Tuesday 27 April 2021

Review: Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney
Release Date:
May 4, 2021
Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon | The Book Depository

(US cover and UK cover)

Quinn keeps lists of everything—from the days she’s ugly cried, to “Things That I Would Never Admit Out Loud,” to all the boys she’d like to kiss. Her lists keep her sane. By writing her fears on paper, she never has to face them in real life. That is, until her journal goes missing…

An anonymous account posts one of her lists on Instagram for the whole school to see and blackmails her into facing seven of her greatest fears, or else her entire journal will go public. Quinn doesn’t know who to trust. Desperate, she teams up with Carter Bennett—the last known person to have her journal—in a race against time to track down the blackmailer.

Together, they journey through everything Quinn’s been too afraid to face, and along the way, Quinn finds the courage to be honest, to live in the moment, and to fall in love.

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry is a young adult contemporary with so much heart that I had to read this in one sitting. It deals with issues such as racism, bullying, dementia, and difficult family dynamics. It packed more of a punch than I was expected and I loved it.

Our main character Quinn is someone that loves to make lists for everything in her life, which she keeps in her notebook. The book acts as her diary and contains some of her most secret and personal lists. When she loses it and starts to be blackmailed by an anonymous account to do everything on her list of "Things that I would never admit out loud", Quinn doesn't even know where to start. 

Goffney handled the task of educating us about race in a way that was realistic and gave me things to think about along the way. I stepped away from this book feeling so empowered and in awe of how Quinn handles all the hurdles and struggles in her life. Not only handling cyberbullying but also navigating other aspects such as someone close in her life having dementia, her parents who are struggling internally with their marriage, and making big college decisions.  

In the midst of the fantasy hype at the moment, this contemporary story was such a breath of fresh air. There is a really sweet romance storyline, which I loved from beginning to end. Quinn and Carter made me laugh and smile so much. If you want an impactful story with fun and fully realised characters, I would recommend Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry endlessly! I am looking forward to more books by Joya Goffney.


4.5 Falling Books

Thank you to Harper Teen for providing me with an Edelweiss ARC!

Monday 26 April 2021

Review: Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard

Realm Breaker (Realm Breaker #1) by Victoria Aveyard
Release Date: May 4, 2021
A strange darkness grows in Allward.

Even Corayne an-Amarat can feel it, tucked away in her small town at the edge of the sea.

She soon discovers the truth: She is the last of an ancient lineage—and the last hope to save the world from destruction. But she won’t be alone. Even as darkness falls, she is joined by a band of unlikely companions:

A squire, forced to choose between home and honor.
An immortal, avenging a broken promise.
An assassin, exiled and bloodthirsty.
An ancient sorceress, whose riddles hide an eerie foresight.
A forger with a secret past.
A bounty hunter with a score to settle.

Together they stand against a vicious opponent, invincible and determined to burn all kingdoms to ash, and an army, unlike anything the realm has ever witnessed. 

Realm Breaker is the start of a high fantasy series led by a cast of delightful characters that form an unlikely team to save the realm. 

From page 1 there is a lot of detail and we are thrust into the world. Immediately we meet a lot of characters and we are in the middle of the action which becomes the plot of the entire book. I won't lie, I was confused. There is a lot of mention of "Spindles" without there being any full definition of what this is. It then becomes the root of many other words used in dialogue "Spindlerotten", "Spindleblessed", "Spindleborn", and I found myself having to guess and not dwell on it too much. I got the hang of it around 100 pages in but I would have liked a bit more explanation as there were other aspects of the worldbuilding that were described in such great detail I expected that to carry through. Even now I'm trying to remember what a Spindle is and I could not tell you confidently. Aveyard does however do a brilliant job at thrusting us into the world of Allward and taking us on an adventure through the different backdrops of the realm. If you're someone that enjoys high fantasy world-building you will enjoy what this story has to offer. We get to explore the palace, pirate ships, desert lands, and so many more unique places in this world. Definitely cross-check the map!

