War and Peace Mini Review – Book 1

This is the second time I’ve read this book, or at least for a good 75% of it. The first time I tried to read War and Peace it was a pretty big failure. I got to page 67 in my edition and couldn’t bring myself to pick it up again. Now doing this buddy read I can also learn that I remembered nothing from my first read through! I didn’t remember any of the events, thankfully that has really changed this time around! Part of this is because I’m reading it at a later point in life and have changed how I analyse my reads, and part of it is because I’m reading it chapter by chapter each day. But the biggest reason is because this is a buddy read. I’m reading this along with Olivia from Olivia’s Catastrophe and being able to message her after almost every chapter and discuss what is happening, our thoughts on what will happen next and our opinions on each character has really solidified the story in my head! It’s made it to be such an enjoyable experience so far and not only am I really excited to continue on with this for the coming months (and possibly the year) but also I now know how I’d like to get through those intimidating classics in the future! Chapter by chapter buddy reads all the way!

Within this first book we are introduced to the majority of the main characters. This book takes place away from the war itself and therefore I assume there will be some military individuals who we’ve not met yet. Mostly we’re in Moscow, although we do take a brief jaunt to the countryside in order to meet a father and sister. This isn’t a summary of the book so I won’t be going into detail, but there are a few points I definitely want to mention! Pierre is such a bean, he’s so lovely and so far into the story he’s my favourite character! He’s incredibly naïve about how Russian society functions but he’s doing his best, bless him, and he has good intentions with his actions (not including the bear, but we’ll let him off with that one). I’m so excited to follow him further into the story after the events at the end of this book change his life dramatically!

I love the friendship that we see between the two Anna’s. One is… well. She’s annoying (Anna D), but their close friendship is really sweet and Anna M is a caring individual. Anna D doesn’t have many funds, but does have a young son. So she’s doing all that she can to get him in a better place in life. So whilst it’s annoying and the secondhand embarrassment is real, it really does make you feel for her as a mother. Boris, the son in question, is quite embarrassed by his mothers antics, but seems to get along well with Pierre and he seems nice. If this was a modern novel I would probably be shipping them (and I still kinda am) but here I’m hoping for a good friendship to come between the two of them. Anna M cares deeply for her friend, and so far it looks as though she also cares for those around her. This is shown by her attentiveness to Anna D’s plight even at moments where you wouldn’t fault her for forgetting, and also for the assistance she provides Pierre. This might just be attempting to influence him, but at the same time it really does help him in a time when he would most likely make mistakes, and she does it in a subtle manner that doesn’t embarrass him.

Another group that is lovely to watch is the Rostova children. It’s so nice to see them acting “normal” and relaxed even in the presence of these adults who are doing their best to comply by strict social etiquette. They’re strongly in tune with their emotions which can wildly swing from weeping to great joy. It is a little jarring to hear them speaking of marriage and then to mention their age being, in one case, 12. It’s definitely a product of it’s time and something to be aware of. But despite that I’m excited to see them develop and all the romantic scenes that we’ve seen so far have been very cute and wholesome.

From the section titles for book two, it does look as though this is going to be much more focused on the war side of the story, with the focus switching back to society in Moscow for book three. Fingers crossed I enjoy the war portions of this epic as much as I’ve enjoyed this first book! But if not? Well at least I know I have more of Moscow society to come in the near future.

The plan for this read had originally been to read a chapter a day for the year. We’ve now started to read 2 chapters on Sunday and might be slipping in 2 chapters on another day too. I’m not sure how this will develop over the year, but it does mean that I’m confident we’ll finish this by the end of 2021 and I’m still very much excited to keep reading and discussing this with Olivia!!

The Riddle by Alison Croggon – A Review

Continuing on with my reread of the series which inspired my bookish handle, I moved on to The Riddle! Starting where we left off at the end of The Gift, the journey through Edil-Amarandh by Maerad and Cadvan continues and we get to see more of this world and more about these two characters.


