Introducing... Riot Grrrl Reads


So, if you're reading this, firstly, well done for finding my new blog address! You will have noticed that my blog name has changed, which is a pretty big step to me. The Bibliolater said a blog about books, which this blog used to be. Riot Grrrl Reads is still a blog about books, but it's also about feminism, which I'm really passionate about. The new name shows how strongly I feel about gender issues, but also how much of an avid reader I am, which I think sums me up perfectly!

Denise, wtf are you thinking? This is a crazy idea!
Okay, so you're probably right. This is a bit of a crazy idea - I've worked so hard to get the audience and the following I have, yet changing the URL might mean I have to start all over again. But why would I want to write about things I'm not as passionate about to loads of people, when I can write about the topics close to my heart to my closest friends? This might not make sense to anyone else, but to me it feels so right. I know that I can write about feminism as well as books, and I want to write about it. That's the most important thing.

Denise, wtf are you going to write about?
I'll still be writing about a lot of the same things, so there'll still be book reviews (if I ever get round to writing them!), book recommendations and discussions about books. On top of that, I'll be writing about feminism. This will range from current issues that I feel strongly about, or just views that I have. I'm really passionate about feminism and making a difference, so I think that's the most important thing when writing a blog! I really hope you enjoy my new content.

I've been thinking about changing my blog in this way for a long time, so I'm so glad to have finally done it. I have so much more inspiration and motivation to write now, so I hope you enjoy this new path I'm taking. If you have any questions about this, or want to unfollow because you disagree with my leftist political views, that's totally fine too.

Book Recs

My Favourite Books of 2016


It feels like only yesterday when I was writing about my favourite books of 2015, but here I am, a year later, writing about my favourite books of 2016! Last year I said that I had read all my favourite books in that year, but this year, I don't think the same! I did read some of my favourite books last year, but I read my very favourite this year. Without further ado, here are my favourite books of 2016!

All links open in a new tab to my reviews

10. Radio Silence by Alice Oseman
9. Half Lost by Sally Green
8. Ctrl Alt Delete by Emma Gannon
7. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
6. As I Descended by Robin Talley
5. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
4. A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
3. What's A Girl Gotta Do? by Holly Bourne
2. Trouble by Non Pratt
1. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

What were your favourite books of 2016? Any books that you think will be on this list this time next year?


A Little Reading Update


It’s been a while. I think it’s been a month since I last published a post? I’ve thought of loads of ideas, but this blog has had to be sidelined a little due to life getting in the way. Because of all this, I haven’t even had much time for Twitter (I know, the horror!), so I thought today I’d give you a little update on what I’ve been reading, because I've read some really good books recently.

Since we last spoke, I’ve read some really good books - Illuminae being one of them. It seems everyone has been raving about this book forever, so I have wanted to read it for ages, but I finally read it at the end of October. And I loved it! It was so addicting and fast paced - I just wish I had read it sooner! I'm really hoping Santa might bring me Gemina for Christmas, because I am so excited to continue with the series.

...And A Happy New Year?
You might remember me adoring the Spinster trilogy a few months ago, so I was desperate to read this one as soon as I got it. I’m really glad we got a novella to round of the series, because I was not ready to let these characters go! I’m still upset that the series is over, but I’m glad we got to see what happened to them. I will miss this series so much!

A Little Life
If you have spoken to me at all in the past few weeks, you will know just how much this book means to me. It’s the biggest book sitting on my shelf, but I managed to read it in under a week (a school week too!). This is the best book I’ve ever read, because I saw so much of myself in the characters. It truly is my favourite book ever because it touched me so deeply; I don't think I have ever cried so much in a book! I am so glad I read it, but now I am desperate to reread it. I want to write a full review very soon (if I can gather my thoughts together!), so hopefully I will!

I’m really hoping life will clear up soon so I’ll be able to get back to blogging properly soon. Tell me:
What have you been reading lately? What’s been going on in your life? I would love to know!


