YALC Haul 2018

Last weekend I went to YALC with my best friend, and I bought far, far too many books. I had an absolutely wonderful time, however, and I have no regrets as I’m so excited to read all of the ones that I picked up. I managed to meet a load of my favourite authors, pick up new releases I was am excited about, and just all in all have a great time.

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Books I took with me and got signed:

I took a fair few with me for signings, and I actually managed to get most of them signed! There were a couple I didn’t, but I did well overall I think.

  • Goodbye, Perfect – Sara Barnard
  • Clean – Juno Dawson
  • Big Bones – Laura Dockrill
  • In Your Light – Annalie Grainger
  • Half Bad, Half Wild, Half Lost, and The Smoke Thieves – Sally Green
  • White Rabbit Red Wolf – Tom Pollock
  • The Exact Opposite of Okay – Laura Steven
  • The Summer of Us – Cecelia Vinesse
  • In Paris With You – Clementine Beauvais
  • Floored – Various Authors
  • It Only Happens in the Movies – Holly Bourne
  • Starfish – Akemi Dawn Bowman
  • Skylarks – Karen Gregory
  • Editing Emma – Chloe Seager
  • A Sky Painted Gold – Laura Wood

Books that I purchased there and got signed:

  • The Manifesto on How to Be Interesting – Holly Bourne
  • Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? – Holly Bourne
  • Only Love Can Break Your Heart – Katherine Webber

Other books I purchased there:

  • Moon Chosen – P.C. Cast
  • The Love That Split the World – Emily Henry
  • The Sacred Lives of Minnow Bly – Stephanie Oakes
  • Edgewater – Courtney Sheinmel
  • Bookish Boyfriends – Tiffany Schmidt
  • Gabriel and the Swallows – Esther Dalseno
  • Final Draft – Riley Redgate
  • Sweet Black Waves – Kristina Pérez
  • Valley Girls – Sarah Nicole Lemon
  • A Taxonomy of Love – Rachael Allen
  • Hello Me, It’s You – Various authors
  • Hope is Our Only Wing – Rutendo Tavengerwei
  • The Price Guide to the Occult – Leslye Walton
  • All Those Beautiful Strangers – Elizabeth Klehfoth
  • Grace and Fury – Tracy Banghart

ARCs I picked up:

  • Devoted – Jennifer Mathieu
  • The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik – David Arnold
  • The History of Jane Doe – Michael Belanger
  • Lives You Never Told Me – Jennifer Donaldson
  • Sadie – Courtney Summers

I was doing so well with restricting myself on the Friday and Saturday, but I definitely went overboard (what a surprise) on the Sunday. Sunday afternoon means amazing offers that are too good to pass up, and I bought five in the few minutes in between my best friend leaving and me having to go too. Oops.

I had such a great time though, and I have no regrets (my shoulders disagree but hey ho). I’m utterly exhausted now, as it’s a very intense weekend and we were constantly on the go, but it was so, so worth it.

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Books I Want to Read This Week

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I am officially finished with my second year of university now, and it’s such a relief. It’s been undeniably difficult in so many ways, but I have an amazing stack of books that I am desperate to get to and can now work my way through! I’ve come home for a while now, though I’ll be heading back to uni soon, but I have brought plenty of books with me and here are some that I want to get to most:

  • The Wicker King – K. Ancrum
  • Love, Hate and Other Filters – Samir Ahmed
  • Murder Most Unladylike and Arsenic for Tea – Robin Stevens
  • Clean – Juno Dawson
  • Another Place – Matthew Crow
  • Leah on the Offbeat – Becky Albertalli

I have brought more than just these back with me (self-control goes out of the window as I now drive myself back and forth to uni), but realistically these are the ones I’m most like to get to and finish whilst I am home. I have admittedly nearly finished Leah on the Offbeat (and it is amazing), and I just cannot wait to read all of the books I’ve been staring wistfully at for the past few months.

March TBR 2018

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As I write this post, I am three books behind my Goodreads goal, meaning that in order to catch up by the end of the month, I need to read 11 books in March. 11 books is very ambitious for me, especially as I only read four in February and I will have uni work to be getting on with too. However, I do want to focus on getting through some review books from NetGalley, and I find them a lot quicker to get through, so fingers crossed!

