where our team of writers love to talk all things books, sharing reviews, features, lists, interviews and more.

Getting lost in a book is escapism at it's finest and it's what everyone who contributes here thrives on.


Sunday 31 March 2013

Rivers of London | Ben Aaronovitch | Review

Peter Grant has spent the past few years training to become part of London's Metropolitan Police Service. However, when he gets the news that he's going to be spending the rest of his life on the other side of the police force - the side where paperwork gets sorted and the whole day is spent in an office - things seem to be taking a turn for the worse. That's before he meets Inspector Thomas Nightingale. The last wizard in all of England. After seeing what can only be a ghost, Peter is quickly taken under Inspector Nightingale's wing and he becomes the first wizard apprentice to be taught magic in fifty years.

Once Peter starts working for Nightingale, he starts to see a lot of weirdness. He meets the Gods and Goddesses of  the rivers of London as well as vampires, trolls, demons and a dog that just won't leave him alone. Join Peter in the first installment of this amazing series.

So I became aware of Rivers of London when my dad came home with it and would not stop bugging me to read it. It was only when I reached chapter two that I realised why. This book is so gripping and action packed that you will not want to put it down. Ben Aaronovitch has brought a whole new meaning to the word magic and I found it really interesting to see the different terms and conditions on how magic must be used.

The characters in this book are really memorable and really stand out. I thought it was an amazing and original idea to make gods and goddesses of the rivers of London. A couple of examples of these are Beverley Brook and Lady Tyburn. There's also the lovely Lesley May who is Peter's colleague and she helps  to get information for him when they go out to work.

I loved how modern it really was. There are books like Harry Potter and Beautiful Creatures which are modern but they still seem very fantastical books. Then you have Rivers of London which takes you through lots of landmarks in London and I think this helped me to get a very realistic image of what was going on through the book and it just seemed that if there is such a thing as magic then this is how it would look like.

This book is the first book in a series and I really urge you to read it as the story gets better and better in the sequels Moon Over Soho and Whispers Underground. The fourth book is called Broken Homes and comes out in June this year!

So in conclusion, I really loved Rivers of London and give it a  four and a half rating out of five. I do have to warn you that there are a few disturbing bits in it, though the story is so good I didn't really mind it. I would definitely recommend this to people who are fifteen and older and for lovers of science fiction and magic.

This book was reviewed by regular reviewer Lucy, get to know her here!

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Ashfall | Mike Mullin | Review

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Ashfall | Mike Mullin | Review

“For the first time ever, I felt ashamed of my species. The volcano had taken our homes, our food, our automobiles, and our airplanes, but it hadn't taken our humanity. No, we'd given that up on our own.” - Mike Mullin, Ashfall

Alex gets to stay home alone for the first time when his family goes to visit his uncle and his family over the weekend. But Alex only gets to enjoy his new found freedom for a couple of hours. With a loud bang his house gets hit by something and Alex barely gets out of his partly collapsed house. Something called a super volcano has erupted in Yellowstone National Park and leaves big parts of the country in a grey, devastating ashfall. In the middle of this chaos Alex decides to go out on the road and look for his family. On his journey through the changed landscape Alex soon learns that in a world in chaos, people change. Some change for the better and some change for the worse. But at least he finds one travel companion that he can trust, Darla, and together they set out on a journey to find safety and Alex's family.

Ashfall by Mike Mullin is a pretty classic apocalyptic novel. Yes, I have to admit that some parts of it remind me of The Road by Cormac McCarthy, but in some ways it’s also completely different. You might have already seen the 5 stars in the end of this review so I’m not going to keep it secret that I truly enjoyed this novel. I think that Ashfall had all the elements that I need to really like (or should I say love?) a book. First of all I enjoyed Mike Mullin's writing style. I wouldn't call it that original or spectacular but it makes the story justice. I also really liked the characters and the character's development through the book. Both Alex and Darla and their relationship feels genuine and believable. And the most important thing for me is that the story kept me captivated and interested through the whole novel. I never lost interest or felt bored with the story-line.

I always enjoy good apocalyptic fiction about survival and the human relations in a world that turns upside down. And even if I'm a hardcore fan of zombie fiction I really liked the fact that the scenario in Ashfall felt quite realistic. That made the story even more interesting and a bit disturbing (in a good way). So I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys the apocalyptic genre! You won't be disappointed! Ashfall by Mike Mullin easily gets 5/5 stars from me!

This post was written by regular reviewer Niina, get to know her here.
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Monday 25 March 2013

My Mum's Going To Explode | Jeremy Strong | Review

I had never read or heard of Jeremy Strong before September and now suddenly I’ve read 4 of his books! I’m not sure if that was by my own doing or my classes’ enthusiasm for them. Strong has written an endless list of children’s books over the years, some of which focus around one particular family. This is the third of these books which detail Nicholas’s (Slightly crazy) family in which Nicholas loses his status as an only child, Gran moves in and the new arrivals are born in quite an interesting place. (But I won’t give away all the details!)

These books are perfect for children from around the age of 6 to 10 years old, however as an adult reading a children’s book I was still kept amused and entertained. Strong has managed to create a humorous family, who happen to have some unusual neighbours and get themselves in the strangest of situations. I didn’t imagine that I would find myself laughing along to a children’s book at the age of 24. I just couldn’t help it, he takes normal conversations and situations and makes them humorous whilst adding a few extra extremities for good measure.

