Rating: 5 STARS!!
Genre: LGBT Fantasy
How I got this book: Bought
A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.
Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.
When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he's given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.
But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.
I finished this book last night and, even though I don't know how to find the words to express how utterly perfect this book is, I just had to write my review.
This book is perfect.
There's a quote on the cover saying that it's almost perfect and honestly, I'm calling BS. This book is stunning and I wouldn't change a single word.
“I'm afraid I don't have magic."
"You do, Mr. Baker. Arthur told me that there can be magic in the ordinary.”
I've been a fan of TJ Klune's work for quite a while, and I've never been disappointed by his books, but at the same time, I've never been completely and utterly blown away either (although, it's come extremely close - see The Bones Beneath My Skin) until now.
There's something so magical, warm and heartfelt about this book and its weird and wonderful cast of characters, as they battle against a reflection of our society and government.
Watching Linus grow, and his unconscious effect on the inhabitants of The House in the Cerulean Sea was so moving it had me in tears numerous times.
"I am but paper. Brittle and thin. I am held up to the sun, and it shines right through me. I get written on, and I can never be used again. These scratches are a history. They’re a story."
The writing is beautiful and the message so very poignant as it drives home the importance of equality and the need to challenge prejudices.
“Your voice is a weapon. Never forget that.”
Every single character in this book is amazing. The children are wonderful, varied and not at all what you'd expect, and I love each and every one of them. If you asked me to choose my favourite, I simply couldn't; they're all too precious and unique.
Linus is a fantastic protagonist. His flaws are on full display and his transformation throughout the book reads like a phoenix rising from the ashes. He's a brilliant character to behold as he grows in confidence and awareness, and can we just take a moment to enjoy the fat main character rep we have here?!
“Why can’t life work whatever way we want it to? What’s the point of living if you only do it how others want you to?”
My only criticism has absolutely nothing at all to do with the book itself. It lies in the narration. I began listening to this book on Audible and no matter what, I just couldn't get into it, which led me to give up for a while until I could get my hands on the hardcover, which I then fell into and never wanted to leave.
Honestly, if you're actively looking for a book that will give you the mother of all book hangovers, this is it. Prepare to fall in love.
"Don't you wish you were here?"
Hey, I hope you're having a great September!
This is just a quick note to let you know that there won't be a Turn The Page episode this month.
Sophie is juggling moving to a new house and heading on holiday so we're taking a break this month and we'll be picking the podcast back up in October.
We'll be sticking with The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune for our book club and will review this (along with our follow up Twitter bookchat) in October.
We look forward to chatting with you soon!
Rating: 4 Stars
Genre: MM/Contemporary Romance
Series/Standalone: Finding Home #1
How I got this book: Bought
What happens when temporary becomes forever?
Oz Gallagher does not do relationships well. Bored and jobless after another disastrous hook up, he decides to leave London for a temporary job in the wilds of Cornwall. Surely managing a stately home on a country estate will be easier than navigating the detritus of his relationships at home. Six months there will alleviate a bit of his wanderlust and then he can come back to London as footloose and fancy free as the day he left it.
However, when he gets there he finds a house in danger of crumbling to the ground and a man who is completely unlike anyone he’s ever met. An earl belonging to a family whose roots go back hundreds of years, Silas is the living embodiment of duty and sacrifice. Two things that Oz has never wanted. He's also warm and funny and he draws Oz to him like a magnet.
Oz banks on the fact that they're from two very different worlds to stop himself falling for Silas. But what will he do when he realises that these differences are actually part of the pull to one another? Will falling in love be enough to make him stop moving at last and realise that he's finally home?
TW: Homophobia, cheating
I've been working a lot lately and found myself in a bit of a book slump, just lacking the desire to read anything, but I had a few Audible credits and decided to pick something almost at random, which is how I settled on Oz by Lily Morton.
After the first couple of chapters, I was a little put off by the narration, not the Irish accent of Oz, but the posh-British accent of Silas which I felt was a bit too exaggerated, and after listening for a while, I decided to switch to the eBook.
Well, the joke was on me! I tried to read a chapter of the eBook but could not get (the narrator) Joel Leslie's voice out of my head and ended up switching back to the audio, which grew on me really quickly.
