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BOOK REVIEW: The Ruby Locket by Melissa Wray

BOOK REVIEW: The Ruby Locket by Melissa Wray

To start this review, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Henry at Odyssey Books for reaching out and contacting me about reviewing this title. This has had no impact on my review, which remains fair and unbiased. The Ruby Locket is an 

BLOG TOUR: Kate In Waiting by Becky Albertalli

BLOG TOUR: Kate In Waiting by Becky Albertalli

Hello, and welcome to my stop on the Kate in Waiting blog tour! I honestly can’t tell you how excited I am to be taking part in a blog tour for a Becky Albertalli novel, and I’d like to say a huge thanks to The 

Did I read 25 Before 25?

Did I read 25 Before 25?

Today is my birthday – hooray! Which also means it’s the deadline for me to finish reading all 25 books on my 25 Before 25 list. As I’ve already read 60 books in 2021, of course I must have managed to get every book on the list checked off… Right?

Ha, wrong!

Yes, you heard that right. I’ve successfully procrastinated reading most of the books I wanted to read in the past year. I’ve managed to read a lot of books in the last 12 months, which I am happy with, but I’m disappointed in myself for not being able to rise to my own challenge and get all of the books on my list completed.

So, let’s break it down book by book, and see what went wrong in the past 12 months.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – I completely blame Sean for not getting this one ticked off. He decided he wanted to reread this book with me, then changed his mind and said he was no longer interested, then said he did want to reread it again after all. Mixed signals! I am thinking of including this one in a themed reading vlog over on my BookTube channel at some point in the next couple of months, so hopefully Sean will have made up his mind by the time I decide to film that.

The Gunslinger by Stephen King – I read this one! I even read the sequel, The Drawing of the Three. Look at me go.

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson – This book made it onto our Bookoplathon TBR, but it ended up being such a mess that we wiped the slate clean and started the TBR all over again. I still want to read a Brandon Sanderson book eventually, but unfortunately 24 was not the age for me to succeed at that.

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan – Yes! We read this one! We’ve even read The Great Hunt and The Dragon Reborn, and we’re halfway through The Shadow Rising. Smashing it!

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – I was thinking about reading Gone Girl this month, as my punishment for not reading my entire March TBR is to read a book which I’ve unhauled in the past. I owned a hardback and a paperback of Gone Girl and the hardback was in bad condition so I got rid of it many years ago, which would have made it the perfect book for this prompt, but unfortunately I haven’t had time to get to it yet. Maybe by the end of April I will have been able to squeeze it in…

Dark Age by Pierce Brown – Another book we managed to read! And this one is CHUNKY.

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs – Yep! I’m yet to carry on with the series, but I listened to the audiobook of Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children and really liked the narrator, so I might see if the rest of the audiobooks are available on BorrowBox.

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins – Nope. I didn’t even start rereading this trilogy. Oops.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – Another nope. I’m still interested in this book, but I just can’t seem to convince myself to read it.

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan – We got about 100 pages into this book, and for some reason we abandoned it. I’ll definitely be getting this finished before the end of 2021, but I am frustrated with myself for not finishing it off already!

Cinder by Marissa Meyer – I read my first Marissa Meyer book in January, but it wasn’t Cinder! I ended up picking up Heartless instead. I really enjoyed it, and it’s made me even more excited to pick up Cinder, so I’m still hoping to at least start this series within the next couple of months.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han – Another series reread that I didn’t even start, let alone finish. Whoops.

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris – I did read this one, and I didn’t end up being impressed by it. I’m going to give the next book in the series a try, but I don’t think I’m going to read all of them.

Half Lost by Sally Green – Another series reread that I didn’t even start! This hasn’t been helped by the fact that Sean and I read The Smoke Thieves together and he didn’t enjoy it very much, so he no longer trusts me about how amazing Half Bad is. We are halfway through the final book in The Smoke Thieves trilogy though, so once we’ve finished that we might move on to these.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab – I had completely forgotten that this book was on my 25 Before 25 list, but we have read it and I really enjoyed it! Looking forward to carrying on with this trilogy.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner – I talk more about The Maze Runner and my conflicting feelings towards it in a recent Top Ten Tuesday post about books I’ll probably unhaul. I’m still interested in reading this series, but I don’t want to support James Dashner, so the only reason I’m still considering reading them is because I’ve already bought them so I won’t be giving him any more money if I do pick them up.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte – I want to want to read this book, but something about it (*cough* probably that insufferable Kate Bush song *cough*) really puts me off. I read the first chapter to Sean to see whether it was one that he would want to read with me and he is also interested in it, but the first chapter didn’t grab us enough to make us read it straight away and now it’s just gathering dust.

A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle – I’d also forgotten that this book was on my list, otherwise we would have probably ticked this one off because it’s really short! I’ll prioritise starting the Sherlock series within the next couple of months.

The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf – This is quite dense non-fiction, and my brain hasn’t felt up to the challenge of reading this this year. I’m still interested in it, but it doesn’t feel like an urgent priority to pick this book up.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman – A short story collection! Surely I read this one? …nope, unfortunately not.

