The First Man
He turns towards me, and I immediately regret getting so close to him, in the darkness, the roads around us almost deserted. No one can see us. I regret even coming here tonight, having watched him for three hours with my stomach in flames. I can’t believe I thought I could do this.
I can’t believe I told him that we couldn’t do this.
Not that it’s easy every day, seeing him in a crowd, always surrounded by friends, or with his family. Paddling around in a kayak, or playing a gig, talking, laughing.
He moves quickly, grabbing my face between his hands and bringing it closer to his, until our foreheads are touching. I can’t feel anything, can’t think, can’t speak; his hands are touching me, holding me against him. His large, warm hands are against my skin. I hadn’t realised how much I’d missed them until I felt their heat again. I didn’t think that wanting them on me, all over me, would be so painful.
And then, Andy kisses me, stripping me of my anger and making me forget why it was even there in the first place.
I grab hold of his wrists as he pushes against my mouth, breathing into me, reminding me of the reason I could never want anyone else.
Andy’s kisses aren’t easy to handle: they’re strong and powerful, fuelled by impatience and uncontrollable desire.
Andy’s kisses are laced with bitterness and silence. They taste of lost nights and bad timing.
Andy’s kisses taste of lies, of shortness of breath. They taste of mistakes and decisions we never made.
Andy’s kisses are pain and regret; they’re anxiety and frustration; they’re darkness and desperation.
I hate Andy’s kisses. I hate them so much that I can’t help but love them.
I'm so excited to share with you my February 2021 Book Box Club unboxing. I've been really excited for this box after last month's fantastic box.
Before we get started, here's a quick reminder of this month's theme reveal:
Crack out your cauldrons and make sure your fellow sorceresses are ready on speed-dial. Our theme for February will be 🕯SISTERS OF THE COVEN🕯and will celebrate fictional females with a flair for the supernatural! 🌙⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
📖 BOOK ONE is based on the incredible true story of three sisters, whose seance-hosting parlour tricks unexpectedly turn from ruse to reality, when they begin to hear from spirits on the other side. With the draw of riches beyond their wildest dreams and paranormal occurrences that become harder and harder to ignore, can the sisters uncover the truth about their otherworldly powers?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
📖 BOOK TWO features a high-school misfit whose discovery that she has a talent for reading tarot cards earns her the esteem of her fortune-telling-thirsty classmates. But when her former best friend disappears and an unknown card appears in her tarot deck, this wannabe diviner realises just how dangerous it is to play with magic!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
✨ Our featured reads are both stunning, new release YA paperbacks, packed with supernatural sisters! If you love anything wonderfully witchy - think The Craft, A Discovery of Witches and Sabrina - you will adore this magical box.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
📚 Both of our featured reads will arrive gift-wrapped and accompanied by signed bookplates.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
✨There will be Goodies! Our February box will be crammed with hubble, bubble, books and exclusive goodies (!), created by magical makers, artists and small businesses! 👍🏼⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Eeek! I'm so excited to open this box! Two books is always better than one, right?!
Who's ready to jump in?
Obviously, there will be spoilers for this box beyond this point, so stop reading now if you don't want to know what's in this one. ⠀
I normally only focus on the positive here at My Endless Shelf and veer away from negative reviews etc. but I spotted this Anti-TBR tag on The Book Dutchesses and really wanted to give it a try.
This tag was created by Nicole & Her Books.
Let's get started.
This month, our book club chat was all about The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden.
The Turn The Page Book Chat takes place on the day after the podcast goes live at 7pm (UK). To join, just follow #TTPBookChat on Twitter.
You can catch our review of the book here and listen to our podcast chat here.
Next month, we'll be chatting about A Pho Love Story by Loan Le. If you'd like to join us, read the book and tune in on March 16th for our podcast and on March 17th at 7pm (UK) for the next Twitter chat!
Please note: This chat may contain spoilers!
