everything I read on my honeymoon

2023, books, review


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!

Sophie xx

what I read in April ’23

2023, books, review


My consistency with reading is one of the things I’m most proud of this year so far – I’ve been really trying to spend less time on my phone in the evenings so I’ve read more in four months than I’ve ever read before. Then this snowballs into enjoying reading even more and spending even more time doing it!

As I’m writing this, I finished three books this month but I’m close to finishing my current paperback and my current audiobook so it might be on five by the end of the month! It’s been a really varied month featuring my first 2 star rating of the year, so buckle in!

A Deadly Education (The Scholomance #1) – Naomi Novik (audio) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Honestly, I only used a credit on this book because I saw the third in the trilogy in Waterstones and thought it was pretty.

Galadriel (El) is a 17 year old junior at potentially the most dangerous high school in the world – filled with thousands of wizards, only a handful of which will graduate, the students have to navigate being hunted and attacked by the variety of creatures desperate to break into the school whilst navigating a teacher-less education system and working to build the energy they need to cast the magic they’ll use to make it out of graduation alive. Orion Lake has taken it upon himself to be the school superhero – destroying as much of the malificaria as he can and saving hundreds of lives, much to the dismay of the seniors approaching a graduation hall full of the hungriest monsters the school has ever seen. Somehow catching his attention and finding herself in a position of potentially making the alliances she needs to get out of the school alive, El needs to figure out Orion Lake and stop needing to be saved by him, before she let’s the dark magic take over.

The first half was a struggle – I found the protagonist, El, quite irritating and the narrator used such a snotty accent (and her American accent when reading other characters was patchy at best). But as I tuned in to El as a character, realising she wasn’t trying to be a hero but played more of an anti-hero role (as well as going through some more humanising character development), I found myself wanting to listen to the rest of the book in every spare opportunity.

The world building is fantastic, incredibly immersive without taking that narrative stance of ‘assuming the reader already understands and making them play catch up’ attitude that I find difficult to comprehend. The peripheral character’s are really sweet and the last few chapters found that perfect balance of feeling conclusive and like they had an ending, whilst leaving a little trail of a cliffhanger to make you want to read the next book. I was very lucky to find a physical copy of the sequel ‘The Last Graduate’ on a trip to Oxford Waterstones where my husband felt guilty that he was buying three books so bought me the one I really wanted.

The Giver of Stars – JoJo Moyes (paperback) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’m not normally one for historical fiction – give me fantasy, contemporary or dystopian any day – but as someone who loves learning about history, and has an unhealthy obsession with Bridgerton, I know I need to try more!

Set in 1930s America, ‘The Giver of Stars’ started very slowly – perhaps reflecting to mundanity of the life our protagonist has found herself in. Alice has moved from her home in England to a small town in Kentucky with the man she somewhat spontaneously married – trying to figure out her life as a wife in a country she knows nothing about with townspeople that think they already know her, Alice inadvertently signs herself up for the controversial Packhorse Library – taking books to those who wouldn’t otherwise have access to them in the rural mountains around their town. In trying to navigate her role as a wife, facing backlash for her part in in the library and finding friendships where her husband’s father doesn’t approve, Alice grows up fast and learns that the expectations set upon her might not align with the life she wants.

Although it dragged a bit at the beginning, the last 50% of the story was actually quite intense! With several major plot events that kept me hooked, I was squeezing in an extra chapter whenever I could. In the end, it was a beautiful tale of female friendships, the power of literature and the heart of real love that I actually think I will return to reread at some point.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon (paperback) ⭐️⭐️

Oooh do I have opinions on this one!

I read this one because it was my partner’s choice for our wedding library book club (context: for our wedding, we asked our guests to gift us a copy of their favourite book so we have a library of our favourite people’s favourite books, in an endeavour to read them all, we take it in turns to pick one a month and I call it a book club to make it sound more exciting than it is) and I was mildly apprehensive – I read ‘The Curious Incident’ for English at school and I didn’t enjoy it, so reading it again as an adult who is waiting to be diagnosed with autism, I was intrigued to see how my opinion of the book that is famed for it’s autistic protagonist may change as my understanding of ASD has developed.

Well, it turns out I still hated it.

But halfway through I decided to research the author’s relationship with ASD – whether he had it himself or knew someone with it. I found an article from his website where he proudly states that he doesn’t know anything about the disorder and didn’t do any research before writing Christopher how he did, saying ‘imagination always trumps research’ – cue, my blood starting to boil.