This book focuses even more heavily on Maerad than the first, and we learn a lot about her and through her we learn a lot about the world she is travelling through. On her trek to find out more information, carrying little more than her lyre, a sword and some sustenance, we follow the young Bard throughout Edil-Amarandh and into realms we haven’t explored in this world before.

I hesitate about going into any depth on any of these topics because they would most likely be spoilers for book one and maybe even for this book. So instead everything here will be vague and I hope you can forgive me. We travel to so many different places within this book, exploring a wide variety of cultures across the world and finding similarities and so many differences through Maerad’s still naïve eyes. I adored learning more about different cities and locations, and seeing how this magical system interlinks with the “normal” folk in different areas and how various schools interact with the light.

There is a lot more focus on Maerad in this book, and the story revolves around her alone. This means that we get to see her grow and develop a lot in her emotions as she is subject to trials and tribulations, as well as love and loss. Throughout this we learn more about not only Maerad as a person, but also about her special powers that set her apart within this world. How these work, where they may have come from, and how she can best harness them.

For me this is unfortunately a 4 star read rather than 5. I did find that the story was lacking slightly. Once again this is difficult to explain without spoilers, but I’ll struggle through! There’s a plot line with someone powerful, but I found personally that I couldn’t believe in their strength, both physical and emotional. There just wasn’t enough built up around it. My memory had this aspect of the book lasting longer but it was over within a relatively short number of pages and I do think that this was a mistake. In order to be fully impactful it needed more depth to it.

My second and final issue which cause the book to drop a star is that in places it seemed kind of… unnecessary. Don’t get me wrong, I adore these books so much. But there’s a lot of meandering that doesn’t feel entirely fruitful and I feel like this book could’ve been edited down to remove those portions. And if a certain wordcount was wanted to keep it in line with the other 3 books in the series then adding in POV from Cadvan would’ve been really constructive to the story and I feel like it would’ve made the book much faster paced and much more enjoyable.

As it is, I still adore this series and what this book brings to it. There are so many specifics within this book that are some of my favourites throughout the series as a whole and I’m so excited to get to the last two books!

The Gift – a review

I did it! I finally re-read my favourite book! The Gift, by Alison Croggon, was my most read book when I was younger. I’ve re-read it at least 50 times, with the pages completely falling out of the book and the binding ruined. I’ve been absorbed in its pages so often. Somehow, I hadn’t re-read it since I started my Bookternet life though, and I finally rectified this! So, let’s get into it!


The Gift, known as The Naming in the US, follows Maerad (my-rad), a young slave girl in dire circumstances. She’s saved from slavery by Cadvan, a passing traveller whom no-one else can see, and is introduced to a life of Bards and schooling. Despite this new world of learning, her life isn’t set to be an easy one, with Maerad and Cadvan set on a perilous journey in order to battle the dark which has sunk its teeth into Annar.

This book. Damn. I’m so so happy that I still love it! This was 100% a five star read for me! There’s always the worry when you go back to a childhood favourite that you’re not going to love it as much. Tastes change, and especially when you go back in age range it can lend a different viewpoint that leads you to not enjoy the book so much. Thankfully, I adore this book just as much as I always have done!

I adore how Maerad has been written as a 16 year old. She felt realistic to me when I was younger than her and at the same age, and she still feels realistic to me now! She’s very nervous being dumped into these new situations and there are definitely times when she feels like she knows everything and then learns the hard way that she doesn’t. With Maerad coming from such a place of ignorance, we get to learn about her powers along with her. Every revelation is a surprise to all parties involved and seeing how everyone reacts to these as the book (and the series) progresses is one of my favourite parts of the book!

Cadvan, Maerad’s rescuer, teacher, friend, companion and so much more. I adore how he is so desperate to atone himself for his past actions. How he’s so truly towards the light. How he isn’t perfect. He can get impatient and harsh but he always apologises when needed. That’s another aspect of characterisation Croggon does incredibly, is making her characters real. They make mistakes, and not always just huge ones but the simple everyday ones we all make.

