July TBR 2017

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Okay so this month I have a huge TBR – my friend Hannah (over at Sprinkledwithwords!) and I are going to YALC at the end of the month so I’m trying to read as many as possible by authors that will be there. There are a couple of others that I’d really love to get to soon as well. It’s ambitious, but I’ve nothing else to do with my time so I’m going for it!

Physical books (not for YALC)

The Girls – Emma Cline (not pictured)

I have been wanting to read this since it came out and the paperback has finally been released so I’m super excited!

The Power – Naomi Alderman

I thought this looked good when I was looking at it on the new releases stand in Waterstones – then it won the Baileys women’s prize for fiction, so I guess it’s a must-read.

American Gods – Neil Gaiman

I started this a while back and was really enjoying it – I’m not too sure why I haven’t picked it back up but I want to finish it in July.

Loved – P. C. and Kristen Cast (Not pictured as it hasn’t been released yet!)

A NEW HOUSE OF NIGHT BOOK. A NEW HOUSE OF NIGHT BOOK.

YALC physical books

The Art of Being Normal – Lisa Williamson

Wing Jones – Katherine Webber (this has the most gorgeous sprayed edges!)

The Pearl Thief – Elizabeth Wein

Ink – Alice Broadway

A Darker Shade of Magic – V. E. Schwab

The Square Root of Summer – Harriet Reuter Hapgood

YALC ebooks

The State of Grace – Rachael Lucas

One of Us is Lying – Karen McManus

The Graces – Laure Eve

The Bone Season – Samantha Shannon

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

Wolf by Wolf – Ryan Graudin

One final ebook (I have to read it by July 15th)

The Ethan I was Before – Ali Standish

Review: The Princess Saves Herself in This One – Amanda Lovelace

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Genre: poetry, feminism, non-fiction

Publication Date: April 23rd 2016 by CreateSpace

Format: eARC from Andrews McMeel Publishing via Netgalley

A poetry collection divided into four different parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, & you. the princess, the damsel, & the queen piece together the life of the author in three stages, while you serves as a note to the reader & all of humankind. Explores life & all of its love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, & inspirations.

(from goodreads.com)


The message in this collection is one of the most powerful I’ve read in a while. Every poem in here just screams empowerment and they really spoke to me. Some of the words in here I felt I really needed to read, and that’s why I loved this collection so much.

This whole book centres around the idea that women should be proud of who they are as females – in fact people should just be proud of themselves – and that they don’t need to depend on anyone to lift them up, so to speak. The title of the book really does sum it up. It is a story that is personal to the author – their own story of escaping abuse and finding empowerment – and thus I don’twant to say too much on the actual story, other than that it is incredible and inspiring.

The main issue I had with this book was the actual writing itself. Technicalities, I guess. As a creative writing student who primarily focuses on poetry, I do query whether some of the poems are truly poems – though I am most certainly not alone in thinking this and conclude that it is an issue that cannot be ignored and put down to pickiness.

Let me say this now: pressing enter after every line does not make a poem. What the ‘poem’ is saying is absolutely wonderful – the words themselves work beautifully. But leave it as a sentence maybe. It would work so, so much better. If you read other anthologies in a similar style, you’ll realise that a new line is begun because the word is particularly relevant, because starting a new line at that point symbolises something. I was often reading these poems and feeling as though enter was pressed haphazardly after a paragraph had been written – keep it as a paragraph.

I still loved this though. It was beautiful, heartfelt, and powerful, and something that I really felt that everyone should read (I then went and nagged my friend to read it!). Just because I didn’t feel as though the formatting of the words was relevant or particularly well executed, I definitely do not feel the same way about the words written and the messages within the book. Will I be picking up more by this author? Definitely. I’m looking forward as well to seeing how her poetry style improves and changes in her next book.

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars.