7 Tips For Getting Out of a Blogging Slump


Blogging slumps. It seems like every single blogger gets into them sometimes (if you don’t, are you even human?), and when you do, it’s one of the most frustrating feelings. I know I absolutely hate having no inspiration for my blog, because I love my blog - it’s my baby! Blogging is one of my favourite things to do, so if I can’t... it’s not fun! I think I’ve seen a lot of people recently who feel like they’re in a bit of a runt, so here are some tips to help you out:

1. Have a design make over
This might sound like a weird one, but for me it really works. If for a while you feel like you’ve had no inspiration, you could drastically change your blog design. For me, this always makes me feel so excited to blog again, because I want to see what my new content looks like! Because my blog feels so pretty again, I tend to fall in love with it, so I want to work on it, which usually gives me so much motivation.

2. Read some of your older blog posts
When I’m feeling like my blog isn’t special to me anymore, I like to go through the archives and read the posts which I’m most proud of. For me, this reminds me of what I can write when I want to, and how great I can make my blog. Something that also helps is reading the comments on these posts - often when I’ve published a post I’m really proud of, other people like it too, and their kind words motivate me to carry on!

3. Hire a co-blogger
If you feel like you’ve been stuck in a slump for ages, something you could consider is getting a co-blogger to join your blog. Obviously I don’t have a co-blogger, but I’ve seen it work for a few people, since you’ll have someone else to share ideas with. Also, even if you do get into a slump whilst you have a co-blogger, you don’t need to worry! They’ll be able to post whilst you’re away, so they’ll be no pressure on you. I think this would mean that you’ll be able to get back to blogging quicker!

4. Chat to some blogger friends about it (thanks Emily for this tip!)
For some people, talking to blogger friends can really help. You could have a chat to some friends about your favourite parts about blogging, share tips, or even just have a good moan about how annoying blogging slumps are! If you want someone to chat to, I love making new friends, and my DMs are always open!

5.  Participate in a meme (even if only once)
Don’t get me wrong - I’m of the opinion that I don’t want to participate in a blog meme like Top Ten Tuesday (I think they’re repetitive and often unoriginal). But, because they’re so easy to make (someone thinks of the topic for you!), it might just help to get the inspiration flowing. I think the topics for TTT are really interesting (I just don’t like reading 20 of the same posts every week!), so they could inspire you to write your own post, or put your own spin on the suggestions.

6. Keep a list of blog post ideas
This tip isn’t really a way to get out of a blogging slump; more of a way to prevent one in the future. I have a word document of all my blog post ideas, so whenever I think of one, I can add it to the list, and then when I have time, I can come back and write it. I have hundreds, so if I feel like I don’t have any inspiration, I can check that list, and I’ve got a totally original post to write! I know some people do this in a journal instead, which is a super cool idea too.

7. Just wait it out
If all else fails, sometimes you’ve just got to wait until it passes and you get your blogging mojo back. You could publish a post telling your followers that you’re taking a break, and then just do something else completely for a couple weeks/months. Sometimes just completely taking it off your mind is the best thing that you could do, so then when you do feel like blogging again, there’s no pressure and you can come back in your own time.

If you're in a blogging slump right now, I hope this helps! Do you have any tips for getting out of one?


How I Edit My Book Photos (using VSCO!)


As you may know, as well as blogging, I really love to use Instagram to share pictures the books I'm reading and loving. In almost all of my recent blog posts, I have included some pictures from my Instagram page, because I find my aesthetic there is pretty similar. Today I'm going to share how I edit all my photos for free!

When most people share how they edit their photos, it's systematic, and almost definitely, they use Photoshop. I don't have Photoshop (all of my banners are made using Fotor!), so I edit all my photos on my phone, using free apps. Obviously this is a lot cheaper, but it's also more convenient for Instagram, because I can upload them straight to Instagram from VSCO. You can get VSCO for free on most phones/tablets, but if you're really serious about it, you can pay extra for some filters (which I don't). I think this would be pretty pointless, because the free filters do look stunning!

When I first started using VSCO, I was totally overwhelmed, and so confused by the UI. It's very minimalist, so the icons can be very confusing because they don't look like what they do (in my opinion, anyway!). I upload my pictures to VSCO straight from my camera roll because honestly, I have no idea how to do it from the app.

I always edit the colours/structure of the picture before adding a filter, because then I can get it exactly how I want it.

Just a quick heads up: this post has lots of images in, so if you're reading this on mobile, I'm sorry if it's trippy!

Some people here would do the edits in a special order, but I just do them in the order of the icons! First I will change the exposure. I usually do +1, and that's what I'm going to do for this picture, because it's a little dark.

