Review: With Paper for Feet – Jennifer A. McGowan


Genre: Poetry

Publication date: 23rd February 2017 by Inpress Books

Format: eARC sent to me for review by Inpress Books via Netgalley

Jennifer A McGowan’s collection of themed narrative poems is steeped in the traditions of oral storytelling and folklore.

Each section addresses a different source: world folk stories, Shakespeare and the Iliad; skillfully mining old stories for new truths, giving a voice to silent characters, or an alternative take on the accepted view – especially of women.


With Paper for Feet is a unique collection of poetry, and I really enjoyed it. The poetry was lyrical, and well-executed.

The poet has said that her intention was to give a voice to people who went unheard, primarily women, and she does this extremely well. I loved the way that it was divided into sections, each focusing on different characters from history or literature or folklore. The perspectives were interesting and thought-provoking, they forced me to think about those characters / people who the ‘original’ stories don’t really cover.

I did find myself struggling to understand who some of the characters were, and a little clarification would have been helpful. Otherwise though, a quick google search sorted things out, and it’s probably because I’m not that knowledgeable on folklore / mythology, even though I love reading about it. That’s probably why I found this book so good; because it focuses on a less talked about aspect to something I find intriguing anyway.

The writing wasn’t overdramatic or too flowery, which was lovely to read. It wasn’t simple either, but it flowed and wove beautiful stories and it worked so, so well.

I would definitely recommend this collection, it was insightful, unique, and I loved the writing style. It’s certainly well worth a read.

Rating: 4 / 5 🌟


Review: A Secret Garden – Katie Fforde


Genre: Romance, chick lit

Publication date: 23rd February 2017 by Century

Format: eARC sent to me for review from Randomhouse UK, Cornerstone, Century, via Netgalley

Lorna is a talented gardener and Philly is a plantswoman. Together they work in the grounds of a beautiful manor house in the Cotswolds.

They enjoy their jobs and are surrounded by family and friends.

But for them both the door to true love remains resolutely closed.

So when Lorna is introduced to Jack at a dinner party and Lucien catches Philly’s eye at the local farmers market, it seems that dreams really can come true and happy endings lie just around the corner.

But do they?

Troublesome parents, the unexpected arrival of someone from Lorna’s past, and the discovery of an old and secret garden mean their lives are about to become a lot more complicated…


Another review courtesy of mum, she’s read pretty much all of Katie Fforde’s books and loves them!

A Secret Garden is set in the grounds of Burthen House, a beautiful Cotswold Manor owner by Peter and his formidable mother Anthea. The gardens are being restored by head gardener Lorna, who is middle-aged, divorced and a childhood friend of Peter. Needing assistance, Lorna enlists the help of Philly, a girl who has moved to the area from Ireland with her beloved grandfather Seamus and who now runs a small holding growing plants, which she sells on her market stall.

Lorna and Philly, together with Anthea, discover a secret garden within the grounds of the manor, which they set about restoring in time for Anthea’s birthday, hence the book’s title (although, strangely, this doesn’t happen until halfway through the book). All three women, despite being generations apart in age, form a strong friendship and the plot centres around, not only the restoration of the garden, but the path each of them takes to finding love. All three are strong, capable women and the characters are likeable, even if you do want to shake them from time to time!

Lorna, who initially thinks she’s in love with Peter but has to watch whilst he falls for someone else, meets Jack, attractive but younger than her. Philly meets Lucien, a chef who dreams of becoming an artisan baker. Both couples encounter obstacles along the way in order to be together. All three women have to overcome age or class barriers to find love.

The plot is warm, comfortable and interesting, if a little too predictable. The descriptions of the garden are lovely and the relationships between the characters sweet and gentle (particularly that of Philly and her grandfather).

To be honest, A Secret Garden lacks as much depth and excitement as some of Katie Fforde’s other novels but nonetheless is still a good story, full of gentle humour, romantic escapism and the required happy-ever-after ending. It is effortless to read, pleasantly entertaining and there is enough going on to keep you turning the pages.

Not a standout novel by Katie Fforde but still enjoyable.

Review: Spandex and the City by Jenny T. Colgan


Genre: Romance, chick lit,

Publication date: 18th May 2017 by Orbit

Format: eARC sent to me for review from Little, Brown Book Group UK via Netgalley


Mild-mannered publicist Holly Phillips is unlucky in love. She’s embarrassed beyond belief when the handsome stranger she meets in a bar turns out to be ‘Ultimate Man’ – a superpowered hero whose rescue attempt finds her hoisted over his shoulder and flashing her knickers in the newspaper the next day.

