mini reviews // books with red on the cover edition (poetry, hufflepuffs & I drown in all the genres)

I’m only just realising now that in January I read a fantasy, a thriller, a mystery and a poetry collection!

Like…what? I’m branching out into so many different genres lately and I’m lowkey living for it! I’ve found some new favourites and am mostly enjoying what I’m reading.

Normally I just stick to YA FANTASY and YA CONTEMPORARY but nope! I even read an ADULT book recently. Who am I??? Have I been replaced by an alien and nobody told me??

While I have my existential crisis, you can read about all the books I’ve been eating lately, and what I thought of them!


Grafitti by Savannah Brown

(and look i’m counting this as a red book because it has those tiny red stars, see? I’m not really cheating)

This is a poetry collection by Savanah Brown, who I am a huge fan of! I definitely read this because of the author, I enjoy her youtube channel so much and her spoken word on there is SO GOOD, you should all check it out!

I don’t really know how to review a poetry collection, because they’re always very personal to the author, but some of the poems were so deeply relatable, profound and intricate.

The doodles in here were so cute and NICE and improved my reading experience greatly! And I just loved every single poem, even if I couldn’t relate to it, because I appreciated how well-crafted and full of meaning each poem was!

This is not the case of poetry where it is made up of sentences with spaces in between the words (there’s nothing wrong with poetry like that, but I know many people aren’t a fan). I would highly recommend this; it’s a very delicate but fierce, beautiful read!

muse of nightmares cover

Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor
 (Strange The Dreamer, #2)


Every atom in my body screams “I LOVE THIS BOOK” and I can feel no other emotion towards it.

Laini Taylor’s writing is SO easy to gush about, because of how beautiful it is. The way she writes is elaborate and gorgeous, I genuinely get lost in words and sentences. My new life goal is to be able to write masterpieces like Laini Taylor because, just, WOW.

Thyon Nero was such a highlight of the book and I DIDN’T EVEN EXPECT IT. I felt myself cheering him on and squealing about how stupid but adorably grumpy he is – his character arc is so intriguing and well-done.

Calixte is hilarious and nobody can tell me otherwise. The way she humiliates Thyon makes her so casually sassy, hilarious and wonderful, and we all know I love characters like that. She also with someone (I can’t remember her name? Neska?), and they are one of the most iconic f/f relationships ever, fite me.

It seems I have more to say about side characters than the actual main characters but I promise Hufflepuff Lazlo was still adorable and smol too. We were a lot less in his head in this book which I didn’t mind but he’s just so SOFT and KIND I want to cry? He literally doesn’t want to hurt anybody and it makes my heart MELT.

Minya’s character development in this book was…fucking incredible. I’m sorry there’s just no other way to put it. While I was slightly sympathetic for Minya in the first instalment, this book blew me away with its an exploration of her trauma. Minya is just trying so hard, she carries the burden of so much, and this is such a prominent theme throughout this book. I truly can’t explain in words how well done her story is, but it’s one I appreciate and adore so, so much.

The topic of mental illness and grief were explored so much more through Eril Fane’s story, which was also SO poignant to read about. We get so many character’s backstories in here, but this one was so touching and sad to read about and Laini Taylor does a fantastic job of exploring the themes of healing and love – it’s truly beautiful.

And while Sarai and Lazlo were the forefronts of my love for Strange The Dreamer, in Muse of Nightmares, I didn’t ship them as intensely as before! I didn’t mind the insta-love in book one, but some of the scenes in this book felt weird because I couldn’t understand WHY they cared about each other so much with such little interaction and little time to get to know each other. But their scenes were still beautiful, and how much they care for each other is why I’m a mess! (THEY ARE ADORABLE!!!)

The world here expands SO MUCH and I can’t even explain to you how mind-blown I was by everything introduced in the book. There’s a whole new set of characters and plot introduced, we get to see so much of the world, and it’s truly fascinating and I enjoyed every minute of exploration that Laini Taylor allowed us. This is truly one of the most AWESOME fantasy worlds to exist. It’s so well thought out and impressive.

If you liked Strange The Dreamer, I think you will ADORE this one! I have so many things to say about this, but I’ll leave at this and say GO READ IT. This book is magical, sad, and beautiful aka my aesthetic.

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

3.5 STARS ★★★☆☆

I definitely expected to like this, because I’m a huge fan of all things Sherlock, and this is about his and Watson’s descendants whilst also being a sort of retelling of the stories, but this was still really, REALLY good despite my expectations!

IF YOU LAY A HAND ON CHARLOTTE HOLMES WE WILL FIGHT BECAUSE SHE IS MY FAVE AND DESERVES TO BE PROTECTED. Okay for real, Charlotte Holmes is that character who doesn’t really know how to express her emotions, is super smart but also does the dumbest crap ever and then regrets it. AND I LOVE HER FOR IT. She knows she’s a “bad person” but she fights it, she tries to be good. I love how she always plays it cool, whilst also being vulnerable at times. She’s far from perfect; she takes drugs, takes revenge in very bad ways, lies to multiple people but at heart, I think she’s one incredible human being.

Jamie was also really realistic and soft! Like how he reacted to things and his stream of thoughts was so believable and I really admired that! And again he’s a very flawed character and hates himself for thinking certain things and it’s just so great to see a not-awesome male main character. (I feel like all YA males are dark and mysterious dudes and I just want all the sweet Hufflepuff ones, please.)

I really liked Charlotte and Jamie’s interactions and dynamic. THEY ARE ICONIC. Both of them were so well written and I could picture every scene of them together. I liked their fights, their friendship, and their possible romance which I’m rooting for so much by the way, but also only when Charlotte’s ready. Their dynamic is angsty at points, but also funny and unique and THE BEST.  I LOVE THEM.

I have to say I was not that invested in the plot itself. While the characters and their dynamics were good, the story was dark and explored very important themes, the mystery itself was hard to follow along with, and even though the ending got my adrenaline levels high, I wasn’t that interested in who the murderer was. And that’s SUPPOSED to be the whole point of the book – but I was more invested in the characters than the murder mystery taking place.

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

ONE STAR ★☆☆☆☆
(Has a TINY bit of red in the background so IT COUNTS)

This was one of my most disappointing reads ever.

The Girl On The Train was one of the worst books I have ever read. And I genuinely can’t understand what people even LIKE about this book…

This was such a slow book. SO SLOW. And nothing really HAPPENS for its entirety. It just felt like a lot of annoying women (and controlling men) and drunken memories all strung together with the constant theme of cheating partners and messed up therapists.

Look, I love a story about messy characters who aren’t the best people with a thrilling mystery and disappearances. On the surface, it sounds like a good book. But the writing is dry, the characters feel so one-dimensional and unrealistic, and the story has a lot of wasted potential.

This book is classified as a “THRILLER” but I felt thrilled at no point in the book. There was no big plot twist, nothing that had me gripped, and I just felt underwhelmed by the whole book.

Honestly, considering the fact so many people loved this, and it’s a GLOBAL BESTSELLER, I genuinely feel like I’ve read a different book to everyone else. This is just really, really bad and low quality. There is not one thing I even remotely liked about this book.

Vicious by V.E Schwab


I mean this is by one of my favourite authors, OF COURSE, I LOVED IT??

This is about superheroes, villains, near-death experiences and it’s dark and deadly and I LOVE IT.

Schwab never fails to amaze me with her ideas and this book is no short of phenomenal. I enjoyed myself so much reading about Eli and Victor, especially the latter(Victor does blackout poetry and i find that SO cool). It was just SO gripping and addictive!

This is one of those stories about who’s good and who’s bad and I love the underlying theme of this. In the end, everyone’s evil if I’m honest. XD But seriously, this had all the good stuff and morally grey characters I love to read about!

My only trouble with this book was towards the end, the pace slowed down dramatically and I felt less invested than the rest. BUT THE VERY LAST CHAPTER KILL ME!! So it’s fine.

The plot was just so good and the tension was REAL and I really liked how it switched from past to present. This was such an intriguing story and I’m very excited to read Vengeful.

I’m really sorry this review is a mess, but I think it’s best if you go into this story without knowing much about it – it’s subtly surprising and the story has a life of its own, I swear it is genius.

Have you read any of these books? Tell me about a male character that you love that’s sweet and kind! And what’s one book EVERYONE loves but you never understood why? Talk to me!!!


39 thoughts on “mini reviews // books with red on the cover edition (poetry, hufflepuffs & I drown in all the genres)”

  1. Aaah I MUST read Strange the Dreamer and Muse of Nightmares oh my godddd I can’t believe I haven’t read them yet 😩 I’m so glad you loved Muse of Nightmares so much!! Also yayy for Vicious as well, it’s so good omg. I hope you enjoy the sequel!
    (Also a sweet character I adore is WYLAN 😭❤️ what a pure cinnamon roll omg)


  2. I genuinely couldn’t even start the Girl on the Train. I had wanted to read it from reading good reviews on it and when reading it I couldn’t even get past the first few pages. Definitely a disappointment. I’m glad i’m not the only one who disliked it!!


  3. that first cover is not red and you know it

    but also I’m glad you loved Muse and A Study in Charlotte (you know why) and Vicious!! I really need to read Muse and Vengeful (god I really suck at reading sequels lmao). apparently Vengeful is even better than Vicious and I’m EXCITED


    1. it has red stars on it, okay?? stop calling me out.

      you need to read muse! i feel like you’d really love it so i hope you get to pick it up soon ❤ and i've heard mixed things about vengeful but apparently Eli gets a lot more development in it so i'm exciteddd.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. first off…the layout of your posts is so pretty and satisfying and readable??? like. how you do this.

    double also: F*CK YES TO YOUR TAKE ON THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN. i ALSO one starred it, i ALSO think it’s one of the worst books i’ve ever read, and i ALSO am completely confused by how anyone ever in the history of the world could ever think it’s exciting or fun or redeemable in ANY WAY.


    1. idk emma how are you so amazing all the time no one knows i guess it’s just a fact of the universe!!

      im so glad i FINALLY like agree with you strongly on a book opinion. it was honestly so bad and The Biggest Mess i think everyone else read a different book to us bc im STILL BAFFLED and at a loss at how people liked it??!?!? GLOBAL BEST SELLER.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ooh, I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed a study in Charlotte and Vicious! Both are on my tbr! ❤️

    And a sweet soft cinnamon roll of a male character, eh? (I honestly LIVE for them! Hehe) Julian from A List of Cages, Wylan from Six of Crows, and Noah from the Raven Cycle are the first few that came to mind! 💕


  6. I think it’s so great that you’re finding new books you love in genres you’re not used to reading, YAY! I’m not much of a poetry reader, but that book, Graffiti, sounds really good and I LOVE these pages inside so much?! I might have to try it out! thank you for sharing!! 😀 Oh and I really probably should read Strange The Dreamer someday…. I swear I will ahah.
    Lovely reviews! 🙂


  7. Great reviews, Isla! Oh my god, Muse of Nightmares killed me! It’s just *SO* good! Have you read Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy? If not, I highly recommend it, because some things in Muse will mean even more. And, mate. I just can’t wait for what Taylor writes next!

    Aah, I so want to read A Study in Charlotte! It sounds so good! I mean, girls who aren’t perfect? A little more realistic? I am here for it. And I do love a mystery, and Sherlock, so it should be right up my street! It’s a shame you weren’t as invested in the mystery, though.

    I’d only heard of Savannah Brown because of The Truth About Keeping Secrets. But I do like poetry! I may have to check her out! Ugh, I just can’t with adult books, unless they’re fantasy. I’ve seen the The Girl on the Train movie, and it wasn’t bad, but I’m not sure I would enjoy it as a book. I have Vicious, but I’ve not yet read it! I also have ADSOM to read. But I wasn’t as blown away by This Savage Song & Our Last Duet. I mean, they were good, but I’ve read urban fantasies that are so much better, yet nobody seems to know about them. So I’m worried about being disappointed by her other books, too, because they’re so raved about! I don’t want to be let down again.

    Thanks for the reviews, Isla!


  8. Graffiti looks and sounds so, so good, I might just buy it (and/or definitely read it xD)

    ok so I don’t remember WHY i haven’t read Strange the Dreamer yet and i used to think it’s because it’s kind of a continuation of Daughters of Smoke and Bone trilogy?? Is that true??

    I’m so glad you loved Vicious, it’s such a genius but cruel book, I’m here for the plan 👏💛


  9. we stan a reading queen (who reads from different genres) 👏👏
    graffiti sounds so good?? im trying to be a fancy lady and branch out in my reading choices as well (and im definitely lacking when it comes to poetry, so DEFINITELY going to add this to my tbr.
    I LOVE JAMIE AND CHARLOTTE SO MUCH MY CHILDREN. jamie my soft boy needs to be protected at all costs.
    honestly girl on the train was a,,,,train wreck (lol, someone stop me) i remember i read it when i was sick and pretty much wasted my day in the most boring way possible and when i reached the “plot twist” i was like,,,,,wow being sick was more interesting than this story bye
    im GLAD YOU LOVED VICIOUS AND MUSE OF NIGHTMARES bc i love them with all my heart


    1. jamie and charlotte have such a complex but realistic relationship and i love them if anyone attacks them then they’re dead sorry i dont make the rules. and yes that is such a good pun and sums up my thoughts. why is it a global bestseller.


  10. whew, I guess there goes my tbr *watches it tumbling down* muse of nightmares sounds so good! I’m so glad you enjoyed it :)) even though we all have our own favourite genres, it’s always nice to branch out and read from other ones! I’ll definitely have to check graffiti out. great post as always, ilsa!


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