There is a lot of lore related to this book. I remember when I first read it as a kid I was convinced it was a fictionalisation of real world events. That just shows #1 how much historical fiction I was reading (and how accurate it was!) and #2 how well and in depth Croggon has written this world. Every aspect and facet that could reasonably be known from the “limited translations” is there and she has put so much thought into this world. As a child I wished that I could live there and learn in one of the Schools of Annar and as an adult I found myself wishing the same thing!

I read this for one of the Booktube Rereadathon prompts and I’m so glad that I’m going to be able to fit the other 3 books into the next 3 prompts because I 100% need to re-read this series now! I can’t wait to fully submerse myself in this world again and to see how much I adore the other books upon an “adult” re-read!

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson | A Review

I am fully aware I’m hella late to this party. This book was first published in 2010, and ten years later here I am. This book follows Lennie, a girl who loves to write down what she’s feeling, read Wuthering Heights and play the clarinet. Not gunna lie, the clarinet is what got me to pick this up! I used to play the clarinet before higher education came along (and it’s a difficult instrument to start back up when living with my parents cause it’s LOUD). Lennie’s older sister recently died, suddenly and without any warning. She should be grieving, she is grieving. But she’s also falling in love.



A unique aspect of this book that I really enjoyed was the inclusion of mixed media. At the beginning of each chapter there’s a black and white picture of a discarded note that Lennie has written. It also tells us where it was found. Under a rock. Written on the inside of the wardrobe door. These really added an additional view into Lennie’s mindset and also tells you more about her sister Bailey without having to have multiple point of views.

There are some very… weird? plot choices in here. Of course they could happen in real life, but it was really not what I was expecting. I can’t really go into details because it would be major spoilers, but if you’ve read the book I’m sure you know exactly what I mean. I just kind of had to… pretend that it wasn’t happening… so that I could actually read the book.

A problem that I had with this book is that I felt like the portrayal of teens wasn’t the most accurate. Now of course I’m no longer a teen, and I’m also British when this book is set in California, but these kids at points really just felt incredibly cliche and both excessively childish and too grown up simultaneously. But like I said, this could simply be cultural differences.

This book is quite cute and fluffy, and despite the dips and troughs you will likely come out of this book with a little smile on your face. It can’t be denied though that this is a cliche YA contemporary at its heart. Don’t expect anything more from this book. If you do you’ll be disappointed. And bare in mind that there are problematic aspects to this book. But as a basic work of fluff it does what it promises to.


Freshwater by Akwake Emezi, a review


I’ve heard a lot about Akwaeke Emezi recently, and I had thought that my first read from them was going to be Pet (which sounds absolutely amazing and I NEED TO READ IT!) but instead it was Freshwater. This story follows Ada who has multiple entities from the Mothergod Ala inside of her. She begins her life in southern Nigeria after being prayed into existence, but her life is no easy ride.


I picked this up specifically for the fuck slut shaming prompt for the Fuckathon, and although it covers many different topics this will be the one I talk about first. There is sex positivity in this book, with our main character Ada having sex freely with both men and women and feeling no shame, she is also slut shamed by those around her but she sticks to her guns and doesn’t let them shame her. Also prevalent within this book is the rape of Ada. It is referred back to throughout the book as a major plot point.

The next two topics very much combine and this is spirituality and multiple personalities. This is approached by having separate beings who each narrate the story in their own chapters and are said to be linked to Jesus. I really enjoyed how they switched between “everyone” and we get to see from all of their viewpoints. The first have been sent by Ala, the others crystallise after traumatic events and this changes how they act and interact with Ada’s life. I can’t say much more about this without spoiling the plot but the presence of these different viewpoints is utilised incredibly well throughout the story.

The one “diverse” topic within this book that I have personal experience with is depression, and so this is the one where I can comment on the representation. I think the metaphors used are incredibly well done and unique, Emezi deep dives into the mind and I love their approach to this topic and also how they depicted the various people around Ada and their reactions to her depression.

