The Cauldron of Life virtual tour!

Welcome to the first day of The Cauldron of Life virtual tour! Book 2 in The Four Treasures series was published last week and I cannot wait to share my thoughts with you all.

The Stone of Destiny was Ailsa dragged from her lonely seaside life to help Iona and Angus on their quest to find the Stone. Angus joined them along the way and they all encountered some of Scotland’s most terrifying mythical creatures. Ending in a climactic final battle, Ailsa’s life is irrevocably changed by a revelation that shattered everything she thought she knew about herself and her life. One of the friends is then carried off by the faerie Queen’s minions leaving the book on a horrendous cliff hanger!

The Cauldron of Life picks up straight away, and throws all sorts of curve balls into the story. Click here to head to my Instagram to read my 4 star review.

To celebrate the launch of the book, and this virtual tour, Caroline Logan has kindly agreed to do a Q&A with me about her books. Read on to find out more.

Author Interview with Caroline Logan


To start with would you tell us a little bit about The Four Treasures series and what inspired you to write it?


The Four Treasures is a series of fantasy books based on Scottish mythology. Each of the books will centre around one of the Four Treasures, which are based on a legend called the four treasures of the Tuatha Dé Danann – but remember, they’re only based on it, so they could be different. The series follows Ailsa MacAra as she tries to find the treasures, all whilst battling monsters and searching for her true place in the world.


Right at the end of The Stone of Destiny a huge secret was revealed to the reader which flipped the previous plot twists on their head! I love that we go into The Cauldron of Life knowing more than some of the characters. Could you tell us a little bit about your writing process and how you know when to reveal these big side-swipe revelations?


I’m a plotter, so I have all of the plot points for each book mapped out already. It makes it easier to sprinkle in little breadcrumbs before a twist is revealed. The series was originally going to be one book but as I plotted it all out I realised it would have to be a monster novel. I love finding easter eggs or foreshadowing in books, so I wanted to include that in my series. It’s my characters who often have the revelations but you can’t always trust they’ve got it right. I just hope I continue to surprise as we go through the books!

One thing I love is that each of your characters ooze with completely different personalities. Which character would you say is most like yourself?

I think each of my characters have a little bit of me in them, but I’d say Angus is the most like me. He’s optimistic, loyal and kind. I’m not grumpy like Ailsa (most of the time) but she’s the one who looks the most like me. Iona shares my love of fashion and I’m a bit rebellious like her. And I share Harris’s sense of humour, though some of the things he does I would never dream of doing.

In The Cauldron of Life you introduce lots of new characters. My particular favourites were Wulver and Muck. Which of the new characters was the most enjoyable to write and why?

I don’t think it will be a shock that I loved writing Maalik. And I will always love Harris, even if he’s totally unreliable and sneaky. There are a whole host of new characters in Book 3 that I’m enjoying writing right now too!

There is a lot of mythology in this series, particularly Scottish mythology. Which creature would you least like to bump into in the wilds of Scotland or whilst wandering through Eilanmòr?

The Nuckelavee definitely. It’s a cursed horse and rider, fused together. Its flesh has been stripped from its muscle and it smells so revolting that people faint when they meet it. While a lot of other creatures could be seen as neutral, Nuckelavees are evil to the core.

The elements seem to play an important part in the magic system in Eilanmòr. Why did you choose to focus on the elements, and have we seen the extent of what Ailsa can do with her air powers?

The four treasures of the Tuatha Dé Danann are actually all linked to the four elements. The Stone of Destiny is earth, The Cauldron of Life is water. The other two are air and fire. I drew from this when I made up my magic system. Elemental magic seems very old and natural so I think it fits perfectly with the world. A lot of Scottish mythology is inspired by the landscape and natural world so I wanted magic that felt like it belonged.

My favourite part of this book was finally entering Ephraim and eventually meeting Nicnevan. Did any other fictional worlds inspire the Faerie Queen’s realm and which fictional world would you like to spend a day in?

Holly Black is my favourite author, so Ephraim was definitely inspired by her Folk of the Air series. I also drew inspiration from Lothlorien in Lord of the Rings and Pandora in Avatar. I wanted it to be beautiful and frightening. 
I’d love to visit the world in His Dark Materials so I could have a daemon or I would go to Narnia and make friends with all the talking animals.

