relationships and trying to rebuild after trauma. Loved it, review to come in Feb!

A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J Maas

I’m kicking myself for not picking this up before. I’d seen the ACOTAR books being raved about all over the internet and I just decided to go for it. This was incredible, if I didn’t have it in my hands I was thinking about it, a week after I finished I was still thinking about it. When I saw the next in the series I had to buy it. So, so, so good.

50 Queers Who Changed The World – Dan Jones 

I always want to learn more, I found this in Foyles on a trip to London and it seemed interesting. This was a brilliant look at Dan Jones’s perspective of figures of importance in the LGBTQ community. The illustrations were brilliant too!

 

How was your reading month? Let me know in the comments below!

Why I’m HALVING my Goodreads Challenge in 2018

For the last few years I have set myself the challenge of reading 100 books in a year and in 2016 and 2017 I managed it, which is a really impressive accomplishment for anyone. I love to read, love, love, love it BUT in the last few months of the year I became obsessed with getting to that number and didn’t read books because of their size.

I’m my toughest critic and I am also incredibly competitive with myself. That comes in handy sometimes because I push myself but not in terms of reading. While the challenge has made me read more short story collections, anthologies and poetry collections I want to just read things because I want to, not because of a number.

That said, as I write this the thought of actually reducing that number fills me with dread. Complete and utter dread. On the flip side though I am going to be more picky about what I read. If I’m reading a book and within a few chapters I really don’t care about it, I’m not going to finish it. I did that a lot last year and can’t believe I wasted SO MUCH time on books that, honestly, I couldn’t have cared less about!

So, there we have it, I’m halving my Goodreads challenge  in 2018. What about you guys? Do you use the challenge? Are you thinking about dropping it to read more books you enjoy? Let me know in the comments below!

Book Review: Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty

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“Mothers took their mothering so seriously now. Their frantic little faces…Ponytails swinging. Eyes fixed on the mobile phones held in the palms of their hands like compasses.”

When a parent’s night at the local school ends in death questions need to be asked, was it an accident? Was it murder? The masks of perfection that parents have been wearing all year are starting to slip, but it all started long before.

Now, this isn’t my normal read, I’ll put that out there to start. I was part of a book club and this was the book of choice. I’d tried another Liane Moriarty book in the past and struggled with the characters, so I was a little apprehensive when starting but hearing everyone rave about it, I gave it a go.

This is very much a book about the wars Mums have in the playground, the stuff that is in my nightmares. The novel focuses on three women, each very different. Madeleine is battling with bringing up her teenage daughter, her son and the fact that her daughter is in the same class with her ex-husband’s new daughter. Celeste has a life that seems perfect with her twin boys and charming husband, but demons are lurking beneath the surface. And finally, we have Jane, a young mother who has moved to town with her son Ziggy to start a new life. All three become friends and help each other get through the school year.

Now I know, I know so many people loved this novel but the unnecessary drama drove me absolutely mad. This Mum was bickering with this one and this child was accused of this. I think if it wasn’t for knowing someone was going to be murdered I would have stopped and put the book down a few chapters in. While I was intrigued by the trio, in particular, I found them all to be quite stereotypical. It might be because I haven’t experienced it myself but I just struggled to care about the whole ‘he said, she said’  situations within in novel.

That said, I will admit that the mystery of the death drew me in. Moriarty uses twists throughout to keep your attention, which is something I personally needed. While some, I worked out quite early on others, such as the big twist toward the end really threw me (so much so my best friend took a picture of me at that moment). So, in that respect there is a reason to read.

Overall, I think that there is reason to read the novel but I give fair warning that if you don’t want to read about unnecessary drama, this isn’t the novel for you. There are some serious themes touched on throughout, but for me personally, it took too long to get to those.

I gave this novel 3 stars. Admittedly, it did engage me eventually but I just felt it took a little too long and if I had just picked it up from the library I would have probably not gotten to the end! That said, I would quite like to watch the television series as I feel this would play out much better on screen rather than in a novel!