Book Review | Kate In Waiting by Becky Albertalli

April 22nd, 2021

| Published: 22nd April 2021 |
| Publisher: Penguin |
| Genre: Contemporary |
| Age: YA |
| Length: 400 Pages |
| Themes: Coming of Age, Romance, LGBT+ |
| Source: Paperback (review copy in exchange for an honest review) |
| My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ |

Hi Readers!

I haven’t done one of these in a while so I might be a bit rusty, but Penguin kindly sent me Kate In Waiting and it’s definitely this book that got me excited about returning to blogging after having a little break. Here are my thoughts…

What Is It About?

Contrary to popular belief, best friends Kate Garfield and Anderson Walker are not codependent. Carpooling to and from theater rehearsals? Environmentally sound and efficient. Consulting each other on every single life decision? Basic good judgment. Pining for the same guys from afar? Shared crushes are more fun anyway.

But when Kate and Andy’s latest long-distance crush shows up at their school, everything goes off script. Matt Olsson is talented and sweet, and Kate likes him. She really likes him. The only problem? So does Anderson.

Turns out, communal crushes aren’t so fun when real feelings are involved. This one might even bring the curtains down on Kate and Anderson’s friendship.

What Did I Think?

Becky Albetalli has made a cracker of a YA novel once again. She knows how to speak to teenagers and writes for all the misfits, band geeks, drama nerds and, of course, the bookworms. I went into this expecting romance, but I also got friendship, family, personal growth, and theatre!

It kind of felt like High School Musical but Troy is the new kid and both Gabriella and Ryan have a crush on him. Kate and Anderson love theatre and are both hoping to get roles in the school production. But their friendship is put into question when their shared crush on the new kid develops into more for both of them.

I wasn’t completely sold on Kate and Anderson’s friendship. I know Becky can write such strong friendship groups but in this book that and many other things felt underdeveloped. Every scene and chapter was short and sharp which made for a quick read, but left pretty much everything feeling rushed to me.

I also found it very predictable which is quite common for YA contemporary, but for some reason it annoyed me in this one. I would say about 10% through I’d guessed the outcome and I can’t say the journey made it worth it. I actually found this to be a little boring.

This wasn’t my favourite Albertalli book but it’s definitely worth a read, especially if you’re looking for something you can read in literally a day (which is what I did).

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

I’m Back!

April 21st, 2021

Hi Readers!

Oh, how I’ve missed you! It’s been a month since I decided I needed to take a little break from blogging and a lot has happened since then! Not very much reading because life has been quite distracting, but I will update you on the books I was able to get to…

Firstly, I finished my reread of the Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare. It’s been a few years since I first read this series, but I still got so emotionally invested in the characters and it turned out to be a great escape from a rather hectic time.

I also read a series that my Nan recommended me, A Pinch of Magic by Michelle Harrison. I’ve seen it dotted around blogs and booktube but it had never appealed to me until my Nan said she really enjoyed them. I’m so glad she did because I loved them as well! Again, a great distraction from life.

I didn’t just escape into fantasy though, I also dived into some really old favourites for a bit of comforting familiarity. For the first time in probably twelve years, I read the Tracy Beaker series by Jacqueline Wilson. This was a real treat of nostalgia. I’d forgotten how much this spunky character had influenced me as a kid!

But it was mostly TV I turned to. I had my Wisdom Teeth removed (which was such bad timing beause so much else was going on but I’m glad that’s finally done and over with) and all I really wanted to do for a few days was hide in my bed and marathon some TV Shows. I watched last years Great British Menu (BBC IPlayer) and the chefs were challenged to make banquet worthy dishes based on Children’s Literature! I thoroughly enjoyed this and highly recommend.

I’m so glad this past month is finally behind me and am so ready to move forward and get back into blogging! I have some exciting reading plans for May and I’m currently making my way through the Grishaverse by Leigh Bardugo which I’m hoping I’ll have finished before Friday for obvious reasons…

What have you been up to these past few weeks? I hope life has been kind to you.

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

New Book Releases | April 2021

March 23rd, 2021

Hi Readers!

Some of the April releases you should definitely check out! There are some fantastic books to look forward to with queer characters, hate to love romances and twisted retellings.

YA Contemporary

Anna K. Away by Jenny Lee Flatiron Books
Releases: April 27th
About: Sequel to Anna K, a retelling of Anna Karenina

She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen Roaring Book Press
Releases: April 20th
About: Sapphic hate to love with basketball.

Kate In Waiting by Becky Albertalli Penguin
Releases: April 22nd
About: Best friends fall for the same guy

Zara Hossain Is Here by Sabrina Khan Scholastic Press
Releases: April 6th
About: Pakistani immigrant’s future is at risk after something happens that puts her visa status at stake.

Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve Amulet Books
Releases: April 13th
About: Gender questioning teen gets ast as Romeo in the school play.

Kisses and Croissants by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau Delacorte Press
Releases: April 6th
About: American girl goes to a French ballet school and gets a tour of Paris from a charming French boy.

Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet by Laekan Zea Kemp Little, Brown
Releases: April 6th
About: Penelope Prado dreams of opening a pastry restaurant, but her parents have other plans for her.

Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses by Kristen O’Neal Quirk Books
Releases: April 27th
About: Premed student gets diagnosed with Lyme’s disease in her sophomore year.

Adult Contemporary

The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent Viking
Releases: April 15th
About: Birdy Finch runs away and takes a Summer job that isn’t hers.

The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman by Julietta Henderson
Releases: April 1st
About: Twelve-year-old loses best friend

Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne William Morrow
Releases: April 13th
About: Ruthie Midona is dedicated to her work and has forgotten there’s a life outside of it.

The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary Quercus
Releases: April 29th
About: Sisters road trip to a wedding goes awry when it’s highjacked by Addie’s ex and his best friend.

Mystery/Thriller

You Love Me by Caroline Kepnes Random House
Releases: April 6th
About: Book Three In The ‘You’ Series

When The Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain Ballentine Books
Releases: April 13th
About: A detective hiding away from the world. A series of disappearances that reach into her past. Can solving them help her heal?

Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone Scribner
Releases: April 20th
About: El, who created the imaginary world of ‘mirrorland’ with her twin sister Cat, goes missing.

The Dinner Guest by B.P. Walter One More Chapter
Releases: April 1st
About: Four dinner guests enter a dining room, and one never comes out.

Sci/Fi & Fantasy

The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout Blue Box Press
Releases: April 20th
About: Book Three in Blood and Ash

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint Wildfire
Releases: April 29th
About: Greek myth retelling of Theseus and Minotaur

First, Become Ashes by K.M. Szpara Tor
Releases: April 6th
About: Man spends his life training to fight monsters who turn out not to be real.

The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman Simon Pulse
Releases: April 6th
About: 18 year old Nami’s life is just beginning when she is killed and finds herself where human conciousness goes when disconnected from it’s body.

Malie by Heather Walter Del Rey
Releases: April 13th
About: A twist on the tale of Sleeping Beauty.

The Beautiful Ones by Silia-Oreno Garia Tor
Releases: April 27th
About: Socialites meets magic.

Non-Fiction

The Light of Days by Judy Batalion William Marrow
Releases: April 6th
About: The Untold Stories of Women Resistance Fights In Hitler’s Ghettos

Broken by Jenny Lawson Henry Holt and Co
Releases: April 6th
About: Mental health & humour

Why She Wrote by Lauren Burke, Hannah K. Chapman & Kaley Bales
Releases: April 20th Chronicle Books
About: A Graphic History of the Lives, Inspiration, and Influence Behind the Pens of Classic Women Writers

Jane Austen’s Best Friend by Zoe Wheddon
Releases: April 28th Pen & Sword History
About: The Life and Influence of Martha Floyd

I hope you enjoy these April releases!

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

Mini Hiatus

Hi Readers,

I feel so weird writing this. I’ve posted on this blog for 6 years now and I’ve never taken more than a week off, and that’s normally around Christmas time after a month of doing blogmas.

But life has gotten a little bit hectic this past week. Suddenly a lot of rather stressful situations have piled on top of each other and it’s left me no room to think about reading or blogging, so I have no choice but to give myself a little break from it all.

I’ll possibly be taking the whole of April off depending on how things esculate. I’ll be having my wisdom teeth taken out in the next couple of weeks, but other close relatives are having some medical issues of their own, so it all depends on how they get along.

I won’t be gone completely. I have a couple of posts ready and scheduled, and hopefully I’ll see you again soon!

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

Book Series That Are Coming To An End In 2021

March 18th, 2021

Hi Readers!

We are a little bit into 2021 now, but it’s not too late for us to look forward and see what series we have been loving over the past few years will be coming to an end in 2021.

It’s always bitter sweet when a series ends and we have to say goodbye to characters we’ve invested a lot of our time into. But I feel like a series finale is such a fun event in the book community and something to look forward to!

A Psalm of Storms and Silence by Roseanne A. Brown
Duology: A Song Of Wraiths A Ruin
Releases: August 31st Balzer + Bray

Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo
Duology: King of Scars
Releases: March 30th Orion

Gods & Monsters by Shelby Mahurin
Trilogy: Serpent & Dove
Releases: August 3rd HarperTeen

The Bronzed Beasts by Roshani Chokshi
Trilogy: The Gilded Wolves
Releases: September 21st Wednesday Books

The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandals and Shipwrecks by Mackenzie Lee
Trilogy: Montague Siblings
Releases: November 16th Katherine Tegen Books

We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal
Duology: Sands of Arawiya
Releases: January 19th Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Any Way the Wind Blows by Rainbow Rowell
Trilogy: Simon Snow
Releases: July 6th Wednesday Books

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert
Trilogy: Brown Sisters
Releases: March 9th Avon

What series are you excited but sad to see come to an end?

