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What I’ve Been Reading In September

September has felt like such a long month for some reason. I’m not sure why but it has just dragged along. To try and pass the time (and ignore the new lockdown measures), I’ve been reading some new books. If you hadn’t guessed, the majority of my reading in September has come from the library.

The librarians (like most people) have been struggling with cuts and lack of a job for months. Even though I could buy all of these, I wanted to support my local library in the best way I knew. I was shocked to see so many new books there but I guess there was a backlog that they needed to go through.

No complaints from me!

Reading in September

Sword Art Online: Progressive

Yuuki Asuna was a top student who spent her days studying at cram school and preparing for her high school entrance exams–but that was before she borrowed her brother’s virtual reality game system and wound up trapped in Sword Art Online with ten thousand other frightened players. As time passes, Asuna fears what will become of her life outside the fantasy realm–the failure she might be seen as in the eyes of her peers and parents.

Let me introduce you to one of my favourite animes of all time: Sword Art Online!

I’ve been a fan of this series ever since 2012! It’s stunning, heart-breaking and makes me wish I could play the game…without getting stuck there for 2 years. I’ve slowly been making my way through the mangas and was so excited to discover that Reki Kawahara had written a POV for Asuna! I always wanted to know what she’d been like before entering the game since she was a mystery at the start.

I’ve gotten Vol 2 and 3 ordered and just heard that they’re turning this into an anime!!

Good Girl, Bad Blood (Holly Jackson)

Pip Fitz-Amobi is not a detective anymore. With the help of Ravi Singh, she released a true-crime podcast about the murder case they solved together last year. The podcast has gone viral, yet Pip insists her investigating days are behind her. But she will have to break that promise when someone she knows goes missing.

Jamie Reynolds has disappeared but the police won’t do anything about it. And if they won’t look for Jamie then Pip will, uncovering more of her town’s dark secrets along the way… and this time everyone is listening. But will she find him before it’s too late?

If you haven’t read the first book to the Good Girl series, then you don’t necessarily need to but it would help! I adored The Good Girl’s Guide to Murder which is a surprise! I don’t usually love crime YA but this and its sequel were just so well-written! Holly has an incredible way with words! I have a bunch of review for most of these books coming soon so I’ll go into more detail then!

The best way to read Good Girl, Bad Blood? Listen to a true crime podcast while you read! It adds an extra chill!

Clap When You Land (Elizabeth Acevedo)

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash. Separated by distance – and Papi’s secrets – the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

I vowed to myself that I would read more books by black authors and this was one that had been on my list since last year! I’ve heard so many amazing things about it and know that it won the Carnegie Medal. After reading The Black Flamingo last month, I really gained an interest in reading other novels in verse form. It’s such an interesting concept and surprised me by adding an element.

I’ll be honest and admit that poetry/verse tends to bore me, but Elizabeth Acevedo made it less of a chore! I loved Camino and Yahaira as characters and it broke my heart reading the plane crash chapter. You don’t read many YA novels dealing with mass grief like this but this was perfect!

Wonderland (Juno Dawson)

Alice lives in a world of stifling privilege and luxury – but none of it means anything when your own head plays tricks on your reality. When her troubled friend Bunny goes missing, Alice becomes obsessed with finding her. On the trail of her last movements, Alice discovers a mysterious invitation to ‘Wonderland’: the party to end all parties – three days of hedonistic excess to which only the elite are welcome.

Will she find Bunny there? Or is this really a case of finding herself? Because Alice has secrets of her own, and ruthless socialite queen Paisley Hart is determined to uncover them, whatever it takes.

Alice is all alone, miles from home and without her essential medication. She can trust no-one, least of all herself, and now she has a new enemy who wants her head…

I first heard of Juno Dawson after reading a Doctor Who novel she wrote called The Good Doctor. Her writing style caught my interest so I checked out Margot & Me, Torchwood: The Doll House (audiobook) and What’s The T. She seems to really have a great knowledge of how teenagers with struggles work. If you hadn’t guessed, Wonderland is a unique twist on Alice in Wonderland and focuses on very difficult subjects such as mental health, drug use and more.

Don’t let that put you off though!

You may have to read this in multiple sittings due to some graphic elements, but it really makes you think. I was triggered a few times and thought I wouldn’t be able to finish but I’m really glad I did! I love that Juno wrote Alice as a trans character to look at the way that the trans community can be treated. It ripped my heart a few times to read and made me to hug all of my friends!

Where The Crawdads Sing (Delia Owens)

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say.

Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life – until the unthinkable happens.

I’ll be honest: Where The Crawdads Sing wasn’t my favourite book to read. I know that it has incredible reviews from readers such as Reese Witherspoon but I wanted to give it a go. The main character Kya has such a difficult time growing up from her mother abandoning her and her siblings, dealing with her drunk father and is left to look after herself. Things turn from back to worse when she is blamed for the death of a man due to the prejudices of her being both poor, a little different and female.

Delia brings to life what Kya goes through and you do really feel for her. I just wish it could have clicked with me more.

