Review | A Cloud Can Weigh a Million Pounds by A.D. Stephenson

“Just three years ago, someone told me that my sport was broken, twisted and perverted by money. Perhaps that was true; true for the oligarchs and the oil sheikhs and the shady businessman death exploit venerated foul purposes. It has been said by many that those less salubrious days were when football experienced its death knell, that those were the days when football died. It’s nae true, though, for me. It’s nae true for the players, nae true for the fans, nor for those people that love the game. For all of us who care so deeply for our sport, football is about competition, togetherness, unity and community.” 3/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: european football, Oktoberfest, drug tests, a strong Scottish accent, goals, haggis, toxins, stadiums and arm wrestling.



A feeling of lethargy during a cup semi final soon develops into something more sinister for Claston Celts star, Paddy McAlpin. A random drug test post match soon reveals more than he could ever have expected and sets him on a dangerous journey to discover the truth.
In this thrilling and humorous tale we follow the arrogant and talented Paddy McAlpin as he searches for the truth behind the attempt on his life, taking him back to his ignored, if not forgotten roots in Claston’s slums, before setting him on a whirlwind voyage of espionage and peril. Using his strength of body and mind to seize what he needs, he draws closer to the truth, putting himself into greater danger each step of the way.
Throughout his journey, he is forced to take an introspective look and comes to the realisation that there is more to his life than himself.



This is not the kind of book I would usually pick up for myself, but I was surprised with the story after reading it. I had no idea what the book was about because the blurb in the back cover doesn’t give out a lot of information, as well as the title – which made me even more curious to know what the story was even about.

I was surprised to discover this book was actually a mystery (the who-did-it kind of mystery) with a mixture of sport (european football to be exact). I thought it was an unusual combination and I had never read anything like it before, but I thought it was creative and overall it worked out well.

The mystery was well made, intriguing and overall surprising – I admit I wasn’t expecting that plot twist near the end. I just don’t know what to think about a football star investigating his own homicide attempt and traveling around Europe to get answers. I think I found that a bit odd because it wasn’t very realistic, but again, this is a work of fiction so take my opinion with a grain of salt!

I really liked Paddy as the main character. I really liked his personality, accent and the unfortunate (but sometimes funny) situations he put himself to. He feels like a real person with real flaws, real characteristics and a true love for football.

I have to say I really liked the writing. It’s very atmospheric and easy to keep up with! The pacing is good, but there are a few chapters where the story slows down to give some backstory and additional information. The football scenes were very detailed and well explained, and I’m sure readers who love football would love the game scenes! One thing I really liked was how Paddy’s Scottish accent was written in his dialogue. I thought that was a nice touch and it gave him more character, even though I had some difficulty trying to understand what he was saying sometimes. I also appreciate that we get some background information on other characters. Does that mean they will be featured again in the second book in this series?

It has sports, action and a good dose of humor. I think this would be an interesting book for fans of European football and mysteries in general.

A big thank you to the author A.D. Stephenson for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

xoxo,

Review | The Stolen Kingdom by Jillian Boehme

“Regardless of my attempts at guarding my heart, he’d wormed his way in.” 4/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: homemade stew, good wine, myar, blood lockets, black mist, waterfalls, healing powers, grapes, rot, old people, books, voices and poison.

For a hundred years, the once-prosperous kingdom of Perin Faye has suffered under the rule of the greedy and power-hungry Thungrave kings. Maralyth Graylaern, a vintner’s daughter, has no idea her hidden magical power is proof of a secret bloodline and claim to the throne. Alac Thungrave, the king’s second son, has always been uncomfortable with his position as the spare heir—and the dark, stolen magic that comes with ruling.

When Maralyth becomes embroiled in a plot to murder the royal family and seize the throne, a cat-and-mouse chase ensues in an adventure of dark magic, court intrigue, and forbidden love.

What a unique book! It’s not common to find good standalone fantasy books, and it sucks because sometimes there’s just no time or patience to read a four or five book series. With The Stolen Kingdom we are getting a standalone fantasy, which I was very excited about!

