2018 Releases I’m Excited About​

All of the release dates are all from Amazon unless otherwise stated!

  • Nice Try, Jane Sinner – Lianne Oelke

This book is honestly so fantastic and I’d highly recommend it – you can read my review here.

Released: 9th January

  • Love, Hate and Other Filters – Samira Ahmed

This book looks wonderful, and I will be getting to it very shortly as I received a copy via Netgalley a few days ago!

Released: 16th January

  • I am Thunder – Muhammad Khan

This is about religion (I think – it’s what I grasped from the synopsis on Netgalley but I may be wrong). It looks so good!

Released: 25th January

  • Goodbye, Perfect – Sara Barnard

I have loved all of the other books by Sara Barnard, and I cannot wait to read this one!

Released: 8th February

  • Piecing Me Together – Renée Watson

Another powerful looking book that I don’t know much about, but I know it talks about racism and I want to read it!

Released: 8th February

  • The Exact Opposite of Okay – Laura Steven

I’ve started reading this, as I was lucky enough to get an arc at YALC, and it’s so so good! The only reason I haven’t finished it is because it clashed with my writing project.

Released: 8th March

  • Tyler Johnson Was Here – Jay Coles

I don’t know much about this, but the synopsis looks so good (and important), so I want to pick it up!

Released: 20th March

  • The Astonishing Colour of After – Emily X. R. Pan

Again, I’m not too sure what it’s about, but it’s about a character struggling with her mother’s suicide and apparently, it is diverse (or so I hope, anyway!).

Released: 22nd March

  • Clean – Juno Dawson

I haven’t read a book with a main character facing addiction, so I can’t wait to read this. I have an early copy which I am desperate to read once my uni reading has been started!

Released: 5th April

  • The Poet X –  Elizabeth Acevedo

I know it includes slam poetry, though as for the rest I’m not sure – I’ve just heard a lot of good things!

Released: 3rd May

  • On The Come Up – Angie Thomas

I loved loved loved The Hate U Give and cannot wait to read this!

Released: 7th June

  • A Thousand Perfect Notes – C. G. Drews

This honestly looks incredible. I follow the author on social media and I’m ready to preorder it as soon as I know which address I’ll be at on its release date!

Released: 7th June

  • Lost – P.C. and Kristin Cast

This is the sequel to Loved, which is the beginning of a new series that later follows the House of Night series. I love these books – rereading them now I see they’re not the best written, but they’re sentimental and I love them regardless.

Released: 10th July

  • Floored – Various Authors

So many of my favourite YA writers have contributed to this…

Released: 12th July

  • Toil & Trouble: 16 Tales of Women & Witchcraft – Various Authors

Witchcraft. Enough said.

Released: 28th August

  • Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber

Wing Jones is an all-time favourite. I am beyond excited.

Expected publication: August

What new releases are you looking forward to?☺️📚


Review: Tremulous Hinge – Adam Giannelli


Genre: Poetry

Publication date: 15th April 2017 by University Of Iowa Press

Format: eARC sent to me for review from The University of Iowa Press via Netgalley

Rain intermits, bus windows steam up, loved ones suffer from dementia—in the constantly shifting, metaphoric world of Tremulous Hinge, figures struggle to remain standing and speaking against forces of gravity, time, and language. In these visually porous poems, boundaries waver and reconfigure along the rumbling shoreline of Rockaway or during the intermediary hours that an insomniac undergoes between darkness and dawn. Through a series of self-portraits, elegies, and Eros-tinged meditations, this hovering never subsides but offers, among the fragments, momentary constellations: “moths all swarming the / same light bulb.”

From the difficulties of stuttering to teetering attempts at love, from struggling to order a hamburger to tracing the deckled edge of a hydrangea, these poems tumble and hum, revealing a hinge between word and world. Ultimately, among lofting waves, collapsing hands, and darkening skies, words themselves—a stutterer’s manoeuvres through speech, a deceased grandfather’s use of punctuation—become forms of consolation. From its initial turbulence to its final surprising solace, this debut collection mesmerises. 

(from goodreads.com)

Reviewing poetry is challenging, as it is something I feel is extremely personal. What one person can connect to, another can’t. This collection was beautiful though; a heartfelt, stunning book.