For many children this book is relatable, as it deals with an issue that many of the eldest children have had to go through when Mum is having another baby.  Nicholas’s struggles and concerns are dealt with, whilst maintaining humour along the way.

I don’t think I was quite aware of how well my class would take to this book, however when you have 25 child sighing with annoyance when you stop reading for the day – you know you’re on to a winner!

Recommended for parents, children and anyone who doesn’t mind being seen reading a children’s book! 5/5 stars

This post was written by regular reviewer Laura, get to know her here.
*Photo © Laura
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Sunday 24 March 2013

Dune | Frank Herbert | Review

Dune, by Frank Herbert, is, apparently, one of those books that, if you love fantasy and science fiction novels, you have to read. Apparently.

I'd heard good things about it, mostly from sci-fi loving friends who raved and raved about this amazing world and the great characters. For me, it only sort of lived up to its praise. Perhaps that was because I was expecting it to be this amazing, epic story, when really it wasn’t that great.

The story is set on Arrakis, a desert planet somewhere out there in the universe. It has very little water, but because of a rich spice that covers that planet, life can survive on it. The main plot goes like this: The Artreides family have just been sent to govern the planet, but another large, powerful family (sounding anything like Romeo and Juliet? It’s not), the Harkonnen, have placed a traitor in their midst. Dun dun dun. Along with the desert-y conditions and the severe lack of water, there are sand worms that prowl the planet and attack everything that moves. Oh, and they’re like a mile long. Yes, it’s that book.

The main character is Paul Artreides , the son of the head of the family sent to rule the planet. When the family is betrayed and ratted out to the enemy, he flees into the desert (yes, where the creepy long worms are) with his mother. There, they join a desert tribe (as you do); a group of people who seem to be able to avoid and survive the worm attacks.  Eventually, Paul becomes the leader of the tribe, and, after a multitude of various events, he begins to see the future and becomes the centre of a prophesy. Of course.

The story in itself was good. Despite it sounding weird and crazy, I did enjoy the overall plot and story line. I got a bit confused in the last 3rd I think, but perhaps that’s because I wasn't paying enough attention. I found it a bit difficult to read. Maybe it was the language used, or because there were so many characters, and jumps between things. I don’t know, but it took me a long while to get through it. I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more if it were a different writing style...maybe? To be honest, I’m not really sure...but there was something about it that I didn’t like.

Apparently there are about a million other books in the series, but only 6 have been written by Frank Herbert. The others were written by Brian Herbert and Kevin. J. Anderson. And there was a mini-series made in 2000, called Dune, and then another miniseries made in 2003, called Children of Dune. Maybe I will watch them. I don't think I'll read the rest of them. It would take a life time...and it may be more confusing.

But! Having said all this, and only giving it two stars, if you like sci-fi, fantasy, and you think you’re a bit of a geek, then do have a read.  Let me know what you think. 

2020 update: There's a new adaptation of Dune hitting cinemas in 2020. It actually looks decent, and while I'm not willing to give the book another shot, I'll definitely be checking out the movie.

This review was written by regular reviewer Anjali, get to know her here
Image from GoodReads
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Blogger's Bookshelf Review Round Up #5

Saturday 23 March 2013

Blogger's Bookshelf Review Round Up #5

23 2 - 20 3 review
Missed any of our reviews this month? Never fear, find them all below!

We also have a guest opinion post by Kath, called 'The Fall Of The Good Book?', talking about the apparent popularity of book series vs standalone novels.

Our bloggers also updated us on their 2013 Reading Goals, see how they're getting on here.

And finally our March Group Collaboration post touched on the hot topic for book lovers...E-Books and Real Books. It was the battle of Team Paper vs Team Plastic, see what our thoughts were in the end here.

We're getting funny for April's Group Collaboration with 
'Laugh Out Loud Literature'
this month's topic!
Let us know your...
Favourite funny characters
Funniest book quotes
Best Comedic novels
Laugh Out Loud scenes 
Send us your choices via Twitter, Email or GoodReads.
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If You Find Me | Emily Murdoch | Review

Wednesday 20 March 2013

If You Find Me | Emily Murdoch | Review


“Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down” Source 

If You Find Me is a raw yet beautiful and thought-provoking debut novel from American author Emily Murdoch. This Young Adult Contemporary is told through the words of teenager Carey who has been hidden away in the woods with her mother and younger sister Jenessa for as long as she can remember. Although only young, Carey has been through multiple unnecessary horrors and has had to learn to deal with these for the sake of protecting her little sister, the most important person in her life, who hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. When the girls are found alone in the woods and taken back to the ‘real world’ our story begins as we follow them as they learn to adapt to their new surroundings, new family, how this affects their relationship and learn about the mystery that is the ‘white star night’.

Carey is a brave and formidable character who has almost single-handedly raised her sister whilst being subjected to abuse at the hands of her mother a meth addict and drunk who claims she is hiding Carey out in the woods for her own protection. Thanks to Carey Jenessa is a smart young girl but has been deeply affected by the white star night, so much so that the only one she will speak to is Carey. Throughout the novel the reader is left trying to guess the big secret of what horrors happened on the date Carey refers to as the ‘white star night’ and just what caused Jenessa to stop using her words. Carey’s big secret is revealed in the final part of the novel but this only leaves you with more questions. Usually I’m not a big fan of open endings and tend to become frustrated with the unanswered questions but in this case somehow the ending still felt satisfying.

