Mini Review: The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss

Mini Review: The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss

Rating: 2 out of 5.
  • Christmas Romance
  • Fiction
  • Paperback
  • 433 pages
  • Goodreads rating: 3.63

Since this was a DNF for me, there’s not really a point in me writing a full on review, so I’m just going to keep this short. I DNF’ed at about 63%, I guess. The book really wasn’t at all bad, but it was literally the slowest romance I have ever read. I started reading this just before Christmas, but underestimated the length of the book, so I tried to finish it for about 4 months after Christmas, but I just couldn’t work my way through it. It’s like Bayliss thinks she is fricking Tolkien, describing every single snowflake and leaf in the book.

The concept of the book is pretty cool. Kate signs herself up for a program called “The Twelve Dates of Christmas”, which makes her do 12 dates with 12 different guys that have all been screened for compatibility. This sounds like a lot of fun, right? Yeah, except it takes FOREVER to get through the dates. Especially since I was pretty sure I already knew who she was going to end up with. I finally got tired of working my way through pages and pages of irrelevant information and decided to just check if I was right about the ending and then DNF. For the record: I was right.

The book was kind of fun, so if you’re a quick reader and you have plenty of patience, you would probably enjoy this. If that does not describe you, pick a different Christmas romance, something quicker and sweeter. I’ll make sure to recommend some before the Christmas reading season starts.

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Mini Reviews: Reasons to Stay Alive & Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

Mini Reviews: Reasons to Stay Alive & Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

Reasons to Stay Alive

Rating: 5 out of 5.
  • Nonfiction
  • Self Help
  • Psychology/Mental Health
  • Hardcover
  • 266 pages
  • Goodreads rating: 4.11

Reasons to Stay Alive is Matt Haig’s memoir from the years his depression and anxiety were at their worst. Haig describes how he crawled out of his mental illness(es) step by step with the help of his girlfriend/wife.

“How to stop time: kiss.

How to travel in time: read.

How to escape time: music.

How to feel time: write.

How to release time: breathe.”

Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive

Reasons to Stay Alive is definitely my favourite one of these two books. It felt a little more hopeful, where Notes on A Nervous Planet felt more of an instruction manual at times. Reasons to Stay Alive felt like 266 warm hugs that you can just take when you need one. Every page shows you a different aspect of life that makes it worth living. Haig’s writing is so open and honest and I have the biggest respect for him that he is willing to share his own experiences in this way. This book, and Notes on a Nervous Planet too, may actually save lives. I recommend buying this books and just reading a couple of pages whenever you are having a bad day. It will make all the difference.

Notes on A Nervous Planet

Rating: 4 out of 5.
  • Nonfiction
  • Self Help
  • Psychology/Mental Health
  • Paperback
  • 310 pages
  • Goodreads rating: 4.00

Notes on a Nervous Planet is a follow-up on Reasons to Stay Alive, although I read them in the “wrong” order. There are a lot of references to its predecessor, though none that you will not understand if you haven’t read Reasons to Stay Alive first.

Notes on a Nervous Planet explores how certain aspects of modern society can feed our anxiety and other mental illnesses (depression, eating disorders etc.). It describes how every technological advancement can also have its drawbacks, but also how to shield yourself from aspects of society that negatively influence your mood and mental health. The book focuses a lot on social media and the news, but there are sections on all sorts of subjects, such as the way we work and the importance of sleep.

The writing in Notes on a Nervous Planet (and Reasons to Stay Alive) is very accessible. Like I said about RtSA, the way Haig describes his own struggles with mental health is very open and honest. I especially like how he gets to the bottom of things like WHY supermarkets (a recurring theme in both books) can overwhelm people with anxiety so much. He explores the biology of it and explains that we were not made to have so many choices and so much stimulation at once. It makes you feel less guilty about having trouble with doing certain things or going certain places.

