spoiler free, Tags

Bank holiday tag

tag ThursdayExcept not Thursday because Bank Holiday Reasons.

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Oh my gosh, what is this?! A book tag on a MONDAY! This is madness! Actually, it’s just because here in the UK it’s a Bank Holiday Monday and I’m doing a slightly different tag this upcoming Thursday so you get extra posts this week, lucky you! This tag is actually from the lovely Cora from Tea Party Princess and I couldn’t resist giving it a go so thank you, Cora!

Have a lie-in. Which book could you lounge in bed with all morning?

I can’t have super long lay-ins or I get headaches buuuut I would love to sit and snuggle up in bed on a lovely morning to read the Heartstopper books by Alice Oseman.

Oh my goodness, it’s actually sunny outside! A book that makes you feel optimistic.

Strangely I think this would be Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James but this has so many great messages behind it and one is what it means to be human and how we, as humans, endure in the way that only we can.

Spend some time outdoors. A book that reminds you of nature

The Warrior Cat books! The cats in these (for the most part) are wild cats with their own clans and territory and I love seeing how they approach certain things in nature, for example, their use of herbs by their healer cats to help with injuries and illnesses.

Make some punch. A book that you find difficult to classify into one genre.

I feel like maybe Sanctuary by V.V James is a hard one to classify because it feels contemporary but because of the inclusion of witchcraft, it tilts it towards the paranormal or fantasy side of things, perhaps urban fantasy but also a thriller AND a  mystery! It has everything!

Pass some food around. A book you want to share with everyone.

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James is one of my all-time favorite books and I recommend it to anyone who will listen.

Light the BBQ. A book that took a while to get going.

Nevernight, I love it to death but it definitely took a little while to really get into it but once I was hooked that was it. I’m in for life now.

Failed BBQ. A book that ultimately disappointed you.

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young. It wasn’t a bad book by any means but I just found it far too predictable for my taste and I think  went into it expecting it to be fantasy in a way that it wasn’t, I am however enjoying the kind of sequel/follow up/companion book for it The Girl the Sea Gave Back however.

It’s raining. Of course. A book to curl up with when it’s raining outside.

This might seem a strange one but I think for me this would be A Discovery of Witches, it’s rare that I like huge books but A Discovery of Witches is one that I really enjoy and I can imagine the rain pouring down the windows in a lot of the scenes.

Let’s just eat chocolate. A book that’s super sweet.

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neil, it’s absolutely gorgeous and every page is gloriously sweet, from the art style and the characters, the story and the Tea Dragons themselves.

As usual, I won’t tag anyone but if you would like to give this tag a go feel free but let me know so I can check out your answers!

book reviews, Graphic Novels

Heartstopper Volume 2

Book Review

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Heartstopper Volume 2
 by Alice Oseman

Rating: XXXXX

Published July 11th by Hodder Children’s Books

“You like me?”
“Was that not obvious?”

“I’m an idiot”

Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love. An LGBTQ+ graphic novel about life, love, and everything that happens in between: this is the second volume of HEARTSTOPPER, for fans of The Art of Being Normal, Holly Bourne and Love, Simon. 

Nick and Charlie are best friends. Nick knows Charlie’s gay, and Charlie is sure that Nick isn’t. But love works in surprising ways, and Nick is discovering all kinds of things about his friends, his family … and himself. 

Heartstopper is about friendship, loyalty and mental illness. It encompasses all the small stories of Nick and Charlie’s lives that together make up something larger, which speaks to all of us. 

This review is for volume two of Heartstopper. If you’re looking for Volume One you can check out my spoiler-free review for it right here if you would prefer.

I have been so SO excited to read volume two of Heartstopper and I was gutted that i had to wait an extra week and a half until after release to read it. I’ve tried to restrain myself from reading too far ahead on Tapas which is updated every week and is further ahead than the printed volumes, thankfully I managed fairly well just rereading the first one and other than the first few pages everything was fresh to me. The day it arrived I sat and read the whole beautiful thing in one sitting. If I hadn’t had my son to look after (and you know, parent) I would have probably sat on the floor in my kitchen where I’d opened it and read it there and then.

