Heartbreaking and Beautiful: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

If there were a pause button for our emotions, I would use it in a heartbeat to recover from this novel. To put things into perspective, I haven’t cried reading a book in around ten years. During the last 100 pages of A Little Life, I was a wreck. I’m not talking one cinematic tear down my cheek. I’m talking throat closing over, eyes so blurred it’s difficult to see the page, and snot running down my face like a waterfall. It was ugly. Lord knows how I’m going to write a structured and articulate review on this one.

Who, What, Where?

A Little Life tells the story of four friends, who after meeting at university, move to New York together. There’s Willem, the caring & good looking aspiring actor; JB, a snarky artist hoping to eventually make it to the big time; Malcolm, a junior architect slaving his way at a big firm, waiting for his moment to shine; and Jude, the withdrawn and intelligent legal associate that they all seem to revolve around. The book takes place over several decades of their lives, dealing with the highs and lows, but particularly with how Jude’s traumatic and horrific past has come to dictate his present and that of his friends as well.

An Emotional Roller Coaster

This won’t be for everyone. At 720 pages, A Little Life is a long read and could probably have been slightly shorter. For the most part, it’s not a happy one either. Sure, there are plenty of lovely moments sprinkled across the story but this is a book that deals extensively, and sometimes graphically, with issues of child physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, suicide, depression, grief/loss, drug addiction, self-harm, and a whole host of other things. To say that it’s difficult to read is putting it lightly. My heart hurt through about two thirds of it and page 641 probably fractured my soul. If you connect with the characters, it’ll put you through the emotional ringer and, if this is your kind of book, trust me, you will.

Real People

If I were ever to write a book of my own, I would be grateful even to write characters half as rich, tangible and layered as the ones in A Little Life. Each are beautifully crafted with their own passions, goals, talents, fears, failings, and histories. By the end of the book I felt as though I had spent years looking through a window into the lives of real people that I truly cared about. To be blunt, the characterisation in this novel is simply fantastic. However, while there are certainly quite a few players (Willem & Jude’s father figure, Harold, were my personal favourites), this is most certainly Jude’s story. As the book starts to make this clear, we spend less time with the perspectives of other characters, notably JB & Malcolm. In a short list of critiques of this book, I will say, this is something which disappointed me somewhat and I feel as though some chapters could have been diverted from Jude in service of his friends without harming his journey.

Jude is a talented, kind, and intelligent man but he’s also severely damaged, both physically and mentally. He goes through a great deal over the course of the novel in both past and present. The story slowly develops the difficult trajectory of his past and delves into how it influences both his sense of self and relationships as an adult. There were points where I had to wonder, how can so many terrible things happen to one person? Yet, at the same time, because Jude and the story felt so real to me, in asking this question I can’t help but feel like I’m questioning the events of someone’s life and so, I have to put my doubts aside. Jude is a complex character and A Little Life spends a lot of time helping the reader to understand his emotions and thought processes. You do grow very attached to him and genuinely feel his moments of happiness and despair.

Beauty in Prose

The writing in this novel is gorgeous. The prose is honest, flows, and sometimes Yanagihara phrases something so perfectly, you have to stop and admire it. I should note, however, that due to the length of some sentences, comma use, and the novel’s constant, almost seamless transitions between memory and present, you do need to concentrate on what’s happening or risk being momentarily confused about where and when you are.

Friendship & Love

While A Little Life is very much about trauma and self-worth, it’s also about so much more: love, friendship, and the nature of life itself. It’s looks at how friendships grow and change with time, how they can be lost and repaired, and the dynamics within them; it showcases inexplicable and unconditional love in all its forms, our need of it and us being deserving of it even when we cannot see that ourselves; and most of all, it’s a book about how life may be full of darkness but that there will also be light and to find joy in even the smallest of things.    


Despite its few issues, the connection I had with this book and the emotional response it instilled makes it feels wrong to give it anything less than five stars. A Little Life is a long, difficult ride, but one that’s beautiful, worthwhile, and utterly unforgettable.

