Book Review | Bunny by Mona Awad

Trigger Warnings for this book: bestiality, murder, rape, assault, mental health, self harm.

Samantha is not the typical student you would on the famous Warren Creative Writing MFA, especially as a scholarship student. She is ostracised by the rest of her all-female cohort, a group of women who call one another “Bunny” and hug for too long. Then Samantha receives an invitation to their “smut salon”. As Samantha is dragged deeper into their sanctimonious world, the edges of fantasy and reality begin to blur, and the Bunnies push her to the edge.

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UNBOXING | Books That Matter February 2021 | GIRL, GODDESS, OTHER

Today I am going to be sharing my unboxing of Books That Matter’s February 2021 box! The theme of this month was GIRL, GODDESS, OTHER.

Overall, I really enjoyed this box! I thought it was very aesthetically pleasing in lovely lilac colours, and the contents all worked really well together. Sometimes I think you can get book boxes that look like 7 different people each added an item, but not here.

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Book Review | The Binding by Bridget Collins

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Well – this book was something else.

We follow Emmett Farmer, who discovers the existence of books. But books in this world aren’t just books – they are people. Or, to be more exact, the memories of people, the things they want to forget. A binder takes these memories away, wraps them up neatly in the book, and they can go on the shelf and be forgotten.

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Book Review | The Janus Stone (Dr Ruth Galloway #2) by Elly Griffiths

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After the terrifying events a few months ago on the saltmarshes, Dr Ruth Galloway is enjoying her pregnancy and her work when she is called to a medieval site. The constructos are building new flats over the area, but want archaeologists to dig it up first. Then, a skeleton of a young child is found – missing its head. Another murder is here…

The second novel in the Dr Ruth Galloway Series, The Janus Stone was exciting, but also really rather confusing, not something you often see in cosy crime.

I really love the idea of the Ruth Galloway series. The first book, The Crossing Places was one of my favourite books for the plot, but I just could not stand the author. The novels are incredibly close-minded, including pretty much fatphobia and xenophobia on every single page. The reason I decided to pick up the next one is, simply, because I love the idea of an archaeologist getting involved in crime, and I also love unsolved murders getting solved, and this is probably, sadly, the only book series out there that does that.

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Book Review | The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle

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Sherlock Holmes is roused from drug-induced depression by a beautiful young woman. Her name is Mary Morstan and every year since the mysterious disappearance of her father she has received a lustrous pearl. Now her anonymous benefactor has requested a meeting and she wants Holmes and Watson to accompany her.

I can’t believe that I’m a crime writer and it’s taken me so long to read some Arthur Conan Doyle! I think I was put off because it’s Victorian and I thought it’d be full of long, hard-to-understand sentences, boring dialogue, and Holmes just sitting around all day (*cough*Dupin*cough*). But NO!

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Book Review & Blog Avalanche | Paper Avalanche by Lisa Williamson

I was so excited to be contacted by the publisher of Lisa Williamson’s newest YA book to read and review a copy and join in with their Blog Avalanche to celebrate the release! 

This is the first Lisa Williamson book I’ve read, and I absolutely loved it. Without further ado, let’s get into the review… 

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Book Review | The Glass Magician by Charlie N Holmberg

Read my review of The Paper Magician, book one in the series! This review contains spoilers of book 1.

22341276After her near-death experiences at the hands of Excisioner, Lira, apprentice Folder Ceony Twill is still learning, and still fighting off her growing affection for her teacher, Emery Thane. When two new threats appear on her streets, targeting Ceony and those she holds most dear, she decides to take matters into her own hands. Magic, mystery, and danger all lurk within the world Ceony has chosen to inhabit.

Despite really enjoying the first book in the series, this one was a bit of a let-down. And although I normally write reviews in sentences, paragraphs, and even with actual punctuation, I’m just going to bullet-point what went wrong for me:

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Book Review | Howards End by EM Forster

15822373Revolving around the theme of “Only Connect”, Howards End concerns love, lies, death, and living. From the feisty Schlegel sisters, Helen and Margaret, to the upper-class Wilcoxes, Howards End also sees to the struggling Basts amidst discussions of social convention, wealth, charity, and relationships. In this turn-of-the-century novel, widely regarded as Forster’s best, Margaret is our strong-willed, independent protagonist, who refuses to let her husband’s smugness and closed-mindedness affect her own life. 

This book is unequivocally English. Unlike Forster’s other novellas I have read (A Room With a View and Where Angels Fear To Tread) which both take place predominantly in Europe, Howards End takes place entirely in England, mostly in the rolling hills of the south, where I live.

I really loved the Schlegel sisters. For 1910, when this book was written, they would be seen as incredibly forward-thinking. Something I do love about EM Forster is his writing of women, because it’s not like the modern-day romance writer. Forster writes about women as real people, and Margaret and Helen have some of the most interesting, thought-provoking, and life-changing parts in the book. They are both catalysts for many of the events, and even in marriage, when a woman would be expected to submit to her husband, Margaret frequently stands her own ground and knows when she should and shouldn’t forgive her husband for doing something wrong.

The actual story, aside from ongoing thread of “who will inherit Howards End?” wasn’t entirely interesting, but something that carries Forster’s novels for me is the beautiful description. Whenever I open one of his books, I feel like I’ve jumped into the pages. The whole world melts away, and I just live the literature.

