Poetry Review | Honeybee by Trista Mateer

36206132In this poetry collection, Trista Mateer explores heartbreak, love, loss, and walking away. Honeybee is a memoir in verse, collecting snapshots from a time of ripples in one poet’s life. 

I really liked the style of Mateer’s poetry, and I think that for that reason, Honeybee and I resonated fairly well together.

The topic of heartbreak has been one that poets have written about for centuries, but Mateer’s situation was entirely unique, because she was the one who walked away. This book explores how her own experience with leaving still affected the heartbreak that both sides of the relationship experienced, and I think it’s a side I don’t often read about in poetry, because normally the one who is left is the one who writes the sad poems.

I feel like I wasn’t in quite the emotional state to connect to anything truly (probably didn’t help I read like 75% of this in the doctors’ waiting room), but I did feel it. Mateer pours her whole heart into these poems about her ex and I think that for her, it was probably a really cathartic exercise to do.

A lot of time was really spent writing about her ex, though, and it was quite overwhelming. Obviously a poet should be separated from their poetry in terms of autobiographicalness unless they say it’s an autobiography, but some of what Mateer said surprised me. Even though she was in a new relationship (both sides of the couple), Mateer was still writing very emotive poetry which, if I were reading it as this girl, I would find it a little…. close? maybe? is that the right word? Whichever word, I hope you get the gist – even after one year, two years, Mateer still seemed to be pining for this girl despite being in a new relationship.

I kind of get it, I do, having gone through a difficult break up a year and a half or so ago, but I don’t think I could write this type of poetry about that person now. I miss them sometimes, yes, but I think to write this deeply about them… that’s a whole other level, and despite the fact I was thoroughly enjoying the beautiful phrases Mateer strung together, I was still slightly reserved from the poems, trying to remove myself from how I was feeling at the back of my head the entire time.

Honeybee is a poem about breakup, but not all breakups. Whilst I didn’t -connect-, I could feel the pain that was poured into these poems. From a stylistic point of view, these poems were 100% my cup of tea. I loved Mateer’s writing style, and will definitely be looking to read more of her books in the future. I especially enjoyed how the titles of the poems seemed to almost be another line. Mateer didn’t put a word down without a reason for doing it.

Overall, I think that this was a book Mateer needed to write, but not necessarily one I felt needed to be published. I think that her writing is, honestly, stunning and engrossing, but I felt a little uncomfortable reading it, as I was looking at it from both perspectives: Mateer’s, and the person she left. It’s unfortunate that I had this ticking voice in the back of my mind, otherwise I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more. However, I still gave this book a fairly good rating, because I feel like the writing truly deserves it.

Rating: 3.5/5

Goodreads
Personal source: sent as an eARC from NetGalley. As always, opinions are entirely my own.


If you liked this, you might also enjoy… milk and honey by Rupi Kaur 

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Cover Reveal | Not Like Everyone Else by Jennifer Leigh

Hello everyone! I am delighted to be taking part in this cover reveal for a new YA book by Jennifer Leigh.

Not Like Everyone Else is a new contemporary read from young author Jennifer Leigh. Here’s a synopsis:

Ryan can’t seem to get her memories in order. When she breaks it off with her long-term boyfriend, Corey, she can’t help but feel free. But mysterious events keep Ryan asking “just what happened?” After her family moved to Ryton, after Carter goes missing, after Jacob is in the hospital. All of these afters, but Ryan can’t remember the befores. With Harper and Elliot by her side, Ryan can only hope that she does not forget… again. Will Ryan be able to recover her memory to figure out what happened when it all went dark?

Sounds interesting, right? Well, without further ado, here is the cover:

Ta-da! I think it’s so pretty and I love the setting around the model. It looks so intriguing!


Want more of Not Like Everyone Else?

Pre-order your Kindle copy now! Or sign-up for the blog tour which runs from June 15-June 23.

Not Like Everyone Else is set to be released on June 15, 2018.

