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Book Review: ‘They Both Die At The End’ by Adam Silvera

Title: They Both Die At The End

Author: Adam Silvera

Length: 368 pages

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I am a huge fan of Adam Silvera’s, he’s one of those auto-buy authors for me. When he releases a book, you’ll find me first in line.

On September 5th, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torres and Rufus Emeterio to give them so bad news: they’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: there’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure – to live a lifetime in a single day.

‘ I’ve spent years living life safely to secure a longer life, and look where that’s gotten me. I’m at the finish line but I never ran the race.’

This was the first book I chose as part of my LGBT+ Pride Month Readathon. Where I only read books with main characters within the LGBT+ community.

Now I have to confess I’ve had this on my bookshelf for nearly two years. I’ve just always thought this book was going to be special so I wanted to wait for the right moment. And Pride Month was the perfect moment. I’m reading all queer books this month.

I loved this book. Loved, loved, loved. I don’t even know what to say apart from that. It’s a tricky book to review.

Well let’s start with premise. It’s genius, really genius. Such a clever idea! Even though it was set in the real world, it made it feel other worldly. And the fact this book takes place all in one day is amazing.

The characters, Rufus and Mateo are one of the best things (among many) about this novel. Their different personalities shine off the page, yet blend so well together. I was really rooting for them to get together. And it was so satisfying when they did.

When I realised this book was going to be set over a day, I was a bit worried things might become rushed. But I didn’t need to worry. This book in a less talented author could’ve been a problem, but Adam Silvera is such a master he makes it work. Everything happened naturally and the romance even felt like a slow burn.

Look, this books called ‘They Both Die At The End’ so I knew it was going to be heartbreaking. But did I expect heartbreak in the first 50 pages? No. They way both characters handle the news that they’re going to die today is natural, that’s why it’s so sad. As they deal with family and friends. Saying goodbye. Yet they meet each other and it’s gone this book an element of hope. I was even hoping they’d both survive.

This it little snippets (mini chapters?) of other people dealing with getting the call from death cast (the company that lets you know it’s your last day). These broke up the story in a nice way and the way they were all connected was genius.

This book is sad, heartbreaking. But it’s never depressing. It’s such a fine line and Adam balances it perfectly. The end may have made me shed a few tears ( I was full on ugly crying in the bath). Ugh, That ending. And it was a clever ending, there was some good foreshadowing.

Well, I don’t know if you can tell that I loved this book. I can’t recommend it enough. Read it! Give it to your friends and let them read it. I love it. I believe I used the word genius a lot in this review!

Until the next review

JTH

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ARC Book Review: ‘On My Life’ by Angela Clarke

Title: On My Life

Author: Angela Clarke

Length: 367pages

Publisher: Mullholland Books

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Crime books are not my usual read, I have to be honest. But I think Angela Clarke might have just made me a fan.

Jenna thought she had the perfect life: a loving fiancé, a great job, a beautiful home. Then she finds her stepdaughter murdered; her partner missing. And the police think she did it… Locked up to await trial, surrounded by prisoners who’d hurt her if they knew what she’s accused of, certain someone close to her has framed her, Jenna knows what she needs to do: Clear her name, save her baby, find the killer. But can she do it in time?

This book was like a rollercoaster. It had ups and down, twists and turns but you don’t want to get off. If you hate rollercoasters then ignore that metaphor and just know that you’ll love the book.

We follow Jenna, who’s been accused of murdering her step-daughter and her fiancé. We read about her life before, leading up to the events of that afternoon, and her life in the present, as she endures the hardships of prison.

Both times were just as thrilling. As we read about Jenna meeting her fiancé, falling in love and dealing with her future in laws. I found myself looking for little snippets to see who committed this murder. It’s in this time that we also learn about Jenna’s background and family life.

In the ‘present’ time, we see Jenna’s life in prison. Which I have to say is absolutely fascinating. It’s so detailed, so intricate. You can tell this story has meticulously researched. It just adds to the richness of this story. While the main plot is a ‘who done it’, there are so many sub-plots in the prison story that were so entertaining, they had me on the edge of my seat. We also meet a character called Kelly, who will absolutely steal your heart, then break it.

This book didn’t end the way I thought it would. Like I said, the prison story took a turn I didn’t see coming but had me totally hooked. There was so many points in this book that I thought different people had committed the murder. I had so many suspects, but I couldn’t figure it out. I couldn’t believe who it was. I never would’ve guessed them. I was shocked. But it worked so well. Such a great ending.

