You’ve Got Mail with Added Emotional Baggage: Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

Since I first started getting into YA contemporary a few years back, there have been some misses, some solidly enjoyable reads, and a few books that have made me sit there and go, ‘Wow, I really loved that’. Letters to the Lost falls squarely within category three. This is a story that’s honest, emotionally deep, fantastically written, and somehow enjoyable, despite its often sad content.

Who, What Where?

LTTL follows high school seniors Juliet and Declan. Juliet, still grieving the death of her mother killed in a hit and run several months ago, is having difficulty moving on with her life. She takes comfort in writing letters to her mother as if she were still alive and leaves them at her grave. Declan is serving community service at the local cemetery as punishment for drunk driving a car into an office building. After finding one of Juliet’s letters among the headstones, Declan finds himself writing a reply. And so begins an exchange of anonymous letters that will have a profound impact on them both.

Dealing & Moving On

I thoroughly enjoyed the plot of LTTL. The novel has three main overarching storylines: 1) Juliet coming to terms with her mother’s death and trying to engage in life again, 2) Declan dealing with his past family trauma and current family difficulties, and 3) the relationship between the two characters. Each of these stories is given a great degree of attention and depth, and all three are seen through to a satisfying conclusion. As a reader, seeing Juliet and Declan work to overcome their demons and emotional weights is extremely cathartic, and I’ll admit, there were several scenes towards the end that had me feeling some intense…things. Yet, I will say that there are some aspects of the story that do verge into melodramatic territory, but if you can get on board with this early you’ll likely enjoy the ride.

You Get Me

The relationship between Juliet and Declan is beautifully handled and layered. On the one hand, we have their written relationship in which the two feel comfortable to share their guilt, grief, secrets and thoughts about life within the safety of anonymity. At the same time, we also have their real-life interactions which, while starting off on very shaky ground, eventually grow and develop as they come to know more about one another. It’s the perfect example of why you shouldn’t judge someone before you truly know them or what they’ve been through.

Characters, Big & Small

Although the writing is amazing, it’s the characters that really made me fall in love with this one.

Declan: On the surface, Declan seems very much like the aggressive, angsty bad boy with a terrible reputation and we see this clearly from Juliet’s early interactions with him. However, Kemmerer wonderfully pulls back the layers on Declan bit by bit to reveal this caring, smart and guilt-wracked person who I so badly wanted to see find some peace, kindness and closure.

Juliet: Unlike Declan, I took some time warming up to Juliet as her grief makes her a little prickly in the earlier stages of the book. As the story goes on though, we get to understand and empathise with her a lot more. I loved seeing her open up to Declan in her letters/e-mails and using these conversations as encouragement to make changes in her life, especially where it came to her friends, family and photography.

Rev: Declan’s friend, Rev, was easily one of the best characters in the book. As an abuse survivor, Rev has his own internal battles to deal with, but he’s also a great friend, kind of awkward, very sweet, and in possession of a dry sense of humour. With this much potential, I’m really looking forward to seeing him in a lead role in More Than We Can Tell.

Wonderful Adults Galore: Can I just give a big shout out to all the gorgeous adult characters in this book. Sure, there’s definitely a few…not so good ones, but the others definitely make up for them in spades (especially since I find that adults frequently get the shaft in YA contemporaries). There’s Mr. Gerardi, who encourages Juliet to get back into photography, Mrs Hillard, who pushes Declan academically and persists despite resistance, Juliet’s dad, a massive sweetheart just trying to do the best for his daughter, and “Melonhead”, Declan’s community service supervisor, who helps him talk through some of his feelings and experiences.

You’ve Got Mail

The writing in LTTL is A+. The story alternates between Juliet and Declan’s first-person perspectives and their letters/e-mails to each other. These letters were one of my favourite parts of the novel as they showcase Juliet and Declan gradually opening up to and trusting one another with intimately personal details about their lives as well as thoughts they’ve never spoken about with anyone. This style choice also allowed for the seamless transition between the two characters’ POVs. These were fantastically done as well, with each character possessing an individual voice and Kemmerer able to perfectly capture their emotions on the page in a way that I couldn’t help but connect with them. 


