I’ve just got back from a lovely two weeks in Kos, Greece with my husband and it was basically everything we wanted – we went on a couple of excursions, there was a Pokemon Go pokestop right outside the hotel for all of our Pokemon Go needs and we spent a lot of time doing nothing in the sunshine.
Before we left I made a particularly ambitious tbr – I took 6 physical books with me (and considering in ‘normal’ life I usually read 1-2 a week it was very optimistic) as well as downloading 12 books on my Kindle and having access to the dozen (plus) titles I’ve used my Audible credits on.
So I definitely wasn’t going to run out of reading material!
My original plan was to alternate reading a physical book with reading a book on my Kindle, but while we were out there I decided to prioritise the physical books because otherwise taking them all the way out there and back without reading them felt very wasteful.
But let’s start at the beginning – I finished the paperback book I was reading (The Last Graduate, the second book in the Scholomance series by Naomi Novik) on the last day of April and on Monday May 1st (love a month that starts on a Monday), I decided rather than start a new physical book I would use my Kindle to finish off the hush, hush series so that if I did finish before I got on the plane, I wouldn’t be carrying around a physical book that I’d already read!
So I managed to finish Crescendo, the second in the series, in the airport hotel the night before – first book of the month finished on the 2nd before we even left the country. But in the aim of finishing the series, my first reads of the holiday were books 3 and 4…
Silence and Finale – Becca Fitzpatrick ⭐️⭐️⭐️ / ⭐️
I find giving plot synopsis’ of sequels a bit awkward because I don’t want to spoil the beginning of the series for anyone who hasn’t read it, but the premise is stereotypical YA fantasy romance with fallen angels, the descendants of fallen angels and humans (called Nephilim) and the ‘complex’ balance of the two races amongst humanity. The general vibe is questionably written fanfiction, very much of the Twi-Hard era of 2009.
I thought Silence was surprisingly clever – exploring the premise of an unreliable narrator and seeing many of the characters from a new perspective, but Finale was awful – the main character had no personality, everything was predictable and stereotypical and I spent so much of the last half of the book rolling my eyes I was so glad when it was over.
Would I recommend the series? If you want quality fantasy literature – no. If you were a Twilight fan when the movies first came out and want to feel nostalgic for questionable writing and ridiculous romance, sure go ahead – it’s easy to read and won’t make you feel any real emotions other than nostalgia, no need to prep the tissues.
Then it was time for the physical books!
It Ends With Us – Colleen Hoover ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Lily and Ryle meet by chance when needing some air in a random rooftop in Boston – finding the freedom of being able to be completely and utterly honest with no consequences, they’re surprisingly attached to each other but don’t expect to meet again.
- Six months later when Lily has started her life as an entrepreneur and hires Alyssa on a whim, it takes approximately 4 hours for her to realise she’s hired Ryle’s sister and suddenly the proximity makes him harder to resist.
- But when a chance encounter with an unfinished love from her childhood reappears in Atlas, Lily finds herself looking at her past and seeing some of the ugliest parts mirror into her present.
(I thought three bullet points would be a nice easy way to do a plot summary, did it work?)
For my first ever Colleen Hoover book, I fell in love. I thought Lily was a beautifully authentic narrator, Atlas and Ryle were both incredibly cleverly portrayed and I loved seeing the character development in Lily’s mom. I can’t talk about characters without mentioning my favourites – Alyssa and Marshall. Alyssa being so unapologetically honest was a fantastic representation of what a friend should be – prepared to say what you need to hear even if it’s not what you want and is mature enough to remain level headed in a dispute that could easily resort to picking sides (though I don’t know if her very brief mention of struggling to conceive felt a little like box ticking). I have a big soft spot in my heart for Marshall almost exclusively for the moments that he checked Lily felt safe and made sure she wasn’t alone with anyone she didn’t want to be. The only reason I didn’t give it a full 5 stars is because some of the subject matter is heavy and I won’t rush to reread it for that reason. However…
It Starts With Us – Colleen Hoover ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
(see above for not providing summaries of sequels)
In a note from the author before the story begins, Hoover states that this story is meant to be the lighter of the two and whilst I agree it’s not as heavy as the first book, it’s definitely not an easy, fluffy romance. But that’s actually what I liked about it – I loved the authenticity of the narrative style and the characters remained beautifully raw.
I loved the development into a dual perspective story, I absolutely adored Atlas’s secondary storyline (assuming we’re counting the romance as the primary storyline) and I just love, love, loved reading it. The perfect holiday read – I laughed, I gasped, I grumbled and my heart swelled with joy. Absolutely adored the whole experience and if I didn’t have an unread physical tbr that is 327 books strong, I would reread it right now.
The next book I was actually too embarrassed to read by the pool…
Horrible Histories: Groovy Greeks – Terry Deary
Summary: a children’s history book about ancient Greece.