RWBY: Fairy Tales of Remnant (E.C Myers)

Fans of Rooster Teeth’s hit animated series RWBY will want to pore over every page of this gorgeously illustrated collection of twelve short fairy tales! In addition to classic tales from the show, such as The Story of the Seasons and The Tale of the Two Brothers, readers can immerse themselves in eight never-before-told stories from RWBY’s show writers.

It will be no surprise that I have the latest book based on RWBY on this list!

What can I say? I’m a fangirl to the franchise!!

This book is a must-have for any fan of the show. As mentioned above, it contains a bunch of short fairytales from the World of Remnant. It looks at two stories that we already know such as one about The Maidens and the Two Brothers. It also looks at stories that are completely new to us with helpful little mentions from Professor Ozpin.

My review for this is coming tomorrow so stay tuned!!

What books have you been reading in September?

Books

The ‘Educate Yourself’ Reading List (inspired by ChaptersofMay)

One of my guilty pleasures on Youtube is watching teacher vlogs. It’s super interesting seeing how teachers in other countries educate their students, especially the young ones. You get to see them set up their classrooms, watch how they do distance learning and lots of hauls.

I’ve got so much respect for teachers and what they’ve been trying to do over recent month. Helping kids stay on track in their education and keeping things fun is vital. One of the ways they’ve been doing that for the younger years is through reading books. As always, the talented Anika has inspired this post with her own ‘Educate Yourself’ Stack.

Books seem to be slowly fading out of our lives and onto technology. I have so many great memories of storytime at nursery and primary school where we would subtly learn important things. Elmer taught me not to be mean to someone who looked different than me and there were so many more. No matter what generation, books help educate us all!

educatePhoto by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

Rosa Parks (Little People, Big Dreams)

I might be in my 30s but I love this little book series! If I had a kid I would totally buy all of these books for them. I’m even tempted to get some for myself. If you haven’t heard of this particular series, they’re all based on the incredible lives of inspirational figures. You have Marie Curie, Stephen Hawking, Anne Frank and Josephine Baker.

They’re such a fun yet informative way to educate kids on the important things these people did.

I picked Rosa Parks because she shows how one powerful moment in times can snowball into a strong movement for change. It’s a shame that the world still isn’t getting it but we will one day!

While We Can’t Hug (Eoin McLaughlin & Polly Dunbar)

Living through this pandemic is something that none of us expected this time last year. we had only heard about things like this in movies and in other countries. I certainly didn’t expect the world to be fighting such a terrible virus. If grown-ups are finding all this confusing, imagine what it’s like for the little ones.

I heard a little girl the other day chatting to a friend over their fence and not understanding why she can’t go and hug that friend. Part of me was tempted to buy this book for them to help. It’s such an adorable way to teach children other ways to show that they care. They can write letters, blow kisses and sing songs!

The Proudest Blue (Ibtihaj Muhammad)

Having come from Birmingham and been brought up with friends from different backgrounds, I saw people from other religions. I had a Jewish friend at nursery school and others who were Muslim so it never bothered me. However I know that so many kids have to face adversity because they look different to others. Whether they wear a hijab or a kippah, kids can be very cruel.

Books like The Proudest Blue are perfect for teaching them a little of Islam, the importance of siblings and being yourself. I had a glance of the book in Waterstones and the illustrations are gorgeous!

Quiet Power: Growing Up In A World That Can’t Stop Talking (Susan Cain)

If only this book had existed when I was still at school!

These last couple of decades have made the world very, very loud. With social media, technology booming and news hitting you from every side, it can sometimes be extremely difficult to be heard. While some people genuinely don’t want to talk, there are others that actually really struggle with self-doubt and insecurity.

This book may be for teenagers but I reckon it could help adults too! Let the introverts thrive please and turn the volume down a notch!

Related Post: How I Felt Being Diagnosed with ASD

educate

All Cats Are On The Autism Spectrum (Kathy Hoopmann)

Look for any books about autism and you’ll find the same thing. They’re boring, very scientific and literally have no personality. They’re informative but too medical! I’m always looking for ways to explain to my family about being autistic in my own kind of way and this book looks perfect!!

It has cats explaining about the spectrum!!

THIS BOOK IS ME!!

I really wish people understood the challenges of autism and didn’t keep repeating that we’re ‘all a little autistic’. Believe me…if we all were, the world would not be able to cope!

This doesn’t come out until late October but check it out anyway!!

Phoenix Goes To School (Michelle & Phoenix Finch)

During my research for books to recommend, I kept being drawn to the little picture book about gender identity. I’ve got a few friends who are transgender and non-binary. When I was doing a work placement in a primary school, I started to notice how vital it was to educate children about how others identify.

There was a little girl who had two daddies and she was so shy. I literally wanted to hug her! I’ve also watched videos of children who are trying to understand the world and their identity. This book seems adorable and is actually a memoir of Pheonix’s experiences of transitioning. She was scared that her school friends would still see her as a boy and not a girl.

This Kid Can Fly: It’s About Ability (Not Disability) (Aaron Philip)

The final book on my ‘educate yourself’ reading list is this one by Aaron Philip! I hadn’t heard of him before this post but, after checking out his story, he is freaking amazing!! Not only does he chat about his experiences with cerebal palsy BUT he is also the first black, transgender and physically disabled model to be represented by an elite modelling agency!!

