Why I’m going on a hiatus…

Hello friends and welcome to What Em’s Reading, which has been home to my book reviews, book tags and all manner of bookish content for nearly 4 years now!

In that 4 years A LOT has changed and that is why, with a heavy heart, I am taking a hiatus from my blog.

Book blogging doesn’t hold the same joy and passion that it used to at the moment, and whist I try not to get brought down by poor views and engagement on my posts, especially as this is a hobby for me and not something I am trying to make money from, it’s hard not to.

And with me taking on more responsibility at work, alongside undertaking my AAT qualifications, I feel like I can’t commit the time to this blog that I used to.

I plan to continue writing my reviews and sharing them on Goodreads and StoryGraph, both of which you can add/follow me on, I’m here on Goodreads and @whatemsreadingx on StoryGraph.

I just feel I can’t commit to the other bits that come with posting the reviews on my blog, the editing of the post (still h8 you wordpress block editor), the linking everything, the scheduling and then the boosting the post for minimal views and engagement.

Ever since I joined the bookish community all those years ago I have felt at home and welcomed, and my taking a break is nothing to do with not feeling like I belong or like I’m unwelcome. In fact, it’s completely the opposite, I feel so incredibly safe in this community that I know no one will judge me for the decision to take a step back for a lil while, at least from my blog.

Before I finish and say see ya soon, I wanted to share some of my favourite posts from over the years in the hope that you too will get some enjoyment from reading them.

My 2019 TBR back when I was young and foolish and barely had any books to read!

My take on the TTT books that would make good band names…

And the characters I would like to be stranded with, ya know if I had a choice when I got stuck on an island.

My top books of 2020!

My top ARCs of 2021!

And my personal favourite, my review and discussion post of the PJO series reread I did.

This isn’t a goodbye as such, it’s more of a I’m taking an extended break and hope to be back soon when I’ve got the time and energy to commit to this blog. In the meantime, I am on Goodreads and StoryGraph and you can always find me tweeting random shit over on @WhatEmsReadingX

Lots of love to you all and happy reading.

Em xxx

ARC REVIEW – The Rebound by Catherine Walsh.

A big thank you to NetGalley and Bookoturefor the advanced copy of this book to read for free in return for an honest review.

The Rebound by Catherine Walsh, published on 14.2.22. Read the synopsis here.

Overall rating – 4 out of 5 stars.

I really struggled to write my review of this book because I just enjoyed it so much and when I enjoy a book I find it really difficult to just not type OMG IT WAS AMAZING over and over again, which to be honest The Rebound was amazing!

The entire book was set in Ireland, so immediately I was sold and knew I would adore this story, and thanks to the authors ability to perfectly set the scene I felt as if I was there, alongside our characters.

I completely fell in love with our characters, they were possibly the highlight of this story for me. Not only were they interesting to read, had really likeable qualities and were just generally awesome, there was real character development and growth throughout the story from them.

Specifically, with Abby and her sister Louise, and I’m really glad the author allowed that to also be a focus of the story and how they came together through the book. It helped me not only feel more endeared to the characters but also made the story feel more realistic.

Oh and I’m also obsessed with Luke, sorry not sorry.

Whilst the story wasn’t exactly anything new, it just had this refreshing feel to it. I think the location and the scene setting really played a part in making this love story feel different. And with the authors ability to write a story that just draws you in and is easy to read, it was the perfect recipe for a book.

My only major criticism is the lack of spice in this book, like ya girl is obsessed with Luke we could have done with some more smut, PLEASE.

Overall, I adored this book, it had almost everything I could have wanted from a romance book and I would definitely recommend it!

Happy reading bookworms! Until next time, Em xxx

ARC REVIEW – The Woman At No 13 by C K Williams.

A big thank you to NetGalley, Harper Collins UK and One More Chapter for the advanced copy of this book to read for free in return for an honest review.