I absolutely love Oz's voice. He's a fantastic character and the narration brought him completely to life...I can still hear his voice now.
"I tap the magazine. 'The only job advert in there for me would one asking for someone who is PhD level stupid enough to move in with their boss.' I laugh. 'No references given."
Oz is a really great character to read, he's rough around the edges and people judge him based on his appearance and his background, yet he's so down-to-earth, flirtatious and plain hysterical.
The opening scene really sets the tone for Oz and the rest of the book, as the story begins with Oz walking in on his lover/boss having an affair with his new assistant (Oz's current job!) and we're instantly hit with Oz's snark, his capacity for revenge, his eviscerating tongue and also, his heart and vulnerabilities.
We're then introduced to his best friend who leads Oz to a job interview for a position managing the restoration of a high-end, dilapidated house, something that Oz doesn't believe he's at all qualified for and results in the most hilarious interview.
“He’s lovely,” I say, putting my hand out to the dog. “What’s his name?”
I blink. “Pardon?”
He smiles. “Because he’s blond and stupid and makes very questionable decisions.”
The man in charge of hiring him, however, doesn't agree, which leads Oz on a journey from London to the Cornish countryside and into the path of Lord Ashworth a.k.a Silas who's fresh out of his own bad relationship with the previous house manager and carrying several burdens on his shoulders.
Silas is a much more reserved character, and once I got used to the narration of his voice, I was charmed by his character. He's strong, reserved, humble and just the sweetest.
Oz and Silas's chemistry is off the charts and for some of the sex scenes, I would definitely recommend installing air conditioning or setting your room fan to the highest setting...
Not only has Lily Morton done a fantastic job of creating realistic, distinct, likeable characters, she's also made truly detestable 'villains', and a well-paced plot that's both incredibly funny and extremely heartfelt.
There was one scene in particular that almost reduced me to tears, especially when combined with the impassioned narration.
“Ask me,” I say quietly. I smile tenderly. “I guarantee I’m going to say yes.”
So, how can I summarise this book?
It's a little bit like Pride and Prejudice but everyone is gay, there's also lots of cursing, and characters in the Austen era would never be permitted to spend so much time naked, especially outdoors!
It was a fun, heartfelt read and I'll definitely be reading (and listening to) more of the books in this series!
It's time for another monthly kids book wrap up!
Keep reading for a short wrap up of the books I've been reading with my 6-year-old, Rosie.
I share a lot of our books on Instagram, so feel free to follow me over there for more regular kid's book updates.
As always, you can click on the title to visit Goodreads (if available):
Rating: 5 STARS!
How I got this book: Bought
Faking the best summer ever is a lot harder than it looks...
At the start of summer, Jack and Nate find themselves dumped as their respective exes, Dylan and Tariq, start up a new relationship together. Not only that, their exes start posting pics on social media, showing the whole world how fabulous their new life together is!
Jack and Nate are reeling. Not to be outdone, they decide to create their own 'highlights reel' and show their exes that they're having an even better time.
But between the depressing motorway service station motels, damp campsites, and an ultimate showdown with the exes, something epic really is happening: Jack and Nate are learning to get over their heartache and open themselves up to new possibilities for love.
I have been trying to write the review for this book ever since I finished it last week and I'm really struggling...because I loved it so much!!
It's so much easier to write about something that has faults and flaws, which is why this entire review should basically just be the following four words:
GO READ THIS BOOK!
But that probably wouldn't be very interesting, so I'll keep trying.
First of all, I just want to say that, as a 29-year-old, how jealous I am of the teens who get to read this book. This is probably the only book I've ever read that made me wish that I could go back to high school *shudders* so that I could do things differently. If I had this book as a teen I might not have felt so alone and unseen, I might have had the courage to be more me, and I can only thank authors like Simon James Green for writing books like this for kids like me who were too shy and insecure to say, "Hey, this is me! Deal with it."
"I want them all to see it, Dylan. I want everyone who made my life hell for the last three years to see they haven't won. I'm here. And I'm gonna shine so bright I'll blind the fuckers."