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

Thoughts On Poetry | Ariel by Sylvia Plath

March 15th, 2021

| Released: 1965 |
| Publisher: Faber and Faber |
| Genre: Poetry |
| Sub-Genre: Mental Health |
| Length: 43 Poems |
| Age: Adult |
| My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ |

Hi Readers!

Poetry has always been something I’ve lacked interest in as it often leaves me feeling out of my depth. But in 2021 I’ve set myself a challenge to give it a go by reading 5 poetry collections, and this is the first one.

Ariel is a collection of Poems by Sylvia Plath mainly written in the months leading up to her death in 1963. They give a confessional insight into the state of her mental health at that time. It follows themes of sadness, death and rebirth, and it was hard to read this collection as anything other than evidence of a woman who desperately needed support, and wasn’t given it.

The poems were ambiguous and heavy on imagery, so it took a few reads of each poem to get a grasp on what she was trying to say (and even then I still struggled to understand some).

My favourite poem is probably the one that she is most famous for, and that was ‘daddy,’ which detailed her thoughts and feelings towards her father. Reading it, I can imagine it would have been so therapautic for Plath to write and her emotions come through so strongly.

I also liked ‘Lady Lazarus’, which used religious imagery and metaphors to explore the theme of rebirth (as does many of the poems in this collection).

I think my only critcism would be that some of her metaphors are just too abstract to understand. Some I scoured the internet to find a meaning for, and everyone seemed just as much at a loss as I was. But the language was beautiful and emotive, so I’m glad I finally read Plaths poems and it’s definitely made me want to dive deeper into the world of poetry.

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

Why I Don’t Have Booktube | Let’s Talk Bookish

March 12th, 2021

*Let’s Talk Bookish is hosted by EternityBooks and LiteraryLion

Hi Readers!

This weeks topic relates to the wider online book community, and a rather prominant part of it too. Booktube.

Personally I love booktube. A day rarely passes where I haven’t watched at least one video made by a booktuber like SavidgeReads or BooksandLala. But I guess that does beg the question, why don’t I do it myself?

Well, I did. Or I used to. Many years ago now. I can hardly believe it but it was probably 8 years ago I made my first youtube video, an introduction to my booktube channel where I listed some of my favourite books at the time.

I made them pretty consistantly for maybe three years but stopped when I was 16/17. I tried going back to it a couple of times, but I just found in the end it wasn’t the platform for me.

Around that time I discovered book blogs and I guess I liked that it was a bit more anonymous. As much as I enjoyed it, I always felt very self-concious about the videos and worried about people from my school finding out about it. While I don’t feel like that anymore, I like that I can choose who I tell about my blog and don’t have to worry about someone I know just coming across it.

Blogging is also more flexible. I don’t have to find the time to film and edit, I’m not tied down by good hair days, or lighting, or just generally having the energy to talk (because sometimes I genuinely don’t.) I have about 30 drafts for blog posts currently on the go and I can add to them whenever I get a spare minute to.

There are definitely advantages to doing booktube as well though, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t occassionally consider doing it again. It’s definitely the platform where more of your personality can get across, and booktube videos definitely get more traffic than book blogs. But blogging just suits me more.

So what about you? Why did you chose blogging over vlogging?

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

Book Review | Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

March 11th, 2021

| Released: March 4th 2021 |
| Publisher: Penguin |
| Genre: Contemporary |
| Length: 264 Pages |
| Source: NetGalley |
| Age: Adult |
| My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ |

Hi Readers!

Well this was good timing on my part. Just as I was finishing this book, the Women’s Prize longlist comes out and Transcendent Kingdom was on it! It was one of the books I predicted to be on there, and I’m not surprised the judges liked it. Sadly however, this book just wasn’t for me.

What Is It About?

Gifty is a fifth-year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford School of Medicine studying reward-seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Her brother, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died of a heroin overdose after a knee injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her suicidal mother is living in her bed. Gifty is determined to discover the scientific basis for the suffering she sees all around her.

But even as she turns to the hard sciences to unlock the mystery of her family’s loss, she finds herself hungering for her childhood faith and grappling with the evangelical church in which she was raised, whose promise of salvation remains as tantalizing as it is elusive. 

What Did I Think?

I had high expectations for this book simply because I loved Gyasi’s debut novel Homegoing so much. This book couldn’t be further from that in both premise and structure, and there just wasn’t anything I particularly liked about it.