Depending on the lighting, I would -1 the contrast if it's a particularly bright day, but I took this photo on an overcast day, so I don't think the contrast needs changing. I then skip a few of the icons until I get to the sharpen tool, which is probably one of my favourites! I take all my photos on my phone, so the quality isn't that great, so the sharpen tool makes them look so much clearer.

I had to reach up high to take this photo, so my phone was probably wobbling around a bit, and it's not the clearest. So for this photo, I've changed the sharpen to +7 to make it seem clearer and to get the full detail of the book! (because come on, this cover is so pretty!)

I then use the saturation tool. Most people hate this, or only use it in negatives, but it's actually one of my favourites for editing photos. You have to be careful how heavily you saturate your pictures, but I find it makes them feel warmer and brighter, if you use the right amount. I use saturation on all my photos!

I find it works best with reds, and this photo has a lot of red in it, so I've used quite a lot: +3.

I then fiddle around a little with the highlights save, and shadows save, I don't really know what they do, just that they change the lighting a little! I find the shadows save tends to make my pictures feel calmer, which I really like, so I usually do +2/+3 of that.

Next I alter the temperature. This is so important, because the saturation makes my photos feel too warm, so I usually make them feel colder. It loses some of the brightness, but the colours still pop, which I really like! The combination of these two tools work really well for me - it's important to find balance because they're so strong, but I love how they work together.

I then use the tint feature. I don't really know what it's actually meant to be used for, except it makes the photo a little more blue-ey. I really like this! I usually do +1 or +2, so my pictures feel a little bit more mellow and calm.

The final things I do are add a filter, and crop my photo! I've tried out all the filters, and my favourite is HB1. I tend to do around +5 on this, so all my pictures match on my feed. I will then crop out the bad bits, so make the book more central!

How do you edit your photos? Are there any tips I need to improve my editing? Leave me your Instagram too - I'm always on the look out for new accounts to follow!

Book Review

The best sequel ever? // ARC Review: A Torch Against the Night


A Torch Against the Night
By Sabaa Tahir

Series: An Ember in the Ashes #2
Source: Harper Voyager UK (thank you!)
Format: ARC
Page count: 464
Published (UK): 8th September 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy,

Elias and Laia are running for their lives.

After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf - the Empire's most secure and dangerous prison - to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars' survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene - Elias's former friend and the Empire's newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus's will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own - one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape... and kill them both.

***I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, This does not affect my opinion***

Last year, I devoured An Ember in the Ashes on holiday, but at the time I read it, it was a standalone! So, obviously, I was so excited when the sequel was announced, and even more excited when I got an ARC to review. I went in with high expectations, but it completely blew them away because it was so much better than AEITA (which I didn’t think was possible!). It is maybe even my favourite sequel of all time!

I think the reason I enjoyed it so much was because of how invested I was in the characters. I already knew and loved them from the previous book, so I enjoyed getting back into their voices. Helene was still my favourite character, and she had her own POV in this book, which made me so happy! She was so fierce and caring - everything she did was thought about because she was so sensitive and loyal. She’s my favourite character from a book ever!

I loved all the other characters, too. Laia and Elias are our other protagonists, and they were so well executed as well. I liked Laia because she was determined to get what she wanted, and nothing could stop her, even if everyone thought she couldn’t! She was so clever, and her strong loyalty to her family was admirable.

A Torch Against the Night was incredibly well written and paced. It was written through 3 POVs (which sounds confusing, but never was!), so something was always happening to at least one of the characters. This made the book relentlessly exciting, which made me never want to stop reading it! Sabaa Tahir’s writing has really improved since her last book (which I didn’t think was possible!) which makes me so excited to read more from here. I would highly recommend the series, as it’s now one of my all-time favourites!

4 stars

Review: The Problem With Forever


The Problem With Forever
By Jennifer L. Armentrout

Series: None
Source: Netgalley (thank you, MIRA Ink!)
Format: eARC
Page count: 474
Published (UK): 31st May 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Abuse,

For some people, silence is a weapon. For Mallory “Mouse” Dodge, it’s a shield. Growing up, she learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime.

Now, after years of homeschooling with loving adoptive parents, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at public high school. But of all the terrifying and exhilarating scenarios she’s imagined, there’s one she never dreamed of—that she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day.

