A totally catastrophic, unmitigated disaster.
What is a totally catastrophic, unmitigated disaster, you might ask?
Let me break it down for you real quick.
My life, my relationship, my job, my plans, my future, and this whole damn trip.
So, basically me.
I am the totally catastrophic unmitigated disaster.
Hamish Kenneally, thirty-one-year-old Australian, who quit his shitty job and sold his shitty apartment and left behind his shitty life in Sydney, packed his said-shitty life into two suitcases, and boarded a plane to spend Christmas with his sister in God-knows-where, Idaho, USA.
Well, Christmas first. Then two years, at least, in America trying to unshitify his life.
And if the trip to said God-knows-where, Idaho, was any indication of just how spectacularly extra-shitified my life was going to get, I should have turned around and stayed right where I was.
Because if the flight from Sydney to LA was bad, which it was, then the second flight, LA to Spokane, made the first flight look like a joy ride.
Because I didn’t get to Spokane, did I?
Oh no, of course I didn’t.
Because you see, Christmastime in America is in winter. Which is weird enough for this Australian. Christmas should be hot summer days at the beach, seafood and salads, beers and watching the bronzed surfers and drunk foreigners at Bondi. That is what Christmas should be.
None of this “sorry folks; to avoid flying into a massive snow blizzard, we’re being diverted to Missoula, Montana” crap the captain of the plane said when we were halfway there. Like the screaming baby in the seat next to me, or the vomiting lady in the row in front of me weren’t bad enough. Like we had any choice about which direction we were flying into.
I had no choice. I was now going to Montana. In a freaking blizzard, of all things. Ever been on a plane that flew into a snowstorm? There is zero joy in that kind of turbulence, believe me. It would also explain the screaming baby and the vomiting woman. And the man behind me saying Hail Mary’s . . . which you’d think might be comforting. But oh boy, is it ever not. Especially when he yelled the prayer every time we hit a particularly large pothole in the sky on the descent. Honestly, if this flight was a scene in a movie, you’d think it was too ridiculous to be real.
After the plane landed—to which I would have clapped and cheered like everyone else if I wasn’t stuck in the brace position after trying to kiss my own arse goodbye—we were kicked off the plane without so much as a good luck in the wrong bloody state.
So there I was, a clueless Aussie, after flying for twenty hellish-hours and now a few hundred kilometres from where I was supposed to be, trying to wrangle two overweight suitcases down the concourse, when one little wheel on my suitcase broke.
Because of course it did.
Frazzled and trying not to cry— Yes, cry. A thirty-one-year-old man can cry; shove your toxic masculinity in your cakehole and stop judging me. I was having a jetlag-fuelled shitastic day meltdown, trying to keep my shit together the best I could, and clearly not doing it very well. I was allowed a little saltwater leakage.
Anyway, getting back to my story. I tried to call my sister.
Because of course there’s not.
So, taking a deep breath and willing myself not to spiral, I found my car rental kiosk. Finally, something is going right. “I have a car booked,” I said, trying to keep my now-broken suitcase upright with my foot while rifling through my backpack for my booking confirmation and driver’s licence. After dropping my passport and half the contents from my backpack all over the floor, then scrambling to collect it all while still trying to keep my suitcase upright, I handed everything over with a flourish of triumph. “Oh, that flight was the worst,” I said, sagging onto the counter. I was about to tell her all about my day from the ninth circle of hell when she looked up at me with that look.
You know the one.
The look of superficial appeasement before they cut you off at the knees. “I’m sorry, sir. But I don’t have a reservation under your name.”
I stared at her. My brain short-circuited and the will to live left my body. It was an actual out-of-body experience, I’m sure of it. I could see myself staring at her, mouth gaping like I’d been lobotomised.
Because of course they didn’t have my booking.
Why would they? My rental car was waiting for me in Spokane. In Washington. Not in freaking Montana.
“Oh,” I whispered, and my left eye twitched. “That’s nice.” I looked around the airport, at the line of annoyed people behind me. “Excellent. I’ve seen that movie where Tom Hanks lives in an airport. It wasn’t so bad. Could be worse. Could’ve been the one where he’s stuck on the island, I guess. Though I didn’t pack a volleyball, so that would’ve sucked.”
She blinked and tap-tap-tapped away at her keyboard. “But sir, we’ve had a lot of cancelled flights today because of the weather. I can arrange a vehicle for you, if you’d like?”
Oh, my sweet baby Jesus in a manger, why didn’t she lead with that?
Note from Kayleigh @MyEndlessShelf:
How adorable does this sound?!?
