#SeasonalSeries Readathon

I came across the Seasonal Series readathon on Twitter yesterday, and couldn’t resist joining in.  It’s a three-month long readathon running from March 20th to June 20th, and it’s all about trying to read books from series, which sounds pretty good to me! I’ll be doing the Spring board  – although I have to admit I liked the look of the winter board, it is technically spring here, so it just seemed sensible to use the spring board!

Spring Tasks & Possible TBR:

1. take a walk while listening to an audiobook
2. read a book while drinking lemonade
3. read the first book in a series – Wintersong
4. try to unhaul a book you’ve lost interest in
5. read a book that’s been on your shelves way too long – Seraphina
6. read with rain in the background -> real rain or sounds
7. read a book with pink on the cover – Beneath the sugar sky
8. read a book from a middle grade series – Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer
9. read a series with a new book coming out in 2018 – A Torch Against the Night
10. read a book of a series where the parents of the MC aren’t dead – The Darkest Minds
11. read a book with character growth
12. read a book while eating chocolate
13. Free Space: read any book of a series – A Court of Frost and Starlight
14. read a book where only the first book of a series is out – The Extinction Trials
15. read a book set in the real world – Ten Thousand Skies Above You
16. read a book with a spring colors on the cover – The Treatment (yellow)
17. finish a duology – Our Dark Duet
18. use a flower as a bookmark
19. read a book with great friendship – Six of Crows
20. read the last book in a series – Conqueror
21. read a book while sitting outside
22. read a book that is (partly) set in spring
23. read a book with green on the cover – Authority
24. read a book that includes an animal
25. read a book under 300 pages – Shadowsong

As you can see, I haven’t picked out a book for every task, and I doubt I’ll get through all the ones I’ve picked, but it’s fun to try and plot out.  I guess I’ll see how many points I end up with at the end!

Spring Bloggiesta


Bloggiesta is a blogging marathon revolving around ticking off those items on your to-do list and improving your blog while in the good company of other awesome bloggers doing the same thing. Our awesome mascot Pedro (Plan. Edit. Develop. Review. Organize) is ready to break out the nachos, enchiladas, drinks, mariachi music and whack a piñata or two! It’s nothing short of an awesome fiesta! This edition of Bloggiesta runs Monday March 19th – Sunday March 25th. Sign up here.

– From the Bloggiesta team

Bloggiesta is always so motivating to get involved with, and this time around I’m off for three of the seven days instead of the usual two, so I’m hoping I can get lots done.  I have a couple of exams coming up too so that’ll take some of my time up, but I’m planning to use bloggiesta tasks as a bit of a break from preparing!

Here are my goals:

  • Write two reviews
  • Schedule two other posts
  • Reformat 5+ old reviews for the Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin
  • Take part in at least one mini-challenge
  • Sign up for mini Blog Ahead
  • Update reading spreadsheet with recent reads ✓
  • Update twitter thread with recent reads ✓
  • Leave at least 10 comments on other Bloggiesta participants’ blog

The Greatest Showman, like P.T. Barnum’s circus, is a lie – and that’s okay

I knew I wanted to see The Greatest Showman as soon as I saw the adverts: I love musicals, I love Hugh Jackman, and it just looked totally up my alley.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about the fact the story was based around P.T. Barnum, who by all accounts was pretty awful. I read a few initial reviews which objected to the fact the story had been ‘Disney-fied’, but that didn’t necessarily put me off: a truly accurate story would have been depressing!

Before seeing the film, I listened to the soundtrack once. I debated for a long time about whether to go into the film completely blind, but to be honest I just couldn’t resist listening to it!  It meant I had some idea about what the songs were saying, so when they came on in the film I wasn’t overwhelmed by the dancing and on screen action without being able to keep up with the words.

From the moment the story opens with Hugh Jackman’s lone voice singing, I was hooked.  There were a few actors I was a little nervous about: I know nothing of Zac Efron apart from his High School Musical days (which I’ve actually never seen, maybe I should?), and while Zendaya is gorgeous I thought her character in Spider-Man Homecoming was just a bit boring. I needn’t have worried though: they were both fantastic.  The acting and the writing were great, and there wasn’t a single character in the film that I couldn’t empathise with in some way.  The plot is, in some ways, the weakest aspect of the film; it’s a little slow at times, and going into it blind, I wasn’t entirely sure where the story was going to go.  Looking back at it objectively, the film feels almost like it shouldn’t be as enjoyable as it is, and yet I loved every moment.

