Books · Review

Disappointing | Book Review: The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?”

Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?

In The Midnight Library, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.



My Thoughts:

I have really mixed feelings about this, I find myself pretty disappointed.
The reviews I’ve seen have been absolutely amazing and the premise was so interesting and cool, I thought I’d really love it too. The more I think about it more I dislike it. It’s a real shame because it was one of my most anticipated books of 2020.

This is a super short book (less than 300 pages) I thought it would be a quick read. Although I finished it in one day, it wasn’t as binge-able as I hoped.

I’ve now read 5 Matt Haig books, 3 fiction, 2 non-fiction – there is a reoccurring theme. I really love his non-fiction, it resonates with me fully. His fiction on the other hand, always sounds amazing in theory to me, I really like his ideas and concepts, but the execution always lets me down. I was hoping The Midnight Library would break this cycle, unfortunately, it didn’t.

The Midnight Library has such an amazing premise and concept, which I really love and enjoyed that aspect of the novel. The writing was bland and boring – it wasn’t the easiest to read in terms of style or content.

Although I wasn’t super attached to Nora, as we didn’t really get to know her much, I could emphasise and relate to her mental state. I just wish there was a lot more insight to Nora. I feel like I barely know her even after finishing the novel.

The opportunity to see alternate lives in the library should’ve been more fun and interesting than it was. It found myself pretty bored at times. I kept hoping it would pick up and be amazing but it never did. I pushed myself through it, as it was short.

It deals with heavy topics, such as suicide and death, really good discussion points and the overall message is a hopeful and inspiring one. However, due to the lack of development of the protagonist, it really lacked depth for me. It was too brief and too impersonal for me to really feel connected.

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Serious trigger warnings for this book. This book is one massive trigger for suicide and death.
If you’re depressed and don’t want to be further depressed, please stay away from this novel.

Have you read this one? What are your thoughts?

Books · Review

Book Review: The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab

“Books, she has found, are a way to live a thousand lives–or to find strength in a very long one.”

Goodreads Synopsis:

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever-and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore, and he remembers her name.

My Thoughts:

TW/CW: Death, depression, grief, violence, attempted suicide, emotional manipulation, drug use, starvation, sexual acts for payment

When I first started this novel it was super slow and to be honest, I wasn’t really into it. I was really worried I wasn’t going to end up liking this book, the first 200 pages or so I thought this book was going to disappoint me. To my surprise, I ended up really enjoying this book, mostly the second half.
Although Schwab’s writing style is undeniably gorgeous, I found myself a little bored. I didn’t really see where the story would go. Until Henry showed up, then my attention was captured. I needed to know everything!

This is a very character driven novel, if you don’t like Addie then this would be a struggle to get through. It took me a while, but I did find myself attached to Addie and later Henry. This is a very slow paced novel, which isn’t typically my favourite thing. I do, however, really like character driven stories, so long as I can attach myself to the characters. Addie felt real, so very real. Schwab crafted such an amazing character and story; it feels like it should be real. You can tell how much emotion went into writing this.

I’m not typically a historical fiction reader, although I like history and learning about it, I prefer it in visual format usually. This book didn’t really change my mind, I found myself preferring the modern parts more than the flashbacks. It was interesting to see Addie through the different times, but the story felt stronger in the present to me. There were huge time jumps and lots left out, I feel like there should’ve been more interesting things going on in the past. I wanted a bit more plot, yes it’s character based, but there was room for so much more action and intrigue.

It’s a very emotive book. I found myself tearing up at parts (I didn’t fully cry) – I’m pretty heartless and don’t cry easily at books/tv/film but this hit me right in the feels. I had so many emotions reading this, it really does make you feel.

One of my complaints, is the repetition. There’s just so much repetition, it really could’ve been edited down a bit more. Like if I have to hear Addie has seven freckles like stars again, I’m going to lose my mind. It was kind of annoying. Also what Addie did in the flashbacks was pretty repetitive, which mad the book kind of drag in the middle.

