Do you read sequels to classics?

I was thinking about this when taking a bookstagram picture of Holes (by Louis Sachar) and it’s sequel Small Steps.

I enjoyed Holes, and don’t get me wrong, Small Steps isn’t bad. But it just isn’t as good as Holes. And it got me thinking about the other modern classics that have gotten sequels in recent years that didn’t quite live up to the original for me.

One example is Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee (the sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird) which whilst still having a good technical quality to the writing style was just so much less enjoyable than the first book.

Another example is The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale) which controversially co-won the Booker Prize purely due to Atwood’s name. The book itself? Well I enjoyed this one more than Go Set a Watchman. And I did like the details that were added to the world, although this very much had more of a feel of a modern novel rather than a timeless piece. And. And. The ending ruined it all. Without that ending I could’ve given it 4 stars for enjoyment alone, but no. Nope. Had to be ruined.

Have you read any good sequels to modern classics that actually lived up to (or improved!) the original series? I’d love to know about any authors which managed this!!

January Physical Book Haul 2021

Is it good or bad that I brought 2 books into my home this month? On the one hand, it’s only two books! On the other? I’m supposed to be getting through my tbr shelves, not adding to them!! I couldn’t resist these books though, I found them in the selection of free books at work and given that I moved to working from home in the middle of January (thank god) I needed to grab these and take them with me when I shifted home!

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

First up is Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood. I’ve only ever read The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments by Atwood so I would like to branch out to some of her other works. This seems to be a fictionalised account of a real life tale, following a woman who is believed to have committed murder, but the reality may be more complicated than that. A historical fiction set in Canada, I’m really interested in seeing how Atwood takes this story and interweaves truth and fiction, as well as how this stacks up against the facts that we know about the case.

No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the Surveillance State: Greenwald, Glenn: 9780241146699: Books

Secondly is No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald. This is a non-fiction work, written by the journalist who published Edward Snowden’s reports gleaned from classified documents. This book starts with Snowden and Greenwald first communicating, it talks about the NSA, and it examines the far reaches of the US government’s surveillance programme, far outside the boundaries of its borders. Whilst I’m not an American, Snowden’s reports were still widely reported in the UK and I didn’t follow them too closely at the time. A mixture of my change in interests and being busy with education. But I’m definitely interested in reading about this now and fingers crossed the book will be interesting!

And those are the two books I grabbed from the pile! There were many more books there but most weren’t the sort I would enjoy and I was trying to not be stupid with the books I was taking! Have you heard of or read either of these? Let me know what you think of them! And let me know which books you brought into your life in January!

First Lines Friday #17

It’s time for another First Lines Friday! Hosted by Wandering Words!! Why do these keep scheduling on big dates?! Again! This one was scheduled in November just like the last one so leave me be hahaha!

What if, instead of judging a book by its cover or its author, we judged the book by its opening lines?

Here is how it works:

– Pick a book and open to the first page.

– Copy the first few lines without revealing which book it is.

– Reveal the book!

So… do these first lines entice you?

Out of the gravel there are peonies growing. They come up through the loose grey pebbles, their buds testing the air like snails’ eyes, then swelling and opening, huge dark-red flowers all shining and glossy like satin. Then they burst and fall to the ground.

Scroll down to reveal the book!

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Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

This is a book I picked up from the mini library in the office before I shifted to working from home. I only looked at it cause it was by Atwood and I’ve only read The Handmaid’s Tale and Testaments so I wanted to try out some different books by her. This isn’t the most interesting of first paragraphs but I did skim the first page and mixed with the synopsis that this is about a murderer… I’m interested!

Did we need a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale?

That was the first thing anyone asked when this book was announced. Do we need it? So many years after the first book was published, is a sequel necessary to the story? Straight up? No. No, it’s not necessary in the slightest. You can read The Handmaid’s Tale and get a complete story without even touching The Testaments. It does, however, give more insight into Gilead. Its formation, its running, and how the outside world perceives it.



This sequel picks up more than fifteen years after Offred’s story takes place, following three women and their interactions with Gilead. We follow one of the highest “Aunts” who runs the women’s side of things in Gilead, or at least tries to. We follow a young girl who is growing up as a commander’s daughter within this country and knows nothing else. And lastly we follow another young girl who lives in Canada, who is taught about Gilead in school, who thinks they should be stopped.

I love how well Aunt Lydia was fleshed out, we get to learn so much about her backstory and also through her about the inner runnings of how the system treats women. I was hooked throughout her chapters and lapped up every drop of information that she gave us. Through Aunt Lydia we saw more of the “eyes are everywhere” aspect of Gilead and how this worked behind the scenes. It was incredibly interesting. Showing her in a truthful light, showing the horrendous things that she did alongside helping girls and women really made her feel real. In real-life people are often multi-faceted.