But when Holly’s fifteen minutes of fame make her a target for something villainous, she only has one place to turn – and finds the man behind the mask holds a lot more charm than his crime-fighting alter-ego.

Can Holly find love, or is superdating just as complicated as the regular kind?


This is another review courtesy of my mum, who is a lover of Jenny (T.) Colgan’s books.

Having read many of Jenny Colgan’s books, I looked forward to Spandex And The City, expecting much the same format as the others:- a gentle, albeit predictable, story of a woman starting on a new path in her life and finding romance on the way. So I had a bit of a shock when I started to read Spandex And the City. (I hadn’t realised that this particular novel was written by Jenny T Colgan, not Jenny Colgan.  Same author, just very different styles).

Spandex And The City is set in a busy city and centres around unlikely heroine Holly Phillips, who has an unfortunate talent for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Holly is stubborn, often sarcastic but brave. Aided by the hero of the story, a masked figure clad in purple Spandex called Ultimate Man, whose path she unwittingly continually crosses, Holly sets about defeating villain Frederick Cecil, as he tries to take down the internet. Yes, the names are daft but so is the plot!

The focus of the story is on Holly, more than the hero or villain. She is girl next door type, who reluctantly finds herself being rescued by Ultimate Man and ends up falling for him. Jenny’s Colgan’s writing is easy going and relaxed, but also playful, fun and very entertaining. There’s lots of humour and tongue in cheek sarcasm, great if you just want a bit of escapism and to be amused.

Spandex And The City is an entertaining take on a superhero vs villain, good vs evil tale with a happy ending. It is refreshingly different, ridiculously far-fetched and romantic. But huge fun!

The Bookish Naughty List Tag!

Okay, so I believe that this is Christmas related but I wasn’t keeping up with tags at that point (not that I’m doing well at keeping up with them now), but it looks fun, so never mind.

Thank you to Hannah for tagging me to do this!💕 I have to tick which ones I am guilty of, and put it this way, I’m not feeling optimistic… oops.

  • Received an ARC and not reviewed it ✅
    • Many… oops.
  • Have less than 60% feedback rating on Netgalley ✅
    • See above. It’s rising with all the blogging I’ve done recently, but it’s still a way away from 60%.
  • Rated a book on Goodreads and promised a full review was to come on your blog (and never did)
    • I’ve only just started to review on Goodreads, and the blog usually takes priority so I can’t say I’ve done this!
  • Folded down the page of a book ✅
    • Years ago, but I don’t now… Now the thought makes me shudder slightly – bookmarks for the win, whatever that bookmark may be.😂
  • Accidentally spilled on a book ✅
    • Holidays. Books by the pool don’t mix… Especially when there are children around – absolutely not (to the children and the damaged book😂)
  • DNF a book this year✅
    • I finally decided that I was never going to be picking up How To Build A Girl by Caitlin Moran – I just really couldn’t get into it.
  • Bought a book purely because it was pretty with no intention of reading it
    • I buy pretty books with good intentions to read them, though I can’t say I get to them quickly…
  • Read whilst you were meant to be doing something else (like homework)✅ 
    • Of course.
  • Skim read a book✅
    • A lot of uni books… too many.
  • Completely missed your Goodreads goal
    • I mean I beat it by 6 books in 2017, after raising it fairly early on in the year from 25 to 75!
  • Borrowed a book and not returned it 

    • Nope😇
  • Broke a book buying ban✅
    • Yep. Far too many times. My bank account hates me😭
  • Started a review, left it for ages then forgot what the book was about✅
    • I’m putting this post up today as I’m putting off writing a review for a book I can’t remember…
  • Wrote in a book you were reading✅
    • Do ebooks count? Because I definitely did last semester, but I feel like I did a while back too in physical books.
  • Finished a book and not added it to your Goodreads
    • I don’t think so, chapters from criticism / journals but nothing that I could add realistically.

Not too bad, I suppose. Plenty to work on this year I think!



Review: The Inexplicable Logic of my Life – Benjamin Alire Sáenz


Genre: Contemporary, YA, LGBT+

Publication date: 7th March 2017 by Clarion Books

Format: eARC sent to me for review by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group via Netgalley.

The first day of senior year:

Everything is about to change. Until this moment, Sal has always been certain of his place with his adoptive gay father and their loving Mexican-American family. But now his own history unexpectedly haunts him, and life-altering events force him and his best friend, Samantha, to confront issues of faith, loss, and grief.

Suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and discovering that he no longer knows who he really is—but if Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?