From the plot and the characters, I was hoping this would be a similar set-up to Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. And to a certain extent, it was in terms of its multiple POVs. However, it did not match the level of epicness I was expecting. Maybe this will be built upon in the sequel? Our main characters are on a quest and to fulfill it they have to get out of some pretty sticky situations. They each bring something unique to the table and all-in-all had great voices in this story. We have a daughter of a ruthless pirate whose blood is crucial to saving the realm, a very lovable squire, a tough on the outside but soft on the inside immortal, a quickwitted assassin, and a young queen at the heart of the story who's actions I could never predict! There are other characters who are introduced later that were almost glossed over that I did not actually care about their whereabouts in the scenes. Even though the book swapped through a lot of POVs, I did not mind at all. Usually, with multiple POVs I find myself favoring certain characters over others, but I really enjoyed all of them in this book. The story was heavily plot-driven and there were points where I really wanted it to focus more on the characters. The result of this is characters with unclear motivations and stakes in the overall arching plot. I really hope this is something that is worked on more in the sequel as the author has set up a good foundation for her characters but they need to be fleshed out a bit more.

My main issue with this book is that I felt there was no real climax in the plotline. Realm Breaker acts as a set-up for the plot and just as things start to get interesting it is already the end of the book and we're left to wait for the sequel. About halfway through there was a major twist that had me gasping, but other than that I felt I was waiting for things to happen. Ayevard does put in a classic betrayal twist that she is so well known for from her Red Queen series.

For anyone who's wondering whether there are any underlying romance storylines in this book, yes however they are very subtle. Our characters are just getting to know each other here and are busy trying to save the realm so the romance storylines are very much muted. It could however mean we get a really awesome slow burn romance that picks up in the next book. 

I would recommend Realm Breaker to anyone that enjoys high-fantasy and a story told from multiple POVs. All of the characters are interesting with their own unique backstories which I hope is going to be explored in future books. Overall, Realm Breaker is a good start to the series and I will be reading the sequel to find out what happens next.

3.5 Falling Books

Thank you Harper Teen for providing me with an ARC.

Friday 16 April 2021

My Current Reads and Book Giveaway

Happy Friday guys!

It really feels like April is flying by and there's no stopping it. I've been trying to juggle all the books I'm reading at the moment as I've come to find out that I am a mood reader. Meaning that I just read anything I'm in the mood for. This is how I have ended up reading more than 1 book at a time. Here are some I'm in the middle of at the moment.

Chain of Iron (The Last Hours #2) by Cassandra Clare
I really loved Chain of Gold so I am so excited to have this in my hands. I'm about 100 pages in and I can't wait to see where this story is going. If you are thinking about reading this series definitely pick up The Infernal Devices beforehand because this series is set after that. I have fallen so hard for all of these characters that I know my heart will be broken while waiting for the last book Chain of Thorns.

Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass #7) by Sarah J Maas
SPEAKING OF BROKEN HEARTS! I have been reading Empire of Storms and Tower of Dawn so slowly because I was scared to get to this book. So scared. Because this story now feels so close to my heart that I don't know if I ever want it to end. 

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney
Thank you Harper Teen for the ARC on Edelweiss! I am adoring this book. It is a YA contemporary about a girl who loves making lists about things in her life. However, when she loses her journal that contains all of her most private thoughts put into lists, she's willing to do about anything to get it back. Even cave into the wishes of the anonymous person blackmailing her. This book comes out on May 4, 2021.

Flock (The Ravenhood #1) By Kate Stewart
This is a new adult series that I have seen some buzz about on TikTok so I thought I would give it ago! I'm around 40% into the book and liking it so far. I don't know what to think just yet but I will put up a review soon after I finish it.

Have you read any of these books? Please let me know your thoughts!

