Saturday, 23 September 2017

Stacking the Shelves: Graduation Book Haul

Stacking the Shelves is a meme co-hosted by Reading Reality and Tynga's Reviews. Each week bloggers share the books they got. I officially graduated on Wednesday, a Master degree in English and Spanish linguistics and literature. I am now still studying to get a teacher's degree which hopefully will be done around January if I can plan my teaching practice accordingly.

After the proclamation, I went to some bookstores in Ghent to celebrate. The first three I got in Het Paard van Troje.

1. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

I went into this bookstore to get this edition of The Count of Monte Cristo and Middlemarch, however, they didn't have the last one anymore, so I decided to buy two other books instead :)

2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Honestly, I already had a copy of Anna Karenina but I simple couldn't resist this gorgeous Vintage edition. Hopefully, I finally feel motivated enough to pick it up!

3. Poems by Wilfred Owen

Since I wrote my thesis on First World War literature, it only felt natural to get this collection of Great War poems by Wilfred Owen.

Then we went to The English Book Shop, a second-hand bookstore in Ghent and I got the following three books.

4. The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

Once again, I already owned a copy of this book but I mistakenly ordered the mass market paperback version and I really dislike reading classics or literary fiction in such a small font. So when I saw the hardcover for a cheap price, I was fated to pick it up. I am currently reading this book, I just had to pick it up!

5. The Republic of Thieves (Gentleman Bastard #3) by Scott Lynch 

I have read and loved The Lies of Locke Lamora and I own the sequel, when I saw the correct edition to match my other books, I couldn't resist. I hope to continue the series soon!

6. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

If you follow this blog, you're probably tired of me going on about my thesis and the fact that I studied an Indian Great War novel. I can't guarantee this is the last time I'll mention it, but if been wanting to read A Suitable Boy for some time now, and when I saw it, it felt right to get it on that day. If you have more recommendations of books set in India, please let me know!

Have you read any of the books mentioned above or are you planning to? Which books did you get recently? Leave your thoughts down below! 

If you have a blog, don't forget to leave the link, so I can leave a comment on your blog as well!

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Friday, 22 September 2017

Review: Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel by Mariah Marsden and Brenna Thummler

Schoolyard rivalries. Baking disasters. Puffed sleeves. Explore the violet vales and glorious green of Avonlea in this spirited adaptation.

The magic of L.M. Montgomery’s treasured classic is reimagined in a whimsically-illustrated graphic novel adaptation perfect for newcomers and kindred spirits alike. When Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert decide to adopt an orphan who can help manage their family farm, they have no idea what delightful trouble awaits them. With flame-red hair and an unstoppable imagination, 11-year-old Anne Shirley takes Green Gables by storm.

Anne’s misadventures bring a little romance to the lives of everyone she meets: her bosom friend, Diana Barry; the town gossip, Mrs. Lynde; and that infuriating tease, Gilbert Blythe. From triumphs and thrills to the depths of despair, Anne turns each everyday moment into something extraordinary.

The spirit of Anne is alive and well in Mariah Marsden's crisp adaptation, and it's a thrill to watch as the beloved orphan rushes headlong through Brenna Thummler's heavenly landscapes. Together Marsden and Thummler conjure all the magic and beauty of Green Gables. Like Anne herself, you won't want to leave.
— Brian Selznick, author/illustrator of “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” and “The Marvels”

-- description --

I received an arc from Netgalley and the publishers in exchange for an honest review. I read Anne of Green Gables for the very first time this year. However, I've loved the adaptation for years now.

Mariah Marsden and Brenna Thummler adapted Anne's well loved story into a stunning graphic novel.

The art work fits the story perfectly and they adapted the story faithfully. No major changes were made. The artists succeeded in bringing Anne's story to life in their illustrations. The atmosphere was captured wonderfully.

I will definitely be purchasing this graphic novel when I get the chance! It's a must read for all fans of Anne of Green Gables! I hope they will continue adapting the rest of the series because I'm hooked! 