The imagery in all of the poems was wonderful and I found it thought-provoking. Whilst the writing wasn’t over the top, rather it was simplistic in some places, it created such images in my mind and covered a whole number of topics extremely well. It didn’t matter how simple the writing was in places because it did what poetry should do; invoke feelings and thoughts.

There wasn’t a poem I didn’t like in this collection, they were all so wonderfully executed. The rhythm of the pieces worked perfectly to emphasise their meanings, as did the tone of the poems. They didn’t feel gimmicky or cliched, which I definitely appreciated. I also loved the word choices that the poet made – they created a poetry collection that is as insightful as it is elegant.

I would definitely recommend this poetry collection, as it covers a wide range of emotive topics and it is truly beautiful. It is easy to follow, but it remains apart from the new ‘tumblr’ poetry (I believe that’s how some people refer to it) that is so popular today. In other words, it uses regular poetry conventions (for contemporary poetry, that is), and the result is wonderful.

Rating: 4 / 5 🌟

Goals For This Semester

It’s a new semester, which means three new modules, new choices and new experiences. I’ve learned a lot so far in my uni experience, and I want to continue to work on many of these lessons. I’ve made a few goals after last semester, so we’ll see how they go.

  1. Manage my time better and procrastinate less.
  2. Look after myself – take time out to read what I want to read, work on my blog, write, go to the gym, go for a walk, spend time with friends etc. I spent so much time working last semester I burnt myself out completely. My mind was all over the place, and I want to *try* and improve this.
  3. Meditate at least once or twice a week (I guess this links to the above, but it’s more specific).
  4. Eat more healthily, as it makes me feel better.
  5. Get a plan for the rest of my uni career – decide what dissertation I want to do, what masters to apply for, and sort some work experience.

There are many other things that I want to improve on through the coming semester, but  I have to narrow it down somehow or I’ll just have a list of things that I’ll never achieve because I’ll feel so overwhelmed!

Natalie Cotterill - Instagram: @nats_cotterill

Have this cute picture of some seals I saw on a trip with my housemates. They were adorable (the seals, that is)!

Review: Winter – Ali Smith

Natalie Cotterill

Genre: Literary fiction, contemporary

Publication Date: 2nd November 2017 by Hamish Hamilton

Format: Hardcover bought for me as a gift

Winter? Bleak. Frosty wind, earth as iron, water as stone, so the old song goes. The shortest days, the longest nights. The trees are bare and shivering. The summer’s leaves? Dead litter. 

The world shrinks; the sap sinks. 

But winter makes things visible. And if there’s ice, there’ll be fire. 

In Ali Smith’s Winter, lifeforce matches up to the toughest of the seasons. In this second novel in her acclaimed Seasonal cycle, the follow-up to her sensational Autumn, Smith’s shape-shifting quartet of novels casts a merry eye over a bleak post-truth era with a story rooted in history, memory and warmth, its taproot deep in the evergreens: art, love, laughter. 

It’s the season that teaches us survival. 

Here comes Winter.

(from goodreads.com)

Like Autumn, Winter is a difficult book to review. Though maybe it’s because I haven’t reviewed that much literary fiction.

Nevertheless, this was another enjoyable read. I liked Ali Smith’s writing style yet again, though in this one I found there to be a few cases where I was confused by the digressions, and struggled to follow the main narrative throughout. There are, of course, aspects of the story that are not supposed to make complete sense – they are somewhat fantastical, bordering the line of realistic / fantasy. In a couple of instances I did pause, wondering whether the occurrences were real or metaphorical – sometimes this would be addressed later on, other times it wouldn’t.

The characters did not cross over from Autumn, and so there was a whole new set to be developed. I found the character of Iris to be lacking a something, despite her being my favourite character. The same with Lux. Maybe it was because of the development of Arthur and Sophia I didn’t like them so much (I didn’t dislike them per se, just preferred Iris and Lux). However, none of the characters fell flat, I just felt they could have had more.

I enjoyed the relationships within this story, more than in Autumn. There were a lot of contrasting emotions and beliefs, which led to many challenges, and it was this bit that I enjoyed most. It became clear how the characters had changed and become who they are in the ‘present’, having all of the flashbacks and anecdotes to refer to and expand upon their characterisation.