Context: We named our wedding tables after HH books and used the physical books as centre pieces, so I thought it would be thematic and mildly funny to read each book in a relevant location. So I took Groovy Greeks to Greece.
Now, for a nearly 30 year old history book aimed at middle grade (maybe younger) children, I actually had a nice time. I could barely keep track of all the Greek names but the information within the books wasn’t anything I’d read in any other book on mythology, rather than just being blocks of information it was broken up with comics, doodles and information presented in different ways – such as a story told as if it were a dramatic diary entry.
I feel like rating non-fiction doesn’t make much sense, but if I were to rate it I would have given it 3 stars – middle ground, easy read, I had a nice time, will probably never open the book again, y’know?
God’s Behaving Badly – Marie Phillips ⭐️⭐️⭐️
- People have forgotten about the God’s of Ancient Greece, but they actually live in a small, grimy town house in London, doing what they need to do to keep the world going whilst no one remembers their names.
- They’re losing their powers, and whilst Athena tries to communicate why, the other gods just assume they’re getting old and await for a time they might feel up to their full strength again.
- But Aphrodite is pulling string for her own entertainment – Apollo has opened himself up to be played with and Artemis is determined to fix it before the consequences turn dire.
A Greek God themed book in Greece? Yes, that is the entire reason I took it with us.
I bought this one for my husband as a birthday present somewhere between 1 and 3 years ago (honestly, I can’t remember) but he really enjoyed it and suggested I read it too. Generally I found it enjoyable – the narrative style was easy to read but the characters were a bit emotionally detached so I found it hard to connect and there were some really unsavoury mentions of rape and sexual assault that made me very uncomfortable. I believe it’s written to be a comedy book with a tongue in cheek, sarcastic edge (the kind of thing that the author might say ‘you’re taking it too seriously, you don’t need to get offended’) but it just didn’t sit right with me.
However the last 30% ish where, arguably, most of the plot happens, was actually quite good and I got quite stuck in. Another one I won’t be rushing to reread but don’t regret reading.
Eleanor and Park – Rainbow Rowell
- Park has curated a bearable high school experience – he’s made himself invisible and he knows how to ride the wave and get by.
- Eleanor is the new girl – she’s moved back in with her mom, siblings and the step-dad she doesn’t get on with and she can’t help but stand out with her make-do clothes and her bright red curly hair.
- The only empty spot on the bus on Eleanor’s first day is next to Park.
When I first set up my tbr jar, I counted books like Eleanor and Park as unread because it’s been so long since I read them that I wanted to reread them and see if I still felt the same. I first read this book in 2015 on a trip to Ecuador – I was 18, lonely, undiagnosed autistic and desperate for love, I devoured the story and it has sat in a special place in my heart ever since.
Now I am 26, married to a boy I’ve been with for seven and a half years and I know what love really feels like.
Eleanor and Park is two kids that are obsessed with each other and know nothing about each other.
I don’t know if it’s adult cynicism or if I was really desperate to vicariously feel loved when I was a teenager, but it just felt two kids who were unhealthily obsessed with each other and were so enthralled by the attention they were getting from each other that they completely overlook the fact they don’t know anything about each other.
The best part was Park’s parents – they had a wonderful relationship and although they got frustrated at Park for some oddly specific things, they generally had a wonderful relationship and were really supportive of their son. So an average 3 stars, which is the equivalent of losing a star every four years compared to my first reading eight years ago 😂
These Hollow Vows – Lexi Ryan
- Abriella does what she needs to do survive and provide the best life she can for her sister – she steals the money for the contract her witchy aunt and all the growing conditions she adds, but somehow Jas still makes her laugh and a neighbouring mage’s apprentice Sebastian to keep an eye on them.
- But then her aunt sells her sister to the land of Faerie – the land that stole their mother from them and she’d been warn against her entire life. And she’ll do anything to get Jas back.
- Learning more about the Court of the Sun and the Court of Shadows than she ever thought she would, making alliances she never could have predicted and finding out more about herself than she knew she could, Brie has a lot to learn about the world of faerie before she decides her place in it.
This took the nostalgia of reading fantasy I got from hush, hush and actually wrote a good story. Sure, it was still a little melodramatic but of course it is, it’s YA! They’ve always got big emotions they can’t comprehend and make rash decisions without communicating properly.
But the world building was truly fantastic, the characters were okay and they were actually quite diverse. I had a genuinely lovely time and considering I finished it the day before we went home and I had an abundance of other books on my kindle to read, I still opted to spend money I don’t have on the ebook so I could read it immediately.
And that was 8! There were 12 Kindle books I didn’t get round to and my entire Audible library, but I’m really pleased with the amount I read and we had the loveliest holiday.
So I’m currently reading These Twisted Bonds, I will be reading Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score next and I’m constantly looking for places we could go on our next holiday so I can dedicate that much time to reading again!
Thank you for reading about my reading!