Do We Show Immaturity Enough in YA

Young people throughout YA literature are mature, independent and acute. While a strong message to any youth who feels powerless due to their age it does restrict the presentation of growth and give the illusion that many teenagers or young adults have it all worked out, while many of us reflect back on those years as confusing, unsure yet of who we would become.

I am glad it cannot happen twice, the fever of first love. For it is a fever, and a burden, too, whatever the poets may say.

Daphne duMaurier, Rebecca

My first feelings on immaturity would be romance. Having gone to an all girl’s school relationships weren’t apart of my world view until I hit 18, however I could still see my attitudes maturing towards them. At school I had ‘crushes’ on people I thought I should rather than actually did: movie stars or pop singers when in reality I have to know a person’s character and personality before I find myself falling for them, and rarely have ‘crushes’ based on looks alone. When I went to university and started having real relationships, my first one lasting a whole three weeks, I wasn’t yet comfortable being myself in a romantic relationship and it wasn’t until my current boyfriend that I’ve ever had that. Emotional maturity in relationship, at least for me, took time and, let’s be honest, a handful of failed attempts and learning curves.

This is something I feel is rarely reflected in YA literature. Many teen protagonists remain with their childhood sweetheart for years and I’d say their relationships almost stagnate, the couple rarely developing or growing apart which often occurs to childhood sweethearts. Teenage protagonists often know what they want from a relationship when going into it and, although I appreciate these strong character traits, it can often be disarming as the protagonist is showing the emotional maturity of an adult. Learning from failed relationships, discovering who you are and not quite knowing who you will be yet is something all teenagers and young people go through. The lack of these themes make characters unrelatable and present an unrealistic view of teenage romance.

You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.

Richard Branson

The issues surrounding presenting teens in committed adult relationships is something I’ve touched on before in a previous post about the issues with the portrayal of romance in YA so I won’t dwell on the topic here. Rather we shall side step to another prominent issue with the mature youths flooding the pages of YA: a lack of youthful blunders. Our protagonists are increasingly showing themselves to be confident and capable at many tasks: from ruling kingdoms to outsmarting kings they are heralded for their bravery and skill. But as a teenager and now, in my early twenties, I find myself constantly making mistakes. From drinking a tad too much in a safe environment and, although ultimately nothing disastrous happened, learning your limits to realising the importance of honouring commitments in a timely manor to learning how to juggle friends, first loves and family my youth was full of learning curves that I would not define as entirely uncommon.

Not entirely related but here’s a novel about University Students that I loved

By presenting young people who don’t have these simple yet defining experiences readers are given few literature reference points for their feelings of failure. Novels rarely present characters learning from their mistakes as they are often strong willed and rarely achieve such simple blunders and even more scarcely do these blunders have small impacts on their character development, instead favouring larger effects on the plot. As our empowered youths hit the pages we are seldom given a chance to realise teenagers are still be empowered through common and simple failings, and these do not make their voice any less important.

Families are messy. Immortal families are eternally messy. Sometimes the best we can do is to remind each other that we’re related for better or for worse…and try to keep the maiming and killing to a minimum.

Rick Riordan, Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters

Family is a complex dynamic presented in YA. While often not present on the rare occasion a protagonist has a sibling or parent it is hard to see any genuine reliance. Young protagonists are often independent, capably fending for themselves the reasoning for which delved into through a complex and harrowing backstory. However, although some teenager are unfortunate enough to have no family to rely on, few are as self sufficient as those presented in literature. Being reliant on an adult or sibling, requesting advice from a family member or needing emotional support is something many of us need from time to time and the responsible young heroes and heroines that litter YA rarely require these elements. The theme of family is largely unexplored in literature despite being something readers can often relate to and, again, the parental role many protagonists take within their family dynamic make them unrealistic. In my early twenties I have friends still living at home, some who ring their parents every week and others who, like me, have little support from their parents. These wealth of relationships are seldom explored yet are so defining to any young person.

With an ever growing pressure for young people to appear older beyond their years and a desperate need for independence that few of us can actually afford these days, increasingly returning to our parents homes after university, the complexities of immaturity are more prominent than ever. Youth is, overall, a chance to learn and people are never truly as put together or independent as they want to appear. I know 25 and 40 year olds who have started their careers again, seen people flee to their family home after years of independence and know people reaching 30 who still don’t know what they want from a relationship. None of these people are weak and all flavours of teenager and young person should feel empowered without the need to feel they should grow up too fast. If adult authors don’t address the complexities of youth they run the risk of invalidating their young readers feelings.

