Book Review: It Only Happens in the Movies

Every once in a while, you read a book which really resonates with you. This happened with me when I finally got around to reading It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne. It’s been on my TBR for a while now and after reading a lot of fantasy lately which was just a bit too dark and filled with death for my current frame of mind, I decided it was time to seek out some contemporary romance. What I was looking for was something light and fluffy to make me feel better. What I found was something much more meaningful than I expected.

Holly Bourne is, of course, a huge presence in contemporary YA. Her Spinster Club series is hailed as essential reading for today’s young women for it’s strong themes of female-empowerment and friendship. I don’t know why, then, I expected It Only Happens in the Movies, to be cute and fluffy. Maybe it was the bright cover or the blurb on the back which referenced romance films and falling in love. Maybe that is intentional. Maybe the marketing team wanted to mirror the false image of love given off by romance movies by making people think this was going to be a cutesy love story.

It Only Happens in the Movies IS a love story, but this is no rose-tinted-glasses, Hollywood take on love. Oh no. This book is so grounded in reality and that is what I found so refreshing. Bourne doesn’t shy away from talking about the important topics – dysfunctional families, body image and insecurity, sex. Many books reference these topics but they tend to gloss over them or make them melodramatic. Bourne doesn’t do that. She paints a stark and real picture of what these issues are like and how they can affect people. Continue reading “Book Review: It Only Happens in the Movies”


Book Review: When Dimple Met Rishi

Ever since I was seventeen I have been interested in Indian culture. In my uni days I started watching Hindi movies and TV serials and tried to learn how to cook Indian food from scratch. While my Hindi might be patchy at best, I still enjoy anything related to Indian culture, so when I heard about When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon, I knew I had to read it.

When Dimple Met Rishi is contemporary YA, set in America. Our protagonist is seventeen-year-old Dimple Shah, born in America to Indian parents and struggling to juggle their expectations with her own aspirations for her future. Dimple dreams of going to Insomnia Con, an annual summer programme run by SFSU where participants have the chance to build and pitch their own app. This year’s prize is the opportunity to share their idea with Jenny Lindt, who just happens to be Dimple’s idol.

Dimple doesn’t think her parents will allow her to go, however she is willing to try to convince them. Imagine her surprise when they not only agree but seem totally unfazed by the six week programme. Have they finally come round to Dimple’s way of thinking?

Meanwhile, Rishi Patel is a traditional son hoping to make his parents proud. Like Dimple, he was born in America, however he feels a strong connection to his Indian heritage. Rishi secretly enjoys drawing and creating his own comic book characters. Knowing his parents want him to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a computer engineer, he is trying to suppress his love of art and focus on fulfilling his parents wishes. He has asked them to find him a potential bride, and as luck would have it they are old friends of the Shahs. Rishi is happy to go to Insomnia Con to meet Dimple, thinking she has agreed to the match… Continue reading “Book Review: When Dimple Met Rishi”

Book Review: Caraval

When I first heard of Caraval by Stephanie Garber I knew I had to read it. Scarlett and Tella have longed to go to Caraval, a yearly magical travelling performance, all their lives. This year, after writing countless letters, they have finally secured invites. When they get to Caraval, however, Tella goes missing and suddenly Scarlett finds herself having to search for her sister in a game that seems far more real and terrifying than any performance.

The cover is so pretty – all black and gold with an arresting white title. I must admit I did imagine that Caraval would be in the same vein as The Night Circus. The colours of the cover gave me that vibe and Caraval itself sounded to me like a circus.

Oh my word, I was so wrong. Caraval is nothing like The Night Circus. Not in a bad way. In fact, I am really pleased that it turned out to be completely different. Caraval is an unique book, one that I am not quite sure how to describe. It is dark but also funny at times and there is romance thrown into the mix too. Trying to pin genres to this book is difficult. Yes, it is YA and probably fantasy, but at the beginning I felt as if there was a slight dystopian feel which later becomes more steampunk. In a nutshell it is a thrilling ride which will keep you guessing right up to the last page.

Caraval is Garber’s first novel but I would never have known this if it didn’t say so in the author biography. Garber’s writing is assured and manages to sweep you up into the strange, sometimes amazing, sometimes sinister world of Caraval. Her words paint a vivid picture of the performance – I could visualise every single building and all the colours that Scarlett sees. At times the writing was so good I did feel as if I was there with Scarlett, sharing her fear and longing to find her sister. Continue reading “Book Review: Caraval”

What Love Means To Me


Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.

A lot of people are quite scornful about today and, yes, it has become overly commercialised and tacky but I still love the idea of Valentine’s Day. As many of you may already know, I am a romantic. I love anything to do with romance and hearts and flowers. Ever since I was little I have been captivated by the idea of meeting my prince charming and being swept off my feet.

Of course, I know real love is vastly different to what we see and read about in fiction. Nevertheless, I still think it’s a good idea to dedicate a whole day to love. Valentine’s Day is marketed as all about romance, but love takes many shapes and forms and should be celebrated for all the many ways it can touch our lives.