He’s only 19, people!

This guy is the best person to give all of us a kick up the backside whenever we see we can’t do it. I say this so often and I haven’t experienced an inkling of anything he has gone through.

What books would you recommend to educate people?

Books Lifestyle

10 Bookish Etsy Items To Buy Yourself This Month


Photo by fotografierende on Unsplash

It’s never too early to start thinking of gift posts, right? Don’t worry…I’m not going to start throwing Christmas at you (yet). I’ve just been on Etsy a fair bit and it inspired me to share some bookish items you could buy! This could be as a treat for yourself or friend who loves books too.

You wouldn’t believe how creative people can be on Etsy! All I had to do was type ‘bookish’ into the search bar and everything appeared. You have candles, booksleeves, t-shirts, bookmarks and more! This post could have been super long, but I just chose 3 kinds of gifts that I thought you might be interested in.

Let me know if you buy anything or have recommendations!

Enamel Pins

Pins are such incredible items!! Forget stamps and coins…pins are this generation’s collectible! You only have to look at how highly sort-after Disney pins are to know. Since all fandoms seem to love pins, you can bet that the bookish community love this too!

What better way to show your love for books (without throwing a book at someone) than by wearing a pin! There’s so many gorgeous ones out there!

The ones I’ve chosen down below are some of my favourites. I’ve actually ordered the Narnia pin because it’s just so pretty! Plus Narnia!! I’m hoping to get some more over the next few months…maybe for Christmas. Have you collected any book-related pins?

T-Shirts

If we’re going hardcore for showing others book love, then a t-shirt is a great thing to have! You can’t go wrong with nerdy t-shirts like this, especially on Etsy. They come in such gorgeous colours and have great designs! I don’t own any book clothes yet, but I’m definitely thinking about it.

I’ve got some personal favourites such as the Lord of the Rings one and the ‘Reality’ t-shirt. You’ve got to admit that we tend to read to escape the crazy world we’re living in. You know it’s bad when a fictional world is better than the real one.

Booksleeves

We’ve looked after ourselves, but we can’t forget to look after our books! I only found out in the last few years that booksleeves exist. Got to love booktubers for giving me a heads-up! A booksleeve is exactly as it sounds: a sleeve/pocket to slip your book into. It just gives it some extra protection if you want to take a book on commutes.

Keep your favourite book all nice and cosy!

Have you got any bookish items that you’ve bought?

bookish

Books

Review | The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life by Dani Jansen

I received The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Rating: 3 Stars

Publication Date: 22nd September 2020

Synopsis

Alison Green, desperate valedictorian-wannabe, agrees to produce her school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. That’s her first big mistake. The second is accidentally saying Yes to a date with her oldest friend, Jack, even though she’s crushing on Charlotte. Alison manages to stay positive, even when her best friend starts referring to the play as “Ye Olde Shakespearean Disaster.”

Alison must cope with the misadventures that befall the play if she’s going to survive the year. She’ll also have to grapple with what it means to be “out” and what she might be willing to give up for love.

Review

I was so excited to read ‘The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life‘ early for a few different reasons. I was a theatre kid at school and then university and studied Shakespeare! I even had a terrible second year due to my Shakespeare module but still love that genuis bard! I love reading YA books that have kids who love acting or get involved with their school play. This synopsis really caught my eye, as did the book cover!

Alison is that typical Hermione-kind of character that is solely focused on high grades and wanting to get the highest school acolade: Valedictorian. She’s even drooling over the trophy case at the beginning of the book! In order to get a little closer to her dream, she agrees to help one of her teachers co-produce the school play. That doesn’t end up working out for her as the same teacher leaves her high-and-dry with the work.

She does have some great friends in Becca and Jack and a quirky sister in Annie too! She even has a crush on the cool girl at school Charlotte.

All the theatre terminology and warm-ups were great to read because they brought back some fond memories, but unfortunately things started to go a little down-hill after the start.

One of the things that annoyed me about the plot was that it ended up being a little stereotypical. Good girl falls for cool girl, gets pushed into doing extra work for kudo points, falls out with best friend and everyone around her. A great example of this plot done perfectly has to be ‘The Paper and Hearts Society: Read with Pride‘. It was brilliant! This book, however, fell short.

It kept going from Alison to Annie and back, leaving me super confused who was talking each chapter. While I loved the focus of an LGBTQ+ relationship (*motions to all the books I love*), it just felt flat.

There were moments where I was left looking for more explanation. Everyone gets super annoyed at her for everything (setting up her friends on a date) and the bully who is sexist to girls but ends up having a reason. There’s even a point towards the end of the book where Alison and her girlfriend break up because she’s not ‘out’ properly and wants to focus more on her school work.

First thought in my head: Erm…what? No.

It had some promising moments such as the anxiety attack she has in the canteen. I thought that more would be written about this but nope. It came and went. There was even a ‘theatre mafia’ threatening her not to ask local businesses for funding because it was ‘their patch’. That also came and went with no conclusion. I don’t know whether the author forgot about it but not sure.

