August 6, 2018

The Bespokist Society Guide to London by Jeremy Liebster



Synopsis

You have in your hands one of the most curated city guides ever created. As the first travel book produced by the hugely influential Bespokist Society, this handy guide takes you to a London you’ve never seen: a London of challenging Etruscan restaurants, edgy branding parlours, emoji hotels and hidden Icelandic communities; a London where 8-ply toilet paper is a thing.

On the way, meet an eclectic band of inspiring Londoners - from scriveners to socialites via urban wordsmiths and coffee preachers - and see why London is now the global epicentre of Bespokist consciousness, community and culture.

"sparse... some glaring omissions” FoodPorn London

“only page 23 is of mild interest” http://www.londonpetlover.com

“Wow!!! A genuinely bespoke city guide!!!” Tommy Sponge, Chairman, The Bespokist Society

My Review

As you guys probably know, I recently got to go to London, and absolutely fell in love with the city. Knowing I had this trip planned, I jumped at the chance to take part in this blog tour. But big disclaimer here: this is not just any city guidebook. No, this is a satirical, uproariously funny guidebook, poking fun at niche hipster culture.

Each page had me cracking a smile if not all out belly laughing. The wit and cleverness just roll off the page, but I do have a very dry and sarcastic sense of humor. Many of the entries are accompanied by a high quality and Instagram-worthy image, further emphasizing the overall "extra-ness" of everything in this guide.

This was a fast, funny, novelty read that I really enjoyed. It was very short, and I would have liked to see a little more content.

Just know going into this that this guide will not help tourists make their way through London. This fantastic work of fiction belongs in the humor section of the bookstore, rather than the travel section. 

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

About the Author

The Bespokist Society Guide to London is a work of fiction written by born and bred Londoner, Jeremy Liebster. Somewhat surprisingly, Jeremy is also a city lawyer - formerly at DLA Piper and now a General Counsel within a large private equity group. Jeremy is utterly obsessed with travel books and although he might poke fun at urban fads, hipster fried chicken is his guilty pleasure. He also has an unusual interest in clothes hangers.

You can follow The Bespokist Society on Twitter, or visit the website here.

Thanks so much to Rachel's Random Resources for a copy of this read! If satirical travel books are right up your alley, be sure to pick up a copy!


August 3, 2018

The Letting Go by Deborah Markus

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
This book is so unique and different, and I had no idea I would enjoy it as much as I did when I decided to read it. The Letting Go by Deborah Markus is a thought provoking story about a girl who believes she is not allowed to have anyone or anything she loves.

Emily is a loner, not because she wants to be, but because she has to be. You see, everyone (and everything-pets included), that she loves, is brutally murdered. Emily has finally figured out the rules: don't get too close to any living thing, or if you do they will be killed.

Holing herself up in an artistic boarding school, Emily is viciously cruel to everyone that crosses her path. But this is for their own benefit. She doesn't want them to end up like her mother, father, best friend, or dog. At school, Emily focuses on the one thing that she loves that cannot be taken away from her: Emily Dickinson. Emily Dickinson is already dead, and words cannot be killed, so this is the one thing Emily allows herself to embrace and love.

But when a dead body turns up on the steps of the boarding school, Emily is convinced that it has to do with her, even though she never knew the dead man. Has she made a mistake? Was she wrong about the rules? And just as this is happening, another girl at the school insists on getting close to Emily at the possible expense of her own life. What can Emily do to stop all the death around her?

I loved everything about this book. From the poetry interspersed throughout to Emily's introspective and meticulous thought process, I was captured from the first page. It actually took me a while to get through this read, not because it was dull or boring, but because it made me think so much and I had to keep putting the book down to reflect.

I was a huge fan of the lesbian romance in this book, and loved that it was subtle and not at all pushy. This is definitely not a love story, and this element was not the focus of the plot. The twist really got me as well, and normally I can see these things coming from a mile away! Overall, this was a very unusual and unique read that I can definitely see myself revisiting in the future.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

A huge thanks to Sky Pony Press for an advanced copy of this fantastic read! The Letting Go by Deborah Markus was just released this week, so be sure to pick up a copy!