I realised at this point that I didn’t like Christopher not because he’s autistic, but because he is a presentation of everything that an ignorant neurotypical person finds inconvenient about their stereotypical perception of autism. Arguably, Christopher is not autistic – Christopher is a neurotypical assumption. How can anyone give themselves the illusion that they can write a first person narrative of a character they clearly intended to be autistic without doing any research?

It got 2 stars because it’s not technically badly written (badly researched, but I save my 1 star rating for very special occasions), but I would like to set it on fire.

Currently reading:

The Last Graduate (The Scholomance #2) – Naomi Novik (paperback) – 60%

Following ‘A Deadly Education’, El has officially made it to her senior year, next step: getting back out into the world alive.

If I write any more of a summary of this one, I will inadvertently spoil the first one so I’ll leave it there for now but I’m actually enjoying ‘The Last Graduate’ even more than ‘A Deadly Education’ – it picks up right where the first one left off, so I’m glad I’m reading them in quick succession otherwise I’d have forgotten so many of the key details and there’s no reminders or recontextualising. I’ve used an audible credit so I can leap straight into the conclusion when I finish this one but so far, I’m thoroughly enjoying it and incredibly intrigued about what the subject of the third instalment could be.

Icebreaker – Hannah Grace (audio) – 69%

Anastasia is a college figure skater hoping to qualify for the Olympics. Nate is a college ice hockey player who has been offered a place on a pro team once he graduates. When a revenge prank goes too far and the teams have to share a rink for the duration of the semester, Anastasia’s neatly detailed planner is derailed and she’s not happy. But Nate wants to make the transition to sharing the rink as smooth as possible, and the fact that he thinks Anastasia is gorgeous is just a bonus.

This is one of the spiciest books I’ve ever read – listening to it in the car makes me wonder how much is too much because if anyone else could hear what I was listening to, I would get some incredibly funny looks!

The main characters are incredibly sweet, the presentation of trauma is incredibly raw and authentic and the smut scenes are something else (interpret that how you will). I’m definitely going to finish this at the weekend as I’ve got a couple of long drives but I have had a fantastic time reading this, despite how inappropriate it’s felt at times 😂

The only other book I have on the go is the sequel to ‘hush, hush’ by Becca Fitzpatrick on my kindle, but what I’ve learnt about myself this month is that I can manage one eye reading book and one ear reading book at a time, so when I finish ‘The Last Graduate’ I’m going to read the rest of the ‘hush, hush’ series and honestly, that sounds like a fantastic way to start my holiday!

I imagine May’s wrap up will be quite a bit longer, as I’m flying off to Greece for two weeks for my honeymoon and I cannot wait to have some time in the sun with a stack of books!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

January Reading Wrap Up!

2023, books


Somehow, January feels like it’s gone incredibly quickly and incredibly slow simultaneously – three weeks in, I couldn’t believe it had only been three weeks and now we’re approaching February and I’m not sure how we’re already one month down.

It’s been a very challenging month with my partner getting into a road accident on an electric scooter (yes, he’s been called stupid on a variety of occasions by the people who love him most) and after spending six hours in A&E, getting 7 stitches for a laceration in his eyebrow, getting a sling for a fractured elbow and being given a tuna mayo sandwich at 2am to help with the nausea of missing dinner and not eating for 12 hours, we were home and I had the responsibility of looking after my one armed husband who could only just manage to get dressed on his own and was stubborn enough to try everything without asking for help.

So this month has been a lot of watching TV (we’ve been binging Taskmaster on All4), doing a surprisingly complex Harry Potter puzzle (I’ve included a picture both for reference and because I’m unjustifiably proud), making things with my Cricut and cuddling the sad boy while he watched YouTube and I read!

Having finished 2022 by reading 7 books in December, I was hyped and motivated to bring that energy into 2023, as well as being desperate to finish the Alex Rider series because whilst I knew if I didn’t read it all in one hit I would forget certain details and characters, I was also so ready to read something else.

So far I’ve finished five books this month and I’m hoping to finish my current read by the 31st on Tuesday, so I’m really proud of the start I’ve made! Here are the books I managed to finish in January.