Although the story handles some more difficult subjects, mainly centred around child abuse, it is very well-written. At first I was unsure how I would get along with Carey’s dialect but once I got to know the character the decision to write in the words she would choose made perfect sense and helped to put across her personality as well as her struggles and I found it really interesting to hear the story from her point of view. One of the strongest parts of the writing is definitely the relationship between the two sisters which is done particularly well. I also enjoyed the mystery element paired with the twists and turns, some more predictable than others, along the way.

Since it is such a short novel at just 256 pages there is not a lot of time to explore the backstory of each individual character so, when this information does come up it is through flashbacks which are randomly placed throughout the text. Unfortunately this was one of the elements that prevented me from giving this book a five star rating as I found them a little jarring at times. The other thing which kept the book from a perfect rating was the subplots introduced in part two, my least favourite of the three sections, which mainly covers Carey starting school and trying to fit in. Although I understand the purpose of these ideas and new characters I did feel that maybe they weren’t all completely necessary and possibly didn’t add value to the overall story.

If you Find Me is a beautifully written, well-paced and gripping read with a unique concept which will stay with you long after finishing. I would definitely recommend picking up this impressive debut and am looking forward to reading future releases from author Emily Murdoch.

*Review of an eARC c/o Netgalley: Although I received a copy of this book free of charge this has not influenced my opinion and my review, as always, is 100% honest

This post was written by regular reviewer Erin, get to know her here.
 Image via Goodreads
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Features | The Lowdown On Upcoming YA Adaptations

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Features | The Lowdown On Upcoming YA Adaptations

film and tv adaptations
Images via Goodreads

Following the success of films such as The Hunger Games adaptation just over a year ago and the growing popularity of the genre many more of our favourite Young Adult series are also set to hit the big, and small, screens in the next couple of years. This year already sees the release of Stephenie Meyer’s The Host, Orson Scott-Card’s Ender’s Game, Casandra Clare’s City Of Bones and most recently Beautiful Creatures on the big screen but here are some details on just a few of the other titles set to be adapted soon.


Quite possibly the most talked about is the film adaptation of Veronica Roth’s debut Divergent, the first in a trilogy that follows the journey of Tris Prior as she chooses which faction she will belong to for the rest of her life. As the film is set to begin shooting in Chicago very soon there have been a lot of interesting casting announcements popping up in recent weeks. Firstly Shailene Woodley was cast as main character Tris Prior followed by the announcements that Zoe Kravitz will play Christina, Tris’ best friend in the Dauntless faction, Nikita star Maggie Q will portray Dauntless member Tori and Ansel Elgort is set to play Tris’ Erudite brother Caleb. There are also speculation that Oscar winner Kate Winslet has been offered a role and although rumours suggest she will portray Erudite leader Jeanine Matthews this has not yet been confirmed. The most anticipated casting news however is that Brit actor Theo James will portray Dauntless member and Tris’ love interest Four.

The Maze Runner

Also on the cards is a 2014 film version of The Maze Runner by James Dashner which was released back in 2009. The story centres around a group of boys , the ‘Gladers’ who are trapped in a maze as part of some form of experiment. The boys don’t know how they got there or why they were chosen but they know that they are meant to find a way to escape. There hasn’t yet been a lot of confirmed news for this project although IMDB has British actors Will Poulter, Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Aml Ameen listed as cast members. The website originally had Poulter listed as main character Thomas but that has since been altered and now states that he will play Gally. The film will be directed by Wes Ball best known for his work in art departments and visual effects.

Vampire Academy

The popular Vampire Academy series of novels by Richelle Mead are also coming to the big screen. Personally I don’t know a lot about this series but from what I understand it centres around a boarding school where vampires are trained to protect magic and half-human teens. Reports state that Zoey Deutch, star of another YA adaptation Beautiful Creatures, will play main character Rose. Interestingly Mark Waters who is famous for his work on Mean Girls amongst other things has signed on to direct.

The Fault in Our Stars

A big screen adaptation of John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars arguably the most talked about YA release of 2012 is also in the works. The film is set to be directed by Josh Boone who’s only previous directing credit is 2012’s Stuck In Love which he also wrote the screenplay for. There have been rumours about Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld auditioning for the role of Hazel Grace but nothing has been confirmed as yet. *Edit - the same day this post was published it was announced that Shailene Woodley will portray Hazel Grace


In addition there are also projects set to hit the small screen this year most notably Lauren Oliver’s Delirium series. The books are set in a world where love is considered a disease and at the hands of the government teens are ‘cured’ with an operation. Emma Roberts has officially been cast to play protagonist Lena alongside Jeanine Mason as best friend Hana, Daren Kagasoff as Alex and Gregg Sulkin as Julian. The pilot episode is set to condense the entirety of the trilogy’s first novel coupled with some character changes which will make for interesting viewing for fans of the series.

The Selection

Kiera Cass’ The Selection, a story about a girl chosen by a ‘lottery’ to compete for the affections of Prince Maxon, is set to air on The CW, the network who successfully adapted the Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl books and now The Carrie Diaries, later this year. So far there are several names on board to star including Anthony Head as the King.