I gave Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel 5 stars! I fell in love with the illustrations from the first page. I can't recommend this graphic novel enough, it such a delight!

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Review: The Ghost Of Gaudi by El Torres

Someone is committing barbarous murders throughout Barcelona, focusing on locations designed by renowned visionary architect Antoni Gaudi. The police have no clues, but a young woman is thrust into the investigation by a man resembling the late Gaudi himself, led to the scenes of the crimes before they even occur... could be a precognizant ghost? A visual tour through the beautiful streets of Barcelona on a true edge-of-your-seat thriller written by El Torres and illustrated by Jesus Alonso, both natives of the city. Winner of several awards in Spain. 

-- description -- 

I received an arc copy from Netgalley and the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

This is a fictional graphic novel about an investigation of serial murders on the sites of Gaudí's creations in Barcelona.

Before I review this comic, there is one thing you need to know about me. I LOVE GAUDÍ! For the past twenty years, my family and I, rent an apartment near Barcelona from friends for a week or two. Aside from my university city, Ghent, Barcelona is my most well-known and favourite city. I have visited everything Gaudí designed which is open to the public. He is by far my favourite architect.

So, now let's move on to the actual review:

Things I liked: 

- As I'm a huge Gaudí fan, I adored the drawings of his many creations. The art style is really stunning and for that alone, I recommend this graphic novel. The theme of the story was represented in the darker colours while the artist still showed the vibrant buildings created by Gaudí in their original state. 

- I enjoyed the mystery aspect, it was entertaining and I actually didn't figure out who was responsible for the murders before the police did, which is also refreshing.

Things I didn't like:

- I didn't really get Antonia's storyline. It made the story more confusing and I feel she could have been left out of the comic in its entirety. 

- The presence of Gaudí's ghost was a bit over the top for me. I think the story would have been stronger it focussed a bit more on the police investigation instead of on Antonia and Gaudí's ghost, but that's just my personal opinion.

All in all, I recommend this graphic novel! I absolutely adore the art style and for me that's always the most important aspect of a graphic novel (again that's just my personal opinion). If you like Gaudí as much as I do, I believe you should definitely check this one out. However, if you are not familiar with the Catalan architect, this comic offers a good introduction to his work as well. All his most famous creations in Barcelona are featured in the story.

I gave this stunning graphic novel 3 stars and I might actually purchase it in the future as well! Loved it!

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books On My Fall TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week bloggers post their top ten on a previously suggested topic. This week's topic is top ten books on my fall TBR list. I read about half of the books on my summer TBR, so it would be great if I could read half of this list as well!

1. The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

I've been hearing so much about this one lately, I just had to get it for myself!

2. Waking Gods (Themis Files #2) by Sylvain Neuvel 

I got the sequel from Netgalley in a pdf version, I personally struggle to read pdf's but I do hope to read this one soon!

3. A Wrinkle in Time (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet, #1) by Madeleine L'Engle

I've been hearing so much about this book over the years, I'm really curious to see what it's about!

4. Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

I was approved to read this through Netgalley but I didn't have the time to read it before the archive date, so now I got hold of a copy through my library.

5. Hidden Huntress (The Malediction Trilogy #2) by Danielle L. Jensen

I got The Broken Ones from Netgalley as well, but I believe I should finish the trilogy before reading the prequel.

6. Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons, #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Since watching the movie in August, I've been wanting to read Leigh Bardugo's newest book! So excited!

7. Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicle, #2) by Jay Kristoff 

I really enjoyed Nevernight, so now I want to read sequel!

8. The Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1) by Marie Lu 

This one has been on my shelves for way too long, it's about time I read it!

9. Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist, #1) by Renee Ahdieh

I ordered the October fairyloot box and I have a deal with myself that I have to read the previous fairy loot books before the next box arrives. Flame in the Mist was in the last box I ordered and now I need to read it as soon as possible! Really excited about this one!

10. The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo, enough said.

Which books do you plan to read? Have you read any of the ones mentioned above? Leave your thoughts down below!