I am so ready for this meet-cute, soppy and sweet Christmas rom-com! It definitely has a feel-good Hallmark movie vibe to it.
Follow the links above to add it to your Goodreads TBR or check it out on Amazon and let me know what you think!
Please note, the giveaway is international!
Big thanks to Giselle at Xpresso Book Tours!
Book Review: How to Steal a Heart in 500 Kisses & How to Evict a Hot Jock in Three Weeks by Anyta Sunday
Overall, I definitely like the first book in the series more than the second, and I would have preferred fewer sex scenes in both books because I just felt that they took something away from the sweeter nature of these stories.
In the second book, I think it would have been nicer to see more of the character's interaction and the 'slow-burn' I've come to expect from Anyta Sunday. But, saying that, I think the character pairing was interesting, as were the unusual circumstances in each book that drove the characters together and I'm looking forward to reading more in this series.
Both books are available from today, just click the images above to visit Goodreads and follow the links to your favourite bookseller!
This month, our book club chat was all about The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune.
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 my review of the book here and listen to our podcast chat here.
Next month, we'll be reading The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith. If you'd like to join us, read the book and tune in on December 22nd for our podcast and on December 23rd at 7pm (UK) for the next Twitter chat!
Please note: This chat does contain spoilers!
Rating: 3 Stars
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Clean Romance
Series/Standalone: When Wishes Bleed #1
How I got this book: Free on Amazon Prime
One Prince. One Witch. One Fate.
The upheaval in my life began the moment a prince stumbled into my house and asked me to read his fortune. Any other night, I might have made an excuse to get him to leave, but this was no normal visit. My fingers prickled to touch him. So, I granted his request by handing him a single wishbone. When he snapped it, the wish … bled.
Hearing me suck in a shocked breath, he asked what it meant. Such an ominous omen could only mean one thing: his death was imminent. Fate revealed that he wouldn’t die of natural causes. Someone wanted him dead. Stunned by the revelation, the man I now knew as Prince Tauren disappeared into a night I feared he wouldn’t survive. The following day, I received an invitation to the castle. While it seemed the prince believed I could intervene and uncover who was plotting his death, his motives didn’t stop there. I was being summoned to join twelve other women in vying for the opportunity to be his wife and future queen.
Going could mean jeopardizing my plans to reclaim my heritage and resurrect the House of Fate. But staying would guarantee Tauren’s death, and the blood of his wish would be on my hands.
Review by Sophie
I’ve had this book on my TBR for quite some time as the reviews are pretty mixed, but I finally read it when Amazon added it as a Prime free read.
I think the author did a fantastic job of the world-building in this book. It’s set in a modern-ish time, where the world is split into districts. The detail surrounding the magic, and the House of Fate, in particular, is immersive and drew me in from the start.
First, we meet Sable, an outcast from District 13, who’s come to accept life alone after being shunned by all the other witches, with only the voice of Fate himself to keep her company, whispering in her ear and guiding her on what she must do. I felt really sorry for Sable, especially seeing how she’s treated, even by her own family, but I love how having Fate guiding her added so much mystery to her character. Oh, and did I mention she’s a badass?
Once a year, the townspeople from the different districts go to the 13th for the Equinox celebration. This year, we meet the ever so lovely Tauren, a young prince who stumbles (drunkenly) to Sable’s hut for a reading. The two form an instant connection, and their relationship grows quickly.
”Now that we’re bound, you’ll be my shield, but I will also be yours. We’ll keep each other safe - and alive.”
I was quite fond of Tauren, just because he was so sweet, which is an interesting portrayal of a prince in a fantasy novel. So, like Sable, I really didn’t want him to die!
As much as I liked Sable and Tauren’s character, there’s one I really couldn’t stand, and that was Bren, Sable’s one and only friend since childhood. I found him so annoying! His behaviour and how he acted when things didn’t go his way, or he didn’t get what he wanted was just petty and had me hating his character.
The first half of the book really captured me, and I fell into the mystery of it all. However, as I journeyed through the book, my love for it faded. I felt that the author had built up the ending so much and I was expecting it to be epic, but found it disappointing, with no fire or intensity. There are also too many unanswered questions about Sable’s mother and how she just accepted things from the people that had cast her out and been horrible to her, made little sense to me. There was so much speculation and hurt that I just don’t feel like the author expressed that enough.
So, yeah, I enjoyed this book, and I wanted to read on; especially after switching from the audiobook to eBook. I usually love audiobooks, but the narrator was really killing the story for me.