Uni books

  • NW – Zadie Smith
  • Hot Milk – Deborah Levy
  • Pond – Claire-Louise Bennett
  • Twelfth Night – William Shakespeare

Physical books

  • The Exact Opposite of Okay – Laura Steven
  • Turtles All the Way Down – John Green
  • Murder Most Unladylike – Robin Stevens (I actually have almost the entire series from the library, but we’ll see how many I get through)

NetGalley books

  • A Thousand Perfect Notes – C. G. Drews
  • The Poet X – Elizabeth Acevedo
  • From a Low and Quiet Sea – Donal Ryan
  • Children of Blood and Bone – Tomi Adeyemi
  • The Astonishing Colour of After – Emily X. R. Pan
  • Clean – Juno Dawson
  • The Taste of Blue Light – Lydia Ruffles
  • Love, Hate & Other Filters – Samira Ahmed
  • Piecing Me Together – Renée Watson

Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream – William Shakespeare

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This is definitely one of my favourites of Shakespeare’s plays, second only to Hamlet. It funny, magical and I love the cast of characters. It’s a short play, one of the shortest I’ve read for sure, but it packs so much in and moves very quickly.

I don’t really know how to put my feelings about this play into words. This time reading it was my second time, for uni, though my first was simply because I felt like it. Unlike the other plays I’ve read for uni, it didn’t drag because it was a set text; I genuinely wanted to read it and enjoy it again.

The characters, as in all plays, are what makes this great. A fair amount does happen throughout the play to keep you interested, but the variety of different characters in this are what capture your attention and imagination. As with many of Shakespeare’s plays, there are a lot of characters, far more than you’d perhaps see in a contemporary play. But I found this one so much easier to follow than in the others. They are in distinguished groups, have their own way of addressing each other and it makes for a much more enjoyable experience.

I love this play a lot, and will definitely be rereading it at some point in the future. It’s witty, amusing, and just great entertainment. It’s nowhere near as gritty as some of Shakespeare’s other plays, but in a way, that makes it better, because you can read it whatever mood you’re in (Hamlet is absolutely wonderful and I could rave on and on about it, but even so, it’s not an uplifting, lighthearted read). I highly recommend it, especially as a route into Shakespeare – it’s quick, easy to follow, and fun.

Rating: 5 / 5 🌟

Weekend Reading TBR

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So I have decided to challenge myself this weekend to read as much as possible. I love the idea of the 24 in 48 readathon, though realistically I will not be able to read that much as I have other things that I need to do – go to the gym, cook, some uni work etc.

However, I’m aiming for roughly 8 hours a day of reading, and I have created a short (ish) TBR to work through:

  • The Quickening Maze – Adam Foulds
  • Goodbye, Perfect – Sara Barnard
  • Things a Bright Girl Can Do – Sally Nicholls
  • Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse – Rick Riordan
  • A Skinful of Shadows – Francis Hardinge

Though I have already started some of them, I don’t think that I’ll have time to make it through all of these, but they are the ones at the top of my list – I will be seeing Sally Nicholls and Francis Hardinge the following Tuesday and I would love to have read at least one of the books in time!

 

Review: Harvest – Jim Crace

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Genre: Contemporary, literary fiction, historical

Publication date: 14th February 2013 by Picador

Format: Paperback copy I purchased used.

As late summer steals in and the final pearls of barley are gleaned, a village comes under threat. A trio of outsiders – two men and a dangerously magnetic woman – arrives on the woodland borders and puts up a make-shift camp. That same night, the local manor house is set on fire.

Over the course of seven days, Walter Thirsk sees his hamlet unmade: the harvest blackened by smoke and fear, the new arrivals cruelly punished, and his neighbours held captive on suspicion of witchcraft. But something even darker is at the heart of his story, and he will be the only man left to tell it…

(from goodreads.com)


I really can’t make my mind up about this book, there were aspects that I absolutely loved, and others that just pulled it down for me.

The writing is wonderful in this book, it is lyrical, poetic, and sounds iambic throughout much of the novel. It rolls off the tongue if read aloud, and flows so beautifully when read silently. It alone makes me want to read more by Jim Crace.