Another complaint is the character development we see for Addie. You’d think over 300 years, living through so much would change a person, right? Well not Addie. She pretty much stays the same, which I find a bit odd.

Finally, the whiteness.
As a few other reviewers have noted this book is very white. In the novel, Addie spends all her time in Europe. There’s no POC mentioned or anything really. I knew this going in. It’s quite disappointing considering Addie lives through a lot of history, yet the history of POC is left out entirely. I was aware of this prior to reading, after seeing a lot of reviewers discuss this. So this didn’t disappoint me, as I already knew – but I’m still disappointed. If that makes any sense. ReadwithCindy makes some really good point in her discussion of the novel. It’s a tough call whether Schwab should have added POC. Like Cindy mentioned, she probably would’ve come under fire either way. At risk of writing POC poorly, Schwab didn’t write them at all.

Overall, it is a beautifully written novel. It has some really amazing aspects, but the pacing is a bit off. If you don’t mind a slower read, definitely pick this one up!

If the pacing hadn’t been an issue and it had a little more action in the flashbacks, this could’ve easily been a 5 star read for me. Alas, it wasn’t diverse enough and it was a little too slow going and took too long for me to be invested to gain a 5 star rating from me.

Rating 4 Stars

Disclaimer: I have previously worked with Titan Books. This was purchased by myself. All opinions are my own.

Books · Wrap-up

January Wrap Up | 2021

Happy February!
I don’t know about anyone else, but I felt like January was the lost month ever.
I didn’t read much in Jan, I had a lot going on, I didn’t expect to read much anyway. I’ve been dealing with personal issues on top on uni deadlines. It has been a chaotic month and I’m glad it’s over!
I did manage to read 3 books, which I’m happy with:

Graceling by Kristin Cashore (reread)

Graceling by Kristin Cashore | Gollancz - Bringing You News From Our World  To Yours

I kick started the year with a reread. I want to reread this series before diving into the new book, which was released in Jan. I was super worried I wouldn’t like this book upon rereading, it had been 4 years or so since I first read it. I ended up really loving it!
Review here // Rating: 5 Stars

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue: Amazon.co.uk: V.E. Schwab:  9781785652509: Books

Next, I finally read Addie Larue. Which I meant to read last year, but didn’t get around to it. Oh wow. I have so many thoughts on this. I have a full review coming soon (it’s quite a lengthy one). I have so many feelings on this book. I started off thinking I wouldn’t like it, by the end I loved it.
Rating: 4 Stars

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Buy The Midnight Library 9781786892706 by Matt Haig for only £14.

Lastly, I read another book I didn’t get to last year. I really wanted to love this, but I just didn’t. I’ll discuss it more in my review.
Rating: 3 Stars


How many books did you read in Jan? Any new favourites?

Audiobooks · Books

Best Audiobooks of 2020

Hello!
This post is a tad late, but I thought I’d do it anyway!
These are my favourite audiobooks I listened to last year. (Not necessarily 2020 releases).

Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown

Black Girl Unlimited Audiobook by Echo Brown - 9781250248572 | Rakuten Kobo  United Kingdom

This is a really moving, magic-realism semi-autobiographical book about Echo Brown’s life. It’s an amazing story. I haven’t heard many talk about it. It’s severely underrated!
Full review here.

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race Audiobook | Reni Eddo- Lodge | Audible.co.uk

Everyone needs to read/listen to this book. It’s very informative and educational. I learnt so much from listening to this. It’s basically required reading.

Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson

Let Me Hear A Rhyme Book Review - Book and Film Globe

I really enjoyed this, it was fun. The music aspect was really cool too, hearing it was really effective. I’m not sure I would’ve enjoyed this as much in print.
Review here.

The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

The Queen of Nothing: The Folk of the Air, Book 3 (Audio Download):  Amazon.co.uk: Holly Black, Caitlin Kelly, Hot Key Books: Audible Audiobooks

This was an unexpected fave. I didn’t plan to finish this series, I’m glad I did. I really enjoyed this conclusion. I ended up binging the entire audiobook in one day…
Review here.