July 26, 2018

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I've raved about Becky's other two books, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and The Upside of Unrequited, on this blog before, so I knew I would fall just as in love with her newest release, Leah on the Offbeat. This story is technically a sequel to Simon vs., only focusing primarily on Leah instead.

In this story, bisexual Leah is struggling with her love life. Her head is telling her one thing, while her heart is telling her another, and the outcome could be magical or a complete disaster. As Leah and her friends prepare for prom, graduation, and then college, they all have to make some tough decisions, and the reality that they are all going their separate ways hits them hard.

Leah is actually my favorite person on the planet. Her wit and sarcasm coupled with her hidden insecurities is literally me in fiction form. I really related with how she hid her insecurities with cynicism as it is much easier to act like you don't care than to reveal that you really do. There was one instance of racism in this book, and I appreciated how Leah called it out and handled the situation rather than letting it go. I loved getting to know her and some of the other Creekwood characters more. And the ending of this book was just perfect!

This time I chose to physically read the book, even though I opted for the audio versions for Becky's other books. Not sure why, although I think it might have had something to do with how inviting this cover was, I just wanted to own it! Now I obviously have to pick up physical copies of the other two to have the complete set.

I'm really anxious to know if there will be more books in this series, maybe following Abby, Nick, or Bram. I sure hope there are, because this is a cast of characters I never want to let go of! Also, this better get a movie

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

July 23, 2018

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
Looking at this book, you have no idea what to expect. Is it a coming of age story? Maybe a touching book about motherhood? You'd never guess that it's a story about a twisted and terrifying mother-daughter relationship that will give you chills. Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage is so unlike anything I've ever read, and I am so glad that I experienced this story.

This book follows mom Suzette, dad Alex, and little Hanna. Told from both Suzette and Hanna's points of view, the story opens with Hanna not ever speaking, and her parents being concerned that something is physically wrong with her. She barks like a vicious dog, sets trash cans on fire, and gets kicked out of school after school, so there has to be an explanation. When all the tests come back with no sign of physical causes, everyone begins to suspect that maybe Hanna just doesn't want to talk. But why?

Then, all of a sudden Hanna does start talking. But only to her mother, and not as herself, but rather as a historical witch. Hanna starts speaking terrifying things to her mother, horrifying Suzette. And it only gets worse from there.

Hanna is actually a terrifying character. Her chapters were where you were really able to understand not only how twisted she is, but also how intelligent (which in my opinion makes it even scarier.) I felt so bad for Suzette because all she wanted was a happy and healthy daughter, and understandably the whole situation was breaking her down. Even through struggling with her own illness, she kept trying to do what she thought would help Hanna. Honestly, I couldn't stand Alex though. His blindness to the situation and unwillingness to believe anything negative about his daughter really rubbed me the wrong way.

This was an incredibly disturbing story that made my skin crawl. It was new and inventive and exhilarating until the very last page.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to St. Martin's Press for both an ARC and a finished copy of this chilling and creepy read! Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage is out now, so be sure to pick up a copy!

July 17, 2018

Campfire by Shawn Sarles

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
Give me a good scary story and I am all in! This book delivered just that. Campfire by Shawn Sarles follows main character Maddie as she goes on a camping trip with her extended family. Immediately, Maddie is attracted to their hot guide Caleb, and conspires with her best friend Chelsea (who has also accompanied them on the trip) to make a move. 

The first few days of the trip go fairly well, with everyone gathering to tell scary stories around the campfire at night. But then a bear scare puts people on edge and everything goes downhill from there. Suddenly the scary stories they have been telling begin to come true, and the fun family trip becomes a fight for survival.

I really enjoyed this book! The scary stories told were actually very creepy, and even though this is YA, I was actually freaked out a little even as a 28-year-old! And horror is my jam, so that's saying something. There were a lot of unexpected twists in this as well that I didn't see coming, and since I can usually predict things pretty well, that was definitely impressive.

I thought the main characters were fine. I didn't love them but I didn't hate them, and nothing really jumped out at me to sway me one way or another. But this was a much more plot-driven than character-driven story, so this was fine with me. I really appreciated how this book didn't paint the picture of the perfect family, but rather showed the tumultuous intricacies that make up real life. This really is the perfect story to sit on your deck with on a summer evening, or even take with you on a camping trip...if you dare.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

A huge thanks to JIMMY Patterson Books for sending me an advanced copy of this spooky summer read! Campfire by Shawn Sarles is out TODAY, July 17th, so be sure to pick up a copy!