While I may not have been able to fully get aboard the Kemmerer fantasy train with A Curse so Dark and Lonely, I am 100% full steam ahead when it comes to her YA contemporaries. LTTL is not a light book by any means, but despite its moments of over the top drama, it always feels true, raw, and compelling. After a book that’ll make you feel some things but is still enjoyable? This is the ticket.

4.5 Stars

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Mutant Crabs, Body Horror and Lots of Questions: Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Like a few of the other books I’ve read in recent months, Wilder Girls is another example of a novel with a great premise which manages to get a few things right but ultimately isn’t as enjoyable as I’d hoped it would be. Being classified as feminist horror by a lot of people, the story is a little bit Lord of the Flies in an Annihilation like setting with some added lesbianism, gore, friendship and a military cover up.

Who, What, Where?

Our story takes place at Raxter School for Girls, a boarding school located on an island off the coast of Maine. The school has been quarantined for the past 18 months following the outbreak of a mysterious disease referred to as the Tox. Over time, the Tox has killed most of the teachers and some of the students. The infected that remain suffer as the disease continues to mutate their bodies in gruesome and painful ways. The creatures in the surrounding woods have been similarly affected, leaving them aggressive and a constant threat. Facing difficult weather conditions and minimal food supplies, all the students can do is wait and hope for the speedy arrival of the promised cure.

Creepy & Mysterious Vibes

The atmosphere and setting for Wilder Girls are spot on. It’s bleak but works perfectly for the story being told. A decaying boarding school, population constantly dwindling, buildings gradually being torn apart for whatever resources the girls need to stay alive, and surrounded by expansive forest areas inhabited by mutated, vicious animals. Power provides us with just enough detail about her world to visualise it and still be intrigued to find out more. There are some serious Annihilation-like vibes here – it’s fascinating, mysterious, ominous and, at times, downright horrifying.

Aside from setting, Power’s novel also excels where it comes to the body horror elements – something she shows a clear talent for. The book doesn’t shy away from the pain and suffering the girls experience at the hands of the Tox which affects them in a variety of terrifying and sometimes awfully gruesome ways. Scaled hands, second spines, gills, sealed eyes, extra organs, blistered skin, mouth sores that spontaneously burst, the outlook is bleak. It’s bloody and bound to make those with weaker stomachs’ skin crawl. However, I do have to say that I feel as though Power could have made better use of the Tox as an allegory for women’s struggles in society and done more with the Tox mutations as a take on puberty (or at least, that’s how I interpreted it).

Just Answer My Questions

By and large, Wilder Girls is not something I’d describe as fast paced or action packed. The story spends a fair amount of time establishing the current state of things – the disease, the student’s systems for survival, the world itself, etc. before eventually moving on to something more plot oriented and even then, these plot points aren’t exactly numerous. It took me a while to engage with the story and mostly out of an intense desire to get my questions about the disease answered. However, the answers themselves ended up being either unsatisfying, vague or non-existent. If you’re looking for something with a clear sense of closure like me, this won’t be a good pick for you. The ending itself feels rushed, incomplete and confusing, and I’m left with a frustrating amount of questions.

The Trio

There are three main characters in Wilder Girls – Hetty, Byatt & Reese, the first two of which serve as the story’s narrators. The girls are close friends and have learnt to have each other’s backs to ensure their survival. These relationships are important as it’s Byatt’s disappearance which causes Hetty and Reese to go out looking for her, setting off a chain of events. Each of the girls are what I’d consider capable and strong. Power has given them different personalities and I have no problems with their characters from what I saw of them. Yet, at the same time, I still don’t feel as though I really know them and would have appreciated some more depth, development and backstory, especially with Byatt who was the least clear to me.

Poetic & Artsy?

One of the things I found myself thinking about a lot while reading was Power’s writing style. The reason being that it’s a little odd at times and frequently adopts the kind of sentence structure that would send any grammar check program into panic mode. For example, ‘Over my shoulder, the gloom thickening, and every sound an animal prowling through the trees’ or ‘Here the beginning of a path, there an open patch of grass, rubble scattered like gravestones’.  When you consider that the book is written in first person from the POV of 16-year old girls, it does make you wonder. While I wasn’t as keen on the use of this approach during quieter moments, it works well in dramatic scenes, helping to emphasise the tension and get across the tendency of the brain to process things very quickly.