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman

Odd and the Frost Giants: Amazon.co.uk: Gaiman, Neil, Gaiman, Neil: Books

Neil Gaiman has the most magical, light-hearted short stories. This was one. It was incredibly short but so lovely to listen to. Neil narrates it himself and he is absolutely wonderful.


What were your favourite audiobooks in 2020?

Books · Reread Review

Rereading an Old Fave | Book Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Goodreads Synopsis:
Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.

She never expects to fall in love with beautiful Prince Po.

She never expects to learn the truth behind her Grace—or the terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.


My thoughts:

I forgot how much I love this book, world and characters. This was one of the first books I read because of the online book community! I read it 4ish years ago, I was afraid rereading it would kill my fond memories, but I was wrong!

Getting back into this world was such a great experience. I remember bits of it but it had been enough time to make me forget a lot!

It’s very much a YA of it’s time. The plot isn’t revolutionary or overly original, it’s fun and engaging. It won’t blow your mind, but it’s a good ride! If YA fantasy is your thing, the plot will be pretty predictable.

The magic is probably the most unique aspect. I really like the idea of people being ‘graced’ with different abilities. It’s a very interesting concept and I loved it again upon this reread. I always wanted more books with graced characters (still do).

Characters:
The characters are so great!
Katsa & Po are just amazing. I love their chemistry and their relationship.
Katsa has some decent character growth, it’s not huge but it’s definitely there. She’s little bit of an odd character, but I really like her strong- woman personality. It did jump on the feminist bandwagon though, it’s very in-your-face with the strong woman trope.
A plus is her attitude towards sex and marriage/relationships is refreshing to see, especially for YA! Not often casual relationships are mentioned, everyone usually wants marriage and children etc. while there’s nothing wrong with that, it tends to be the main message in a lot of YA fantasy.

The first time around I gave this 4 Stars. Now I’m giving it 5 Stars purely for nostalgia and because it was a ridiculously enjoyable reread. I just adored being back in this world. I’ll be rereading the rest of the series too!

Have you read Graceling? What did you think?

Anticipated Books · Books

2021 Sequels, Prequels & Companion Books I’m Excited For

Hello everyone!
Today I’m going to share some 2021 releases that are sequels, prequels and companions that I’m excited to read. I have no idea how many I’ll actually get to this year (final year uni problems) but when I can I’ll be happily diving into these!

The Way of the Argosi by Sebastien de Castell

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I’m not usually super excited for prequels, but Ferius Parfax is such an amazing character, I cannot wait to explore her backstory! If you haven’t read the Spellslinger Series yet, do it! It’s one of the best YA fantasy series. It’s so fun and humorous, you’ll have a blast!


Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore

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I have wanted a sequel in this world since I first read the Graceling books years ago. I’m excited to be back in this world with a new story! Graceling was one of the first series I read because of the online book community, I’m so happy to get a sequel!



Beneath the Keep by Erika Johansen

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Another series I read forever ago. I loved The Queen of the Tearling trilogy, even if it did end… oddly. This is a prequel about one of the side characters, I’m curious to learn more about him and dive back into this world. I may have to reread the original books at some point too.


Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

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I love The Brown Sisters, I cannot wait to read this! I’m super sad this is the last book but I have loved every moment of the previous two, I’m sure this will also be a favourite. If you looking for swoon-worthy romances, definitely read this series. It’s incredible!


A Dance with the Fae Rogue by Elise Kova

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After reading (and loving) A Deal with the Elf King I am dying for this companion/sequel! I love a good fantasy romance and fae are my favourite! This sounds like it’ll be amazing, sadly it’s not out until the end of the year 😦


Are any of these on your TBR? What sequels/prequels/companion books are you excited for?