In volume two, Nick has some big issues to think about and although there are some heartbreaking little moments even the more conflict heavy parts still feel like soul food, the way Charlie and Nick interact is beautiful. There defintley feels more at stake here almost and although things obviously do happen (and in a way that feels quite close to home – some bullying trigger warning here) it never feels hopeless, Heartstopper, to me, always feels so gentle and full of hope.

The art continues to be simple yet emotive and I love the way the dialogue just flows so well and feels totally natural, we get more Nelly, some secret handholding scene that brought me to (happy) tears. If you enjoyed Heartstopper volume one then Volume two is a must and then we can desperately wait for volume three.

You can check out the webcomic here. Alice posts updates for free but I highly recommend supporting her via Patreon if able or Tapas if not, more information is available on her Tumblr page. Also, just a note that if you haven’t read Solitare there are no spoilers in Heartstopper for it so not to worry there.

 

#SixforSunday, spoiler free

S4S – Perfect Pool Reads

I LOVE swimming and reading poolside or with my legs dangling in the pool is one of my favourite ways to read although one I do seldom nowadays as I’m usually chasing after a four-year-old and we’ve not been on holiday for a good few years, nor are we likely to do so anytime soon so I’ll just have to use my imagination. As usual, a big thank you to Steph from A Little But A Lot for the wonderful weekly prompts.

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman
This one is probably a little obvious, it’s a beautifully sad book but it has such a lovely beach vibe going through it I think it would fit lovely around a poolside.

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
Sassy pirates, a siren princess who rips princes hearts out of their chests? Absolutely PERFECT poolside reading if you ask me?

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman
A nice happy sunshiney read for chilling out between swimming, yes, please.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
I could read this book anywhere okay and I don’t need to have a reason okay? There’s just something about having the time to sit by the pool rereading your favourite book that says relaxation. Of course, when that favourite book is Illuminae there is no such thing but you get the idea.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Despite most of my other choices being quite short books I actually tend to read longer books because if I’m reading at the side of the pool it’s usually been when I’m on holiday and I tend to take thick books on holiday because I’m more likely to get through them, granted last time I went on holiday Nate was a lot smaller and slept a lot more though to be fair so there was much more time to read. A Discovery of Witches is a thick book but not one that’s painful to hold so it fits the bill perfectly.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Another thick book that’s still small enough to be comfortably read. I still need to finish Six of Crows and I could think of nowhere better to do so than relaxing after a nice swim in the afternoon. Fun Fact: I read almost all of A Dance with Dragons (G.R.R Martin) poolside on my last holiday in-between swims.

Okay so not everyone probably looks at all of these books and thinks “oh yes, that’s obviously a poolside read” but these are ones that feel perfect to me, let me know which ones suit you!

 

 

spoiler free, Tags

Rapid Fire Book Tag

I’ve been trying a few different book tags this week and I’ve been finding myself really stumped about answering some of them so I decided that today’s blog would instead be a really simple fun book tag I picked up from Sarah from Book Hooked Nook a little while back, the rapid-fire book tag!

1. E-Book or Physical Book?

If it’s small enough physical, if not an e-book is more comfortable.

2. Paperback or Hardback?

Paperback.

3. Online or In-Store Book Shopping?

Usually online as the only bookstores nearby are all in other towns and it costs me the price of a standard paperback to get to any of them.

4. Trilogies or Series?

I quite like standalone books at the moment but if I had to pick it would be a trilogy.

5. Heroes or Villains?

It feels so cliche but villains are so much more fun.

6. A book you want everyone to read?

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman because that stuff is food for the soul.

7. Recommend an underrated book?

Invictus by Ryan Graudin, I never hear anyone talk about this book but I adored it.