Power plays around with style a lot more during Byatt’s segments of the novel – fragmented sentences, run-ons, etc. This in combination with choppy memory flashbacks can make these sections confusing at times but, for the most part, it effectively reflects Byatt’s current state of mind.  

Romance Light

As a book featuring almost an entirely female cast of characters, it’s the perfect set up for a sapphic romance. Wilder Girls starts out well on this front and lays the building blocks for a lovely and complex relationship between Hetty and Reese. Following Byatt’s disappearance, the two start to understand each other and communicate better, they have some sweet and intimate moments, and then…poof. It’s gone. Okay, not gone, but any further development does seem to halt. While I’m not someone who needs massively dramatic romance storylines to be happy, as far as side plots go, for me, this one was underdeveloped.

While Wilder Girls may not have given me the answers I wanted and could have benefited from greater depth to some of its story elements, it was certainly an interesting read and its world building and mysteries kept me engaged until the end. If you’re after something quick, slightly darker in tone, with strong female characters and a more open ending, this should be right up your alley. Added bonus: An absolutely stunning cover to add to the bookshelf.

3.5 Stars

Top 10 Tuesday: Tropes I Secretly Can’t Get Enough Of

Most of the time, when you hear the word ‘trope’ uttered, it’s generally followed by a lot of moans, groans and other unhappy sounds. By their very definition, tropes are ideas, plots, elements or themes that pop up a lot and for that reason, they’re likely to feel boring, annoying and, from a writing standpoint, lazy. However, the reality is, the reason some tropes won’t die no matter how much we complain about them is because there are always groups of people out there who just can’t get enough of them. Even when we’ve seen them a million times before in every way possible, there are some tropes we can’t help taking a bit of guilty pleasure in. Here are 10 of my favourite bookish tropes:

Training Academies

I’ve mentioned this trope quite a few times on my blog, almost to the point where my talking about it has become a trope for my blog. So many of my favourite books involve some kind of school or training academy in which our hero/s learn to harness magic, special abilities, the ability to kick ass, etc. to ready themselves for the road ahead. I love the sense of competition and watching the characters develop, harden, and excel.


Enemies to Lovers or Friends

Another trope I can’t help but love. There’s just something attractive about reading as two characters who don’t like each other learn to overcome their differences and understand one another better to eventually form a good relationship. It’s the kind of trope that provides a perfect ground for character development and conflict, and, when handled correctly, it also creates a basis for some beautifully complex character interactions. Basically, fight and now KISS (or high five).


Game/Competition Plots

I know, I know, this one comes up ALL THE TIME but I really, really like it, okay? There’s conflict, momentum, high stakes, opportunity for drama, the formation of friendships and nemeses, betrayals, ahhhh…so good. You find yourself unable to stop reading because you need to know who wins and how it plays out. An oldie but a goodie.


Complex or Close Sibling Relationships

This is kind of two tropes in one but they’re both great. One provides the opportunity for big ‘AWWWW’s of cuteness and the other for drama with a great sense of catharsis. Siblings can have such different relationships with so many layers. They may be very similar and have a fantastic connection or perhaps they don’t understand each other and have treated one another badly. Either way, I want to read about it. Well, when it’s done right, that is.


Mentorship

Like training academies, this is another fantasy staple and sometimes you might even find a book with a double whammy and get BOTH AT THE SAME TIME. For me, I really like seeing the bond between student and mentor form and finding out how that relationship impacts the story, especially as the student is usually the MC. Will they have to get justice for their mentor’s death, will they achieve the skill their mentor believed they could, or will they disappoint them completely and end up on opposite sides of a conflict? You never know!


Opposites Attract Friendships

This is another relationship based trope that I love. It’s always fun to have two characters who are close friends and yet, somehow also polar opposites. It’s interesting seeing them play off each other in different ways, fill the gaps in one another’s personalities, and often work together toward whatever goal the plot has set up for them. Sometimes the story’s conflict strengthens their bond and others, it sends it all crashing down.


Here Comes the Cavalry

This trope verges onto deus ex machina but there’s something about back up arriving at the last possible moment, when the reader thinks that everything is lost, only to completely knock the enemy on their asses and save the day. It’s ridiculous but always gives me the warm fuzzies.