About Jennifer Leigh:

Jennifer Leigh is a self-published young adult author and blogger. She has participated in National Novel Writing Month where all of her thoughts come together and books are created. Her blog, Bound to Writing, focuses on young adult books and writing. She lives in New Jersey with her fiancé, two guinea pigs, and cat. Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 


What do you think of Not Like Everyone Else‘s book cover? Let me know in the comments below!

I’d like to say a big thank-you to Jenn for letting me be a part of her cover reveal tour! I’m super excited to read it.

Book Review | To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

34499221With the hearts of seventeen princes underneath her bed, Princess Lira is known as the Princes’ Bane. She’s the most ruthless siren of them all, but when all begins to go wrong, Lira is transformed into the thing she hates most of all: a human. With one goal in mind, Lira finds Prince Elian – in order to steal his heart.

Prince Elian prefers to be known as Captain Elian, the Siren Killer. He and his band of loyal misfits roam the seas, killing sirens and searching for the power to win the war against land and sea. But just how many deals will he have to make to succeed at his task? When Lira asks to join his expedition, Elian knows something isn’t quite right about her, but just how much can he really trust her? 

The blurb of this book kept begging me to read it, and I was so excited when I finally got around to picking it up. A siren murderess and a prince on one ship? Who doesn’t want to read that?!

I frickin’ loved the sirens, to start with. Most of my experience with sirens (hah) comes from Homer and classical mythology, so I loved how they were reworked in this really dark turn of a story. They were ruthless and barbaric, and just absolutely fascinating how they worked. I think the connection they had with the hearts was written really well, how important they were made out to be.

I just absolutely love it when mythology and world building is done well. Christo’s world building was done brilliantly (although I wish there had been a map!), and she really made me believe that this was a world that could exist somewhere. I loved that each country/state had its own kind of trait – like being the centre of invention, or war, or romance. It kind of reminded me of the factions in Divergent a little, but with less fighting between them.

The war against land and sea has long been one that people have written about, but Christo really put a great turn on it. Also, the Sea Queen was a fantastically murderous character. She was so frickin’ ruthless! (And I don’t know about anyone else, but I was getting major Disney’s The Little Mermaid Ursula vibes.)

The whole structure of this book was really well put together and Lira and Elian were both such great characters. Where can I find me an Elian? (But seriously, though.) Their romance was done so well that I didn’t even realise they were changing towards each other at first! This is enemies-to-lovers done at its best, my friends.

I feel like the only let down, for me, was the plot. This was a book very much propelled by characters, and although I was of course interested in their quests, I just loved “being” around the characters and reading their conversations and interactions. That’s not saying that the plot wasn’t good – I think it was, and it featured just about everything I love about plots – but the characters were for me the main focus, and I think that Chriso loved her characters a lot and it kind of showed. The plot was good, but it didn’t get me as excited as just reading Elian and Lira and Kye and Madrid banter with each other.

Overall though this was a great read – the characters were absolutely fantastic, and the idea of the whole book was a brilliant new spin on the Little Mermaid. I never really liked the Disney film as a kid, but I couldn’t help but borrow some of the cartoon’s imagery to help bring the characters to life in my own head.

Rating: 4/5

Goodreads
Source: borrowed from the library. Thank you for NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. I actually read this book from the library because it was easier for me at the time. As always, though, my opinions are my own! 


If you liked this, you might also enjoy… Labyrinth Lost by Zoradia Cordova [review coming soon]

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Book Review | The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

36628816Rumour has it that Alice Franklin is a slut. It’s written all over the bathroom stall at Healy High for everyone to see. And after star quarterback Brandon Fitzsimmons dies in a car accident, the rumours start to spiral out of control. But exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end there’s only one person to ask: Alice herself. – edited from Goodreads

I was super excited to read this book, as although it’s Jennifer Mathieu’s debut novel, it has been reprinted following the success of Moxie (which I absolutely loved, although for some reason didn’t review – that will be coming soon!). However, The Truth About Alice, for me, fell flat.