Final question. For new readers could you sum up The Stone of Destiny and The Cauldron of Life in five words each?

The Stone of Destiny – Search for pals and rocks
The Cauldron of Life – Search for mothers and pots


Both The Stone of Destiny and The Cauldron of Life are available to buy now. Remember to support your local independent bookshops or order from one of the larger shops, such as Waterstones (other bookshops available), in order to get the word out about this wonderful little series. Here are some handy links!*

I would like to say a huge thank you to Caroline Logan for answering my questions, and to the team at Cranachan Publishing for sending me a review copy and organising this tour. Follow the other stops on the tour this week.

*I AM NOT AFFILIATED WITH ANY BOOKSHOPS

The Stone of Destiny Read-Along, Weeks 5 and 6

During the final run towards the end of this book I ended up reading the remaining chapters in one go. So here are the last 2 weeks of The Stone of Destiny Read-Along!

Week 5 is very monster/mythology heavy as our characters are coming to the end of their quest. This week’s behind the page snippets from Caroline looked at some of the creatures we encountered and gave us an idea of what the Stone of Destiny actually looks like.

Chapters 42- 51

Summary

In this section we finally reach the location where the stone of destiny is hidden, with the trio bumping into mythical trouble-makers along the way. Bog monsters, water dwelling evils, honestly there’s a lot to panic about. There were a couple of tense near-death encounters and lots of the friends saving each other. The action and the horror ramps up a couple of notches making it a tense and exciting few chapters.

Favourite section

I loved all the extra mythology in this section, which lead me into a research hole.

Most looking forward to in the final week of the read-along

Now that the trio are heading back to the castle and they’ve reached the end of their journey I have a feeling that some serious mess is going to hit the fan before the end of the book. There are too many chapters left for this book not to end with some sort of traumatic cliffhanger.

Chapters 52 – End

When I sensed a cliffhanger, I sensed a big one! These last few chapters were full of twists and revelations and have left me beyond excited for The Cauldron of Life next month! I also loved the last few beyond the page insights from Caroline, particularly this visual inspiration for Nicnevan which has me seeing her in a different light.

summary

These chapters are action packed! We have a coronation, a ceilidh, a slow-burn romance FINALLY had their ‘moment’, and then all sorts of twists and turns and things hitting the fan! As the action moved back to the Castle in Dunrigh, this meant Iona was back too. Iona is such a great character and it was good to have her back again. This was such an exciting end to the book and has left me desperately waiting for The Cauldron of Life.

stand-out moments

Throughout this whole novel there has been a potential couple simmering with lots of will-they won’t-theys, and they FINALLY DID. Those scenes were worth the wait and I loved it.

The final sequence of action where one character emerged with air powers was spectacular. So fast paced with lots of unexpected moments.

The final scene also dropped a HUGE piece of information that flipped the twists on their head! It was an excellent end to this novel and it’s left me desperate for book 2.

to conclude

I loved this book and would happily sit and read it in 1 sitting. This read-along was really fun letting me think in more depth about the book as I was essentially writing mini reviews along the way. Keep an eye out on my instagram where I will be posting my complete 4 star review ahead of the publication of The Cauldron of Life in early October.

WWW Wednesday: 20th May 2020

This Book Tag is hosted by Taking On A World Of Words.

What I’ve read, What I’m reading, What’s next.

What I’ve Read

Title: Orphan Monster Spy

Author: Matt Killeen

Star rating: 5 / 5

Mini review/synopsis:

Talented, artistic, oppressed. Sarah has been learning to survive in a world that has become dangerous for her, her mother, and all other Jewish citizens throughout Europe. So what is a girl to do when she becomes unexpectedly orphaned? That’s right. She becomes a spy in a boarding school for the Nazi elite in 1939.

Sarah is one of my favourite novel protagonists in a long time. She is resourceful, ballsy, BRAVE, and mouthy. I love how she deals with her horrific situation, how she strategises and overcomes.