It may help that I actually live where much of the novel is set. The Schlegel sisters are from London, which was completely different in the turn of the century than now, but they often travel to Swanage, where I spent many summers, and to Hertfordshire and around the South Downs in general. I’ve read some criticism of the book that it wasn’t “universal” enough (whatever that means; when is a book ever “universal”?!) but for me, it was. It was like I’m standing on the same soil, just 100 years ago.

Whilst the main question of the story is “who will inherit Howards End?”, when we view the larger picture we end up asking, “Who will inherit England?” Forster uses three families, representing three different tiers of class in 1900s England – upper, middle, and working, and in many books, you’d expect these classes to remain separate. However, Forster mingles them with intermarriage and interbreeding. By the end of the novel, within the marriages and births and deaths, there are no clear cut “classes”; no one clear cut class ready to inherit Howards End – or England, as the metaphor goes.

I thoroughly enjoyed Howards End. It’s a book that I may not remember the exact story line of, but I am satisfied when I turn the last page.

Rating: 4/5

Goodreads
Source: Bought from Waterstones

Film Review | To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

Image result for to all the boys i've loved beforeBased on the book with the same name by Jenny Han, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before hit Netflix on Aug 17. I was super excited to watch it, having loved the book, and was not disappointed: it definitely lived up to my expectations!

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before follows Lara Jean, who writes love letters to all of the boys she’s crushed on. There are five in total, and they’re one of her most important possessions, kept hidden in a box with a bow. They’ll never be read by anyone but LJ… until they all, somehow, get sent.

The film is easy to get along with, and pretty much the nightmare of everyone who’s written a letter that should never have been sent but was (fun fact, friends: this has actually happened to me. *sigh*).

It’s cutesy, with pinks and greens its springish aesthetic, and the typical cast of teenage film characters: the main girl who’s happily unpopular but thrust into the spotlight; the jock who’s actually a nice guy; the mean girl who used to be her best friend; her new best friend who’s indie and owns it; the supportive, well-meaning but not always doing it right family; and the guy next door.

Phew. But, although these are all so frickin’ tropey, only “the mean girl who used to be her best friend” felt really forced and fake to me, so the scriptwriters obviously did something right. I knew that I was watching tropes come to life on film… but it really didn’t feel like it. It feels like these characters are all the same as you’ve seen before, but actually feeling real (for once).

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Lara Jean is one of my favourite characters, because she’s just so damn relatable. A lot of critics have rated this lower because it’s a teen film, but that’s why I love it – teenagers like Lara Jean are figuring themselves out, making mistakes and having fun. She’s such a feisty character, constantly underestimated, and discusses racism, grief, and sexism in the film so, so well. I really adore her!

Peter Kalinsky is an excellent matching character (where can I find myself a Peter Kalinsky??) and whilst the slow-burning chemistry between the two characters on screen felt a little forced and fake in places, I still enjoyed the romance.

I think that what I really love about To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is that it’s a story that isn’t out of place in the real world. It isn’t like The DUFF for example, where the romance just wasn’t a-happening, and the characters don’t do particularly remarkable things or hold information back unnecessarily. Lara Jean is questioned for not just sitting down and talking to the boys, and for keeping the love letters back, which never happens in a fictional story! It’s just a story that could be based in your secondary school or college, and unless you were one of the four or five main characters, the story would probably pass you by and it might just be a piece of gossip that you hear. There’s no declarations, nothing that makes you roll your eyes and think “that’s lovely and all, but it’d never happen”. It’s just so believable.

Overall, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a cutesy, happy, romantic teenage film with unexpected letters as it’s turning point. I will give it 4.5/5 and would definitely recommend both the film and the book.

Book Review | Bookshop Girl by Chloe Coles

Image result for bookshop girlPaige Turner works at Bennett’s Bookshop in her small town of Greysworth. It’s her safe haven, her escape from her life… and it’s about to close. Another ‘casualty of the high street’, Paige and the team have only four weeks to try and save the bookshop from permanent closure. Can they protect it from closure? And… can Paige stop herself from falling for bad boy Blaine?

This was such a cutesy book but there were a fair few things I didn’t like about it that stopped my enjoyment of the book whilst I was reading.

Okay so to start with, I liked the idea of the book. It’s about books and a bookshop and the main character is actually called Paige Turner. The actual bookshop was adorable and I would love to work in one just like that myself.

Paige’s best friend, Holly, was also such a sweetheart and I really liked her. I wish that their friendship had been more fleshed out.

That was the main downfall, I think, of this book – it was so short. Some books are short but just the right length, but this one wasn’t. Nothing felt fleshed out – the characters didn’t have much scope, some of the scenes felt so slow, and I felt no connection. I also feel like Coles tried to do too much – it should have just been about Paige and the bookshop. For example, the love interest that was introduced for Paige just felt awkward and out of place, and the bookshop and the boy seemed to be fighting for stage time each scene. I wish that Coles had just picked one or the other to really focus on instead of attempted to do 50:50 and not really making it work very well.

It had its merits of course, although predictably, if you’re a well-read reader, you probably know the outcome before going in. Also, I did love that Paige was a 16 year old girl, but the love interest was bad news from the start and it kind of irked me that no one said. Well, Holly did. Hence, Holly is my favourite characterrrr and I love her and the book should’ve been about her tbh.

Overall, this was a cutesy, funny read, but I wanted a lot more from it and it just didn’t live up to what I hoped it would be.

Rating: 2.5/5

Goodreads
Personal source: I received an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. As always, opinions are entirely my own! 


If you liked this, you might also enjoy… Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley 

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