Russian Roulette (Alex Rider #10) – Anthony Horowitz

The first Alex Rider book that isn’t about Alex Rider – following the upbringing of Yassen Gregorovich, the assassin who worked with John Rider (Alex’s Dad) and is employed to kill Alex on a variety of occasions. It was actually a really lovely story of an anti-hero who never really wanted to be an assassin but life never really gave him a chance. Even as an assassin in the previous books, he’d been somewhat endearing and principled so finding out about his life as a teenager in Russia was lovely – a solid 4 star read to start the year.

Enna Burning – Shannon Hale

For context – at our wedding, for gifts we asked our guests to bring a copy of their favourite book so we could have a little snapshot library of all our favourite people from this specific moment in time. This included my cousins kids (aged 9 months and 2 years), my godmothers kids (6, 10 and 11) and all of our family and friend. I’ve decided that I want to read one book from the wedding library each month this year and Enna Burning was my first choice! A gift from my oldest friend.

I was a bit disappointed to only give it 3 stars, but I think this is entirely down to the fact that it’s the second book in the Books of Bayern series and unlike the Alex Rider books (which granted are aimed at middle grade readers, so perhaps are assumed to not remember things as well?), the narrative assumes you’ve read the first book and understand the magic system and the key words and the pre-existing relationships. With not having that context, I didn’t feel the connection between the main character and the love interest at all and it took me a long time to understand the friendship between Enna and the first book’s protagonist, Isi. However, the climax and resolution at the end of the book was actually very powerful and poignant. I’ve added the original book, The Goose Girl, to my tbr and will definitely re-read Enna Burning when I have the full context and anticipate it’ll get a higher rating then!

Never Say Die (Alex Rider #11) – Anthony Horowitz

And with the wedding library read done for the month, I was determined to finish the last three Alex Rider books before February!

This book is the one that was never really meant to exist – originally the series was going to end with book six, then another trilogy came out, then the interim story in Russian Roulette was meant to be the end. I’m not sure if it’s a mix of me getting fatigued with this character or knowing that this series has been on going for over two decades, but I can’t figure out if this was a genuine love project where Horowitz had more of Alex’s story to tell, or is it a money grab from a successful series that will inevitably continue to profit.

Either way, I’d committed so I wasn’t stopping now.

Never Say Die was the first book in this series since the first book to only get three stars – it felt very slow paced and really dragged in places and I kept getting bored and having to take a break. The mission itself was very ambitious and the fact that MI6 didn’t really believe what Alex was investigating and he had to do it himself with no gadgets, no back-up and limited resources was impressive, but it took so long to get to the end game. And the title is really cliche.

Secret Weapon (Alex Rider #12 – Short Story Collection) – Anthony Horowitz

If it weren’t for these seven short stories, I’d have really struggled with finishing the series – I planned to read one at a time, but ended up reading the whole thing in three days (this is fast for me). It was nice to revisit some of the earlier missions and fill in some of the gaps between previous novels. I was particularly a fan of ‘Tea with Smithers’. The perfect break between the full length stories – another four stars.

Nightshade (Alex Rider #13) – Anthony Horowitz

I finally made it to the last novel (so far, but I’ll get to that)! Nightshade had been set up to be the most deadly enemy that Alex has ever faced and everything that was missing in ‘Never Say Die’ was back for Nightshade – the pacing was fantastic, the stakes were constantly high and although some of it was a bit predictable (which I’ll allow, because the target audience is 8-12 year olds according to the shelf labels in Waterstones), it actually introduced yet more incredibly interesting and nuanced characters that I really hope continue to feature in future novels.

Which there will almost certainly be, because in the last line of this book it’s practically confirmed that there will be another sequel – Nightshade was released in 2020 and I’m reliably informed that the next book is due for release this year, but there’s no confirmed information yet. Will I buy it and read it? Absolutely – Nightshade was my first five star review of the year and I’m a completionist, so I’ve got to make sure I’ve read everything. Currently, I feel like it’s all being dragged out a bit but that might be because I’ve just read thirteen books in the series and I need a bit of space from it.

And I’m currently 58% through Good Omens – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaimon – I finally got to pick another title from my tbr jar (which I set up in Summer ’22, then picked Alex Rider and have only just finished it!). This was on my list of 23 books I want to read in 2023 which rounds off a very good start to my reading year; finishing a long series, starting the wedding library and ticking off one of the books from my 23 list!

I’m still really excited about reading this year and at this rate I’ll hit my goal by the summer, but maintaining this reading speed feels incredibly optimistic so I’ll just play it by ear!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

What I read in June

2022, books


Another month is coming to an end and although the reading speed of last month has not maintained, I’ve finished two audiobooks this month and I’m almost halfway through a third!