Hero/Villain Acts Like the Opposite

Character development and plot twists all rolled up into one magical trope. I get very excited when something like this happens because, despite it being a trope, it’s still very much unexpected. With a villain, it could pave the way to a fabulous redemption arc and with a hero, a potential downward spiral towards being an anti-hero or full on villain.


Found Families

It’s impossible not to love this trope because it’s so sweet and heart warming. There’s nothing more wonderful than a bunch of characters, some of which may not have supportive or living real families, coming together and developing connections so strong that they form one themselves. Usually these found families involve a mishmash of different personalities which I enjoy even more and I especially love it when they have to work together to overcome plot obstacles. You may not be able to choose your blood relatives but you can definitely choose the friends you want to face the apocalypse with.


Gender Bending

With the whole gender inequality thing, the majority of the time this trope is about girls pretending to be boys. For this reason it usually comes off as very feminist and female empowering. I can’t help but love seeing talented, brave and strong girls going up against boys and totally killing it after everybody said they couldn’t. They eventually reveal who they really are and the boys are all left with a slice of humble pie to eat up.


What are some of your favourite tropes? Would any of these make your list?

** TTT is hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl

Battle of the Book Covers: US VS UK (Round 1)

We all love a good book cover. As the thing that invites you to want to pick up a book in the first place, it’s something extremely important to get right. But what’s even more challenging? Trying to design to equally good covers for the same book for different markets. I definitely do not envy cover designers’ jobs! As we all know, UK and US covers can often end up looking very different and I think it’s safe to say, that we all have our preferences. In the past, I have even been known to order the US version of a book online where I massively prefer the US cover to the UK cover found in Australian stores. For this reason, I thought it’d be fun to do a comparison of some US vs UK covers to see which versions come out on top. I’ve seen this done by a number of people in the past and couldn’t resist trying it out for myself. For reference, US covers will be on the left and UK on the right.

The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas

This is a set of covers where I actually like both versions despite them being completely different from one another – one light, one dark, one graphic and the other using a real model. Normally I’m not a big fan of models on covers but I feel like this shot actually captures the serious tone of the book. Meanwhile, I like how simplistic the US version is. It’s clean and striking. So for this one I’m going to sit on the fence and give both a point.

VERDICT: Tie


One Of Us Is Lying – Karen M. McManus

The bold red text was good choice for both of these covers – very striking. However, while the UK cover definitely has more Breakfast Club vibes (one of the book’s influences), I like the look of the US cover more. I think the picture cutouts look kind of cool and the marker effect on the text itself is a nice touch.

VERDICT: US Cover


The Devouring Gray – Christine Lynn Herman

This cover match up was an easy winner for me. There’s nothing wrong exactly with the US cover, but I just can’t resist that neon lettering and foggy landscape on the UK cover. You can tell they’ve clearly tried to cash in on the Riverdale market with the design but we’ll let that slide. Also, fun fact, the UK edition comes with pink stained page edges to match the text.

VERDICT: UK Cover


Caraval – Stephanie Garber

What a tough match up. Designers took a similar approach to the style of both of these covers, they just happen to use different colouring, fonts and shapes. Just looking at the images, I’d say that I lean ever so slightly onto the US side of things. I prefer the font choice and the use of the blue against the red is gorgeous. But, owning the UK edition, I know that the cover is foiled and to use a technical term, it’s pretty-shiny. I also really like the cute little stars. *sigh* Decisions, decisions. Okay, I’m going US. Choosing and sticking with it.

VERDICT: US Cover


Nevernight – Jay Kristoff

Now, here we have two completely different cover designs. This is another tough decision. The US cover looks so damn badass. I love the use of the shadows and the text is pretty awesome. On the other hand, the art on the UK edition is gorgeous. The longer you look at it, the more of the smaller elements you pick up on within the overall artwork. I also love how bold the coloured suns on the front and back look against the rest of the black and white. A close race, but I’m going UK on this one.

VERDICT: UK Cover


I’ll Give You the Sun – Jandy Nelson

Although the rainbow lines on the US cover are certainly eye catching and the overall look is cheerful, the UK cover takes this one for me. I love the use of yellow, the way the text looks painted on (which fits perfectly considering one of the characters is a painter), and the inclusion of the sun itself.