So, first impressions, Jack is literally my hero. He's incredible. He's an absolute sweetheart, instantly likeable and hilariously funny.
I love Simon James Green's writing and his impeccable British humour that's always had the ability to transport me back to a 90's childhood.
I admit that upon first introduction to Dylan, I thought he was okay, but no, Dylan is trash who gets worse and Jack deserved so much better!
Nate is a gloomy little cinnamon roll who I wanted to put in my pocket...and also slap a few times for getting 'swept up in the moment and ALMOST RUINING EVERYTHING DAMMIT!'
I absolutely love Jack and Nate together, their clashing personalities and dry humour are the perfect combination and, along with the ridiculous things that happen on their journey, help to keep a fast, interesting pace throughout the whole book.
The secondary characters are also fantastic, Nate's parents are brilliant and Elliot needs to have his own story (pretty please!)
As a bonus, this book was made even more perfect for me as the characters took a detour to my hometown with hilarious results.
Heartbreak Boys, just like Alex in Wonderland, made me instantly want to take a holiday and is definitely the perfect summer read!
If you're looking for a book that will have you laughing out loud and holding your breath at every almost, you should definitely read this book!
This month, our book club chat was all about The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow.
The Turn The Page Book Chat takes place on the Friday after the podcast goes live at 7pm (UK). To join, just follow #TTPBookChat on Twitter.
You can catch Sophie's review of the book here and listen to our podcast chat here.
Next month, we'll be reading The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune. If you'd like to join us, read the book and tune in on the 8th September for our podcast and on 11th September at 7pm (UK) for the next Twitter chat!
Rating: 4 Stars
Genre: Contemporary YA
How I got this book: NetGalley ARC
'It's not my body that's holding me back. I think it's more of a problem that people tell me my body should hold me back.'
Meet Emily Daly, a stylish, cute, intelligent and hilarious seventeen-year-old about to start her last year at school. Emily is also fat. She likes herself and her body. When she meets Joe at a house party, he instantly becomes The Crush of Her Life. Everything changes. At first he seems perfect. But as they spend more time together, doubts start to creep in.
With her mum trying new fad diets every week, and increasing pressure to change, Emily faces a constant battle to stay strong, be her true self and not change for anyone.
A warm, funny inspiring debut YA novel from Bethany Rutter: influencer, editor and a fierce UK voice in the debate around body positivity.
I have severely mixed feelings about this book.
Have you ever read a book that made you feel as though you were looking directly back at your own life?
That pretty much sums up how I felt reading No Big Deal.
The other fat girl in our group wasn't called Camilla, and my first real crush wasn't Joe. Everything else though, pretty much an exact match, and seeing it there on the page, reading Emily's story brought back so many old anxieties and so much pain that I thought or maybe hoped, I'd left behind.
"Eat too many of those and you'll always be Fatty Smith, never Patti Smith."
It got to the point where reading this book infuriated me as I drew parallels within my own life and my own insecurities.
But at the same time, I couldn't stop reading. The main character was relatable (or she would have been to teen me when I, for a brief period, cared that I was the only one without a boyfriend/girlfriend), almost too much so which is what made this such an uncomfortable read for me.
"Do not allow into your world someone who thinks you're second best, who thinks your body is a temporary "problem" that you're going to solve, who puts you down in any way."
The writing was easy to digest and the pace fast. I read the book in two short sittings but at the end felt a little unresolved.
Emily is funny, witty and down to earth but I did have a few problems, especially that she became too quickly obsessed with a boy she'd only just met and it takes her a while, too long in fact, to realise that all isn't as it should be. But, saying that, she is a teen and I can't deny that I had a LOT of obsessive moments when I was younger, and let's face it, I'm very obsessive over my books!
"Oh no. Too far, Emily. You can't just ask people why they like dickheads."
I do think the author does a good job of being open about teen sex, and it's refreshing to have sex just be a part of a YA without it being something taboo.
I hated some of the supporting characters in this book, but only because of how they made Emily feel, and the author did a great job of showing how, very often, it's the people closest to you who can fuel your anxieties.
