book blog

July TBR | Summer Books

June 30th, 2022

Hi Readers!

Here are some books I’ve got lined up for July!

I’m so excited to read more contemporary romance, it’s a genre I’ve been really enjoying lately. Book Lovers is a much anticipated read, I’ve heard so much about It Happened One Summer, and I’ve been meaning to get to How Hard Can Love Be? for a while now.

The Odyssey – I have started this one, and I’m just slowly making my way through it, but already I’m loving it much more than The Iliad.

Joan by Katherine J. Chen – This beautiful new release sounds amazing and I’m so grateful to the publisher for sending me a copy. It comes out in July and I hope to get a review out for release day.

Assembly by Natasha Brown – This quick read will be one I’ll probably read on one of the Wimbledon mornings before play starts, because when Wimbledon is on, I will not be getting a lot of read done but I would like to feel like I’m still reading a little bit. I’ve heard amazing things about this book, but I must admit, I know nothing of what it’s about.

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro – I just think it’s a crime that I haven’t read this book yet! It sounds like a great book to read in the sun.

Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien – I’ve been wanting to reread these books for a while and I’m planning on finally picking up the first part once I’ve finished The Odyssey.

The Corfu Trilogy by Gerald Durrell – One of my favourite books to read in Summer. I’ve read the first one, My Family and Other Animals, a couple of times now but I’m hoping to continue with the whole trilogy this Summer.

J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter – Before my reread of Lord of the Rings I also want to read his biography, because I’m a nerd.

I won’t lie, I have so many more books I want to read this Summer and I may try and squeeze a couple more in this month. But we’ll see. If you want to know my overly ambitious Summer tbr, check out my two posts: Contemporary Romance TBR, 20 Books For Summer.

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

book blog · Book Review

Book Review | The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas …fun but formulaic romance

June 29th, 2022

Hi Readers!

This book, thanks to booktoker’s, has become a booktok sensation. So much so that even me, someone who once downloaded tiktok for exactly one day before deleting it again, still found out about it., and of course I had to read it!

| Published: February 2021 by Artia Books |
| Genre: Contemporary Romance |
| Themes: Enemies to Lovers |
| Length: 487 Pages |
| Age: Adult |
| My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ |

A wedding in Spain. The most infuriating man. Three days to convince your family you’re actually in love. . . 

Catalina Martìn desperately needs a date to her sister’s wedding. Especially when her little white lie about her American boyfriend has spiralled out of control. Now everyone she knows – including her ex-boyfriend and his fiancée – will be there. 

She only has four weeks to find someone willing to cross the Atlantic for her and aid in her deception. NYC to Spain is no short flight and her family won’t be easy to fool. . . But even then, when Aaron Blackford – the 6’4″, blue-eyed pain in the arse – offers to step in, she’s not tempted even for a second. Never has there been a more aggravating, blood-boiling and insufferable man. 

But Catalina is desperate and as the wedding gets closer the more desirable an option Aaron Blackford becomes. . . 

This book is one of the many very popular contemporary romances that are hot off the press right now. It feels like everyone has read this, and I’m definitely late to the game, but here’s my two cents anyway.

The Spanish Love Deception is another fun, if slightly formulaic enemies to lovers romance with tropes like fake dating and there’s only one bed to top it all off.

My main problem with this book seems unfair, because no romance in any romance book is a surprise, but I found this one a bit too obvious. But not really just for the reader, but for the characters as well.

Five chapters in, and the main character has already been told by someone that she and her love interest have a thing for each other, and it’s obvious from the minute we meet Aaron that he’s not as uninterested as Lina so frustratingly declares. I knew it was supposed to be obvious, but this felt too much. There’s was no build up, no anticipation for me. All the time I was just thinking to myself, how if she so blind to this?

Their whole relationship feels so weirdly paced, and that goes for the story as well. We only got to the actual synopsis of the book over 50% through, and a lot of the time I was bored, and this is so long, and it dragged so much…

I didn’t find either Aaron or Lina particularly interesting or well-defined characters, by the end of the book I couldn’t tell you one thing about either of them other than Aaron is tall and Lina is Spanish. But the side-characters especially were so bland. Seeing as the sequel follows Lina’s best friend Rosie, I’m not sure I’m interested in reading it. Although the synopsis alone has developed her more than this entire book did.

What’s frustrating is I don’t know if I feel like this because I read The Love Hypothesis first, and whether or not I would feel differently about either of these books had I read them the other way around. I just feel like I have read a better version of this story.

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

book blog · Bookish News

July Book Releases 2022

June 27th, 2022

Hi Readers!

Here are some of the exciting releases coming in July.

Delphi by Clare Pollard
Releases: July 28th, Fig Tree / August 2nd, Simon Schuster

I am sick of the future. Up to here with the future. I don’t want anything to do with it; don’t want it near me’

It is 2020 and in a time more turbulent than any of us could have ever imagined, a woman is attempting to write a book about prophecy in the ancient world.

Navigating the tightening grip of lockdown, a marriage in crisis, and a ten-year-old son who seems increasingly unreachable, she becomes fixated on our many forms of divination and prediction: on oracles, tarot cards and tea leaves and the questions we have always asked as we scroll and click and rage against our fates. 

But in doing so she fails to notice the future creeping into the heart of her own home. For despite our best intentions – our sacrifices and our bargains with the gods – time, certainty and, sometimes, those we love, can still slip away …

Honey And Spice by Bolu Babalola
July 5th, William Morrow & Company

Kiki Banjo is an expert in relationship-evasion.

