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

Book Review | Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne

February 24th, 2021

| Released: August 2015 |
| Publisher: Usbourne Publishing |
| Genre: Contemporary |
| Sub-Genre: Mental Health |
| Length: 434 Pages |
| Age: Young Adult |
| ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ |

Hi Readers!

I’ve been wanting to read a Holly Bourne book for the longest time. She’s an author I see all over blogs and booktube, and I wanted to see what all the hype was about. Now that I’ve read Am I Normal Yet? I want to go on and read everything she has ever published.

What Is It About?

All Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…

But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love?

What Did I Think?

A question every teenager asks themselves, Am I Normal Yet? How can I fit in? How do I do this ‘teenager’ thing right? I know I did. I felt I was doing it all wrong, and it was also the time when my own mental health started acting up. I’m not a teenager any more, but boy do I wish I’d had this book when I was (techincally I would have if I’d read it when it first came out).

This book portrays mental health in a very honest and (I think) accurate light and addressed some of the concerns a teenager with mental health issues might have. As a teenager, your main worry is what other people might think. It hangs over you like a cloud, and stops you from opening up to the people who would care the most, for fear of losing them or them seeing you as fragile or unstable. Or worse, for fear they’ll laugh at you for it, and tell you to just ‘shake it off’.

This is what keeps Evie from telling her friends about her battle with OCD. She doesn’t tell them she’s in therapy, or on medication, or that she constantly struggles to fight against the ‘bad thoughts’ that threaten her living her life. You can see how this silence, this ‘I’ll get through this on my own’ mentality really impacts her recovery in a negative way and I liked that the overall message was to talk to your friends and if they don’t understand, help them to.

Other than mental health this book also addresses feminism and I loved the portrayal of that. Again, I was Evie’s age when feminism became something I associated myself with, and my experience was very similar to hers. Sixth form is a time when your views on the world are challenged (especially if you take Sociology) and I loved how this group of friends addressed and discussed these issues. Again, so relatable. I wish I’d read this 5 years ago.

Also, I love that it’s British! When I read that this book was set in college I assumed this would be more New Adult, and it would follow American college aged students. But turns out, it means college as in sixth form! I never see books set in sixth form! I think Sex Education was the first time I ever saw it portrayed in any way and it took me back to a pivotal couple of years in my life.

In the end, I think the only negative thing I found in this book is ironically part of the characters discussions, too much boy stuff. I love love in a book and one of the romantic plots I see was important for the main characters growth, but there’s a lot of side boys and side characters with side boys. In the end, I think this book quite ironically became what the characters were complaining about.

But overall, this book was great. And I’m ecstatic that there are two more books in this series following the other girls (I’m especially looking forward to Amber’s book). Have you read the Spinster Club series? What did you think?

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

Book Review | The Martian by Andy Weir

February 18th, 2021

Published: September 2011 by Crown
Genre: Science Fi
Sub-Genre: Space
Length: 384 Pages
Age: Adult
My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Hi Readers!

This was meant to go up Saturday, but given the Perserverance Rover just landed on the Martian planet, I thought it would be more appropiete to post this today.

I realise I’m late to the party with this book. I’m sure you’ve all heard of The Martian by now, whether because it’s a bestseller, or because of the Matt Damon movie that came out a few years back (which is next on my list of films to watch). Either way, you’ve either read this book or you’ve thought about it. If you’ve been hesitant to pick it up, here’s why you should give it a go.

What Is It About?

After a dust storm threatens the crew of Ares I, they’re forced to abandon their mission and, believing him dead, they unknowingly leave behind one of their own on the surface of Mars. Now, Mark Watney is the first person to walk on Mars, and he’s pretty sure he’ll be the first to die there. Keeping a log, we see how he uses what he has to try and survive for as long as he can.

What did I Think?

I bought this book around the time the movie was getting a lot of buzz, and was initially very excited to read it. I remember I did start it, but I didn’t get very far in before I realised just how much ‘space talk’ there is in this book. Really, that shouldn’t have come as a surprise, but it did put me off none the less, and, 6 years later, I was still putting it off.

But then I saw TheUnchartedWorld had put it on their top books of 2020, and I thought ‘there must be something special about a book being talked about 10 years after it was published.’ It motivated me to finally pick up this book, and whilst some of my reservations did end up being true, I really enjoying this book.

It starts off with a log from Mark Watney, an astronaut who had been left behind by his crew as they believed he was dead. He’s now stuck on Mars, and at the start he doesn’t see how he’s going to survive it. But that doesn’t stop him from trying, and he starts to put all his training and knowledge to good use.

Mark was absolutely the best thing about this book. He’s such a character! His sarcasm and dark humour had me laughing out loud and made him such a likeable character. I was really routing for him, and became completely invested in his survival story.