Youth can not know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young.

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

In conclusion I’d say the complex years that YA addresses is a confusing and pivotal point in defining a readers character. And, while I realise there is a definite need for the empowering, aspirational and strong teen protagonist their also a need to validate teens fears and to empower readers with the knowledge that it’s ok to act young when you are young, and it’s ok to not always be strong at such a tender age, and they are not alone in making simple mistakes.

Problematic Tropes that Misplaced Readers Hopes

This weeks Top Ten Tuesday is supposed to be all about tropes we love. The ones we read and cling on to, absoloutely adore and base our tbr on. But honestly, I don’t have that many? Call me crazy but I like the unique, the odd sprinkle of unusality and crazy turn of the unexpected. There isn’t one or two plot devices that I just think yep, I must have that.

However, because I’m a terrible person who loves a good moan, there are tropes I don’t like. Tropes I think are actively problematic and really need a rethink. Plot devices that really shouldn’t exist. So here’s an unorthodox list of those instead!

I’m not naming and shaming, this was just a pretty picture but is not related to the tropes!

Not Like Other Girls

1 Oh gosh, isn’t this so cringe? When the love interest likes a girl and says they’re somehow different, usually meaning they’re more like a man. It’s implying that all of the female population bar one are the same and the implication is usually catty, air headed women who can’t save the day.

Strong Women Can’t be Feminine

2 Women shouldn’t have to be like men to be strong, they can enjoy makeup, flowers, pretty dresses and save the world.

He’s Different for Just Her

3 I’m sorry to break this to young, angsty teenage me but boys with big egos, dark pasts and unexpected tempers who are guarded to everyone they meet probably don’t actually make the best boyfriends. It’s a sign of a really unhealthy relationship and he’s probably just an arse glorified in YA for far too young impressionable readers.

Your First Love is Forever

4 Ok, I get it, it’s cute to ship people. We don’t want them all to sink and it’s pretty depressing reading about break ups all the time. But also most readers are going to go through a breakup? How inadequate are we going to end up feeling if the novels we’re surrounded with are screaming that the first taste of a relationship is all we’re going to get? That little spark was meant to be forever? Yeah, no, that’s not a great message to young readers guys.

Women Not Supporting Each Other

5 Too often in media are we presented with that catty group of girl friends. When the male characters are sensible, getting on with it, showing themselves to be good friends and the women are just… nowhere? Or worse sitting jealous on the sidelines. Women don’t need men to save the world and female friendships should definitely be focused on more in YA.

The Lone Wolf

6 You know those characters that have no one else in their lives but their partner, or two love triangle caught potential suitors? Where they blow off all their friends in favour of the pursuit of love but it’s a book so obviously it all works out in the end, and the relationship is all they ever needed to be fulfilled? Yeah, that’s unhealthy. And needs to go.

Instant Love

7 The eyes meeting across the room thing is cute. Bumping into each other in the coffee shop, corridor, while fighting a deadly monster and instantly feeling a connection? Adorable. But not love. That’s called lust, that crazy hazy bit where they fart and you’d think it was perfume, can do nothing wrong and everything is butterflies and magic. It’s when they fart, you slap them on the arm, wrinkle your nose and say they stink that’s it’s actually love and the distinction is rarely made in YA.

All Love Interests are Unimaginably Hot

8 Besides seemingly every character in YA being described as drop dead gorgeous, which is getting really old by the way, all love interests have a formula. Big pecks on men and pretty without trying women that can leave readers feeling inadequate. Protagonists of YA a man does not need abs to be considered hot and you should all stop setting this unrealistic standard that could lead to readers feeling insecure.

Everyone Needs Love

9 We got to pair off all the characters right? They’re not happy if they’re not in a relationship, are they? No. They are. They can be single. They can be happy with a handful of close friends and nice shiny sword and maybe a pet dragon if they’re lucky. Not every protagonist needs a love interests and for goodness sake stop pairing off all the side characters like it’s the one route to paradise.