In fact, she has made it her mission to protect the women of Whitewell University from the dangers of players and heartbreak, supplying advice, tips and essentials to paying men no mind on her student radio show, Brown Sugar.

And then Kiki meets distressingly handsome newcomer Malakai Korede, who threatens to tear apart the community of women she’s fought so hard to protect.

Kiki publicly declares Malakai the ‘Wasteman of Whitewell’ on Brown Sugar and brings a stop to her girls chasing his attentions. But when she and Malakai suddenly find themselves shackled into a fake relationship to salvage their respective reputations and save their academic futures, she is in danger of falling for the very wasteman she warned her sisters about.

With her heart compromised and defences weakened, Kiki has to learn to open herself up to the perils of love… and face up to a past that forced her to close down in the first place.

Love Me, Love Me Not by Kirsty Capes
Releases: July 7th, Orion Fiction

Lucy Banbury is fine. Until she isn’t…

Lucy Banbury isn’t the sort of person that everyone gets along with – she’s prickly and secretive, and she likes things ordered ‘just so’. But things couldn’t be going better for her – she swims three times a week, she’s on the cusp of a huge promotion at work and she’s dating someone perfect on paper.

But when she discovers at a family wedding that she’s adopted, her whole world is shattered. Those cracks she’s taken years to plaster over are beginning to surface and she’s not sure how much longer she can keep all her secrets hidden, all whilst pretending to be someone she’s not…

Because how can you pretend to love your life, when nobody loves you?

Blue Hour by Sarah Schmidt
Releases: July 7th, Tinder Press

She thinks of blue mountain, her favourite place. ‘We’re going somewhere where we can be safe.We never have to come back here.’

As the rest of the world lies sleeping, Eleanor straps her infant daughter, Amy, into the back of her car. This is the moment she knew must come, when they will walk out on her husband Leon and a marriage in ruins since his return from Vietnam. Together, she and Amy will journey to blue mountain, a place of enchantment and refuge that lit up Eleanor’s childhood.

As the car eats up the miles, so Eleanor’s mind dives back into her fractured relationship with her mother, Kitty. Kitty who asked for so much from life, from love, from family. Kitty who had battled so hard to prise her husband George out of the grip of war. Kitty, whose disapproving voice rings so loud in Eleanor’s head.

Square One by Nell Frizzell
Releases: July 7th, Bantam Press

EVERYONE IS MOVING ON… AND THEN, THERE’S HANNA

BY THIRTY, HANNA EXPECTED TO HAVE IT ALL (OR AT LEAST SOME OF IT)

A fulfilling and successful career
A healthy, long-term relationship, maybe even an engagement ring
A house (or at least a flat) of her own

BUT IN REALITY, SHE’S BACK AT SQUARE ONE…
Single after breaking up with someone she’s not sure ever loved her
Flooded with wedding invitations and pregnancy scan pictures from friends
Unable to afford to live on her own, moving in with her (also single and dating) father

Everyone moves at different paces, but Hanna’s life is in reverse. With the pressure to keep up and her dad’s insufferable musings on Tinder, will she be able to figure out what she really wants?

The Museum of Ordinary People by Mike Gayle
Releases: July 7th, Hodder & Stoughton

Still reeling from the sudden death of her mother, Jess is about to do the hardest thing she’s ever done: empty her childhood home so that it can be sold.

But when in the process Jess stumbles across the mysterious Alex, together they become custodians of a strange archive of letters, photographs, curios and collections known as The Museum of Ordinary People.

As they begin to delve into the history of the objects in their care, Alex and Jess not only unravel heartbreaking stories that span generations and continents, but also unearth long buried secrets that lie much closer to home.

I’m Sorry You Feel That Way by Rebecca Wait
Releases: July 7th, Quercus

For Alice and Hanna, saint and sinner, growing up is a trial. There is their mother, who takes a divide and conquer approach to child-rearing, and their father, who takes an absent one. There is their older brother Michael, whose disapproval is a force to be reckoned with. There is the catastrophe that is never spoken of, but which has shaped everything.

As adults, Alice and Hanna must deal with disappointments in work and in love as well as increasingly complicated family tensions, and lives that look dismayingly dissimilar to what they’d intended. They must look for a way to repair their own fractured relationship, and they must finally choose their own approach to their dominant mother: submit or burn the house down. And they must decide at last whether life is really anything more than (as Hanna would have it) a tragedy with a few hilarious moments.

Accomplished: A Georgie Darcy Novel by Amanda Quain
Releases: July 26th, Wednesday Books

Sixteen-year-old Georgiana Darcy returns to Pemberley Academy for her junior year, hoping to atone for last year’s incident with Wickham by rebuilding her reputation, rejoining the marching band, and setting up her older brother Fitz with his. college classmate Lizzie Bennet.



Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
Releases: July 5th, Knopf

This is not a romance, but it is about love

Two kids meet in a hospital gaming room in 1987. One is visiting her sister, the other is recovering from a car crash. The days and months are long there. Their love of video games becomes a shared world — of joy, escape and fierce competition. But all too soon that time is over, fades from view.

When the pair spot each other eight years later in a crowded train station, they are catapulted back to that moment. The spark is immediate, and together they get to work on what they love – making games to delight, challenge and immerse players, finding an intimacy in digital worlds that eludes them in their real lives. Their collaborations make them superstars.