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff – Dammit, I put the wrong Jay Kristoff novel on this list. I read the entire Illuminae Files series (and even did a spoilery series review of them!), but still haven’t picked up Nevernight. Whoops.

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra ClareCity of Bones was one of the books on our October TBR, but unfortunately we spent the entire month reading IT by Stephen King… Which would have been a really awesome book to include on my 25 Before 25 list, but alas. I’m still hoping to read the Shadowhunters books eventually.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams – Another book I’d forgotten that I’d put on this list. If I do another one of these I really need to remember to check it more often!

What’s a Girl Gotta Do? by Holly Bourne – I didn’t start my Spinster Club reread, let alone finish the trilogy. I did reread The Places I’ve Cried in Public, which counts – right?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling – Another book series I talk about in my books I might unhaul post. I reread the first three books in the series, but I’m not feeling inclined to continue on for obvious reasons.

So, out of the 25 books I was aiming to read, I managed to read… 6.

Oh boy, that’s embarrassing.

In fairness to myself, I did carry on a couple of series and begin rereading some of the books I needed to read, so thanks to this list I actually read 12 books (and got halfway through Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, so 12 and a half!). But that’s still not 25, and I’m still embarrassed.

In conclusion, I’m not good at completing challenges I set myself, and I’m definitely not doing a 26 Before 26 list. I might consider making a 30 Before 30 list because that’ll give me 5 years to get all of the books checked off, but then I’ll probably forget the list exists by then so it still won’t go well!

Are there any of the books I’ve skipped on this list that you want me to pick up ASAP? If so, let me know down in the comments and I’ll do what I can.

Thank you for reading, and I’m sorry that I’m a failure,

Alyce

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COVER REVEAL: Stealing Infinity by Alyson Noël

COVER REVEAL: Stealing Infinity by Alyson Noël

I’m so honoured to be taking part in the cover reveal for Stealing Infinity by the NYT-bestseller Alyson Noël! This cover reveal has been organised by Entangled Teen, so make sure to check out their Twitter and Instagram accounts to see more cover reveal related 

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Colourful Books

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Colourful Books

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. I’m loving the fact that Top Ten Tuesday are having so many colour-related prompts at the moment. Last week’s topic was book titles that would work brilliantly as Crayola colour names, and this week’s 

REVIEW: Scent by Isabel Costello

REVIEW: Scent by Isabel Costello

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Muswell Press for accepting my request to review this title via NetGalley.

Scent tells the story of Clémentine, a perfumer trapped in a failing marriage. Tensions between Clémentine’s son Bastien and his father Édouard have been high for a while due to Édouard’s distaste for Bastien’s sexuality. When this causes Bastien to move out, the gulf between Clémentine and Édouard seems insurmountable.

Clémentine buries herself in her work, hiring a new shop assistant called Suzanne, but when a high-profile magazine article focusing on Clémentine is published it allows a figure from her past to track her down. Clémentine must learn to come to terms with past mistakes and tackle the problems in her marriage to allow her to turn and face the future.

The main reason that I requested this book was because of the bisexual representation. As far as I can remember, I haven’t read a single adult novel with a bisexual protagonist before, and I was fascinated to see how Isabel Costello would explore the subject. The answer? With aplomb.

The relationship between Clémentine and Racha is stuffed with desire. The sex scenes fell on the right side of descriptive, focusing more on how the girls feel about each other, and this somehow made the novel even more erotic. There aren’t many sex scenes, and the ones that are included are not overly dwelled upon, so if you’re a reader who doesn’t often pick up erotic novels please don’t let this inclusion put you off.

When Racha reappears, Clémentine is certain that she’s out for revenge. Something terrible happened to Racha which caused the end of their relationship, but Clémentine hasn’t seen her since. She believes Racha has been biding her time, plotting her revenge during the intervening twenty years. There is an element of malice in some of the things Racha says, adding a delectable amount of tension to the story.

This tension combines with the non-chronological timeline to give Scent a perfect pace. Although Costello takes her time lingering over the scents of the perfumes in Clémentine’s shop, building a complex and detailed picture of Paris using the evocative descriptions of the smell of the setting, the majority of this book doesn’t feel slow. My favourite chapters were the ones told in the 90s, when Racha and Clémentine meet and begin falling in love. I found it impossible to put the book down as I couldn’t stop wondering what could happen to cause their relationship to go so terribly wrong.

That being said, things fell apart towards the end of the novel. When the alternating timelines cease, the pace slows down dramatically. I found myself wanting to see more of Clémentine in the fallout of the incident, seeing how she came to terms with the end of her relationship with Racha, and I even wanted to see more from Ludo! It made me wish that this book had been a sequel, so that I could have fully experienced their summer of love and gotten to know these characters more intimately.

However, the ending of the novel does focus more on Clémentine’s relationship with Édouard, so if you’re a fan of domestic dramas centred on marriage and parenthood, this will be right up your alley. The characters are all well-fleshed out, and at times Clémentine’s story feels less like reading fiction and more like talking with a friend. This is achieved by layering up the subplots beautifully: none of them detract from the main plot, but instead they add layer upon layer to the lives of Clémentine and all of the other characters, making them all feel like real people.