Matt Killeen expertly weaves Sarah’s backstory and experiences of being Jewish in increasing oppressive Austrian/German societies in the 1930s into the wider plot, which I found very educational. I found myself doing lots of research to fill in the gaps where my own knowledge was sadly lacking in this area of European history (this was further sparked by the Author’s note at the end of the novel). The plot was SO GOOD. Excellently paced and the twists towards the end of the novel were so brilliantly unexpected, I found myself moving the book as far away from me as I could whilst still being able to read.

A thrilling, well researched book that I thoroughly enjoyed. I cannot wait to read book 2 and, hopefully, learn some more about the Captain!

What I’m Currently Reading

Title: The Big Four

Author: Agatha Christie

First Impressions: will be at least a 4 star read

The story so far:

I am loving being back with Poirot, my favourite fictional detective. So far we have had a gentleman climb through Poirot’s apartment window and promptly drop dead. Now Poirot is on the tail of The Big Four, a mysterious criminal organisation. What’s more Hastings, Poirot’s friend, is back to narrate the story for us! I’m enjoying this one so far, but then I always enjoy a Christie.

What I’m Reading Next

Title: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder

Author: Holly Jackson

This is a re-read before I read the sequel Good Girl, Bad Blood. Click here to read my review and keep your eyes peeled for a review of book 2.

Blurb:

The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it. But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the crime, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth . . .

TTT: Top Ten Tuesday 19th May 2020.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This Tuesday:

Reasons Why I Love…The Bone Season series.

This week we have free rein to discuss something bookish we love. Enter my favourite book series that I have been following from the beginning!

I first read The Bone Season weeks after it was released as my Grandma thought it sounded like something I would love, after she had seen Samantha Shannon giving an interview about the book on BBC1. Book 2, The Mime Order, was published when I was at college. Book 3, The Song Rising, was published whilst I was hating every second of uni. This series dragged me kicking and screaming through the trauma of the end of my education and I love it.

Set in a future where the world has ‘fallen’ to clairvoyance and the Republic of Scion is trampling the world into submission, Paige Mahoney must survive in the safety of the Criminal Underworld of London. Paige’s job is to break into the minds of other voyants as the right-hand woman of Jaxon Hall, one of London’s Mime Lords. That is until she is attacked, abducted, and taken to the prison city of Oxford, kept hidden from the world for 200 years. Let the fun (and the emotional torture) begin!

Here are a few reasons why I adore The Bone Season series.

1. Each book (so far) is almost a love letter to a city. The Bone Season = Ode to Oxford. The Mime Order = Ode to London. The Song Rising = Ode to Edinburgh (with a side of Manchester thrown in). The Mask Falling = Ode to Paris.

2. World building. Following on from the fact this series explores different cities and locations, the general world building is so vast. So, so vast. We have orders of clairvoyance along with innumerable types of clairvoyant, we have the entire history of the Scion regime, we have the history of an entire different species, we have transport systems, have recreational activities and entertainment, it goes on and on and it’s insane.

3. Etymology. The genius of the words and the names. Honestly if you want a deep dive into etymology go straight to Samantha Shannon’s Twitter.

4. Jaxon Hall. He’s a sassy, brilliant, sly, pain in the ass. Please read this series he is such a great character.

5. Slightly shallow but, look how pretty 😍 Who wouldn’t want these on their shelves?!

6. It’s going to be a 7 book series! The first 3 have already been published, book 4 is on its way in January 2020 and then there will be 3 more to look forward to!! Samantha Shannon is also known to write chonky ass books so think of how much book fun is still to be had!

7. These books are a musical education. Trust me. Oh, and Samantha Shannon has created some rather helpful Spotify playlists to accompany the books.

8. Girl power! Women run the show in this series. Including the antagonists.

9. Representation and inclusivity. This series contains a multitude of characters from different backgrounds and life situations. This includes POC characters and LGBTQIA+ characters.