The Woman At No 13 by C K Williams, published on 13.8.21. Read the synopsis here.

Overall rating – 4 out of 5 stars.

TRIGGER WARNING FOR DISCUSSION OF ABORTION.

I also want to preface this review by saying there is A LOT of discussion surrounding politics, the Catholic Church and their traditionalist views, the IRA, the troubles in Ireland and Brexit.

Woooooow, this book was a wild ride wasn’t it! I think by the time I reached the words “the end” I had come a complete full circle!

I was not prepared for this book to make me feel the way that I did about it. From the blurb I had an idea of how this book would go and when I finished reading it I felt it couldn’t have been further from that description we are given. However, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t an excellent book to read.

Also, I had expected the book to written from a completely different POV to that which it was written, and to start with it bugged me a little bit. But as we got deeper into the story I felt it added real value to have it written from Jannis’s POV, it allowed us to see Kate (our main character of the story) from a less skewed POV that we would have had if Kate narrated the whole story.

And because Jannis narrated the story and tbh he was a little bit of a scaredy cat it really helped the author to build a super intense atmosphere. Although I shouldn’t say Jannis was acting a bit too scared because at points this book really did get to me and made me feel quite unnerved!

The one thing that did let this book down a little bit was the plot. I felt it got quite lost at points and personally, I thought the author was trying to use the book more to discuss the troubles in Ireland and be political (which is absolutely fine, I had no issues with the topics at hand) but it felt too far away from the blurb. The blurb became quite misleading one you started reading.

However, the writing of this book was undeniably a high point and really elevated the book. The quality of the writing together with the authors ability to build an incredible and tense atmosphere truly made the words stand out on the page and imbed themselves into my head.

Overall, I did enjoy The Woman At No13 and I felt that it was very well written and had some interesting themes brought up for reading and discussion. The only letdown for me was that it felt like the blurb misled us with the plot, and whilst I would have read it anyway if the blurb was different I felt disappointed by the difference in them.

I was hoping for a good whodunnit murder with a little bit of suspense thrown in and instead I got politics, the Catholic Church, the IRA, the troubles in Ireland and Brexit.

Happy reading bookworms! Until next time, Em xxx

ARC REVIEW – Horror book by Thom Carnell.

A big thank you to NetGalley, Crossroad Press and Macabre Ink for the advanced copy of this book to read for free in return for an honest review.

Horror Book by Thom Carnell, due to be published 22.2.22. Read the synopsis here.

Overall rating – 2 out of 5 stars.

I kind of struggled with this one, to really understand it. From the title I was expecting individual short horror stories, what I got was not that.

Whilst the stories were good, more on those shortly, it just felt incredibly misleading to be called Horror Book and then not feature anything that would be classed as horror. I appreciate that some of these stories did feature some very scary and very real world horrors, but I was expecting more make you scared horror, make you sit on the edge of your seat horror, make you scared to look in the mirror horror… That kinda thing.

There is no denying though that some of the individual stories were well written and cleverly produced.

Family Matters was one that was well written, but I did struggle to see how it was horror related. It was an excerpt from a book so I didn’t want to judge it too harshly as the rest of the book could well have been full on horror.

The Promise again had really good writing, I couldn’t fault that. But it was very mundane and very same old.

The Appeal really stood out to me. I enjoyed this one a little bit more and liked how they used such a happy holiday to try and create some horror.

Homecoming. Now this was more like it! It was exactly the sort of story I was expecting to read in this book. While it was a little samey, it was definitely creepy!

Esurience – Trigger warning for discussions of food and extreme fasting and disordered eating.

I had to stop reading this one as I didn’t feel like I could continue with the topic the story was discussing, especially without a prior trigger warning to prepare myself.

Happy Together just wasn’t really horrifying at all, it felt really obvious and I guessed what was going to happen with it pretty much straight away.

Sovereignty was a DNFR.

Tomb of the Living Dead was another highly predictable story. I just felt it lacked any originality and was packed with a lot of unnecessary stuff that didn’t add value or bring anything to the story.

The Dagger of Golgotha I was excited about! And I did enjoy it, it had the makings of a thoroughly good story but it just went on for a bit too long. It was well written and certainly grabbed my interest but I felt it dragged out just a bit too much and would have benefitted from being wrapped up sooner.

Hypoxia was a DNFR.

Anamnesis should have been another DNFR, it was possibly the most copied tale of the bunch…

Just overall this book was not what I thought it would be and because of that, I did really struggle to enjoy some of the stories within it.

Happy reading bookworms! Until next time, Em xxx

ARC REVIEW – The Phantom Circuit by Austin Farmer.

A big thank you to NetGalley and Austin Farmer for the advanced copy of this book to read for free in return for an honest review.

The Hphantom Circuit by Austin Farmer, published on the 1.1.22. Read the synopsis here.

Overall rating – 2 out of 5 stars.

I’m in two minds about The Phantom Circuit, on the one hand there were parts I really enjoyed and though omg this is so COOL, but then on the flipside I just found it a slog to read at points, and I really did consider DNFR. I think the big blocks of text didn’t help and if the author had broken those up a bit more I absolutely would have found it much easier to read!

To brief you about the story… The Phantom Circuit is a modern day retelling of Bloody Mary, and instead of mirrors she uses ~other~ methods shall I say (don’t want to give too much away!) and as someone who was obsessed with urban legends as a child/teenager this was definitely something I thought I would love.

It did frighten me a lil bit, as I am still (at 26 years old) deathly afraid of Bloody Mary and so I want applaud the author for bringing that fear back into the forefront of my life…

The idea of this book was incredible, the author had taken quite a traditional legend and injected something new to the story. However, it just wasn’t executed in the best way.

Character wise they were kind of a focus of the book, but they also weren’t – it was pretty mixed and therefore hard to form a real opinion on them. I get what the author was trying to do, and I can see how the characters could have been such an amazing part of the story, they just needed fleshing out a bit more so that we could form an attachment to them and then start to root for them.

And I don’t think the delivery of the book helped with matters. The execution of the story is what lacked for me, it was all over the place and I felt like I was wading through treacle to read it. Some parts lacked relevance to the story and would have been better left out and as such would probably have helped with the flow of the story. I did enjoy the way the author had messages written from Dianne though, I found that really interesting and thought it worked well with the way Bloody Mary was appearing.

Overall, it definitely has potential! The premise is super cool and the idea of a modern touch on an old legend is interesting, it just needed some work on the execution of the story.

ALSO, a warning that it was going to discuss the pandemic would have been nice haha, I try and avoid that while I’m reading and it just suddenly got sprung on us!

Happy reading bookworms! Until next time, Em xxx

ARC REVIEW – Safety in Numbers by Sophie Penhaligon.

A big thank you to NetGalley and BooksGoSocial for the advanced copy of this book to read for free in return for an honest review.

Safety In Numbers by Sophie Penhaligon, published on 3.1.22. Read the synopsis here.

Overall rating – 4 out of 5 stars.

From the description of this book on NetGalley I knew I was going to be in for a treat and I was completely right! Safety In Numbers was a great read and one that I will definitely be purchasing properly once it is is published!

Straight away I loved the layout of this story, the chapters were split between Milo and Seraphina (our two leading characters) which allowed the author to bounce backwards and forwards between the two and give us an insight into their thoughts and feelings.

My only minor disappointment with the two leading characters is that it took a while for us to learn things about them, they weren’t really developed until later in the book which meant that some things mentioned early in the story didn’t make sense until much later.

That being said, I LOVED reading these two characters, they really were interesting and brought the whole story to life!

The whole book itself was incredibly entertaining too, everything from the plot to the atmosphere just made Safety In Numbers into what it was.

The plot wasn’t too much different to other romance novels I have read, but the way the author incorporated women in science (BIG SHOUT OUT TO WOMEN IN SCIENCE!!!) and took the time to craft the science setting, it really gave this story a modern feel. It just had that something a little bit different.

I also couldn’t fault the writing, the author has worked and created this story that was so easy to read and get drawn into, it left me feeling warm and fuzzy inside, with a few happy tears streaming down my face at the ending! It was so perfectly done.

And, the way the author included details of Seraphina’s memory loss and her the subsequent difficulties she faces in life and how she overcomes them was done wonderfully. It was handled with real care and sensitivity.

I don’t think I could have enjoyed this book anymore than I did, Safety In Numbers was truly worth the read!

Happy reading bookworms! Until next time, Em xxx

REVIEW – The Exclusives by Rebecca Thornton.

TRIGGER WARNING: Sexual abuse, rape, and attempted suicide.

My review will not contain direct discussions of these triggers but please be aware of them before researching or reading the book.

The Exclusives by Rebecca Thornton. Read the synopsis here.

Overall rating – 4 out of 5 stars.

I got this book from a local charity shop of mine and tbh it languished on the shelf for months (nearly a year in fact) and after reading it I am incredibly disappointed in myself that I left it unread for that long…

I thoroughly enjoyed The Exclusives, particularly the plot and the way the story was presented to us. Alternate chapters had alternate years, we were in 1996 for one then 2014 next then back to 1996, which usually bugs the life out of me, but on this occasion lent itself incredibly well to the story. It meant that we could begin to put pieces of the puzzle together ourselves, whilst never quite having enough information to reach the conclusion.

The switch between the two years also meant that the author could really ramp up the intrigue. And that they did! At no point could I put this book down unless I was absolutely forced to by work constraints or ya know, the need for sleep and food. I was addicted and drawn into every single page.

However, there were a couple of things that disappointed me with earlier plot lines that seemed to have been forgotten about and the big reveal at the end wasn’t what had been alluded to throughout the whole story.

But, the general high quality of writing in this book and the characters (more to come on them in a second!) definitely made this book an enjoyable read (if that’s the right word to use…)

It was hard for me to decide between the plot or the characters as my favourite part of this book, because I absolutely was obsessed with every character in this story! We had the book from Josephine’s POV, and I don’t think I could have asked for a better lead character. Closely followed by Freya, her Dad, Freya’s Dad, the teachers at their school and even Jeremy all had their key role to play and OH BOY did they! I couldn’t find fault with a character in this story they were woven together perfectly.

On the whole, I really enjoyed my read of The Exclusives by Rebecca Thornton and I would definitely recommend it to others. My only major criticism is the lack of trigger warnings given the events that take place within this book. If you do pick this one up please be aware of the themes involved. I’ll pop them again below.

TRIGGER WARNING: Sexual abuse, rape, and attempted suicide are all discussed within this story. Please proceed at your own risk.

Happy reading bookworms! Until next time, Em xxx

Five books I’m really glad I read in 2021…

Hi friends and fellow bookworms! I’m back again with something a little bit different, this time I’m giving my list of 5 books I’m really glad I read last year… Without further introduction here they are!

Oopsie Daisy by Iris Morland – This was a JOY to read, I consumed it so quickly so I’m kinda disappointed I didn’t pace myself with it. I am definitely a fan of this author now and am on the hunt for more of her books (once I’m off my book buying ban of course!)

An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed by Helene Tursten – I was incredibly lucky to receive this an ARC but that in no way impacted my enjoyment, that was all completely natural! I don’t think this would have been one I’d pick up in a shop just on the off chance but it was so good and completely worth the read.

Ariadne, I Love You by J Ashley Smith – Another ARC that has made it onto my list is by J Ashley Smith. A tale of the descent into madness that left me feeling haunted and hollow long after I finished reading. One for you if you’re looking for something a little eerie but without the usual fear factor of horror and thriller books.

Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick – I know this has been out forEVER and it’s probably not the best out of the two, but it completely reignited by obsession with Patch and I’m incredibly happy to have gotten my hands on a copy and read it last year!

The Neighbour by London Clarke – The final ARC on this list, and possibly the most frightening of the bunch. I’m not easy to scare with books or films but The Neighbour definitely got under my skin and scared me half to death, I was on the edge of my seat for DAYS after finishing this one.

There are more than likely soooo many other books I could have added to this list, so watch this space for another one later in the year!

Happy reading bookworms! Until next time, Em xxx

ARC REVIEW – Meet me in the margins by Melissa Ferguson.

A big thank you to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson Fiction for the advanced copy of this book to read for free in return for an honest review.

Meet Me in the Margins by Melissa Ferguson, published on 15.2.22. Read the synopsis here.

Overall rating – 3 out of 5 stars.

I’m really in two minds about this book as there was aspects I absolutely adored and parts that I just felt didn’t work so well.

The characters were a big hit for me, our story was narrated by Savannah who clearly is having a hard time feeling like she’s the least successful of the family. Savannah’s character, whilst annoying at points I will admit, was like a breath of fresh air and I found it really pleasant to read the book from her POV.

I also liked our side characters, although I do feel the author could have taken a little more time to develop them and include them in the story more, it would have added real value for me.

The writing itself was another high point, as I felt the author managed to craft this glorious setting for Meet Me in the Margins… It’s set in a publishing house!!! Our main character is an editor!!! I honestly got so excited when I started reading it and I learnt this information. It felt incredibly real as the author was writing about an ARC room and how bookfluencers can get their hands on early release copies, it just felt like I’d been transported into a magical dream.

However, I did feel that the plot let this book down. It didn’t feel to me as if this book had a purpose or an end goal. I found myself struggling at points to really get stuck into the story and hooked on it. Which I think is part of the reason why it took me quite a while to read it.

And on the same vein, the romance aspect of this story just didn’t work. It felt more like an afterthought, as other than a few comments here and there about Savannah’s crush and her love life it only really came to fruition in the epilogue. It felt very rushed to me.

On the whole, Meet Me in the Margins was definitely a book I enjoyed reading! I just felt it needed a bit more on the romance side to really help this story elevate itself.

Happy reading bookworms! Until next time, Em xxx

REVIEW – The Babysitter by Phoebe Morgan.

The Babysitter by Phoebe Morgan – read the synopsis here.

Overall rating – 4 out of 5 stars.

WHEW this one was a bit of a wild ride wasn’t it?! I got this one read in around 6 hours because I couldn’t bring myself to put it down… I’m actually a bit annoyed with myself that I didn’t get around to reading this one sooner because I really enjoyed it.

The way this book started was how it drew me in, and before I knew it I was halfway into the story trying to unravel all of the little hints and secrets of Callum and Siobhan’s marriage… The author has this incredible way of writing that’s just so easy to read and get sucked into.

However, I think it was the writing that kept me reading because the characters weren’t easy to form an opinion on, the book was very plot focused (absolutely fine, not a criticism!) but it did make it hard to feel anything towards the characters…

The author built up this incredible atmosphere that left me on edge for the entirety of the book, and a little bit after I’d finished reading too, it was one of those that really stuck with me!

It was also full of such intensity and intrigue that it was impossible to put down (as you can see above I read it in 6 hours). It compelled me to keep reading because it created this burning desire to find out EXACTLY what was going on…

I think if you can get people guessing and making their own theories then you’re on for a winner because people will need to know if they’re right or not.

That being said, I did guess quite early on in the book one of the twists but there were others I didn’t guess so I’m calling that a win for the book!

On the whole, it was really easy to get sucked into The Babysitter, and it definitely had the atmosphere, writing and twists to make a good novel, I really enjoyed my read through of this one.

Happy reading bookworms! Until next time, Em xxx