Daisy is our Canadian and this was my least favourite point of view to read from. Whilst interesting at the start to see how outside countries were reacting to Gilead in terms of trade and opposing their treatment of people, I wasn’t all that interested in her plot line. I’ll delve more into that in a second.

Lastly we have Agnes Jemima, a privileged young girl who should end up with a high placed husband due to her father being a Commander. Although I didn’t enjoy Agnes’ viewpoint as much as Aunt Lydia’s, I did prefer her sections to those of Daisy. There was more to be learnt about life in the home in Gilead here as well as other sections of life in Gilead that I don’t want to mention as it would spoil the book.

Back to Daisy now, because her primary plot is what really ruined this book for me. Up until around 70/80% of the way through I was engrossed, I could barely put the book down. And then I reached a point where I felt like I was done. And after finishing the book I can tell you I wish I had stopped there. The ending of the book felt forced and oh so typical, not at all what I was looking for when reading the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale. I can see that the current climate would want a happy ending to this story, but I think Atwood went slightly too far and reached glossy Hollywood fakery levels. Stopping after a slight improvement for those we’ve been following would have been enough for this tale in my opinion.

Margaret Atwood herself said: “Dear Readers: Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.” and whilst I appreciate the last sentence and agree that the world we currently live in does indeed provide inspiration, I do wish she hadn’t bowed to pressure. To all the people writing her letters since Handmaid’s was first published. I can understand why, she’s been bombarded with these letters for decades now, and surely must just want to get some sort of conclusive ending out there for people. This for me, though, was such a disappointing ending to a book. It was so predictable and made that end 20/30% genuinely difficult to get through, there were no surprises, just sad realisation that she was taking this exactly where it felt like.

If I ever re-read this book I will be stopping before the end. Before it’s all wrapped up in a shiny bow. I’ll probably skip Daisy’s chapters too. I have heard that to get the full story Atwood is telling you should watch the TV show as well as reading the books. I’m a completionist and do want to see how the original book was adapted so I will watch the show at some point. I’m not exactly expecting to love it though. Overall I gave this 3.5/5, rounding up to a 4 on Goodreads. This is purely because of how much I was enjoying Aunt Lydia and Agnes’ sections for the majority of the book. I’m glad I read it, but I’m also disappointed.

My best books of 2019!


I read a lot less 5* reads in 2019 compared to 2018, but I still had a decent selection to pick from for this list and I love all of these books!

I’m going to start off with my absolute favourite of the year, which seems backwards, but I can’t rank all of my other favourites so I may as well get the #1 spot up first!

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, translated by Geoffrey Trousselot, is an absolutely gorgeous book.

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There’s a small coffee shop in a basement which has a secret, people know about it but they can’t believe that it’s true. The staff in the shop will only tell the customers who they believe need the experience. And it’s not as positive as many believe before they sit down. But their lives are forever changed, big impacts are made. This book is beautifully written and I only picked it up randomly for NetGalley, I’m so so glad that I did. I recommend this above everything else on this list, which is a big statement seeing as these are all 5* reads for me. However, I feel like this book will appeal to many different audiences and so I really do encourage you to at least look at the GoodReads page and read the synopsis (link here) and consider picking it up. If you’re interested, then you can find my full review here.

Now onto the rest of my favourite books! There are 10 books for the rest of this list and they are in the order which I read them throughout 2019 (to avoid putting them in any other sort of order, because I really can’t decide).

The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon (The Bone Season #2


I read this on the train going back down to Portsmouth for my heart operation after my Christmas break, it’s around 8 hours of travelling so I had a lot of time to sit with the book and I really enjoyed it. Although the ending annoyed me so much and I had to stay composed because I was on a train!! Another amazing book from Samantha Shannon. Read my full review of the book here.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale #1)

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I’m massively late to this party, of course, but I finally picked up this book in a secondhand shop and read it early on in 2019. It was amazing. I loved the commentary on female autonomy and sadly it did really hit a chord with me, despite being written “so many” years ago. If you’re interested my full review is here.

Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen (Orphan Monster Spy #1)

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I got this the day before I started by BookTube channel, and it took me until now to read it. There’s a bit of a theme here but if I’m getting through my backlog I won’t complain! This YA WWII based book follows a young Jewish girl who can pass as an Aryan and becomes a spy in a Nazi girls school. Check out my full review here.

Book of Lies by Teri Terry


I really love everything I’ve read so far from Teri Terry, she is truly one of my favourite authors. This book follows a girl who isn’t loved by her family, they don’t care about her at all. But then she finds out a bit secret, something that she wasn’t supposed to know. Magical and mystical, this is such an interesting book. My review is here.