This is the story of the perfect worlds Sadie and Sam build, the imperfect world they live in, and of everything that comes after success: Money. Fame. Duplicity. Tragedy.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow takes us on a dazzling imaginative quest as it examines the nature of identity, creativity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play and, above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love.

Finding Mr Perfectly Fine by Tasheem Abdur-Rashid
Releases: July 7th, Zaffre

Last week I turned 29. Along with the usual homemade Victoria sponge, helium balloon and Selfridges gift vouchers, my Mum’s birthday present to me was the threat that if I’m not engaged by my 30th birthday, she’s sending me off to the Motherland to find a fresh-from-the-Desh husband.

When Zara’s Mum puts together the most archaic of arranged marriage resources (not exactly the romcom-worthy love story she had envisioned for herself), she is soon exhausted by her family’s failed attempts to set her up with every vaguely suitable Abdul, Ahmed and Farook that they can find. Zara decides to take matters into her own hands. How hard can it be to find a husband at twenty-nine?

With just a year to go, time is of the essence, so Zara joins a dating app and signs up for speed dating. She meets Hamza, a kind British Egyptian who shares her values and would make a good husband. Zara knows that not all marriages are based on love (or lust) at first sight but struggles with the lack of spark. Particularly when she can’t stop thinking of someone else . . .

As her next birthday looms, and family pressure intensifies, Zara knows she must make a decision, but will she make the right one?

The It Girl by Ruth Ware
Releases: July 12th, Gallery/Scout Press

April Coutts-Cliveden was the first person Hannah Jones met at Oxford.

Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends—Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily—during their first term. By the end of the second, April was dead.

Now, a decade later, Hannah and Will are expecting their first child, and the man convicted of killing April, former Oxford porter John Neville, has died in prison. Relieved to have finally put the past behind her, Hannah’s world is rocked when a young journalist comes knocking and presents new evidence that Neville may have been innocent. As Hannah reconnects with old friends and delves deeper into the mystery of April’s death, she realizes that the friends she thought she knew all have something to hide…including a murder.

The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell
Releases: July 21st, Century / August 9th, Atria

LONDON. Early morning, June 2019: on the foreshore of the river Thames, a bag of bones is discovered. Human bones.

DCI Samuel Owusu is called to the scene and quickly sends the bag for forensic examination. The bones are those of a young woman, killed by a blow to the head many years ago.

Also inside the bag is a trail of clues, in particular the seeds of a rare tree which lead DCI Owusu back to a mansion in Chelsea where, nearly thirty years previously, three people lay dead in a kitchen, and a baby waited upstairs for someone to pick her up.

The clues point forward too to a brother and sister in Chicago searching for the only person who can make sense of their pasts.

Four deaths. An unsolved mystery. A family whose secrets can’t stay buried for ever …

Joan by Katherine J. Chen
Releases: July 5th, Hachette

Girl. Warrior. Heretic. Saint?

France is mired in a losing war against England. Its people are starving. Its king is in hiding. Yet out of the chaos, an unlikely heroine emerges.

Reckless, steel-willed and brilliant, Joan has survived a childhood steeped in both joy and violence to claim an extraordinary – and fragile – position at the head of the French army. The battlefield and the royal court are full of dangers and Joan finds herself under suspicion from all sides – as well as under threat from her own ambition.

With unforgettably vivid characters and propulsive storytelling, Joan is a thrilling epic, a triumph of historical fiction, and a feminist celebration of one remarkable – and remarkably real – woman who left an indelible mark on history.

Four Treasures Of The Sky by Jenny Zinghui Zhang
Releases: July 28th, Michael Joseph

Daiyu never wanted to be like the tragic heroine for whom she was named, revered for her beauty and cursed with heartbreak. But when she is kidnapped and smuggled across an ocean from China to America, Daiyu must relinquish the home and future she imagined for herself.

Over the years that follow, she is forced to keep reinventing herself to survive. From a calligraphy school, to a San Francisco brothel, to a shop tucked into the Idaho mountains, we follow Daiyu on a desperate quest to outrun the tragedy that chases her.

As anti-Chinese sentiment sweeps across the country in a wave of unimaginable violence, Daiyu must draw on each of the selves she has been-including the ones she most wants to leave behind-in order to finally claim her own name and story.

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Releases: July 19th, Del Rey

Carlota Moreau: a young woman, growing up in a distant and luxuriant estate, safe from the conflict and strife of the Yucatán peninsula. The only daughter of either a genius, or a madman.

Montgomery Laughton: a melancholic overseer with a tragic past and a propensity for alcohol. An outcast who assists Dr. Moreau with his scientific experiments, which are financed by the Lizaldes, owners of magnificent haciendas and plentiful coffers.

The hybrids: the fruits of the Doctor’s labor, destined to blindly obey their creator and remain in the shadows. A motley group of part human, part animal monstrosities.

All of them living in a perfectly balanced and static world, which is jolted by the abrupt arrival of Eduardo Lizalde, the charming and careless son of Doctor Moreau’s patron, who will unwittingly begin a dangerous chain reaction.

For Moreau keeps secrets, Carlota has questions, and in the sweltering heat of the jungle, passions may ignite.