10. SLOW. BURN. ROMANCE. Enough said.

See more of my favourite things over on my Bookstagram!
This week:

Review: A Very English Murder by Verity Bright

A Very English Murder, by Verity Bright

Format: e-Arc

Published date: 7th April 2020

⭐️ 2 / 5

Thank you to NetGalley who kindly provided this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I’d like to apologise for this long overdue review. I was sent this e-ARC a while before lockdown began. A busy few weeks at work pre-lockdown and the initial lockdown blues of being unable to concentrate enough to read have prevented me from reading and reviewing this book. I did manage to read this in its publication week and I’m happy to be finally sharing my thoughts.

Plot

Our protagonist, Lady Eleanor, witnesses a murder. Except the body vanishes, and the police seem to have no desire to investigate. So Ellie begins sleuthing around the village to solve the murder herself. On the surface this is my perfect book. This concept is so intriguing and I thought this would be a real brain teaser of a novel. Unfortunately not.

The plot began painfully slowly and didn’t really start getting anywhere until around half way through. Honestly I thought the whole first half of the novel could have been cut and it wouldn’t have impacted the story. There was one small side character introduced in the first few chapters that popped up again later in the novel to be useful in ultimately solving the crime, but otherwise there was nothing remotely useful or entertaining in the first half of the novel. Once the plot finally got a move on, everything was very predictable. I felt like there were a lot of missed opportunities for real red herrings and twists to really get the reader going. Unfortunately, I felt the plot was severely lacking in this area.

There was a lot of effort made to drip feed Eleanor’s backstory into the novel. This was the main thing that kept me interested in the book. All I wanted to know was what happened to Ellie’s parents and more about her global travels. *Spoiler alert* we don’t find out what happened to Ellie’s parents. I can only assume this is planting seeds for later books in the series however the mystery element of this mystery novel was not executed well enough for me to read another book in this series.

Characters

Ellie is a confusing character. She spends the first 20 chapters doing absolutely nothing except despising other characters in the book for not taking her seriously because she’s a woman. Bright uses Ellie’s every line of thought or dialogue to express that the police in the little village Ellie now lives in is backwards as there are no female officers. She constantly provides social commentary that the men around her are underestimating her before she even opens her mouth based on the fact she’s a woman. She even goes as far as to suspect characters of murder based on how they treated her as a woman and not a shred of motive or anything remotely relevant. The first couple of times it’s brought up, fine, that’s setting the scene. But after that? Honestly, Jesus Christ I get it. The novel is set in 1920s England. We know the social position of women in this time. I felt it was irrelevant to the plot or the character development, especially considering no semblance of a plot was taking place. The second the plot began heading somewhere, the ridiculous commentary stopped clearly showing it served no purpose.

So Ellie was set up as being very pro-women’s rights and very forward thinking for her era, so I thought ‘great’! Surely this means Bright is going to use her protagonist to shut down irritating tropes of women in the 1920s right? HAHAHAHA WRONG. Every time an attractive man enters her field of view she suddenly can’t function and goes weak at the knees. It’s all blushing and feeling faint when an attractive man strays too close. Very cliché.

So which is it? Fainting flapper girl and a hopeless romantic, or trailblazing modern roaring 20s woman (who FYI could have romance without the stereotypical weak, woozy, fainting cr*p).

Clifford, the butler, is a pain in the rear. One of his personality quirks is he is very pedantic. Fine, that’s established early on. But sometimes it feels like this gets in the way of meaningful dialogue and it SERVES NO PURPOSE. Honestly so infuriating.

I did however love the rest of the cast of household staff who each had distinct personalities, really contributed to Ellie’s character development and felt like tangible people.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately this book just left me feeling kind of meh. For the most part it felt like I was reading FanFiction of something, and I’d like to point out I’ve read novel-quality FanFic, but this is more an inexperienced author who hasn’t found a voice. The voice is confused, the third person narrative doesn’t work when Eleanor spends so much time inside her own head and voices dialogue to the dog instead of having the novel written in first person…but maybe that’s just me?

I’m really upset that I didn’t enjoy this book as the blurb sounds like everything I adore in a novel. I really expected so much more from this book…

I’d like to thank NetGalley again for sending this e-Arc to me in exchange for an honest review.


Blurb:

Move over Miss Marple, there’s a new sleuth in town! Meet Eleanor Swift: distinguished adventurer, dog lover, dignified lady… daring detective?