Sophie and I are finally back with a brand new Turn The Page episode.
This month, we're bringing you the episode that should have gone out in January which, somewhat ironically, is all about planning.
We'll be chatting about how to plan your TBR for the next year and we'll be covering things like planners and journals, reading challenges and our most anticipated books of 2021.
As always, we'll also be reviewing our recent reads and discussing our book club selection for December, which was The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden.
Happy Valentine's Day folks!
I don't really celebrate valentine's day but wasn't sure what else to post today, so this is a last minute effort and more about my love of books than anything else.
I spotted this tag over on Jenniely and it was originally created by Taiwo.
Rating: 4 Stars!
How I got this book: Gift
Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can't get rid of him.
When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.
However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school's resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He's determined to find out what happened and tie off some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.
Ah, this book hit me right in the feels!
"You don't need anyone's permission to be you, Yads”
Cemetery Boys is the story of Yadriel, a young trans man who, after losing his mother, and his number one supporter, is fighting for recognition as a brujo in his very traditional community. With the help of his best-friend Maritza, he performs a ritual that sets a chain of events in motion that he never saw coming, accidentally summoning the wrong spirit and entwining their fate.
I loved the beginning of this book. Aiden paints a beautiful picture filled with Latinx culture. The imagery is beautiful and the interweaving of Spanish with English made this book a truly cultural experience and reignited my desire to learn Spanish.
The tension at the beginning of the book is perfect and builds into something palpable and almost dangerous as the book progresses and new dangers and obstacles arise.
“You know who you are, I know who you are, and our Lady does, too." She said with fierce conviction. "So screw the rest of them!" Maritza grinned at him. "Remember why we're doing this.”
I immediately loved the obvious love and friendship between Maritza and Yadriel as she helps him perform the ritual that will grant him the powers of the brujo, without getting caught. Maritza is supportive in all the right ways, without ever trying to force Yadriel into doing things he doesn't want to. She's a great person to have in your corner.
Yadriel is such a fantastic character to root for, made even more powerful because this book is own voices. His moving and emotional struggle to prove himself and then to accept who he is, despite what others think, is poignant and makes for an eye-opening read with a perfect fantasy twist.
"Queen folks are like wolves," Julian told him. "We travel in packs."
Then, we meet Julian, a riot of a character who has a tough, no-nonsense exterior at first, but proves himself to be a complete puppy with boundless energy, enthusiasm and acceptance for all. Julian is my favourite character in this book. He's perfect for Yadriel, complimenting Yadriel's reserve with plenty of daring and excitement. He's loving and delivers some of the deepest insight in this book, both for Yadriel and for the reader; while delivering what I felt was one of most powerful scenes in the entire book; full of raw, unguarded emotion.
Watching Yadriel and Julian grow closer and push each-other was the genuine delight of this book, and so enjoyable. Until finally we got an ending that fit the book perfectly.
“You ready?" Julian asked, a curious look on his devastatingly handsome face.
"No," Yadriel confessed, his voice tight.
Julian grinned. "Do it anyways.”
My only very slight issue was that the plot and the 'big twist' were really predictable BUT because the tension and the build-up between Yadriel and Julian built so beautifully, and the ever-looming deadline to their journey was constantly at the forefront of the story, it more than made up for it.
Overall, I loved the setting, the scenery, the culture, the language and the relationships, even the ones that weren't so great as they provided a brilliant contrast for the strong, healthy relationships. I also loved the magic and how it completely entwined with the everyday.
I'd highly recommend Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas to anyone looking for a truly diverse and powerful paranormal YA.
“Julian's chuckle was wet. "Valió ... la pena."
I really haven't done a new book tag for a couple of weeks, but I spotted the What Cats Do Book Tag on Books Are 42 and really wanted to give it a go!
This tag was created by Melting Pots and Other Calamities.
Let's do it!