It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet the deeper their bond grows, the more it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with the lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory faces a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants, and the truths that need to be heard.

When I began this book, I had no idea just how much it would affect me. To say this book made emotional would be to say the least! It’s such a tricky subject to write about, but the author handled it with care and sensitivity. It was beautiful, yet so heartbreaking, and I would highly recommend it to everyone.

This is a book about childhood abuse and negative pasts - how it affected the characters, and how the traumatic events have changed them forever. Obviously, it’s a very sensitive and hard hitting topic, which if not done right could be horrible and so offensive. I thought the topic was handled so carefully, which made the book even more heartbreaking.

The main thing that I liked so much about this book was just how emotionally affecting it was. I felt an instant connection to all the characters, so I was really invested in their story. The way they felt about themselves really impacted the way the story was going, so at many points I really felt like just shaking them! They were flawed, and seemed so real, which just made the book impact me even more, because I connected to them.

I really loved all the characters. Everyone was so unique and full of life that I really felt like I was in the moment, living it through Mallory’s eyes. Mallory was such a special character because she changed so much. The book showed that you can be quietly fierce, like Mallory was. Her strength and courage through such hard times was really admirable, and I loved reading about her fight.

My only problem with this book was the pacing. At the start, it did feel pretty slow, and there were some scenes that did feel unnecessary. I didn’t like Ainsley, so I found the parts where Mallory was with her to be pretty slow. I would have liked more time spent at Mrs Luna’s place too, because it was always so exciting there!

I would really recommend this book if you’re looking for  heart wrenching and very emotional book. I found the plot to be reminiscent of Colleen Hoover’s books, so if you’re a fan of her, I think you would enjoy this one! It takes a bit of time to get invested in the story, but once you are, this will be a story that is with you for a long time.  


Something Needs to Change: A Feminist Rant


I am sick of YA books ignoring feminism. I am sick of YA female protagonists having so much internalised misogyny that it is teaching other girls to be that way. I am sick of the ‘hot abusive bad boy’ trope. I am sick of YA love interests controlling their girlfriends, and teaching younger audiences that this is acceptable, and even something to aspire too! I am sick of sexism being ignored and overlooked, or sometimes even praised. I am sick of anti-feminist YA and I demand change.

I recently read What’s A Girl Gotta Do? By Holly Bourne; it has changed my life, and made me realise just how much books - and the world - need to change. In the book, Lottie sets out to call out every piece of sexism she sees, and it was just so inspirational. We follow her struggles through it - because what she did would have pretty tough! - and it empowered and uplifted me so much that I want to change things. And this starts with YA books.

YA books are pretty progressive in their ideas about social justice. There’s books about race, class, feminism, gender, mental health that I don’t think you would find in any other genre, and I think this is a great thing! It’s one of the reasons why I love YA books so much. Obviously, they are targeted towards teenagers, and what better way to start to change the world than with the next generation? YA readers are often very open minded, so making books more feminist would teach people just how important the political movement is.

It’s pretty hard being a feminist - pretty much everything we do is over-analysed and criticized (which in itself is pretty sexist!). Everyone who added to #IAmAFeminist a few weeks ago got hate and people trolling them, just for sharing their opinion. It’s clear that either people don’t know the true meaning of feminism, or just plainly dislike women (I think it’s a bit of both!).

In addition to this, I point you towards a recent interview with Sarah Jessica Parker. In this, she said that she wasn’t a feminist because she believed that all genders should be equal. (Personally I believe people like this aren’t the biggest problem - we’re all fighting for the same cause, and while their ignorance does annoy me, I think we should be focusing on bigger problems, like FGM and rape culture, as well as actually doing things about it). But I think this shows that she needs to be educated, because I’m sure she isn’t the only one who feels like this. (You can see the interview here). Kim Kardashian has also recently said she isn’t a feminist (which you can see here).

I am so angry because so many books just ignore feminism, even if the authors claim to be feminists. I believe (as controversial as this may be!) that just calling yourself a feminist isn’t enough - ask most women and they will tell you they’re a feminist (I hope!). (Obviously, it’s better to identify as a feminist than not, but I still don’t think it’s enough). I think that to make change, we need to use our voices and not be silenced, and authors can do this through their books.