Toss in a Bit of Trauma

X One day I’ll get a discussion post out about this but for now this paragraph will have to do. Don’t toss in a dark past for the sake of it. If your character isn’t going to deal with that trauma and give it proper respect you shouldn’t shove it in there for the sake of it. It can upset readers and make them feel like they should ‘just get over it’ if they have gone through something similar. If you don’t have the page time to deal with a traumatic event you’ll have to use good old fashioned prose to make us feel something for your characters.

Let’s Compare Notes

So there you have it. Ten tropes that I see cropping up time and again and just wince at. Do you agree? Think any of these are particularly damaging? Have a list of tropes you’d like to share? Drop it in the comments section.

I’ll be back Thursday with my review of Heartless by Marissa Meyer.

Are Our Ships Empowering Readers

Before you ask, despite the picture, I am not talking about boats. I’m talking about the characters we’re pairing together, and whether they’re portraying healthy relationships, or whether romance in literature could leave readers feeling inadequate about themselves or their relationships.

I started thinking about this back in university when my housemate and I rewatched Friends. Friends is the TV hit show phenomenon that crowns sitcoms glory days. It was big and, being 90s show, had a ridiculous amount of problems. Crowning these off was the focus on the toxic relationship that formed the heart of the show: Ross and Rachel. We see petty jealousy, manipulation and outright lies all thrown in the comedic light and portrayed as appropriate. But, I hear your cry, that was the 90s. We’ve learnt since then.

But I’d argue that young people are still growing up under the influence of unrealistic and toxic relationships, especially those in YA. And here are a few red flags I’ve seen almost celebrated in YA literature.

The first issue that comes to mind is the superficial, attractive hero trope. He fancies the heroine, sure, but his dry wit, degoatory humour, unrealistic looks and desperate need for character development hardly make him an great person. And fair enough, he often gets that character growth but he’s not the ideal boyfriend before that and shouldn’t be portrayed as such. And, while we’re on the topic, we can’t hold up the ‘not that pretty’ but strong and smart heroine, emphasising that her character is what matters most while making all the men attractive. Because men’s personalities matter too here and women are not that superficial. The brooding, over attractive hero who can’t show emotions and rather takes them out using his dry wit and crazy fight skills isn’t going to empower many male readers.

YA is ripe with love stories. We’ve read it all- the slow burn romance, the friends forever but start to see something new lovers, the enemies that change for each other, even the instantly hitting it off pairings. But have we really seen a break up? Have we seen a character get over someone and find someone new? Because, news flash, you’re first date at 17 is unlikely to be the groom at your wedding several years down the line. I’m not saying it’s impossible, I know real life childhood sweethearts and people who seem pretty happy with their first pancake, but for me and many of my friends that was definitely not the case, and it’s not projected nearly enough in literature. This unhealthy stereotype can lead readers to struggle with breakups, feel inadequate if their first relationship didn’t work out or idealise something that was never there, hardly empowering.

The lack of comfortably single heroines would be my next gripe. How often have we screamed at our protagonist that she has bigger problems than the midly attractive men chasing after her? I like romance as much as the next reader, but so often it just feels forced into a plot where the characters were platonic at best. Unnecessary romances aside, I just don’t think every protagonist, side character and remotely in the novel woman needs pairing off. The portrayals of an unrealistic need for romance and relationships that each character has could lead readers to feel inadequate or unhappy with being single, which is, of course, never the case. There is no need to fixate on relationships so much in novels or in real life: readers and characters need to feel comfortable being single.

The final toxic relationship habit that receives far too much page time that I’m going to discuss is looking around. Zuzana’s remarks about Akiva in Daughter of Smoke and Bone? Scarlett saying she’ll check out the Count while still with Julian in Legendary? That’s just cruel. A relationship shouldn’t ever make you feel second best, or a settle for. Lovers should build each other up and be clear with their feelings, not just date someone in the interim while waiting for Prince Charming, which those crude remarks can leave people feeling. Normalising partners, particularly women, looking around and commenting on attractive male characters with disregard for their partners feelings can encourage readers to disregard others feelings.

There are other, less common, relationship problems splashed across the page throughout YA: Sky being forced to date someone she doesn’t like because she and Zed are Soul Mates in Finding Sky, Agnieszka dating a man literally 100 years older than her or Clary dating her best friend Simon despite having no feelings what so ever in City of Bones. Having only discussed a few issues in this post, I conclude the portrayal of romance in literature should be reassessed, but what do you think? Do you agree? Feel free to drop an opinion in the comments section!