The writing is so sharp, so suspenseful. I couldn’t put this book. Seriously, I cancelled plans so I could stay in and read. I had to know. I mean, it’s a testament to great writing when you can’t figure out the mystery and aren’t disappointed when it’s revealed.

I can’t recommend this book enough. If you’re not sure about crime books, Angela Clarke is the best place to start. She’s certainly made me a fan of her work.

I was lucky enough to be gifted a copy of this book from Louise Swannell At Hodder & Stoughton in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out in ebook now and comes out on paperback on the 11th July. Check it out.

Until the next review

JTH

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ARC Book Review: ‘Bethlehem’ by Karen Kelly

Title: Bethlehem

Author: Karen Kelly

Length: 304 pages

Publisher: St. Martins Press

This is a tricky book for me to review. I’ve had it on my Netgalley shelf for a while, so I thought I’d get started on it.

A young woman arrives at the grand ancestral home of her husbands family, hoping to fortify her cracking marriage. But what she finds is not what she expected: tragedy haunts the hallways, whispering of heartache and a past she never knew existed. Inspired by the true titans of the steel-boom era, Bethlehem is a story of temptation and regret, a of secrets and the cost of keeping them, a story of forgiveness. It is the story of two complex women – thrown together in the name of family – who, in coming to understand each other, come to finally understand themselves.

The story is set in two different times, the 1920s and the 1960s. I love a book that uses this format. It’s so interesting to see characters at different points in their lives. How the their life has shaped them. So the style was just what I like. The premise intrigued me also.

I have to be honest, the first half of this book I did not enjoy. At all. If I hadn’t got this from Netgalley, in all honesty I think I would’ve DNF’d it.

Nothing happened, in the first half of the novel. It was dull. Also, there were just so many characters and they all had nicknames. I couldn’t remember everyone, or figure out who was who. It just made the whole book unenjoyable. I’ve seen a few other people think this way too.

However, I’m so glad I didn’t give up on this book. The second half I loved. Seriously, I looked at my kindle it was 50% when I started to enjoy this book.

Honestly I couldn’t put it down. The story became interesting. There was a romance, that was so sweet and sincere, I loved it. There was some mystery, that had a very satisfying ending. Both of the stories just became better. The writing picked up. The whole second half was just cleaner. It had more direction. It also had one of my favourite epilogues. Sometimes they can make it break a story, but I loved this one.

The best thing was the characters became much more likeable, I mean what’s a book without it’s characters. I had such empathy for them. They turned this book around.

This is a difficult one for me to recommend but I think ultimately I would. Maybe read it if you’re a patient reading who really likes to let a story build. Is it my favourite historical fiction book I’ve read this year? No. But it’s certainly not the worst.

I have to thank Netgalley and St. Martins Press for gifting me with a copy of this book, in return for an honest, unbiased review. This book is out 9th July.

Until the next review

JTH

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June Wrap Up

Well, can you believe it? Another month has come and gone. Time flies when you’re reading some fantastic books.

As I’m sure you know, this month has been Pride Month. So, as my own personal little challenge, this month I’ve only been reading books that feature main characters that are LGBT+.

Also, I’m here to tell you some very exciting news… I’ve broken my personal best! I’ve managed to read 8 books this month. That’s right! 8! I’m honestly shocked. Let’s hope I can keep it up next month.

🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍🌈

So here are the LGBT+ plus books I’ve read this month:

First up was ‘They Both Die At The End’ by Adam Silvera. What a brilliant book. Quite possibly my favourite YA read of the year so far. Genius premise, genius execution. I loved it.

Second up was ‘Jack of Hearts (and other parts) by L. C. Rosen. I enjoyed this book. It felt very real. The teenage characters felt real. It had a mystery that kept me guessing till the end, although it was a little disappointing. Worth a read though.

Thirdly was ‘What If It’s Us’ by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli. I’ve been waiting to read this one for a while, I’ve been looking forward to it. I was a little disappointed. Maybe my expectations were to high? I don’t know. But I didn’t like that ending.

Fourth up was ‘Days without End’ by Sebastian Barry. Loved it! So beautifully written. So descriptive yet lyrical. A masterpiece of a novel. So glad I picked it up in my local Waterstones pride section.

Fifth this month was ‘the dangerous art of Blending In’ by Angelo Surmelis. I’ve had this book on my kindle for a while. I enjoyed it. It was a sweet romance with another layer that was hard to read, but in the right way.

Sixth up was ‘Less’ by Andrew Sean Greer. I’d heard mixed reviews on this one, but I loved it. Absolutely loved it. It worked it was into my soul. A beautiful twist at the end. I can’t recommend this one enough.