At one point or another all of us will experience some form of love. Our first concept of love is usually garnered from our parents. I was lucky enough to grow up in a happy home. My parents were married for 30 years and though they could bicker for the world, they were still very much in love.

I always remember my mum telling me that the best advice she ever had was from her own mother. My grandmother told my mum that marriage is like two horses pulling a plough; both have to pull in the same direction in order for it to work. Now that I am older and have been in a relationship for three years, I can fully appreciate just what my gran meant by these words.

Being in a relationship takes work. When I was little I always assumed that love was simple. I never realised that loving someone means learning how to deal with their bad moods, or learning how to admit when you are in the wrong and compromising when you can’t get your own way.

For me, falling in love has taught me how to be a rounder person. I have always had a tendency to be selfish, something I attribute to being an only child. My whole life I have been spoiled and allowed to get my own way. Being with my partner has taught me how to share and to accept that I cannot always get what I want. I honestly do not know how he puts up with me sometimes. I am stubborn and moody and often a little unfair to him.

Loving someone means loving them through good and bad times. If you are lucky enough to find someone who wants to be with you even when you get huffy with them, who thinks you look beautiful even when you have a break out and you haven’t shaved in a few days, then you should cherish that person. Until recently I took my partner for granted, but losing my mum showed me that you should hold the people you love most close. My boyfriend is my rock. He has helped me through the worst period of my life this far and he knows how to make me smile. No one believes in me more than he does. Without him I think I would be a lot more selfish and definitely a lot less happy.

Whether you like the idea of Valentine’s Day or not, use today to show the people you love most just how important they are to you. That doesn’t have to involve buying a gift or taking them out to dinner. Something I’ve learned over the past few months is that words are so much more powerful and meaningful than a gift. Simply saying, ‘I love you’ or ‘Thank you for being in my life’ is worth more than any bunch of roses or fancy meal. It is the little things that really count – making a cup of tea, rubbing their temples when they have a headache, snuggling while you watch TV. That is what love means to me.

To Read 2017

We may not be quite one month into 2017 but already I have my eye on lots of up-coming book releases. February and May are shaping up to be particularly good months for those with a fondness for literature. While I am ashamed to say that I am still reading the book I started at the beginning of January, I am determined to try to read more this year. With that in mind I have come up with a list of the books, old and new, I am most excited for the coming months.

caravalCaraval, Stephanie Garber

I first came across this one through Twitter. Released on 31st January, the blurb conjured up echoes of The Night Circus for me. Caraval is about two sisters longing to escape their tiny island and abusive father. Caraval is a yearly event, a week of magic where the audience is part of the performance. The sisters receive the much awaited invitation but once there one of them is kidnapped and it is down to the other to try to find her. I love stories about magic and the blurb promises adventure and romance, so I am rather intrigued to get my hands on a copy of this book.

The Best of Adam Sharp, Graeme Simsion

One of my favourite books of recent years is The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. It was just so utterly heartwarming and joyful. When I learned that Simsion had a new book due out in February I knew I had to add it to my wish list. The Best of Adam Sharp is about a 50-year-old man who leads a stable but mundane life. His world is rocked when an old flame walks back into his life. Angeline was the one that got away and now she’s come back into his orbit he finds himself wondering what if…?

wintersongWintersong, S. Jae-Jones

Another up-coming novel that came to my attention through Twitter, Wintersong sounds like a classic YA fantasy tale. Liesl has always been fascinated by the Goblin King and the stories she has heard about him have inspired her music. When Liesl is eighteen, her sister is taken by the goblins and Liesl must journey to rescue her. The blurb promises adventure and a fantastical goblin kingdom and the cover alone is pretty enough to entice me to buy a copy. Wintersong is released on 7th February.

Strange the Dreamer, Laini Taylor

Laini Taylor is one of those writers whose imagination astounds me. Her Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy was so unique and amazing that it has to be read to be fully appreciated. If this new series is anything like her trilogy then it will be outstanding. The concept sounds very different to other YA fantasy books out there. Lazlo Strange has been haunted by the same dream all his life and the only way to lose that dream is to travel to the city of Weep where, two hundred years ago, a massacre took place. Strange the Dreamer brings a new twist to the mythology of gods and sounds truly epic in scale. I can’t wait to delve into it when it is released in March.

lordofshadowsLord of Shadows, Cassandra Clare

The sequel to Lady Midnight, Lord of Shadows is the newest installment from the world of the Shadowhunters. Emma is in love with her parabatai, Julien, but relationships between parabatai are forbidden. To try to protect Julien she has begun dating his brother Mark. Mark, however, has his own secrets and is emotionally scarred from his time in Faerie. With the faerie courts rebelling against the Shadowhunters the stage is set for conflict and heartbreak. Cassie has a knack of reeling her readers in and shredding their emotions to pieces. I have full faith that Lord of Shadows will be just as much of a rollercoaster as all her previous books.