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor Review

I had been told this novel was good, and that’s undeniable. The imaginative world, creative plot and exceptional writing dragged me straight into this exceptional story.

Our heroine, Karou, is a Prague teenager with lapis lazuli coloured hair who sketches mythical beasts that live behind magical doors and collect teeth. Her class, and the reader, believe she simply has a strong imagination, but it is soon revealed her secret world exists and is much more sinister than anything she has drawn. But when Karou is mysteriously cut off from her secret world she must finally face the question that has always plagued her: why was she raised by beasts?

“Work? Since when do you work?”

“I work. What do you think I live on, rainwater and daydreams?”

Half the novel is told in the present- following Karou and her mystical life in Prague, and her role in the teeth trade, while the other half tells Madrigal’s story, set in the past, who she is, and what life is like in her world. While I do enjoy a good backstory I found this novel lingered too much in the past. It felt less personal than the story being told in the present and had little details of Madrigals inner thoughts, although it did still touch on these. I didn’t like that we dipped away from the action in the present day, that had captivated me so much, to follow this backstory for so long. It felt a bit like starting a new novel right as the one I was reading got interesting- I wasn’t ready for more world building and character introduction. However, it was still an entertaining and a well written aside.

As the novel is split into these two dialogues it’s pacing is difficult to judge. While the parts that centre on the backstory felt a little longer than needed, mostly because I was desperate to get back to the present and read about Karou’s story, the parts that follow Karou was well paced and intriguing. I liked how the world building was done: first perceived through Karou’s sketchbook, and then through her own eyes. I particularly enjoyed descriptions of Karou’s life in Prague, with the ghost tour host of an ex boyfriend and bowls of Goulash with her best friend. Madrigal’s timeline was a little tricky to nail down as there were glimpses of her story interwoven throughout the novel. Her story was well written, but felt less personal than Karou’s as it wasn’t grounded in the real world, which made Karou’s story slightly more relatable.

It is a condition of monsters that they do not perceive themselves as such. The dragon, you know, hunkered in the village devouring maidens, heard the townsfolk cry ‘Monster!’ and looked behind him.

The novel’s plot is fast paced and exciting, mostly revolving around Karou discovering the secrets of her mysterious life. There isn’t a build up to a big fight at the end or any kind of resolution, the entire novel centers around Karou discovering who Madrigal was. The twist at the end wasn’t exactly surprising but I didn’t mind since it was designed more to shock Karou than the reader. The novel is clearly building up to its sequel and, although it doesn’t involve any finite resolution, the author tells an exciting mystery interwoven with lots of action and revelations, making the novel entertaining in its own right.

What really made this novel was the writing style. Beautiful descriptions, delicate imagery and vivid scenes are dotted throughout the novel. Some scenes and backstories were a bit graphic for me, making me feel a little uncomfortable (I’m not a reader for gore). The sense of foreboding throughout the novel is always present in Karou’s story, giving the novel a haunting aspect. The writing style is creative and the author balances well personal thoughts, banter, descriptions and world building.

She moved like a poem and smiled like a sphinx”

I’d say this novel is aimed at older readers. The atmosphere is sinister at times and some scenes are more graphically told than I would have liked, as mentioned. It felt more like New Adult (if only it were a proper genre, alas) than young adult, although it doesn’t contain any sexual content.

The theme of good and evil is prominent throughout the novel. Karou is often questioning if her boss and father figure, Brimstone, is good and the novel holds the overall message about not judging too quickly. Karou delves into Christian imagery often when debating Akiva and his kind but the novel didn’t take any religious turns, thankfully. Karou constantly wonders what the teeth are being used for and often addresses how the sentient beasts she calls her family would be considered monsters in her world. References to real life prejudices and war made me think the author was trying to make a point, reinforced by the Romeo and Juliet type plot, but this wasn’t explored too much within the novel.

Have you ever asked yourself, do monsters make war, or does war make monsters?

In this novel we only meet a handful of characters, but all of them are well developed. Even Madrigal’s sister’s, Chiro’s, motives and thoughts are explored which makes the characters powerful and personal to the reader. I liked Karou’s dry wit and sarcastic narrative, but found Madrigal complacent in comparison- she showed a lot less spunk in her narrative. Karou’s best friend, Zuzana, was an easy favourite for me, with her quick humour and quips, the slightly dark banter between the two girls being a real highlight of the novel. It was a shame she was only in half the novel, although this couldn’t be helped, and I’m hoping to see more of her in the sequel.