"What's the goal in saying stuff like this to your child? It feels like she just sees an opportunity to make a mean comment and takes it."
I think Emily is a great body positive character, I just would have loved a different ending that wasn't so 'boy-focused'.
Rating: 3 Stars
Genre: Historical Fiction/ Fantasy
How I got this book: Audible Purchase
In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.
Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.
Review by Sophie.
TW: Racism, discrimination, animal abuse, institutionalisation.
OK, so here it is…The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E Harrow. One of the most highly rated and anticipated books that I’ve seen this year, and one that I was extremely hyped to read myself...
“It is at the moments when the doors open, when things flow between the worlds, that stories happen.”
…and I can honestly say that I did NOT enjoy it.
(And yes, I feel like I can actually hear everyone’s sharp intake of breath right now).
Alright, let's start at the beginning – it's not all bad. So, let just take a moment to appreciate how beautiful the front cover is, I mean its so pretty! And truthfully, I think the front cover reflects on the writing style quite a lot, and that is something I did like about this book. The writing was flowery and intricate, and really is a work of art.
"Words and their meanings have weight in the world of matter, shaping and reshaping realities through a most ancient alchemy."
But I can’t help but feel like the story got mixed up in all of that. The opening chapter was intriguing and filled with mystery and questions, and I’d already got such high expectations for the book, so I couldn’t wait to get started.
Unfortunately, after the first couple of chapters, I found that the introduction of new characters made the whole thing messy and confusing. I really wasn’t keen to pick it back up and carry on reading and struggled the rest of the way through.
At around the halfway mark I felt like I was starting to break through, the plot was making more sense and things seemed to be going places. For me though, this just wasn’t enough and truth be told the characters actually ruined this for me. I just couldn’t connect with any of them. The only character I cared about was the dog ‘Bad’ and was genuinely traumatised by what happened to him, which kind of left me on edge for the rest of the book.
Abuse and discrimination have a very strong role in the book, January is raised by a racist man, and the book is written in a place and time where discrimination is very real, institutional behaviour is recognised throughout, not only by January's guardian but also physiatrists, which I wish I’d known before I started reading the book.
I can understand why so many people love the story and I'm happy that they found the magic within, and I’d never want a review to tarnish or put someone off reading it just because of my opinion, so I would still urge anyone to read it, but all in all, it just wasn’t for me.
How is it already August?!?
The second Tuesday of each month is new episode release day for the Turn The Page podcast, our monthly podcast where we talk about our latest reads, book news and bookish events.
Thank you so much to everyone who's listened to Episode One and Episode Two! You can subscribe to the podcast right here!
We also launched our very first Twitter Book Chat last month. We get together on the Friday after the podcast goes live to talk about the month's book club selection! You can catch our last book club chat for Hour of the Bees here and don't miss the next one on Friday 14th August!
In this episode, we talk about DNFing books, #YALCathome, The StoryGraph and our July Book Club selection, The Ten Thousand Doors of January.
Here's a little of what you can expect from episode three:
On not finishing books:
"I can't not finish a book, if that makes sense. So, I can't not finish it. I've never, ever been able to. Even to the point where I dread picking it up, and I know it sounds completely, a bit weird, but I'm always paranoid that if I don't read it, I'll still be thinking about it a week later, because I'll be like, well, I wonder what did happen? Did it get better? Have I missed out on something? So, like, that fear of the unknown and never, ever finding out where it ends, for me, it's too much."
On chickens and goats:
"So, if you get your own goat, you're just going to call it goat?"
Listen to the podcast below, feel free to comment and tune in again on the 2nd Tuesday of each month for the latest episode! Subscribe on your favourite podcast platform here!
Happy listening and happy reading!
Read the transcript:
Rating: 3 Stars
Series/Standalone: VRC: Vampire Related Crimes #1
How I got this book: Kindle Unlimited
Getting into the vampire-only detective unit was the easy part; what’s going to be more difficult is dealing with my new partner, an ancient vampire who keeps threatening to eat me. The unit has never had a human in it, and Marcus—or as I like to call him, Fangy McFangface—would really prefer to keep it that way. He’s grumpy, short-tempered, and broody, but I have a way with words and I know he’s starting to like me, even if he swears he’s not. But what he doesn’t know is that I didn’t join the unit because I was tired of being a homicide detective, I joined because there is someone after me. They’ve already taken enough from me and I’m afraid they’re going to take all of me if I don’t find someone to help. That’s all Marcus was supposed to be, but now, he’s so much more and I can’t imagine my life without him.
