Review: A Gathering of Shadows – V.E Schwab

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis: img_1308

(Synopsis contains spoilers for previous book)

Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games—an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries—a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall.

Okay, so I’m probably going to be dubbed with the “unpopular opinion” label here, but this book seriously suffered from the “second book syndrome”…

Like, nothing happened.

Okay, so we were introduced to Alucard, the cocky Captain of The Night Spire, who is actually one of my favourite characters just because he’s so outrageously arrogant. We also had more of an insight into Rhy’s character, which developed nicely in terms of his courage and love for Kell, and the past relationships between the three of them.

Other than this I was a bit underwhelmed, I’m not going to lie. I really enjoyed the first book (you can see my review here), and I had such high hopes for this one, but the plot was dull… I spent 500 pages reading essentially nothing, and it wasn’t until the last 80 pages that something actually happened! I mean, obviously the Essen Tasch needed to happen to allow Lila to make the discoveries she did (still love her, by the way) but it just didn’t excite me as much as I was hoping.

You may be wondering why I still gave the book 4/5 stars? Well, that’s because I still enjoyed the reading of it. I love the worlds in which the narrative takes place, and the characters are reasonably well rounded enough to make me still want to read it. And the last 80 pages were actually worth the read…

Regardless of this book not being as good as the last, I’m still looking forward to reading A Conjuring of Light – I’ve heard wonderful things and I’m excited to see how the plot will unfold!

View A Gathering of Shadows on Goodreads

April 2017 Book Haul

I think I’m going to have to start doing weekly, or at least fortnightly Book Haul posts from now on, because I have here yet another out of hand list…

Again, not all of these have been books I’ve bought, most were sent from publishers, and as a bookseller, that means I get sent a LOT of books…

I already know that I’ll probably miss some off of this list, and to be honest, some of them I can’t remember whether I got them this month or last! I also have a stack of books in my locker at work which I got sent this last week whilst I was away, so I’ll have to do a separate post for those! 😂

Books I Bought in April:

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor (Fairy Loot BOTM)

Note To Self by Connor Franta

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver

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Publisher Book Mail:

Cream Buns and Crime by Robin Stevens

The Guggenheim Mystery by Robin Stevens

Beyond The Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk

Goodbye, Things by Fumio Sasaki

Things a Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls

Defender of the Realm by Mark Huckerby & Nick Ostler

The Power by Naomi Alderman

The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell

Letters From The Lighthouse by Emma Carrol

Moonlocket (Cogheart #2) by Peter Bunzl

And that’s it! (Well there are about 8 more from publishers still at work, but I’ll do another post about those later next week ☺️

Just look at how cute this copy of Beyond the Bright Sea was packaged up to me: 😍


April 2017 Wrap-Up & May TBR

It’s May! Which means one thing… it’s my birthday in just a few days! I know a lot of people with May birthdays – mine’s on the 7th. Anyone else here a May baby? 💕

April was a relatively good month for me reading wise. Although I didn’t exactly stick to the TBR I set for myself at the end of last month, I did still manage to read 4 books, which is pretty good going for me if you consider that I work full time and performed in a show this month!

What I set out to read:

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carol

So, I didn’t actually read a single one of these books… oops! 😂

What I Actually Read:

The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (View Full Review)

A Gathering of Shadows – V.E Schwab ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Girl of Ink and Stars – Kiran Millwood Hargrave ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

I will be writing full reviews for all of these books over the next couple of weeks, so stay posted!

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I’m hoping to get a fair amount of reading done this month, as I’m going home for a week, which means loads of time to myself including two 3.5 hour train journeys and 5 days during the week when my parents are out at work!

Knowing me though, I’ll end up seriously procrastinating… 🙄

Anyway, here are the books I hope to read this month:

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas – with the release of ACOWAR tomorrow, I had actually hoped to get these read during April, but that just didn’t happen in the end, so I hope I can catch up! I absolutely love the TOG series, so I’m hoping Maas doesn’t disappoint me here.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – The YA book club book of the month that I’m running (I actually do NEED to read this one…)

Letters From The Lighthouse by Emma Carrol – I also run a 9-12 book group, and this is the pick for this month… it has a WW1 setting, so I’m bound to love it! (Reading a kid’s book is a nice bit of relief)

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – I WILL get this book read this month, even if it kills me!