My other favourite thing from NoaNP was when Haig invented Psychograms. There is no unit in which you can measure the psychological weight of certain things, so Haig invented one: the Psychograms. Having to make a phone call costs 200pg for example. Going grocery shopping might cost 500pg, but watching a sappy movie or reading a good book may gain you some Psychograms. I’m all for implementing this system!

I tried to keep it short and sweet, but there was a lot to talk about, in Notes on a Nervous Planet especially. I’m currently reading The Comfort Book, so I’ll be back with a mini-review on that shortly.

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All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover

All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover

Rating: 5 out of 5.
  • Fiction
  • Contemporary Romance
  • New Adult
  • Paperback
  • 305 pages
  • Goodreads rating: 4.31
  • TW: mental health, infertility

Quinn and Graham meet in an entirely improbable way that is probably not the best base for a relationship. Nevertheless, they get together and they are the absolute perfect couple. For a while, at least, until Quinn and Graham start trying to have a baby and it’s just not happening. They stop talking to each other and only have sex for the purpose of having a baby. But every month Quinn will get her period and fall apart all over again.

“If you only shine light on your flaws, all your perfects will dim.”

Colleen Hoover, All Your Perfects

Where do I even start? There are so many good things about this book. This is only my second CoHo book and I am absolutely blown away. First of all, the story is so original. The way that Quinn and Graham meet stirs up so many emotions, it really sets the tone for the rest of the book. Hoover writes her story and her characters in a way that makes you feel like you completely understand what infertility feels like without actually having experience it (luckily). It absolutely broke my heart to read about Quinn’s struggle with not being able to get pregnant. Everything that happens in this book is so well thought out. There is a box that is referred to in the story every once in a while and that keeps you curious (“What’s in the box!”). You eventually find out and it is absolutely perfect. If you must know, yes, I cried.

I’m a sucker for books with dual timelines. It keeps the story exciting and gives you exactly the information you need in a way that doesn’t get boring. Also, it keeps you from needing a therapist. Hoover has a gift for balancing the heartbreaking main story with lighthearted fun stuff from the beginning of Quinn’s and Graham’s relationship.

I came across some writing tips on Pinterest a while ago on how to write a character for your book or story. The main thing that stuck with me was that you shouldn’t make your character too perfect. An interesting character has flaws. Well, Hoover definitely has Pinterest too, because man, her characters have flaws. I’ve never written a book, but I’m guessing that creating characters is probably the most tricky part of writing. If the characters are too perfect, nobody will care, if they’re too flawed, everyone will hate them. The characters in All Your Perfects are perfectly imperfect, if that makes sense. Quinn’s mental issues that derive from not being able to get pregnant and her inability to communicate about it with Graham make her an amazing main character to a heartbreaking book. The imperfectness of Hoover’s characters is what makes this story so perfect.

Colleen Hoover is probably the most talented romance writer on earth. Her books are completely unique, unlike anything I’ve ever read before. After I read It Ends With Us, I thought “Okay, this is really good. Maybe I’ll read more CoHo books in the future, but I’ll probably only be disappointed, because nothing can match this.” I was wrong. This book was incredible, absolutely mind-blowing. If you can get your hands on this book or any CoHo book for that matter, do it. Buy it, read it, tell me what you think.

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Heartstopper Volume 1-4 by Alice Oseman

Heartstopper Volume 1-4 by Alice Oseman

Rating: 4 out of 5.
  • Graphic Novel
  • Young Adult
  • LGBTQ+ Romance
  • Ebook
  • Goodreads ratings: #1 – 4.51, #2 – 4.59, #3 – 4.61, #4 – 4.67,

The Heartstopper series is a LGBTQ+ Romance delivered in a graphic novel. The novels follow Charlie, a teenage boy who was accidentally outed last year, as he is falling in love with Nick, a boy he thinks is straight. Charlie and Nick become good friends and start hanging out together more and more, until Charlie kisses Nick at a party and Nick has to figure out how he feels about that.