The House of Fortune by Jessie Burton
Releases: July 7th, Picador

Sequel To The Miniaturist

Thea Brandt is turning eighteen, and is ready to welcome adulthood with open arms. At the theatre, Walter, the love of her life, awaits her, but at home in the house on the Herengracht, winter has set in – her father Otto and Aunt Nella argue endlessly, and the Brandt family are selling their furniture in order to eat. On Thea’s birthday, also the day that her mother Marin died, the secrets from the past begin to overwhelm the present.

Nella is desperate to save the family and maintain appearances, to find Thea a husband who will guarantee her future, and when they receive an invitation to Amsterdam’s most exclusive ball, she is overjoyed – perhaps this will set their fortunes straight. And indeed, the ball does set things spinning: new figures enter their life, promising new futures. But their fates are still unclear, and when Nella feels a strange prickling sensation on the back of her neck, she wonders if the miniaturist has returned for her . . . 

A Darkness At the Door by Intisar Khanani
Releases: July 21st, Hot Key Books

Book 3 in Dauntless Path series

I’ve been cursed, betrayed, and sold into slavery – but the truth I carry can’t be allowed to die.

Only Rae knows the extent of the corruption at the heart of the kingdom of Menaiya, from the noble lord who betrayed her, to the Circle of Mages whose wards protect the slavers from discovery. Injured and imprisoned on a slave ship, Rae’s options are quickly running out. When a desperate escape attempt goes terribly wrong, she finds herself indebted to a terrifying Fae sorceress.

Now Rae will not rest until she has rescued her fellow prisoners and freed her land from the darkness that has taken hold. To succeed, she’ll need every ally she can find-including Bren, the thief who may have stolen her heart. But Bren is hiding his own bloody secrets, and the curses that encircle Rae have sunk their claws into her mind. With her debts coming due and time running short, all the truths in the world may not be enough to save her kingdom, or herself.

Hooked by A.C. Wise
Releases: July 12th, Titan Books

Once invited, always welcome.
Once invited, never free.


Captain James Hook, the immortal pirate of Neverland, has died a thousand times. Drowned, stabbed by Peter Pan’s sword, eaten by the beast swimming below the depths, yet James was resurrected every time by one boy’s dark imagination. Until he found a door in the sky, an escape. And he took the chance no matter the cost.

Now in London twenty-two years later, Peter Pan’s monster has found Captain Hook again, intent on revenge. But a chance encounter leads James to another survivor of Neverland. Wendy Darling, now a grown woman, is the only one who knows how dark a shadow Neverland casts, no matter how far you run. To vanquish Pan’s monster once and for all, Hook must play the villain one last time…

Lore Olympus: Volune Two by Rachel Smythe
Releases: July 5th, Del Rey Books

Persephone was ready to start a new life when she left the mortal realm for Olympus. However, she quickly discovered the dark side of her glamorous new home—from the relatively minor gossip threatening her reputation to a realm-shattering violation of her safety by the conceited Apollo—and she’s struggling to find her footing in the fast-moving realm of the gods.

Hades is also off-balance, fighting against his burgeoning feelings for the young goddess of spring while maintaining his lonely rule of the Underworld. As the pair are drawn ever closer, they must untangle the twisted webs of their past and present to build toward a new future.

The Darkening by Sunya Mara
Releases: July 5th, Clarion Books

Vesper Vale is the daughter of revolutionaries. Failed revolutionaries. When her mother was caught by the queen’s soldiers, they gave her a choice: death by the hangman’s axe, or death by the Storm that surrounds the city and curses anyone it touches. She chose the Storm. And when the queen’s soldiers—led by a paranoid prince—catch up to Vesper’s father after twelve years on the run, Vesper will do whatever it takes to save him from sharing that fate.

Even arm herself with her father’s book of dangerous experimental magic.

Even infiltrate the prince’s elite squad of soldier-sorcerers.

Even cheat her way into his cold heart.

But when Vesper learns that there’s more to the story of her mother’s death, she’ll have to make a choice if she wants to save her city: trust the devious prince with her family’s secrets, or follow her mother’s footsteps into the Storm.

Heat Wave by T.J. Klune
Releases: July 19th, Tor

Final book in the Extroadinaries series

Nick, Seth, Gibby, and Jazz are back in action bringing justice, protection, and disaster energy to the people of Nova City.

An unexpected hero returns to Nova City and crash lands into Nick’s home, upturning his life, his family, and his understanding of what it means to be a hero in the explosive finale of the thrilling and hilarious Extraordinaries trilogy by New York Times bestselling author TJ Klune.

These Twisted Bonds by Lexi Ryan
Releases: July 19th, Clarion Books

Final book in These Hollow Vows Duology

Brie finds herself caught between two princes and two destinies while the future of the fae realm hangs in the balance.

After Abriella’s sister was sold to the fae, she thought life couldn’t get any worse. But when she suddenly finds herself caught in a web of lies of her own making ­- loving two princes and trusting neither – things are not quite as clear as she once thought.

As civil war wages in the Court of Darkness, Brie finds herself unable to choose a side. How can she know where she stands when she doesn’t even know herself anymore? In this darkly romantic thrill ride, the more Faerie is torn apart from the inside, the clearer it becomes that prophecies don’t lie and Brie has a role to play in the fate of this magical realm – whether she likes it or not.

Violet Made of Thorns by Gina Chen
Releases: July 26th, Delacorte Press

There’s always a price for defying destiny.

Violet is a prophet and a liar, influencing the court as Seer with her cleverly phrased – and not always true – divinations. Honesty is for suckers, like the oh-so-not-charming Prince Cyrus, who plans to strip her of her title once he’s crowned.