One thing I loved from this book was the grapes/vines/wine element. I really liked that theme for this book! It was very unique and it paired very well with the setting.

Overall the story has a good pace, but there are some moments here and there where you can see the story speeding. The story developed very fast and I felt like the characters didn’t keep up regarding character development. I love my fantasy standalones, but this is the reason why there aren’t so many. I think it would have been beneficial if this was a duology or maybe a longer book!

The characters were okay. I really like Maralyth, but I didn’t love Alec – his personality was a little bland in my opinion. I also wasn’t the biggest fan of the romance. I really like a good romance to pair with fantasy books, but something was lacking. I felt like there was zero chemistry between Maralyth and Alec, and to be fair I get that the author was maybe shooting for “complicated”, but it wasn’t very well executed in my opinion. It was a bit weird how he felt such strong hate for her at some point in the book, and then after a few pages the hate evaporates quickly like nothing ever happened. The end feels like he’s okay with her after everything he lost, and that didn’t make sense to me. If you’re wondering what trope this would fit, I would say it’s not a friends-to-lovers romance, nor an enemies-to-lovers relationship. They start out as friends, then become enemies and then become lovers.

Overall I enjoyed this a lot, I just wish the romance was a bit different, because I would have liked this even more!

A big thank you to NetGalley and Tor Teen for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

xoxo,

Review | Feeling Like a Beached Whale by Tammy Page

“(…) Once that bottle is in his mouth however, and his tiny hands are squeezing my fingers and his big eyes are looking up at me, I know there’s something special in that bond. I know whatever happens in life, he will always need his mummy and I will always need my son.” 3/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: midwives, pregnancy tests, vomit, psycho cats, salons, name picking, breakups, scans, customers and cups of tea.

Everywhere Sophie looks, she sees babies! From pregnant celebrities in magazines, to glowing mummies walking down the high street, it seems that life is just one giant reminder. With her body clock ticking, and time running out, Sophie makes a life-changing decision. After all, how bad can pregnancy be?

Feeling Like A Beached Whale is a light-hearted, hilarious, fictitious account of one woman’s pregnancy journey, including all the bits that other books won’t tell you! Follow Sophie as she travels down the path to motherhood, dealing with agonising anxiety, meticulous midwives, and everything in between. Will Sophie make it to her birthing day in one piece? Will it be a boy or a girl? And, will she ever get a moment’s sleep?

Feeling Like a Beached Whale is a funny story that follows the pregnancy journey of a woman named Sophie, from wanting to have a baby to actually getting one. Sophie was a very relatable character and I really liked that about her. I haven’t experienced pregnancy yet, but I feel like everything she felt was very realistic. Some people love being pregnant, some don’t, but either way, it’s still a life-changing, energy-consuming experience.

The story itself is very funny and you will find yourself smiling from time to time. There are a lot of funny scenes here, from Sophie participating in her friend’s childbirth to dealing with her psycho cat, but still, some of my favorite scenes take place at the hair salon! I just loved the hair talk and all the insights you get from a hairdresser while working with customers. I know the focus of the book was not on this, but I wish there were more scenes like those!

I admit I wasn’t expecting that dramatic twist at the end. I have to say that I saw it coming, but I never thought that would ACTUALLY happen. Does this mean that a sequel is coming? And if so, will the next book be focused on other things other than being a new mother?

One thing I found interesting is that I feel like this book is partially autobiographical. It’s normal that authors use their personal experiences to write books, but that was very evident here. I feel like not only Sophie has a very similar personality to Tammy, but the pregnancy journey may be based on one of Tammy’s pregnancies too – but what do I know, I could be wrong! Whether that’s true or not, I think the author did a great job portraying what it is like to experience pregnancy.

With that being said, I think this is a fun, light book to pick if you’re experiencing any stage of pregnancy (from wanting to have a baby to being a new mother). Like I said, I can see a lot of people relating to what Sophie goes through so I think this would be a good book to pick up to see that your feelings and insecurities are perfectly normal.