5 Stars

New Additions to My Goodreads To-Read Shelf | 20.02.20

Like the typical bookworm that I am, I’m always stumbling across books which manage to catch my eye for some reason or another. Next thing you know, BAM..I’ve added them to the to-read shelf. Currently, my to-read shelf is at a much more manageable level than it has been in the past so I don’t feel so bad about throwing a few extra things on there now and again. After all, how else am I suppose to remember the massive amounts of books that I want to read?! Here are a couple of novels that have recently been added to the list.

Slay – Brittney Morris

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This book caught my eye while I was searching for something else at the book store a few weeks ago. The cover is really striking and once I saw the blurb, I knew I’d have to add it to the to-read list. As a gamer myself, there’s just something about video game stories. Slay is about 17-year-old Kiera who has developed a multiplayer online role playing card game called SLAY which is popular among Black gamers. None of the people in her life know this though. However, after a teen is murdered over an in-game dispute, SLAY is picked up by the mainstream media and labelled as racist and exclusionist. Kiera is left to deal with the consequences of this, including one particularly vicious troll, all whilst trying to keep her identity a secret.


The Bear and the Nightingale – Katherine Arden

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I remember being intrigued by TBATN a good while ago but for some reason never added it to my to-read shelf. I think I ended up falling on the side of: I don’t know if this will be my cup of tea. However, while writing my recent post showcasing YA books set in other countries, it came back onto my radar and I decided to give it a go. The book is based on Russian folklore and tells the story of Vasilisa, who lives with her family in a small village. Vasilisa is special in that she can see & speak to the creatures/spirits that live on the land. After her father re-marries and a new priest enters the community, attitudes towards these beings and Vasilisa’s abilities change, leaving her an outcast and previous superstitious practices abandoned. Soon things in the village begin to go wrong such as failing crops and sinister things emerging from the forest. Now Vasilisa must use her gifts to save her loved ones.


Foundryside – Robert Jackson Bennett

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Foundryside is another book that I took note of a while back but for some reason just didn’t end up adding to my shelf for future reference. Having recently gone back, read the blurb and some reviews, and stared at the gorgeous cover for a good few minutes, I’ve decided this will probably be something I’ll like. The book is about a thief named Sancia who is hired to steal a magical artifact with immense power and the potential to revolutionise a magical technology known as scriving. However, in stealing it, Sancia angers the powerful merchant houses that control the technology and now they want her dead. Her only way out is to gather allies and learn to use the power of the artifact for herself.


Such a Fun Age – Kiley Reid

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Lately I’ve been adding more adult contemporary fiction to my TBR. Such a Fun Age has been popping up a lot over the last few weeks and I’ve heard some good things about it. It’s about two women – Alix & Emira. Emira is the 25-year-old, black babysitter to Alix’s daughter and currently juggling multiple jobs whilst trying to work out what to do with her life. Alix, on the other hand, is a wealthy, white, feminist blogger and influencer who has doubts of her own. After Emira is accused of kidnapping Alix’s daughter, Briar, whilst out at the supermarket one evening, the whole altercation is caught on camera. Emira wants to forget and move on but Alix is determined to get justice for her. So begins a story about race, friendship, white saviourism, privilege, and parenthood.


Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb 1#) – Tamsyn Muir

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This book could go very well or not so great at all based on what I’ve seen from reviews. Apparently there is a long period of not having a clue what’s going on. Yet, I can’t help but be super intrigued. It’s centred around a smart mouthed swordswoman named Gideon. Harrow, a necromancer, has been summoned by the emperor to compete in a set of mysterious trials to potentially ascend to something that will bring immortality. But, Harrow is unable to compete without a cavalier at her side. Enter Gideon. However, when the other necromancers and cavaliers start getting murdered, Gideon not only has to worry about assisting Harrow but keeping the both of them breathing and tracking down the culprit. It’s dark, queer, unique, and I’m super excited to read it.


There we have it, five additions to the list. Lord knows when I’ll actually get around to buying and reading any of them. Then again, I do have a habit of letting books skip the queue because I’m a serious mood reader. Guess, we’ll have to see.

Have you recently added anything exciting to your to-read shelf?