If you liked The Hunger Games, but crave a magical twist, I’d highly recommend When Wishes Bleed by Casey L. Bond.
We are FINALLY back with another episode of the Turn the Page podcast.
As well as being in the middle of another lockdown, we had a few hiccups that prevented us from recording for a while. But, we're happy to say that we've now updated our tech and we are back up and running!
In this episode, we're talking about; our favourite book adaptations, #NaNoWriMo, #Audiblegate, our August book club selection (The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune) and as always, we review our recent reads!
Here's a little of what you can expect from episode four:
Rating: 4 Stars
How I got this book: Bought
Everyone knows about the dare: Each week, Bryson Keller must date someone new--the first person to ask him out on Monday morning. Few think Bryson can do it. He may be the king of Fairvale Academy, but he's never really dated before.
Until a boy asks him out, and everything changes.
Kai Sheridan didn't expect Bryson to say yes. So when Bryson agrees to secretly go out with him, Kai is thrown for a loop. But as the days go by, he discovers there's more to Bryson beneath the surface, and dating him begins to feel less like an act and more like the real thing. Kai knows how the story of a gay boy liking someone straight ends. With his heart on the line, he's awkwardly trying to navigate senior year at school, at home, and in the closet, all while grappling with the fact that this "relationship" will last only five days. After all, Bryson Keller is popular, good-looking, and straight . . . right?
TW: Racism, homophobia (violence & religion)
This book grabbed me from page one.
I absolutely loved the "fake boyfriend" trope in a YA format, and I think the author did a fantastic job of making it both believable and realistic.
I adore the main characters in this book.
At first, Kai is a complete wallflower. He's shy and reserved as he struggles to keep his secret from the world, but all that changes when he angrily (you'll find out why) asks Bryson Keller, the most popular boy in school, out on a date.
It's so much fun to see Kai come out of his shell as he starts to feel comfortable with who he is.
“I’m not joking,” I say. “Date me, Bryson Keller!”
Bryson is just as sweet as Kai and takes Kai's request in his stride. After all, he can't lose his dare, even if he doesn't believe in relationships.
Together, Kai and Bryson are adorable. They form a strong friendship, and support and care for each other through the hardships they each face.
"He breaks then. Whoever says that boys don’t cry—or shouldn’t cry—needs to walk off a very short pier into a shark-infested ocean."
The first half of this book is great. Kai's friends and family seem brilliant and supportive, and there's the strong feeling that all will work out in the end.
This book is definitely one for fans of Becky Abertalli's, Simon vs The Homo Sapien's Agenda, but one thing I adored about this book that I hated about Love Simon, are the best friends! They're so damn supportive and just brilliant, something that was truly lacking in Simon vs.
Sadly, the book takes a darker turn during the second half, and there's a lot of pain for both Kai and Bryson to deal with. I almost hate the author's choice to include this drama as it feels like too much on too many fronts, and the story would have been so damn sweet and beautiful without it.
I get that it's a coming-out story, and coming out is tough. Hell, I'm almost 30, and I'm still only open with a few select people in my life. But, for once, I'd love a sweet LGBT YA without all the pain and drama from a-holes who should never be forgiven for the crap they pull.
"Gay means happy, too, you know."
But saying all that, going through what they do does make the relationship stronger and drives the reader's compassion and need for everything to work out in the end.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book, my first by this author, and I'm really looking forward to reading what they do next.
Just be prepared, if you cry easily, as I do, you'll definitely want to have some tissues to hand towards the end of the book.
"As my world burns down around me. This, right here, is enough."
Rating: 4 Stars
Genre: Graphic Novel
How I got this book: NetGalley ARC
Ever felt anxious or alone? Like you don't belong anywhere? Like you're almost... invisible? Find your kindred spirits at The Sad Ghost Club.
This is the story of one of those days - a day so bad you can barely get out of bed, when it's a struggle to leave the house, and when you do, you wish you hadn't. But even the worst of days can surprise you. When one sad ghost, lost and alone at a crowded party, spies another sad ghost across the room, they decide to leave together. What happens next changes everything. Because that night they start the The Sad Ghost Club - a secret society for the anxious and alone, a club for people who think they don't belong.
For fans of Heartstopper and Jennifer Niven, and for anyone who's ever felt invisible. You are not alone. Shhh. Pass it on.
I've been trying to read more graphic novels lately, especially as my 6yo has become low-key obsessed with them. So, when I saw the adorable-looking, The Sad Ghost Club, I had to request it.
This is such a relatable book. I don't know of a single person in my life who doesn't suffer from some type of anxiety, myself included, and this book really resonated with me; even down to blaming my cats for their bad advice!