After the king asks her to falsely prophesy Cyrus’s love story for an upcoming ball, Violet awakens a dreaded curse about the prince’s future bride. Her wits may protect her in the cutthroat court, but they can’t protect her against fate – nor the doomed attraction growing between her and the prince . . .

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

Book Review

Book Review | Ghosts by Dolly Alderton …whip smart, funny, and painfully relatable

June 24th, 2022

Hi Readers!

I’d heard of Dolly Alderton before but only recently became interested in her books when I listened to her episode of the Podcast You’re Booked. I loved her personality and when I saw this book on the shelf in the library I thought I would give it a try, and I’m so glad I did, because the book turned out to be just as funny as it’s author.

| Published: October 2020, Penguin |
| Genre: Contemporary |
| Themes: Dating, Ghosting, Dementia, Friendship |
| Age: Adult |
| Length: 338 Pages |
| My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ |

Nina Dean has arrived at her early thirties as a successful food writer with loving friends and family, plus a new home and neighbourhood. When she meets Max, a beguiling romantic hero who tells her on date one that he’s going to marry her, it feels like all is going to plan.

A new relationship couldn’t have come at a better time – her thirties have not been the liberating, uncomplicated experience she was sold. Everywhere she turns, she is reminded of time passing and opportunities dwindling. Friendships are fading, ex-boyfriends are moving on and, worse, everyone’s moving to the suburbs. There’s no solace to be found in her family, with a mum who’s caught in a baffling mid-life makeover and a beloved dad who is vanishing in slow-motion into dementia.

From the first chapter, I knew I was in for a fun journey with this book. It starts so strong, with the main character Nina’s voice and tone so distinct and whitty, and that style remains throughout the book. Alderton’s painfully funny observations of her characters were so harsh, but relatable, and felt to me Austen like.

“Time and time again I observed that most men think a good conversation is a conversation where they have imparted facts or information that others didn’t already know, or dispensed an interesting anecdote, or given someone tips or advice on an upcoming plan or generally left their mark on the discourse like a streak of piss against a tree trunk.”

Every single character in this book was so flawlessly drawn. Alderton is so skilled at capturing the modern experience. Everything made me feel like I was there experiencing these moments with these characters. It’s so full of life and memorable moments.

I really hate to compare every book about a single woman in her 30’s on the dating scene to Bridget Jones. But if that’s what will get people reading it, then fine, this book is Bridget Jones’s for the modern era.

“It’s easier, being heartbroken in your 30’s, because no matter how painful it is, you know it will pass. I don’t believe one other human has the power to ruin my life anymore.’

But the book also goes into topics I wasn’t expecting, and one in particular hit quite close to home. Whilst it’s an unnamed illness, Nina’s father is suffering from a fading memory. These parts really moved me, especially the quote below, which I found very relatable. But it was a secondary plot and I do wish this had been explored a bit further.

“I had read over and over again when researching Dad’s condition that what loved ones of sufferers experience is a sense of living grief.”

The plot does get a little repetitive, and I will say this didn’t give me the best outlook on life. In fact, despite it’s humour and relatively positive ending, this book made me feel a bit down about dating and marriage and parenting and I kind of left it thinking ‘why would anyone want to do that?’

This is a dating book that’s about more than just dating. It’s about a woman being in her 30’s, friendships, nightmare neighbours, milestones (and feeling like you’re behind them), it’s about the relationship between a mother and daughter, and a father and daughter. In the end I think perhaps there was a bit too much, as nothing (except the romance) really felt resolved or completed. I would quite honestly devour a sequel.

But I loved reading about this group of unconventional friends living their best life in London, whilst also going through the perils of being in their 30’s and single. I really hope I don’t suddenly get the urge to date when I’m 30, because that does not seem fun.

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

book blog · Book Review

Book Review | Lapvona by Ottessa Moshfegh …disturbingly brilliant

June 22nd, 2022

Hi Readers!

Moshfegh has become a popular author in our community and Lapvona is the latest of her limit pushing novels. It’s also the first of hers I have picked up, which I’ve been meaning to do for quite a while.

| Published: June 2022, Vintage |
| Genre: Historical Fiction |
| Themes: Horror |
| Age: Adult |
| Length: 313 Pages |
| Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ |

Little Marek, the abused and delusional son of the village shepherd, never knew his mother; his father told him she died in childbirth. One of life’s few consolations for Marek is his enduring bond with the blind village midwife, Ina, who suckled him as a baby, as she did so many of the village’s children. Ina’s gifts extend beyond childcare: she possesses a unique ability to communicate with the natural world. Her gift often brings her the transmission of sacred knowledge on levels far beyond those available to other villagers, however religious they might be. For some people, Ina’s home in the woods outside of the village is a place to fear and to avoid, a godless place.

Among their number is Father Barnabas, the town priest and lackey for the depraved lord and governor, Villiam, whose hilltop manor contains a secret embarrassment of riches. The people’s desperate need to believe that there are powers that be who have their best interests at heart is put to a cruel test by Villiam and the priest, especially in this year of record drought and famine. But when fate brings Marek into violent proximity to the lord’s family, new and occult forces upset the old order. By year’s end, the veil between blindness and sight, life and death, the natural world and the spirit world, civility and savagery, will prove to be very thin indeed. 