The film is gorgeous to look at, from the costumes to the sets, and the choreography and dancing are spectacular.  The scene for ‘The Other Side’ is my particular favourite, and despite being an absolute non-dancer I’m incapable of hearing it without tapping my feet at least!  As good as the acting, choreography and plot are, it is of course the soundtrack that’s the stand-out feature.  The songs range from huge, inspiring and epic group songs to softer, sadder reprises.  The vocals are just astounding, with the genuinely awe-inspiring ‘Never Enough’ and ‘This Is Me’ to the softer but no less emotional ‘Tightrope’ and ‘Rewrite the Stars’.  It’s impossible to pick a favourite, but after seeing the film, I’ve been listening to the soundtrack pretty much incessantly.  Going back to see the film a second time, more familiar with the soundtrack, I loved it even more, and despite my issues with the plot, I was still completely lost in the story.

The reviewers who said the story has been ‘Disney-fied’ are absolutely right: Barnum comes across as a generally good guy.  He’s imperfect, and he makes a few very unpleasant decisions, but the overall impression was that Barnum wasn’t a bad guy at heart, and he tried to repair the mistakes he made. In reality, Barnum was exploitative and manipulative.  The Greatest Showman, like P.T. Barnum’s circus, is a lie – and that’s okay. While not necessarily historically accurate, the way they portrayed Barnum’s story made for a film that felt uplifting, inspiring, and generally feel good.  I do sort of wish they’d chosen to just base the story around a fictional circus instead, but there’s also something quite nice and ironic about the fact such a positive story came out of something so grim in reality.

And now, I’m off to listen to the soundtrack some more and lust after these amazing custom Funko pops (Anne still being worked on at the time of writing). Also to possibly go and see it a third time, because it was awesome.

How amazing are these custom Greatest Showman pops by RudyV?

I Am Thunder (Muhammad Khan)

I Am Thunder (Muhammad Khan)I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan
Published by Macmillan Children's Books on January 25th 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: From the publisher

Fifteen-year-old Muzna Saleem, who dreams of being a writer, struggles with controlling parents who only care about her studying to be a doctor. Forced to move to a new school in South London after her best friend is shamed in a scandal, Muzna realizes that the bullies will follow her wherever she goes. But deciding to stand and face them instead of fighting her instinct to disappear is harder than it looks when there's prejudice everywhere you turn. Until the gorgeous and confident Arif shows an interest in her, encouraging Muzna to explore her freedom.

But Arif is hiding his own secrets and, along with his brother Jameel, he begins to influence Muzna with their extreme view of the world. As her new freedom starts to disappear, Muzna is forced to question everything around her and make a terrible choice - keep quiet and betray herself, or speak out and betray her heart?

A stunning new YA voice which questions how far you'll go to protect what you believe in.

Plot: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Readability: ★★★★★

I often say I’m not much of a contemporary reader, but I knew I wanted to read I Am Thunder as soon as I heard about it.  I grew up in a city with a huge, diverse, multi-cultural population. If you were asked to think of a city with a large Asian population, I can guarantee it would be one of your first guesses.  There are plenty of people in the city who care a lot more about the things they have in common – a shared hometown, a common favourite food, a TV show they both love, whatever.  Sadly, as with anywhere, there are also people who can’t see beyond the things that make us different.  In my city at least, the hate language often isn’t targeted at Muslims specifically, but blindly at anyone who ‘looks Asian’.  As a white, non-religious woman, I’ve never been on the receiving end, but I’ve had friends and co-workers who’ve reveived exactly the kind of abuse Muzna gets in I am Thunder.   I Am Thunder addresses real world issues that should be talked about more – stereotypes, prejudice, racism and extremism – and is one of the very few YA books I’ve come across that have a Muslim protagonist.

The book feels authentic the whole way through. Khan is a teacher, so the interactions between the teens and their responses to things feel believable, complete with slang language.  This is one of the novel’s strengths, as well as a possible weakness: the teens sound like current British teens, making it feel believable, but may put off readers from elsewhere and the language may not age well, so that’s a thing to bear in mind.

It was cruel to bring me up in Britain, make me go to school with British kids, then expect me to act like a girl from back home. Outside of having brown skin, speaking the language, and half-heartedly cheering the cricket team on with Dad, I had no real idea of what it meant to be Pakistani.