I bought the first two volumes in digital edition for 0.99 cents each because I had been seeing them all over Instagram. I bought a bunch of other ebooks as well, but I figured that I’d go through Heartstopper pretty quickly, since it’s a graphic novel, so I decided to read that first. It was indeed a quick read and I went through the first one in about an hour or an hour and a half. The second one took me about the same amount of time. I waited a bit to buy volume three and four, since they were 4 or 5 euros per book and I was hoping for them to go on sale, since 5 euros for a book that I would finish within an hour seemed like a bit much. I ended up buying them for that price after all, since I loved the first two so much and I wanted to read the next two as well. I don’t regret paying the full price, since I loved both of them and Oseman obviously put a lot of work in them. So even though all four volumes can easily be read in one day, they’re definitely worth the price.

This entire series is so incredibly cute. The drawings are cute, the story is cute, the characters are super cute. It’s just so much fun to read. Oseman did a really good job with the drawings and the story is pretty well balanced. Even though it is meant for a younger crowd, it is still very enjoyable as a twenty-something-year old or an adult (I’m still in denial about adulthood).

I loved how Oseman inserts the importance of Mental Health and especially the existence of Anorexia (among boys) into her novels. Considering that her target audience is still pretty young, I think it’s important to address mental health issues in this way. No judgement whatsoever, just an explanation as to what anorexia is and how it feels. I’m not an expert on anorexia since I’ve luckily never had anorexia, but I’m no stranger to other mental health issues and I can tell you from experience that they are so much easier to deal with when the people around you have a certain understanding of what you’re going through. So yay to Oseman for addressing mental health in an accessible way.

The only thing that started to bother me after a few books, is that there is not a single straight couple in any of the graphic novels. The only people who are straight are the bullies and the parents, everyone other character in all four of the books is either gay, bi or trans. I get that we don’t need more straight propaganda, but I’m guessing that the goal of these novels is to show young adults that being gay or bi or trans is perfectly normal and the best way to do that is probably to make the characters relatable. If not a single one of these characters is straight, then straight kids will have nobody to relate to and I think you might not reach as many kids. Of course I’m no expert on psychology and it’s the artists choice in the end, so please don’t take this the wrong way. Plus telling an artist to put more straight people in their LGBTQ+ romance novel is probably kind of missing the point. It’s mostly my personal opinion that I didn’t have a character that I related to.

I gave the Heartstopper series an overall score of 4 stars. I also gave all of the individual novels 4 stars. It is pretty consistent in quality and enjoyableness (if that’s even a word), which I always appreciate a lot. I hate it when the quality of a series is not consistent. “The second book is not that good, but the third one gets way way better!” just doesn’t do it for me, so luckily the Heartstopper series was pretty consistent. If you have not read this series yet, I would definitely recommend it. It’s a series you can easily read on your Ipad or Kindle or something and it’s light and fun in between other reads. Don’t expect hours and hours of entertainment, because it’s a pretty quick read, but definitely worth your money!

Heartstopper Volume 5 comes out somewhere in 2022, so we’ll have to wait a bit for the story to continue. There’s a Netflix series based on the graphic novels coming out soon, though!

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February Reading Wrap-up

February Reading Wrap-up

Hi my fellow bookworms! Wow, I just blinked twice and all of a sudden it was March. Uhm, I’m still living in 2020, can we please slow down? February always goes by so fast. After almost 24 years, the 28 days-thing still takes me by surprise. The fact that I’ve been working 6 out of the last 7 days didn’t help much either, which is also the reason why I temporarily only delivered 2 blog posts a week instead of two and why I have been a little late on some of my posts. I apologise for my slacking off, but since I’m writing this blog for fun and I’m not getting paid, I decided not to push myself too much. Thank you for understanding. My reading month started out really well, but I have hardly read a thing this past week. I’ve still got a few busy days ahead of me, but I’m hoping to get my nose back into a book ASAP.