As well as these new releases there are some books that have already been published that I am eager to add to my collection. A friend recommended The Sun is also a Star by Nicola Yoon and I am also keen to read Instructions for a Second-Hand Heart by Tamsyn Murray. I’ve also nearly finished reading Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas and I have enjoyed it so much I have to read the others in the series.

So many books, so little time. What is on your reading list this year? I am always looking for recommendations so please feel free to share any titles you are excited for in the comments. Happy reading everyone!

Book Review: Me Before You

mebeforeyouIt’s with a slight sense of shame that I have to admit that Me Before You has sat on my bookshelf for three years, waiting to be read. Friends had recommended it and I was aware of all the positive reviews out there about it, but somehow I kept passing over it in favour of other, newer books. To my embarrassment, it wasn’t until I heard that there was going to be a film version that I decided I had to read it.

Turns out, I’ve been missing out all this time. Jojo Moyes’s bestseller is one of those books which totally defies your expectations. From the blurb and the pretty cover, I imagined this would be a story about a girl down on her luck and a disabled man, meeting, falling in love and changing each others’ lives for the better. Little did I realise that Me Before You is actually a deeply moving exploration of disability and the right to decide your own fate.

When we first meet her, Lou has just lost her job. Having worked most of her adult life in a cafe in the small town she grew up in, she doesn’t have much on her CV and struggles to find new employment. Desperate to earn money to help her struggling parents, she reluctantly agrees to attend an interview for the position of a personal help to a quadriplegic man. What follows changes her life forever. Continue reading “Book Review: Me Before You”

Romantic Quotes From Literature


Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Whatever your feelings about today, you can’t deny that love is a great source of inspiration. For centuries we humans have been writing poems and songs celebrating that single, most complicated of emotions. There are so many different shades of love: romantic love, platonic love, the love that exists between family members and, of course, the love of chocolate (that last one might just be me!). Wherever you look in our culture, be it film, TV, music or literature, you can see love’s influence. It rules our lives as well as our hearts.

Those who know me, know that I am a sucker for romance. All my life I have adored fairy tales and believed in the possibility of a happily ever after. Even now, nothing pleases me more than escaping for a few hours with a good romantic book or film. One of the key ingredients I look for in a good book is a love story I can invest in. Nothing makes me want to keep reading more than the thrill of wondering if two characters will eventually overcome all obstacles and end up together.

In honour of Valentine’s Day, then, I want to share with you some of my favourite romantic lines from some of my favourite books. I picked these quotes because they resonated with me. Each one of them defines, for me, what love and romance are all about. I hope they inspire you as much as they have me.

“I asked you here tonight because when you realise you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” – The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion

“But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.” – The Fault In Our Stars, John Green

When I looked into his eyes, I could see without a doubt that he loved me more than anyone else in the world, that I was his salvation, the same way that he was mine. – Shadow Kiss, Richelle Mead

You saved my life, she tried to tell him. Not forever, not for good. Probably just temporarily. But you saved my life, and now I’m yours. The me that’s me right now is yours. Always. – Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell

“You were the centre of my universe,” I say. “Everything else spun around you.” – Carry On, Rainbow Rowell

For nothing, not the sun, not the rain, not even the brightest star in the darkest sky, could begin to compare to the wonder of you. – The Wrath & The Dawn, Renee Ahdieh

“Your words have changed me, Tess; they have made me a better man than I would have been otherwise. Life is a book, and there are a thousand pages I have not read yet. I would read them together with you, as many as I can, before I die-” – Clockwork Princess, Cassandra Clare

“There are a hundred trillion cells in the human body,” she said. “And every single one of the cells of my body loves you. We shed cells, and grow new ones, and my new cells love you more than the old ones, which is why I love you more every day than I did before. It’s science.” – City of Heavenly Fire, Cassandra Clare

“Be with me always – take any form – drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! it is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!” – Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

“You’re right,” I told him desperately. “I can get others to do what you do. They won’t be as good, but…okay. But it doesn’t matter because no matter how good they are, they can’t replace you. They can’t because I don’t need you only for what you can do. I need you…for you.” – Tempt The Stars, Karen Chance

“He watches her the way Harshaw watches fire. Like he’ll never have enough of her. Like he’s trying to capture what he can before she’s gone.” – Ruin and Rising, Leigh Bardugo

Even before he flipped it over to find the note, he was thinking the very same thing: that he wished more than anything that she was here, too. And just like that, his heart – that dead thing inside of him – came to life again. – The Geography of You and Me, Jennifer E. Smith

“I’ll love you until my very last breath. Every beat of my heart is yours.”- The One, Kiera Cass

You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. – Persuasion, Jane Austen

For the two of us, home isn’t a place. It’s a person. – Anna and the French Kiss, Stephanie Perkins

“The center will hold.”

“How do you know?”

“Because we are the center.” – The Fiery Heart, Richelle Mead

Continue reading “Romantic Quotes From Literature”