Also, I am running a book giveaway over on my TikTok for hitting 1k followers! It closes tomorrow 17/04/21. For a chance to win a book from your wishlist!

You can enter HERE!


Thank you guys I’m having a lot of fun 💕 ##booktok ##foryou ##fyp ##giveaway ##bookgiveaway ##amazonwishlist ##bookworm ##yareader

♬ deja vu - Olivia Rodrigo

Saturday 10 April 2021

Review: The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni

The Prison Healer (The Prison Healer #1) by Lynette Noni
Release Date:
April 13, 2021
Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon | The Book Depository

Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan has spent the last ten years fighting for survival in the notorious death prison, Zalindov, working as the prison healer.

When the Rebel Queen is captured, Kiva is charged with keeping the terminally ill woman alive long enough for her to undergo the Trial by Ordeal: a series of elemental challenges against the torments of air, fire, water, and earth, assigned to only the most dangerous of criminals.

Then a coded message from Kiva’s family arrives, containing a single order: “Don’t let her die. We are coming.” Aware that the Trials will kill the sickly queen, Kiva risks her own life to volunteer in her place. If she succeeds, both she and the queen will be granted their freedom.

But no one has ever survived.

With an incurable plague sweeping Zalindov, a mysterious new inmate fighting for Kiva’s heart, and a prison rebellion brewing, Kiva can’t escape the terrible feeling that her trials have only just begun.

The Prison Healer has surprised me in the best way and is one of my favourite reads of 2021. I was hooked from the very first page and Noni's writing is so enthralling it made this story a joy to read. A fantasy with trials, elemental magic, a mysterious disease sweeping the prison, and really awesome characters. It also had so many plot twists that I never saw coming.

Set mainly in the walls of the prison Zalindov, Kiva is the prison healer treating the sick throughout her ten years stuck there. During this time, her family sneaks her notes telling her to hold on and that they will help her. Outside the prison, there is unrest involving rebels against the crown, so when the next prisoner brought in is the rebel queen alongside a note to keep her alive Kiva must do everything she can to protect her. This includes putting herself forward for the trial by Ordeal instead of the rebel queen. If she survives she walks free, if she fails she dies and so does the rebel queen. While this is happening there is also a mysterious disease hitting the inmates and Kiva must figure out what it is before it gets to those close to her. 

This story is predominantly focused on the prison but I hope that in the sequel we get to learn even more about the world and magic system. The elemental magic is touched on briefly and plays an interesting role in the story but there is definitely more that can be expanded with it. I enjoyed that this installment allows the set up of key characters, explores unrest within the prison, and builds on core relationships. The character relationships were one of the aspects I loved most. There is a light romance plot that runs through the story which I really enjoyed. I hope that this is also explored further in the sequel. The relationship between Kiva and Tipp was also so heartwarming. Tipp is a young child that Kiva took under her wing and their relationship is so pure.

The author's writing style is so easy to fall into that I was engrossed from the first chapter. Noni weaves her fantasy world flawlessly. I am itching to explore it further. If you are in a reading slump and find high fantasy too much to get your head around, pick this up! It is such an enjoyable read and the different storylines within the prison are pulled together so well and you won't even see the (many) plot twists coming. I haven't been shocked like this with a book for a long time. I would pitch this to anyone who enjoyed Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas but imagine if the story focuses on Celaena while she was in the Salt Mines in Endovier, and instead of being an assassin, she's a kindhearted and fierce healer.

There are themes touched upon in this book that I thought were handled well and with care. This includes themes of self-harm, drug abuse, and domestic abuse.

The Prison Healer is an unmissable fantasy. If you enjoy elemental magic systems, healing magic, slow-burn romance, and elements of found family you will love this book. It surprised me in the best way and I am so excited to read the sequel The Gilded Cage (release date: October 12th 2021).

4.5 Falling Books

Thank you to Kate at Hodder & Stoughton for providing a Netgalley ARC.