I’d been so excited for a F/F romance! Alison was gay and Charlotte was pansexual. There was also a side character called Zach who was gay too! This too fell through. We had Charlotte whose dad was not accepting of her sexuality (we never went into depth about this), Zach ended up secretly being in a relationship with Ben (the sexist guy) and everything was just left unfinished.

By the end I was just frustrated. I really wanted to love this book but I’m sad that it didn’t work out.

What book did you have high hopes for and ended up disappointed with?

Books

The Books I Loved Reading (July 2020)

July

July has actually been one of my best reading months this year.

For the first 6 months, I just couldn’t get myself to pick up many books. I was lucky if I could finish one at that point so this made me super happy! Some of the books I’ve read this July were a mix of new that much or a few months old. I had catching up to do!

Another thing I loved about last month was that I also wrote more reviews! People seem to really enjoy them and the book blogger community have been super welcoming. I love them!

Loveless (Alice Oseman – 9th July)

Georgia has never been in love, never kissed anyone, never even had a crush – but as a fanfic-obsessed romantic she’s sure she’ll find her person one day.

As she starts university with her best friends, Pip and Jason, in a whole new town far from home, Georgia’s ready to find romance, and with her outgoing roommate on her side and a place in the Shakespeare Society, her ‘teenage dream’ is in sight.

But when her romance plan wreaks havoc amongst her friends, Georgia ends up in her own comedy of errors, and she starts to question why love seems so easy for other people but not for her. With new terms thrown at her – asexual, aromantic – Georgia is more uncertain about her feelings than ever.

Is she destined to remain loveless? Or has she been looking for the wrong thing all along?

The first book that I picked up in July was Loveless and I’d pre-ordered in advance!! I absolutely adore Alice Oseman as both an author and an illustrator. She has a way of bringing her characters to life with both flaws and achievements! You can’t help but feel connected with them instantly. As someone who is ace, this book was something I really needed right then!

The book follows Georgia and her friend Jason during their first year at Durham University. Ever since she was at school Georgia had loved love. She had loved the romance in the Disney films and read slash fanfictions like Draco/Harry and Korra/Asami. The idea of loving someone and dating them seemed amazing to her, but the reality of it was that it grossed her out.

Full review is here!

Solitaire (Alice Oseman)

In case you’re wondering, this is not a love story.

My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now.

Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden.

I don’t know what Solitaire are trying to do, and I don’t care about Michael Holden.
I really don’t.

This was Alice’s debut novel and it was where I fell in love with Tori as a character! If you’re familiar with Heartstopper, then you will have seen both her and her brother Charlie! She’s sassy but clearly cares for her little brother a lot.

I do remember picking this book up from my library back in 2014 but I couldn’t remember all the details. I figured that since I was already having an Alice year that I may as well pick this up! Actually, someone bought this off my Amazon wishlist! Remember when we were all doing this at the start of lockdown? I bought something for other people and they were gracious enough to return!

I’m slowly going to collect the rest of these books including the printed version of ‘Nick and Charlie’ which came out yesterday!! Hurry up, payday!

What I loved about Solitaire is that it showed the reality of growing up and how quickly things changed. One minute you could have a bunch of friends and the next you don’t. You develop crushes on the most unlikeliest of people and have to navigate both school and being a teenager. This was such a rollercoaster of a book and I loved every second of it!

Alice Oseman

The Strangeworlds Travel Agency (L.D Lapinski)

When 12-year-old Flick Hudson accidentally ends up in the Strangeworlds Travel Agency, she uncovers a fantastic secret: there are hundreds of other worlds just steps away from ours. All you have to do to visit them is jump into the right suitcase. Then Flick gets the invitation of a lifetime: join Strangeworlds’ magical travel society and explore other worlds.

But, unknown to Flick, the world at the very centre of it all, a city called Five Lights, is in danger. Buildings and even streets are mysteriously disappearing. Once Flick realizes what’s happening she must race against time, travelling through unchartered worlds, seeking a way to fix Five Lights before it collapses into nothingness – and takes our world with it.

Remember how I mentioned earlier that I had books I wanted to read but didn’t have the motivation?

This was one of the books that I had ordered back in April and had been sitting on my TBR pile. It was one of the bunch I had that I didn’t want to touch until my mood let me. Too much was going on and, while reading about traveling to other worlds was convinient, it wasn’t the best timing. That said, I’m so glad that I waited!

I’ve been following L.D Lapinski for a little while before her book came out as she was a localish author! She’s a Nottinghamshire lass and I’m a Derbyshire one! We’re practically neighbours!

It’s no surprise that I’m addicted to other worlds. Whether it be Narnia, Gallifrey or even Camelot, I will go there! When I first read Flick, she reminded me of a little Doctor Who meets Newt Scamander! She got to visit a lot of different worlds by using a suitcase! Two of my favourite loves bundled into one!

Something that I loved was how Flick came from such a normal background. So many fantasy books started somewhere just as magical and this didn’t. It was more relatable to me! I adored learning about all the different characters especially Jonathan! He was such a sarcastic kid but still a great friend to Flick! I cannot wait to read the sequel coming out in April next year!!