I enjoyed reading only some of the POVs from which this story was told, and there were about 4 or 5 of them. Some were engaging, like Josh, and some just weren’t really that interesting at all. I also thought the differing POVs may not have lent themselves brilliantly to this novel – I would have preferred maybe only 2 or 3 if there were differing POVs at all.

The idea of course interested me because it’s about feminism and it’s also YA. I think it’s a novel about looking beyond what you believe a person to be to what they actually are, and for that reason I think it’s really important.

Alice was an interesting, complex character to whom terrible things happened, and I think it really shows how society today turns against someone if they make just one mistake. Alice was shunned because of a rumour, not even truth in the matter, and it was heartbreaking to watch all of her friends turn against her.

Mathieu writes about feminism in a way that no one else does – raw, and from a teenage perspective. Moxie was just incredible, and I will definitely be reading anything else she brings out. So overall, this book fell flatly compared to her most recent novel, but for a debut, it really explores new territory (it was published in 2014) and although the way it was told didn’t meld well with me, the ideas behind it, and of course Mathieu’s writing, were really brilliant to read.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3/5

Goodreads
Source: eARC from NetGalley


~*NEW SECTION*~

I’ve decided to add a “if you liked this…” section to each of my reviews, so if you enjoyed the book I reviewed, another one by a different author is listed below (and along with my review, if I’ve written one!).

If you liked this, you might also enjoy… The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed [review]

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Book Review | The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

34045334Ami lives with her mother on Culion Island, and whilst no one ever wants to come there, she is happy. That is, until Mr Zamora arrives from the mainland and throws the island into chaos. Being ‘Untouched’, Ami is forced to leave the island. It’s not long before she meets a honey-eyed girl named for butterflies who wants to help her get home before it’s all too late. 

I absolutely adored Millwood Hargrave’s The Girl of Ink and Stars and I loved this book as well! Kiran writes young voices incredibly well – sometimes I feel like “oh, this is a bit young,” but then I remember that the narrator is actually a twelve year old girl and it’s suddenly so realistic!

The topics of the books – from leprosy to butterflies to friendship to family – were really interesting, and whilst I didn’t learn much I also learnt a lot at the same time, considering I knew barely anything about leprosy, for example, before reading this book.

The writing style is beautifully poetic, as was Millwood Hargrave’s debut novel. The descriptions of the islands she writes about are so vivid that sometimes I feel like I am actually there. Amihan was a brilliant narrator and a really feisty girl, and I adored her and Mari!

The reason why I didn’t mark this as 5/5 is down to a couple of reasons. The first is the homosexual undertones – I have felt this in both of Millwood Hargrave’s novels, both of which are narrated by girls who make very close friendships with other girls. I feel like these could both turn into homosexual relationships, and Millwood Hargrave’s writing is so frickin’ beautiful that it could really be turned into a stunning piece of romance. Whilst I completely understand why it’s not a romance, considering how young the protagonists are, some of the language used to describe the relationships and the friend of the narrator could be considered romantic!

The second is my reaction after reading (which actually has no bearing, I guess, on the book itself?? but I wanted to write about it). Whilst The Girl of Ink and Stars left me reeling and wanting to shove this book into everyone’s hands, The Island at the End of Everything left me slightly in love with Amihan, but with nothing else, really.

Having said all that, I thoroughly enjoyed this book when I was entranced in the world, and I’m sure it’s one I will re-read in the future to just be back on the island. Millwood Hargrave has some really great diversity in her books too which is a great boost especially considering the target audience (MG) and I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone.

Rating: 4/5

Goodreads
Source: Bought from Waterstone’s

Book Review | Women & Power by Mary Beard

36313514“You can’t easily fit women into a structure that is already coded as male; you have to change the structure.”

Mary Beard analyses women and the power of our world, and how we have been accosted from power for centuries. With her dry wit and her vast knowledge, this really was an enjoyable read.