Most of my reading has been audio when I’m driving, either to work or my dance classes – I’ve been burning out pretty hard this month and accidentally overbooking myself with social activities so by the time I get into bed I am flat out and not in the mood to read a few pages, though I’ve got a week off next week and I’m hoping that I’ll have time to recharge and finish the book I’ve been stuck on for a month.

Here are the audiobooks I did finish listening to this month:

Take The Shot, Susan White – 3 stars

This was a free one from the audible plus catalogue that I made the mistake of assuming it was a sport romance, instead it was a Young YA (like, the characters are 14/15) sport story about an Australian boy with Marfan syndrome and it was really interesting to learn more about it and the impact it can have on those who have it. And I adore Australian accents so it was lovely to listen to.

All round, although a bit young for me it was a story where the heart of it spoke for itself and it was an enjoyable, easy listen.

Queen of Volts (Shadow Game #3), Amanda Foody – 4 stars

So realistically, I should have double checked what order the sequels to The Ace of Shades went in rather than assuming this one was second and convincing myself I’d just forgotten the details of the first book I finished in February, but I committed and it was only in finishing this one that I realised my mistake!

However, it’s still a fantastic series – the universe is so immersive, I wish I lived in a world with blood talents so I didn’t have to figure out what I’m good at and what I’m not! The characters are compelling, the story is medium paced but always engaging and although the narrator was a bit patchy with accents, I was wholeheartedly immersed by the end. Solid 4/5, brilliant series.

Currently reading:

Audio book – King of Fools (Shadow Game #2), Amanda Foody

It was only starting this book in a totally different place where dead characters had come back to life that I realised I’d read them in the wrong order, but knowing how it has to end and figuring out how they get there is enough for me to listen to it anyway! Same as above – I think this series is brilliant and I wish more people were talking about it!

Paperback – Doctor Who: The Ruby’s Curse, Alex Kingston

I’ve been so excited about this book for a long time, but I’ve been really disappointed with the 30-50 pages I’ve read so far. At the crux of it, Alex Kingston is an Actress who plays a character and that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s good at writing a story about her. But I’m not someone who DNF’s books because I always worry that the one I don’t finish will be the one that has a spectacular ending! On the next sunny day I have off I’m intending to take this book into the garden and plough through.

It’s not been a super reading heavy month but after having a block for a couple of months and coming back with a bang last month, I’m happy to have settled into reading as part of my routine again.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

What I Read In May

2022, books


I finally got out of my reading slump! I took a fresh start at the beginning of the month and I got back into listening to my audiobooks and reading before bed (slash falling asleep mid chapter). I’m loving feeling totally absorbed in a story again and really escaping into a different world, however pretentious that sounds.

I’ve finished six books so far this month and it’s been a real mixed bag, so let’s jump right in.

Where There’s A Will (Beth Corby) – 4 stars

I’m not sure how a book can be both totally unrealistic and really relatable in equal measure but this one manages it – Hannah is invited with her family to a gathering to meet estranged Great Uncle Donald. Three months later when he passes away, she’s given a series of tasks for an undisclosed reward as part of his will. She moves into his house and starts working on the tasks with his PA Alec. Over a rollercoaster of unexpected tasks and finding out much more about herself, what she wants and her Uncle Donald, Hannah really finds out the true meaning of family.

A really lovely story of someone finally being truly themselves, embracing the people that help her grow and finding out all about the life and times of Great Uncle Donald. Lovely contemporary romance!

Heartstopper Vol. 1 (Alice Oseman) – 3 stars

Reading the first instalment of this graphic novel series definitely helped get my book count up as I could read them in one sitting. There’s so much hype around this story and as it was my first graphic novel I found it more difficult to engage with the characters because there’s so much less actual text, I found I didn’t know the characters as well so I didn’t really care as much when anything happened.

It was sweet and nice and Nick is such a sweetheart, but at this point after only the first 4 chapters, I wasn’t particularly engaged, hence the 3 star rating.

The Bridge Kingdom (Danielle L Jenson) – 4 stars

This was the period where I finished three books in two days because I happened to finish my audiobook and read two graphic novels all at the same time.

This one’s been in my library on Audible for ages and I honestly thought it was going to be a super spicy fantasy romance, but I was really surprised that it was actually a very in-depth marriage of convenience story that had some almost political themes with the relationship between the two kingdoms. The character development was really authentic, the world building was really solid and the dual perspective narrative worked really well with these characters. Really enjoyed listening to this one.