It’s not like there’s a law against flying.”

“Yes there is. The law of gravity.

Overall I did enjoy this novel. It is well written and the characters were easy to like and well developed, the mystery complete and insolvable. My only criticism would be that Madrigal’s chapters could have been more dotted throughout the novel than all in one chunk. I did like that they explained a lot of things in Karou’s present but it felt too much like tangent being placed directly in the middle of Karou’s story.


2019 Releases I’m Excited for

I’m having a terrible day, and it’s only 7:46 am in the morning… I accidentally grabbed the tuppleware containing defrosting pork steaks instead of my lunch from the fridge this morning and they’ve leaked raw meat juice all over my notebooks, jeans and signed copy of A Gathering of Shadows 😭

But there is one redeeming feature. It’s Tuesday, and that means it’s time for a fun listy post and hopefully some cheery book chatter to take my mind of the fact that I’m going to walk around the office smelling like a butcher and morning my signed book. So, on with the exciting releases!!

1. Children of Vice and Virtue

I am so excited for this novel 😍 Children of Blood and Bone was simply amazing and I can’t wait to dive back into Zelie and Amari’s world.

2. On the Come Up

I will read anything by Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give was excellent and I can’t wait to dive into her next novel.

3. Priory of the Orange Tree

I’ve put this one on here but I’m not totally sure I’ll read it 😬 it’s just a bit big, and despite loving the author and dragons I don’t know if I can commit to this epic…

4. Paper and Hearts Society

Again, a novel I’m not sure if I’ll read or not, I follow Lucy on Twitter and have seen her get increasingly excited for her novel. Although it’s not something I would normally read, I’ll probably give it a go!

5. Once and Future

This sounds so funny. It’s an Arthurian legend retelling from the perspective of a teenaged girl and the blurb sounds hilarious.

6. Enchantee

I heard about this one from my friend and it sounds amazing. Historical Paris? Yes please.

7. We Hunt the Flames

There’s so much hype about this on Twitter, I think I’ve got secondary hype. It sounds really good and I only hope the people of Twitter are not wrong!

8. Chain of Gold

Another year means another release from Cassandra Clare. I sort of lost touch with the Shadowhunters a little while ago and so many have been published since that I never really caught up. Maybe this will be the release that gets me back into their world?

Lets Compare Notes

So there you have it! A slightly shortened list of 2019 releases I’ll be looking out for. Which releases are you most excited for? Did you make a list? Feel free to share your link or opinion in the comments section! Could use all the book chatter today 😭😭

Best Books I Read in 2018

Can you believe it’s 2019?! 2018 was such a rollercoaster for me, with striking university lectures, stressful dissertations, panicking about jobs, the roller coaster that was the world cup, house hunting, living in a building site for three months and finally being where I am now. It’s mad to think back on it all and it feels sort of unreal, so much has happened.

But if one things stayed pretty stable it’s my love for books. So here’s a Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader, listing my top ten reads of 2018.

1. Children of Blood and Bone

Easily in the top ten and possibly first place, I adored this novel and can’t wait for the second one to come out in 2019. This novel was so big it defined my start of summer reading. I read it in an Air B and B in Brussels, between goals while watching the world cup, on the hot and stuffy replacement bus to YALC and while doing my summer job, waiting for kids at airport terminals.

2. To Kill a Kingdom

If you read my review you’ll know I loved this novel. It was fantastic, enchanting, funny, well written with a plot that will always keep you on the edge of your seat!

3. All Quiet on the Western Front


This emotional rollercoaster of a book saw me through several long train rides into work. It showed me a perspective on the First World War that I’d never read or understood before.

4. Traitor to the Throne


How can this author make politics this entertaining to read?! This novel drew me into reading when I was drowning in dissertation stress and wading through job applications. A great read but a less fun memory.

5. Caravel


Beautiful descriptions, intriguing characters and an intricate plot made this novel amazing. It’s also the novel I decided to take up to Manchester with me on my first visit so I distinctly remember it for that.