However, the plot was a bit anti-climatic and – dare I say it – dull, for my liking. It’s not that things don’t happen, because they do, but there was so little drama where it felt as though there should have been, and unnecessary drama elsewhere. It’s incredibly violent in places, which does make sense and helps to build up an idea of the community and the mentality that the people had toward anyone who may interfere with their way of living, but at times I felt it a bit much and not really necessary.

The ending too, was fairly predictable, though it is likely that it was a definite choice made by the author. I had hoped for something a bit more though.

I’m not usually a historical fiction kind of person, but I did enjoy this more than I expected. It wasn’t a favourite by any means, but I think the fact that it is set in history but is not in a specific time (in just occurs in the period of enclosure – which happened over a few hundred years) made it easier to get into and read – there are no set characters from history that I had to puzzle over and admit I’d never heard of. It’s highly relevant to the present, and is, in fact, more about the present than the past in many ways. The same things that occur in the book are happening in other countries across the globe, and many of the sentiments expressed are heard commonly in conversations every day. Whilst this was written before Brexit really became a ‘thing’, it resonates a lot with what is happening in the UK at this moment in time, which definitely made it more readable for me.

Overall, I did enjoy this book, though it’s not a favourite. There are interesting images throughout, and I loved how they were subtly included – the story of Cain and Abel was so interesting as it was so easy to miss but it was still there (I have no interest in the Bible itself, but the way Jim Crace included it was extremely clever). If you like poetic writing, this is definitely a good choice, and it is worth a read, though I’d say the description given by Goodreads (above – it is also what is on the back cover of my copy) is overdramatic – it’s nowhere near as dramatic as it is made out to sound!

Rating: 3.5 / 5 🌟

Review: Evening Primrose – Kopano Matlwa

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Genre: Contemporary, fiction

Publication date: 27th July 2017 by Sceptre

Format: Hardcover copy sent to me for review from Sceptre via Bookbridgr

Told in the form of a one-sided conversation with God, Evening Primrose is the story of Masechaba, a young woman who achieves her childhood dream of becoming a doctor, yet soon faces the stark reality of South Africa’s healthcare system.

As she leaves her deeply religious mother and makes friends with the politically-minded Nyasha, Masechaba’s eyes are opened to rising xenophobic tension in the shadow of the apartheid.

Battling her own personal demons, she must decide if she should make a stand to help her friend, even if it comes at a high personal cost.

(from goodreads.com)


This book may be only 160 pages, but it packs one hell of a punch. It is raw, emotional, honest, and utterly brilliant.

I have never read a book set in South Africa before, and I know (sadly) very little about the history of the country and its people. This book has prompted me to look up more detail, as there is so much happening that I had no idea about and feel as though I should learn about. This book taught me a lot in such a small space, but it only scratched the surface and there is so much left for me to research.

Masechaba is a wonderful character, and her story is both wonderful and heartbreaking. Normally I find happy / bittersweet / positive endings in books lovely but a bit boring, but this warmed me through and through (which was kind of necessary after the previous events). So much happens in this book, I found myself sucked into the story and Masechaba’s thoughts.

The plot is fast – a huge amount happens – but fairly easy to follow. By no means is it an easy read, and there are some places where I struggled to get through (I feel here is a good place to mention trigger warnings for suicide, mental illness, and sexual assault / rape, there is also a huge amount of xenophobia – it is the main theme that the book explores). There is so much discussion about menstruation as well, which was incredible to see. I don’t think any other book I have ever read has talked about it so explicitly and so much. So good to see, honestly. Masechaba has problems with her periods and they are discussed and this is exactly what literature needs.

The narrative is fairly fragmented, as it is written in the form of diary entries. The entries are addressed to God, which I admittedly kept forgetting until I was reminded through the use of ‘you’ and ‘Jesus’ in the same sentence in a few cases. I feel that this form opened the story up to the reader though, it meant I got a better insight into Masechaba’s emotional state, her thoughts, feelings, and the pacing was a lot quicker too.

Overall, I loved this book. It wasn’t an easy read at times, purely because of the subject matter, but I equally didn’t want to put it down. It is a wonderful piece of work, full of complexities and raw moments, and I would highly recommend it.

Rating: 4 / 5 🌟