Lapvona is a medieval village with a vague setting of Eastern Europe. It’s cast of characters fall under the stereotypes we all know. The abusive farmer, the abused son, the greedy and disgustingly wealthy lord, the witchy old women. They all felt familiar, but Moshfegh’s unforgiving depiction of them brought their true colours to light.

Every character in some way was corrupt, manipulative, and disturbing. They were all the makers of their own destruction and you just wait with baited breathe to see what terrible thing they’re going to do next.

The medieval village where the characters all reside is so well described, it gives you a sense of being in that time period. I’m so used to seeing romanticised, squeaky clean versions of this type of setting in fantasy when in actual fact, this was the reality.

This book feels dirty. It’s grotesque, it’s unsettling, off-putting, and leaves you feeling that way long after you’ve put it down. There are some scenes I would rather forget (I will never look at a grape the same way again), but I admire how Moshfegh didn’t hold back just to please the mainstream. With this book she reveals the inner workings of a cruel and corrupt society, where there’s a power imbalance and a warped sense of belief.

The pacing is incredible with small but significant revelations placed throughout to keep it a page-turner. Even if you’re scared of what’s going to be on the next page. I’ve never read a book quite like this, and that may be because this was my first Moshfegh book. But I will definitely be picking up her previous novels soon.

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

book blog · Book Tag

Encanto Book Tag

June 20th, 2022

Hi Readers!

Thanks so much to Siren for tagging me in this book tag! You can check out their post here. And it was originally created by Passport To Eden.

The Family Madrigal

Name a book that explores multiple family generations

I’m sure you all know what this is about. It almost reads as a collection of short stories but because each chapter is connected it just flows much better.

Waiting On A Miracle

What Is A Book You Enjoyed But Took Longer Than Expected To Finish

The Lost Daughter, but not in a bad way. This book is tiny, just coming to over 100 pages. I am a slow reader but I thought it would take me three, maybe four hours to read 100 pages. This book took me two days, and not because I wasn’t interested or because it dragged, I just wanted to take this as slow as possible.

I found myself rereading whole sections, stopping to grab for a pencil to underline something, or it just said something that I wanted to think about for a while. I found this was a book best consumed at a slower pace rather than trying to rush through it in one sitting.

Surface Pressure

Name A Character Who Has To Do It All

This kid has so much weight on his young shoulders, but he handles it well.

We Don’t Talk About Bruno

Talk About A Book You Don’t Talk About

I read the Legend trilogy years ago, before I had this blog, and really enjoyed it. But I don’t want to talk about the ending…

What Else Can I Do?

Name A Book You Thought Would Be Light and Fluffy But Hit Emotionally

This book was sold to me as the new Bridget Jones, and I do agree to that to an extent and even say that myself when pitching it to someone. But it’s a lot more hard-hitting and impactful than Bridget Jones.

Dos Oruguitas

Characters Who Make You Believe In Soulmates

My heart still hurts for Daisy and Billy.

All Of You

Name A Book That Features Rebuilding Relationships

Second Chance Summer really is all about second chances. With parents, friends, and old flames.

Columbia, Mi Encanta

Name A Book That Left You Immersed In Culture

I had a few issues with Pachinko but one this is did flawlessly was make the setting feel so real. I was so immersed in the streets, the smells, the sounds of Korea and Japan.

I Tag:

Michaela – Journey Into Books
Margaret – Books Please
Danni – For Books Sake

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

book blog

Book Review | This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

June 11th, 2022

Hi Readers!

I have strange feelings about Fitzgerald’s debut novel. I kind of love it, I kind of hate it. But I think it must be agreed, this is not his best work.

| Published: March 1920 |
| Genre: Classic |
| Themes: Coming-Of-Age, WWI, Academia |
| Length: 275 Pages |
| Age: Adult |
| My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ |

This Side of Paradise, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s romantic and witty first novel, was written when the author was only twenty-three years old. This semi-autobiographical story of the handsome, indulged, and idealistic Princeton student Amory Blaine received critical raves and catapulted Fitzgerald to instant fame.

Now, readers can enjoy the newly edited, authorized version of this early classic of the Jazz Age, based on Fitzgerald’s original manuscript. In this definitive text, This Side of Paradise captures the rhythms and romance of Fitzgerald’s youth and offers a poignant portrait of the “Lost Generation.” 

Fitzgerald’s unique style is just as strong in his debut novel as it is in his later works. He has a knack for the writing the most inlikeable, pretentious, entitled characters, yet still make you want to read on.

“I don’t want to repeat my innocence. I want the pleasure of losing it again.”

He wrote his debut as largely biographical and if you just read his Wikipedia page before this book, you will see how close to fact this fiction is. There are so many similarities between Amory and Fitzgerald lives that it’s hard to differentiate the two (and does make me think I would not have liked Fitzgerald in the slightest).

“I’m a slave to my emotions, to my likes, to my hatred of boredom, to most of my desires.”

It’s slightly messy, some plot points and relationships don’t feel complete, and it lacks a flow, it feels quite blocky and cut up as it’s written as mostly short passages or Amory’s life.

But it’s funny, entertaining, and interesting to see that this is where he started. It saw him as an immediate success and after This Side of Paradise was published, he married Zelda, and they lived a life of celebrity.

I would recommend this to fans of Fitzgerald, and anyone who’s interested in his life and works. But not for anyone who’s actually looking for a good read. 

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

book blog · Bookish News

June Bookish News | Women’s Prize For Fiction, Persuasion Trailer + More

June 15th, 2022

Hi Readers!