Seventh was ‘Top Secret’ by Sarina Bowen and Ellie Kennedy. Did I enjoy this? Yes. Will I remember it? Probably not. There’s wasn’t much plot. But it was romance, with some graphic sexual scenes. Not what I’m used to reading but it was a quick read.

Eight was ‘Spellbound’ Allie Therin. I was given this book from Netgalley. It has an interesting magic twist which is enjoyable. Not my favourite read of the month. But certainly not the worst. Comes out 29th July.

Until the next review

JTH

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Books: How they helped me cope with grief.

Well this is a different kind of post for me, but it’s a post that I feel I need to do.

For many years, since my late teens (I’m 27 now) reading has been important to me. I’ve loved it. All thanks to ‘The Secret Life of Bees’ by Sue Monk Kidd. That book was is my first love.

But last year, my wonderful, caring, loving, strong Mother passed away. It was sudden. It shocked me to my core. It broke my heart. It still is broken. It will always be.

For months after I couldn’t read, I just couldn’t. Reading brings me too much joy, and joy was something I couldn’t handle back then. I didn’t think I ever could again. It’s still a struggle to now.

But after a few months. I did start to read again. Then I felt like I needed something positive in my life, so I started a Bookstagram, which led to this blog. I truly believe all these things saved my life. They allowed me to let light in my life again. It gave me a sense of purpose. I didn’t feel so lost.

So now, I’m going to talk about some books that helped me through that time, some books that I think speak about grief in personal, true way.

So first up is:

‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed

I was a fan of this book before my mother died, but after it’s become other worldly to me. It’s my bible. It’s all about the loss of Cheryl’s mother. Cheryl grief is so raw, it floors me. I understand this book and it understands me. If often find myself just holding this book. I’m truly grateful ‘Wild’ exists.

‘Her death had obliterated that. It had obliterated me. It had cut me short at the very height of my youthful arrogance… my life both ended and begun in that premature place where she’d left off. She was my mother, but I was motherless. I was trapped by her, but utterly alone. She would always be the empty bowl that no one could fill.’

‘Brave Enough’ by Cheryl Strayed

This one is actually a book of Cheryl’s quotes. But there’s one quote in there that my mother found comforting when she lost her mother, now it’s become a comfort for me. I try to remember this on the hard days.

Grief if tremendous, but love is bigger. You are grieving because you loved truly. The beauty in that is greater than the bitterness of death. Allowing this into your consciousness will not keep you from your suffering, but it will help you survive the next day.’

‘Dear Lily’ by Drew Davies.

I read this book recently, and was left sobbing. This book says things that could’ve been my own thoughts. They still are my own thoughts. I had to process this book, sit with it for a while. It was amazing to see grief represented this way.

Why wasn’t there enough time? Mum had our future all mapped out. I had it all mapped out too. You ruined them, Lil. You went and left, and it’s so unfair of you, because there was so much more.’

‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama.

This is obviously a book about Michelle’s life, but she does touch on her own grief and I think she got is so right.

‘It hurts to live after someone has died. It just does. It can hurt to walk down a hallway or open a fridge. It hurts to put on a pair of socks, to brush your teeth. Food tastes like nothing. Colors go flat. Music hurts, and so do memories. You look as something you’d otherwise find beautiful – a purple sky at sunset or a playground full of kids -and it only somehow deepens the loss. Grief is so lonely this way.

‘History is All You Left Me’ by Adam Silvera.

This book is about romantic love, therefore romantic grief. But grief is grief right? This shows how grief affects your decisions. How you cope.

The pain you’ve left isn’t pain I can see myself having the strength to face again’

‘The Secret Life of Bees’ by Sue Monk Kidd.

This book will always mean a lot to me, now even more so. They lose their sister. It’s so beautifully dealt with in this novel. This book feels like home.

‘It was the oldest sound there was. Souls flying away.’

‘Wishful Drinking’ by Carrie Fisher.

Now this may seem like a strange one, but Carrie died a short while before my Mother and I found great comfort in Carrie as a person. Some of her thoughts expressed my own. How grief encompassed itself in my soul. I was grateful to have her words in this time.

‘That’s what can take simple sadness and turn it into sadness squared. It’s what revs up the motor of misery, guns the engine of an unpleasant experience, filling it with rocket fuel and blasting into a place in the stratosphere that is oh-so-near to something like a suicidal tendency – a place where the wish to continue living in this painful place is all but completely absent.’