Lock Your Doors, Latch Your Windows: The Whisper Man by Alex North

One of my bookish resolutions for 2020 was to read more broadly than my constant marathon of fantasy and YA contemporaries. Cue: The Whisper Man by Alex North, a crime/thriller novel with an intriguing premise, rumoured to be a little bit creepy, and featured on quite a few people’s top ten lists of 2019.

Who, What, Where?

“If you leave a door half open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken.
If you play outside alone, soon you won’t be going home.
If your window’s left unlatched, you’ll hear him tapping at the glass.
If you’re lonely, sad, and blue, the Whisper Man will come for you.”

The novel is set in the small town of Featherbank in which a young boy named Neil Spencer has recently been abducted after hearing whispers at his bedroom window. The kidnapping is deeply unsettling for police as twenty years ago a serial killer with the same MO named Frank Carter, and known as ‘The Whisper Man’, was arrested. The body of his final victim was never found and at the time, the lead inspector on the case, DI Pete Willis, believed Carter might have an accomplice. Shortly after Neil’s disappearance, Tom Kennedy and his seven-year-old son, Jake, move to town, hoping to find a new start following the death of Jake’s mother, Rebecca. However, to Tom’s dismay, Jake soon begins acting strangely – talking to invisible children, sleepwalking, and spouting information he shouldn’t know. But then Jake, too, begins to hear the whispering.

More Than Your Standard Police Procedural

While TWM is marketed as a fantastic crime novel, and its mystery elements are definitely solid, where this book excels is its focus on themes like parenthood, specifically the relationship between fathers and sons, grief and trauma.  The key relationship here is between Tom and Jake. Several months after Rebecca’s death, Tom and Jake are both grieving in different ways and struggling to understand one another. Tom loves his son and desperately wants to connect with him but at the same time he’s also learning to be a single parent and dealing with the complex emotions associated with his loss. He worries about Jake fitting in and dealing with finding Rebecca’s body but more that he’s doing the right thing by Jake in terms of his parenting. His struggles also inevitably make him think about his problematic relationship with his own father.

Well-Rounded Characters

The characters in TWM are fleshed out and feel like real people, with all the flaws and failings that come with it. As a reader, we genuinely feel and understand Tom’s conflicting emotions of sadness and anger over his wife’s death, Jake’s guilt in being what he feels is a disappointment to his father, Pete’s struggles not to give in to his alcohol addiction, and DI Amanda Beck’s desperate need to do the right thing by Neil Spencer and his family. The book shifts perspectives between each of these characters, and later the killer, in a very fluid and easy to follow way.

Enjoyable but Not Gripping

In terms of the mystery itself, I found it mildly enjoyable but not to the level hype had set my expectations. However, I feel as though this is likely more a case of ‘it’s not you, it’s me’. As I mentioned above, TWM is about more than just an investigation. In order to facilitate this (and because there are points where the police are low on leads), the pacing is slower for large sections. It’s almost as though the mystery takes a back seat to character development and exploring the book’s overall themes, which is fine but not what I was anticipating.Something I also really enjoy in my thrillers/mysteries are intense moments and big/smart reveals. TWM does have a few creepy and dramatic moments, and the later chapters are certainly fast paced, but the majority of the reveals didn’t really encourage a reaction from me more than, ‘Okay, I’m cool with that. That makes sense’. Overall, I can say I was consistently interested in what was happening but not necessarily glued to the page, on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what would happen.

I See Dead People (Maybe?)

TWM also includes a potential paranormal plotline. Having gone into this book expecting a gritty murder mystery grounded in reality, this was a surprise for me, but one I really enjoyed. This part of the story revolves around Jake and his tendency to see and speak to children which no one else can. Jake also often says things that make Tom wonder where he would have picked up the information. This complication added an extra dimension to Jake and Tom’s relationship and really enriched the sections of the novel from Jake’s perspective. They also tie in nicely to the overall mystery narrative, making certain moments that little bit more emotional and dramatic.      


All things considered; I liked this one. It was well written and I’d probably read another book from the same author in the future.