Mila 2.0

Debra Driza’s debut novel Mila 2.0 which isn’t actually released until the end of March is already set for an ABC adaptation with Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes and her producing partner Betsy Beers on board both as executive producers. Mila 2.0 follows the story of a teen who discovers that she is in fact an android created by the military as an experiment in artificial intelligence. As yet there has been no casting news but with Rhimes and Beers on board the project has a lot of potential for success. I was actually lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of the book - if you are interested and would like to find out more about Mila 2.0 click here to read my review.

So that’s it for my wrap up on upcoming YA adaptations. I am hoping to review the pilot episodes of both Delirium and The Selection when they air as well as Mila 2.0 if the project goes ahead so keep an eye out for those later in the year. I’m sure I will be reviewing some of both the 2013 and 2014 film releases on my personal blog ( too.

Don’t forget to leave a comment below letting me know which adaptation you are most excited for!

This post was written by regular reviewer Erin, get to know her here.
The Rosie Project | Graeme Simsion | Review

Monday 18 March 2013

The Rosie Project | Graeme Simsion | Review

The Rosie Project cover
*image via GoodReads
“I am thirty-nine years old; single, intelligent, fit, in excellent health and I have a relatively high status and above-average income as an associate professor. Logically, I should be attractive to a wide range of women. In the animal kingdom, I would succeed in reproducing."

At least this is the logic of Don Tillman an oddly charming, yet social inept professor of genetics, with habit of striking out before the second date. An chance conversation with his neighbour (one of his very few friends, he can count the amount on one hand) leads him into a revelation to find a partner. And so he embarks on The Wife Project. A dizzy-ing 16 page questionnaire designed to find the perfect match. In Don's mind this partner is perfectly punctual, non-drinking/smoking woman who will slot into his impeccably timed and unmoving set schedule. The plan seems perfect for Don's analytical mind and he's sure that he'll find someone who'll fit the rigid criteria.

Rosie ticks off none of the boxes. but sweeps into Don's University office proposing another project for him to take on - help her search for her own biological father. As genetics is his field of expertise, he takes up the challenge, completely unaware that Rosie will not only push him out of his tightly wound comfort zone over and over again, but lead him into a life with skewed time-scales, cocktail-making and 'going with the flow'.

So what was my verdict?

Warning! Do not be fooled by the seemingly fluffy romantic premise of this book, it's far more than just a rom-com novel about geek meets girl.

Starting with Don himself. A man who came to the conclusion a long time ago that he was different from everyone else and was completely fine with it. As the narrator of the story, the audience gets a glimpse into his mind, which in itself is a fascinating, fast paced and highly analytical place. It become obvious only a couple of pages into the book that his apparent OCD, social inadequacies and focused mind are possibly attributes to someone on the autistic spectrum. Not that this condition defines Don as a person, he himself perceives himself not to be autistic, just a logical thinker - and I gotta admit is logic really does make sense at times.

Rosie is no stereotypical female protagonist either. She's incredible smart - as a Psychology PHD student - vivacious, opinionated and swears like a sailor. Despite the book being told from Don's perspective, Rosie is portrayed as an incredibly complex character, who is happy to accept Don for who he is.

Spattered around the book are other brilliantly written characters such as Don's randy best friend Gene, Gene's obscenely patient wife Claudia, and others the two meet on their journey. There's no doubt this book will be the compared to The Big Bang Theory, with Don's personality being very similar to Sheldon's. The dialogue it witty, the character development of every character is also well written, not to mention the heartfelt ending and message that there's someone out there for matter how 'odd' you are.

Reading Soundtrack: 

Gravity Happens: Kate Voegele; Chemical Love: Charlie McDonnell; Beautiful Girl: William Fitzsimmons; Must Have Done Something Right: Relient K; You Love Me: Kimya Dawson; Tongue Tied: Grouplove

For lovers of

The Big Bang Theory, Forest Gump, An Abundance of Katherines; Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist

This review was written by regular reviewer Ria, get to know her here.
*c/o Penguin Books & Goodreads: Although I recieved a copy of this book free of charge this has not influenced my opinion and my review, as always, is 100% honest
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Sunday 17 March 2013

Noughts and Crosses | Malorie Blackman | Review

In Noughts and Crosses, Malorie Blackman swaps the prejudices from this world regarding race and puts them into this amazing series. In this world, which is modern day London, Persephone (Sephy) is a Cross. A girl from a very wealthy family and has dark skin. Callum is a Nought, a boy who is living in a rougher part of the area and his skin tone is white. These two young people have known each other since they were small, when they were too young to know of prejudice and bullying and war and hate. As they grow up they realise that they both want to become more than friends but in living in this harsh and cruel society, it is exceedingly difficult. Will Callum and Sephy ever find true happiness? You will have to find out.

Honestly my friends, this is a fabulous start to a fabulous series. My mum bought me it when I was about fourteen and I fell in love with it. The short but very well written chapters dragged me into this parallel world and I found it really hard to come back to reality. This book will have you smiling, crying, biting your fingernails and leave you with wide mouthed expressions and flicking the pages as to what happens next. I think this book is more suitable for teenagers aged fourteen and up because there is a lot of violence which takes place. I love this book because there are lots and lots of twists and turns and half the time you have no idea what the outcome is going to be. I thought this book was brilliantly written as I could picture the scenes and the characters vividly and it was one of those books where I felt like I was in it and watching everything that was happening.

Obviously this book deserves a five star rating. I really urge you all to read this. It's one of my top ten favourite books of all time, and it would mean a lot if you read it and fell in love with it as much as I have.  This story is about violence, religion, race, war and love. And if you like this book, there's three more in the series!