England, 1920Eleanor Swift has spent the last few years travelling the world: taking tea in China, tasting alligators in Peru, escaping bandits in Persia and she has just arrived in England after a chaotic forty-five-day flight from South Africa. Chipstone is about the sleepiest town you could have the misfortune to meet. And to add to these indignities – she’s now a Lady

Lady Eleanor, as she would prefer not to be known, reluctantly returns to her uncle’s home, Henley Hall. Now Lord Henley is gone, she is the owner of the cold and musty manor. What’s a girl to do? Well, befriend the household dog, Gladstone, for a start, and head straight out for a walk in the English countryside, even though a storm is brewing… 

But then, from the edge of a quarry, through the driving rain, Eleanor is shocked to see a man shot and killed in the distance. Before she can climb down to the spot, the villain is gone and the body has vanished. With no victim and the local police convinced she’s stirring up trouble, Eleanor vows to solve this affair by herself. And when her brakes are mysteriously cut, one thing seems sure: someone in this quiet country town has Lady Eleanor Swift in their murderous sights… 

TTT: Top Ten Tuesday 28th April 2020.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This Tuesday:

Books I Wish I’d Read as a Child

When I saw this topic I thought I was really going to struggle but it turns out that this list filled up very quickly.

1. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Didn’t go anywhere near Tolkien until I was towards the end of my teens.

2. The Little Prince/Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I came to this book whilst learning French but I would have loved to appreciate this book during childhood.

3. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

I watched the film as a child but never read the book (and still haven’t…)

4. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham

Same as above…

5. The Borrowers by Mary Norton

And again. Honestly I feel like this theme dominated my childhood…

6. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

One of my favourite Disney films and never even knew it was a book until I was in my teens.

7. Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers

Same story as with Peter Pan.

8. The Famous Five series by Enid Blyton

As I kid I was far too busy with the Rainbow Magic Fairies/Animal Ark/Magic Pony books. Goosebumps was another popular series when I was little and then, on top of all of that, the Harry Potter series was being released throughout my childhood. So with all that exciting children’s book publishing going on, I couldn’t think of anything worse than picking some ‘ancient’ books instead. I really regret that now…

9. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Unfortunately this is another story of not knowing these even existed until after the film…

10. The Railway Children by E. Nesbit

Film again…This was a film I watched time and time again with my grandma. Never knew it was a book first, still haven’t read it…

I blame this on my parents and my family not reading. 😂 Ever. They are big cinema buffs though, as you might be able to tell.

See more of my favourite things over on my Bookstagram!
This week:

Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo (The Grisha – book 2)

Siege and Storm, by Leigh Bardugo

Pages: 435

Published: 4th June 2013

⭐️ 3.5 / 5

This book (and the entire series actually) has been on my shelf and my TBR for a long time. I bought all 3 books in the series several years ago and they’ve been sat on my bookshelf ever since. Towards the end of 2019 I finally got around to them, after uni destroyed my love of reading almost irreparably, and I am so glad I am now on this bandwagon.

Whilst I really enjoyed book 1, Siege and Storm actually had me rolling my eyes quite a lot. Here’s what I thought.

Plot

Just when you think Mal and Alina might have it a bit easier, at least for a little while, they get caught again. Guess who? Shock horror, yes that’s right, The Darkling is back – and only a handful of pages after they shook him off. That’s a theme of this book to be honest, escaping and then being caught again almost immediately by someone or another. The Darkling initially drags Alina with him whilst looking for the sea whip, AKA yet another Grisha amplifier, which he can use to further control her. Naturally they succeed because tracker extraordinaire Mal is on the case. He and Alina kill the sea whip themselves and then escape…

I couldn’t resist 😂 – I apologise to the non-Brits who probably won’t catch this reference.

The new band of escapees drop themselves straight into more trouble in the last place that Mal and Alina want to be in. It is capture disguised as freedom as they can’t really freely leave. Alina essentially doesn’t escape for the whole novel as The Darkling keeps appearing to her and causing problems. It’s exhausting and doesn’t seem to serve a purpose except to irritate the reader. Yes it causes conflict between certain characters but I don’t think it actually adds anything of value to the novel.