3.5 Stars

Battle of the Book Covers: US VS UK (Round 3)

That’s right, we’re back again to match up US and UK cover designs in a battle to the death to see which comes out on top! Looking at the scoreboard from rounds 1 & 2, the US is currently in the lead by two points with 12 to the UK’s 10. Let’s see what happens in round 3.


The Starless Sea – Erin Morgenstern

As with Erin’s first book, The Night Circus, I love both covers. However, this time, the designs are completely different in style. I like the simplicity and clearness of the US cover. It’s very understated and elegant. On the other hand, the paint swirled background of the UK cover is so lovely. I also think it’s really cool that they’ve tried to make it look like a battered hardback. If it weren’t for the weirdly placed male silhouette in the middle, I probably would give this to the UK but as it is, it’s a tie.

VERDICT: Tie


Call Down the Hawk – Maggie Stiefvater

Both of these covers use the same image of the hawk in flight, however, to different scales and with varied colour schemes. While I like the style of the title on the US cover and the orange is visually striking, I definitely prefer the UK cover. I love a good bit of pastel and the background here is both warm and soft. I also really appreciate that the burning trees in the bird wings are much more visible and bright.

VERDICT: UK Cover


The Bear and the Nightingale – Katherine Arden

This is a very easy decision from where I’m sitting. Out of these two, the UK cover does absolutely nothing for me. I plan to buy this book at some point in the future and am 100% sure I’ll be ordering the US version. The font, colour contrast, ominous & fairy-tale-eque look of the image…the US cover wins.

VERDICT: US Cover


The Immortalists – Chloe Benjamin

I actually really like both of these covers. They’re doing a lot of things right. Both have nice colour schemes, easy to read fonts, and elements that catch the eye. I enjoy the ‘painted on the side of a building’ look of the UK cover with the figures sitting on top – it’s different and rustic. However, for some reason my eyes keep darting back to the US cover’s tree with its gorgeous autumn coloured leaves.

VERDICT: US Cover (It’s a close call though)


Wayward Son – Rainbow Rowell

These two books give me a very similar vibe – the text is similar, the art style is the same (just a different image), and both go well with the Carry On US Cover. The colour contrast between the yellow and aqua on the US cover is eye catching and I’m loving the smirk Simon has going on. And YET, I have to go with the UK Cover. I mean, just look at Baz’s suit! LOOK AT IT. Bonus points for the addition of Simon’s tail wrapping around the title and the fun image at the bottom which really suits the road trip story.

VERDICT: UK Cover


The Flat Share – Beth O’Leary

With the US cover, I appreciate that they tried to do something different by using the painted image. Unfortunately, the painting just isn’t my style. I can’t help feeling that it looks too basic, almost like something a 12 year old would paint in art class? I do really like the layout though, with the title down the middle on the door. The UK Cover is simple but clean. I enjoy the colour palette, the font choices, and the texture provided by the bedspread and paneled flooring.

VERDICT: UK Cover


The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch

Fun fact, the US cover for this book is actually a redesign done in response to Americans saying how much they wish they had the UK cover. As someone who owns the UK/Aus cover, I can definitely see why because it’s pretty darn nice. So nice, in fact, that even with a redesign the US cover still doesn’t top it. The look of the city against the water, title fonts, sneaky little silhouette of Locke looking like he’s about to steal everything you own – it’s simply a great cover.

VERDICT: UK Cover


Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mendel

Now these are two completely different covers and they’re both lovely. I love astrophotography. It’s gorgeous, magical and always makes you feel small in a big universe. The use of it on the US cover is really nice and the fact that they’ve kept the text simple works very well. On the UK Cover, I’m a big fan of the bold, pink title in contrast to the black & white image. I also love how the cover looks almost like a paper tole craft with all the different cutout layers. The white border is super pretty and really stands out.

VERDICT: US Cover (Another super close race!)


City of Ghosts – Victoria Schwab

For these covers, the compositions are very similar. It’s almost as if two artists were given the same brief and asked to do a design in their own personal art style. While I usually love red covers, my preference here is definitely for the US cover. It looks so much more eerie with the grey-white background and blurred image of the girl & cat. I also think I prefer the design of the city skyline more on the US cover compared to the UK.