Rating: 3 Stars
Genre: Historical Romance
Series/Standalone: Bridgertons #1
How I got this book: Bought
In the ballrooms and drawing rooms of Regency London, rules abound. From their earliest days, children of aristocrats learn how to address an earl and curtsey before a prince—while other dictates of the ton are unspoken yet universally understood. A proper duke should be imperious and aloof. A young, marriageable lady should be amiable… but not too amiable.
Daphne Bridgerton has always failed at the latter. The fourth of eight siblings in her close-knit family, she has formed friendships with the most eligible young men in London. Everyone likes Daphne for her kindness and wit. But no one truly desires her. She is simply too deuced honest for that, too unwilling to play the romantic games that captivate gentlemen.
Amiability is not a characteristic shared by Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings. Recently returned to England from abroad, he intends to shun both marriage and society—just as his callous father shunned Simon throughout his painful childhood. Yet an encounter with his best friend’s sister offers another option. If Daphne agrees to a fake courtship, Simon can deter the mamas who parade their daughters before him. Daphne, meanwhile, will see her prospects and her reputation soar.
The plan works like a charm—at first. But amid the glittering, gossipy, cut-throat world of London’s elite, there is only one certainty: love ignores every rule...
It's probably no surprise that I, along with a huge number of the population decided to binge-watch Bridgerton while in lockdown over Christmas.
I enjoyed the show, for the most part, more on this below, and wanted to discover more about the origins of these characters. So, I grabbed a copy of The Duke and I and got reading.
This review is going to be a little different than my others as I'd really like to do a comparison of the book and its adaptation.
What I loved/hated about the show:
So, first of all, I loved the fact that this wasn't a completely white-washed show. I want more diversity when watching tv and movies so that it reflects my reality of living with and being surrounded by a variety of different people. The problem is that Bridgerton didn't take it far enough. Yes, they featured some black actors but we didn't get much in terms of other ethnicities, hardly any non-hetero sexuality was explored (don't even get me started with the queer-baiting we got with Benedict) and disability rep was at a zero.
I loved that we had a wonderfully intelligent, fat girl character in Pen, but I am oh so sick of the 'fat girl is miserable and hates her life' take that we get from pretty much every show/movie featuring anyone who isn't a size model.
Okay, so taking a step back, the books are about as white-washed and hetero as you can get. So yes, they did a fair bit with the casting but did they really do enough?
The music was one of my favourite things about the show. Listening to these gorgeous classical pieces and then thinking, oh, that's Girl Like You by Maroon 5 or Wildest Dreams by Taylor Swift was really fun.
Penelope & Eloise
Yes, make the fat girl the most interesting and mysterious character in the whole thing, I bloody love it. Pair her with Eloise, a feminist riot and you have a fantastic, memorable pairing that I'd love to see more of.
What I loved/hated about the book:
Two Dimensional Characters
So, for the most part, the characters in the book are way less developed than they seemed to be in the show. Anthony, Colin, Benedict are all props, Lady Danbury speaks a mere couple of lines and features in a scene or two and Daphne has the emotional range of a teaspoon, although the same can be said for her tv character as well.
I loved Violet so much more in the book than in the show. She's a lot sassier and has more depth than she does in the show.
WHERE ARE ELOISE AND PEN???
Where is Marina?
Also, where is Hyacinth's personality in the show because she's hilarious in the book?!
I really enjoyed the language in the book and how the author has modernised and feminised it to make it more contemporary and easily accessible.
What I loved/hated about both:
You can't include a rape scene between the main love interests in a romance novel/show and expect it to be okay.
It doesn't matter that it was a woman taking advantage of a man. It doesn't matter if he was drunk (actually, this makes it worse). It doesn't matter if he changes his mind about wanting children later, and it doesn't matter if he was too caught up in the passion to pull out. The goddam point is that he said no. Explicitly. Multiple times. Before and after they got married.