RWBY: Before the Dawn (E.C Myers – 21st July)

A storm is coming…

After their strange mission in the desert, Coco, Fox, Velvet and Yatsuhashi are back at Shade Academy, doing some “extracurricular” work to track down The Crown, a mysterious force that’s snatching up people with powerful semblances. The job should be easier with Team SSSN by their side, but The Crown continues to evade them. Out of options and worried that a bigger plot is in motion, CFVY and SSSN notify Theodore, the Headmaster of Shade Academy, but Theodore has problems of his own.

Troubled by the disasters at Beacon and Haven Academies and struggling to support the flood of refugee students, Theodore declares a new initiation – including the formation of new teams to better unite the student body. Amid mounting tension at the school, CFVY and SSSN must contend with unfamiliar teammates and uneasy rivalries, all while The Crown plots their next move.

The eagle-eyed of you who liked RWBY too may have noticed the little RWBY reference in my blog header! I had to find a way to include the series somehow! I have a late review coming out soon for this, but I’ll give you some thoughts anyway!

This book continues after the events that occured in RWBY: After the Fall. We’re still following Team CFVY who have been attending Shade Academy with some other Beacon students while still trying to get information. There is so much I could say about this book but they would either not make sense or spoilers!

If you love modern fantasy mixing with fairytales, then you will love this! I’d advise watching the show before reading so you can get an idea! You watch them either on Youtube, Amazon Prime or the Rooster Teeth website!

The Times I Knew I Was Gay (Eleanor Crewes – 16th July)

Ellie always knew she was different. Contrary and creative, she wore black, obsessed over Willow in Buffy and somehow never really liked boys. As she grew, so did her fears and a deep sense of unbelonging. From her first communion to her first girlfriend via a swathe of self-denial, awkward encounters and everyday courage, Ellie’s journey is told through tender and funny illustrations – a self-portrait sketched out from the heart.

The Times I Knew I Was Gay reminds us that sexuality is not often determined by falling in love with others, but by coming to terms with oneself; that people must come out not just once but again and again. Full of vitality and love, it will ring true for anyone who took time to discover who they truly are.

Where do I start with this amazing book?

I guess the first thing that I immediately loved was Ellie’s illustrations. They reminded me a little of Nick Sharratt (the guy who illustrates a lot of Jacqueline Wilson’s covers) and I loved that so much! The amount of detail that she put into her drawings is so cool!

I really adore reading LGBTQ+ books! They’re one of my favourite genres to read in YA but I also love reading them in fiction too! You get more of an idea of a person’s situation if you read about it. Though I kind of love seeing them illustrated with text along with it. It kept my brain engaged instead of trying to decipher a lot of text.

Just because I love books doesn’t mean my brain always wants to!

Full review is here!

The Paper & Hearts Society: Read with Pride (Lucy Powrie)

Olivia Santos is excited for her last year at secondary school. But when a parent complains about LGBTQ+ content in one of the books, the library implements a new policy for withdrawing books. Olivia is distraught – she’s demisexual and knows how important it is for all readers to see themselves represented.

Luckily, she’s the mastermind behind The Paper & Hearts Society book club, and she knows exactly what to do: start a new club, find ways of evading the system, and change the policy for good!

With two book clubs to run, exams to prepare for, and a girlfriend, just how long will it be before Olivia burns out? After all, creating a book club and trying to get the #ReadWithPride hashtag to get noticed is going to take a lot of energy.

Sometimes, when you’re in too deep, it’s up to your friends to look out for you

When I said that I love reading LGBTQ+, I wasn’t lying! Haha!

Now I could go into a bunch of detail here about what I thought about this! This was another late review but the review for this was my last post so, if you;ve got time, I’d love for you to check it out! You won’t be disappointed I swear!

Or at least I hope you won’t be!

Full review is here!

What books did you read in July?

Books

Review | The Paper & Hearts Society: Read With Pride (Lucy Powrie)

Pride

MY RATING: 5 Stars

This is a review that I’ve been so excited to write! My review for The Paper and Hearts Society: Read With Pride is finally here! Ever since Lucy announced that she was doing a sequel to her successful debut book The Paper and Hearts Society, I’ve been waiting. I have been sitting on this book for a few months due to Covid and wanting to be in the right frame of mind to read.

I’m so glad that I did!!

If you haven’t read Lucy’s first book, then check it out! It’s a must-read for all book lovers out there.

What drew me to this next book?

There are multiple reasons, honestly. The fact I’m a big fan of Lucy Powrie, along with the book chatting about LGBTQ+ representation and, of course, the cover! It’s so pretty and colourful. I love it! With all of those reasons, let’s crack on with the review!

Synopsis

Olivia Santos is excited for her last year at secondary school. But when a parent complains about LGBTQ+ content in one of the books, the library implements a new policy for withdrawing books. Olivia is distraught – she’s demisexual and knows how important it is for all readers to see themselves represented.

Luckily, she’s the mastermind behind The Paper & Hearts Society book club, and she knows exactly what to do: start a new club, find ways of evading the system, and change the policy for good!

With two book clubs to run, exams to prepare for, and a girlfriend, just how long will it be before Olivia burns out? After all, creating a book club and trying to get the #ReadWithPride hashtag to get noticed is going to take a lot of energy.

Sometimes, when you’re in too deep, it’s up to your friends to look out for you

Review

The Paper and Hearts Society: Read With Pride follows Olivia Santos, the creator of the society and future book editor. She is literally obsessed with all books and, now that she is starting her GCSEs, she is reunited with the school library and her best friends. All should be great for her, right?

Wrong. The start of Year 11 starts off very badly for her.

She discovers that due to a complaint from a parent and a new school policy, all the library books with LGBTQ+ content now have a warning on the front. The students even have to get a permission slip signed by a parent. For those of you who don’t, Olivia is demi-sexual and also has a girlfriend called Cassie. You can imagine how horrified and upset she was hearing about this.

Of course, Olivia being Olivia, she doesn’t want to sit down and take this quietly.

She finds that there are others in the school who are LGBTQ+ and they secretly join together to take on this policy. They create posters, chat with each other in the library and do a couple of other things. I adored seeing this defiant side of Olivia! She’s often compared to Hermione for being studious and bookish, but this shows she is so much more than that!!

We have all the other members of the society: Henry is still being cute with Tabby, Tabby is trying to figure out this new school with her anxiety, Ed is trying to take on the job market (and failing) and Cassie is struggling with her mum. Lucy truly knows how to create a bunch of characters that you can relate. I felt so connected with Cassie after being a young carer for my mum as well. Don’t I know what it’s like to put my mum’s health before I want!

She has also introduced a bunch of brand new characters for me to love: Nell, Saffy, Oscar, Alf, Rocky and Morgan!

You really feel for all the struggles that they are going through and anyone in the community will find someone that understands them here. My favourites had to be Saffy (she’s adorable!) and Rocky! They really embrace being part of the Pride community and help to reach others through the hashtag #ReadWithPride! It’s incredible to see and for them to fight!

Unfortunately Pride is not the only thing Olivia has to work on.

What happens to her and her friends? You’ll have to buy the book yourself and see!

Have you read The Paper and Hearts Society: Read with Pride?

Books

Review | The Times I Knew I Was Gay by Eleanor Crewes

The times I knew I was gay

MY RATING: 5 Stars

On According to Daisy, it’s always Pride Month! We had my review on Loveless (ace character), Bookish and the Beast (has LGBTQ+ characters) and now we have The Times I Knew I Was Gay! I didn’t know that this was coming out untl 2 days before but I was still super excited!

As evident from my non-stop mention of Heartstopper every other post, I love a good graphic novel! When I saw Alice mentioning this on Twitter, I knew I had to check it out. This is actually a non-fiction book in the form of a graphic memoir which is awesome.

I love hearing about someone’s life story but I think Eleanor Crewes’ story is vital right now. There are some horrendous stats that I’ve heard about the LGBTQ+ youth and everyone needs to understand. If it takes at least one person reading this novel to not feel alone, then all the kudos!

Synopsis

Ellie always knew she was different. Contrary and creative, she wore black, obsessed over Willow in Buffy and somehow never really liked boys. As she grew, so did her fears and a deep sense of unbelonging. From her first communion to her first girlfriend via a swathe of self-denial, awkward encounters and everyday courage, Ellie’s journey is told through tender and funny illustrations – a self-portrait sketched out from the heart.

The Times I Knew I Was Gay reminds us that sexuality is not often determined by falling in love with others, but by coming to terms with oneself; that people must come out not just once but again and again. Full of vitality and love, it will ring true for anyone who took time to discover who they truly are.

Review

Where do I start with this amazing book?

I guess the first thing that I immediately loved was Ellie’s illustrations. They reminded me a little of Nick Sharratt (the guy who illustrates a lot of Jacqueline Wilson’s covers) and I loved that so much! The amount of detail that she put into her drawings is so cool!

They might be in black and white but that takes nothing away.

You can see all the expressions going through her mind along with the words. It’s one of the reasons why I love reading graphic novels. The pictures only bring the words to life even more especially when the moments get serious. As you can imagine, this book has a bunch of those and it really made me feel!

Some of the moments that I both adored and sometimes cried at were:

  • Seeing Eleanor starting to notice she was different to her friends.
  • Seeing how she started to realise that she was gay.
  • Learning what she felt she had to do to keep her secret hidden.

I will say that there are quite a few triggering moments for those who had/who currently have an eating disorder. I wasn’t really expecting it and it did shake me for a while. Everything that Ellie said about herself is what is going through my head right now. Even thought I was triggered, I also felt like I connected with her even more. I know what it’s like to be different from others, what it’s like to try and change yourself and how that damages you.

There is one paragraph in particular that has really stuck with me:

“…But my struggle with food was a subconscious way to redirect myself from the fact that I was gay.

I created a problem to distract my body from my brain, a pastime fuelled with anxiety, but one that was easier to reckon with than any of my deeper, truer feelings.”