VERDICT: US Cover


Normal People – Sally Rooney

This was an easy pick in the UK’s favour. There’s something about the faces on the US cover that give me the creeps. Maybe it’s the fact that the eyes are just blank circles? Who knows? I appreciate the clean, blocky title text on both versions but it looks so much clearer and bolder on the UK cover because of the colour scheme. I have to give brownie points to whoever was bold enough to release a book in olive green because it certainly stands out in a bookstore.

VERDICT: UK Cover


And that ends round 3. Let’s take a look at the updated points:

US Covers: 17 Points

UK Covers: 16 Points

After all that, it’s still a very close race which actually surprises me! For some reason I thought the US had won more covers this round than it actually had. Guess it just goes to show, there are some good and bad covers on both sides of the ocean.

How would you have decided these match ups? Are my tastes in covers completely different from yours?

Top 10 Tuesday: Books on my TBR I Predict will be 5 Star Reads

I’ve never done a post like this before. Why? It’s simple, I don’t give out many 5 star ratings. Check my Goodreads ‘read’ shelf and you’ll see that books with those five shiny things after them are in short supply. Remove all 7 Harry Potter books, and the list gets even shorter. The reason for this is that I don’t often read books that I absolutely crazy adore and have very few negative things to say about. I know I sound like a snob, and perhaps I have too higher standards, but unfortunately, it’s just the way I am. Because of this, posts like these have always seemed unrealistic for me. However, today we’re making an exception and attempting to be optimistic! Okay, not over the top optimistic which is why there are only 8 books on this list instead of 10. As far as final ratings are concerned, I’ll still consider it a win if any of these books manage to get a 4.5 star rating.

The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War 2#) – R. F. Kuang

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The Poppy War was one of my favourite reads of 2019. I even gave it one of my rarely awarded 5 star ratings. With sequels is always hard to know whether they’ll live up to the original and before TDR was released, I was very nervous. After the ending of book 1, I wasn’t sure where the story could go but I now have a good feeling about this one! The average Goodreads rating is high, reviewers I trust have said super positive things and the blurb sounds great. So I’m pegging this for another 5 star read and I think the odds are high.


A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara

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I’ve only just started this book but I’m willing to make a bet that A Little Life will crack the big five stars. Now, this is in no way a short read – it’s over 700 pages long, and I’m fully aware of the fact that the story is supposed to be emotionally grueling (majorly so). Yet, I’ve heard so many wonderful things about it – the writing, the realistic and wonderfully crafted characters, the fact that it doesn’t leave you until long after you’ve finished it. I’m looking for something that’ll worm its way into me and stay there. I really hope this is it.


Educated – Tara Westover

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As I’ve mentioned a few times over the last couple of months, non-fiction reads have started to grow on me and Educated is a book I’ve had on my TBR for a few months now. I actually started it a little while back and got distracted but I’m determined to go back. A story about a young woman from a survivalist family, who with little education at all, managed to teach herself enough to be admitted to university and eventually earned a doctrate sounds like the kind of story I need in my life. I’ve seen some rave reviews of this book so I’m hoping it lands 5 stars with me also.


The Toll (Arc of a Scythe 3#) – Neal Shusterman

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This is another book where I’m basing a five star prediction on the fact that I rated previous books in the series highly. Scythe was a 5 star read and Thunderhead a 4.5 star read so the chance of another high rating seems likely here. I really love this series so it would be heartbreaking for it to stumble at the final hurdle. Book two ended in a major cliffhanger and I’m super excited to find out what happens next (well, after I re-read books one and two to refresh my bad memory). I’ve seen some amazing reviews and some disappointed reviews. I’m desperately crossing my fingers hoping I’ll be in the former camp.


The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon

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Another enormous book and another one I’ve started and will have to return to at some point. While the few pages that I’ve already read of Priory weren’t exactly grabbing me in a choke-hold of engagement, with a book this big I’m willing to put the time in to reach a point where I’m sure things will pick up in a major way. I still have a good feeling about this one being an amazing read. I’m trusting the hype train to be right here. It has everything I need – dragons, a badass female ruler and warrior, magic, a good verses evil battle. Don’t let me down Samantha Shannon!