It doesn’t have to be specifically discussing the feminist movement. I think that just talking about feminist ideas is super helpful and will really go a long way to enlightening people! If all authors chipped in, it would change the world! For example, in Trouble by Non Pratt (yes, yes, I can’t write a discussion without mentioning this book!), feminism isn’t outright discussed, but Hannah talks about how her being ‘easy’ doesn’t denote her self worth. She is proud of who she is! I love the way it talks about slut shaming and misogyny during sex, and it changed the way I thought about feminism slightly. I know it will do the same for so many other people who read it too!

YA books need to show that no always means no. There’s so many romance books (especially in the paranormal genre) where the girl is telling the guy she doesn’t want to kiss/have sex with him, but he keeps persisting, sometimes even to the point of physically grabbing her. The girl finds this hot and irresistible, and it’s so wrong - we should not be teaching people that assault is attractive. This is so toxic and is just adding to rape culture! So many books are guilty of this - Hush Hush, Obsidian, A Court of Mist and Fury, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, and Shatter Me are just some examples.

Something needs to be done, and awareness needs to be spread. I believe feminism is essential for everyone, and the time when the whole world becomes feminist is when sexism might finally be destroyed, and the patriarchy might be taken down. Awareness will help the movement so much and if authors are able to help spread it, they would be doing so much for the feminist movement. Everyone might be able to be made aware, and it would create a generation of feminists!

That’s why What’s A Girl Gotta Do? is so important. It’s empowering, and really inspired me to follow in Lottie’s footsteps to call out sexism! I think I’m already quite aware of modern everyday sexism, so my experiences of the book will be different - for me, it inspired me to do what Lottie did, and I could really relate to her experiences. For others, it will ‘enlighten’ on how much sexism there is everyday, and inspire them to do further research on the feminist campaign. It’s such an important book, and I really hope Holly Bourne inspires authors to do what she’s done so fantastically well.

If you want to do more reading on feminism, I would recommend:
  • All the Rage (tw rape)
  • Asking For It (tw rape) and Only Ever Yours
  • Trouble
  • Spinster Trilogy (Am I Normal Yet?, How Hard Can Love Be?, What’s A Girl Gotta Do?)
  • Needlework (I haven’t read this one yet, but I own it, and it’s meant to be amazing!)
  • An Ember in the Ashes (this is fantasy and doesn’t really talk about feminism, but I loved the ideas of gender and women and thought it was so feminist)

Non fiction:
  • I Call Myself A Feminist (I would recommend this if you are looking for more reasons to be a feminist or a recently one - I rated it not too highly because I found the ideas to not be too progressive, but I think that was just me, because I think I’ve become a lot more used to it, and maybe even a little desensitized with the environment I’ve grown up in and the liberal circles I tend to be more active in)
  • Bad Feminist (more on intersectional feminism, and feminism and race)
  • Everyday Sexism and Girl Up (I haven’t read these yet but I really want to, and they’ve been recommended to me so many times!)
  • We Should All Be Feminists

4 stars

3 Reasons Why You Should Read TELL US SOMETHING TRUE


Tell Us Something True
By Dana Reinhardt
Series: None
Source: Sent from the publisher (thank you Rock the Boat!)
Format: ARC
Page count: 208
Published (UK): 20th July 2016 by Rock the Boat
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance,

Seventeen-year-old River doesn’t know what to do with himself when Penny, the girl he adores, breaks up with him. He lives in LA, where nobody walks anywhere, and Penny was his ride; he never bothered getting a license. He’s stuck. He’s desperate. Okay . . . he’s got to learn to drive.

But first, he does the unthinkable—he starts walking. He stumbles upon a support group for teens with various addictions. He fakes his way into the meetings, and begins to connect with the other kids, especially an amazing girl. River wants to tell the truth, but he can’t stop lying, and his tangle of deception may unravel before he learns how to handle the most potent drug of all: true love.

Tell Us Something True was an uplifting and fun read, and I certainly wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did! I didn’t love it, but it did hold some important messages and I did think that it was well written, and I cared about the characters too. Here are 3 reasons why I would recommend picking it up today! (which is the day it’s out! it’s almost like i planned this or something...)