Books · Review

Conflicting Feels | Book Review: Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson (Spoiler free)

Dance of Thieves (Dance of Thieves, 1): Amazon.co.uk: Mary E. Pearson:  9781250159014: Books

Goodreads Synopsis:

When the patriarch of the Ballenger empire dies, his son, Jase, becomes its new leader. Even nearby kingdoms bow to the strength of this outlaw family, who have always governed by their own rules. But a new era looms on the horizon, set in motion by a young queen, which makes her the target of the dynasty’s resentment and anger.

At the same time, Kazi, a legendary former street thief, is sent by the queen to investigate transgressions against the new settlements. When Kazi arrives in the forbidding land of the Ballengers, she learns that there is more to Jase than she thought. As unexpected events spiral out of their control, bringing them intimately together, they continue to play a cat and mouse game of false moves and motives in order to fulfill their own secret missions.


My Thoughts:

I have no idea where to begin this review. I have such mixed feelings, I can’t quite tell whether I liked it or not.

The beginning is really good, I was surprisingly invested. It starts off interesting, an event happens and two characters are forced together – which was probably the best part. I wish that bit had been longer, once it was resolved it got pretty slow.

This book really suffers in the middle, the pace gets slow and the story gets pretty repetitive, I feel like there’s a lot of book with little going on. It would’ve benefitted being edited down a lot. The book is over 500 pages, feels longer and definitely only needed to be around 300.

The characters are by far the best part of this novel. The plot is meh, other than the enemies to lovers trope there wasn’t much else that was interesting. Unlike it’s predecessor, The Remnant Chronicles, there wasn’t any political intrigue or plot. It didn’t capture my attention like TRC did. I was invested in the characters, plot, world everything with that series. While here I struggled, I loved being back in the world and it was nice seeing glimpses of the old characters, particularly Lia. (Lia will forever be my favourite.) I don’t find this book really compared, in terms of characters or plot. I find the plot, characters and world-building so much more interesting, gripping and memorable in TRC. Dance of Thieves feels pretty bland, I don’t think it will stick with me like the first series did.

BUT
The ending.
The story almost nicely wraps up and yet there is a second book. So I am curious. I did really like the ending. The first 100 pages and last 100 pages were the best, if the middle had been shorter I think I would’ve enjoyed it more. I really wanted to love this book because it’s in one of my favourite fantasy worlds and the sequel to one of my favourite series. It was just meh. But I kind of interested to see where it will go, so I’ll likely pick up the sequel at some point.

Rating: 2.5/3 Stars

Review for The Remnant Chronicles

Books · Tag

Get to Know the Fantasy Reader Tag

Hello everyone!

Bree Hill originally created this tag as the Get to Know the Romance Reader Tag, and The Book Pusher adapted it for fantasy readers. 

What is your fantasy origin story? (The first fantasy novel you read)

Northern Lights by Philip Pullman (The Golden Compass in the US)
Most people grew up with HP – I didn’t never read nor watched it, never will.
I was a late bloomer when it comes to reading but I made my mum buy me the His Dark Materials box set when we were in The Works when I was a young teen and it made me fall in love with reading and SFF.

 If you could be the hero/heroine in a fantasy novel, who would be the author and what’s one trope you’d insist be in the story?

Ooo. Author is an easy one for me: Brandon Sanderson!
I’d want to be a chosen one, so that trope. (also need cool magical powers.)

What is a fantasy you’ve read this year, that you want more people to read?

I haven’t read a *ton* of fantasy this year. But I did reread The Remnant Chronicles by Mary E Pearson. I think this series is so underhyped. It’s seriously one of the best YA Fantasy series.

What is your favourite fantasy subgenre? What subgenre have you not read much from?

My favourite is High Fantasy, of course! I absolutely love being transported to new worlds. I haven’t really read much paranormal stuff… if that counts as a fantasy subgenre?

Who is one of your auto-buy fantasy authors?

So that I don’t answer Brandon Sanderson for everything… I’ll go with Sarah J Maas.

How do you typically find fantasy recommendations? (Goodreads, Youtube, Podcasts, Instagram..)

Booktube, Bookstagram, Goodreads & of course, book blogs!