A big thank you to the author for the free copy in exchange for an honest review.

xoxo,

Review | Twelve Nights by Andrew Zurcher

“Everyone, everyone is like a buried treasure. Everyone. Every person who has ever been born is inestimable valuable.” 1.75/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: removals, aurors, teeth, hot air balloons and mythology.

Kay felt everything change in the room around her.
Everything.
Kay’s father is working late- as usual. Fed up, her mother bundles Kay and her sister into the car, and drives to his Cambridge college to collect him.
But, the staff say nobody by his name has ever worked there.
When they return home, Kay discovers a card left on her pillow:
Will O. de Wisp, Gent. F.H.S.P. and Phillip R. T. Gibbet, Gent. F.H.S.P. K.Bith. REMOVALS.
That night, Kay is woken by voices at her window: the voices of Will and Phillip, the Removers. But they are not human. And Kay shouldn’t be able to see them. Except she can…

I’m just confused. Isn’t this supposed to be a book for children? I felt like this story is too complex, scary and slow paced for children to follow. If I was confused and bored, I can’t imagine what kids would feel while reading this.

I spent so much time listening to this book, waiting for it to get better but it never happened. And I really thought it was me, because I re-listened to hours of it just thinking it was my fault and that maybe I wasn’t paying attention. But I was, and I got to the conclusion that I was not the problem.

I think the biggest issue I had with this book was how painfully slow it was. I think it’s supposed to be an adventure book, but the scenes are so slow that it feels like they were never ending.

The characters were incredibly boring, and when I think about the two main characters they’re either sleeping or crying. And why are they leaving in the middle of the night with two men/creatures? What about their mother? I thought that was weird. But that wasn’t the only problem, there are so many plot holes and unexplained situations in this it’s insane. Oh, and did I mention there is mythology in the mix? I was just confused the entire time.
I will say that if you like very descriptive books, this one’s for you. The author describes anything and everything in this and he does it beautifully, so if you prefer descriptions in books over plot maybe you’ll like this? And the narrator is also pretty good, I would love to hear more books narrated by her!

It’s no fun forcing yourself to read a book. And keep in mind I listened to the audiobook version. I didn’t know listening to an audiobook could be so hard. I appreciate my free copy, but it was definitely not for me!

A big thank you to NetGalley and RB Media for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

xoxo,

Review | Of Wicked Blood (The Quatrefoil Chronicles #1) by Olivia Wildenstein and Katie Hayoz

“If I relied on kisses for luck, I would never make it out of the streets alive. (…) Word of advice: make your own luck. It will last you longer.” 4.25/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: artifacts, clovers, witch costumes, gloves, madeleines, big rings, black curls, The Little Mermaid, cactuses with names, bruises, wells, wheelchairs, blood, rivers and ghosts.

No rest for the wicked… or the cursed.

SLATE
I didn’t mean to steal the Bloodstone from the De Morel’s crypt.
Scratch that, I did mean to steal it.
Until I realized it was a curse-magnet that only comes off if I, along with a jolly trio, successfully defeat four curses.
If any of us fail, I’m dead.
I’ve never been a glass half-empty sort of person, but my glass looks in dire need of a refill right about now.
The only highlight of this wicked treasure hunt: feisty, entitled Cadence de Morel.

CADENCE
I was raised on tales of magic, in a small town reputed to be the birthplace of French witchcraft.
Did I believe all the stories I heard? Absolutely not. I mean, if magic existed, Maman wouldn’t have died, and Papa wouldn’t be stuck in a wheelchair, right?
Wrong.
The night Slate Ardoin waltzes into my life, wearing a ring he stole from my mother’s grave, I call him a monster.
But then I meet real ones, and Slate, well . . . he becomes something else to me.
Something frustrating to live with but impossible to live without.
Something I will fight for, no matter the cost.

What a nice surprise! This book won my heart for how amazing it was. This was also my first ever experience listening to a NetGalley audiobook, and fortunately it was a positive one.