8. The last book you finished?

I finished Heartstopper Volume 2 in one sitting before bed a couple of nights ago and I’ve barely been able to stop thinking about it since.

9. The Last Book You Bought?

I did a little book order when I got paid a couple of days ago and ordered Do you dream of Terra-Two? By Temi Oh, a finished copy of The Starlight Watchmaker by Lauren James, Heartstopper volume two by Alice Oseman and The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neil. It had been a while since I’d brought books!

10. Weirdest Thing You’ve Used as a Bookmark?

A fork.

11. Used Books: Yes or No?

As long as they’re in good condition then used is fine with me.

12. Top Three Favourite Genres?

Sci-fi, Fantasy and thriller

13. Borrow or Buy?

Buy, I don’t go into town often enough to to get proper use out of the library and I’m terrible at returning things on time. Also because quite often I’m buying a finished copy of an ARC I’ve enjoyed and might not get to reading it right away.

14. Characters or Plot?

Having one without the other is not enjoyable but I think good characters can save bad plot but a good plot doesn’t often save bad characters.

15. Long or Short Books?

Probably short. I’m finding it really hard to drag myself through longer books. Max 400 ideally although I’m reading a good few that are more than that at the moment so it’s not a make or break thing, I just like to read shorter books, if anything they’re more comfortable to hold.

16. Long or Short Chapters?

Short. I love the feeling of finishing a chapter, plus I tend to wait until I’ve finished a chapter before I stop reading and if it’s too long it just gets annoying.

17. Name The First Three Books You Think Of…

18. Books That Make You Laugh or Cry?

19. Our World or Fictional Worlds?

Fictional, or actually I like a bit of both so our world with a hint of fictional is great sometimes too. I want to say it’s called urban fantasy but I’m bad at this book blogging thing.

20. Audiobooks: Yes or No?

Yes. I’m sad that I don’t really listen to them as much now. I often still listen to ones I’ve heard before when I’m trying to get to sleep (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them read by Eddie Redmayne is my favourite) but now that I’m not in a job where I can just crack on and get my work done with my headphones in all day I’m seriously lagging on the audiobook front.

21. Do You Ever Judge a Book by its Cover?

Absolutely. Don’t get me wrong, a book with a bad cover can be good and vice versa but it’s almost always the cover that draws me in or pushes me away.

22. Book to Movie or Book to TV Adaptations?

I really enjoy them for the most part. Sometimes they get me interested in a book I’ve yet to read (i.e Dumplin) even though I always try to read the book first but also they sometimes give me the feeling of rereading a book without having to actually do so.

23. A Movie or TV-Show You Preferred to its Book?

Stardust. I enjoyed the Stardust book but the film is one of my all-time favourites and just blew the book out of the water.

24. Series or Standalone’s?

I love me a standalone.

That was a such a fun tag, thank for so much for posting it, Sarah! I won’t tag anyone in particular but as always if you’d like to take part then consider yourself tagged!

book reviews, spoiler free

Heartstopper Volume One

40495957Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

Rating: XXXXX

Published February 7th 2019 by Hodder Children’s Books

“I have a six-year-old brother. Mario Kart is my life. And you get to be good at real sports. I get to be good at fake ones.”

“You’re good at everything, you nerd!”

Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn’t been too great, but at least he’s not being bullied anymore, and he’s sort of got a boyfriend, even if he’s kind of mean and only wants to meet up in secret.

Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He’s heard a little about Charlie – the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months – but he’s never had the opportunity to talk to him. That is, until the start of January, in which Nick and Charlie are placed in the same form group and made to sit together.