There’s lots more questing, when Alina discovers there is actually a third amplifier, which allows for a fair amount of world building. I loved that we were able to learn more about Mal and Alina’s childhood which gave us some adorable fluffy moments (yes I ship it please don’t judge). However the similarities in embarking on a quest where so strong for me that it made this feel like a carbon copy of Shadow and Bone, and makes it difficult to judge this book on its own. For me, the characters really made this novel as there were some excellent additions to the series.

Characters

I love lots of the new cast of this book. One is notorious privateer, Sturmhond. What a sassy, wonderful, pain in the ass he is. I adored him, his particular brand of humour, and his cutting remarks. His interactions with the characters we already love are brilliant.

Twins Tolya and Tamar are also standout characters of this book who should be protected at all costs.

Unfortunately, Mal becomes even more whiney in this book. I mean honestly, he needs to get a grip. He starts fighting Grisha and just generally being an angsty, miserable, moaning idiot who puts other people in danger as a result of his actions.

To top it all off The Darkling gains some interesting and horrific new powers that just keep growing and developing into greater horrors…

Lots of the newer cast are from other regions in the world this series is set. As such we are able to learn more about nations such as Shu Han. This is definitely a strength of this book and I loved how this added depths to certain characters’ actions.

Final Thoughts

I did enjoy this book for the most part however I did find the repetitious plot frustrating. I also feel like the conclusion of the novel was such a horrific low that I can’t see how this is going to be resolved in the final book. It left me very despondent and seemed like a ridiculous conclusion after everything that Mal and Alina had worked for. I can understand the final fight, a common fantasy trope but there doesn’t seem to be anywhere to go from here…

I guess I’ll have to work that out in Ruin and Rising.

Blurb:

Soldier, Summoner, Saint. Alina Starkov’s power has grown, but not without a price. She is the Sun Summoner – hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Shadow Fold. But she and Mal can’t outrun their enemies for long. The Darkling is more determined than ever to claim Alina’s magic and use it to take the Ravkan throne. With nowhere else to turn, Alina enlists the help of an infamous privateer and sets out to lead the Grisha army. But as the truth of Alina’s destiny unfolds, she slips deeper into the Darkling’s deadly game of forbidden magic, and further away from her humanity. To save her country, Alina will have to choose between her power and the love she thought would always be her shelter. No victory can come without sacrifice – and only she can face the oncoming storm.

from Waterstones – I am not affiliated with this, or any other, bookshop.

TTT: Top Ten Tuesday 21st April 2020.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This Tuesday:

Titles That Would Make Good Band Names

I love this tag idea, it’s absolutely brilliant! Here are my ideas.

1. Orphan, Monster, Spy (by Matt Kileen)

2. Sparkling Cyanide (by Agatha Christie)

3. Ninth House (by Leigh Bardugo)

4. Sanctuary (by V. V. James)

5. Eve of Man (by Giovanna and Tom Fletcher)

6. The Mime Order (by Samantha Shannon)

7. Two Can Keep A Secret (by Karen M. McManus)

8. Evermore (by Sara Holland)

9. Six of Crows (by Leigh Bardugo)

10. Enchantée (by Gita Trelease)

I love the thought of some of these band names 😂 I think numbers 1 and 2 are definitely my favourite choices on my list. Does anyone think choosing ‘Evermore’ is cheating a little bit considering Paramore exists? I love how it took one single sweep of my bookcases to be fully invested in these bands.

Comment below what you think of my band names and can you see these as realistic options?

See more of my favourite things over on my Bookstagram!
This week:

February 2020 Wrap-Up

This month has been a difficult one personally. As a result I’ve read far less that I had planned. I’m still on track with my Agatha Christie and Goodreads reading challenges, but that’s about all I can say for this month’s reading.