July 9, 2018

London Recap

Hello lovely readers! I'm back! I had the most amazing 10 days in England and am excited to recap my trip for you all! 

We went primarily for the wedding of one of my husband's college friends, but stayed around to explore since neither of us had ever been to England before! The wedding took place in Newmarket, but for the rest of the week we mostly hung out in London.

We got to see and do so much on this trip, I'm still in awe of how much we were able to fit in! Major highlights included the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio Tour, Buckingham Palace, The Tower of London, Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, and Bath! We stayed in Pimlico, which was an absolutely adorable part of the city, and we were able to walk to a majority of the things we wanted to check out. It was unusually hot by England standards, but still much cooler than it was back home in Virginia.

Of course, I had to check out some local bookstores while we were there. I loved getting to experience Waterstones, and obviously picked up a few titles. I love that books come out sooner in paperback over there, so I picked up two new releases in paperback: Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli and Neverworld Wake (the UK cover for this is outstanding btw!) by Marisha Pessl. I also got a cute little copy of The Wind in the Willows. The table we sat at for breakfast every morning had the text in a poster and I realized I'd never read it!

Regular review posts will resume this week, but I wanted to leave some of my favorite pictures for you all to give you a glimpse into where I've been and what I've been doing in my absence!


Parliament
Stonehenge

Hogwarts Model at WB Harry Potter Studio Tour

Roman Baths
Windsor Castle

June 27, 2018

Vacation!

Hey loyal readers! Just wanted to pop in and say that there will be no new posts for the next week and a half, as I'M GOING ON VACATION! I'm leaving tomorrow for a 10 day trip to England! My hubby and I are going to a wedding, then spending the rest of the week touring and exploring. My dad is from England so I'm really excited to see where he grew up. Plus we're going to the WB Harry Potter Studio Tour!

I'll be back on the 7th, so head back here in the days following for some new reviews! I'm hoping to get a lot of reading done while on my flights so I'll be sure to share my thoughts with you when I get home. Maybe I'll even do a trip recap for you all if that's something you would be interested in.

Until then, enjoy your reads, and we'll chat when I get back! <3





June 25, 2018

Your Destination Is on the Left by Lauren Spieller

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
When you think summer, don't you typically think of road trips? I know I do! Your Destination Is on the Left by Lauren Spieller follows Dessa Rhodes, a teenage girl who travels the country with her family in an RV. Her family is part of a caravan of three families who do everything together, even voting on the future of its members. But Dessa wants more from life, specifically to be an artist. 

After getting rejected from all the art schools she applies to, she is unsure what direction her life will take. Just when she thinks all hope is lost, she gets an internship with an artist in Santa Fe, and it's during this time that Dessa learns more than she ever thought possible, not only about art, but also about herself and what she really wants out of life.

I thought this was a super cute summer read! Dessa was easy to identify with, and I loved seeing her get stronger and more self-aware as the story progressed. I really enjoyed the side characters in this book, especially Taryn and Fiona! I thought they were great motivators for Dessa and helped her articulate her true thoughts and wants versus just going along with everyone else's plans. Cyrus was a cute love interest, but I really appreciated that this was not the primary focus of the story, and that Dessa was strong enough to put her own dreams before romance.

One thing I really disliked in this book though was Dessa's family, especially her mom. I thought the whole aspect of voting as a caravan (like really, someone ELSE'S family can determine whether or not you get to go do your internship??) was insane and almost cult-like. I also thought that her mom was incredibly selfish in the way she did things, like asking Dessa to immediately take time off her internship and not caring that it put Dessa's future in jeopardy.

Overall this is a perfect fast and fun summer read to take on a trip or lounge with by the pool! It has a powerful message of going for your dreams, no matter what the people around you say, and staying strong in your convictions.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Simon & Schuster for an advanced copy of this great summer read! Your Destination Is on the Left by Lauren Spieller is out TOMORROW, June 26th, so be sure to pick up a copy!