6. Ace of Spades


The first novel I read since starting my first full time, permanent, real life not ending and is now my life job on that long train ride up for my first day. I remember feeling just as lost as Ennie stepping into New Reynes on my first day at the office.

7. The Exact Opposite of Okay

This funny yet important read was short and light hearted, perfect for the stress of my dissertation and exams. While panicking about striking lectures, impending deadlines and postponed courseworks all appearing at once I could at least comfort myself with Izzy’s humour and staple love of milkshakes.

8. Flawed


I read this dystopian on many a replacement bus, since I read it on the week the trains stopped running, and it will do nothing but remind me of large busses turning in small country villages.

9. The Bone Season


It was during the cold March snow that I read this action packed gem. I followed Paige through the dingy halls of Oxford colleges while I was freezing in my cold student house and wishing my stingy housemates would put the heating on. Luckily the university library always had my back.

10. Hero at the Fall

Because I adored the conclusion to the novels that ensured my love of reading during university. It may not have been perfect but it was good enough.

Let’s Compare Notes

So there you have it! Ten reads I loved in 2018. I can’t wait to see what magical books 2019 will present me with. Any 2019 releases you’re excited for? Or books you’re planning on reading? What was your favourite read of 2018? Feel free to drop an opinion or link to your post in the comments section!

Review: Caravel by Stefanie …

With the recent release of Legendary, the sequel, I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and polish of Caravel- a novel that screams the enchantment of The Night Circus but is stuffed with more action, adventure and even more plot twists.

This circus-esque novel follows two sisters in their attempts to flee from their abusive father by entering a dangerous yet enchanting game- Caravel, a travelling circus where the main attraction is watching half the audience attempt to solve clues to win a prize. This years prize: a wish.

He’d heard every person gets one impossible wish—just one—if the person wants something more than anything, and they can find a bit of magic to help them along.

But when older sister Scarlett enters this mystical game, in the hope of winning the wish and escaping her abusive father, she soon finds the price for playing is higher than she realises and the game more deceptive than she thought.

Caravel is a light and easy to read YA fantasy that hooked me in from page one. With rumours and half truths flying left right and centre, all covered by the dazzle of Caravel, the book is well paced, intriguing and well written. I particularly enjoyed following our guarded main character, Scarlett, as she attempts to make sense of the game that has swallowed her plans and sent her future spiralling out of her grasp.

Every person has the power to change their fate if they are brave enough to fight for what they desire more than anything”

The descriptions in Caravel are sparse and delicate, one of my few critisms I have of this novel. Each chapter is dotted with intricate detail, as I’d expected, from describing the buttons and bows that adorn Scarlett’s dresses to the strong perfumes of a potion stand. The writer included a lot of finer details to embellish the plotline.

But I was struggling to picture Caravel in all it’s glory. For a girl who has dreamed of visiting the game all her life, Scarlett does very little adventuring of her own. The reader doesn’t get elaborate descriptions of the circus or how others are playing, Scarlett only tries foods when she must and only explores what is required by the plot. The book felt a little short, it could have easily been bulked out with a few more descriptions of the glamouress Caravel and the unimaginable sights that were too often mentioned but not shown without detracting too much from the plot.

However, this is a minor detail. And although the lack of description of Caravel itself annoyed me a bit it does keep the plot quick and fast paced- a feat I know many readers would enjoy. It is gripping and what descriptions there are are certainly not lacking.

Every touch created colors she had never seen. Colors as soft as velvet and as sharp as sparks that turned into stars.

Caravel’s plot is as straight forward as the game the novel is named for. As Scarlett second guesses each and every half truth she is told so does the reader, and the confusing mixture of clues our protagonist receives are somewhat difficult to follow and even harder to spot. But with the insistence that Caravel is “only a game” and Scarlett’s tentative nature of second guessing each action or motive the twists and turns embellish a story that is clearly better explained than guessed.

“It’s better this way, sister. There’s more to life than staying safe…”

The sisterly bond between Tella and Scarlett was refreshing in YA. More often do characters act out of romantic love or spite in this genre and it was nice that this novel touched on a new motive. Although we do see Scarlett’s motherly nature towards Tella, a relationship similar to that of Katniss’s and Prim’s, we also see that they are friends and catch glimpses of their childhood where they played games and heard stories together. This adds a soft edge to Scarlett’s otherwise seemingly reserved and nervous character.