It’s been a while since I picked up a book by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, the last one being Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – which I adored and reviewed in my early blogging days. I loved this book too, maybe not quite as much (A&D was truly exceptional), but it was wonderful nonetheless.

Something that strikes me in Sáenz’s writing is the positive emphasis on family. Yes, there are problematic families in this book too, which are discussed and developed, but Sal’s family is incredibly close and caring and I genuinely love this portrayal. His father is gay, and to avoid spoilers I don’t want to talk too much about his relationship, but it is sensitively and genuinely shown. The extended family, too, is covered, and I love the connection that the members have to one another, and happily extend to those who need some love from a family too.

His characters are all so unique and fantastically developed, you feel as though they are real people and become fully invested in their lives. The friendship between Sal and Samantha is one of the most perfect friendships I’ve seen portrayed in a book – not perfect in that everything is wonderful, but perfect because it is flawed, they fall out, make up, but it’s realistic. Also, the lack of romance made me extremely happy, there was no need for them to fall in love, in fact, I think it would have spoiled it a bit, and I definitely appreciated seeing the male-female friendship staying at just that.

Sáenz’s writing style is absolutely incredible. I remember, even now, how much I loved it in is Aristotle and Dante. It does not disappoint here either, it’s poetic and beautiful and flowing and just wonderful. If I try and talk about it much more I’ll end up reusing adjectives because all I can do is gush about it.

There is not much of a plot, though there are several events that occur and take Sal on his ‘journey’. It didn’t need some ‘big scheme’ happening. Natural, realistic events are what make this book so good. Sal’s experience could be someone else’s, and that’s what makes a book so great.

It is such a diverse book, with LGBT+ characters, Mexican-American families, poverty, and variety of family situations. I don’t think I need to say I’d recommend this – it should be obvious from my review… I love Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s books, I’ve come to that conclusion, and I can’t wait to get to the rest of them (I have another that I received recently as a gift so that’ll be read soon). His characters are phenomenal and it’s also impossible not to fall in love with his writing.

Rating: 4.5 / 5 🌟

2018 Releases I’m Excited About​

All of the release dates are all from Amazon unless otherwise stated!

  • Nice Try, Jane Sinner – Lianne Oelke

This book is honestly so fantastic and I’d highly recommend it – you can read my review here.

Released: 9th January

  • Love, Hate and Other Filters – Samira Ahmed

This book looks wonderful, and I will be getting to it very shortly as I received a copy via Netgalley a few days ago!

Released: 16th January

  • I am Thunder – Muhammad Khan

This is about religion (I think – it’s what I grasped from the synopsis on Netgalley but I may be wrong). It looks so good!

Released: 25th January

  • Goodbye, Perfect – Sara Barnard

I have loved all of the other books by Sara Barnard, and I cannot wait to read this one!

Released: 8th February

  • Piecing Me Together – Renée Watson

Another powerful looking book that I don’t know much about, but I know it talks about racism and I want to read it!

Released: 8th February

  • The Exact Opposite of Okay – Laura Steven

I’ve started reading this, as I was lucky enough to get an arc at YALC, and it’s so so good! The only reason I haven’t finished it is because it clashed with my writing project.

Released: 8th March

  • Tyler Johnson Was Here – Jay Coles

I don’t know much about this, but the synopsis looks so good (and important), so I want to pick it up!

Released: 20th March

  • The Astonishing Colour of After – Emily X. R. Pan

Again, I’m not too sure what it’s about, but it’s about a character struggling with her mother’s suicide and apparently, it is diverse (or so I hope, anyway!).

Released: 22nd March

  • Clean – Juno Dawson

I haven’t read a book with a main character facing addiction, so I can’t wait to read this. I have an early copy which I am desperate to read once my uni reading has been started!

Released: 5th April

  • The Poet X –  Elizabeth Acevedo

I know it includes slam poetry, though as for the rest I’m not sure – I’ve just heard a lot of good things!

Released: 3rd May

  • On The Come Up – Angie Thomas

I loved loved loved The Hate U Give and cannot wait to read this!

Released: 7th June

  • A Thousand Perfect Notes – C. G. Drews

This honestly looks incredible. I follow the author on social media and I’m ready to preorder it as soon as I know which address I’ll be at on its release date!

Released: 7th June

  • Lost – P.C. and Kristin Cast

This is the sequel to Loved, which is the beginning of a new series that later follows the House of Night series. I love these books – rereading them now I see they’re not the best written, but they’re sentimental and I love them regardless.