The Wise man’s Fear – Patrick Rothfuss

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Time for another sequel. In 2019 I finally, FINALLY read The Name of the Wind and to my immense relief, I thought it was fantastic. It ended up being a 5 star read and got a place on my top 10 list of the year. Now, it’s pretty much guaranteed that I’ll enjoy the sequel. I’m guessing another 5 star rating is likely but the problem is, the third book is still nowhere in sight and it’s already been YEARS. Who knows if it’s ever coming??? As a result, I think I’ll be putting TWMF on hold for a while even though I know it’ll be good. Don’t worry Kvothe, I’ll come back for you eventually.


Mexican Gothic – Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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Now, Mexican Gothic hasn’t even been released yet so with this one I’m going entirely off a great blurb, good feeling in my gut and gorgeous cover. It’s a little scary though because these days I’m such a Goodreads rating snob. I’m really hoping that this book is what the movie Crimson Peak could have been if it had actually lived up to its potential and not gone…well, off the rails. A haunted house, creepy family, debutante heroine, suspense, mystery, and all in 1950s Mexico. I’m super excited. Please be gooooooooodddd.


Empire of the Vampire – Jay Kristoff

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Jay’s Nevernight series is one of my favourites and I’m hoping that lightning strikes again with EotV. Teenage Ashley was majorly obsessed with vampires and I’ll admit, I still have a guilty pleasure love of them so I’m super keen on the idea of a darker, more adult fantasy approach. If anyone can pull it off, Jay can. As with Nevernight, this seems like another historical based world which is also really exciting. Basically bring on the violence, blood, romance, witty dialogue and emotional trauma. And GIVE ME A 5 STAR READ, PLEASE.


What do you think of my 5-star predictions? Way off base or likely to hit the mark. I’m crossing all my fingers and toes.

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl.

The Cliché Book Tag

I’m always on the look out for fun book tags to pass the time with and this one recently caught my eye. I tried to backtrack through all the tagging to find the original creator but unfortunately reached a bit of a dead end with a deactivated blog. *sigh* Still, let’s tackle some terrible (yet, fabulous) cliches.

Actions Speak Louder than Words: A Book that Wasn’t or Couldn’t be Better than the Movie

The Lord of the Rings Series – J. R. R. Tolkien

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I know, according to Tolkien fans, there’s probably a special place in book hell reserved especially for me purely for having this opinion. But to that I say: worth it. I gave The Lord of the Rings book series a red hot go, I really did, but I couldn’t make it past The Two Towers. SO. MUCH. UNNECESSARY. INFORMATION. I was drowning in it. Add in a smug writing style and not enough attention devoted to the actual story & its big dramatic moments, and I’m out. On the other hand, the movies are some of my favourite films – the scenery, music, costumes, humour, amazing battle sequences, wonderful characters – AH, I love them. Amazing.


The Grass Is Always Greener On The Other Side: A Rags to Riches or Riches to Rags Story

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid

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Evelyn Hugo is easily one of my favourite books and one of the reasons I enjoy it so much is Evelyn herself. Evelyn comes from a Cuban immigrant family with very little to their names and wants nothing more than to get out of Hell’s Kitchen, away from her alcoholic father and his heavy hand, and to make it to Hollywood. At fifteen, she marries, moves to California and slowly starts to work her way towards becoming one of the country’s most famous actresses. Wealth, fame, notoriety – it’s not an easy road and she has to sacrifice a lot of herself to get there, but get there she does and with plenty of cash to spend.