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman (The Devouring Gray #1)

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This is the first book that I ever requested from a publisher and it’s the first one that was sent to me! So of course this book will always have a special place for me, but on top of that it’s a fantastic YA book with sprinkles of magic and just enough weirdness to keep you completely hooked. I can’t wait to read book #2! Check out my full review here.

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman (Arc of the Scythe #2)

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Have you read this series yet? Why not? If you like dystopian or just a great YA directed book then this is 100% a series you should pick up! There is no more natural death in the world, it’s been cured. So scythes must kull the population in order to prevent it getting out of control. But of course there are a lot of issues with this plan, it was never going to work. Check out my full review of Scythe here(which is book #1) and my review for Thunderhead here.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Illuminae Files #1)

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Another book I’ve finally read! This multi-media sci-fi YA is gripping and so interesting and I finally understand why people raved about it so much for years! I definitely need to get my hands on the rest of the trilogy and I can’t wait to carry on with this story and see where it goes. See my full review here.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman


I actually DNF’d this at my first attempted reading this year, but at a push from so many people online I picked it up to give it another go. I’m so rediculously glad that I did as this book is magical and wonderous and such a great read! If you’ve seen the film you’ll still love the book as there were only a few changes and I’m very glad I listened to everyone who told me to pick this back up! My full review is here.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

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I read this all in one day, sat by a paddling pool my aunt had set up on the hottest day of the year in the UK at 40 Celsius, that’s 104 Fahrenheit for those of you in the US. I was dying! Yet despite that, I was glued to my seat, gripped within this story. A fictional tale inspired by the suffering of so many from slavery in the US. My full review of this novel can be found here.

The Aliens are Coming by Ben Miller

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This was the first book I read after finishing my MSc dissertation. I’m so glad I picked up a science-y non-fiction as this was perfect for me in the mindset that I was in and it was also really fun (Ben Miller is a UK comedian if you didn’t know) as well as teaching me more about the search for other life forms. Check out my review here.

And that’s it! Those are all of my favourite books of 2019! I did read a few more books which I gave 5*s throughout the year (Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein and Night by Elie Wiesel). I would have ranked them lower than these books, however, and given that there are already 11 books on this list I decided to cut them out. What was your favourite (or your favourites) of 2019? Have you read any of the books that are on my list? Let me know!!


Birthday Books!!

It was my 23rd birthday on the 13th of October, and of course some of my loved ones gave me books as presents! I didn’t get too many as a lot of my family think I have too many books (they are obviously wrong) but a few great friends and my bf got me a book or two!

Starting off with my lovely boyfriend, although he didn’t get me a book as a pre-planned present he did buy my BlackKKlansman when we were out in town together on the day itself. We saw the film together and he knew I was interested in reading the memoir and so he grabbed it for me!

Then my bestest friends, who are essentially my family. The two of them together got me The Testaments by Margret Atwood and The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes. I hadn’t actually seen Moyes’ book before and I’m really intrigued to read it, and of course I want to read Testaments at some point!

Last but by no means least is Kari! (Find her @Kari_ng4books on Twitter) who sent me three books which was absolutely lovely of her! The first was the tiny book of the complete Jane Austen, as I’m collecting all these tiny books, Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas (which I’ve been trying to find secondhand for forever) and War Storm by Victoria Aveyard so now I have that complete series! I am so so grateful for those!

Thank you to everyone who wished me well on my birthday and especially to Kari and my loved ones for my gifts, I appreciate it all so much.

The Handmaid’s Tale (Trump’s wet dream)

finally read it! Okay so there seems to be societal pressure to read these modern classics, and after reading this book I get why, but at the same time please don’t feel like you must read these. This book is amazing and I loved it but if it’s not something you care about then don’t worry about it.

Anyways, that was a bit of a tangent that I went on so let’s get back to an actual review of this book. As you likely know, this book is a dystopian which is set within a world where there is an issue with mass infertility. We follow Offred (of Fred, as in Fred owns her…) as a Handmaid, she lives in a rich man’s house and must have sex with him in the aim to become pregnant and provide this household with offspring. If the Handmaid does give birth then the baby is straight away taken by the Wife of the house and is raised as their own child, with the Handmaid being moved on to the next household to serve the next family. Terrible, I know, but there is so much more depth, and therefore worse parts, to this world that I’ll leave you to find out yourself if you decide to read this book.

This book, despite being written a few decades ago, is still relevant today in a somewhat unsettling manner. If you’re a woman you will definitely recognise the exaggerated societal pressures and expectations within this book (blokes, you’ll probably see it too, please don’t take offense) that’ll strike a chord.

Overall, this book is one to give a shot if dystopians are your thing and if you want to read about Trump’s ideal world! Because I can only imagine how happy Trump would be if this was the reality and he was in charge *eye roll*