The social commentary I found particularly amusing. Probably because I agree with a lot of what was being said, but the two sides of the debate were portrayed fairly – in my opinion anyway. Art’s naive questioning and Iris’ brashness were contrasting ways of seeing and challenging an idea, and I liked this aspect. It gives people something to relate to (we also have Sophia’s outright dismissal of ideas – but she does read the Daily Mail so what can you expect).

I’m looking forward to Spring now and to seeing what that holds. I’m assuming Spring will follow – logically it does. I definitely am enjoying these books, they’re something a little different to what I would normally read. I don’t avoid political novels, but I haven’t really read anything about Brexit beside Autumn and Winter, and the not-so-subtle references to various politicians did make me laugh. I’d apologise for that, but I’m not sorry.

Rating: 4 / 5 🌟

Talking About My TBR

Natalie Cotterill

I feel like TBRs cause such a controversy on social media nowadays, with people shaming themselves or even others for the size of them. Mine is huge, I’ll admit it. Sometimes I feel so much pressure because of it, but at the end of the day, I love it.

If I’m honest, I couldn’t tell you how many books are on my TBR. I don’t count any that I don’t own in some form as being on my TBR either, so any I get from the library or I have on my wishlist are just ‘books I want to read’, rather than ‘books on my TBR’. The list would be never-ending otherwise. I do have, essentially, a whole bookshelf dedicated to my TBR, but having books at uni too makes it difficult to keep track of numbers… not that I really kept count in the first place.

Part of me envies those who manage to contain their TBRS, having only like, 12 books unread on their shelves. I’d love to be that minimalist (and my bank account would definitely appreciate it too). But it’s just not me. I’m an untidy person, permanently surrounded by stuff, however hard I try to be otherwise – minimalism is just not me!

Personally, I love having such a selection of books at my fingertips, though it does sometimes make choosing my next read slightly challenging. Especially at the moment, as I’ve received so many titles that I am desperate to read for Christmas and my birthday! But I do like it. Sometimes I find it overwhelming, and I’ve run out of space in my bedroom, but I wouldn’t change it.

I do wish I could read quicker and more, so I could actually get to these wonderful titles as well as clear down the number of unread books I own. I’m challenging myself this year to read 100 books, so fingers crossed that helps keep me motivated and reading! I’m a procrastinator and frequently find myself spending hours on youtube or social media doing absolutely nothing. If I could get this procrastination under control, that would be incredible…

I find clearing out books such a difficult task, so unhauls are usually a no for me. If I do them, they’re of books that I have read, so my TBR keeps growing and is beyond a ‘maintainable’ size. Oops.

TBRs are such a personal thing though, I love to see how other people arrange theirs. Some people on social media seem to shame those with a large one (I have no one in mind particularly – it’s just something I’ve seen around) and that’s not fair. People have different preferences and others cannot afford / don’t have space for a large TBR, there are a whole number of reasons why people choose to have things a certain way and it’s not fair to judge them on these.

I’d love to know what your TBR is like! Do you have a lot of books, or do you prefer to keep it minimal? Do you include books you don’t own but would like to own / get from a library etc? What about ebooks? For some reason, I always forget about them in my attempts to count my TBR (though that’s probably my brain going “don’t make things worse”!)



Review: Autumn – Ali Smith

Natalie Cotterill

Genre: Literary fiction, contemporary

Publication date: 20th October 2016 by Hamish Hamilton

Format: Hardcover purchased from Waterstone’s

Autumn. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. That’s what it felt like for Keats in 1819. How about Autumn 2016? Daniel is a century old. Elisabeth, born in 1984, has her eye on the future. The United Kingdom is in pieces, divided by a historic, once-in-a-generation summer.Love is won, love is lost. Hope is hand-in-hand with hopelessness. The seasons roll round, as ever. 

Ali Smith’s new novel is a meditation on a world growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, on what harvest means. It is the first instalment of her Seasonal quartet–four stand-alone books, separate yet interconnected and cyclical (as the seasons are)–and it casts an eye over our own time. Who are we? 