Review: Somewhere in Between – Katie Li

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Genre: YA, fantasy

Publication Date: August 25th 2015 by Kung Fu Girl Books

Format: eARC from Broad Universe via Netgalley

Two friends find a portal to another dimension and use this “in-between place” to avoid the stress of their everyday lives. What they don’t realize is that every time they enter, they alter reality. 

Pseudo-punk Magnolia and underachieving gamer-geek Rom are two unlikely friends who only hang out during their walks home together after school. When they find the a portal that leads to different worlds, they use the “in-between place” as an escape from their lives in high school, then later, after college. 

Their visits through the portal bring them teetering along a tight-rope of fantasy and reality, where they don’t always believe what is in front of them, not even their feelings for each other. 

The book is about changes—the ones that you can control, and the ones that you can’t. It’s about commitment and friendship. It’s about the stages in between where you have nothing but the unknown ahead of you.

Inspired by the work of Haruki Murakami and films like Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind, Somewhere In Between is metaphysical coming-of-age story about defining love and finding yourself.

(from goodreads.com


I feel that the best way I can describe this book is confusing. I read it a while ago, and I freely admit that a year of uni has got in the way of me remembering this clearly, but even then, I distinctly remember being very confused as I actually read this book.

That being said, the concept was extremely interesting and I feel as though this book is definitely for someone who enjoys reading books that are ambiguous, odd and have a very fine line between what is real and what isn’t. That person isn’t me, though I still found it interesting. I’m that person who likes my questions answered (although I equally love philosophy, so who knows what I actually like), and when certain events happened in this book I struggled to work out whether the characters were deceived or whether they had actually happened. One thing I can’t stand is being confused by a book. (Again, just me – I’m also very easily confused, it’s actually frustrating).

I found the writing to be quite choppy, with the flitting between times and memories and places, all adding to the confusion. I found myself getting quite mixed up with what was going on and also as to who was who as a result of this. As for the writing itself, there was something lovely about it, though I couldn’t say what – it was just really pleasant to read.

The characters were very unique and I liked their quirks and differences, it made it easier to distinguish between them. Magnolia in particular I liked for her uniqueness and how she stood out from all of the other characters.

This was an okay read, though I didn’t enjoy it so much as I repeatedly got confused and honestly I don’t really know what happened. However it was also enjoyable if you take it for what it is; an ambiguous story where reality is distorted, and that is why my rating isn’t that low. Not everyone would enjoy this, but it’s okay, not everyone has to. If you’re the kind of person who likes a book that is different and slightly odd, mixed up with a contemporary feel, then this is probably for you.

Rating: 3 / 5 Stars.

Review: Beautiful Broken Things – Sara Barnard

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Genre: YA, contemporary

Publication Date: February 25th 2016 by Macmillan Children’s Books

Format: eARC from Pan Macmillan via Netgalley

Best friends Caddy and Rosie are inseparable. Their differences have brought them closer, but as she turns sixteen Caddy begins to wish she could be a bit more like Rosie – confident, funny and interesting. Then Suzanne comes into their lives: beautiful, damaged, exciting and mysterious, and things get a whole lot more complicated. As Suzanne’s past is revealed and her present begins to unravel, Caddy begins to see how much fun a little trouble can be. But the course of both friendship and recovery is rougher than either girl realises, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own.

(From goodreads.com)


I really enjoyed this book, I’m saying it now. I’ve since read Sara Barnard’s second book and loved that probably even more. It focuses on friendship and trauma and family and it really was a great read. Not that it doesn’t have problems, but it was really difficult to put down.

The principle problem I had with this book was Caddy. Honestly, this would probably have been a five star book without her. I understand unlikeable characters, such as Suzanne’s aunt (others may disagree with me here but her seeing Suzanne as a burden was just cruel after all she’d been through), but Caddy was ridiculous in some parts. She’s jealous of her best friend Rosie and her sister Tarin because her Rosie lost her baby sister when she was younger and Tarin is bipolar. I just cannot fathom how someone can be jealous of either of these things – she wants to be interesting, fine, but does she honestly want either of these things to happen to her? Really?!