“He’s stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology?” He turned back to Venkat. “I wonder what he’s thinking right now.”

LOG ENTRY: SOL 61 How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.”

But something you need to know about me is my brain doesn’t cope well with science. If you give me a technical science term, I will shut down. That’s the reason why I put off reading this for so many years, and it did kind of end up being true. There’s a lot of spacetalk. Mark is stuck on Mars and he uses science to survive, so that isn’t a surprise. But what I did find surprising was that Andy did do a good job of making it accessible for the average reader. Most of it went over my head, don’t get me wrong. But I think I did get some of it.

Even if you’re the same as me, and don’t completely understand the science, the plot will be enough to keep you on the edge of you’re seat. So if you’ve been putting it off like I have, please give it a go yourself.

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

Book Review | The Muse by Jessie Burton

February 16th, 2021

Released: July 2016
Publisher: Picador
Genre: Historical Fiction
Sub-Genre: Arts
Length: 393 Pages
Age: Adult
My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Hi Readers!

Do you ever finish a book and think ‘I can see why it was successful. But it just didn’t hit me the same way’? That’s how I feel right now, and I’m unsure why.

This is a duel narrative about two women living in different countries and times, yet are connected through a piece of art.

Odelle has struggled to find her place in England since arriving from Trinidad five years ago when she is offered a job as a typist in the Skeltin Institute under the tutelage of Marjorie Quick and it’s there the mysterious past of a painting grabs her attention.

This is a book I’m reading as part of my ‘reading other bloggers favourite books of 2020’ challenge and I can really see why someone might love this. It’s beautifully written firstly. Burton is definitely a talented author and has such a way with words that can make any sentence captivating.

This follows two perspectives and as with most books that have duel POVs I read, I did prefer one. Which was Odelle’s, who is a Trinidadian immigrant who has become disillusioned to life in Britain and struggling to find a good job since she arrived five years ago.

But I have to say in my own experience with this book, I found it a little boring. It’s very much a slow burn, character driven novel and I normally eat those up. But I just didn’t feel compelled by anything in the story. There is a mystery which ties itself together quite nicely, but I can’t say I cared about it.

What kept me reading was the writing. Burton is a writer who knows her craft and I lapped up every sentance. This book is well worth reading just for that, I just think the story itself was a miss for me.

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

Blog Tour | Bad Habits by Flynn Meaney

Hi Readers!

I’m so excited to be part of the blog tour for this 2021 release! Thank you to TheWriteReads for organising the tour and providing me with an ecopy of this book!

What Is It About?

Released: February 11th, 2021
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Contemporary
Sub-Genre: Feminism
Length: 320 Pages
Age: Young Adult
My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Alex is a rebel from the tip of her purple fauxhawk to the toes of her biker boots. She’s tried everything she can think of to get expelled from her strict Catholic boarding school. Nothing has worked so far – but now, Alex has a new plan.

Tired of the sexism she sees in every corner of St Mary’s, Alex decides to stage the school’s first ever production of The Vagina Monologues. Which is going to be a challenge, as no one else at St Mary’s can even bear to say the word ‘vagina’ out loud . . .

What Did I Think?

I hadn’t heard of this book before learning about this blog tour, but the blurb promised teenage rebels and hilarity and I knew I had to read it. It definitely lived up to the premise. This book is so funny and the humour comes from Alex and her unpredictability. I could never guess what she was going to do or say next and I love how she was absolutely ruthless.

Whilst I loved Alex and her ‘don’t care’ attitude, I would have liked more personal development in her. She didn’t always listen or consider other peoples perspectives. She just kind of shrugged them off and always thought she was right, and that was never challenged. I feel like she’s a character not everyone will love, but most will find entertaining.

I also didn’t agree with how she went about some things. I just don’t agree with shaming other girls for not being sexual and she would do that a lot to her friends and class mates. But I do understand the books point. It has a very strong message. Don’t let subjects like menstruation and sex be tabooed by men. Don’t feel ashamed to have a vagina and do stand up if you feel your voice is being taken away from you.

The friendships are complex and I did like how it approached feminism. Well worth a read if you like YA with spunky protagonists.

About the Author: Flynn Meaney is the author of The Boy Recession and Bloodthirsty. She studied marketing and French at the University of Notre Dame, where she barely survived the terrifying array of priests and nuns, campus ghosts, and bone-crushing athletes who inspired Bad Habits. Since completing a very practical MFA in Poetry, she works for a French company and travels often between New York (when she’s in the mood for bagels) and Paris (when she’s in the mood for croissants).

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

Book Review | Forever And Always, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

February 8th, 2021

Hi Readers!