The topic of racism is lightly touched upon here, with our Nigerian main character living in the US the main racist point I saw was the encouragement of relaxing and straightening her hair rather than leaving it natural. In the latter parts of the story we also delve deeper into Ada’s non-binary preferences, which have developed slowly as the plot moves through.

I of course cannot speak to the representation of most of the aspects of this book, so I recommend finding own voices reviewers to see their opinions. I’ll be doing that myself. However, Akwaeke’s website says that this is an autobiographical novel which suggests that she is writing this as an own voices author and therefore I see this as her view of her own experiences. I really enjoyed this book. It was heart wrenching, incredibly interesting and so so absorbing. I am now so excited to read Pet as I loved the writing style.

Have you read anything from Akwaeke Emezei? Have you read Freshwater? If you have tell me what you thought of them down below! I totally need to chat about this!


Reviewing Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

I heard of this book from a recommendation video from Noria Reads and I almost didn’t pick it up! I am so ridiculously glad that I did because this collection of short stories is gorgeous and I sped through the book in one sitting, lying in bed curled up in my duvet, unable to put the book down.

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Noria recommended this for the fuck gentrification prompt for the Fuckathon, and I couldn’t find anything on my own tbr shelves for this prompt so I ran with it! I will admit that I picked this because I knew it was short, but I’m so glad that something got me to pick this up!

This collection of short stories follows various Latinx families, looking at indigenous ancestry and focusing on the power and strength of women. Many, if not most, of the stories are sad. With the abuse or abandonment of young children by one or both parents, struggling to get by, and of course as indicated by Noria’s recommendation, the gentrification of areas that were once filled with indigenous Latinx people. Now filled up with white neighbours.

The last story is a little more hopeful. It ends on a more positive note and I think that was really needed after so many stories of loss and sadness. It was the perfect story to end on and really allowed for reflection on the other stories within the collection.

In the end I gave this 4.5 stars out of 5. I would love to own a physical copy on my shelves one day so I can sit and reread it. It’s a really moving work and I wish that Kali Fajardo-Anstine had written more as their writing is absolutely beautiful.


A Review of Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

I first read Six of Crows at the beginning of 2019 and fell in love with the rag-tag gang and their dynamic. I was nervous to start Crooked Kingdom, it’s a big book and had a lot to live up to. Carrying on from the end of one big heist and probably moving towards a second, there was a lot that could go wrong.

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At first, I didn’t enjoy it! I tried to read it in June and could just not get into the book at all. I ended up DNFing to read another time. But thankfully Noria’s Fuckathon prompts of fuck capitalism and fuck ableism fit beautifully with Crooked Kingdom and I just knew that I needed to read this book for that. When I picked the book up again I still wasn’t loving it, I just wasn’t jelling with the dynamic. Eventually I made myself sit and read it in bigger chunks, and that’s what did it for me. I was hooked.

I adored how the group dynamic had shifted ever so slightly, I loved the camaraderie between all of the characters and their intricate relationships. It did feel slightly weird when I remembered they were supposed to be teenagers, in my minds eye they were very much 18-25 years old. The writing just did not feel like kids to me, but then again I’m 23 so maybe I’m just becoming old and annoying before my time.

I had been spoiled for a major plot point at the end of the book from Twitter (damn it!!!) and so that did take away a little from my enjoyment as I was waiting the whole time for it to happen. I didn’t know where in the book it would occur. That was really annoying but even despite that I was really loving the book. The end third was absolutely gorgeous as you see all of these carefully placed cogs fall and either hit their mark or miss and the eventuality of that.

I definitely have to read the Grisha trilogy at some point, I’ve heard mixed reviews with some liking it more than the SoC duology and some liking it less but I just hope I enjoy them! I’ll also probably pick up King of Scars now, as I’ve heard Nina is in there and I need more of her! Nina, Inej and Jasper are my faves!

Have you read Crooked Kingdom, or any of the Grisha books? What did you think of them? Comment below!