It really describes what I’m going through at the minute. If Ellie does get the chance to see this review one day, thanks for being so honest about what you felt. There are plenty of funny and happier moments about accepting that it was okay to be gay and discovering herself. Her disastraous first few days after coming out, cutting her hair short and when she found her girlfriend.

It’s so cute!! I was throwing internal confetti while I was reading those moments!

It’s doesn’t matter who you are, whether you’re in the LGBTQ+ community or not, The Times I Knew I Was Gay will speak volumes to you.

Books Fandom

Review | Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston

bookish and the beast

I received Bookish and the Beast from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

With this being the 3rd in the series for Ashley Poston, I pretty much squealed when I discovered I could read ‘Bookish and the Beast‘ early. Ashley really knows how to talk to a nerdy fangirl like myself with all her fandom references. This book wasn’t any different and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

If you can’t tell from the title, this book is loosely based on Beauty and the Beast. A tale as old as time? Most definitely but an incredible modern take on it!

We follow Rosie Thorne as she tries to make it through her senior year of high school as sane as possible. She’s dealing with college applications, living in a small town and the persistent advances of a guy wanting to take her to prom. You can’t help but feel sorry for her! While all this is happening, she ends up meeting film star Vance Reigns who is particularly salty!

He’s hollywood royalty who has been banished to this town to hide from bad press. He’s moody, bratty and not a massive fan of reading. However, he has a secret that ties both he and Rosie together. Like Beauty and the Beast, Rosie ends up trying to ‘tame the beast’ by getting to know him and seeing the real side of him. If you love enemies-to-lovers, then you will love this!

Rosie was such a perfect Belle and her friends were incredible, especially the sassy Quinn! They are non-binary and wanting to take the role of Homecoming King/Queen for themselves! I love that there is LGBTQ+ representation in Ashley’s books!

There’s such a small moment in the book that I really related to and that’s why Rosie and one of her friends are fangirling over a new trailer. I did this SO many times with Harry Potter and Marvel that it really made me smile. Honestly, I think everyone should read this series because they’re all connected in small ways and my fellow nerds will definitely relate to a lot of what happens.

Bookish and the Beast is coming out August 4th so preorder now and enjoy!!

Bookish and the Beast

Books

Review | Loveless by Alice Oseman

Loveless

MY RATING: 5 Stars

If you have been following my blog for a while, you know that I’m a major fan of Alice Oseman. As you can tell, I’ve got a small yet mightly collection of her books. I need to own them all but just taking my time! I’m addicted to her writing style and the way she touches upon the LGBTQ+ themes.

I literally haven’t loved characters as much as these. I might even love them more than Harry Potter! *shockhorror*

Her books are so relatable for so many reasons. Heartstopper follows two school boys in secondary school and made me relive some of my school horrors! Haha! Solitaire has one of my favourite characters of all time in it: Tori Spring!! She is the big sister of Charlie from Heartstopper and she is so freaking sassy! I love her! Seeing as I love Alice’s books, it’s no surprise that I had to preorder her newest book: Loveless!

It’s actually her book birthday today so HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY, LOVELESS!

Synopsis

Georgia has never been in love, never kissed anyone, never even had a crush – but as a fanfic-obsessed romantic she’s sure she’ll find her person one day.

As she starts university with her best friends, Pip and Jason, in a whole new town far from home, Georgia’s ready to find romance, and with her outgoing roommate on her side and a place in the Shakespeare Society, her ‘teenage dream’ is in sight.

But when her romance plan wreaks havoc amongst her friends, Georgia ends up in her own comedy of errors, and she starts to question why love seems so easy for other people but not for her. With new terms thrown at her – asexual, aromantic – Georgia is more uncertain about her feelings than ever.

Is she destined to remain loveless? Or has she been looking for the wrong thing all along?

Review

The book follows Georgia and her friend Jason during their first year at Durham University. Ever since she was at school Georgia had loved love. She had loved the romance in the Disney films and read slash fanfictions like Draco/Harry and Korra/Asami. The idea of loving someone and dating them seemed amazing to her, but the reality of it was that it grossed her out.

She was eighteen and had never been kissed.

I literally have never connected with a character like this before. I mean…I’ve had a couple of characters that I’ve connected with like Luna Lovegood, but sexuality is a whole different thing.

You rarely see characters who are asexual or aromatic and, yet again, Alice brings it to life. Ever since I’ve read her books, she has shown so much understanding to the LGBTQ+ community. Whether her characters are gay, bisexual, transgender or more, she gives life to them and her fans.

As we follow Georgia’s journey towards identifying her sexuality, what that could possibly me and how it would affect the people she was close to. She has her best friend Jason who is super close to, her roommate Rooney who seems to love sex, Pip who seems like a closed book and more. I love all the references to Scooby Doo and the fact that they’re all in a Shakespeare society! MY PEOPLE!

What I particularly adored about Loveless was the different types of love.

It isn’t just one shoe fits all! It can come in so many forms: romantic love, family love and platonic love. You can really feel some of Alice’s personal experiences of being aromatic asexual. We throw the word love around so easy these days! At least I do! When I say that I love someone, I genuinely do! I care so much for my friends and they are my world. I just don’t feel the need to go past that!