Caddy is just selfish and shallow, she provokes Suzanne despite having researched what triggers mean and knowing that she will hurt her. I know there are people in the world who would act that way but I’d bet that they’re in general not nice people, but Caddy is portrayed throughout as a decent human being. It’s kind of confusing. Basically she’s jealous of Suzanne, jealous that Rosie has a new friend, jealous that Suzanne has had something happen to her in her life, regardless of the pain and upheaval it has resulted in. In short, she’s just jealous.

On the other hand, I loved the characters of Rosie and Suzanne, the latter in particular. Suzanne’s story was heartbreaking and painful and about recovery and it was so much more interesting that the main storyline. (Caddy’s life goal was to get a boyfriend. No, she’s not twelve). Rosie was a great character too, a little simple at times, but I felt that it was just the way she is; seeing the good in everything and wanting to do the best for everyone.

So much was happening in this book, with everything linking in places, but I found that I didn’t get confused. Barnard is such a wonderful writer and it was such a compelling read – I just wanted to read on and on and on, regardless of whatever stupid thing Caddy said or thought. It was genuinely such an enjoyable book and I was dragged in by the plot and its fast pace. I’d highly recommend this to any lover of contemporary YA, and Barnard has definitely become an auto-buy author.

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars.

Review: Silence is Goldfish – Annabel Pitcher

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Genre: YA, Contemporary

Publication Date: October 1st 2015 by Orion Children’s Books

Format: eARC Hachette Children’s Group from via Netgalley

My name is Tess Turner – at least, that’s what I’ve always been told.

I have a voice but it isn’t mine. It used to say things so I’d fit in, to please my parents, to please my teachers. It used to tell the universe I was something I wasn’t. It lied.

It never occurred to me that everyone else was lying too. But the words that really hurt weren’t the lies: it was six hundred and seventeen words of truth that turned my world upside down.

Words scare me, the lies and the truth, so I decided to stop using them.

I am Pluto. Silent. Inaccessible. Billions of miles away from everything I thought I knew.

Tessie-T has never really felt she fitted in and after what she read that night on her father’s blog she knows for certain that she never will. How she deals with her discovery makes an entirely riveting, heart-breaking story told through Tess’s eyes as she tries to find her place in the world.

(from goodreads.com)


Annabel Pitcher is one of those authors that I cannot make my mind up about. I adored her first novel, My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece (it was one of the first books I reviewed on my blog!) but disliked her second book Ketchup Clouds. I hoped that this would swing me in one direction or the other, but it fell squarely in the middle.

Tess is a teenager, and acts in the normal way that you would expect a teenager to act. She’s just discovered something devastating and obviously she reacts badly to it – anyone would. However it was the writing of this book I struggled with. Tess is a teenager, as I’ve said, but it read as though she were younger, and as a result I struggled with this. Her conversations with ‘Mr. Goldfish’ were juvenile – I know her conversing with a torch is supposed to highlight her isolation, but it was the actual ‘discussions’ that they had which were problematic for me.

The character of Tess was one that I didn’t find myself particularly attached to, either. In fact, I found the side characters (particularly Isabel) to be more interesting. I felt as though Pitcher had tried to include more facts about Tess, but they weren’t really clear and it was difficult to picture her (I recall some mention of her weight, but it wasn’t really developed so I’m not too sure). She was shallow and rash, making impulsive and stupid decisions, again understandable following terrible news, but some of her actions were just unnecessary and I found myself being irritated rather than intrigued.

Then there is the whole sub-plot regarding Mr. Richardson which I felt was just included to make a bit more happen in the book and to up the word count. Whilst it does work in the story, I felt that nothing would truly have been lost if it wasn’t there. Maybe that’s just me though.