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carol – A short one to tick off my never ending TBR… I should have read this years ago!

Release by Patrick Ness – The storyline of this new book by Patrick Ness takes place over the course of one day. Meaning I can read it in one day… right?

I should stop there… that’s a lot.

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I’d better get started right now, or I’ll never make it! 🙈

Review: The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


“It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime.”

Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashtuns. Hassan, his servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. Their uncommon bond is torn by Amir’s choice to abandon his friend amidst the increasing ethnic, religious, and political tensions of the dying years of the Afghan monarchy, wrenching them far apart. But so strong is the bond between the two boys that Amir journeys back to a distant world, to try to right past wrongs against the only true friend he ever had.

This was a book that I picked up from the library as an emergency journey read, when I forgot to take my own book. I had been considering reading it for a while, and when I was browsing the shelves I just thought, “why not?”.

Thank the lord I forgot my book.

The Kite Runner was an absolutely stunning read. Heartbreaking and relevant, it followed Amir’s life journey to defeat his childhood cowardice, and seek redemption.

That is ultimately what his novel is about, but the war riffed setting and the confliction between rich and poor in the Afghani society during the 70’s at the turn of the Russian invasion, right through to the ruling of the Taliban in the 2000’s, make this novel gripping and devasting, uplifting yet shocking, and I honestly can’t stop thinking about it now, even after 3 weeks of reading other books!

Very few books have made me stop in my tracks and truly evaluate the world we are living in, have lived in, or could potentially push ourselves to, and this was one of them.

I found myself wanting to scream at the book, or Amir as a child more specifically, and just shake some sense into him! He wasn’t intentionally cruel to Hassan, but he just didn’t see the effect that his actions, or rather lack of, were having until it was too late. It’s this guilt that drives the rest of the plot, and boy is it action packed!

I laughed, I cried, I felt every emotion possible reading this book, and not one page of it disappointed me. It was truly enthralling,

I’ll definitely be reading more from Hosseini, and I hope that those of you that haven’t read this book yet will feel inspired enough to do so.

View The Kite Runner on Goodreads

Review: Orbiting Jupiter – Gary D. Schmidt

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5


A heartbreaking story, narrated by twelve-year-old Jack, whose family is caring for fourteen-year-old Joseph. Joseph is misunderstood. He was incarcerated for trying to kill a teacher. Or so the rumours say. But Jack and his family see something others in town don’t want to.
What’s more, Joseph has a daughter he’s never seen. The two boys go on a journey through the bitter Maine winter to help Joseph find his baby – no matter the cost.


I received a copy from the Andersen Press when it was first released in hardback, and I have to say, I didn’t go anywhere near it for a while. I can’t even tell you why. I just put it to one side and let it become another addition to my ever growing TBR pile. I only picked it up because I needed something short and quick to read, and being less than 200 pages with a moderately large font size, this book ticked that box perfectly.

Well, now I just feel stupid for not picking it up straight away. This book deserves to have a hype around it. I haven’t seen any sort of coverage on it, on blogs, twitter, nor bookstagram, and I want that to change. Rapidly.

Orbiting Jupiter is an incredibly moving, heartfelt and honest piece of writing. It’s written in first person, from the ,perspective of a young boy, Jack, who narrates his foster brother, Joseph’s, journey to find his daughter. They’re only 12/14 respectively. That’s a hell of a lot going on for two boys still in school! I loved this POV, because the naivety of their youth shone through, and gave the topic a completely fresh take in comparison to the usual contemporary trope of broken families and teenage parenting.

Their relationship, although tense and distant at times, was loving and generous, truly brotherly in nature, and just a joy to read. The little details and observations made throughout are simply beautiful when they piece together, and ultimately make this a suitably teary read.

I cried. Five times.

But I didn’t just cry because it was “sad”. I cried because it warmed my heart. I felt the love, and it was beautiful.