This book was reviewed by regular reviewer Lucy, get to know her here!
Picture from Lucy
Group Collaboration | Team Paper vs Team Plastic - The Great eBook Debate

Saturday 16 March 2013

Group Collaboration | Team Paper vs Team Plastic - The Great eBook Debate


This month we're talking ebooks, a controversial subject in the book blogging world. Since the introduction of ebooks and ereaders opinion has been divided as both ways to read come with their own set of pros and cons. We asked you to get in touch and let us know how you like to read, here are the results!

Team Paper...
Reading physical books has always been the norm and our first team would all choose to keep things this way instead of converting to ebooks...

'I am on Team Paper - For me a book is not a book unless I'm physically turning the page and feeling the well read pages in my hand' – Laura

'As much as I do love the sheer convenience and ease of using reading e-books, I still stand firmly on Team Paper. For a me reading a physical book is an immersive experience, from the feel of turning that first page to cracking the spine of a new buy to oh so wonderful new book (and arguably old book) smell and that weight-y feel in your hand when you finish reading that final chapter. They hold memories, last a lifetime and the letters on the page will never glitch or break (unless you dunk it in a bath of water or something, even then it might survive)' – Ria

'I'm team paper ALL THE WAY! It doesn't feel like actual "reading" when I do it of a screen, I need the physical thing in my hands. I hope ebooks won't ever take over, that would make me really unhappy!' – Lulu

'I guess I have to be in team paper because I NEVER read ebooks. Not that I'm against them really but it's just the way it is. I've been thinking about getting a Kindle or something like that but I know one thing for sure: Even if i might start enjoying reading ebooks I'm never going to give up "real" books! I mean I could never feel at home in a house without books a home without books is a pretty scary thought and you can't quite feel that way about ebooks. They're not un-replaceable in the same way. That being said I do get the point with ebooks and I'm not against them but if I had to choose, I would choose paper without a doubt!' - Niina

Team Plastic...
Of the ten people who responded to our debate there was only one who chose to sit firmly on team plastic. Emily tells us why she has converted to ebooks...
'I love books, always have, always will - but now I am so team ebook. I still visit the library and purchase the odd book, but having a kindle connected to the amazon store makes picking up books easier. They are there, instant. This what I love if I want to read something I don't have to wait. Carrying a kindle makes life easier, I can pick up my book where ever when I have an unexpected wait. I always said I didn't want a kindle because nothing could replace books, it doesn't replace my books - but it makes me read more' – Emily

The Best Of Both Worlds...
As it turned out our most popular answer was that we don't want to choose between books and ebooks. So, our final team are going to share the benefits of having the option to use both... 
'I am team neutral. I love reading with physical books. They look lovely on my shelves, I love turning the pages and you can't ignore how wonderful the smell is. I also love going to the library and choosing from a wide variety of books there. However, I also love my Kindle Fire. I can have a whole library of books in just one device. They aren't very heavy and they're actually better for the environment because you aren't wasting any paper. I love having the option to read both types of book because if I read too many paper books, it's always nice to have a change and turn back to the Kindle and vice versa' – Lucy

'Up until about two weeks ago I would have been team paper for sure. But I took the plunge and bought a Kindle, knowing that this year I'll be doing a lot of travelling and will need to take books with me. This seemed to me like the sensible thing to do. And I'm glad I did. I love my new Kindle Fire (I've named him Kuzco), and am really excited to have it while I'm away during the year. Having said this, I love 'real' books. A lot. I love turning pages and folding the corners over (*gasp!* yup, I'm one of those people!). I love the smell of a new book, fresh pages, and a spine ready to be cracked. As much as I will love having the convenience and handy-ness of my Kindle, I will never ever stop reading 'real' books. Having piles of books on my floor to read and a Kindle just means that I can read two books at once!' – Anjali

'I got an eReader for my birthday at the end of last year, and I have to say that now I have one, I wouldn't be without it. I am a big library fan, I visit my local library at least once a week (though I've been slacking a bit recently), and when my friends bought me my eReader, they specifically chose a Kobo over a Kindle, because it allows me to borrow eBooks from the library, whereas a Kindle doesn't. They don't have a hugely wide selection at the moment, but I'm sure that will change in the future. I guess I'm probably a neutral, I think there is room for both eBooks and traditionally printed books. I would hate to see books die out, but I do think that the important thing is that future generations read, no matter what form the books come in!' – Jane

'I once thought I'd never use an ebook, but now that I have one, I'm hooked. Not that I'm willing to give up paper, but the back lighting at night makes it easier on the eyes and lets me read so much longer––and I can carry several books on vacation without adding any weight.
I just read an interesting comment by Maureen Dowd in Sunday's NY Times. She too was talking about the change from paper to electronics, and her final comment was, "It is not about HOW you're reading. It is about WHAT you're reading." An astute observation for a print journalist' - Nora

'After getting my Kindle last year I wouldn't want to have to choose between the two. I love the convinience of ebooks and the opportunities to read advanced copies that having a Kindle has given me. That being said I do still frequently pick up paperbacks and use the library on a regular basis as well but finding a place to store them all is tricky! When it comes to buying books I tend to look for the best price, sometimes that is a good bookshop deal, sometimes a charity shop bargain box and sometimes it is the Kindle version so I like having options' - Erin

Next month we're celebrating April Fools Day with a post titled 'Laugh Out Loud Literature'.
We want to know all about your favourite funny books, laugh out loud quotes, comical characters and silly scenes. For more information on how you can get involved drop us a quick email to

Photo © Erin Elise
The Bell Jar | Sylvia Plath | Review

Friday 15 March 2013

The Bell Jar | Sylvia Plath | Review

'If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I'm neurotic as hell. I'll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days.' - Sylvia Plath.