Released: 10th July

  • Floored – Various Authors

So many of my favourite YA writers have contributed to this…

Released: 12th July

  • Toil & Trouble: 16 Tales of Women & Witchcraft – Various Authors

Witchcraft. Enough said.

Released: 28th August

  • Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber

Wing Jones is an all-time favourite. I am beyond excited.

Expected publication: August

What new releases are you looking forward to?☺️📚

Review: Tremulous Hinge – Adam Giannelli


Genre: Poetry

Publication date: 15th April 2017 by University Of Iowa Press

Format: eARC sent to me for review from The University of Iowa Press via Netgalley

Rain intermits, bus windows steam up, loved ones suffer from dementia—in the constantly shifting, metaphoric world of Tremulous Hinge, figures struggle to remain standing and speaking against forces of gravity, time, and language. In these visually porous poems, boundaries waver and reconfigure along the rumbling shoreline of Rockaway or during the intermediary hours that an insomniac undergoes between darkness and dawn. Through a series of self-portraits, elegies, and Eros-tinged meditations, this hovering never subsides but offers, among the fragments, momentary constellations: “moths all swarming the / same light bulb.”

From the difficulties of stuttering to teetering attempts at love, from struggling to order a hamburger to tracing the deckled edge of a hydrangea, these poems tumble and hum, revealing a hinge between word and world. Ultimately, among lofting waves, collapsing hands, and darkening skies, words themselves—a stutterer’s manoeuvres through speech, a deceased grandfather’s use of punctuation—become forms of consolation. From its initial turbulence to its final surprising solace, this debut collection mesmerises. 


Reviewing poetry is challenging, as it is something I feel is extremely personal. What one person can connect to, another can’t. This collection was beautiful though; a heartfelt, stunning book.

The imagery in all of the poems was wonderful and I found it thought-provoking. Whilst the writing wasn’t over the top, rather it was simplistic in some places, it created such images in my mind and covered a whole number of topics extremely well. It didn’t matter how simple the writing was in places because it did what poetry should do; invoke feelings and thoughts.

There wasn’t a poem I didn’t like in this collection, they were all so wonderfully executed. The rhythm of the pieces worked perfectly to emphasise their meanings, as did the tone of the poems. They didn’t feel gimmicky or cliched, which I definitely appreciated. I also loved the word choices that the poet made – they created a poetry collection that is as insightful as it is elegant.

I would definitely recommend this poetry collection, as it covers a wide range of emotive topics and it is truly beautiful. It is easy to follow, but it remains apart from the new ‘tumblr’ poetry (I believe that’s how some people refer to it) that is so popular today. In other words, it uses regular poetry conventions (for contemporary poetry, that is), and the result is wonderful.

Rating: 4 / 5 🌟

Goals For This Semester

It’s a new semester, which means three new modules, new choices and new experiences. I’ve learned a lot so far in my uni experience, and I want to continue to work on many of these lessons. I’ve made a few goals after last semester, so we’ll see how they go.

  1. Manage my time better and procrastinate less.
  2. Look after myself – take time out to read what I want to read, work on my blog, write, go to the gym, go for a walk, spend time with friends etc. I spent so much time working last semester I burnt myself out completely. My mind was all over the place, and I want to *try* and improve this.
  3. Meditate at least once or twice a week (I guess this links to the above, but it’s more specific).
  4. Eat more healthily, as it makes me feel better.
  5. Get a plan for the rest of my uni career – decide what dissertation I want to do, what masters to apply for, and sort some work experience.

There are many other things that I want to improve on through the coming semester, but  I have to narrow it down somehow or I’ll just have a list of things that I’ll never achieve because I’ll feel so overwhelmed!

Natalie Cotterill - Instagram: @nats_cotterill

Have this cute picture of some seals I saw on a trip with my housemates. They were adorable (the seals, that is)!

Review: Winter – Ali Smith

Natalie Cotterill

Genre: Literary fiction, contemporary

Publication Date: 2nd November 2017 by Hamish Hamilton

Format: Hardcover bought for me as a gift

Winter? Bleak. Frosty wind, earth as iron, water as stone, so the old song goes. The shortest days, the longest nights. The trees are bare and shivering. The summer’s leaves? Dead litter. 

The world shrinks; the sap sinks. 

But winter makes things visible. And if there’s ice, there’ll be fire. 

In Ali Smith’s Winter, lifeforce matches up to the toughest of the seasons. In this second novel in her acclaimed Seasonal cycle, the follow-up to her sensational Autumn, Smith’s shape-shifting quartet of novels casts a merry eye over a bleak post-truth era with a story rooted in history, memory and warmth, its taproot deep in the evergreens: art, love, laughter. 