1. The characters
The set of characters were what made the book for me, because I cared about each of them so deeply. The protagonist, River, had a really interesting perspective on things, which I found refreshing, and made the book original. I feel like in YA, we don’t really get to read about characters like him, so I found him so much more interesting, because he was so different to me. His story provided the perfect escape.

I loved all the characters, but my favourite was Daphne, one of River’s friends who he meets at the group therapy. She was so strong-willed and determined to get what she wanted, which meant she was so thick skinned and never let people get her down. I admired her courage in tough times and thought some of the things she did were actually pretty inspirational!

2. Important messages
I didn’t go into this book thinking it would teach me anything or change me in any way - I just thought it would be a light, happy book, but nothing special. For the majority of the book, it seemed this way, but the ending was surprisingly emotional! Because I became so invested in the characters and the story, the way everything wrapped up really got to me. I thought the ending was perfect, too!

3. The themes of identity and diversity
These were a little more subtle, but I thought the race of the Mexican characters living in America, was really interesting. River was white, but Daphne was Mexican, and the book explored what life was like for her, and highlighted the obliviousness of River, which I thought was so important! I think it was really well written and even if these themes weren’t always present, I enjoyed reading about it. 


Series I Haven't Finished


One of my absolute worst reading traits is starting series, yet never finishing them. I know I do this so often, and it’s so frustrating! Usually it takes me so long to get to the sequel that I can barely remember what has happened in the first. Recaptians is a life saver! Here are just some of the series that I’ve started, enjoyed, yet haven’t finished, but will one day!

I always feel really guilty when I think about this book, because sometimes I kind of forget I’ve actually read it! It’s so bad, I know, especially when I really enjoyed the book. I actually have no recollection of writing my review for it either - I only know I have because it’s published! This is pretty ironic, because the main character has her memory slated... (At least I can remember that, haha). I really want to read the rest of the series because I find Teri Terry’s writing so comforting, however the covers for the series are pretty ugly and they’re expensive on Kindle. One day I will come back to this series, I promise!

The Raven Cycle
This one isn’t too bad, because I only read The Dream Thieves in March, and I plan on reading the rest of the series really soon. I’m going to an evening with Maggie Stiefvater at the start of August (I’ll have to learn how to pronounce her name by then!), which I’m super excited about, however, she’s discussing The Raven King. I’ve not read that, or Blue Lily, Lily Blue, yet, so they will be one of my next reads. However, it seems like pretty much everyone has read this series, so I need to quickly catch up with the hype!

By far the most shameful book on this list is the Enclave trilogy by Ann Aguirre. I read the first book in March 2015, and enjoyed it so much. I’ve still not bought the rest of the series, however! It’s awful, I know - every time I go to order books, I almost add this series to my cart, but somehow I’ve just never bought them. They’re super underrated too, which means that it would be cool to read them before they get super popular, so maybe someday...

The Wrath and the Dawn

I really enjoyed The Wrath and the Dawn when I read it on holiday last year, and that ending made me so so desperate to read the sequel. So why haven’t I got to it yet? I honestly don’t know - everyone is saying how much they love it, and the cover is stunningly beautiful too. My only excuse is that it’s not published here in the UK yet, but I got the first on Kindle, so that’s not an excuse either...

A Darker Shade of Magic

This one is pretty shameful too, especially because of how much everyone seems to love this series. I read the first book in May 2015, and whilst I enjoyed it, I found it a little hard to get into. I have the second book in the series, but I’m yet to get to it, because I’m scared I won’t enjoy it! It’s really long, and I haven’t been in the mood to read it. Someone please motivate me to read it!

Grisha Trilogy
Shadow and Bone was the first book I read in 2016, and I liked it so much that I bought the rest of the series the day after finishing. However, they’ve been sitting on my shelf ever since! I always think about picking them up, but I’ve forgotten lots of what happened in Shadow and Bone, and I don’t think it ended in a cliffhanger, so I’m not desperate to find out what happens next. I’ve also read some spoilers (by accident, of course!) which makes me lose enthusiasm for the series.

I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who has so many unfinished series, right...? This list was only a fraction of the series I've not finished yet, too. It's embarrassing, but one day, I will finish them all!

Which series haven't you finished yet? How come? Which ones should I prioritise from this list?