Esther Greenwood's always been a little...quirky. A bright young thing, the aspiring journalist has landed herself an internship with 'Ladies' Day' magazine in New York with several other girls when the events occurring around her lead her to start questioning the life she's always been told she wants, and, as her opinions of those she's always surrounded herself with start to unravel, so does her sanity. This is Esther's story, through a downward spiral of self-destruction. Will she ever make it out of the bell jar, the self-contained unit of her own mental illness, or will she be forced to live apart from the rest of the world for the remainder of her young life? 

The Bell Jar has been one of my favourite books since I was thirteen, a fact that I often find myself defending amongst my fellow bookworms; having reached somewhat of a cult status, over the past 50 years since its first publication, it seems to divide the literary world, a little.

Don't get me wrong, it's far from a light-hearted read (but then, I can't think of much of Plath's work that could be described in such a way), but somehow, the story of Esther, whilst extreme in many ways, is one that is oddly relatable. Plath manages to create a character who, whilst being completely and utterly in the grip of mental illness, is perfectly logical, calm, calculated - one that, as a young woman in a postmodern world, it is all too easy to identify with. Esther feels so much like an 'average girl', questioning her self, her thoughts, her dreams, as much as I think anyone of a similar age would be, and yet, through a sometimes-harrowing narrative, we're made to see her descent into chaos, both internal and external, to see her self-destruction from the inside-out.

I think that's why there's so much division between those who love The Bell Jar, and those who hate it; although brilliantly written, thoughtful, with what comes across as an almost satirical observation on society - which somehow, still seems relevant as it celebrates a 50th anniversary of publication - it is, really, an uncomfortable book to read, in that it makes you question your own thoughts, feelings, dreams, every bit as much as Esther questions hers.

Personally, I think that's something pretty spectacular. 4/5 stars

This review was written by regular reviewer Francesca, get to know her here.
Photo © Francesca Sophia.
2013 Reading Challenge Update #1

Thursday 14 March 2013

2013 Reading Challenge Update #1

challenge update 1

Back in January we set ourselves some reading goals for the year - five books or series we vowed to read in 2013 and a total number of books to be read over the year as well. Here is an update on our progress so far!

Ria... 7/30 books read, 1/5 books vowed to read
Goals ticked off: The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath, Bought: Farenheit 451 and Brave New World, To Read: Harry, A History and The Mortal Instruments 

I'm plodding through this but I'm slowly getting there, the problem is I'm buying more books than I can read! I can cross Sylvia Plath off my list, which I loved and reviewed briefly here (, and have also now bought Farenheit 451 (on Kindle) and Brave New World (as a book). I also downloaded and read the sample of The Mortal Instruments on my Kindle, and it left me quite intrigued. I'm just debating whether to buy physical copies or stick to the ebook versions. I simply haven't gotten round to buying Harry, A History - I really need to as LeakyCon is just 5 months away!

I've been really enjoying challenging myself to read and setting a goal has been just the kick I need to get back into my books. I'm also adding to my 2013 reading goals to finish The Casual Vacancy and The Resistance (both of which have been sitting on my TBR pile for months!) and One Day - which I recently bought and need to catch up on the hype!

Francesca... 8/20 books read, 2/5 books vowed to read
So, this year, I've made it through 8 books, so far (on my 9th!), which is nearly half-way through my goal for the year (20), and I'm really pleased I've made such progress!

I love reading, but being a busy student means I don't get to do much of it, once deadlines start pouring in, and have to get through my 'to-read' lists in the breaks or during summer, if I want to make any real progress! I've already managed to cross two of my five 'must-read' books off of my list, We Need to Talk about Kevin (LOVED!), and The Secret (…meh), and have promised myself the next installment of the Lying Game novels, Cross my Heart, Hope to Die, as a reward for finishing a big assignment I have due this term; I think I'm doing pretty well, really!

Lucy... 2/37 books read, 1/5 books vowed to read
Unfortunately, the total amount of books I have read is a miserable two. However I have already read one of the five books that I have vowed to read this year which is Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. The other book I read was Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. Both books were brilliant, I have to say. I feel horrified that I have only read two books so far this year but the only reason for this is that I've been doing a lot of stuff irl! I am making March a month of reading. I hope to read The Great Gatsby and Sever soon so that'll hopefully get me back into the reading swing of things!

Anjali... 10/40 books read, 1/5 books vowed to read
 Books read as of today/ this week: 10 So far, I've managed to cross one off my 'Books I vow to read this year' list, which was Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I really enjoyed that book, and wrote a review here on BB for it. I haven't managed to get any of the others from the library yet, but I'm hoping that some will appear soon. In regards to other books, I think I've done really well so far in my reading challenge for Good Reads. My goal is 40 books this year, so I'm pretty proud of my 10 books done and dusted. I've had a few favourites already this year, particularly Graceling by Kristin Cashore, and also The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. Both are fantasy novels, and both have great story lines, characters and are a thrilling read. I also really enjoyed Slated by Terri Terry, but was a bit disappointed with Cinder by Marissa Meyer. I think I was expecting too much of it, and it let me down a little bit. I'm currently reading Beautiful Creatures, not because the movie was released (okay, partly), but because it's been on my list of books to read for ages, and I guess the making of the movie prompted me to borrow it from the library. I'm really enjoying it so far! Next I'll be reading either Ultraviolet by R. J Anderson or Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. Both are on my floor at the moment, and I haven't decided which one will be read first. Either way, I can't wait for whatever adventure the next story brings!