This tiny book – a “manifesto” [although I wouldn’t necessarily say this is a manifesto – more on that later] – is based from two lectures Beard gave. One is from 2014, and is entitled The Public Voice of Women, and the second is from 2017, entitled Women in Power; this obviously came just after the US 2016 presidential election. Beard brings her personal experiences from Twitter trolls and her life as a historian to her essays too.

I thought that the analyses that Beard gave were really interesting, but if I had to criticise this book, I would say that it was far too short. Whilst I understand that Beard has taken her chapters from previous lectures, I feel like there is enough material for a book the size of SPQR, one of her previous novels which is 400-500 pages long. At 97 pages long, this just seemed far too short; I hope that a further book will be made out of this, although I understand why Mary Beard and the publishers (I think this is in some sort of lecture series??) wanted this book out now in this current time.

I also feel like this isn’t a manifesto. This isn’t a call to arms – these are informative, exploratory lectures, whereas a manifesto is a public declaration of a policy and a person’s aims. The information included in Women & Power may become a manifesto, but currently, as it stands, it isn’t quite there yet.

Overall, despite what I’ve said, I thoroughly enjoyed Women & Power. It’s given me a lot to think about and I think it’s something that will become the focus of essays that I might write in the future. I understand why it’s short, and I think it does pack a lot into a little, but I do think that Mary Beard could really enrich the material and turn this into a really lovely piece.

Rating: 4/5

Goodreads
Source: Bought from Waterstone’s

Book Review | Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

33784373After the tragic events that occurred in London, Audrey Rose and Thomas have travelled to Romania to attend a prestigious medical school. Love is brewing, Audrey Rose and Thomas are finally able to learn together; but death has followed them everywhere. With bodies turning up drained of blood, Audrey Rose is wondering if the rumours are true: that Dracula has arisen from the dead… 

I. loved. this. book.

After ripping (heh) through Maniscalco’s first book, Stalking Jack the Ripper, I knew that I was going to love this one. I wouldn’t say that it is better than Jack, and although I think that I actually preferred that one, this certainly does not suffer from second book syndrome.

Why did I enjoy book 1 more? Well, I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I think it’s the excitement. Audrey Rose was suffering a great deal throughout this book, battling depression and grief, and I feel like she didn’t have this weight in book 1. This is no criticism to the author, because it gave a different feel to the book and gave scope for so much character development. It just gave a very different tone to the book, but I liked this far darker version. I think I would like to reread both back to back and come back to this part of my review in the future!

So let’s start with the plot. Whilst I guessed the murderer right at the beginning, I was actually left questioning my decision the entire way through, and that’s what you need in a murder mystery novel. Maniscalco throws in so many red herrings and new ideas that you really are left guessing. She dug up an old myth, and I felt like it was really fascinating how she interweaves history and turns it into this incredible book.

The characters are, of course, brilliant. Audrey Rose and Thomas – ugh, can they just get married and have cute babies already?! I loved the diversity that Maniscalco managed to incorporate despite the time period it is in. I thought that Audrey Rose’s reaction was quite appropriate too – I thought she might have been more shocked, considering lesbianism in the 1800s wasn’t exactly able to be as open as it is nowadays, but she stayed completely true to her character in her response to it.

I think that’s something I really like about Kerri Maniscalco’s writing – her consistently. I find that some writers really exemplify their characters after they find what streaks readers enjoy, but she has managed to mingle character development and consistency throughout both of the novels.

I also liked how there wasn’t a huge jump between books #1 and #2. I feel like, again, this can be a huge mistake some writers make, especially when it’s a book following a debut, and also when lots of readers have had a lot of time between two books. I took a while to find my feet again in Hunting Prince Dracula, but I think that that’s partly because it’s been a year (??) since I read book 1.

Maniscalco set us up brilliantly for book 2, though. The setting was so delicious! I cannot explain how much I loved the setting for this book. It was chosen so well, and I feel like it really helped the book along and to be far more creepy than it could have been!