What is an upcoming fantasy release you’re excited for?

Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore!
I’ve been dying for more Graceling books and my wish has been granted. I’m so glad the author decided to return to this world.

What is one misconception about fantasy you would like to lay to rest?

Women who write fantasy write for the YA or kid audiences…. WHY do people think women can’t write adult fiction?!

If someone had never read a fantasy before and asked you to recommend the first 3 books that come to mind as places to start, what would those recommendations be?

Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Who is the most recent fantasy reading content creator you came across that you’d like to shoutout?
I haven’t actually come across any new ones lately…
If anyone has any recs please let me know!


Tagging:
Kirsty @ Kirsty Reads Blog
Rachel @A Cascade of Books
Amy @ Amy Jane Alice
Allie @ WanderingNerdette

+ anyone else who wants to do this tag!

Books · Discussion

2021 Reading/Bookish Goals

Hello everyone!
New Year = New reading goals!
I don’t really like setting resolutions, I feel like it’s too much pressure and setting up for failure. So instead I just make a few casual goals with no real pressure involved.

Goal 1/Goodreads Challenge: 52 books

In 2020 I read 53 books, while contending with uni and a reading slump! So I think 52 is definitely doable. Hopefully, I’ll read even more after uni is finished for good. I’m going into my final semester (yikes!) so my reading will slow down for this first half of the year and hopefully pick back up after finals!

Goal 2: As always, I want to read more diversely

That includes race/disability/sexuality. I made an effort last year to read more Black authors, but I pretty much neglected other kinds POC books. I want get some others in this year too. I also need to up my game with LGBT reads and something I neglect entirely is disability rep.

Goal 3: Stop forcing myself to read when I simply don’t feel like it

Last summer I forced myself to read even though I was in a slump and I think it made it even worse! It’s definitely okay not to want to read, yes even as a book blogger/instagrammer/influencer/whatever. You should only read if you actually want to. I think there’s a lot of pressure to always be reading and pumping out book content, but if you’re not enjoying it, don’t force it!

Goal 4: Get my physical tbr down

Anyone else feel like they spend more time researching and buying books than actually reading? I used to be the kind of person who would buy one or two books and read them, then buy more. Since joining the online book community I have been buying and hoarding books far too much. I have yet to count my physical tbr, but I know I have a lot of unread books sat on my shelves. My aim is to stop buying so many books and read the ones I got. I’m pretty much on a book buying ban for the foreseeable future. (Apart from uni books, I need to buy those!)

Goal 5: Read a book with over 1000 pages

Last year I completely neglected big books, I’ve randomly developed a fear of huge books? I used to demolish big books and I loved them! I want to read a big ass book and hopefully, break the fear cycle.


What are your reading goals for 2021?

Books · Wrap-up

December + 2020 Wrap Up

Happy New Year Everyone!

I thought I’d combine my wrap ups into one post for ease.
I didn’t get to everything on my TBR but I did pretty well!
In December I read a total of 5 books

How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories by Holly Black – 4/5 Stars
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams – 4/5 Stars
Wrapped Up in You by Talia Hibbert – 2/5 Stars
Dance of Thieves by Mary E Pearson – 3/5 Stars
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – 3/5 Stars

(I’m behind with reviews, I’ll try to have them up asap)


2020 Wrap Up

2020 Reading Challenge

My goal for 2020 was to read 40 books, I ended up reading 53!
Books per month:
January – 5 books
February – 3 books
March – 4 books
April – 4 books
May – 3 books
June – 4 books
July – 5 books
August – 2 books
September – 3 books
October – 9 books
November – 6 books
December – 5 books

Best month was October / Worst month was August

Even though summertime is free for me being a student, it’s always the time I go into a slump. How typical. That’s why August was my worst reading month, I was in a really bad slump for most of the year, honestly.

One of my goals was to read one book a month by a Black author, I ended up exceeded this and reading a total of 18 books. Which I’m very happy with!


How was your reading in 2020?
Did you achieve your goals?