Laura... 5/25 books read, 1/5 books vowed to read
I've read 5 out of 25 books so far! And have managed to read 1 book from my 5 to read list and that is Miranda Hart - Is It Just Me? So far it's going pretty good, Goodreads informs me that I'm 2 books ahead of schedule! When I set the challenge I forgot about how many books I end up reading to my class so I think hitting my target shouldn't be difficult although I must force myself to buy those other 4 books and make sure I read those!

Erin... 12/52 books read, 1/5 books vowed to read
So far my 2013 challenge is going really well, I’ve finished 12 books towards my target of 52 and have also managed to cross 1 (and a bit!) off of the books I vowed to read back in January’s post. 
My favourite reads of the year so far would have to be Battle Royale by Koushun Takami, If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch (reviews to be posted here soon!) and Miranda Hart’s Is It Just Me? (review here) which was on my ‘books I vow to read’ list. I’ve also reserved Fracture from the library for when it is released and have made progress with another one of my chosen books Requiem, the third and final installment in the Delirium series as the first 80 pages or so are available to read online. So far so good and I’m looking forward to finding out how the series will end. I haven’t given out any 5 star ratings yet this year so I’m hoping to find a book I really love soon! 

What are your reading goals for 2013?

Post by Erin, Images via Goodreads

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Tell the Wolves I'm Home | Carol Rifka Brunt | Review

Wednesday 13 March 2013

Tell the Wolves I'm Home | Carol Rifka Brunt | Review

“I thought of all the different kinds of love in the world. I could think of ten without even trying. The way parents love their kids, the way you love a puppy or chocolate ice cream or home or your favorite book or your sister. Or your uncle. There's those kinds of love and then there's the other kind. The falling kind.” - Carol Rifka Brunt, Tell the Wolves I'm Home

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt is story that touches many important subjects like loss, love, family, friendship and prejudices. June is fourteen years old when she loses her uncle Finn who's also her godfather and best friend to AIDS. Her family is convinced that Finn's death is all his mystical special friend Toby's fault. But when someone disguised as a postman turns up at June's doorstep with Finn's old teapot and a note about wanting to meet her she doesn't know what to do. How can the man that her loved Finn choose to spend his life with be that bad?

Tell the Wolves I'm Home is also the story about June and her family and how they for different reasons have drifted far apart from each other. This part of the story especially focuses on June and her older sister who used to be really close but who really struggle with their relationship.

When I saw Tell the Wolves I'm Home at my local library I got really excited because I had read so many good reviews about this book. I also got a bit excited because I really like the title and the cover design but I guess that's not that important in a book review (but still, the title and cover design is pretty awesome!). But to be honest, after reading this book I'm not completely sure how I feel about it...

Don't get me wrong! This is in many ways a beautiful book and I'm pretty sure many of you would love it. I personally really enjoyed Carol Rifka Brunt's writing style and I liked many aspects of the actual story. I especially like the development of the relationship between June and her sister. I thought that was a really real and believable part of the story and I think it was a nice portrayal of the difficulties that can occur in the relationship between siblings. But apart from that I have to be honest here, the whole reading process was so slow for me! It wasn't a book that I couldn't put down or a book that I couldn't wait to get home to after a day at work. I'm not sure who's to blame, it might probably be me and the fact that I'm addicted to fast paced books and action. But it could also be a fact that some passages in this book are actually a bit too slow.

Yes, this make it really difficult for me to rate this book. Should this review be about my personal reading experience or the general quality of the book and the story? I guess I have to go for both. This is a good quality story and I think that many of you would really enjoy this book if you read it! But I didn't personally fall head over heels with this novel. So, help me out here! What should I do with the rating? How do you rate a book that you really appreciated but still didn't fall in love with? Well, I think I know how to solve this. I would personally maybe give this book 3,5/5 stars. But because I do really want you to give it a go because I think you might love it I give it 4/5 stars as an encouragement to all of you to pick it up! There we wasn't that hard after all...and like I said, you should give this book a go! You might fall in love with it...

This post was written by regular reviewer Niina, get to know her here.
Guest Post | The Fall Of The Good Book?

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Guest Post | The Fall Of The Good Book?

The fall of the good book KH header
*image sourced via Pinterest
Book being the operative word here. Not books, trilogy or series – book. It seems that many authors have simply forgotten how to write a good story that can fit into about 350 pages. There are exceptions of course – the wonderful John Green many may argue as being one of the authors still being a fantastic advocate of the stand alone story.

Before I wrote this I had good look at my own bookshelf – the one in my university room at least. It hasn’t got many books on it, just the ones I’ve collected from Waterstones since I’ve been at University, or those I’ve brought from home for friends to borrow. It contains 9 complete or partly-completed series/trilogies. There are only 9 books on the shelf that aren’t part of a series or trilogy. I also own 5 series in eBook format.