For my February Reading Wrap-up, I wanted to share some of my reading stats from this month, along with a list of the books that I read in February and all of this months reviews and other posts. I didn’t review a lot of the books I read this month, since some of them weren’t really worth the review, some of them I wanted to review as a complete series and some of them I just haven’t had the time for yet. If you’re curious about a book that I haven’t reviewed yet, let me know and I will move it up on my To-Be-Reviewed list.

Reading Stats

I read 7 books in February, which brings my 2022 total so far to 16 books. I set myself a reading goal of 75 books for this year. Currently, I am ahead of my reading goal by 3 books. About halfway through February, I was ahead by 6 books, because I read the first two volumes of Heartstopper in one day, but then work and COVID happened and I didn’t read much for the rest of the month. The only book I finished in the second half of February, was Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I really hope things will calm down a little in March, so that I can pick up some books again.

  • I am currently at 25% of my pages goal for 2022. I have read 6.334 pages out of 25.000, so far;
  • I gave 5 out of 7 books a 4-star rating;
  • Out of 7 books, 2 were Graphic Novels, 4 were Romance, 4 were Young Adult and One was Self Help.
  • 6 out of 7 books were Fiction.
  • 5 out of 7 books were digital. The other two were hardcovers.

Books Read in February

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Adhieh

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Just wow. This book blew me away. The plot, the originality, the depth of the characters, the world-building, the character development, it was all so good. There’s a full review linked below if you want to know more.

A Bookshop in Algiers by Khaouter Adimi

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A Bookshop in Algiers was one of the books I didn’t think was worth a review. It had been sitting on my bookshelf for ages and I was looking for a short read in between The Wrath and the Dawn and its sequel, so I decided to pick it up. I think the story had so much potential, but it just didn’t deliver. A bookshop in Algiers in the middle of multiple wars and uprisings and all they can write about is the paper shortage. Such a shame.

The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Adhieh (The Wrath and the Dawn #2)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The sequel to the Wrath and the Dawn was possibly even better. I didn’t write a review for this one, since I didn’t really see the point of writing a review to the sequel. I mean, it was amazing, what more can I tell you? If you liked the first book, you’re going to continue reading anyway. If you didn’t like the first book, why would you read the second one? If you’re curious about the sequel anyway, let me know and I will see if I can write a mini-review!

Heartstopper Volume 1 by Alice Oseman

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Heartstopper Volume 2 by Alice Oseman

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Heartstopper books were so much better than I had expected. I’m not usually one for graphic novels or sappy high school romances, so I was afraid I’d be disappointed or that it would be cringey, but it was actually very good. It is so cute and sweet and only slightly cringey every now and then. I’m going to postpone writing a review until I have read volume 3 and 4 as well, since I’d rather review them as a series, but I can definitely recommend the first two volumes.

How Not to Die Alone by Logan Ury

Rating: 4 out of 5.

How Not to Die Alone was my only nonfiction book from February. I got a digital copy on sale and it looked interesting. I also hadn’t read any nonfiction in a while, so I thought: why not? The book mostly focuses on dating and finding a partner, so I skimmed through that part, since I already have a partner. The last few chapters focus on how to communicate with your partner to get and stay on the same page with them, building a healthy, lasting relationship through discussing the future. Not a bad read at all if this subject interests you or if you think your relationship could benefit from it (and I think every relationship could benefit from this).

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This book hardly still needs a review, right? It almost feels like an insult to even suggest such a thing. I finished the Chamber of Secrets last week for my Rereading Harry Potter series. I’ve been having so much fun rereading the Harry Potter books, I would really recommend it to everyone, especially if it has been a while.

February Posts

Elevation by Stephen King

Every Book I’ve Read in January

Rereading Harry Potter – Week 5

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Adhieh

Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Rereading Harry Potter – Week 6

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Rereading Harry Potter – Week 7

My Guide to Annotating Books

Rereading Harry Potter – Week 8

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