The story is super good and it exceeded all my expectations. The search for magical artifacts with limited time added a lot of motion to the story, so of course I was hooked from the beginning. I think the fantasy world was very interesting and the setting in Europe was definitely a good decision for this book. 

The characters were interesting, and I feel I did care about all of them. I liked everyone, even the characters you are supposed to dislike. Everyone had their own story and uniqueness, and they made a great team with great dynamics. A cool thing I saw in this book was that not every relationship in this book is linear. Most of the characters had complex relationships with each other. There are so many examples in the book for this, but I’ll just give Slate and Adrian’s relationship as an example. They both have strong feelings for the same girl, and there are moments where they dislike each other, but there are also moments where you see how close and amicable they have become with each other. A few more relationships I found very interesting were the relationships between Slate/De Morel, Adrian/Cadence and Cadence/her dad.

The romance was a huge aspect of why I liked this book so much. It’s the kind of romance that starts with them both hating each other and it transforms into a very intense and loving relationship. I think the authors did a great job with this relationship, but I have to admit it felt a bit like insta-love. It didn’t bother me too much because the good thing is that even the characters address it in the book. I don’t know why, but I feel like when they acknowledge it, it doesn’t feel that bad! But yeah, I wish they didn’t feel like they actually loved each other so soon.

There were so many things that made this book amazing – the plot, the romance, the characters and relationships -, and I couldn’t be happier with the result. I flew through this book!

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series! Since the book is named “Quatrefoil”, I’m assuming there will be four books in total? Fingers crossed!

A big thank you to NetGalley and Twig Publishing for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

xoxo,

Review | The Project by Courtney Summers

“Faith is an expression and some people find certain types of expressions more resonant than others.” 3.25/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: hospital rooms, pamphlets, newspapers, necklaces, interviews, churches, white huskies, miracles and family bonds.

Lo Denham is used to being on her own. After her parents died in a tragic car accident, her sister Bea joined the elusive community called The Unity Project, leaving Lo to fend for herself. Desperate not to lose the only family she has left, Lo has spent the last six years trying to reconnect with Bea, only to be met with radio silence.

When Lo’s given the perfect opportunity to gain access to Bea’s reclusive life, she thinks they’re finally going to be reunited. But it’s difficult to find someone who doesn’t want to be found, and as Lo delves deeper into The Project and its charismatic leader, she begins to realize that there’s more at risk than just her relationship with Bea: her very life might be in danger.

As she uncovers more questions than answers at each turn, everything Lo thought she knew about herself, her sister, and the world is upended. One thing doesn’t change, though, and that’s what keeps her going: Bea needs her, and Lo will do anything to save her.

From Courtney Summers, the New York Times bestselling author of the 2019 Edgar Award Winner and breakout hit Sadie, comes her electrifying follow-up—a suspenseful, pulls-no-punches story about an aspiring young journalist determined to save her sister no matter the cost.

I was so excited when I got this book as an arc because I absolutely loved Sadie. If you have never read Sadie before, I highly recommend the audiobook version because it’s amazing! Needless to say, I was more than happy to get my hands on this book.

This story follows a girl named Lo, who felt alone her entire life. She lost her parents in a car crash when she was younger and the only person she had left by her side was her big sister, Bea. Lo was in the car with her parents when the accident occured and she was severely injured, but she survived against all odds. But right after the accident, Bea left Lo to join a very famous cult named The Unity Project, and they never saw each other again. This organisation is well known in New York for helping people in need and for their community outreach. But Lo is not convinced they are as good as they claim, and she believes they are hiding secrets that would reveal their true nature. After some suspicious activity, she decides to do her own investigation on what is really going on and she becomes even more determined to find her sister.

To be completely honest, I didn’t love this book. There were two main reasons for this: Firstly, I don’t usually find fictional books about cults and/or religion very interesting – and that’s on me, I know -, so overall I found the book a bit boring. Secondly, there was a point near the end where things just started to make no sense. This is due to the fact that there was a big change in the plot near the end that didn’t work very well, so unfortunately that part felt very rushed and misplaced.