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Monday, 18 September 2017

Review: Taproot by Keezy Young

Blue is having a hard time moving on. He's in love with his best friend. He's also dead. Luckily, Hamal can see ghosts, leaving Blue free to haunt him to his heart's content. But something eerie is happening in town, leaving the local afterlife unsettled, and when Blue realizes Hamal's strange ability may be putting him in danger, Blue has to find a way to protect him, even if it means... leaving him. 

-- description --

I received Taproot from Netgalley and the publishers in exchange for an honest review.
Taproot is a graphic novel about Hamal who can see ghosts. You follow Hamal's adventures with Blue and their budding relationship. 

Things I liked:

- I really liked the art style and the colours that were used. The ghosts are blue/greyish, including their speech bubbles!

- I really enjoyed Hamal's and Blue's relationship! I love the diversity in this book.

I loved the humour in this book, especially the grim reaper got some great lines!

Things I didn't like:

I enjoyed Taproot, although I wish it had been longer. Once I got fully invested in the story, I had already reached the end.

I would have liked a little more worldbuilding and character development, but maybe that's just the genre (which I'm not that familiar with).

In addition, there were a lot of characters (especially the others ghosts) of which the reader knows almost nothing about all. I feel this is a bit of missed opportunity. Either you include them and introduce them properly to the reader or you leave them out entirely. 

I felt we only got to know the characters superficially and I wish they had a bit more depth. This could perhaps have been solved if the graphic novel had been longer.

All in all, I thought this was a fantastic introduction to Keezy Young's work. I really like her art style and I could definitely be persuaded to read more of her work in the future. I gave Taproot 3 stars! I do believe younger readers might enjoy this more even more than I did.

6 Reasons Why You Should Watch Spider-Man: Homecoming

Why should you go watch another Spider-Man movie? There are already so many of them out there! Why is this one different? That's exactly what I asked myself before watching this movie and here are the answers! I prepared this post a while ago, so I'm going to keep this brief:

- Peter Parker actually looks his age

I have never read any of the Spiderman comics but I do hair this is a more faithful portrayal, I do feel the previous Spidermen did not really look the age implied, as did the rest of the cast.

- Great Humour

This was by far the most funny Spiderman movie I've ever seen (granted I haven't seen all of them yet)!

Example: I lost an electron T-shirt

- Iron Man pops up

You can never go wrong with Robert Downey Jr.

- Peter makes teenager mistakes

He messes up, but he does learn from his mistakes. I feel it's quite refreshing seeing a superhero struggle from time to time and actually make mistakes.

- Good action scenes

Really enjoyed the action scenes. His suit is awesome!

- Good music

I mean, Blitzkrieg Bop anyone?!

All in all, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a really entertaining film, which you should go see if you even mediocrely like superhero movies.

I tried to be brief and to the point in this review. Let me know if you liked this style or if you prefer more details for future movie reviews.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Review: How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry

Everyone has a story . . . but will they get the happy ending they deserve?

Emilia has just returned to her idyllic Cotswold hometown to rescue the family business. Nightingale Books is a dream come true for book-lovers, but the best stories aren't just within the pages of the books she sells - Emilia's customers have their own tales to tell.

There's the lady of the manor who is hiding a secret close to her heart; the single dad looking for books to share with his son but who isn't quite what he seems; and the desperately shy chef trying to find the courage to talk to her crush . . .

And as for Emilia's story, can she keep the promise she made to her father and save Nightingale Books? 

-- description --

I received an arc copy from Netgalley and the publishers in exchange for an honest review. However, I wasn't able to read the pdf in time, because I really struggle with those, the small font in particular. So, I was able to get a copy through my library and finally had a chance to read it. And let me tell you, I'm so glad I did!

I requested this book because it's about a book shop and I simply adore books about books! In addition, I really enjoy reading romance novels as well.

Things I liked:

- The book shop is the central part of the novel. The story is told through various perspective which have the book store in common. 