This is coming a bit early this month, but that’s because the Women’s Prize winner was announced yesterday and I’m too excited to share my opinion! There’s also been a lot of exciting developments in adaptations the past few weeks.

Here are my picks for the most exciting releases coming out in June.

Paperback Releases:

Untitled design

Season 3 of Umbrella Academy Netflix

Comes Out June 22nd
Based on the graphic novels by Gerard Way.
Starring Elliot Page, Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, & Aidan Gallagher

Love & Gelato Netflix

Releases June 22nd
Based on the novel by Jenna Evans-Welch
Starring Susanna Skaggs, Tobia De Angelis, and Owen McDonnell

The Summer I Turned Pretty Amazon Prime Video

Releases June 17th
Based On The Novel by Jenny Han
Starring Lola Tung, Christopher Briney, and Gavin Casalegno

Everything I Know About Love BBC

On the BBC IPlayer now.
Based on the memoir by Dolly Alderton
Starring Emma Appleton and Bel Powley

We Have A Trailer For Persuasion!

On my first watch of this, my initial reaction was, what is this?

Now I’ve given it some time to process, and I think I could enjoy this movie, if I forget it’s Jane Austen. This isn’t a faithful adaptation, Anne is so out of character, and I’m pretty sure the word ‘exes’ hadn’t been coined yet… But for some reason Hollywood has decided that Austen is boring and they need to spice it up a bit. We’ll see how that turns out…

We got a teaser trailer for the new Hunger Games based on Suzanne Collin’s prequel Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

I don’t know anyone who wants this, but it’s happening. It’s been given a release date of November 2023, but no news on cast yet.

Season Two Of Shadow & Bone finished filming!

Rick Riordan gave us some Percy Jackson casting news as filming got underway.

Red, White & Royal Blue got it’s main leads. Taylor Zakhar Perez is Alex Claremont-Diaz Nicholas Galitzine is Henry Fox-Mountchristen-Windsor.

I’ve seen a lot of people not happy with this casting, and whilst I haven’t read the I do agree. They look too old for the role and I’m tired of straight actors being cast into gay roles.

We got our first teaser poster for The School For Good & Evil

A film adapted from the novel by Soman Chainani and starring High School Musicals (tmts) Sofia Wylie, Shadow & Bone’s Kit Young, and Charlize Theron.

We also got a poster upcoming adapation for Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, which is releasing in August.

The Women’s Prize For Fiction 2022 Goes To…

The Book Of Form And Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki!
Not my number one choice (The Island of Missing Trees). Or my number two choice (Sorrow and Bliss). But I guess it’s my number three choice by default as I wasn’t able to read the other three on the shortlist.

I had a rocky time reading this book, but my full thoughts are in my review here.

Costa announced it would no longer be hosting the Costa Book Awards.

This award, which ran for 50 years, has been a huge boost for the nominated and winning books. So far Costa hasn’t given an explanantion as to why and there hasn’t been any news as to whether is could be sponsered by anybody else, but hopefully they can as losing this will be a big blow to the industry.

Imogen Hermes Gower is ready to be published again.

It’s been four years since her super hyped debut The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock was released and Gower found the experience ‘discombobulating’. But she’s possibly ready to dip her toes in again, and I for one will be here when she’s ready.

Matthew Perry Has Finished Writing His Autobiography

I’m not usually a fan of celebrity books, but I am quite excited for this one.

We Had A Beautiful Cover Reveal For Sarah Underwood’s Lies We Sing To The Sea

This is a beautiful book and I am all here for a sapphic Odyssey retelling!

What do you guys think of this years Women’s Prize winner? And are you excited, or devastated about the new adaptation of Persuasion?

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

book blog · Book Review

Book Review | Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim …a fun, fairytale fantasy

June 15th, 2022

Hi Readers!

I really struggled to determine how I felt about this book. I originally gave it four stars just because I couldn’t really think of anything I didn’t like about it, but then I found finding what I did like about it just as hard. I gave it a little time, and I think I understand what about this book made me have such neutral feelings.

| Published: July 2022, Knopf |
| Genre: Fantasy |
| Age: Adult |
| Themes: Magic, Curses, Fairytale Retelling |
| Length: 464 Pages |
| Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ |

Shiori’anma, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs in her veins. And on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted, but it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.

A sorceress in her own right, Raikama banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes, and warning Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.

Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and uncovers a dark conspiracy to seize the throne. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in a paper bird, a mercurial dragon, and the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to contain – no matter what it costs

The story is inspired by another story and you can feel that in the writing. There’s a whimsical, fairy tale like nature to the structure that really is beautiful to read. It’s also simply told, not too embellished or overwritten, which makes it for a nice casual read.

“Food feeds the belly, thought feeds the mind, but love it what feeds the heart.”

Shiori was a character I loved one minute, and found infuriating the next. I think it’s partly down to the pacing and the nature of the plot, but I just found her so inactive. Her job is to save her brothers and I felt like she was just standing still for so much of the book.

“Pain doesn’t get easier. You just get stronger.”

But I didn’t find her a weak character, I just think the author focused too much on the romance and not enough on the curse Shiori and her brothers were under. I had no idea going into this it would have romance, and I did like it, I thought the love interest was sweet (and maybe a little boring). I did also find it a bit tropey, but I actually don’t mind that in YA fantasy.