I just found myself not invested or enjoying the book at all, and I think that comes down to my own personal taste. I have absolutely no interest in science or religion and these two subjects happen to be the main focus of this book and not in a particularly new or unique way. I just couldn’t connect to it.

This book also jumped time a lot, and I found it hard to follow. I don’t think the format I read this in helped with that, as I did read it as an eArc and the format wasn’t as clear. I found myself feeling a bit lost a couple of times and that didn’t help with my overall lack of interest in the story.

I’m definitely in the minority here. That was made even more clear when this made the Women’s Prize longlist. What did you think of it?

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

Women’s Prize For Fiction 2021 Longlist | Reaction + Plans

March 10th, 2021

Hi Readers!

The time has come! My favourite prize has announced it’s longlist and I can’t wait to get stuck into this amazing list of books.

Here’s the longlist, and in bold are the ones I predicted correctly and those underlined are the ones I have read!

Luster by Raven Leilani
Nothing But Blue Sky by Kathlen McMahon
Because of You by Dawn French
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
How the One Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones
Summer by Ali Smith
Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi
Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan
The Golden Rule by Amanda Craig
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
Detransition Baby by Torrey Peters
Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett
No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood
Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller
Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers
Consent by Annabel Lyon

My Plans:

So, my predictions were way off. But I love the look of this years longlist, especially because the majority seems to be contemporary fiction, which is the genre I tend to lean more towards.

I’ve heard of and already planned to read a few of these. I was surprised to see Ali Smith’s ‘Summer’ as I didn’t think she submitted to prizes, but I’m pleased to see this here. I’ve been planning on reading her whole ‘seasons’ quartet for a while and I’ve just reserved them all at the library, so I’ll be getting to them soon.

I was also already intrigued by Small Pleasures, Piranesi, No One Is Talking About This, Burnt Sugar and Luster, so I think I might get to one of these first.

The others are completely new to me and I don’t think I even saw any of them on others predictions lists. But that’s something I love about this prize. It always introduces me to new authors and, who knows, maybe one will become a new favourite.

There’s nothing here that makes me think ‘I don’t want to read that’. So I do plan on reading the whole of this years longlist. I’ve only read two, so I have a lot to get to before April 28th, but I have faith.

What do you think of this years longlist? I’m a little disappointed The Manningtree Witches isn’t here, but other than that, I’m pretty excited about it.

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

Book Review | The Professor by Charlotte Bronte

March

| Released: 1857 |
| Publisher: Smith, Elder & Co |
| Genre: Classic |
| Sub-Genre: Romance |
| Length: 200 Pages |
| Age: Adult |
| My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ |

Hi Readers!

I’m going to call March ‘Bronte Month’ for me as all month I plan to read every book by the Bronte sisters. I started with this one as it was the shortest but also because this is thought to be the first complete novel Charlotte Bronte wrote. She died before she saw it published but more than a century later it’s still in print and being read.

What Is It About?

When the orphaned William refuses his uncles’ proposal to become a clergyman and angrily leaves his job in the counting-house of his brother’s mill, he decides to accept a position as an English teacher at a boys’ school in Brussels. When his career leads him to take up an additional post at a girls’ school nearby, William becomes emotionally involved with the manipulative headmistress of the establishment, Mademoiselle Reuter. The tensions rise until one of his pupils and fellow teachers – for whom he has tender feelings – is suddenly dismissed and is nowhere to be found.

What Did I Think?

You can tell this was a first attempt at a novel and also why it wouldn’t become the book that made her a published author. It’s a quiet story and she uses simple, almost amateur writing techniques to get her story across to the reader. The entire first chapter is a letter from the main character explaining who he is and what his life story is to another character who we never even meet.

William Crimsworth was very mundane, if a little flat. But he definitely had some ideals that maked him a likeable enough character. He was a man who put education and wit over youth and beauty and was passionate about working for something meaningful, rather than just the daily grind of mindless tasks. This is what sets him off on a journey to Brussels.

In sunshine, in prosperity, the flowers are very well, but how many wet days are there in life – November seasons of disaster, when a man’s hearth and home would be old indeed without the clear, chearing gleam of intellect.”

Charlotte’s characters profession and travels are inspired by her own life, so you could say this book is semi-autobiographical. Bronte was a student in a Brussells school and later became a language teacher. It’s also said that she fell in love with one of the professors whilst there, but he was married and so she came home broken hearted. There’s definitely a lot to suggest these events heavily influenced this books plot, and perhaps making the main character male was her way of distancing herself from the story.

Reading this definitely gives an interesting insight in how her writing developed the more she wrote. Apparently she went on to use this books plot to write Villette, which sounds like a similar story but from a female perspective. So I’m looking forward to reading that soon.

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X