VERDICT: UK Cover


The Wicked Deep – Shea Ernshaw

Visually, I think both of these covers are very pretty. They have similar font choices and image motifs scattered throughout. Still, I’m going US. I love the pastel sheen look to the imagery and the text against the night sky background. It’s just super nice to look at.

VERDICT: US Cover


Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell

Another US win for this round. I just adore the simplicity of it. Also, how cute is the little ‘&’ sign formed out of the headphones? The UK cover looks a little blah to me. I think it might be that the paper cutouts seem a bit weird and wonky.

Verdict: US Cover


Circe – Madeline Miller

Another match up of two beautifully designed covers. I really like the contrast between the black and the gold imagery on the US cover. The design itself fits well with the fact that the story is based around Greek mythology. And yet…my heart is set on the UK cover. If I hadn’t seen it in real life it may have been a closer decision, but as I have, I know just how nice that coppery cover looks in real life. That metallic background against the beautifully designed floral patterning is simply stunning.

Verdict: UK Cover


Call it What You Want – Brigid Kemmerer

As with Caraval, the designers of these two covers have taken a very similar approach with regards to image choice and layout. The pink and blue of the UK cover is very sweet and bright, still I have to say I’m ever so slightly more a fan of the US edition. I like how the text changes to give emphasis to certain words and the way the coloured hearts stand out against the blue background. A close call though!

Verdict: US Cover

And that’s the end of round one! At this point the scoreboard reads as follows:

US Covers: 6 points

UK Covers: 5 points

It’s pretty close so far. Guess I’ll have to see how things change after the next match ups.

How did you score these covers? Was it the US or UK covers that caught your eye more?

The Zombie Apocalypse Book Tag

This tag is an older one and was originally created by Nathan Hale over on Booktube. It seemed like some fun so I thought I’d give it a go. I had my sister’s help randomly picking the books from my bookcases and flipping the pages for me.

The Rules

  • Choose 5 books
  • Randomly order your books
  • Flip to a random page in each book and write down the first two names you see
  • Put the names in the categories listed below in the order you saw them!
  • Cry at how screwed you are…

My Books & Characters

  1. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – Jesper Fahey & Wylan Van Eck
  2. Lifel1k3 by Jay Kristoff – Eve & Lemon Fresh
  3. Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco – Audrey Rose Wadsworth & Thomas Cresswell
  4. Vicious by V.E. Schwab – Victor Vale & Sydney Clarke
  5. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – Noah Czerny & Richard Gansey III

The First Person to Die: Jesper

Oh, come on. The guy who knows how to use a gun with minimal bullet wastage when ammunition is scarce is the one who dies first? My luck sucks. This doesn’t exactly get me off to a great start.

The Person you Trip to Get Away from the Zombies: Wylan

Wow, I’m seriously heartless in a zombie apocalypse situation. Wylan is the sweetest, little cinnamon roll and I’m all like, here zombies, tuck in! Sorry, Wylan. Please forgive me. Hopefully this happens after the whole Jesper-dying-situation otherwise things are bound to get ugly…

The First Person to Turn Into a Zombie: Lemon

Oh. Dear. Poor Lemon. I sincerely hope she doesn’t keep her special abilities as a zombie because if so, shit will hit the fan in a big way. I’m sure it happened trying to save the rest of the team’s butts.

The Person who Trips you to Escape the Zombies: Eve

I wouldn’t put it past her. Eve has seen some serious things and considering she lives in a post-apocalyptic wasteland already, she’s very much aware of the sacrifices you have to make to survive.

The Team Idiot: Thomas

I have to laugh at this one. Thomas prides himself on being one of the smartest people in the room, but admittedly, he’s also likely to be very much a fish out of water in a zombie apocalypse scenario so maybe it rattles him enough to make some stupid decisions? I’m sure he’ll turn it around!

The “Brains” of the Group: Audrey Rose

I could see this happening. Audrey Rose is a pretty smart cookie and she has no problem with gore. I imagine she’d be collecting zombie corpse specimens as we go along to try and work out how the apocalypse happened and how to fix it.

The Team Medic: Victor

This could be a good thing or a very bad thing. Good, because with Victor’s ability to numb pain, it’ll allow others to push through their injuries enough to get out of sticky situations and deal with the injury later. Bad, because we might end up not realising just how terrible an injury is until it’s too late. Next thing you know, oopsie daisy, our friend is eating our brains.