And this is a good YA fantasy. Like I said earlier, it’s easy to read, it’s fun, and it has some good entertaining twists. But the whole time I was looking for more depth. I wanted more world building, I wanted the magic in this world to be explored more. Instead, I felt like not a lot was explained and the whole book lacked description. That might be something you like in fantasy, but I’m a LotR kind of girl myself.

By the end of the book, I was left feeling this whole thing could have been avoided if the characters just talked to each other! And I’m sure, if you’ve been there before yourself, you know how frustrating that is. But I did have fun reading this anyway, and I have the sequel approved on NetGalley that I may as well give a try.

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

book blog · Bookish News

Ten Bookish / Literary Podcasts You Should Be Listening To

June 13th, 2022

Hi Readers!

I don’t know about you, but I can’t get enough of bookish content. I consume it everywhere I can, but it’s only recently I’ve discovered the bookish side to podcasting.

Podcasts have been around for a while now, but I’ve always been a bit ‘oh those aren’t for me’ about them, because I really never had the right opportunity for listening to podcasts. I don’t have a long commute and if I do listen to something through my earphones, it’s normally music.

But I’ve recently been going back and editing my entire blog, and I’ve also started knitting, and for both these things I want to listen to something and I was getting a bit sick of listening to the same playlist over and over. Eventually I thought I would give podcasts a try and I found some pretty amazing ones, and I wanted to share them with you…

You’re Booked

This is hosted by Daisy Buchanan, author of The Sisterhood and Insatiable. It’s a literary podcast which is writer focused. She visits their homes and has a nosy through their bookshelves, and learns about their reading history and how they made a career out of writing.

This podcast is perfect if you want to know more about the author behind your favourite books. She has some incredible guests including David Nicholls (author of One Day), Dolly Alderton (author of Ghosts) and, my personal favourite, Elif Shafak (author of The Island of Missing Trees).

There are over 100 episodes so far, and each and every one has been interesting, engaging, and funny. It’s also added many, many more books onto my TBR. Not just books they’ve talked about, but books that were written by some of the guests, because I enjoyed their discussion so much and I want to hear more from them.

Waterstones

This podcast is more focused on moments during the writing process. It talks to authors, discussing subjects such as ‘beginnings‘ and ‘success‘. They also have authors on to discuss their books and writing process, like Dolly Alderton and her book Ghosts.

I will say with this one there sometimes isn’t much discussion about writing or books, but it depends on the topic. They also have these external audio clips come in from Waterstones Events that have nothing to do with the topic (and does cause you to adjust the volume on your earphones). But the hosts are funny and it definitely has some interesting things to say.

On The Road With Penguin Classics

This is a podcast dedicated to classics. It was created by author Henry Eliot in collab with Penguin, and you can definitely tell it has a bit more of a budget than the others as it has music, is very well edited and is recorded around different literary locations. It’s still pretty new, but so far he’s discussed popular classics such as Mrs Dalloway and Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, but also lesser known ones like George Eliot’s The Mill On The Floss, Lady Margaret Cavendish’s The Blazing World.

I really enjoy podcasts that dive deep into specific books, but of course I can really only listen to the episodes of the books I have read, otherwise I won’t really know what they’re talking about.

Literary Disco

This one is hosted by three old friends who have literary debates about any topic under the sun (book related). They have a funny dynamic that only people who have known eachother a long time can have.

I don’t always agree with what they say. They have big personalities and don’t hold back on their opinions. But it’s fun to listen to their discussions.

Backlisted

This podcasts aim is to discuss the ‘backlist books’ of authors. The lesser known, lesser read books that may have escaped readers attention in favour of the authors most famous work.

They discuss books from authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Oscar Wilde and Daphne Du Maurier. But many of the books they’ve discussed I have never heard of, which I like. They don’t just talk about books that have been discussed a hundred times. They literally give new life to old books.

Black Chick Lit

This podcast is hosted by two friends. They do a combination of book chats for specific books, and also discussions about anything bookish. They’re funny and they don’t mince their words, but they also have a lot of insightful things to say about black literature, and the problems they find in diverse representation.

This podcast is fun and entertaining, but leaves you also with new views and understandings you might never have considered before.

So Many Damn Books

Hosted by Christopher and Drew, and comes with over 160 episodes ready for you to listen to. They have discussions about all kinds of bookish topics, including some specific book discussions, and some more general talks, and a pretty catchy theme tune.

I like that a lot of their episodes are shorter than other podcasts out there, with many of their episodes around the 30 minute mark. They also have this ability to make you want to read everything they talk about, which is a bit detromental to my TBR…

Literary Friction

If you’re a fan of adult literary fiction, this podcast has some guests which will get you pretty excited. They have authors such as Sally Rooney, Dolly Alderton, Daisy Johnson, Otessa Moshfegh and Sarah Perry discussing bookish topics connected to their newest releases.

What I like is that, whilst they’re normally on the podcast to promote their book, they don’t really talk about it much, so you don’t need to have read it to listen to the episode. But you do learn why they wrote and how they came to write the themes that they did.

All The Books!

Hosted by Book Riot. They discuss new releases and backlist books, narrowing them down and giving specific book recommendations based on what their listeners are interested in reading.

Books and Boba

This is a podcast dedicated to Asian and Asian American writers. They discuss the books, have authors as guests to discuss their works, and does a monthly episode where they go through the exciting book news of upcoming Asian and Asian American books to look forward to.

Have you listened to any book podcasts recently?

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X