She also (in the book) knew the exact reason, the trauma and abuse he had faced as a child that led to that decision and still, she took advantage. For the author to then try to pass this off later with both Daphne and Simon thinking to themselves that 'it wasn't as bad as all that' is really shocking and at complete odds with the feminist, modern take on the rest of the book.
I think that this scene is much worse in the book because Simon is drunk, but the show should have removed it entirely. Far better for Simon to have eventually felt accepted and loved enough (both by Daphne and himself) to change his own mind and make that choice willingly or, you know, just don't have kids. A couple can be a family without children being involved.
Anyway, it's for this scene that I just couldn't rate the book higher than I have, and in fact probably shouldn't have rated the book at all. I'm only rating it on the basis that, if that scene were removed I would have actually liked this book a whole lot more and I enjoyed the adaptation significantly more than the book itself.
Rating: 4.5 STARS
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Series/Standalone: Winternight Trilogy #1
How I got this book: Bought
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn't mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse's fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.
After Vasilisa's mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa's new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.
And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa's stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.
As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse's most frightening tales.
TW: Death, rape, child-marriage, paedophilia, mental health, religion
I finished reading this last night and couldn't wait to write my review.
Unlike the last book I read and reviewed, I had absolutely no trouble rating this one; it was fantastic!
"Sleep is a cousin to death, Vasya. And both are mine."
The Bear and the Nightingale was so much better than I expected it to be, partially because the synopsis hadn't actually won me over and so I wasn't sure whether I'd like it.
Think of this book like a really dark Russian fairytale. It centres around the household of Pyotr Vladimirovich; his three sons and three daughters. The landscape is wintery Russia, and the story begins on a dark, freezing night in mid-winter as four of the six children gather around the fire, listening to an old fairytale about the winter demon, as told by Dunya, their nurse.
I struggled a little at first with the different names for each character, trying to stay wrapped up in the story while getting my head to understand that Sasha, Sashka and Aleksandr were all the same person. But it didn't take long for me to figure it out and fall back under the author's spell.
The writing in this book is beautiful and gripping, and the author paints a gorgeous picture of the wintery Russian landscape, made even more immersive given that I read this while watching the snowfall outside my window.
The masterful storytelling and dark plot held me under its spell from start to finish, and I never wanted to stop reading. But I honestly hadn't expected the book to be so dark. It reminded me a little of The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo, which was equally gripping.
In terms of the historical accuracy of the book, i.e. the prejudice, the expectations and superstitions rife at that time, I felt the author captured the period perfectly.
Not long into the book, we meet Vasya, our heroine. Vasya is a headstrong character who I grew to love immediately. Her fire and stubbornness created a character who was instantly compelling, and I truly enjoyed the growth and strength of her character.
This book is filled with characters to love and hate, and the author does another trick that I love in books, where she changes how you feel about certain characters from one point to the next. When we first meet Anna, Vasya's soon-to-be stepmother, we pity and sympathise with her, hoping she'll triumph in the story, but as time passes, she becomes a character almost to despise.
The opposite can almost (but not quite, as he's quite a repulsive character) be said about the priest who comes to live in Vasya's home. When we first meet him, he's a dark, untrustworthy character, but as things befall him, there's a point where he's quite pitiable.
Then we have all the mythical creatures in the book. They're so varied, each having their own purposes and personalities that I could picture them clearly and there were so many times when I just wanted to step between the pages and explore this dark and magical land.
From what felt like an almost subdued beginning, this book grew in intensity until everything came to a crashing climax.
I flew through pages, and after finishing the book, I'm completely ready to continue the story and dive into the second instalment.
"Now here me. Before the end, you will pluck snowdrops at midwinter, die by your own choosing, and weep for a nightingale."
Overall, The Bear and the Nightingale was one of the best debut novels I've ever read, and I'm kicking myself for waiting so long to read this book. I'd recommend it to absolutely everyone who enjoys dark, twisted fairytales and monsters, and heroines who defy all expectations.
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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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