- I was engrossed in every single storyline and actually want more! Every character was unique and were interesting to read about! I do believe Dillon and Alice are the cutest!

- I was a bit stressed out at the time I started reading this but this book calmed me down a little. It was like the perfect book at the right time kind of thing.

- I now want to visit and actually work in Nightingale Books.

Things I didn't like:

- I think it should have been a bit longer. I felt things wrapped up really quickly and I actually didn't want it too end.

- I would have loved to see more of Julius!

All in all, I really enjoyed this book! It really relaxed me and that was exactly what I needed at the time! I loved all the references to other books and I really want to read Anna Karenina right now! 

I gave How to Find Love in a Bookshop 4 stars! If you are looking for an engrossing romance novel about books, you should check out Veronica Henry's novel! I really recommend it!

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Stacking the Shelves: August Book Haul Part 2

Stacking the Shelves is co-hosted by Reading Reality and Tynga's Reviews. This is part two of my massive August book haul. I did not have time to post last Saturday because my parents and I decided to visit the Battlefields of the Somme during the weekend and it turned out to be a truly impressive trip. Since I just finished writing my thesis on the First World War, I'm really interested in visiting the sites of remembrances in Belgium and France (I was already familiar with some of them before, though).

After handing in my thesis, I went to Het Paard van Troje in Ghent, a local bookshop and I got a "Let's talk about books, baby" tote bag and the following two books:

1. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

I already read this one and really enjoyed it! I wanted to pick this one up before the Netflix show comes out this autumn.

2. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

I actually wanted to get The Bird's Nest by Shirley Jackson but they did not have in stock. So, I went with The Haunting of Hill House. Since reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle, I've been wanting to read more of Jackson's work. Any recommendations are welcome!

The next day, I went to Ghent with a friend and I went book shopping again, I just couldn't resist!

3. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

I got this in a second-hand book shop in amazing condition!

Then we went to the Fnac and there was a 2 + 1 deal, so naturally, I got 6 books! :) I did get the feeling my friend thought I was completely nuts and she did not buy any books as she's got a lot at home she still needs to read and still needs to read all of mine as well... what?

4. Hot Milk by Deborah Levy

5. #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso 

Because I really liked the Netflix show!

6. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

I've only read Animal Farm by Orwell and I need to change that asap!

7. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton 

8. East of Eden by John Steinbeck

I have yet to read my first Steinbeck novel.

9. The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

Every Sunday morning if the weather is nice, there is a second-hand book fair in Ghent. I got the following books for really cheap there:

10. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Only after I got it, I noticed somebody had written on the pages.

11. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

I got a very beat-up copy of this book.

12. Shirley by Charlotte Brontë

I got this one in a very old penguin classics edition, Jungle Book as well.

13. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

14. The Shadow of the Wind (El cementerio de los libros olvidados #1) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

I know own this book in English, Spanish and Dutch, it's about time I try to read it too!

Which books did you recently get? Have you read any of the ones mentioned above or are you planning to? Leave your thoughts down below!

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Friday, 15 September 2017

Review: Don't Stop Me Now By Colleen Coleman

A hilarious feel good read about finding your feet when life pulls the rug out from under you. 

Poppy Bloom has a Life Plan: PhD in psychology, research job at her university, and a life of domestic bliss with handsome boyfriend Gregory. 

But then she finishes her PhD with no job offer, no relationship, and nowhere to live. Being unemployed and living back at her mum’s house in her vampire-themed childhood bedroom was definitely not the plan. 

Poppy is back to square one and miserable, so when she runs into childhood friend Leanne she jumps at the opportunity to catch up. The chance to run into Leanne’s gorgeous brother Tom is just a bonus… 

Soon Poppy’s scored an internship at a radio station, a boyfriend, and a whole netball team of friends: things are on the up. 

But life has a way of tripping you up when you least expect it, and Poppy soon has to decide where her priorities lie… With new friends, a new career and a new romance, can Poppy keep everyone happy, or is everything about to tumble down around her? 

A laugh-out-loud story about friendship, second chances, and new love, perfect for fans of Lindsey Kelk, Marian Keyes and Jane Costello.

-- description --

I got an arc from the publisher Bookouture through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. However, since I was a very new member of Netgalley, I did not realize I should have downloaded this book right away before the archive date. Therefore, I had to buy the e-book in order to review this book.

There is one thing you definitely need to know before starting this book: this is not a romance!

Things I liked about Don't Stop Me Now:

- I liked that the focus of the book was on Poppy's career even though I at first mistakenly believed this was going to be a romance.

- I could recognize myself in Poppy in the ways she can be shy and has to overcome her own anxieties for example to talk to other people or take big steps. That really resonated with me.

- I liked the positive message in the book that failure is not the end and even better things can come along. I have failed many things in life but I always land back on my feet after a while.

- I love the female friendships in this book! I feel most books or movies portray women rather as rivals than as friends and this was certainly not the case in Don't Stop Me Now. I do wish her teammates were more fleshed and I would have enjoyed more focus on these relationships as well.

Things I didn't like:

- Poppy's relationship with Tom is not well developed. Out of a sudden, they're an established couple, which feels a lot like insta love. This annoyed me to no end. I love slow paced romances and this did not feel like a romance at all.

- Some decisions Poppy made were obviously not well thought through and quite hurtful to others. She's such a smart person but I feel those "bad" decisions were there only to further the plot. 

- The plot is kind of predictable.

All in all, I did enjoy this book and gave it 3 stars. If you are looking for a fun, quick read, you should definitely pick this up! I would describe the genre as women's fiction because it's not a romance. Looking forward to read more of Colleen Coleman's books in the future!

Have you read this book or are you planning to? Leave your thoughts down below!
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Review: They Can't Kill Us All: The Story of Black Lives Matter by Wesley Lowery

In over a year of on-the-ground reportage, Washington Post writer Wesley Lowery traveled across the US to uncover life inside the most heavily policed, if otherwise neglected, corners of America today.

In an effort to grasp the scale of the response to Michael Brown's death and understand the magnitude of the problem police violence represents, Lowery conducted hundreds of interviews with the families of victims of police brutality, as well as with local activists working to stop it. Lowery investigates the cumulative effect of decades of racially biased policing in segregated neighborhoods with constant discrimination, failing schools, crumbling infrastructure and too few jobs.

Offering a historically informed look at the standoff between the police and those they are sworn to protect, They Can't Kill Us All demonstrates that civil unrest is just one tool of resistance in the broader struggle for justice. And at the end of President Obama's tenure, it grapples with a worrying and largely unexamined aspect of his legacy: the failure to deliver tangible security and opportunity to the marginalised Americans most in need of it. 

-- description -- 

I received an arc from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

2017 is the year I started reading non-fiction for the first time. They Can't Kill Us All is the third non-fiction book I read this year. As I live in Europe, I am not as educated in the Black Lives Matter movement, which is why I decided to read this book. I did see news reports on the shocking police shootings and the following protests.

They Can't Kill Us All is written by a journalist, Wesley Lowery. It partly feels like his memoir of sorts and partly as an overview on the Black Lives Matter movement and the key events which led to it's conception. Lowery spends a lot of time relating how he reported a story and such, which I did not expect to read about in advance. He would first relay his experiences and then suddenly start writing about a key figure in the events as if they had written that part themselves. This at times confused me. I would either have omitted myself entirely or used a different form of writing for the accounts of those people. I hope this still makes sense?

This book gave me vital insight in the Black Lives Matter movement and the events surrounding it, which is why I wanted to read the book in the first place. However, I feel there is at times too much background information which can make it a really dense read. For example, the names of certain lawyers and other namedropping did not hold my attention for long as it took me away from the main focus of the book, or else, I did not get the main focus after all. It did give this book more authenticity which was probably the intention of the author.

If you are new to non-fiction books, I believe there are better books you can start with to get acquainted to the genre. However, I thought this book was very instructive and I'm really glad I read it. I gave this book 4 stars and would highly recommend it if you want to know more about the brutal police shootings in the U.S.