A Court of Mist and Fury

Review: A Court of Mist and Fury


A Court of Mist and Fury
By Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #2
Source: Wordery
Format: Paperback
Page count: 640
Published (UK): 3rd May 2016 by Bloomsbury
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, 

Feyre is immortal.

After rescuing her lover Tamlin from a wicked Faerie Queen, she returns to the Spring Court possessing the powers of the High Fae. But Feyre cannot forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people - nor the bargain she made with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court.

As Feyre is drawn ever deeper into Rhysand's dark web of politics and passion, war is looming and an evil far greater than any queen threatens to destroy everything Feyre has fought for. She must confront her past, embrace her gifts and decide her fate.

She must surrender her heart to heal a world torn in two.

Last year, I devoured A Court of Thorns and Roses, and absolutely adored it (maybe even more than Throne of Glass). So, obviously, A Court of Mist and Fury was one of my most anticipated reads of this year - I was really expecting to love this one! This was a buddy read with Jennifer and Stephanie, and I was so excited to finally read it with them! However, I was left sorely disappointed.

I had so many problems with A Court of Mist and Fury, so my annoyance by the book really wasn’t helped by the overhype EVERYWHERE. I am so irritated with how much everyone goes on about it, and I literally don’t know anyone in the book community who hasn’t read the book; I can count on just one hand the people (I know) who didn’t enjoy it! I am absolutely sick of people pushing this book in my face!

My main problem with the book was Rhysand (*gasps with controversy*). It’s obvious from the very first chapter that Tamlin is going to have a complete personality change (which is typical of Maas if you’ve read ToG - it’s just getting boring), and that Rhysand would be the hot new love interest and that countless people would change their Twitter names and Instagram bios to “i love rhys” or “rhys trash”. can u please stop doing this, idek who anyone is anymore

It’s not the way he was presented as a complete asshole in the first book yet we’re suddenly expected to swoon over him in the second that was annoying me so much. It was the way he was a misogynist and controlling to Feyre - I don’t see how (as a feminist) I’m meant to see someone as ‘hot’ who is overbearing and manipulative.

His character just did a complete 180 from the first book and first few chapters, and I’m not okay with that! Like I said before, Tamlin’s personality was reversed, and Rhys’ did exactly the same. He was clearly meant to be the complete prince charming trope - “thoughtful” and “selfless” (ie can’t make up his mind if he wants Feyre or not, and came across as just arrogant). I wasn’t feeling him as either trope, so to me he even came across as a little bland. I was disappointed with the way he was nothing special, because that’s what everyone makes him out to be.

I also found the plot frankly boring. For the first 200 or-so pages, literally nothing was happening. Feyre was visiting Rhys, which clearly wasn’t my favourite plot arc, and there was a lack of focus on the actual fantasy elements. Nothing was explained, and it did feel like SJM was not explaining things properly so a loop whole could be found later on. I am a really big fan of fantasy, so I would have liked the world to have gone into more detail because I found it very interesting.

The ending felt rushed too, which was disappointing, because for me so much of the book dragged. The epic battle at the end was even a little confusing (that might just be me!) which was so frustrating, because a book over 600 pages had been building up to it. My book tastes might just be changing, but I thought the same way with Queen of Shadows too, which makes me even more sad, because SJM used to be one of my favourite authors.

There were some things that I enjoyed - I still really liked Feyre, especially at the end of the novel. I still really enjoy SJM’s writing style (for now!), and the fantasy worlds that she builds are beautiful. I’m not sure if I will be picking up the next book in the series yet (I might do, just to see how the series ends, because I’ve invested so much in them!), but I’m not excited for it.

I didn’t completely not enjoy this book, but I was expecting so highly of it, that it just couldn’t deliver. If you enjoyed the first book, I’d still recommend picking this book up to see where the story goes, but don’t expect too highly of it. ACOMAF is way too over-hyped, which is sad because people aren’t going to enjoy it as much.

Carry On

My Favourite LGBT+ Reads


June is LGBT+ pride month, so it’s all about celebrating the LGBT+ community. Here are some of my favourite books with LGBT+ books, so you can celebrate the month by reading! They are all outstanding books to their own, and the fact that they have an LGBT+ protagonist makes me love them even more!