Heartstopper Vol. 2 (Alice Oseman) – 5 stars

Right, so this is where it all kicked off – suddenly I was knee deep in emotions for Nick and Charlie’s story and just how wholesome and heartwarming it is. It is a heart stopper, pretty sure my heart stopped because I just couldn’t contain how beautiful this story is.

I think what I’m learning about graphic novels with volumes is that each novel isn’t an individual story – it’s one whole story split into sections, like having different parts or acts or whatever. When I viewed the first two volumes as two parts of the same story then the 3 stars I have Volume 1 immediately became 5.

If you want something light and wholesome and sweet and you can sit down and finish it in one sitting, I can’t recommend this series more highly. I cannot wait to get my hands on Volume 3 and 4 and all of Alice Oseman’s other work. Also watch the show. I cannot explain how obsessed with it I am, the casting is actually miraculously perfect, the additional storylines are precious and the music and the animations? It’s perfect. I’ve lost the ability to form full sentences because I just can’t put into words how much I love Nick and Charlie.

The Traitor Queen (Danielle L Jenson) – 4 stars

Following the Bridge Kingdom, the Traitor Queen launches straight into the war that protagonist Lara has inadvertently caused. I feel like this is the one where the true character development starts to show – everything she’s been brainwashed with in the 15 years she was kept in an isolated compound with her sisters she now knows isn’t true, so she has to figure out the true intentions of her power hungry father, try and regain the trust of the Ithicanians she betrayed and decide what she’s prepared to sacrifice to bring peace.

I thought this one was paced fantastically, the character development for both Lara and Aren felt intimate and personal and the relationships between each other, with Lara’s sisters and the neighbouring kingdoms helped build such a solid universe.

A really good conclusion to the duology and one that I’d even consider listening to again, which I feel like is a big thing because I’m not much of a rereader.

Love, Lucas (Chantele Sedgewick) – 2 stars

This one’s hovering incredibly close to being 1 star the more I reflect on it, but I didn’t actively dislike it while I was reading it (at least not at the beginning) so it stuck with 2, though I can tell you the exact moment it dropped.

When I rate books I feel like I go in with them at an average 3, then if I enjoy them it climbs to 4 or 5, if they’re a nice, easy listen they’ll stick with being in the middle at 3 and if they aren’t as good they drop from down.

So this story starts with Oakley, who’s just lost her best friend and brother to cancer. Everything she knows is broken and she has no idea how to process her own grieving, so when her mum suggests going to stay with her Aunt in California just to get away from it all for the rest of the Spring, she agrees.

Oakley starts to explore, she loves being so close to the beach and she meets some local surfers her age, including… Carson. The ellipsis are because I’ve already forgotten his name, not for dramatic effect. Obviously Oakley and Carson get on really well and they start to get to know each other, but Oakley’s grieving gets in the way because she doesn’t think she should be allowed to be messing around with some boy when her brother’s just died.

Tie this in with a notebook full of letters from her brother in the last week’s of his life, and here’s the title drop ‘Love, Lucas’.

The whole thing just reads like someone who thinks they know what teenagers are like writing teenagers really stereotypically. Oakley makes some horribly insensitive comments to Carson about his prospective college and career choices, and then when they get round to talking about it, he decides it’s his fault and she accepts no responsibility and that’s what sealed it for me. It was ridiculous, it felt forced and at this point the only thing I could hear in Oakley’s narrative was a know it all seventeen year old who is so self obsessed she can’t even comprehend anything from anyone else’s perspective.

Don’t even get me started on the shark attack.

In Googling to remind myself of Carson’s name, I find that this is the first of a series of 4 and I have never felt less inclined to read something in my life.

Currently reading:
Take The Shot (Susan White)
Doctor Who: The Ruby’s Curse (Alex Kingston)

To be honest, I thought ‘Take The Shot’ would be a basketball romance but I think it’s an Australian coming of age story and to be honest, I’ll keep listening for the accents. ‘The Ruby’s Curse’ is one I’ve been really excited about reading for a long time but so far it’s just not very well written so I’m torn somewhere between wanting to power through so it’s done and not wanting to read it at all.

I’m so glad I got out of the reading slump that took over March and April – I’m so in love with being submerged in stories and escaping real life for a little bit.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx