ARC Review | Pumpkin by Julie Murphy

Pumpkin

by Julie Murphy

YA Romance, Contemporary, LGBTQ

Goodreads | Bookshop | Book Depository


Waylon Russell Brewer is a fat, openly gay boy stuck in the small West Texas town of Clover City. His plan is to bide his time until he can graduate, move to Austin with his twin sister, Clementine, and finally go Full Waylon, so that he can live his Julie-the-hills-are-alive-with-the-sound-of-music-Andrews truth.

So when Clementine deviates from their master plan right after Waylon gets dumped, he throws caution to the wind and creates an audition tape for his favorite TV drag show, Fiercest of Them All. What he doesn’t count on is the tape accidentally getting shared with the entire school. . . . As a result, Waylon is nominated for prom queen as a joke. Clem’s girlfriend, Hannah Perez, also receives a joke nomination for prom king.

Waylon and Hannah decide there’s only one thing to do: run—and leave high school with a bang. A very glittery bang. Along the way, Waylon discovers that there is a lot more to running for prom court than campaign posters and plastic crowns, especially when he has to spend so much time with the very cute and infuriating prom king nominee Tucker Watson.

Waylon will need to learn that the best plan for tomorrow is living for today . . . especially with the help of some fellow queens. . . .


*Thanks to the publisher for sending me an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!*

Hello everyone! Today I am going to be sharing all my thoughts on the upcoming Julie Murphy novel, Pumpkin. I have to admit, I haven’t read any of her other books but I knew as soon as I read the blurb for this book I needed it in my life.

Pumpkin follows the story of Waylon Brewer, a fat, openly gay boy who has to go on a journey of discovery when he sends an audition tape to a show in the vein of Rupaul’s Drag Race and it’s unwittingly shared with his entire school. And when he gets nominated for Prom Queen, he decides to run instead of cowering behind the joke and Waylon is going to need all the courage he can grasp.

This was so wholesome! I really enjoyed it – I thought Waylon was a fantastic main character. He had such a strong voice throughout that I was constantly rooting for him the whole way. I think this is what makes a good main character – when you make them feel so real that the reader has no choice but to get totally invested. I liked how he had his high and low moments, it really made for a balanced storyline – it also helped that he was a funny and relatable narrator!

I also really enjoyed all the side characters, I think they added some great dimensions to this book. I’m pretty sure they are characters from both Dumplin’ and Puddin’, so I’ll definitely have to get around to check those out. I thought the plot was fabulous and loved all the drag references. It felt like a mash-up of Glee and Rupaul’s Drag Race, which just so happen to be two of my very favourite shows.

Pumpkin is out in May, and I encourage you all to go check this out when it’s published – if you’re looking for a heartwarming but also tearjerking story of resilience in the face of confronting who you are and who you were born to be, then Pumpkin is the joyous novel for you!

WWW Wednesday!

WWW wednesday is hosted by Sam on Taking on a World of Words. Everyone can participate in answering the three questions below and posting a link on Sam’s website or just answer the questions on her post, if you don’t have a blog.

the three questions are:

1.) What are you currently reading?
2.) What did you recently finish reading?
3.) What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m excited to share updates with you guys about my reading rather than just seeing it on Goodreads!


1. WHAT I’M CURRENTLY READING

Salvage the Bones

thoughts: I think I’m like 20% through this and not sure how to really feel about it yet! I am liking it enough, but not sure if it’s going to be one that I absolutely love – but I suppose the only way I’ll find out is if I keep reading!


2. WHAT I RECENTLY FINISHED

Kate in Waiting

thoughts: I loved this! It was classic Becky Albertalli and the characters were so great and just bursting off the pages with life and energy! My full review will be out soon, and this is out April 22nd!


3. WHAT I’M GOING TO READ NEXT

My Sister, the Serial Killer


What about you guys? Let me know what you’ve been reading lately and what you’ve been loving in the comments below!

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Review | A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder

by Holly Jackson

YA Murder Mystery

Goodreads | Bookshop | Book Depository


The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.

But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth?


I had seen this book doing the rounds for what seemed like years, even though it was only published in 2019, and after the sequel was shortlisted for the YA Book Prize this year I knew I needed to get my hands on it – and let me just say, I’m so glad I did because it definitely lives up to the hype.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder gave me serious Pretty Little Liars vibes, and I’m such a big fan of that show so it was really smooth-sailing from the first page. It gives us the absolute excellent main character who is Pippa Fitz-Amobi, a student who decides to take on a closed murder case in her local town for her research project, with the intention of proving the suspected murderer’s innocence.

Through text messages, interviews, log entries and diaries, Jackson weaves this murder mystery so wonderfully and I was constantly hooked into the story. She used tension so well that I felt like I had to hold my breath when we were about to get a revelation. She had such strong characters and such strong suspects too – for a while I didn’t even know who to suspect. I did manage to predict one of the twists, but I definitely did not see that last twist coming – I was completely shocked!

I did really love this book and will be hurrying to its sequel hopefully soon – although if I did have to pick at straws, it did quite irritate me just how small some of the text on the pages was! Also something did happen that really upset me – but I’m afraid I can’t really go into it because it’s a spoiler. Although I feel like if you’ve already read the book, then you know exactly what I’m talking about!

But yeah, other than those little minor details, I thoroughly enjoyed this and will definitely be checking out the sequel as soon as I can!


WWW Wednesday!

WWW wednesday is hosted by Sam on Taking on a World of Words. Everyone can participate in answering the three questions below and posting a link on Sam’s website or just answer the questions on her post, if you don’t have a blog.

the three questions are:

1.) What are you currently reading?
2.) What did you recently finish reading?
3.) What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m excited to share updates with you guys about my reading rather than just seeing it on Goodreads!


1. WHAT I’M CURRENTLY READING

Pumpkin

thoughts: So I’m about halfway through this and I’m really enjoying it! It’s just such a bundle of joy and Waylon is such a charismatic main character. This is my first time reading Julie Murphy but I definitely want to read more now!


2. WHAT I RECENTLY FINISHED

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder

thoughts: Omg, this was so good! The hype is real. I was thoroughly gripped and Pip was another character I really enjoyed as well! Can’t wait to get around to the sequel!


3. WHAT I’M GOING TO READ NEXT

Salvage The Bones


What about you guys? Let me know what you’ve been reading lately and what you’ve been loving in the comments below!

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April Anticipated Releases!

Hello everyone!

I hope you all had a lovely Easter weekend. This post is a little bit late I guess, but I’ve honestly just had the busiest Easter weekend and haven’t had much time to myself really. But today I’m going to be sharing with you some of the books that I’m anticipating being published this month!


What White People Can Do Next

by Emma Dabiri

Out April 1st

Vital and empowering What White People Can Do Next teaches each of us how to be agents of change in the fight against racism and the establishment of a more just and equitable world. In this affecting and inspiring collection of essays, Emma Dabiri draws on both academic discipline and lived experience to probe the ways many of us are complacent and complicit—and can therefore combat—white supremacy. She outlines the actions we must take, including:

Stop the Denial
Interrogate Whiteness
Abandon Guilt
Redistribute Resources
Realize this shit is killing you too . . . 

To move forward, we must begin to evaluate our prejudices, our social systems, and the ways in which white supremacy harms us all. Illuminating and practical, What White People Can Do Next is essential for everyone who wants to go beyond their current understanding and affect real—and lasting—change.


Destination Anywhere

by Sara Barnard

Out April 15th

Sometimes you have to leave your life behind to find your place in the world.

After five years at secondary school spent without any friends, Peyton King starts sixth form college determined that things will be different. Whatever happens, she will make friends at any cost.

When she finds the friends she’s always dreamed of, including an actual boyfriend, she’s happier than she’s ever been.

But when they let her down in the worst way, Peyton is left no better off than when she started.

Now Peyton knows the only chance she has of finding happiness is to look for it somewhere else. Her life may feel small, but it doesn’t have to be. With nothing but her sketchpad and a backpack, she buys a one-way ticket and gets on a plane. . .


Witches Steeped in Gold

by Ciannon Smart

Out April 20th

Trust no witch . . .

Iraya Adair has spent her life in a cell. Heir of an overthrown and magically-gifted dynasty, she was exiled from her home on the island nation of Aiyca when she was just a child. But every day brings her closer to freedom – and vengeance. Jazmyne Cariot grew up dressed in gold, with stolen magic at her fingertips. Daughter of the self-crowned doyenne, her existence is a threat to her mother’s rule. But unlike her sister, Jazmyne has no intention of dying to strengthen her mother’s power. Sworn enemies, the two witches enter a deadly alliance to take down the woman who threatens both their worlds. But revenge is a bloody pursuit, and nothing is certain – except the lengths Iraya and Jazmyne will go to win this game.

Two witches. One motive. And a very untrustworthy alliance.


Kate in Waiting

by Becky Albertalli

Out April 22nd


Contrary to popular belief, best friends Kate Garfield and Anderson Walker are not codependent. Carpooling to and from theatre rehearsals? Environmentally sound and efficient. Consulting each other on every single life decision?

Basic good judgment. Pining for the same guys from afar? Shared crushes are more fun anyway.


But when Kate and Andy’s latest long-distance crush shows up at their school, everything goes off-script. Matt Olsson is talented and sweet, and Kate likes him. She really likes him. The only problem? So does Anderson.


Turns out, communal crushes aren’t so fun when real feelings are involved. This one might even bring the curtains down on Kate and Anderson’s friendship.


The Outrage

by William Hussey

Out April 29th

Welcome to England, where the Protectorate enforces the Public Good. Here, there are rules for everything – what to eat, what to wear, what to do, what to say, what to read, what to think, who to obey, who to hate, who to love. Your safety is assured, so long as you follow the rules.

Gabriel is a natural born rule-breaker. And his biggest crime of all? Being gay.

Gabriel knows his sexuality must be kept secret from all but his closest friends, not only to protect himself, but to protect his boyfriend. Because Eric isn’t just the boy who has stolen Gabriel’s heart. He’s the son of the chief inspector at Degenerate Investigations ­­­- the man who poses the single biggest threat to Gabriel’s life.

And the Protectorate are experts at exposing secrets.


What books are you looking forward to being published this month? Let me know in the comments below!

My March Wrap-Up!

Hello everyone!

March was a really good reading month for me in terms of how many books I got through, but I must admit there were only a few that really stood out to me. Most of these were for uni though to be fair, and I feel like books you must read are always either hit or mostly miss. But alas, onto my wrap-up! I managed to read 13 books!


Books on my March TBR: 9
Books Read in March: 13
Books Read from the TBR: 9
Books Read Not From the TBR: 4
Left on the TBR: 0


My March Wrap-Up


These are the books I’ve read this month, with reviews linked!

  • The Adoption Papers by Jackie Kay
  • The Cousins by Karen M. McManus
  • I Want To Know That I Will Be Okay by Deirdre Sullivan
  • Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare
  • Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire
  • Not My Problem by Ciara Smyth
  • The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
  • The Most Beautiful by Mayte Garcia
  • Luster by Raven Leilani
  • Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
  • These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
  • This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson
  • Meridian by Alice Walker

Some of my stand-outs of this month were Meridian, Not My Problem, I Want To Know That I Will Be Okay, Chain of Iron and Luster!


And what about you? What were some of your favourite reads in March? Let me know in the comments below!

April TBR!

Hello everyone!

Happy April! I’m so excited for this month, for a few reasons. The first is that I have a break from college until the 19th, which is always great! Second, restrictions are easing in 2 weeks time and I’ve never been more excited to go to a bookshop when they hopefully open, as well as eating out in a restaurant! And third, it’s Camp Nanowrimo – and I’m hoping to get 30k written of my current WIP!

But aside from all that, it’s another month that promises some great reads. So without further ado, here are the books I plan on reading this month!


  • A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer
  • Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • Pumpkin by Julie Murphy
  • Destination Anywhere by Sara Barnard
  • A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
  • Salvage The Bones by Jesmyn Ward
  • My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
  • One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

With the good weather that this month hopefully will bring, I’m aiming to get through this TBR and maybe even more! Either way whether I do or don’t, I’m so excited by all these books!

What are you planning on reading this month? Let me know!

WWW Wednesday!

WWW wednesday is hosted by Sam on Taking on a World of Words. Everyone can participate in answering the three questions below and posting a link on Sam’s website or just answer the questions on her post, if you don’t have a blog.

the three questions are:

1.) What are you currently reading?
2.) What did you recently finish reading?
3.) What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m excited to share updates with you guys about my reading rather than just seeing it on Goodreads!


1. WHAT I’M CURRENTLY READING

Meridian

thoughts: I didn’t know how I was going to feel about this at first but I’m absolutely in love with Alice Walker’s writing style and I’m finding the story itself so gripping – I think I’m going to love this one.


2. WHAT I RECENTLY FINISHED

These Violent Delights

thoughts: I enjoyed this! I loved how it was a Romeo and Juliet retelling but it also had an original twist which I really appreciated. You can check out my full review from yesterday here!


3. WHAT I’M GOING TO READ NEXT

Pumpkin


What about you guys? Let me know what you’ve been reading lately and what you’ve been loving in the comments below!

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Review | These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

These Violent Delights

by Chloe Gong

YA Historical Fiction, Fantasy

Goodreads | Bookshop | Book Depository


The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Descendant of the Crane, this heart-stopping debut is an imaginative Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, with rival gangs and a monster in the depths of the Huangpu River. 


This book has one of the best premises I’ve ever heard. A Romeo and Juliet retelling set in Shanghai in the 1920s? Yes, please. It also helps that it’s kind of similar to my own current work in progress, which is also a Romeo and Juliet retelling. I’ve seen this book doing the rounds in the book community so I knew I had to check it out.

I really enjoying the writing style of Gong, I think she definitely has a talent for making this immersive story with her beautiful description and imaginative setting and characters. I loved how well she weaved in the original Shakespeare play, but she also gave this book her own original twist to keep us on her toes. I enjoyed that Roma and Juliette were enemies instead of instantly swooning over each other, I thought this was a nice touch – and hey, who doesn’t love an enemies-to-lovers romance?

Not going to lie, I did find myself a little bored about halfway through so I can’t say I enjoyed it as much as I thought it would. I felt like all the science talk about vaccines and such left me quite disinterested and felt like it could have done without so much detail because it just made it less engaging. Once I fell into that hole, it took me ages to get through but the ending did make up for it and reeled me right back in.

Speaking of, Chloe Gong is absolutely sick for that ending. Just when I thought I couldn’t be more shocked, bam, something else happens that literally left me sitting there with my jaw hanging open. She sure knows how to deliver an effective cliffhanger, and I’m definitely intrigued for when the sequel comes out.


Review | Luster by Raven Leilani

Luster

by Raven Leilani

Contemporary, Adult Fiction

Goodreads | Bookshop | Book Depository


Edie is just trying to survive. She’s messing up in her dead-end admin job in her all-white office, is sleeping with all the wrong men, and has failed at the only thing that meant anything to her, painting. No one seems to care that she doesn’t really know what she’s doing with her life beyond looking for her next hook-up. And then she meets Eric, a white, middle-aged archivist with a suburban family, including a wife who has sort-of-agreed to an open marriage and an adopted black daughter who doesn’t have a single person in her life who can show her how to do her hair. As if navigating the constantly shifting landscape of sexual and racial politics as a young black woman wasn’t already hard enough, with nowhere else left to go, Edie finds herself falling head-first into Eric’s home and family.

Razor sharp, provocatively page-turning and surprisingly tender, Luster by Raven Leilani is a painfully funny debut about what it means to be young now.


Okay, I’m just going to start off this review by bringing attention to how beautiful this cover is. Isn’t it just such a treat? I’m so obsessed with it, so I knew as soon as I saw this doing the rounds in the book community, I wanted to check it out.

Luster is a very honest novel. It does not shy away from the realities of adulthood, it does not fantasise and gloss over the truth, but it presents to us a genuine reflection of what it means to be a young adult in this world. Edie, as the summary begins, is just trying to survive and that is very much the essence for the whole novel.

The writing and prose in this novel was so sharp and so precise that I really was in awe. It was probably my favourite thing about the book, alongside Edie as a main character. I thought she had a really strong voice and her character was captivating right from the beginning. I was rooting for her the whole way through and really admired the commentaries on gender and race that the author weaved into the story.

Although she had some really interesting characters and some great dynamics between them, especially the uncomfortable relationship between Edie and Rebecca, Eric’s wife, I still think there were parts of this novel that maybe weren’t as engaging as they could have been. For the most part I was hooked, but there were some parts that fell flat for me, particularly in the middle.

But overall I really enjoyed this novel and the razor-sharp prose, so I’m excited to see what Leilani does next. She is a very talented writer, that’s for sure.