The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree: A Parent-Child Relationship you Love

Anne & Matthew (Anne of Green Gables – L. M. Montgomery)

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While Matthew and Anne aren’t blood related, their relationship is 100% that of father and daughter. Where Anne is a massive chatterbox, Matthew is quiet and more than happy to sit and listen to her prattle on for hours. She makes him laugh and he’s there when she needs some encouragement. Every time I think of their relationship, I’m reminded of two things, 1) him going out to buy Anne a dress with puffed sleeves, knowing it was the one thing she wanted more than anything, and 2) shortly before he died, him calling Anne his girl, who he was proud of. *cries*


You Can’t Judge a Book by its Cover: A Great Book that Needs a Better Cover

This Savage Song – V. E. Schwab

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I really enjoyed The Monsters of Verity duology but goodness me, the UK/Aus covers for these books were lazy and boring. The font looks like it could be chilling on the front of a copy of Twilight while the graphic design elements aren’t doing anything for anyone. I mean, at least the sequel tried to incorporate a violin but this rose seems really out of place. Every time I look at the US covers for this series I think about what could have been and wish I’d taken the time to order them from Book Depository. Re-cover these, stat!


You Can’t Please Everyone: A Book You Hate That Everyone Loves

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin

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I don’t know if the problem is that I read Mara Dyer too long after books of its type were popular or whether it’s just me. Still, either way, I really don’t get how this ended up with a 4.06 average star rating on Goodreads. It’s full of tropes & cliches – the bitchy mean girl, the comic relief bestie, the bad boy love interest. *sigh* The thing that frustrates me the most is that the author starts out by trying to hook the reader using a paranormal mystery plotline but in reality it’s just a romance and an unhealthy, eye-roll worthy one at that. Also, the slut shaming in this book – not cool.


What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger: A Book That Made You A Better Person For Having Read It

Becoming – Michelle Obama

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I’m slightly cheating here as I’m not finished this yet but eh. Michelle Obama is an elegant, intelligent, kind and inspiring woman, but at the same time she’s wonderfully relatable in so many ways. So far, her biography has already taught me a lot about life, relationships, motherhood, loss, the experiences of African Americans, and growing up working class in the US. She shares many pieces of advice/wisdom that I think people could benefit from – some I wish I had heard earlier, and others I’m glad to have before they become relevant. I honestly believe I’ll be a better person for having read this.


Love Is Blind: A Book With A Disabled Character Or Actual Blind Love

100 Days of Sunlight – Abbie Emmons

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It’s pretty sad that when trying to think of an answer for this prompt, only four books came to mind. It might just be my limited reading range but somehow I don’t feel like that’s the case. 100 days of Sunlight actually fits both parts of this prompt as the two lead characters are Tessa, a girl with temporary blindness, and Weston, an amputee. The story revolves around Weston assisting Tessa with producing content for her poetry blog during her period of vision impairment and helping her to experience the world despite her disability. As you would expect of a fluffy YA contemporary, the two eventually fall in love.


Ignorance Is Bliss: A Book That’s Bad But You Just Don’t Want To Admit It

The Selection – Kiera Cass

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I know the prompt says to select a book you don’t want to admit is bad, but I have repeatedly said that I realise how dodgy The Selection series is. The thing is, I just don’t care. I binge read this series like a kid shoveling in Halloween candy. The story is tropey (hello there, love triangle), the world building is as weak as anything, the lead character can be a whingey pain in the butt and the story is kind of a feminist’s nightmare, but I DO NOT CARE. It’s the reality TV of YA fiction. Loveably trashy.


There’s No Time Like The Present: Your Favorite Contemporary Book

The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

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I hate questions involving the word ‘favourite’. They’re just downright cruel because I have a long list of favourites, thank you very much! The Time Traveler’s Wife has been a favourite of mine for years now. I received it as a gift from my mum and fell instantly in love. While it does involve time travel, its main story is grounded in the present. The ending has made me cry on more than one occasion. I will say though, the last time I read it was about 7 years ago so who knows whether it’d still remain a favourite. Guess I’ll add it to the enormous list of books I want to re-read but don’t have the time to.