Overall, these are incredible books and I highly, highly recommend them. I zipped through both of them, and I cannot wait for book 3! I’m excited to see what mystery Maniscalco aims to write about next. I think that it’s a really great concept for a book series – unsolved mysteries that are explored by a really plucky, strong female character.

Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads
Source: bought from Wordery

Book Review | The Tinderbox by Hans Christian Anderson

Image result for the tinderbox lbcAnderson’s bittersweet fairy tales propelled their troubled author to international fame and revolutionised children’s writing. – blurb.

Certainly, this book was unexpected. One thing that completely stuck out to me about The Tinderbox and all of the other stories were how personal they are. I felt as I was reading them that I was actually just a little kid in bed being told a story by my dad.

I have actually read retellings of three of the stories in this collection without ever knowing they were by Hans Christian Anderson, and I feel like reading the originals was like finding another little present under the tree the day after Christmas and discovering that it’s for you.

Anderson was a brilliant storyteller, and I feel like this collection really shows off his repertoire. I would dearly love to read more of his stories. They really speak to me, and I feel like I am really drawn into the world, even when the stories are only, say, a couple of hundred words long.

My favourite story in this collection was definitely The Nightingale, the fifth story. It was a story I had never heard before, and yet it was the one that I loved the most! It was a really beautiful story. I think something that differs Anderson from the Grimm brothers was that there are some actual happy endings in Anderson’s stories. In The Nightingale, the ‘bad guy’ doesn’t get their comeuppance, but rather is treated with kindness and respect by the otherwise disregarded nightingale, and I think that this says so much about Anderson as a person. There is so much social commentary just in these little stories, and they really affect you as a reader in just a handful of words.

“Now you see, that was a real story!” – The Princess on the Pea, Hans Christan Anderson

The stories in this collection are: The Tinderbox, Little Claus and Big Claus, The Princess on the Pea, The Steadfast Tin Soldier, The Nightingale, and The Red Shoes.

The Tinderbox is #23 in the Little Black Classic collection.

Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads 
Source: bought on Amazon

Book Review | Come Close by Sappho

24874364Beautiful, lyrical poems about love, sexuality, Greece and the Gods. Sappho lived c.630-570 BCE on Lesbos in Ancient Greece. 

Little Black Classics celebrate the range of Penguin Classics; 80 books for Penguin’s 80th birthday! Come Close is LBC #74. 

Sappho is truly one of my favourite poets. People scoff at me for enjoying her poetry and even just talking about it, but try reading this collection and then come to talk to me! Lots of people just think of Sappho as “that lesbian Greek poet with no complete poems” (all of these are true!), but she’s also so much more.

Many of Sappho’s poems were lost to history. A lot have been collected from vases and pottery, but I really love how it’s not complete. I feel like the fact that it isn’t complete actually tells us a lot more! We can invent around it, and, thankfully, the parts which have survived are just beautiful. 

Sappho writes about family, relationships, the gods, and even Troy! I never knew that she wrote about Troy, so having a chapter in this book about Troy was a real pleasant surprise, and I really enjoyed it. The Trojan War is one of my favourite truth-myths, so having it written about by another poet was really pleasing.

I love Sappho, and I also love the Penguin Little Black Classics. I really, really recommend this book (it’s only 80p!) and hope you enjoy some new Ancient Greek poetry.

You can check out my collection of Little Black Classics here!

Book Review | Windfall by Jennifer E Smith

32048554Alice doesn’t believe in luck – at least, not the good kind. But she does believe that she is in love; with her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday, she buys him a lottery ticket as a joke – but to their astonishment, he wins $140 million and changes everything. 

At first it seems like a dream come true, but it quickly spirals into more of a curse than a windfall and Alice begins to wish she could take the ticket back. But she knows that you can’t change time, better than anyone. Will she and Teddy ever find their way back to each other? 

I really enjoyed this novel. I think it’s a really feel-good YA, and I got through it so quickly which was an added bonus. It’s a real dreamy book – both in the way of winning the lottery, and the way it was written! I felt so relaxed reading it, although I was completely unable to put it down. Continue reading