I wasn’t impressed with the ending of the story, but I can understand why Costello chose to wrap it up the way that she did. It wasn’t what I personally wanted to happen, but I was satisfied to see Clémentine getting to a point where it looked like her life was taking a turn towards the happier.

All in all, this was a highly enjoyable novel. I’m definitely going to be reading more from Isabel Costello in the future!

Once again, a huge thanks to Muswell Press for allowing me to read and review Scent.

Thank you for checking out my review,

Alyce

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TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books as Crayola Crayons

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books as Crayola Crayons

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is a lot of fun. Crayola are well known for having some wild and wacky crayon colour names, but can you imagine if some of those colours were named after our 

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books I’d throw into the ocean

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books I’d throw into the ocean

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. There’s a difference between a bad book and a book which is so next-level terrible that you’d gladly throw it into the ocean. These ten books are ones that are so bad that I 

BLOG TOUR: Stop That Dinosaur! by Alex English and Ben Cort

BLOG TOUR: Stop That Dinosaur! by Alex English and Ben Cort

Hello everyone, and welcome to my stop on the Stop That Dinosaur! blog tour. First off, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Blue at Kaleidoscopic Book Tours for organising this blog tour. They feature the best titles, and they work so hard to make these tours a success. It’s always a huge honour to be able to participate in one of their tours, and this one has been fun for all of the family.

I was in my Granny’s kitchen eating extra-special cake,
when the walls began to tremble and the roof began to SHAKE.
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK! Ring! Ring! Ring! Oh MY – a dino’s at the door.
And now it’s taken Granny. SOMEONE STOP THAT DINOSAUR!

Chase down the GRAN-NAPPING brontosaurus in this rollicking, rhyming, ROAR-some romp. Can you catch the naughty dinosaur and get back to Granny’s house before Mum comes home at six o’clock?

From Alex English and Ben Cort, the bestselling illustrator of Aliens Love Underpants, comes an irresistibly rib-tickling books that kids will want to read again and again, and AGAIN!

You can find out more about Stop That Dinosaur! over on Goodreads. If you’re ready to purchase a copy, you can find Stop That Dinosaur! on Amazon or at your local bookshop. (Disclaimer: if you choose to purchase using my Bookshop.org affiliate link, I will receive a 10% commission).

Stop That Dinosaur! is going to be a fast favourite for any parents on the hunt for an engaging new picture book to read with their little ones.

My daughter Zophia is obsessed with dinosaurs, and watching the brontosaurus racing through the different locations had her jumping up and down yelling, “STOP, STOP!” along with the little girl in the story. With the repetitive, “Stop that dinosaur!” chant at the end of each page, this is sure to become a story time staple.

I’m not sure if it was the lockdown blues getting to me, but I felt close to shedding a tear at the end of the story. The moral of the story is adorable. The dinosaur just wants a Granny of his own, and who can blame him?! The Granny in the story reads stories, bakes apple pies and kisses boo-boos better, and those are what I’d call #GrannyGoals.

It’s impossible to choose a favourite thing about Stop That Dinosaur! (although Zophia would definitely say the bunny rabbits running away from the big red dinosaur on the front cover). I have a soft spot for picture books with rhyming stories, so this one was an instant favourite for me.

It was also a lot of fun to discover that there’s a spread in the book which is vertical instead of horizontal, so you’ve got to turn the book around to chase the dinosaur too! This helps keep even the littlest ones interested. My son, Ezra, turned one in December and sometimes struggles to stay focused during longer stories, but that hasn’t been a problem during any of the (many, many) times that we’ve read Stop That Dinosaur! since it arrived. This book gets a ROARING five stars from us!

If your little ones love dinosaurs as much as either of mine do, pick up a copy of Stop That Dinosaur! and have fun chasing the big brontosaurus through the fields and the forests all day.

About the author:

Alex English’s picture books have been shortlisted for the Dundee Picture Book Award, chosen by BookTrust as part of the Bookstart Corner programme and selected by The Reading Agency for the Summer Reading Challenge. She loves ravens, running, baking cakes and watching thunderstorms. Alex lives in Paris with her husband, two boys and a garden-ful of noisy toads.

About the illustrator:

Ben Cort studied illustration at Harrow College and is the illustrator of The Shark in the Dark and Aliens Love Underpants, among many others. The latter has sold over 2 million copies worldwide. He has won numerous awards and he has been longlisted for the Greenaway Medal. Ben’s interests include photography, retro tin robots and jeans – he even wore them to his wedding! Ben lives in Leighton Buzzard.

Once again I’d like to say a huge thank you to Blue for organising this blog tour. I think this might be the most fun blog tour I’ve ever taken part in!

See you again soon,

Alyce

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REVIEW: The List by Patricia Forde

REVIEW: The List by Patricia Forde

To begin, I’d like to thank SOURCEBOOKS Jabberwocky, for accepting my request to read and review this title via NetGalley. The List introduces a dystopian world where vocabulary is being restricted and words are being systematically destroyed. The story follows Letta, the Wordsmith’s apprentice, as