Better Safe Than Sorry: A Book You Don’t Want To Read In Case It’s Bad

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive 1#) – Brandon Sanderson

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Ask an avid fantasy reader about their favourite series and I guarantee you they’ll mention The Stormlight Archive. The love for this series is insane. If I order my to-read shelf by average rating, The Way of Kings is no.2 on 4.65! So, I have to question, how can anything with that much hype possibly live up to it? According to reviews I’ve seen, the book has a bunch of different characters to follow, involves a heavy amount of world building and takes a good while for the story to get going. For these reasons I’m really concerned that won’t enjoy it. And yet, it’s still on my to-read shelf after all this time. So maybe, just maybe I’ll eventually take the plunge.


That’s it! We’re done. I had fun with this tag. While cliches certainly make you want to roll your eyes, they’re also kind of fun to play around with. What’s your favourite cliche?

A Hero Doesn't Choose Her Trials: Starsight by Brandon Sanderson

Skyward was my favourite read of 2019, so to say that I had high expectations for Starsight is verging on understatement. In the end, was it as good as the original? No, but I can safely say it was a very enjoyable ride all the same.

Who, What, Where?

Yeah, I can’t do this section for this particular review because the spoilers would be out of this world. Ha. Get it? Out of this…okay, moving on.

A Different Type of Adventure

Story wise, Starsight was a very different experience to Skyward. I’ll admit, I panicked when I first realised the direction the narrative was taking, but in the end I really needn’t have worried. Where book one was focused on a straightforward path of training and survival with clear heroes, enemies and goals, Starsight is more about subtlety, politics, and subterfuge. Because of this, the pacing is a lot slower at points. Still, despite the lack of ‘I-must-keep-reading’ momentum, I was never bored.  And if you’re someone who really enjoyed the battles in book one, don’t worry. Spensa spends plenty of time in the cockpit.

A Whole New World…or Universe

Over the years, something I’ve found that frequently ruins a good concept is an author attempting to take their stage from small to big. When I saw this was about to happen here, a large part of me wanted to scream: ABORT MISSION. As it turned out, I should have trusted a phenomenal world builder like Sanderson not to let me down. Starsight is the big bang of world building. It introduces new races, technology, planets, histories, culture, politics, everything you could possibly think of, and it does so fantastically. These inclusions are not only interesting but exponentially raise the stakes for the characters and expand the story in an exciting (and MAJOR) way. Even better, they make logical sense. Now that the door has been opened, I’m really looking forward to seeing what else is out there.

New Faces & Missing Familiar Ones

Starsight introduces us to a bunch of new characters. I can’t say much because of spoilers, but these new faces are very different to those we found in Skyward. They’re also completely distinct from one another in personality, physical appearance, and backstories. You can tell that Sanderson had a lot of fun crafting these characters and throughout the story they provided some great moments of humour, sadness and excitement. I really enjoyed them, both the “good” and the villainous.

Yet, while I liked the new characters, I have to say that I missed Cobb and the Skyward Flight gang in this book. For plot reasons, they don’t get much page time other than a few scenes here and there. Jorgen makes some bread (really) and gets the beginnings of a character arc, which will be expanded later, but for the others, it’s almost a blink and you’ll miss it situation. Although, I am happy to report that our faves, M-Bot and Doomslug, were very much along for the ride (complete with an existential crisis on M-Bot’s part) and gave me the usual snort laughs. And bonus, they even got some development of their own!

Spensa the Spy

Something I really loved about this book was just how much growth Spensa underwent. I loved Spensa and her crazy dramatics in Skyward, but in Starsight she becomes far more self-aware, realises the value of discipline and pre-planning, and re-evaluates her perspectives on war and what it means to be a hero. It was also great to see her tackle challenges in new, subtler ways and have to utilise skills not previously part of her strengths. By pushing Spensa out of her comfort zone, Sanderson has created an even better lead that I can’t wait to see develop further.

Sanderson, You Suck

That ending. I knew it was coming, but I’m still mad. How could you do this to me? And with at least a year to wait for the next book? Like, really? REALLY?


Although distinctly different from its predecessor in terms of scale, plot and pacing, Starsight is another fantastic read which massively expands the series’ overarching story and universe. While I may have enjoyed Skyward better, Starsight was still a great mix of action, humour, and heart that I’m sure I’ll re-read in years to come.

Now, someone wake me up when book three is out…

4.5 Stars