The Weapons Expert: Sydney

Hm, interesting. Sydney’s certainly tough and could probably manage with some time and experience but to start out, she’s maybe not the best choice. Who knows though, she might end up like Little Rock in Zombieland.

The Brawler: Noah

Well, we’re officially screwed. Considering Noah’s a ghost and his personality is more on the softer side, probably not the best choice as the group brawler. Guess I’ll have to work on my running.

The Team Captain: Gansey

Phew! This seems like a perfect fit. Gansey enjoys the whole taking charge thing. He also largely manages to stay calm under pressure which’ll work well here.

As far as my odds go, I think I’m in with a small chance of survival. In all realness though, if the zombie apocalypse happened tomorrow I’d be dead for sure. My fitness is terrible and I have no idea how to use a weapon. *cries* Fingers crossed we manage to avoid a The Walking Dead scenario.

Do you think you’d be able to survive the zombie apocalypse? And if it did happen, which literary characters would you want on your team?

Top 10 Tuesday: The Good & the Bad of Cover Re-designs

This week’s edition of Top 10 Tuesday (brought to you by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl) revolves around cover redesigns. To ensure there’s a little variety, I’m doing five re-covers that made my eyes do that love heart thing they sometimes do, and five which I believe should have been given a miss by publishers.

Covers Re-Designs that Hit the Mark

The Mortal Instruments series – Cassandra Clare

I’ve mentioned these recovers on my blog multiple times in the past. The cover designs, the spine images – I adore them completely, and The Infernal Devices re-covers are equally beautiful. I already owned all but two of these in their original covers when I went out and bought them as a set. I ended up giving my old copies to my sister and definitely have no regrets.

The Hunger Games series – Suzanne Collins (10th Anniversary Editions)

I’ve already bought a second set of these books previously but if I hadn’t, trust me, I’d buy these ones because dammmmmnnnn. They’re. So. Freaking. Lovely. I can’t even explain what it is, I just can’t stop looking at them. I’m such a sucker for anniversary editions *sigh*.

The Mortal Engines series – Philip Reeve (Ian McQue 2018 Redesigns)

I’ve never read this series but ever since this version of the covers started showing up in bookstores, I’ve found myself picking them up a lot and considering it. The artwork is really lovely and I imagine that it captures the world of the stories fantastically as well. Even the font choice is kicking butt.

His fair assassin series – Robin lafevers

This is another series I’ve yet to read but looking at these cover designs in comparison to the previous ones featuring random models in capes and flowing dresses, I feel as though these are a huge improvement. I like the colours and the close ups of the different weapons. Far less embarrassing for me to be reading on the train.

The Grisha trilogy – Leigh Bardugo

These redesigns were so stunning that I actually changed the covers I was buying after book one even though I knew it meant I’d have non matching books. Yep, that’s how much I like them. I think I’ll eventually have to buy a matching copy of book one because (a) it’s purrrdddyyy and (b) I really do mind the matching situation.


Cover Re-designs that…Didn’t

Shatter Me series – Tahereh Mafi

I honestly wouldn’t blame you for thinking this one was a joke – someone’s terrible attempt at photoshop. But no. These are literally the covers being sold in bookstores in Sydney. Worse, these came after the stunning eye designs currently used. Just, why? WHY??

Ember Quartet – Sabaa Tahir

Okay, so Sabaa’s reasons for the cover redesign prior to A Reaper at the Gates were great. I am all for increased representation and ensuring that young readers are able to see themselves in media. However, I just find that the way they went about it ended up looking a little bit cheesy and awkward. I can’t help finding the way the models have been arranged really odd and posed. So YAY for rep but nay for design.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl (50th Anniversary Edition)

One word: Creepy. Were the designers of this cover out of their minds? Not only do I have no idea how this even properly connects to the story, but it makes me feel downright uncomfortable. Burn it.

Strange the Dreamer duology – Laini Taylor

These covers aren’t what I’d call bad. They’re just really, really boring and pale in comparison to the absolute stunning beauty of the original covers. The fact that they were released so soon after the original versions is a little confusing to me. If you’re going to do a redesign that fast, at least make sure it’s as attractive as the original. On this count, not so much. Snoozeville.