Ahead of the final To All The Boys movie I wanted to reread the book it will be based on. I haven’t read this book since it was first released and I was so excited to revisit it!

What Is It About?



Released: May 2017
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Genre: Contemporary
Sub-Genre: Romance
Length: 325 Pages
Age: Young Adult
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Lara Jean’s senior year is coming to an end and she is having the best time. She’s got a boyfriend she loves, a class trip to new york to look forword and she’s excited for her college plans. But when she gets unexpected news, her future with Peter is thrown into doubt.

What Did I Think?

I remember when the first book came out, it was supposed to be a standalone. But because of it’s popularity she continued until it was a trilogy and this book is actually dedicated to the fans who made that happen. I am so glad she decided to continue writing as I just love these characters and this is such a good, well rounded conclusion to Lara Jean’s and Peter’s story.

Gone are the days of Peter and Lara Jean ‘fake dating’. In this one they are very much in love and looking forward to their future together. I love their relationship with each other and I love that we get to see it. Too often with these we see the build-up to two people getting together, but then we don’t see how they actually work as a couple.

Lara and Peter make a very cute one, and it’s great to see how their dynamic has progressed. Obviously, college throws a curve ball in their relationship as it always introduces a lot of change in people’s lives. I like how this book explored that moment in a teenagers life when the future is so uncertain and how scary that can be.

We’ve got just a few days before the film adaptation comes to netflix and I’m so excited for it! I love the cast and it kind of feels like the end of an era. Who else will be viewing it this weekend?

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

ARC Book Review | The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

February 4th, 2021

Released: February 9th 2021
Publisher: Atria
Genre: Historical Fiction
Sub-Genre: World War II
Length: 368 Pages
Age: Adult
My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Hi Readers!

I’ll admit, the title drew me in with this one. The Paris Library just sounds like a readers delight and then I saw it’s based on the real actions of Paris librarians during WWII, and I just had to read it.

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

What Is It About?

In Paris 1939 Odile, who is content in life with her police officer beau and dream job at the American Library in Paris, stands to lose everything she loves when the Nazi’s invade France. Together with her fellow librarians, Odile joins the Resistance with the best weapons she has: books. But when the war finally ends, instead of freedom, Odile tastes the bitter sting of unspeakable betrayal.

Secrets are revealed 40 years later in Montana where we meet Lily, who is Odile’s lonely teenage neighbour who’s curious to know more about Odile.

What Did I Think?

This is a book about the power of books and stories. It sets the scene with Odile getting a job at the renowned American Library in Paris and how they coped with the Nazi invasion during the second world war. It was a time when books where banned and censored, and certain people were restricted from using the library at all.

Without these books, Paris would lose part of its soul

The librarians bravely tried to defy the Nazi regime and got books to people who were banned from using their library. This was the strongest part of this book and what I found most captivating. I loved learning about these people, who’s stories are based on true events.

This would have been a four star read had it been just the war sections. But unfortunately we also have the perpective of Lily, whose chapters really brought this down for me. I found myself so uninterested in her story. In the end I found I was skimming a lot of her chapters as they made the book feel a bit like a chore.

I feel like I always find this with dual POV books though. There’s always one storyline I prefer to read so perhaps they just aren’t for me. But I have seen some other bloggers say the same so at least I’m not alone in this one.

This book gave me The Nightingale vibes as it is set in occupied France and tells the story of civilians and their relationship with the German army. It reveals heartbreaking, true stories and is well worth a read if you’re interested in this period.

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

ARC Review | Much Ado About You by Samantha Young

February 2nd, 2021

Hi Readers!

Romance season is coming up and I don’t know about you but I love reading a cute, swoony romance around this time of year (seeing as there is none in my actual life). This one was fun, but didn’t really have much else going for it.

What Is It About?

Released: February 2nd, 2021
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Genre: Contemporary
Sub-Genre: Romance
Source: NetGalley ARC
Length: 308 Pages
Age: Adult
My Rating: ⭐ ⭐

After being stood up on a date and passed for a promotion at work, Evie feels lost. She looks online for a holiday and finds a bookshop that’s being hired out as a holiday location in the English countryside. Evie thinks this will be the perfect place to forget about work and boys, until she meets Roane, a farmer who is practically perfect in every way.

What Did I Think?

The main problem I had with this book is just how flawless Roane was. He was literally the definition of perfect, to the point where he just didn’t feel real. I feel like the author created her perfect man and put him in this book for to turn him down over and over for no good reason.

The stakes just weren’t high enough for me. Young tried to create drama and tension, but none of it felt particularly complicated to fix. It was actually a little frustrating to see these characters making their lives so unneccesarily hard.