On the good side, I really think this book has a very interesting take on religious cults and leaders in general. The story is very unique and I think the author did a great job combining this topic to a mystery novel. 

This is only my second book from Courtney Summers so I don’t know that much about this author from her work, but if sibling relationships are her part of her style, she sure does a great job portraying them. I saw this before in Sadie, and I also see it clearly in this book.

I absolutely loved Sadie, but this didn’t work as well for me. I think it’s a great book to pick up if you are interested in mystery books or books that talk about cults and faith.

A big thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

xoxo,

Review | Delicates (Sheets #2) by Brenna Thummler

“Everyone has ghosts. I think we all need to learn that there’s no shame in letting them out.” 3.75/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: video games, ice cream, photographs, peer pressure, protective pins, chocolate fish, trick-or-treating, sheets and bullying.

Marjorie Glatt’s life hasn’t been the same ever since she discovered a group of ghosts hiding in her family’s laundromat. Wendell, who died young and now must wander Earth as a ghost with nothing more than a sheet for a body, soon became one of Marjorie’s only friends. But when Marjorie finally gets accepted by the popular kids at school, she begins to worry that if anyone learns about her secret ghost friends, she’ll be labeled as a freak who sees dead people. With Marjorie’s insistence on keeping Wendell’s ghost identity a secret from her new friends, Wendell begins to feel even more invisible than he already is.

Eliza Duncan feels invisible too. She’s an avid photographer, and her zealous interest in finding and photographing ghosts gets her labeled as “different” by all the other kids in school. Constantly feeling on the outside, Eliza begins to feel like a ghost herself. Marjorie must soon come to terms with the price she pays to be accepted by the popular kids. Is it worth losing her friend, Wendell? Is she partially to blame for the bullying Eliza endures?

Delicates tells a powerful story about what it means to fit in, and those left on the outside. It shows what it’s like to feel invisible, and the importance of feeling seen. Above all, it is a story of asking for help when all seems dark, and bringing help and light to those who need it most.

I liked this better than the first book! For me the plot was better, it felt more emotional and it showed more character development.

Other than the art itself – we’ll get there in a second -, the characters brought this book to life. Marjorie and Eliza were the main characters in this book, and they both had some struggles in their lives. Marjorie was conflicted about her fake and rude “friends” and she didn’t know what to do because she felt like she wanted to belong somewhere, and Eliza felt like she was invisible and didn’t fit anywhere because people thought her hobby was dumb and weird. 

The secondary characters were great additions because they contributed to the emotional weight of the story: Marjorie’s fake friends were very annoying – as they should be -, Wendell was adorable as always, and the teacher’s humour was a nice contrast to the sadness of the story. And I have to say this… what the hell Colton?! Like Tyra would say: “We were all rooting for you!”. 

Now, about the art itself. I seriously can’t get over the art in this series. It’s beautiful just like in the first book. The colours and illustrations are by far one of my favorite things about this series. There was an illustration in particular that I loved: when Wendell and Marjorie were sitting on some rocks looking at the lake… just beautiful.

With that said, don’t be fooled by the colorful drawings because this story talks about very serious topics such as bullying, mental health and depression. It’s a book that describes perfectly what it’s like to feel lonely and to be bullied for what you like and defend. It reminds us that we shouldn’t put pressure on ourselves to fit other people’s realities.

I think this series is worth giving it a try for two main reasons: the art and the big lesson behind it.

A big thank you to NetGalley and Oni Press for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

xoxo,

Review | La Douleur Exquise by Kavya Janani U.

Our eyes would meet
for a split second,
And I would know
Why it feels so good
To be in love with you,
ven if it’s unrequited. 4.25/5 stars!

“I choose to love you in silence…
For in silence I find no rejection

I choose to hold you in my dreams…
For in my dreams, you have no end.” – Rumi

We fall.

We fall for someone who doesn’t catch feelings for us. We fall when we’re not supposed to fall in love. We fall in a way we’d never be able to express it, no matter what.