Movie/TV tie-in Covers – in general

Yep, it’s the dreaded film/TV tie in cover release. I refuse to buy these. I get that the publisher is trying to appeal to the market of people who enjoyed the adaptation and make more money but at the same time, the book came first so why should it be suddenly taken over by the adaptation, especially if in many cases that adaptation completely changed aspects of the story. There’s also the issue of: what if the adaptation sucks and you’re stuck with a reminder of it forever? And lastly, a lot of adaptation book covers just look like awkward inserts of the movie poster with ‘Now a Major Motion Picture’ stamped across it. No thanks.


And that’s 5 + 5 = 10 covers. What are some covers that are not original designs which you’ve either really liked or wanted to hide under a bed somewhere?

August TBR: NEWTs Magical (Harry Potter) Readathon 2019

It’s August! And that means it’s time to once again tackle the NEWTs Magical Readathon! This readathon is hosted by booktuber, and huge Harry Potter fan, G at Book Roast. The readathon is based around the NEWTs exams taken by Hogwarts students in their final year of school. This readathon follows on from the OWLs readathon held earlier in the year. You are certainly able to do this readathon without having done the OWLs but I feel as though it’s more fun if you have.

As I mentioned during the OWLs readathon, this year G introduced magical professions into the mix. Basically, you pick a wizarding career and attempt to complete the listed subjects to the required levels to qualify for that profession. During the OWLs I set my sights on the Hogwarts professor career. However, since then (and in my typical fashion) I’ve reverted to my original choice of Auror (I completed the requisite OWLs subjects to go for either).

So, in order to meet the requirements for an Auror, I need to complete 9 prompts. Eek. Tough, but not impossible. Below is my TBR for the month with the prompts I’ll be completing for which subjects. Two things – first, prompts work in a tiered system and second, a handy guide:

  • ‘O’ – Outstanding Grade – complete 3 prompts
  • ‘E’ – Exceeds Expectations Grade – complete 2 prompts
  • ‘A’ – Acceptable Grade – complete 1 prompt

Charms is a subject I expect to get through pretty quickly, largely because I’ve got a YA contemporary and a comic to read for it. Still, I expect both of these to be super enjoyable. The prompts and my picks are:

  • A: A gorgeous cover – LETTERS TO THE LOST by BRIGID KEMMERER
  • E: A comic/graphic novel/manga: SAGA VOL. 4 by BRIAN K. VAUGHAN & FIONA STAPLES


This is my biggest challenge subject as I need to complete all three prompts to make it as a badass evil wizard catcher. I think I’ve picked some solid reads for the first two to get me through but for some bizarre reason I’m having trouble finding something I want to read for my Outstanding prompt…Might need to wait and see what I find/floats my boat a few weeks in once I’ve completed stages 1 & two for the subject.

  • A: Black under the dust jacket – SORCERY OF THORNS by MARGARET ROGERSON
  • E: The first to mind off your TBR – RECURSION by BLAKE CROUCH
  • O: A book by an English author or with an English setting – UNDECIDED

Just the one prompt to fulfill my Herbology requirements but this is one of the books I’m most looking forward to reading this month.

A: An audiobook or book with a green cover – WILDER GIRLS by RORY POWER

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Two prompts for Potions. One of my picks may prove a challenge for me as I’m not usually much of a classics reader but I wanted to do something a little out of my comfort zone for a change. If it all goes badly, I’ve got something light and fun to follow it.

  • A: A friend’s favourite – TESS OF THE D’URBERVILLES by THOMAS HARDY (I can thank my friend Megsy for this one and for giving me a few options to pick from too).
  • E: A cover in your house colour (Hufflepuff) – THE BRIDE TEST by HELEN HOANG

Last but not least, it’s Prof. McGonagall’s favourite subject and again only the one prompt to do (and an easy one at that).

A: A book with LGBTIQA+ representation – GIRL MADE OF STARS by ASHLEY HERRING BLAKE

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And there you have my August/readathon TBR. I’m really excited about this. The last few months have been a bit of a slog at points and it’s probably why I bought a lot of new books to create this TBR. I’m feeling good about my chances of completing everything, even though it’s more books to read in the space of a month than I’ve been managing lately. Cross your fingers for me and wish me luck! I have a feeling I’ll need it.

Anyone else out there magical readathon-ing with me?