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society’ by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Brown

Now this one may seem like a strange also, but it’s the first book I read after. The first book I was brave enough to pick up. It reminded me that Joy in something you love is ok.

‘Autoboygraphy’ by Christina Lauren.

This book is on the list because it’s the first book I bought on my Kindle. Which was my Mothers. I know use it. I get to think of her every time I do. I thought it would be strange, but this book was so good I found myself loving both the book and my Kindle.

So there it is. My reason why my love for reading is so strong. I hope reading has helped some of you like this. Let me know if there’s any books out there that I’ve missed, that speak about grief.

Until the next review

JTH

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Book Review: ‘Sweaters and Cigarettes’ by Mika Fox

Author: Mika Fox

Title: Sweaters and Cigarettes

Length: 488pages

⭐️⭐️

This is the first book I’ve read by Mika Fox, and it will probably be the last. It’s Pride Month so I thought I’d share some of the LGBT books I’ve read over time.

Theo can’t stop looking at Max. With those black clothes and piercings, and that sarcastic charm that’s enough to intimidate pretty much anyone, he’s not exactly what you would call ordinary. Especially not when Theo is as ordinary as it gets, for a high schooler, along with all the insecurity and awkwardness that comes with it. Basically, Max is everything Theo is not, but no matter how hard Theo tries, he can’t get him off his mind. He’s honestly crushing on him so hard, that it’s not even funny. Theo has never spoken to Max, has even tried to hate him, but then their paths actually cross, their first conversation takes a surprising turn. And before long, they both find themselves falling harder and faster than they could ever have anticipated.

I would normally use a quote here, but this book had no quotes worthy…

I just didn’t like this book. It took me a long time to read, it was hard to get through to be honest. This book had no plot. When it finally got a bit of plot, it was brushed aside. Solved in one line. It was about the two main characters relationship forming but nothing else happened. The way the two characters got together wasn’t believable, at all.

I mean here’s the thing, if a book has a good slow burn romance, then that can be enough. But it has to be really good, and this was nowhere near good enough.

The characters, full of cliches. Max was especially unlikeable. They had no heart, no depth. Again, if there’s no plot the characters are what make the book enjoyable. But this didn’t have either. Such a disappointment.

I didn’t enjoy how it was written. It tried to be funny and it wasn’t. It tired to be intimate and totally missed the mark. It went into unnecessary rudeness and vulgarity. This book had so much potential, but it just didn’t live up to it.

The only positive thing about this book was the reaction Theo’s brother had to him coming out. He was happy for his brother, it’s always nice to read a positive experience. But that’s the only positive I could find.

Like I said, it’s the first book I’ve read by Mika Fox, so maybe her others are better (are they?) comment and let me know. I won’t be recommending this book to anyone.

Until the next review

JTH

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Book Review: ‘ A Very Large Expanse of Sea’ by Tahereh Mafi’

Title: A Very Large Expanse of Sea

Author: Tahereh Mafi

Length: 297 pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I saw this book on another blog and the premise sounded so interesting to me, I decided to pick up my own copy.

It’s the year after 9/11, and Shirin has just started at yet another new high school. It’s a difficult time, but especially so for a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who wears a hijab. Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She hides away, drowning her frustrations in music and spending her afternoons break-dancing with her brother. But then Shirin meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know her – and it terrifies her. He’s not like everyone else – but Shirin has had her guard up against the world for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down…

‘If the decision you’ve made has bought you closer to humanity, then you’ve done the right thing.’

WHAT A BOOK. I mean seriously, what a book. I absolutely adored this story. It was wonderful. I’ve had it on my TBR pile for a while and now I’m questioning why I waited so long to read it.

The love story. It was beautiful. Although at first I thought it was going to be a bit rushed, it wasn’t. It was a beautiful slow-burn. The chemistry between Shirin and Ocean flew off the page. The obstacles they had to face were heartbreaking.

I think that if you go into this book with an open heart and mind, you’ll truly learn a lot from this story. It was so hard to read the racism Shirin has to endure. Honestly it broke my heart. When the picture of her gets taken without her hijab on, I squirmed, I cried. It was just horrible. But it’s what makes this book so important.

What was wonderful about this book, was Shirin opening up as it goes along. Watching her fall in love was a delight, yet I could feel her fear. To watch her find her passion with breaking-dancing was so enjoyable. Shirin was funny, tough, real. This books tackles stereotypes head on and destroys them.

‘A very large expanse of sea’ was such a quick read, I couldn’t put the book down. I can’t recommend this book enough. Do yourself a favour and read it.

Until the next review

JTH