This novella addresses the issues of growing up in school, and how judgemental your peers and even teachers can be. But it also shows how it can only take one good influence in your life to encourage you to take your life back for yourself, and make a difference.

I also have new found love and respect for cows… they freaked me out before, but now I love them. (View may change when I next come into contact with one…)

I simply urge you all to go out, buy this book, and read it right now! It’ll only take you a day, and trust me when I say that you’ll wish you’d read it sooner.

View Orbiting Jupiter on Goodreads

Review: A Darker Shade of Magic – V.E Schwab

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


Kell is one of the last travelers–magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.

There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King–George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered–and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London–a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

I’m a sucker for magic, so naturally, I loved this!

People have said it was slow to start, but I didn’t find that at all; reading about all the different London’s and worlds intrigued me from the offset, and I just flew through this book! I’m excited to read the next two instalments to the series now, especially to follow more of Lila’s story – she’s by far my favourite character (super badass female who  doesn’t take any sh** from anyone!)

The trouble with books about magic, is that they’re now pretty much always going to be compared to Harry Potter in one way or another. What I enjoyed most about this book is that the Magic is totally different to the spells we all know so well from Hogwarts and the like. There are no wands or “silly incantations” – the magic comes from within, like a source at the centre of the earth that must be summoned. And the Magic itself materialises in the control of the elements: earth, water, fire and, the most dangerous of all, bone. For this reason, this book shouldn’t be compared to Harry Potter. Whilst the Magic is there, and is enjoyable in the sense that it takes me back to my childhood of wanting to be Hermione Granger (ahem), I never once found myself picking fault and referring back to HP. I loved this book for it’s own reasons.

This book was exciting, gripping and daring – none of it “beat around the bush” so to speak. I feel like I know enough about the characters to connect with them, but then not too much to make the next books boring – there’s still more to be discovered, which excites me.

Now, to decide on my favourite London… it should be easy!

Grey London is, I imagine, based around the real London of today – I live here, so I guess that’s how I see it anyway. The similarities are definitely there. Regular, a bit dingy, the people are half decent for the most part… But there’s no magic… boring!

White London is definitely evil. I would say “dark and twisty”, but everything is totally washed out of colour and white, very much like winter – cold, and no one likes it.

Now, Red London – happy, bright, full of magic; thriving and prosperous. I think I like it here best! Obvious choice. I’m predictable, what can I say?

Because I’ve only just managed to find time to write this review, I’ve actually already read the second book of the series, A Gathering of Shadows. I’ll let you know my thoughts on that soon…

If you love fantasy, magic and danger, I’d definitely recommend this book!

View A Darker Shade of Magic on Goodreads

Mini Review: What Was Never Said – Emma Craigie

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Synopsis: IMG_130115-year-old Zahra has lived in England most of her life, but she is haunted by memories of her early childhood in Africa: the warm sun, the loud gunfire, and happy days playing with her older sister before “the visitors” came. It is hard for Zahra to make sense of everything that happened, and the terrible events are impossible to talk about, but when three familiar women arrive unexpectedly for tea, Zahra realises that the dangers of the past could still destroy her.

What Was Never Said is the powerful story of a girl navigating the demands of two very different and conflicting worlds; a tale of surviving loss and overcoming fears. 

I flew through this book in just a couple of hours reading time! I picked this up over a year ago on a whim whilst browsing Foyles, just for something short, and the first line really grabbed me:

“The cutter came last night. I recognised her: her black clothes, her narrow face and the yellow whites of her eyes.”

I actually had no idea what this book was about until just before I decided to read it; an entire year after buying it! I was looking for some diverse fiction to read, but something that I already owned. I then discovered that this was in fact about a girl’s desperate attempt to escape FGM (Femal Genital Mutilation) – a tradition that her African family has followed for generations.

Although the writing wasn’t the greatest, it was very much a “teen” read, I generally enjoyed reading this book. It’s diverse in its cultures and race, and tackles a subject that it not widely talked about. I feel that this subject is important to get out there in raising awareness, as it is unfortunately something that still happens today.

This book was short and sweet; a good book to just pick up if you want something quick to read.

View What Was Never Said on Goodreads.