Writing My First Novel

In 2018 I first decided I was going to attempt NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November and write a novel! That was at the beginning of my Masters and I had to put it on hold to focus on uni. I attempted it next year in 2019, with the same story, but that year I was working 35-47 hour weeks in retail (with chronic migraines to boot), so it was delayed again! Now it’s 2020. And here I am.

This year I became friends with Caitlyn from Mad Cheshire Rabbit and she writes a lot, she has her own book out! (Click here if you’re interested in WWI fiction!) Hearing her talk about writing so much really put the bug back in me and made me want to pick up with my story again. I had managed to write some in November and December of 2019, using the till roll at my desk to write when there weren’t any customers! So I typed that all up and skimmed over the end of it. I didn’t want to properly re-read it because I knew I would start editing it and never stop.

I don’t work on it all that frequently, at the moment I work on my story for one hour every Sunday. Maybe that’ll increase over time but I know myself and I know that it I force it too fast I’ll burn out and stop writing. For now I’ve been really enjoying my little Sunday writing sprints and seeing my story come together, piece by piece, is really rewarding.

Do you write? If so what motivates you? Let’s have a chat!

I finally read Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger!

I picked up the first book in this series, Etiquette & Espionage, because of how much Zoe from Zoe’s All Booked raves about Gail Carriger. When I spotted the first two books in a charity shop how was I supposed to not pick them up?! The series follows a young girl in the Victorian era attending a finishing school. This is no ordinary historical fiction however, this is steampunk Victorian England and the finishing school is training these young ladies to be spies.


I absolutely loved getting to see more of this fantastical world Gail created and the storyline had me hooked. The humour in this book is damn great and there is a sprinkling of relationship but so far it’s done well and I’m enjoying the moments where it pops up in the story. My favourite sections definitely have to be when our main character Sophronia is in with the engineering runabouts and Vieve, one of the teacher’s daughters who didn’t attend the school.

Sophronia is a little too perfect but that’s kind of the point of this book and the series as a whole. It satires other books in the YA fantasy genre whilst also managing to add a valuable contribution to the shelves! I adore the stupid steampunk/victoria-esque names that Carriger gives to so many of the gidgets and gadgets in play, as well as the wonderful mechanimal dog Bumbersnoot! I need a Bumbersnoot!

I gave the book 5 stars after finishing it up over 2 days (and that was me savouring it!) and I really need to buy myself books 3 and 4 for the remainder of the series as well as other books from within the same fictional universe! I love it! Have you read this? Let me know what you thought!

The Clocks by Agatha Christie, a review

The Clocks is the 37th book in the Poirot series, but you don’t need to read them in order. Thankfully because I don’t have all the prior 36 books! I’ve been grabbing Christie’s works from charity shops as and when I spot them and this was the last one I owned that I hadn’t read yet. As always I sped through the book and I really enjoyed it!

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I read this book for the fuck ageism prompt for the Fuckathon hosted by the amazing Noria at Noria reads. Poirot is over 60 in the first book of the series, so I think I’m pretty safe in assuming he’s an older main character and because I always speed through these books it was a great choice for a readathon!

These later Poirot books don’t involve Poirot straight away, they start out following the other characters within the crime and the story. I really enjoy this story style, as we get to learn more about all of these individuals and I personally became more invested in the story and in the character arcs.

For this story we follow a young man who is drawn into an investigation of a murder carried out in a blind woman’s house. Not only has this murder been committed but clocks that were not there previously have been left around the room. But the owner of the house has no way of knowing they’re there. She can’t see them.

As always with Christie’s Poirot tales there are other undercurrents running along in the background and I really enjoyed how these accumulated into one main story and how the threads tangled together.

Unsurprisingly this was another wonderful work by Agatha Christie, I gave it 4/5 stars and my only negative is that I don’t have any more of her books on hand to read! I’m looking forward to post-lockdown when I can peruse charity shop shelves and look for secondhand books again!