Have you read this book or are you planning to? Leave your thoughts down below!

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Review: A Poison Dark and Drowning (Kingdom on Fire, #2) by Jessica Cluess

The magicians want her to lead.
The sorcerers want her to lie.
The demons want her blood.
Henrietta wants to save the one she loves.
But will his dark magic be her undoing?

In this seductive and explosive second book in the Kingdom on Fire series, Jessica Cluess delivers her signature mix of magic, passion, and teen warriors fighting for survival. Hand to fans of Victoria Aveyard, Sarah J. Maas, and Kiersten White.

Henrietta doesn’t need a prophecy to know that she’s in danger. She came to London to be named the chosen one, the first female sorcerer in centuries, the one who would defeat the Ancients. Instead, she discovered a city ruled by secrets. And the biggest secret of all: Henrietta is not the chosen one.

Still, she must play the role in order to keep herself and Rook, her best friend and childhood love, safe. But can she truly save him? The poison in Rook’s system is transforming him into something monstrous as he begins to master dark powers of his own. So when Henrietta finds a clue to the Ancients’ past that could turn the tide of the war, she persuades Blackwood, the mysterious Earl of Sorrow-Fell, to travel up the coast to seek out strange new weapons. And Magnus, the brave, reckless flirt who wants to win back her favor, is assigned to their mission. Together, they will face monsters, meet powerful new allies, and uncover the most devastating weapon of all: the truth.

-- description --

I am very grateful I received an advanced reader's copy from the publishers and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

As this is the second book in a trilogy, I will not explain too much of the plot because it could contain spoilers for the first book. You can find my review of book one here.

Things I liked: 

- Love, love love the monsters! The villains of the story are unique and at times very gruesomely depicted. I really enjoyed how the sequel explored more of them throughout the story. In the otherwise ordinary storyline the monsters give the book a unique quality.

- I like the worldbuilding as I always like stories set in historical London/England.

- I was a lot more gripped by the second part of the novel as the tension rose. I liked this book more than the first one, Cluess is definitely improving her story.

- I really enjoyed the epic battle scenes in this book.

Things I disliked:

- I felt the writing was too simplistic, but it did not annoy me as much as the first book did.

- The plot twists were really obviously, I predicted quite a few of them even back in the first book.

- The romance in this book felt rushed and developed way too quickly which made me feel like it's not sincere, I don't like love triangles, but I hate love squares even more! Really unnecessary as well!

- Henrietta has the ability to annoy me to no end! This sixteen-year-old girl constantly believes she has to save the world alone instead of trusting in her friends. I also get a sense of misplaced entitlement from her.

- Blackwood was one of my favourite characters in the first book, but now he has lost my good opinion. The way he forces both his sister and Henrietta to do things without their consent has my blood boiling. He should be called out on his bullshit a lot more, if you ask me! I hope this improves in the third book.

All things considered, I gave this book 3,5 out of 5 stars. If you enjoyed A Shadow Bright and Burning, you should definitely read the sequel as well! I'm looking forward to read the third book next year!

Monday, 11 September 2017

September TBR

These are the books I'm hoping to read in September. Yes, I know September has started already and I have already read 3 books, so yeah me! :) I have a ton of books I want to read, so I decided to limit my TBR to four books and see what else I'm in the mood for during the rest of the month

1. Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicle #2) by Jay Kristoff

I really enjoyed Nevernight last year, so I really want to continue the series!

2. Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons #1) by Leigh Bardugo

I really enjoyed the movie (which I reviewed on this blog) and I love Leigh Bardugo's work, so I could not be more excited to read this book!

3. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

This is getting adapted into a TV series by Netflix and I am currently reading this one!

4. The Indigo Girl by Natasha Boyd

I got an arc from Netgalley and the publishers, so I need to read and review this asap!

Which books are you planning to read this month? Have you read any of the books mentioned above? Leave your thoughts down below!