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
With all the awful things happening in the LGBT+ community at the moment, this is really the book everyone needs at the moment. I know quite a lot of people have read it already, so if you haven’t, you need to get on it! I loved this book so much the first time, yet I recently re-read it and enjoyed it just a little more. It’s so important, because it’s a completely happy LGBT+ novel.

It tells the coming out story, which is usually portrayed as super stressful, and overall a really negative experience. In this book, however, Simon tells his parents he’s gay, and it goes really well for him. His parents accept him completely, his friends are fine, and everything is okay. It’s so important because it will show people that it doesn’t have to be a negative experience, and give the courage to do as Simon did

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
I’m pretty sure lots of people have read this already, but it’s still one of my favourite books (maybe of all time!!) because of how cute the romance was, and the author’s writing. I loved the magic aspect of the book, and although I would primarily class this book as a romance (because that’s what it focuses on), I was really pleased to read some diversity in the fantasy genre.

The characters really stood out for me, too. The main character, Simon, is still discovering his sexuality throughout the book, whereas one of the other main characters, Baz, knows he’s gay. I liked this aspect of the book, because it showed a story of self-discovery and identity through an exciting and cosy fantasy story. I also thought that the romance scenes were perfect, because they were super happy, which is really the representation we need. I’m glad this fantasy didn’t follow the trope of ‘dead gays’ too!

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman
I would class this book as LGBT+ fiction, but there was almost no romance in it (and none for the narrator). I really enjoyed the book because of this, as the characters’ sexualities were still explored, but this one wasn’t a coming out story either, and focused more on friendship. The platonic relationships in this book were so much more complex than most romances in other books (which is often true to real life!!), which I thought was important, because more often than not, friendships are overlooked.

I was really impressed with all the diversity in this book. I didn’t know how well the author had woven it into the story - it never felt like token diversity, yet like it was just naturally there (like in real life!!). The characters in this book were many different aspects of the LGBT+ spectrum. There was an agenda character, demisexual gay character, and the main character was bisexual, too! I liked how the other themes explored in the book were more prominent than these, because people need to learn not to trivialise people’s identities that they haven’t heard of before.

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
This book was one of my favourite books of last year, because it was so well written, and so so important. It’s about a black girl in the 1950s, in a mainly white school. The racism was so intense to read about, but was done in such a historically accurate (I think!) and sensitive way. I loved the main character because she was so caring and kind, yet mentally strong and managed to not let anything stand in her way. This book was one of self discovery and sexuality, and I loved the way race and being gay was explored in this context. I think this book should be required reading for everyone, because it’s sadly relevant to today’s society, and teaches a story of love and acceptance.

Half Bad and Half Wild by Sally Green
This is my favourite series of all time, so of course, I couldn’t recommend books without featuring it! It’s so exciting and dark, and the books had me gripped throughout. There isn’t much focus on identity and romance, yet Nathan (the troubled protagonist) is discovering his identity throughout the series, which intertwines so well with the way he’s trying to find belonging in a world that tries so exclude him, and where he doesn’t belong in either side.

I would have loved this book even if Nathan wasn’t bisexual, but the fact that it was just made the book perfect! There was a really sweet romance between him and another guy (Gabriel... my precious cinnamon bun), which was so lovely. I recommend the first two books for this reason, however, the ending to the series could be taken as problematic to the LGBT+ community (as me and Anna have been discussing ever since she finished!), so I can’t recommend it for that reason until I’m sure (and sure that no-one will get mad at me for recommending a problematic book!).

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson
I read this earlier this year, and it’s one of my favourite books this year. It’s one of my favourite books of all time! Unlike some of the other books featured in this list, I would say this book is pretty much entirely centered around being transgender (however it certainly isn’t a bad thing!!). I’d read very few books about transgender people before this, and because I’m cisgendered, I didn’t know much about what it’s actually like to be transgender. As well as being stunningly beautiful and heart breaking, it was really educational, and I’m more sensitive, respectful, and open-minded after reading this book.

In addition to this, the book explored themes of family, identity, and friendship, too. David’s (the protagonist) friends were so caring and positive to his identity, yet Leo (the other protagonist) didn’t have the same experience. The contrast between their experiences was something so hard to read, yet the ending was so heartwarming, and made me smile so hard! Again, this is another LGBT+ book that had a happy ending, which is so important to see and read, especially in YA fiction.