It’s the season that teaches us survival. 

Here comes Winter.


Like Autumn, Winter is a difficult book to review. Though maybe it’s because I haven’t reviewed that much literary fiction.

Nevertheless, this was another enjoyable read. I liked Ali Smith’s writing style yet again, though in this one I found there to be a few cases where I was confused by the digressions, and struggled to follow the main narrative throughout. There are, of course, aspects of the story that are not supposed to make complete sense – they are somewhat fantastical, bordering the line of realistic / fantasy. In a couple of instances I did pause, wondering whether the occurrences were real or metaphorical – sometimes this would be addressed later on, other times it wouldn’t.

The characters did not cross over from Autumn, and so there was a whole new set to be developed. I found the character of Iris to be lacking a something, despite her being my favourite character. The same with Lux. Maybe it was because of the development of Arthur and Sophia I didn’t like them so much (I didn’t dislike them per se, just preferred Iris and Lux). However, none of the characters fell flat, I just felt they could have had more.

I enjoyed the relationships within this story, more than in Autumn. There were a lot of contrasting emotions and beliefs, which led to many challenges, and it was this bit that I enjoyed most. It became clear how the characters had changed and become who they are in the ‘present’, having all of the flashbacks and anecdotes to refer to and expand upon their characterisation.

The social commentary I found particularly amusing. Probably because I agree with a lot of what was being said, but the two sides of the debate were portrayed fairly – in my opinion anyway. Art’s naive questioning and Iris’ brashness were contrasting ways of seeing and challenging an idea, and I liked this aspect. It gives people something to relate to (we also have Sophia’s outright dismissal of ideas – but she does read the Daily Mail so what can you expect).

I’m looking forward to Spring now and to seeing what that holds. I’m assuming Spring will follow – logically it does. I definitely am enjoying these books, they’re something a little different to what I would normally read. I don’t avoid political novels, but I haven’t really read anything about Brexit beside Autumn and Winter, and the not-so-subtle references to various politicians did make me laugh. I’d apologise for that, but I’m not sorry.

Rating: 4 / 5 🌟

Talking About My TBR

Natalie Cotterill

I feel like TBRs cause such a controversy on social media nowadays, with people shaming themselves or even others for the size of them. Mine is huge, I’ll admit it. Sometimes I feel so much pressure because of it, but at the end of the day, I love it.

If I’m honest, I couldn’t tell you how many books are on my TBR. I don’t count any that I don’t own in some form as being on my TBR either, so any I get from the library or I have on my wishlist are just ‘books I want to read’, rather than ‘books on my TBR’. The list would be never-ending otherwise. I do have, essentially, a whole bookshelf dedicated to my TBR, but having books at uni too makes it difficult to keep track of numbers… not that I really kept count in the first place.

Part of me envies those who manage to contain their TBRS, having only like, 12 books unread on their shelves. I’d love to be that minimalist (and my bank account would definitely appreciate it too). But it’s just not me. I’m an untidy person, permanently surrounded by stuff, however hard I try to be otherwise – minimalism is just not me!

Personally, I love having such a selection of books at my fingertips, though it does sometimes make choosing my next read slightly challenging. Especially at the moment, as I’ve received so many titles that I am desperate to read for Christmas and my birthday! But I do like it. Sometimes I find it overwhelming, and I’ve run out of space in my bedroom, but I wouldn’t change it.

I do wish I could read quicker and more, so I could actually get to these wonderful titles as well as clear down the number of unread books I own. I’m challenging myself this year to read 100 books, so fingers crossed that helps keep me motivated and reading! I’m a procrastinator and frequently find myself spending hours on youtube or social media doing absolutely nothing. If I could get this procrastination under control, that would be incredible…

I find clearing out books such a difficult task, so unhauls are usually a no for me. If I do them, they’re of books that I have read, so my TBR keeps growing and is beyond a ‘maintainable’ size. Oops.

TBRs are such a personal thing though, I love to see how other people arrange theirs. Some people on social media seem to shame those with a large one (I have no one in mind particularly – it’s just something I’ve seen around) and that’s not fair. People have different preferences and others cannot afford / don’t have space for a large TBR, there are a whole number of reasons why people choose to have things a certain way and it’s not fair to judge them on these.

I’d love to know what your TBR is like! Do you have a lot of books, or do you prefer to keep it minimal? Do you include books you don’t own but would like to own / get from a library etc? What about ebooks? For some reason, I always forget about them in my attempts to count my TBR (though that’s probably my brain going “don’t make things worse”!)