Hugs are good though! ALL THE HUGS!!

So much happens in Loveless that both break my heart and had me giggling for ages! If you want to know more about asexuality or the LGBTQ+ community, click here! They’re amazing!!

Have you ever read any of Alice Oseman’s books?

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Books

5 Exciting YA Summer Releases You Have To Preorder

Photo by fotografierende on Unsplash

Sometimes you have to look towards the future when you want to ignore the present. Reading has become a lifeline in recent weeks and I’m already looking to Summer for book releases that I can preorder!

I haven’t done as many book posts as I’d prefer, but that happens. I can read a bunch of different books but I always forget to write reviews about them. I love reading other blogs such as A Rambling Reviewer to see what they think about their books. Once a blog reader, always a blog reader! This is probably why my Netgalley percentage is down in my boots! Haha!

Promise I’m going to try to be better, publishers!

With so many books released every season, these are some of the YA novels that I’m super excited to check out this summer.

The Lost Soul Atlas (Zana Fraillon – 23rd July)

A boy awakens in the Afterlife, with a pocketful of vague memories, a key, a raven, and a mysterious atlas to guide him as he sets out to piece together what happened, and try to find his way home…

I love the sound of this book so much! It reminds me of a similar book called Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin. It looks at death, life and everything in between. It’s an amazing book and a definite must-read. The Lost Soul Atlas caught my eye because of the plot. The fact that this boy wakes up and doesn’t remember how he died and has to figure it all out is interesting!

Got to love a book that makes you think!

The Heartstopper Colouring Book (Alice Oseman – 11th June)

Another book post mentioning Heartstopper! I’m officially recognising that I’m just a total Alice Oseman fangirl. I saw Alice’s publisher Team BKMRK mentioning that a Heartstopper colouring book was being released in June and I squealed!

Talk about an immediate pre-order!

I won’t do a perfect colouring job because I’m not artistic, but I’ll still have fun regardless.

The Falling in Love Montage (Ciara Smyth – 4th June)

Seventeen-year-old Saoirse has finished with exams and is facing a long hot summer before uni. She plans to party, get drunk, watch horror movies and forget all her troubles by kissing girls. Ever since the breakupocalypse with her ex Hannah, she’s been alone and angry, dealing with the hole left in her family by her sick mother’s absence. Worse, Dad drops a bombshell: he’s remarrying at the end of the summer.

Enter the scene: Ruby, who might just be the prettiest girl Saoirse’s ever seen. A romcom fan and a believer in true love, Ruby challenges cynical Saoirse to try a summer romance with the serious parts left out, just like in the movies. But what happens when the falling in love montage ends?

What better way to enjoy summer than by reading a LGBTQ+ rom-com! I’m slowly building up my little Pride bookshelf and this particular book sounds so adorable! I mean…why wouldn’t you read about an ‘breakupcalypse’ and two girls falling in love!

Saoirse already sounds amazing. Though I may be biased because Saoirse Ronan is one of my favourite actresses. Hands-up in the comments if you also know how to pronounce her name! Haha! I may be tempted to read this while listening to the Love Actually soundtrack!

The Switch Up: L.A Exchange (Katy Cannon – 25th June)

Alice can’t wait to visit Willa in LA – home of Hollywood, where dreams come true. Their plan is to explore the city and see the sights, but then Willa gets the opportunity to work on the film project of her dreams and she can’t say no!

The only problem is she is absolutely 100% supposed to be taking part in a beach clean-up. Which, now she thinks of it, sounds pretty perfect for Alice… Can the girls really swap lives again? Cue plotting, outfit swapping and award-winning performances. But everyone knows that real life is nothing like the movies…

As someone that loved the first book, I was super happy to see that Katy had written a sequel!

This already sounds like it will be just as fun as ‘The Switch Up’. Alice is such an awesome character due to the fact that she’s an Eco warrior and knows her own mind. She just seems to end up in these weird situations because of Willa! If you love the sounds of Prince & The Pauper meets The Parent Trap, then maybe think about popping this on your preorder list!

Love on the Main Stage (S.A. Domingo – 25th June)

16-year-old songwriter Nova is having the best summer of her life. Helping out with her parents’ food truck, she gets to attend not one, but FIVE different music festivals! Things get even better when she meets cute American boy, Sam, an aspiring musician like her. After sharing a magical evening dancing under the stars, Nova never expects to see Sam again. But to her surprise they keep meeting up at music festivals…

Nova begins to hope that their romance could become more than just a festival fling. So why is Sam so reluctant to talk about himself? And why does he have access to the VIP backstage area?

Look…this lockdown is clearly making me preorder romantic YA books! I guess that’s what happens when you’re on your own. *sob*

I’ve never been to a music festival so I have to live vicariously through books like this. There’s something super sweet about this plot. Two teens crushing on each other, dancing under the stars, and one hiding a big secret. What do you think Sam could be hiding?

Is he a secret Hannah Montana?! Haha.

What YA novels have you got on your preorder list this summer?