Sometimes, to love someone unconditionally without expecting to be loved in return, is the most exquisite feeling in the world. It is painful, but it gives you a dose of euphoria and heals you by the end of the day. It is that kind of love, where you take the pain as a base for your personal growth.

If at all there is a love that could give you happiness alongside heart-wrenching pain, it is unrequited love.
If at all there is a love that could keep the desire for life burning in you, it is unexpressed love.
If at all there is a love that could provide you with never-ending hope, it is unattainable love.

La Douleur Exquise is a collection of poetry that celebrates unexpressed, unrequited, and unattainable love through the eyes of a woman. Just sit back and delve into the world of love where conditions don’t apply.

They never did. They never should.

If there’s something unconditional, it is love, after all…

I’m not an expert in poetry, but I personally connect more to poetry when I can relate to it… and that’s exactly what happened with this collection. While I was reading this book, I kept thinking about my past and my own experiences with unrequited love. Yes, I’m no stranger when it comes to one-sided love, and this book reminded me of my teenage self buried feelings. I could feel the pain and sadness coming from the author, that reminded me of my own when I was younger. And isn’t that beautiful? The way a single book just digs up your memories like that?

The poems are divided in three sections: hoping, hurting and healing. My personal favorite poems were “Eyelids”, “Where Do They Go?”, “The Boy Who Wants To Leave” and “Selenophilia”. But the Exquisite Shots were definitely my favorite part of the book! The only thing I want to point out is that I think the shots should be integrated with the full length poems, just because it would create a better flow.

The writing style was enjoyable and simple to follow. There were two particular poems here that I found interesting because they were written with bullet points. I understand why they were used and the purpose of them being there, but it felt like they were a bit misplaced in the middle of the collection.

Overall I think the collection was interesting and beautiful. I connected to a lot of poems and for me that’s what good poetry is all about. When a book awakens something in you, it’s worth your time!

A big thank you to the author Kavya Janani U. the free copy in exchange for an honest review.

xoxo,

Review | Odessa by Jonathan Hill

Odessa | Book by Jonathan Hill | Official Publisher Page | Simon & Schuster

“The world ended, right? But it didn’t. We’re still here. Things never end. They just change.” 2/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: earthquakes, explosions, boat trips, talking bottles, trades, bears, jynx roots and gangs.

Odessa takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where three siblings try to find their mother, who abandoned them and their father after the earthquakes started. This journey starts when Ginny, the older sister, receives a birthday present from her mother. She wonders where she is and why she left her family behind eight years ago, so she decides to go look for her and try to get some answers back. Without her knowing, her brothers followed her and now they team up to try and find her.

To be honest I was not the biggest fan of the story. The art and color scheme were cool and very appropriate for the post-apocalyptic world, but the story is very slow-paced and nothing interesting happens. The characters were okay, but I feel like I would appreciate the book more if there was more character development.

To be completely fair, I didn’t think the book itself wasn’t bad, it was just not that interesting for me. I probably won’t be continuing this series.

***A big thank you to NetGalley and Oni Press for the free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review***

xoxo, Neide

Review | Depersonalise by MSJ

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I was never
tall enough to reach
the top shelves,
that’s where you
all the good things
seemed to be.
4/5 stars!

Damn I loved that quote I put above.
This is a beautiful collection of poems. There were some poems here that really hit home and I remember feeling some of the things the author is describing when I was younger. The poems regarding how sometimes we feel alone and not good enough for someone are the ones I related to the most. I swear I felt it on my skin when I read them.
I thought the idea of having different artists to make the illustrations was genius and the result was absolutely beautiful. The illustrations gave life to each poem and were a great addition to the collection. I appreciated this very much!
Now, to be completely honest, even though I liked it a lot, I wish the collection wasn’t so short. I would love to see a 100 page work just because it would help me understand the author better.
I think eventually the author will write bigger collections – because she is obviously talented – but for a debut collection of poems, it was pretty good. This one’s for all of those who appreciate and collect beautiful words and beautiful art.

***A big thank you to the author MSJ for the free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review***

xoxo, Neide