What are we made of? Shakespearean jeu d’esprit, Keatsian melancholy, the sheer bright energy of 1960s pop art: the centuries cast their eyes over our own history making. 

Here’s where we’re living. Here’s time at its most contemporaneous and its most cyclic. 

From the imagination of the peerless Ali Smith comes a shape-shifting series, wide-ranging in time-scale and light-footed through histories, a story about ageing and time and love and stories themselves.

(from goodreads.com)

Autumn is one of those books that I struggle to review. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and as the first Ali Smith novel I have read (I have previously read some of her short stories), it was interesting to see her writing style in a longer text.

There is something about Ali Smith’s writing style that I really enjoy. It ebbs and flows, digressing in seemingly random places but everything works perfectly. I was surprised at how quickly I read it, but it was because of the writing. Nothing was stilted, though the plot is fairly difficult to nail down. I’m definitely a fan of her writing – though I can completely see why some people may not be – and I will be picking up more of her work in the future for sure. She is a true storyteller, with her words being flaunted throughout the book, and her story is powerful and beautiful.

It’s difficult to review this and talk about the characters and the plot because they all come and go. We do follow their growth and development, but it is so interrupted that it is almost difficult to follow – we just seem to end up with fully fleshed out characters. Effortless, is a good description of the reading process, I’d say. The prominent characters, Elisabeth and Daniel, were well developed and interesting, and I loved their relationship, and the way that grows and changes as the novel progresses.

The social commentary within this book is what makes it so important and relevant. I believe it was hailed as the ‘first Brexit book’ – whether that is true or not, I’m not sure. I do think it captured the feeling of both sides perfectly as they were after the vote. The portrayal of the hostility towards those deemed ‘foreign’ and the way other people responded to this hate, was extremely well done. Difficult to read at some points, but that’s because of it being so accurate.

Overall, I really enjoyed Autumn. I easily got into it, thanks to the writing style. I’d definitely recommend it, as it is very thought-provoking, as well as a generally good story. In the current climate, it’s an important read.

Rating: 4 / 5 🌟

Review: In Real Life – Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang


Genre: Graphic novel, YA

Publication date: 14th October 2014 by First Second

Format: Paperback copy purchased from Waterstone’s

Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role-playing game where she spends most of her free time. It’s a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It’s a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends. 

But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer–a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn. This behaviour is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person’s real livelihood is at stake. 

(from goodreads.com)

The artwork and colour palette in this graphic novel is absolutely stunning. There were subtle changes in the colours to indicate a change in location and whether Anda is in the game or not, and it was just beautifully executed. I fell completely in love with the illustrations, they made this graphic novel for me.

The plot was very different – I’m not usually one to pick up things related to gaming though, so I may be wrong. I found it relatively easy to keep up with, despite not being very familiar with gaming as a hobby. I loved the fact that the main character was female; I feel like games are predominantly thought of as a male hobby, so it was fantastic to see that the respected players were female.

I also enjoyed the link across cultures covered in this book, with a friendship forming between Anda in America and ‘Raymond’ in China. It was interesting to see how the authors/illustrators decided to discuss the differences between them – how they struggled with finances in completely different ways. In the introduction by Cory Doctorow, he describes it as a book about economics, and indeed it is, but it is discussed in a much more interesting (and colourful) way.

Anda’s character is a particular favourite of mine – she’s just a normal girl, I guess – no superpower or anything like that is what I’m trying to get at. She’s an average girl who happens to be very good at gaming and wants to help people. She’s thrilled at being chosen to get involved in the first place and wants to please her ‘Sarge’, and then, later on, wants to help her new friend. She’s a good person, but complex too, and we see her conflict as she tries to help her friend in a different country, but please (and obey) her parents at the same time. I just really, really liked her character and her development (I’m struggling to elaborate without adding spoilers!).

I really enjoyed this graphic novel, especially as I was unsure about picking it up in the first place. Knowing very little about gaming didn’t impact my reading of it – as I have seen some people say – but maybe I would have enjoyed it more, had I more interest in games. The illustrations in it were simply gorgeous and were 100% the reason for me picking it up in the first place, and they definitely didn’t disappoint in reading it.

Rating: 4 / 5 🌟