Muzna is a great character.  She worries about the expected teen problems: worrying about her weight and her looks, wondering what to do with her life, feeling torn between the strict rules her parents put on her and her desire to fit in at school.  On top of that, and the concerns that come with starting at a new school, she begins to fall for a boy who’s extreme views of the world have her questioning everything.  She’s not ashamed of her Pakistani heritage, but she does feel removed from it, having grown up in Britain.  She feels like it makes her a target – and indeed, sadly it does.  The way she slowly gets drawn in by Arif and his extremist views is believable, and her sympathetic nature makes her struggle with what to do both plausible and emotional.  There may be moments when you curse her for being easily drawn in, and I personally wasn’t convinced by the love interest, but it felt like she made normal teenage decisions – some good, some bad but none forced for the sake of plot. She’s flawed but likable, and is definitely the star of the novel. The she supporting characters weren’t as strong, but they were believable enough.  Arif is interesting, although I felt the twist at the end was a bit unecessary – he’d have been believable enough without it.

“Tough though innit? Black man commits a crime, people say he’s a gangbanger. If it’s a muslim, he’s a-”
“Terrorist.” I interrupted.
He nodded. “But if it’s a white guy, he gets called a ‘lone wolf’, and suddenly it’s all about mental health issues.”

I love the way Khan talks about the differences between culture and religion, as well as the fact that there are many different ways people follow their religion.  I Am Thunder will make you furious at the society we live in and the pernicious prejudice Muzna faces every day, as it should.  It has witty, funny moments that made me laugh out loud, and poignant, heartbreaking moments.  It has empowering moments that will make you cheer for Muzna and inspire you.  I flew through the novel in a day, and it’s definitely one I’ll be re-reading eventually, because it deserves to be really thought about and considered.  While it isn’t necessarily a perfect novel, it’s powerful, it’s emotional and above all it is necessary – it deserves to be applauded and should be on everyone’s TBR.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

February Wrap-Up


Indexing | Deathnote #10 | Into the Drowning Deep | Harry Potter & The Cursed Child | Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine | A Thousand Perfect Notes | Indulgence in Death | Renegades | The Blood of Olympus | Other Minds

Books read: 10
Pages read: 3397
Average pages per day: 121 (14 less than January)
Average book length: 340 pages (9 less than January)
Favourite: Into the Drowning Deep


Black Panther (twice)- I mean, the fact I saw it twice in one month probably tells you everything you need to know…
The Shape of Water –
Honestly, this was a bit strange. Visually beautiful, but I just felt like it was trying really hard to be clever and forgot to actually think about plot and characters – super predictable.
The Greatest Showman (again) –
This has seriously gone on to my list of favourite films ever.  I wanted to go to the sing-along but no one would go with me so I settled for seeing it again in the normal version!
The Maze Runner: Scorch trials (rewatch) –
I was kind of underwhelmed by this but we’re thinking of going to see the third one and couldn’t remember anything, so since this was on Netflix we thought it was worth a rewatch.

Altered Carbon (1 x 1-6) – It took me so long to get into this but it has picked up so we’ll get to the end in the next few days. Bit gruesome for me but I am starting to enjoy it more.
Manhunt: Unabomber (1 x 8) –
Fantastic acting and writing. A bit slow to start but completely addictive once you get started and caused some long, thoughtful discussions in my family at least.
Once Upon a Time (5 x 23 & 6 x 1) –
Honestly, I’m still hoping it’ll get good again but I’ve just found myself watching other things (pretty much any other things) over this…
Grey’s Anatomy (14 x 9) –
LOVE. I’m so glad this is back!
Steven Universe (1 x 1-4) –
This has been recommended to me a few times, and since I’ve finished Avatar, I was looking for something with short episodes to put back on my watch list. It’s so far a bit strange but I’ve promised to stick with it a bit longer, because I’m assured it gets awesome.
Grand Tour (2 x 1-6) –
This is one we’ve been watching in the evening, that everyone is happy enough to have on. It’s okay. Some funny bits, some eye-rolling bits.


I’ve been entirely absent this month, I’m sorry! I went for a promotion at work so I’ve been pretty much overwhelmed with preparing for that. Hoping for a better March!

NetGalley % change: -1% (73%)

Challenge Updates

Sci-fi vs Fantasy Bingo
It’s the End of the World As We Know It: Into the Drowning Deep
Alternate Reality: Renegades
Portal: Indexing
Epic:  The Blood of Olympus

Beat the Backlist (13/48)

Finishing the Series (2/15)

Goodreads (22/100)

Personal Goals

Lost 2.5lbs (6.5/ ~42)

How was your February?