But it’s a fun, predictable romance with a super cosy setting and it does attempt to address some harder issues like putting yourself first and knowing your own worth. It also has a Bridget Jones feel of it’s never too late to find love.

If you like a book with characters who have good chemistry and make Shakespeare references, then give this a try. It just wasn’t really for me.

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

Book Review // The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

January 30th, 2021

Hi Readers!

This is a book I almost read just over a year again, but due to having it return it to the library, I had to wait a year before finally getting to it. It was definitely worth the wait.

What Is It About?

Released: 2019
Publisher: Doubleday Books
Genre: Fantasy
Sub-Genre: Books About Books
Length: 512 Pages
Age: Adult
My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood.

Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues–a bee, a key, and a sword–that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to an ancient library, hidden far below the surface of the earth.

What Did I Think?

Second novels can be hard. Some even think they’re cursed. Especially when the first is as successful as Morgensterns debut novel ‘The Night Circus.’ But she certainly doesn’t seem to have gotten the message as The Starless Sea is as original and as brilliant and certainly not a disappointment. 

The Starless Sea is such a treat for any reader. Cost, magical and dreamlike. It’s one of those books I wouldn’t mind jumping into the pages of and living there forever.

The plots build-up is slow. But it’s never not a page turner. Every word, every sentence flowed and made me want to read more. When I entered this story, I did not want to leave it and I became just as addicted as Ezra Rawlins became addicted to Sweet Sorrows.

This book is a story within a story within a story. When Ezra picks up an authorless book in his Universities library he doesn’t know that this book isn’t in fact fiction, or that he will be in it. He becomes obsessed and can’t rest until he understands how and why.

Ezra was an amazing character to read. He felt so real and familiar and kept me reading despite the book being very slow burn and a little hard to follow at times. There’s a lot going on. Many layers, and so many sub-plots that are hard to keep track of. I feel like this might be one of those books that is more rewarding on a second read.

The Starless Sea is a treat for any reader. Cosy, magical and dreamlike. I wouldn’t mind jumping into the pages of this book and living there forever. It’s full of bookish people, adventures and quests.

If you’re looking for a book to curl up with and get lost in this Winter, then The Starless Sea should be the one.

Would I Read Again: Yes
Would I Recommend: Yes!

Thanks for reading, 
Jess X

Book Review | A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer

January 27th, 2021

Released: 26th January, 2021
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: Fantasy
Sub-Genre: Retelling
Length: 416 Pages
Age: Young Adult
My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

*This is a review of a final book in a series, and does contain spoilers for the first two books

Review of A Curse So Dark and Lonely
Review of A Heart So Fierce and Broken

Hi Readers!

Going into this book was like going into any final book in a fantasy series. I felt all the anticipation and all the nerves. I so hoped it would be an amazing conclusion, but not too heartbreaking…

What Is It About?

A Vow So Bold And Deadly is the final book in the Cursebreakers trilogy. It started out as a dark retelling of Beauty and the Beast with Prince Rhen trapped in a perpetual loop of turning eighteen, each time with a different girl to try and break the curse.

That girl ended up being Harper, and now they are at war with Grey, a man they both used to see as a friend. But now the enchantress who cursed Rhen in the first place is back to torture them all.

What Did I Think?

As I said, I felt a lot of anticipation for this book. Final books in a fantasy series always get lots of hype because they’re so notoriously brutal. We spend a lot of time with these characters, watching them commit selfless acts of heroism and going through a lot of pain both physically and emotionally. We get so attached and when their series comes to an end, you fear for all of their lives.

Book one followed Prince Rhen and Harper and their journey to breaking Liliths curse. Book two took a different route and followed Commander Grey and Lia Mara. But in the third and final book, we get all four perspectives which I’m so happy about because I really missed Rhen and Harper.

In this book, I definitely still preferred Rhen and Harper’s chapters. I just felt there was more tension between them which made their chapters more interesting, and I liked how their relationship developed.

A Heart So Fierce and Broken left off with pretty much everyone having mixed feelings about Prince Rhen, but Kemmerer dedicated a good first quarter of this book to making the reader understand the situation more and I was definitely convinced pretty quickly to put my hate for Rhen aside.

Plot wise, Kemmerer did it again. I was so hooked and I’m still mad at my kindle for being so slow at turning the page (there were some very frustrating and agonizing seconds for me). After a slightly slower start, the pacing got so fast and my house burning down wouldn’t have torn my eyes away from the page.

That is all down to Lilith. She is an incredible villain and whilst I did realise she’s technically one of my least favourite tropes (scorned woman goes mad with rage) I just think she is so well written. She feels so invincible and I found her so cruel and scary.

Whilst this is a good end to the trilogy, I’m so hoping Brigid will write more about these characters because I just enjoy them so much. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X