The illustrations in this book are really cute and very reminiscent of Heartstopper by Alice Oseman, the story starts off quite dark as you see the extent of the main characters loneliness and fear of not being accepted.
But the message of the book is really kind and sweet and made me feel so much better about my own insecurities. I'd highly recommend this book to everyone; kids, teens and adults alike.
It's like a little warm hug letting you know you're not alone.
Rating: 4.5 STARS!
Series/Standalone: The Extraordinaries #1
How I got this book: Bought
In Nova City, there are people capable of feats that defy the imagination. They're called Extraordinaries.
There is Shadow Star: a protector who can manipulate darkness in his quest to protect those who cannot protect themselves.
His arch-nemesis is Pyro Storm: an Extraordinary capable of controlling fire who is bent on bringing Nova City to its knees.
And then there's sixteen-year-old Nicholas Bell: who isn't Extraordinary in the slightest.
He's Shadow Star's number one fan, writing fan fiction of their adventures together and dreaming of a day where he too dons a costume and fights crime. Too bad ADHD isn't a superpower, otherwise Nick would be golden.
Instead of stopping villains and their convoluted schemes of global domination, Nick must contend with starting his junior year, a father who doesn't trust him, and a best friend named Seth, who may or may not be the love of Nick's short, uneventful life. It should be enough.
And it is...until a fateful encounter with Shadow Star forces Nick to realize his true destiny. He's tired of being ordinary, and he'll do whatever it takes to become something more.
I want this book to become a TV series!
This book was our third Turn The Page book club selection.
I loved this book. It was so fantastic to see, as always, the brilliant representation that you can almost guarantee from a TJ Klune book.
Nick is just a brilliant character; he's smart, funny and adorably clueless about what's going on. At the same time, he's struggling with the grief of losing his mum while feeling at odds with his dad, who he thinks wishes he were normal.
Nick is neurodivergent, and it was so refreshing to read a fun, sci-fi fantasy with a disabled hero.
“For the most part, he'd accepted that some people were born to be Extraordinaries, and some people were born to be medicated so they didn't spin out of control. Fair? Not really, but Nick was learning that his brain could do things that others couldn't. In a way, he had his own superpower, even if it was called a disorder.”
I really enjoyed following Nick's story as it takes unusual turns that are, for the most part, very funny, but sometimes much darker.
Surprisingly, the action sequences in this book were also really great, and it's those, interspersed with Nick's inner monologue, his awkward banter with Seth, his annoyance with Owen, and his hilarious friends, that I feel would make a fantastic tv show.
But, I did have a few issues with some aspects of the book. Nick's dad, I did not get on with. I just don't feel that he's a great parent. Yes, he worries about Nick, but he's also one of the main reasons that Nick feels so insecure about himself, and it's clear through much of what happens (no spoilers!) that he's lied to Nick a lot.
Then there's the issue with the glorification of the police force to a certain extent. I understand that this wasn't intentional and that the book was written, I think, before the recent light that's been shone on police brutality in America. However, the simple fact that Nick's dad is forgiven for doing punching someone in his position of power just doesn't sit well. That being said, the author did address this in his own blog post, so you're welcome to read that here and form your own opinion.
My other issue was that the plot twists were really predictable. But, saying that, I wonder if it was intentional because, while they're clear to the ready, they are not at all clear to Nick who's in the dark, meandering in all directions until he figures it out, which was actually a lot of fun to read. There were so many times where I just wanted to step into the book and help Nick, to tell him what was going on, but his cluelessness led to funny and heartbreaking scenarios that made his story all the more compelling.
Overall, I really enjoyed TJ's first YA novel. Having read a lot of his adult novels, I wasn't too sure what to expect, but I was really surprised. No, this book didn't affect me the way that The House in the Cerulean Sea did, but it's a very different book; it's harsher, and it has more grit to it.
But, I'd still highly recommend The Extraodinaries, and I can't wait to find out what happens to Nick and the gang in book two.
“Be gay. Do crimes.”
Hello lovelies! Happy first of November!
Work has been absolutely manic the past couple of months and I haven't had as much time to read as I would have liked.
Without thinking about it I've been reaching for super-quick, fun reads so, naturally, I seem to have been gravitating more towards romance.
I did however, read one fantasy book last month which was incredible and honestly, I'm wondering if that's why I haven't been able to get into much else this month...book hangover still in progress.
Anyway, onto the wrap-up. As always, you can click on the title below to read the review or to visit Goodreads:
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?"
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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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