The moment the pesky human walked through that door, I knew I had to get rid of him. He’s charming and almost everyone else instantly loves him, but he doesn’t understand how risky it is being part of this unit as a human. But as I get to know the stubborn man, I learn that perhaps he’s not as naive as I once thought. And maybe he’s what I needed to realize there is more to life than just work and my dog. A group arises who is threatening to disrupt the alliance between the humans and the vampires, but Finn is the one who shows me how strong that alliance can be and reminds me why it’s worth protecting. When threats hit closer to home, I realize I would do anything for Finn because he’s brought so much joy to my life—and because he’s mine.
TW: Trauma, physical and mental abuse, stalking, addiction
Ahhhh! This started so well...WTF happened?!?
Let me start from the beginning. I picked this book up on a whim when it came up on my Kindle Unlimited recommendations because the synopsis sounded interesting and had an enemies-to-lovers vibe to it.
It started off really well because of Finn. He's fantastic, he's sassy, cheeky and strong, but wears his heart on his sleeve, and reminded me so much of Sam from The Lightning Struck Heart by TJ Klune, who's one of my absolute favourite characters.
Finn is disabled, and I can't tell you how refreshing it was to have a disabled character as the hero, especially when paired with an old and powerful vampire. Finn holds his own throughout the entire book and, despite dealing with his own trauma, he's just as powerful and capable as any of the other characters.
Finn is full of awful jokes but he's lovable and gets everyone to like him, even grumpy, distant Marcus who becomes his friend without really knowing why or consciously agreeing to it.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I say as I draw the curtain over the window so I don’t have to look into Marcus’s eyes as I steal his dog.
Also, I should mention Artie at this point, an Irish wolfhound who is a gentle sweetheart...and a bit of a creep at times.
Marcus is the typical brooding vampire, but his character shines when Finn finally breaks down some of his walls, allowing his caring, protective side to come through.
The chemistry between Finn and Marcus worked well and built, as did the constant banter between the two.
“I will try… this,” Marcus says as he waves between us. “But I’m promising nothing. And if I eat you, it’s one hundred percent your fault.”
The plot and pacing also started off strong and intriguing until at some point the story just meandered off and completely forgot about the plot.
There were a few scenes that felt completely irrelevant to the story and it appeared, for a lot of the book, that the author misplaced the big bad villain, only to bring him out when things got a bit dull.
Then there's the snark and humour, which started off as one of Finn's best qualities, but which grew into something quite annoying and distracting as pages and pages were full of
random back and forth.
"Did… Did you just ask me out and tell me you might eat me in the same breath? That’s so romantic.”
After all of this, the big build-up, the back and forth, the ominous figure in the darkness and the promises from Marcus to take care of it, we're met with a goddamn cliffhanger that really pi**ed me off.
I'm now at the point where I'm really bloody struggling to understand how the author is going to fill an entire second book finishing this plot when it could have easily fit into this novel, but, a part of me still wants to find out what happens next, as I want to see Finn get the resolution and the closure from his trauma that he desperately deserves.
Overall, the book started off really well, it's fast-paced and full of humour that's interwoven with darkness and tons of emotion. I liked the characters, particularly Finn, but would have liked more clarity from the plot.
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About Kayleigh (She/Her)
Book addict, film mad, music lover, business owner, writer and mum (not necessarily in that order), living in the UK.
About Sophie (She/Her)
Sophie loves books (obviously). She has a passion for photography and spotting wildlife, and is interested in anything made with passion and creativity.
THIS BLOG IS SPOILER FREE!
5 Stars - AMAZING!!
4.5 Stars - Almost perfect!
4 Stars - I really loved it
3.5 Stars - I liked it alot
3 Stars - I liked it
(I don't typically review books that I rate below 3 stars)
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