I would recommend Caravel to anyone looking for a short, fun read. It’s quick, enchanting, and like the circus, it’s over too quickly.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ /5

Let’s Compare Notes

Have you read Caravel? Do you agree with me? Have you ever read The Night Circus, or anything similar? Would love to hear from you in the comments section!

10 Brilliant Bookshops

Don’t worry, this post is not some bookish rehash of that Christmas song about giving your true love turtle doves and other random things they wouldn’t want in copious numbers. No, it’s way better than that.

It’s a Top Ten Tuesday all about libraries and Bookshops I’d love to visit, which wasn’t too hard for me since I spend half my life trawling through Instagram admiring pretty book hubs.

1. Shakespeare and Company in Paris

Tucked into to the corner of Paris this homely bookshop is the oldest in Paris and still as quant and beautiful as when it was first built.

2. Aqua Alta in Venice

This library in Venice looks amazing. Complete with Gondola, there’s books stacked in every corner and towering up the walls, a dusty, cramped paradise for any book lover.

3. Starfield Library in South Korea

With floor to ceiling length shelves curving round the library, spotlit and organised, what’s not to love about this South Korean masterpiece.

4. Library@Orchard in Singapore

This library depicts a more modern theme with its white, neat shelves, curving round each other in elegant patterns over in Singapore. And yes, I’ve clearly watched too many home design shows.

5. Admont Abbey Library in Austria

Once a monastery, this beautiful building has been stacked high with books tucked between majestic columns, gold detail and all perched under its beautifully painted ceiling.

6. Carousel of Light in Bucharest

Pristine white columns, hard oak floors, a second story weaving it’s way round it’s hollowed out centre- a breathtaking book store in Bucharest that I’d love to visit.

7. Tropisms in Brussels

Having recently visited Brussels I can attest that the city is full of delicate charm and intricate design, so it’s no surprise that this palace like library found its home there.

8. Ler Devager in Portugal

Stacked high with books and sporting that upper floor balcony I’m really starting to appreciate in books shops, this well snapped shop is a real masterpiece.

9. The British Library in London

Just opposite Kings Cross this library must stock one of every book ever traditionally published in the UK. It’s massive, beautifully domed and majestically built in the heart of London. And a firm favourite with my book obsessed historian of a boyfriend.

10. Hachards in London

We’re getting a little less exotic now but I felt should mention this one. Having been in Piccadilly for two centuries this bookshop boasts being the oldest bookshop in the world. It’s bay windows and Square front have stood the test of time, showing just how popular reading is.

Lets Compare Notes

Have you been to any of these shops? Have I missed any key or magestic masterpieces that house books? Care to share your ttt list? Would love to hear from you in the comments!

10 MASSIVE Books

As a reader with a short attention span long books are a bit of a chore. And, contrary to what my parents believe, I don’t spend my whole life reading. I actually often avoid bigger books because slumps and possibly book commitment issues (come on if your book is more than 500 pages it’ll require some serious dedication). But there are the odd exceptions and there are books that I just wish would never end, so at times a meaty read is worth it.

This Top Ten Tuesday is all about massive books we’ve read, so here’s my list.

1. The Book Thief (584 pages)

I saw this on a few lists and was honestly so surprised to see how long it was! I raced through this novel and it never felt like it dragged or could have been shorter.

2. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (766 pages)

I remember this Harry Potter book being massive, with the paranoid ministry mucking around in Hogwarts and Fred and George causing even more havoc, this weighed down my school bag for a good two weeks.

3. A Darker Shade of Magic (400 pages)

Although this book isn’t as many pages as the others on this list it was a pretty dense book and takes up quite a bit of room on my shelf. The plot itself takes place over only a handful of days but I remember the pacing being really good so who knows how the author managed that one!

4. Jane Eyre (500 pages)

When I read this novel for school, before I’d discovered the joys of YA, I remember thinking it was really longggg. And that books suck. Who even was I?!

5. The Bone Season (480 pages)

I guess in the midst of my dissertation this novel felt longer than it was, but at 480 pages it’s still a pretty hefty tome. Also when I googled it’s page number it took me ages to find it since the protagonist is called Paige and Google decided to be phonetic about this.

6. Septimus Heap Fyre (528 pages)

I don’t remember any of these books being particularly long when I devoured them as a kid! But apparently Fyre was huge!!