What I’ve Been Reading

I have managed to read

  1. Murder on the Links (Hercule Poirot #2), Agatha Christie
  2. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Jenny Han
  3. The Man in the Brown Suit, Agatha Christie
  4. The Secret of Chimneys, Agatha Christie
  5. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Hercule Poirot #3), Agatha Christie

Favourite Read: The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie

Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know that I really struggled with reading this book as I was reading a library e-book loan on my 6 inch mobile phone screen (my library app is not currently compatible with Kindles…). However I absolutely adored this book. It’s the first 5 Star rating I’ve given in my Agatha Christie #CHRISTIE100 reading challenge.


What I’ve Been Watching

Don’t F**k With Cats. Cheer. Orange is the New Black.
NB. I do not own these images. Image rights belong to Netflix

Don’t F**k With Cats is possibly the most disturbing murder/true crime documentary I have ever watched. It’s the first time I can honestly say that I felt my blood run cold. I don’t get shaken easily with the amount of these that I watch but wow. This really was something else.


I only ended up watching Cheer because it was recommended to me by friends at work. I couldn’t think of anything worse that watching a cheerleading documentary. What would be the point? Well, I was so wrong. Cheerleading is one hell of a sport. Those kids put their bodies and minds under so much pressure and through so much stress. I saw a completely different side to this sport that is usually portrayed as being for high school bimbos. PLEASE watch this show. Oh, and Jerry has my heart, what a guy.


Okay, I know I know. I’m massively late to the party with Orange is the New Black. In my defense, I did watch it when it was first released. I managed 7 episodes of season 1 before I gave up out of senseless boredom. I’m so glad that I’ve given it another chance as I’m now really enjoying it and speeding into season 4.


Next time…

More Agatha Christie. Hopefully another 5 or 6 in March. I’d also like to attempt to read the rest of the Truly Devious series by Maureen Johnson as I’ve currently only read book #1.

Keep up to date with what I’m reading over on my Instagram page @beauteaful.reads

Review: Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber

Only Love Can Break Your Heart, by Katherine Webber

Pages: 400

Published: 2 August 2018

⭐️ 5 / 5

This review is LONG overdue considering I got an early copy at YA Prom and read this book 2 weeks before its publication… What can I say? Life just got away from me.

This novel was, at the time, one of the first contemporary YA novels I had read and was a large part of the reason I have continued to enjoy the genre. Only Love Can Break Your Heart was beautiful and heart breaking and I adored it.

Plot

I laughed, I cried, I screamed at the actions of the characters. This book had a bit of everything. This is a love letter to the Californian desert and a reminder of how important self-care is. It was really interesting to read a book written from the point of view of the popular girl at school. Usually, the YA novels I read follow the misfit finding their way in the world, but I liked this new angle.

Reiko’s struggle with grief is complex and Katherine Webber portrays this wonderfully. It was so real and tangible and heartbreaking. This book really showed how easy it is for life to get on top of you and for everything to unravel. This was the most honest portrayal of the sort of thing I went through during my ALevels and I would really have appreciated having this book at the time. Webber really illustrates the importance of having good friends and family around you to help build yourself up when you’ve reached a complete rock bottom.

I did find the plot a little slow to begin with however once I realised the direction we were heading in and things began to happen, the pace picked up and the novel was excellent.

Characters

For large parts of the novel I found Reiko and Seth to both be extremely unlikeable characters. However this allowed for some excellent character development and I experienced a complete turn around in my feelings towards the characters. The plot was so character driven it’s really hard to say more than I already have. I loved that about the book though.

Final Thoughts

This book was so much about the people and a gorgeous coming of age story I really wish that I’d had when I was 17 or 18. I’d highly recommend everyone to read it. With each novel Katherine Webber writes, she gets better and better so I cannot wait to read whatever she publishes next!

Blurb:

From the author of the acclaimed Wing Jones comes a ‘break-up’ book about a Japanese-American teenager, set in the Palm Springs desert, California.  Sometimes a broken heart is all you need to set you free… Reiko loves the endless sky and electric colours of the Californian desert.

It is a refuge from an increasingly claustrophobic life of family pressures and her own secrets. Then she meets Seth, a boy who shares a love of the desert and her yearning for a different kind of life. But Reiko and Seth both want something the other can’t give them. As summer ends, things begin to fall apart. But the end of love can sometimes be the beginning of you…

from Waterstones – I am not affiliated with this, or any other, bookshop.