They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner…

I’ve been reading books for new releases and blog tours etc pretty solidly for the past two months and today I decided to finally take a day off and try out one of the books that have been patiently waiting for me that aren’t bound by release deadlines etc and today felt like a day that definitely needed a splash of Heartstopper, just looking at this book makes me happy. It’s pink spine, the bright but not painful colours of the cover and Alice’s distinctive simple yet powerful style of art brightened my day before I even read the first page. I met Alice at the Quiet at the End of the World launch event last month and having not read any of her books before I decided Heartstopper would be a good one to start with as it had already caught my attention on Twitter plenty of times, turns out I think this book may be considered a gateway drug to more Oseman.

in 2014 Alice Oseman released her first novel, Solitare which featured a sixteen-year-old girl called Tori who had a brother called Charlie who had a loving, committed boyfriend called Nick. In 2015, she released an ebook called Nick and Charlie which looked at their relationship a year on from the events of Solitare and found herself thinking about the backstory behind their relationship prior to Solitare and although she tried many times to write it as a novel she found it never really quite worked until it occurred to her that was because Nick and Charlie’s relationship didn’t fit a novel and instead on September 1st 2016, created the Heartstopper comic Tumblr page and uploaded the first eleven pages of Nick and Charlies story.

“There’s no gradual rise and fall. Nick and Charlie’s story isn’t like that. Nick and Charlie’s story is made up of fragments. Episodes. There are episodes of their lives; small stories that makeup something larger. The story of them meeting. The story of them becoming friends. The story of them falling in love, becoming boyfriends, finding their way through a new relationship, fighting back against mental illness. It doesn’t work as a novel because there’s no overarching drama – because it’s just real life. Just one normal, loving relationship between two people. And so what I realised was that the best way to tell this story would be through a webcomic.”

Then in 2018, Alice ran a Kickstarter to collect the first two chapters in a physical edition which was also later picked up and published through Hodder Children’s books with a volume two due to release in July this year! Alice also updates the webcomic online, three times a week and honestly dear reader you should be honoured that I’m even sitting at my desk writing this review because I desperately just want to devour every single chapter of this story right now but this book was so brilliant I need to tell everyone. So if you somehow haven’t heard of Heartstopper before now, consider yourself informed and get on it because it is an absolute gift.

Just thinking about this book makes me want to cry. It’s beautiful, it’s funny and it’s heartwarming and so just SO DAMN WHOLESOME I want to turn it into a blanket and wrap myself in it forever. Honestly, it’s just so hard to describe the warm feeling in my chest that reading this book gave me. I loved the familiar Brittish setting and phrases etc, even down to their school uniform which was pretty similar to the one I wore (gulp) so many years ago which gave it a nice extra level of relatability for me. Watching Nick and Charlie grow as friends and the interactions they have were some of my favourite parts of Volume one and I couldn’t honestly just reading about them hanging out all day. I could go on and on about Nick and Charlie but I want to make sure I mention that not only do I love the natural feeling evolution of their relationship I also love what they feel separate from each other as well, I came out / was outed at school and went through some confusing feelings at the time as well as going on to have crushes on “the straight one” as it were so this all feels startlingly real and it’s just handled so well and as Alice herself as stated, it’s just real life. Also there’s Nellie the doggo and she is the best thing that ever graced any page ever and I love her.

I’ve read a lot of manga, comics and other graphic novels in my time that I found the format enjoyable but terribly morish because it was such an easy afternoon read, I seriously considered reading the entire thing over again once I’d finished it the first time. Not only is Alice’s art style absolutely adorable and an absolute joy to look at it’s so evocative and she really knows how to use this format well, from simple panels or backgrounds used to portray emotions, certain angles and switches as well as the magic of the simple page turn she does a fantastic job of making these techniques as important and as part of the story as the art and words itself.

I figured I would wait until the next volume came out in July to carry on with Nick and Charlie’s story and although I will certainly be buying it when it does, I won’t like dear reader, I currently have the Tumblr page open and ready with chapter three to read once I’ve finished this review. You can check out the webcomic here. Alice posts updates for free but I highly recommend supporting her via Patreon if able or Tapas if not, more information is available on her Tumblr page. Also, just a note that if you haven’t read Solitare there are no spoilers in Heartstopper for it, as I mentioned it appears Heartstopper is a gateway drug and I’m about six words away from ordering it myself.