7. Children of Blood and Bone (525 pages)

This book felt all the fatter when I pointlessly lugged it to YALC to just miss out on meeting author. Cry.

8. Skulduggery Pleasant: The Dying of the Light (624 pages)

The book that got so freaky I had to finish the last few pages on the kitchen floor (since the other rooms in dad’s flat are dingy). I remember it being a brick when I lugged it home, the hardback element not helping.

9. Birdsong (407 pages)

This book felt quite a lot slower than it was, dragging out the war and aftermath. Although I did enjoy it and it was well written I found it could have been a bit more punchy.

10. Great Expectations (544 pages)

I had to read this for school and I remember my class didn’t even finish it since it was so dense. Although I was so cool at school that chose to read it after class… Yep I was that kid.

Lets Compare Notes

What’s the biggest book you’ve ever read? Have you read any of the books on this list? Got a list of your own to share? Would love to hear from you in the comments section!

Reading Hyped Books: Pros and Cons

What’s this? A discussion post? Do I have opinions behind all the tags and lists I post? Possibly not but let’s give it a go anyway.

I started my blog earlier this year and since then have tentatively started talking to other bloggers (urg why is socialising so hard). I’ve found myself reading more fantasy YA, more hyped and sought after novels than ever and adding suggestions to my tbr more than before. So here’s my question:

Is it a good thing to read mostly hyped novels?

This blog is, shamelessly, a YA book blog. And most of what I read is YA, but not everything. I occasionally dip into classics (I know grim) like Pride and Prejudice or read historical fiction like Birdsong. I’m currently reading a non fiction book about a man who was a prisoner of war in Japan and loving it.

These rare detours I take from YA fantasy give me new prospectives, new stories and, if nothing else, a small break from a genre of books which, let’s face it, are all eerily similar. But I find myself wanting to read away a lot less now I’m a blogger.

I always seem to be following the hype to the latest big release and missing the small gems in the middle

The way I used to pick up books has changed. I used to walk into my local library and skim my fingers over glossy covers, flick through front pages and skim read blurbs until I’ve chosen a book. I didn’t trawl through endless Goodreads reviews, scroll through blogs or take recommendations. It was all very random. If you see strange and unheard of books featuring on my Top Ten Tuesday lists then this is why.

I’ve found hidden gems that never made it big, sat in lonely fandoms and met characters that are mostly unknown to many but a few. Not all bad really since I read more diversely.

There’s something relaxing about reading a book with no hype, having no spoilers and no expectations.

You can blog about an unknown novel and feel you’re really helping that author, if you enjoyed their book. You won’t join a batch of fifty other bloggers reviewing the book that week, your opinions feel a tad more fresh and more unique.

And if you manage to find a rare individual who has also read that novel it’s amazing. You can compare notes and swap opinions in a way that is more personal way than the short bursts of ‘ah I loved that book’ I seem to send when the novel is hyped up.

But I was finding myself more often in a slump. I remember reading a book called Hunting Lila that wasn’t awful but was very meh. At least with a hyped book you know what your getting.

Books don’t always live up to their hype but if they’re well known they will rarely leave you in a slump

At least that’s what I’ve found. Even if the books awful I’ll usually push on to finish it just so I can add my two pence to the excited conversations on twitter about the novel. So I could conspire about the sequels and understand the jokes or quotes being tossed around. Fickle I know but I like to feel involved.

And then there’s the small snag of my blog. I can rave, review and mention (sorry couldn’t think of another r word there) about all the niche novels in the world and not get the same interaction on my tweets, Instagram or blog that I would when chatting about one big release. And I didn’t start a blog to sit the corner and be lonely.

Whether you love or hate a hyped up book you can always chat to someone about it.

I don’t want to just read what everyone else is reading but at the same I time I sort of… do? It drives traffic and interaction to my blog like those niche little reads.

So, overall, you’ve read this entire post and come in true Hannah style to no conclusion. Is reading loads of hyped books a problem? I guess I’d conclude that it’s all about balance and reading what you feel like without stressing too much about missing those big new releases, because sometimes the smaller releases are just as good.

Lets Compare Notes

Would love to hear your opinion on the topic! Am I mad, do you agree? Is this post on rather a null point (I’ll try not take offense 😝)? Feel free to leave a comment!