However, it was still a cute read and I will be picking up more books by Annabel Pitcher in the hope something will wow me as much as her first book did. It was quick, different and fun, though a little too juvenile for a teenage narrator and I think Pitcher’s style definitely suits a younger character. I would recommend this book, as it portrays the feeling of isolation extremely well and the effect that not knowing who you truly are can have on a person. I did enjoy this book at the end of the day, despite the fact that I’ve focused on the problems that I had with it. The plot was interesting and I did like the majority of the characters – which can make or break a book for me – and it honestly was a pleasant read. Not my favourite of hers, but if you were thinking of reading it, I’d encourage you to pick it up.

Rating: 3 / 5 Stars.

Ten Writing Prompts

As part of my creative writing course, we had to create our own writing prompts. I felt pretty proud of mine, so I thought I’d share them with you!

  1. In a public place, create a story from the first thing you hear someone say.
  2. Avoid using punctuation (except that which changes the word, like an apostrophe).
  3. Write a conversation without direct speech.
  4. Look on your local ‘buy and sell’ page, write something about an item listed.
  5. Write about what frustrates you.
  6. Create a menu without naming any foods.
  7. Pick an emotion and describe it. Once done, write it again, but opposite (i.e. if your chosen emotion was negative, then the rewrite will be positive).
  8. Write about something human that you can’t see, e.g. electricity, wi-fi.
  9. Find an old Facebook post. Write as you did then.
  10. Make the most boring thing you can think of interesting.

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Finally have a picture that I took at uni as a prompt!

Review: Asking For It – Louise O’Neill

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Genre: YA, Contemporary

Publication Date: September 3rd 2015 by Quercus Books

Format: eARC from Quercus Books via Netgalley

It’s the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O’Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there’s a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma. 

The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can’t remember what happened, she doesn’t know how she got there. She doesn’t know why she’s in pain. But everyone else does. 

Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don’t want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town’s heroes… 

(From goodreads.com)


This is an important book, no question about it. It holds an important message and focuses on a crucial issue in today’s society. Too many stories have been in the news where a criminal – rapist – gets away with his crime simply because he is “promising” in a certain field.

I’m not going to lie, I did at one point want to stop reading, and if I hadn’t been reading it as part of a book club then it’s likely that I would have done. I’m glad I finished it, as it is such an important book and I do feel as though it should be read, but the main character (Emma) is just so unlikeable. I know this is probably deliberate so that it puts the focus entirely on how she is treated (I mean if she were likeable I know I would have felt sorry for her just because she was nice and people were a bit mean), especially considering the vile way people react to everything that happens. I don’t know, all of the characters being truly vile just made it a difficult read, and not because of the subject matter.

This was a gritty portrayal of rape and the effect it can have, there was nothing ‘nice’ or ‘fluffy’ about it, which was fantastic to see. We see the long and short term effects and how Emma and her family deal with the events and this is why I believe this book to be so important. I have read a couple of books that focus on rape, but none were as hard-hitting, and honest, as this one. It lives up to so many true stories of rape, and obviously these don’t cover everyone and their experience, the true stories I’ve heard are all I (fortunately) have to compare it to. I don’t know how a victim would feel about the portrayal in this book, but a lot of people have praised O’Neill’s depiction, and I hope that counts for something.

I enjoyed the writing in this book too, it was fast paced and interesting. The plot was brilliant, there were so many finely thought-out details which were really well incorporated into the story and worked very well overall. The way the media was brought in – as well as doctors and therapists – really shone a light on all sides of the story and thus highlighted every aspect of Emma’s ordeal and suffering. This made it a difficult read at times, due to some of the things that the characters would say or do, but that’s life and what makes this book so great – you have to face up to these views.

Overall the main issue that I had with this book was definitely the characters as a whole. I couldn’t stand any of them, and I’ve said previously on my blog that if I don’t like the characters I do struggle to like the whole book. However, the way that O’Neill addresses the issue (and crime) of rape, highlights all of the injustice in society, and the struggle that the victim has long after the event truly makes this book a must-read for everyone.

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars.