Favourite Genres

Friday, 26 May 2017

For the longest time I've answered 'fantasy' whenever someone asked me what my favourite genre of book is. Now, however, I've started to doubt whether this is true or not...

TBR Feature #55

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

TBR Feature is the chance for me to, every Wednesday, pick one of my unread books and discuss it: why I picked it up, when I'll get round to reading it, if I'm still interested in it at all etc.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Monday, 22 May 2017

Fifteen-year-old Frankie Landau-Banks has grown up a lot over the summer. She's no longer daddy's little girl - and almost immediately after starting the new semester at her highly prestigious school, she bags goofy-but-gorgeous Matthew Livingston as her boyfriend. They get along great but then Frankie discovers that Matthew is a member of a boys-only secret society that specialise in 'hilarious' pranks. Which hardly seems fair... especially when Frankie knows she's smarter than any of its members. And to prove this, she's going to teach them a lesson.

Impersonating lead member Alpha by using a fake email account is surprisingly easy, and soon Frankie is setting the boys up with all sorts of ridiculous schemes and sending them on wild goose chase after wild goose chase. Alpha's not prepared to lose face and admit it's not him sending the emails - but the fun can't last forever, and soon Frankie will have to choose between what she think she wants, and the reputation she deserves.

Recommendations: Little Black Classics

Friday, 19 May 2017

The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe
If you're looking for some creepy tales, look no further than this short story collection. At first glance, they may seem simple, but rest assured that you're in for a treat with these classic ghost stories. as they'll stay with you long after you've closed the book. 

The Old Nurse's Story by Elizabeth Gaskell
Another Victorian ghost story that perfectly captures the era and will send a shiver down your spine. Let yourself be transported back to the 19th century with this meandering tale of uncertainty and haunted houses.

The Dolphins, the Whales, and the Gudgeon by Aesop
Or, if you need something lighthearted, give this collection of fables a go. A bit of fun, yet also lessons in their own right, Aesop's fables never fail to amuse and provide moments of levity after such dark tales.

TBR Feature #54

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

TBR Feature is the chance for me to, every Wednesday, pick one of my unread books and discuss it: why I picked it up, when I'll get round to reading it, if I'm still interested in it at all etc.

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell

Monday, 15 May 2017

Feodora and her mother live in the snowbound woods of Russia, in a house full of food and fireplaces. Ten minutes away, in a ruined chapel, lives a pack of wolves. Feodora's mother is a wolf wilder, and Feo is a wolf wilder in training. A wolf wilder is the opposite of an animal tamer: it is a person who teaches tamed animals to fend for themselves, and to fight and to run, and to be wary of humans.

When the murderous hostility of the Russian Army threatens her very existence, Feo is left with no option but to go on the run. What follows is a story of revolution and adventure, about standing up for the things you love and fighting back. And, of course, wolves.

Exams and Anxiety

Friday, 12 May 2017

It's that time of the year again where students all across the globe are prone to burst into tears at the slightest glimpse of a calendar and the reminder of how unprepared they are. That's right: it's exam season.

TBR Feature #53

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

TBR Feature is the chance for me to, every Wednesday, pick one of my unread books and discuss it: why I picked it up, when I'll get round to reading it, if I'm still interested in it at all etc.

Talon by Julie Kagawa

Kids of Appetite by David Arnold

Monday, 8 May 2017

In the Hackensack Police Department, Vic Benucci and his friend Mad are explaining how they found themselves wrapped up in a grisly murder. But in order to tell that story, they have to go way back...

It all started when Vic's dad died. Vic's dad was his best friend, and even now, two years later, he can't bring himself to touch the Untouchable Urn of Oblivion that sits in his front hall. But one cold December day, Vic falls in with an alluring band of kids that wander his New Jersey neighbourhood, including Mad, the girl who changes everything. Along with his newfound friendships comes the courage to open his father's urn, the discovery of the message inside, and the epic journey it sparks.

Why Legend Wasn't Quite My Champion

Friday, 5 May 2017

Marie Lu knows how to write action scenes that hold your attention, I'll say that much. But just how good is her Legend trilogy?

TBR Feature #52

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

TBR Feature is the chance for me to, every Wednesday, pick one of my unread books and discuss it: why I picked it up, when I'll get round to reading it, if I'm still interested in it at all etc.

Tithe by Holly Black

Bedlam by Nick Spencer

Monday, 1 May 2017

Fillmore Press was once Madder Red, a homicidal maniac and criminal overlord who ruled the city of Bedlam. Now he's been cured of his mania, and says he wants to help protect the place he once terrorized -- but can he be trusted?

April Wrap Up/May TBR

Friday, 28 April 2017

I read seven books in April, but did I stick to my TBR?

TBR Feature #51

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

TBR Feature is the chance for me to, every Wednesday, pick one of my unread books and discuss it: why I picked it up, when I'll get round to reading it, if I'm still interested in it at all etc.

The Queen's Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler

Outcast: A Darkness Surrounds Him by Robert Kirkman

Monday, 24 April 2017

Outcast: A Darkness Surrounds Him
Robert Kirkman
Genre(s): Graphic Novel, Horror, Supernatural
Published: January 15th 2015
Pages: 152
Rating: 4 stars

Kyle Barnes has been plagued by demonic possession all his life and now he needs answers. Unfortunately, what he uncovers along the way could bring about the end of life on Earth as we know it.

Outcast promises demons, horror, and the impending apocalypse. I'd expect nothing less from the creator of The Walking Dead, and the first few pages are enough to raise your hopes for the rest of the series. They're sufficiently horrible and compel you to read on.

Our main character, Kyle, is first introduced as a brooding slob, and rather than put me off, it made me curious. Just what have the demons in his life done to make him live in such squalor? Are these demons inside him? Those he loves? Or are they just in his head? We get answers when he has a run in with the local reverend, but they still manage to create more questions. Just what is up with Kyle?

The artwork is fairly simple and I can't quite tell if I like it or not. It's not overly cartoonish, but at the same time it's not totally realistic, either. There's minimal shading when it comes to clothes, and some larger panels lack finer details. The full pages, however, do deliver more in these departments and the landscapes in general seem to have more detail than the people. Mixed feelings aside, the colour scheme throughout this volume is fantastic. Each issue seems to have a different main colour which is nice as it gives you more of an idea of when things begin and end, but as a whole nothing feels out of place.

There's a lot of talking and a smattering of action in this volume, but it doesn't drag or come across as boring. Yes, some of the speech is rather deep and philosophical - which seems out of place in a graphic novel but actually ties in nicely with the theme of demons - but it feels somewhat necessary. While this is set in our world, it feels like a world of its own and some degree of setting up is required.

Overall, this is an interesting volume and a good set up for the rest of the series. I'm excited to read more.

York Castle Museum

TBR Feature #50

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

TBR Feature is the chance for me to, every Wednesday, pick one of my unread books and discuss it: why I picked it up, when I'll get round to reading it, if I'm still interested in it at all etc.

Suicide Notes From Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten

Read Me Like a Book by Liz Kessler

Monday, 17 April 2017

Read Me Like a Book
Liz Kessler
Genre(s): Contemporary, LGBT, Young Adult
Published: May 14th 2015
Pages: 297
Rating: 2 stars

Ashleigh Walker is in love. You know the feeling - that intense, heart-racing, all-consuming emotion that can only come with first love. It's enough to stop her worrying about bad grades at college. Enough to distract her from her parents' marriage troubles. There's just one thing bothering her . . .

Shouldn't it be her boyfriend, Dylan, who makes her feel this way - not Miss Murray, her English teacher?

When you can't stand the main character in a book, it's hard to like the book as a whole. This was the case for me when reading Read Me Like a Book.

Ash was one of the most annoying characters I've ever come across: dumb, self-centred, one-sided, and far too arrogant for my liking. There was nothing redeeming about her and she continually made stupid decisions in order to seem cool and fit in. She made everything about her, completely ignoring the fact that other people can also be affected by things and have their own problems. I can't be overly critical of her, though, as the rest of the characters were just as bad. Cat and Dylan were cookie cutter stereotypes of the badass friend and slick player, respectively.

I had issues with the writing as well; it was very simplistic and nothing felt like it was coming from teens. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't badly written, it just didn't feel like it was written for young adults as there was no challenge or complexity

Being in my fourth year of studying A-Levels and in the process of applying for university, I also couldn't help but notice some discrepancies and falsehoods about the whole college situation. Kessler did a good job at trying to capture the essence of Year 13, but it felt very much like an adults perspective of what goes on at sixth form. Yes, you have the typical parties and drunken escapades, but you also do have tutors cracking down and handing out disciplinaries for not attending or completing work. However, I did appreciate the way Ash turned things around in the second half of the novel. If it had come a little earlier it would have worked better for me, as it was too little too late.

I also took issue with the fact that the LGBT elements only really started to come into play when the book was nearly over. I went into this expecting a strong, if taboo, lesbian love story. Instead, I got an afterthought. I felt no real connection between Ash and Miss Murray - or even Ash and Dylan, for that matter - and did not buy into the idea that Ash was struggling with her sexuality.

Going into this I really wanted to like it - I mean just look at the cover! - but sadly it didn't live up to my expectations at all. For a younger audience, I feel like this could be a good gateway into realistic and LGBT young adult literature, if taken with a pinch of salt. The intention was there, which I appreciate, but it just didn't work out.

Ruler of Books Tag

Friday, 14 April 2017

It's been a good while since I last did a tag so I thought one was due. The Ruler of Books Tag was originally created by Ariel Bissett on Youtube and it basically asks you what you would do if you ruled the bookish world.

If you were the Ruler of Books…

TBR Feature #49

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

TBR Feature is the chance for me to, every Wednesday, pick one of my unread books and discuss it: why I picked it up, when I'll get round to reading it, if I'm still interested in it at all etc.

And I Darken by Kiersten White

Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa

Monday, 10 April 2017

Fans of the Impossible Life
Kate Scelsa
Genre(s): Contemporary, LGBT, Young Adult
Published: September 10th 2015
Pages: 336
Rating: 1 star

Mira is starting over at Saint Francis Prep. She promised her parents she would at least try to pretend that she could act like a functioning human this time, not a girl who can’t get out of bed for days on end, who only feels awake when she’s with Sebby.

Jeremy is the painfully shy art nerd at Saint Francis who’s been in self-imposed isolation after an incident that ruined his last year of school. When he sees Sebby for the first time across the school lawn, it’s as if he’s been expecting this blond, lanky boy with mischief glinting in his eye.

Sebby, Mira’s gay best friend, is a boy who seems to carry sunlight around with him. Even as life in his foster home starts to take its toll, Sebby and Mira together craft a world of magic rituals and impromptu road trips, designed to fix the broken parts of their lives.

As Jeremy finds himself drawn into Sebby and Mira’s world, he begins to understand the secrets that they hide in order to protect themselves, to keep each other safe from those who don’t understand their quest to live for the impossible.

This book may be called Fans of the Impossible Life, but I wasn't a fan of it at all. I was hoping it would be good, seeing as it has quite a diverse cast of characters and tackles mental health, but it wasn't to my taste at all.

My biggest problem with it was the fact that I couldn't stand the writing style or the main characters. The story is told through multiple perspectives - not an issue, when done well, but this was just plain weird. Jeremy's chapters were in first person, Mira's in third, and Sebby's in second. While certainly unique, it didn't work, and I did not appreciate being turned into my least favourite character from the story. 'You did this, you thought this' no, I didn't, because I couldn't stand Sebby and didn't relate to him.

While the writing was unique, I felt that the rest of the book wasn't. It felt like every other young adult novel that tries to tackle mental health and more serious topics. The humour was very John Green and All the Bright Places-esque and I couldn't stand the pretension and try-hard behaviour of the characters. Sebby in particular felt very like a Manic Pixie Dream Girl - holier than thou, better than everyone else, selfish, full of himself, and above everything in life. The adults in the story felt very absent, too, and very dumb when they were included. It was as if the teens knew best and didn't have much respect for anyone other than themselves, especially not their bumbling parents.

Overall, things just felt very cliche and trope-y. Call me cynical, but I couldn't shake the feeling that this was written just for the sake of shoving as much typical young adult stuff as possible into one book. Kind of like The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Nothing felt real or genuine, and I couldn't even get excited about or appreciate the diversity because it all felt so fake and 'look at how inclusive I am!' Don't waste your time on it.

Recommendations: Graphic Novels

Friday, 7 April 2017

Bedlam by Nick Spencer
If you want something dark, gory, gritty, and full of black humour then this is the series you need to start. It's an intense first volume but such a gripping read that you won't want to put it down until you've finished - and then you'll be reaching for the second volume. The art is gritty, with splashes of red all over the page. A good indicator for the tone of the story.

Rat Queens: Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe
For something more fun and lighthearted - and with an all female leading cast - Rat Queens is what you need. It's funny but still badass, with characters and an adventure that draw you in and keep you entertained. There's diversity, too, with a romance you can't help but root for and friendships that are even better.

The Walking Dead: Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirkman
A more serious look at horror comics but still just as gripping, The Walking Dead is a must-read for any zombie fan. And even those who don't care for zombies, as it's so character driven you almost forget this is set in a post-apocalyptic world. It's dark - and not just because it's drawn in grey-scale - and at times harrowing, disgusting, and emotional. You won't regret picking this up.

TBR Feature #48

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

TBR Feature is the chance for me to, every Wednesday, pick one of my unread books and discuss it: why I picked it up, when I'll get round to reading it, if I'm still interested in it at all etc.

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Letters to Eloise by Emily Williams

Monday, 3 April 2017

Letters to Eloise
Emily Williams
Genre(s): Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Published: February 17th 2017
Pages: 293
Rating: 4 stars

When post-graduate student Flora falls unexpectedly pregnant during her final year studies she hits a huge predicament; continue a recent affair with her handsome but mysterious lecturer who dazzles her with love letters taken from the ancient tale of ‘Abelard and Heloise’, or chase after the past with her estranged first love?
But will either man be there to support her during the turmoil ahead?

A copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my thoughts.

Letters to Eloise is a simple yet captivating, heart-wrenching story that follows Flora, a post-graduate student who has found herself newly pregnant. It sounds a little cheesy - especially when you read that she's torn between two men - but trust me when I say it's worth reading and you'll come out of it eternally grateful that you gave it a chance. It's a short book and a really easy read, so what's stopping you?

From the very start you're drawn in to Flora's story, as the prologue introduces the letters and leaves an air of mystery that isn't touched upon until much later in the story. It's a good tactic, as even if you don't really care for Flora you'll want to find out just what happened. But trust me, you'll end up caring about Flora.

Yes, some of her letters to her unborn child were a little weird in terms of content (talking about intimate relationships? I hope she doesn't read those to the child when it's young!) and the fact that they're written less like an informal letter and more like an informal story, but they continue to draw you in. You pick up on Flora's excitement and worries, the support she receives from her friends and family, and it all paints a very honest picture of pregnancy. It's not all perfect and glowing; there's morning sickness, annoyance at growing fat, but also unconditional love and pride.

The story is full of twists and turns, especially when Flora enters her third trimester and moves home. It makes you question loyalties and whether things are actually going as smoothly as the doctors say. And the epilogue... Well. Let's just say it's a little intense.

The biggest issue I had with this - and it's really quite minor, in the scheme of things - was that there were quite a few spelling and grammar errors. Easily overlooked, but also easily fixed in later editions, they don't take away too much from the reading experience. And Flora and Eloise's journey will overshadow any problems you may stumble across as you can't help but want the best for them.

Letters to Eloise is a roller coaster of emotions and a frank look at juggling pregnancy and studying. If you get the time, give this a chance. You just might end up loving it like I did.

Emily Williams and her work can be found at...
Amazon (UK - US)

Bamboo Heart Blog Tour

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Bamboo Heart
Ann Bennett
Genre(s): Adult, Historical Fiction
Published: September 1st 2014
Pages: 352
Rating: 4 stars

Thailand, 1943: Thomas Ellis is a prisoner-of-war on the Death Railway. In stifling heat he endures endless days of clearing jungle, breaking stone and lugging wood. London, 1986: Laura Ellis, a successful City lawyer, travels to Asia to retrace her father' past and discover the truths he has refused to tell her including how he got his Bamboo Heart. Heart-wrenching history plus a daughter's journey of discovery about her father and herself.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review as part of a blog tour. This in no way influenced my thoughts.

Despite being a fan of historical fiction, I can't say that I'm big on anything to do with the World Wars. Perhaps due to studying them for years at GCSE and A-Level, I just don't reach for fiction that surrounds them. That changed, however, when I learnt about the Bamboo trilogy which centres around WWII Asia - something I know nothing about thanks to school curriculum focusing solely on Britain.

Straight away when I picked this up my favourite parts were those set in 1943 following Tom in the POW camp. Needless to say I was surprised, but they were so interesting and informative without being boring or too horrific. Yes, things were described in detail and we got quite a good idea of the tortures those poor men had to suffer, but I personally found it to be more educational than off-putting. It was honest, but it wasn't overly graphic.

Unfortunately, I can't say the same for Laura's chapters in the first third of the book. I found her to be quite weak willed and actually rather dumb and insensitive when it came to her dad's past. Of course he wouldn't want to relive those moments so why on Earth would she think to pressure him?! And after a hospitalization no less! I also found it really hard to believe that - as a grown woman with a father who was in the war - she had no idea about what went on in the POW camps. Luke was by far the worst character in these chapters (and the book as a whole). He was manipulative and a complete asshole to Laura and what she was going through.

Thankfully, when you hit the 200s things take a turn as Laura travels to Thailand. The scenes from the 40s are still just as good, but those in the 80s start picking up. Laura comes to her senses regarding Luke and also starts unraveling the mystery of her dad's past.

I also lent this to my nan - who was born in 1939, the daughter of someone who served in the war and spent time as a prisoner, and also an avid history fan. Needless to say she knows some stuff about WWII, so it was interesting to hear her thoughts seeing as they come from such a different perspective to mine. She said that she found this to be difficult to read at times because it hit so close to home, but that Bennett knows how to tell a story and keep you interested, and for the most part I agree with her.

Given it's subject matter this is a really easy read that is, dare I say it, fun. It's quick to get through and doesn't require much prior knowledge of World War II to understand or enjoy. It will grip you from the first page and you'll want to know all about Tom, Laura, and their respective experiences in Thailand.

Ann Bennett 
Ann Bennett was born and raised in a small village in Northamptonshire, UK. She read Law at Cambridge and qualified and practised as a solicitor. During a career break, to have children, she started to write. Her father had been a prisoner of war on the Thailand– Burma Railway and the idea for a Southeast Asian WWII trilogy came from researching his wartime experiences. The research took her back to Asia, a place she loves and has returned to many times. She lives in Surrey with her husband and three sons and works in London as a lawyer.

Ann and her work can be found at her website, blog, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon UK, Amazon US, and Goodreads

Make sure you're up to date with the rest of the blog tour!

March Wrap Up/April TBR

Friday, 31 March 2017

I went into March without a TBR, so what exactly did I end up reading?

TBR Feature #47

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

TBR Feature is the chance for me to, every Wednesday, pick one of my unread books and discuss it: why I picked it up, when I'll get round to reading it, if I'm still interested in it at all etc.

Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

Logan: A Bittersweet Goodbye

Monday, 27 March 2017

5 stars
There is no other way to describe Logan than bittersweet. It's heart-wrenching and brutal, yet still manages to remain funny and have moments of levity. It's the end of an era but it's also the beginning of a new one.

Bullet Journaling for Mental Health

Friday, 24 March 2017

I've been bullet journaling since August 2016. I've been battling my mental health for a lot longer.

TBR Feature #46

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

TBR Feature is the chance for me to, every Wednesday, pick one of my unread books and discuss it: why I picked it up, when I'll get round to reading it, if I'm still interested in it at all etc.

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

The Creeper Man by Dawn Kurtagich

Monday, 20 March 2017

The Creeper Man
Dawn Kurtagich
Genre(s): Horror, Thriller, Young Adult
Published: July 14th 2016
Pages: 400
Rating: 4 stars

When Silla and her little sister, Nori, escape London and their abusive father, Aunt Cath's country house feels like a safe haven. Leaving the smog and fear behind, the girls have the love and freedom they never had in their violent home. But slowly, ever so slowly, things begin to unravel.

Aunt Cath locks herself in the attic and spends day and night pacing; every day the surrounding forest inches slowly towards the house; a mysterious boy appears from the enclosing wood offering friendship, and Nori claims that a man watches them from the dark forest. A man with no eyes who creeps ever closer.

Dawn Kurtagich definitely knows what she’s doing when it comes to creepy, psychologically disturbing, thought provoking stories.

Much like with The Dead House, I was hooked from the beginning, drawn right into the story thinking ‘what’s all this about?’ Nothing is clear, yet nothing is confusing, either. There’s the perfect balance of not knowing what on earth is going on and receiving the answers you so desperately crave.

The story of Silla, Nori, and their Aunt Cath (whom they have gone to live with) is not a straightforward one by any means. There are twists and turns all over the place, and uncertainty is the tone throughout. Why does Aunt Cath live in the middle of the forest? Why does she seem so startled by the girls? What will happen to them all out there?

There’s more to The Creeper Man than meets the eye, as well. The prologue is weird enough on its own, but when it becomes apparent that it will be playing a larger part in the story, you can’t help but stop and put the book down. Just what has this family got embroiled in? Why is the past so important and closely entwined with the present? Mystery after mystery are handed to us, but Kurtagich weaves them all together so well we hardly realise we’re getting more questions before new answers.

Silla and Nori also had an interesting dynamic – alongside their interesting personalities that made me question how reliable and trustworthy there were. Nori had the blissful ignorance and blind trust that only children can possess. Silla, the cynicism and scepticism befitting of a teenager – and one who’s been through hell, at that. It was immediately clear that Silla cared immensely for Nori and that Nori in turn relied heavily on her sister, to the point where it almost felt as if they were mother and daughter rather than siblings. A blessing for Nori, when Aunt Cath seems to become unstable, staying hidden in the attic, but a curse for Silla as she has to become the adult in the situation.

The legend of the Creeper Man himself was very intriguing. Not to mention extremely creepy – he doesn’t have eyes, for goodness sake! The way things were explained to us gradually and slowly and in a way that you never knew if you could truly believe (as it’s clear from early on the family doesn’t have the greatest mental strength or stability) only added to the atmosphere and built up the suspense. The reveal was made all the more thrilling after we learnt of Silla’s and Nori’s past.

Definitely not for the fainthearted, The Creeper Man is a wild ride from start finish. It will leave you hanging off every word, yet too afraid to read once it gets dark outside.

My Dream Bookish Panels

Friday, 17 March 2017

Recently, the team at Eventbrite - a company that helps people find events and even plan and register their own - came up with a challenge for bookworms to come up with my dream author or character panel. Of course, being an avid reader, I jumped right on board with the project and came up with three panels that I would love to see made real.

TBR Feature #45

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

TBR Feature is the chance for me to, every Wednesday, pick one of my unread books and discuss it: why I picked it up, when I'll get round to reading it, if I'm still interested in it at all etc.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

The Catalyst by Helena Coggan

Monday, 13 March 2017

The Catalyst
Helena Coggan
Genre(s): Dystopia, Fantasy, Young Adult
Published: February 19th 2015
Pages: 448
Rating: 1 star

Rose Elmsworth has a secret. For eighteen years, the world has been divided into the magically Gifted and the non-magical Ashkind, but Rose's identity is far more dangerous. At fifteen, she has earned herself a place alongside her father in the Department, a brutal law-enforcement organisation run by the Gifted to control the Ashkind. But now an old enemy is threatening to start a catastrophic war, and Rose faces a challenging test of her loyalties. How much does she really know about her father's past? How far is the Department willing to go to keep the peace? And, if the time comes, will Rose choose to protect her secret, or the people she loves?

The Catalyst
has a complex world and magic system, there’s no denying that. It took me a while to get my head around the Gifted, Leeched, and Ashkind and where they stood in society. And that was before I moved on to trying to understand the War and the Angels and the Department…

It’s extremely impressive that Coggan was published at such a young age – don’t get me wrong – but I feel as if her age is also extremely apparent throughout her novel. I found this mostly in the writing style which needed fine tuning. Some sentences brought me straight back to my Year Six and Seven writing – not something an author should be aiming for. Some sentences were stilted and some were so long I had to re-read them a few times. Others were missing commas (or rather, I thought they were; I’m a habitual comma splicer so maybe don’t listen to me) and some words just seemed… out of place. I’m all for expanding your vocabulary, but some of the ‘big’ words just felt off next to everything else.

A lot of the characterisations felt one-sided and childish; the main character was the typical snarky, less than perfect teen who is much wiser than all the adults, and the adults just didn’t feel like adults. Rose and David felt more like hero and sidekick than father and daughter. And David wasn’t the hero. The younger characters, especially Tabitha, all felt far too clever and knowledgeable in comparison to the older ones who came across as very childish.

The plot jumped from place to place and nothing ever really seemed to be fully explained, and even when things were explained I still didn’t fully understand anything. The prologue managed to pull you in, but once you were part of the story you were left thinking ‘now what?’ It was as if Coggan thought she’d provided all the necessary information, but then realised it wasn’t enough and scrambled to explain things more fully. All in all, it felt all over the place. Explain as you go, don’t delegate every other chapter to world building.

I wanted to like this; it seemed mysterious and set itself up to be an interesting young adult fantasy. Its biggest downfall was that it was so bloody boring. This isn’t a long book but my god did it feel like one. Each page was a chore to read and I had to force myself to push through in order to complete it. Curse my inability to leave a book unfinished.

Don’t subject yourself to the same torture – give this one a miss.

Marking Quotes

Friday, 10 March 2017

Whenever I browse Instagram, Twitter, or booktube I see nothing but those tiny sticky notes poking out from the edges of books. What are they marking? I ask myself. More often than not, they're used as a way to remember specific quotes and scenes. My question for everyone who partakes in this is: 

TBR Feature #44

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

TBR Feature is the chance for me to, every Wednesday, pick one of my unread books and discuss it: why I picked it up, when I'll get round to reading it, if I'm still interested in it at all etc.

Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier

From a Buick 8 by Stephen King

Monday, 6 March 2017

From a Buick 8
Stephen King
Genre(s): Adult, Horror, Science-Fiction
Published: September 24th 2002
Pages: 467
Rating: 3.5 stars

Come close, children, and see the living crocodile. A vintage '54 Buick Roadmaster. At least, that's what it looks like...

There is a secret hidden in Shed B in the state police barracks in Statler, Pennsylvania. A secret that has drawn troopers for twenty years - terrified yet irresistibly tempted to look at its chrome fenders, silver grille and exotic exhaust system.

Young Ned Wilcox has started coming by the barracks: mowing the lawn, washing the windows, shovelling snow; it's a boy's way of holding on to his father - recently killed in a strange road accident by another Buick.

And one day Ned peers through the windows of Shed B and discovers the family secret. Like his father, Ned wants answers. He deserves answers. And the secret begins to stir...

From a Buick 8
didn’t immediately capture my attention, which was a shame because I wanted to really enjoy it, it being a King novel and all. Thankfully, things did pick up and I became more interested, but only after I’d made it about half way through.

The premise is unique, I’ll give it that. Not totally interesting to me as I’m not a fan of cars and don’t know much about them, but I do know a little about horror books and what I like in them. The idea that this ‘car’ was acting as a portal between two different worlds was something I’d never come across before in my reading. And certainly not in the way King goes about it: with plenty of gruesome grossness.

While I wasn’t totally hooked by the subject matter to start with (it grew on me, don’t get me wrong) I was pulled in by the writing. There’s something about the way King writes that makes me carry on reading even when I’m not sure that I really want to. He knows the perfect recipe for creating suspense and cuts his chapters off in just the right places, making you say ‘oh my god, what?!” Once you got into the meat of the story, it became a compelling read.

The multiple points of view and jumps backwards and forwards in time worked very well as a way to tell the story of the Buick, and I enjoyed how it really did feel like a group story was unfolding before me. I was as invested as Ned by the end of things.

Overall, I liked this more than I originally anticipated. Not the best King book I’ve read, but certainly not the worst, either.

The Cubit Quest Blog Tour

Friday, 3 March 2017

The Cubit Quest
Trevor Leck
Genre(s): Fantasy, Middle Grade Young Adult
Published: March 2nd 2017
Pages: 299
Rating: 3 stars

Twelve-year-old Charlie Watkins could have inherited his dad’s massive intellect. 
He got his massive feet instead. 

Perhaps if Charlie had that intellect he might have been able to figure out why so many men in suits were suddenly following him or where his dad hid the Cubit - a mythical object that men have sworn to protect and even more have died trying to possess - before his so-called accident. 

If starting yet another new school wasn’t bad enough, Charlie meets Mr Leopold, a disfigured, mind-reading lunatic and discovers that he alone must find the Cubit if he is to save his dad. The Brotherhood, however, have other ideas. Led by the ruthless Draganovic, they will stop at nothing to get their hands on it. With the help of Mr Leopold and fellow new boy Elvis, Charlie sets out on The Cubit Quest. 

Hunting for the Cubit, playing football, lessons with the dreaded Funeral Face and unsuccessfully avoiding school bully Grimshaw by day, Charlie finds his nights no less complicated. Stalked in his dreams, he’s soon immersed in a world of power struggles, battling dragons and duels to the death. With the Brotherhood hot on his heels and as the bullets begin to fly, there are no guarantees that Charlie, or anyone else, will make it to the end in one piece.

TBR Feature #43

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

TBR Feature is the chance for me to, every Wednesday, pick one of my unread books and discuss it: why I picked it up, when I'll get round to reading it, if I'm still interested in it at all etc.

Windhaven by George R.R. Martin

The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle

Monday, 27 February 2017

The Accident Season
Moira Fowley-Doyle
Genre(s): Fantasy, Mystery, Young Adult
Published: August 18th 2015
Pages: 282
Rating: 1.5 stars

The accident season has been part of seventeen-year-old Cara's life for as long as she can remember. Towards the end of October, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them, Cara's family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They banish knives to locked drawers, cover sharp table edges with padding, switch off electrical items - but injuries follow wherever they go, and the accident season becomes an ever-growing obsession and fear.

But why are they so cursed? And how can they break free?

The Accident Season is a... weird book, that's for sure. I would call it unique, but it reminded me too much of We Were Liars and The Ocean of the End of the Lane. Whimsical and nonsensical best describe this mysterious novel. I'm not entirely convinced the author knew what she was doing when she wrote this because it's just so odd.

Sure, it's magical realism, it can get away with being rather kooky and quirky. What it cannot get away with, however, is leaving the reader in the dark. And not just that 'I wonder who the killer is' kind of left in the dark. I'm talking about full on 'what on earth is going on this doesn't make sense am I missing something' kind of feeling.

Yeah. I'm not a fan of that.

The prose was trying too hard to be poetic and metaphorical in the way that is become oh so popular in prose and it fell flat on its face. It didn't draw me in, it pushed me away. The story became boring and a chore to read, and considering this book is under three hundred pages that's an achievement.

There isn't exactly a solid plot (or even really a point) to The Accident Season. It tries to create an air of mystery but ultimately fails by wandering all over the place focusing too long on too many mundane things that are never fully explained. And even when things are resolved, they aren't really solved. Explanations are fleeting and the bare minimum of information is shoved at you and you're somehow meant to fit everything together and understand.

If you're a fan of whimsy and stories that border on pointless and boring, give this a go. If not, don't bother.

Recommendations: Sci-Fi and Dystopia

Friday, 24 February 2017

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
If you want sci-fi with androids, cyborg, and aliens but still want a fun young adult story then The Lunar Chronicles is the way to go. Cinder introduces all the spacey and futuristic elements but it also lays the foundations for the bigger picture. And it's a quick, fun read - what more could you want?

Slated by Teri Terry
A dystopian with some scientific (and political) elements, Slated is a bit darker but still an incredibly gripping and compelling read. Full of mystery, you can't help but read on as you try and piece everything together alongside the main character, Kyla. 

The Selection by Kiera Cass
And if you want something more romantic but still crave the action that comes with the dystopian genre, The Selection series is the one for you. Packed with princess dresses and drama the first book is less focused on the dystopian world, but it's so damn cute it doesn't matter.

TBR Feature #42

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

TBR Feature is the chance for me to, every Wednesday, pick one of my unread books and discuss it: why I picked it up, when I'll get round to reading it, if I'm still interested in it at all etc.

Rose Madder by Stephen King

Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

Monday, 20 February 2017

Witch Hunter
Virginia Boecker
Genre(s): Fantasy, Supernatural, Young Adult
Published: September 1st 2015
Pages: 409
Rating: 2 stars

Sixteen-year-old Elizabeth Grey doesn't look dangerous. A tiny, blonde, wisp of a girl shouldn't know how to poison a wizard and make it look like an accident. Or take out ten necromancers with a single sword and a bag of salt. Or kill a man using only her thumb. But things are not always as they appear. Elizabeth is one of the best witch hunters in Anglia and a member of the king's elite guard, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and bringing those who practice it to justice. And in Anglia, the price of justice is high: death by burning.

When Elizabeth is accused of being a witch herself, she's arrested and thrown in prison. The king declares her a traitor and her life is all but forfeit. With just hours before she's to die at the stake, Elizabeth gets a visitor - Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful wizard in Anglia. He offers her a deal: he will free her from prison and save her from execution if she will track down the wizard who laid a deadly curse on him.

As Elizabeth uncovers the horrifying facts about Nicholas's curse and the unwitting role she played in its creation, she is forced to redefine the differences between right and wrong, friends and enemies, love and hate... and life and death.

The blurb for Witch Hunter makes it out to be a thrilling fantasy book, filled with magic and witches, suitable ‘for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Holly Black’. In reality, it’s a mishmash of historical fiction based around witch trials, fantasy but with a ban on magic, and – of course – a traditional young adult romance with plenty of butterflies and longing.

Our main character, Elizabeth Grey, is supposedly the best witch hunter in Anglia. I say supposedly because within the first few pages she makes a mistake in arresting a group of necromancers, and it’s revealed that she’s made several more before. Nobody is perfect, but if you’re going to call yourself the best then at least be the best. To me, she felt like a Celaena Sardothien wannabe. And not a good quality one, either.

After her mistake she’s soon found with some witch’s herbs and arrested, her punishment being death. Ironic, huh, that the girl who hates magic so much would turn to it in her time of need. It seemed very convenient to me, as it resulted in her being rescued by – yeah, you guessed it – witches in order to get the plot rolling. The aftermath of her arrest also seemed far too contrived, and much too over the top for what she was convicted of, making things hard to take seriously.

However, even though the plot was reached fairly quickly (which in itself was an issue for me, I wanted more background into Anglia and its laws and how magic worked) it didn’t really seem to do anything. I wasn’t gripped. Elizabeth was annoying – constantly whining about Caleb and how magic is such a terrible thing. Which I can sort of see, seeing as magic was responsible for a plague throughout the kingdom. What I find hard to see, though, is why so many people were keen for the bans on it to be lifted.

All the way through Witch Hunter I was left wanting to know more backstory, get more character development, and just be immersed fully into the world. It all fell very flat, focusing more on the love triangle and Elizabeth’s thoughts. The writing wasn’t thrilling enough to pull this off successfully, so reading felt like more of a chore to me.

I didn’t hate this, but I also didn’t like it.

Getting Rid of Books

Friday, 17 February 2017

As avid readers and book collectors (and hoarders, let's be honest here), getting rid of books can sometimes be a difficult task. It's not quite giving up a newborn to the unknown evils of the world... But it's not far from it.

TBR Feature #41

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

TBR Feature is the chance for me to, every Wednesday, pick one of my unread books and discuss it: why I picked it up, when I'll get round to reading it, if I'm still interested in it at all etc.

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

Winter by Marissa Meyer

Monday, 13 February 2017

Marissa Meyer
Genre(s): Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Published: November 12th 2015
Pages: 823
Rating: 5 stars

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won't approve of her feelings for her childhood friend--the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn't as weak as Levana believes her to be and she's been undermining her stepmother's wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that's been raging for far too long.

Winter was a wild ride from start to finish, and after how fantastic the first three books were, I expected nothing less.

With our band of heroes heading to Luna in order to overthrow the evil Queen Levana - who's really more of a tyrant than a true queen - and over eight hundred pages, this book requires you to give it your full attention in order to really sink your teeth into it.

Meyer wastes no time in jumping into the story, focusing on a new narrator, Princess Winter. Things from the previous installments are mentioned and explained in a way that refreshes your memory but doesn't hinder the progression of things. Things are still as beautifully described and based on the traditional tales, but with the added action of rallying an army and the final showdown of the series. Every chapter carries vital information, nothing is skipped out, but reading this brick of a book wasn't onerous. I can't count the number of times I was left on the edge of my seat.

Winter also reads very well without the knowledge gleaned from Fairest. Yes, things are alluded to, but it's not totally necessary to read Levana's story before concluding the series.

There isn't really much that can be said about the plot without delving into details from the previous books (and giving away a lot of major points from this one), but it is the perfect ending to The Lunar Chronicles. It takes its time, but things are wrapped up neatly and presented to you with a bow. Characters are developed even further, new relationships are explored, and conflicts are resolved.

What more could you ask for in a series finale? Nothing.

Popping Cherry (Dexter S1E3)

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Dexter is rated 18+ for a reason. While it is a fantastic show, if you're under 18 please watch with caution or ask a parent's permission. It's heavy on murder, blood, swearing, and much more. Know your limits.

Mental Health in Fiction

Friday, 10 February 2017

I've been sitting on this idea for a few months now, but I've never found the words to accurately and coherently describe how I feel or discuss it without stepping on too many toes. I'm expecting a lot of toes to be stepped on, but I'm not sure if I care all that much. This is something I'm passionate about and my thoughts need to be honest. Even if they don't make much sense.

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