Most of the time, I love an epic series. Most of them feature worlds that can hardly be contained in the constraints of the pages, characters you become incredibly attached to and an exhilarating storyline that drags you along with it. But there are negative elements to it too – mostly the waiting for the next installment. We’ve all done it, finished a book the next day after it was released to find out the next book isn’t realised for a year. A YEAR? What are you going to do with yourself until then?

And there’s the disappointment when the final book finally comes out. That’s not how you planned it! Doesn’t the author realise you’ve invested YEARS of your life into this thing? How dare they.

There’s also the nagging feeling of needing to start the next book immediately, if it’s available. Two weeks ago I read six books in a series in succession and completely ignored my dissertation. Oops.

Sure, there are plenty of good standalone books out there, I’m sure. But most people (especially myself) find out which books to read through other people. Or what’s on display or prominent in a bookshop. Or what we see being advertised. And most of those books are what’s popular. And what is popular is the series.

The good standalone book can be every bit as satisfying as a good series. The story can be just as epic, the characters just as well developed and you can get just as engrossed without many of the negative aspects. Once the book is finished, it’s finished. We don’t need to know what happens in their lives for the next athousandmillionyears, the good parts over! There’s no disappointment, because you don’t have time to build up massive expectations. There’s no nagging feeling that you should be doing other things when you are reading the next book, and no nagging feeling when you don’t read the next book either. There’s no waiting! 

So why aren’t they as popular?

Got an opinion? Get in touch and sound off!

This post was written by Guest Blogger Kath.
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Monday 11 March 2013

Is It Just Me? | Miranda Hart | Review

The first thing I should admit before I start reviewing this book is that I’m completely obsessed with Miranda the TV show! I love it. I laugh out loud, literally have fits of giggles and can’t wait for the next episode! (And yes I quote the show in real life – Such fun!)

So when Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart came out, as you can imagine, I was so excited and couldn’t wait to read it. However I had numerous other books to read first and forced myself not to jump ahead. When I finally got around to reading the book it did not fail to disappoint. The first sentence reads ‘My Dear Reader Chum, a very hearty hello to you.’ I could hear Miranda’s voice saying these exact words and it didn’t change the whole way through the book, it was as if she was sat on my shoulder reading this book too me!

The books takes us through different parts of life including, technology, beauty and holidays with Miranda giving her opinion and experiences in every chapter. There are lots of comical moments and parts where you cringe at the very thought but most importantly it kept me entertained the whole way through.

Now we don’t just get Miranda’s opinions and experiences of all these topics but an introduction to teenage Miranda (little Miranda). She allows us to have an insight in to the teenage years of Miranda. We here about lacrosse, boys and hating sciences whilst Miranda tries to educate little Miranda on how life is now. Introducing her to texting, Facebook and email! All of which are extremely comical to read.

Any Miranda fan should definitely give this book a try or even if you ‘don’t mind’ the TV show then it’s definitely worth a shot. Non-Miranda fans however should stay well clear! 5/5 stars

This post was written by regular reviewer Laura, get to know her here.
*Photo © Laura

Sunday 10 March 2013

A Series of Unfortunate Events | Lemony Snicket | Review

I actually haven’t read this series in a while, but one of my goals in life is to buy the full set. Ridiculous goal, I know.

I first discovered Lemony Snicket  when I was about 10 years old. I was a little behind the times, as the first one came out in 1999, when I was 8. But, after reading the first one, I was hooked! I absolutely loved them, and I still do. Over the years I waited patiently for them to come out and then immediately put my name down on the library list so I could read the latest one as soon as possible. There are 13 books in total, each with their own separate story line, but, like many series, they have the same main story running across all the books.

You’re probably familiar with A Series of Unfortunate Events, whether that be because you’ve read them yourself, know someone who has, or seen the movie. The movie, despite the fact that I think Jim Carey did a great job, was no where near as good as the books, and it was confusing because it mixed the first three books into one. If you haven’t seen the movie, don’t bother.

The story is about three children (Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire) who are orphaned at a young age and left with a huge fortune. They are placed in the care of a distant relative, evil Count Olaf, who is after this fortune and will stop at nothing to try and get it. Throughout the books, the children escape from large falling windows, humongous snakes, dodgy elevators, an evil village, a freak carnival and many more people and places to try and get as far away from Olaf as possible. I know that this sounds depressing and horrible, and I guess, for the most part, it is. But it’s also wonderful. The children are smart, sensible and fantastically clever and you really want to punch Count Olaf in the face. Along with that, and a multitude of interesting characters along the way, the series really is a fantastic read.

The writing style! Oh the writing style! It’s possibly my favourite style I’ve ever read. Lemony Snicket (pen name for Daniel Handler apparently) narrates the books and continuously warns you to put the book down and stop reading. He adds things in along the way that aren't really directly about the story, but are somehow related (or not) to whatever circumstance the children are in. For example, one of my favourite passages is from the 7th book, ‘The Vile Village’ and reads:

‘Although "jumping to conclusions" is an expression, rather than an activity, it is as dangerous as jumping off a cliff, jumping in front of a moving train, and jumping for joy. If you jump off a cliff, you have a very good chance of experiencing a painful landing unless there is something below you to cushion your fall, such as a body of water or an immense pile of tissue paper. If you jump in front of a moving train, you have a very good chance of experiencing a painful voyage unless you are wearing some sort of train-proof suit. And if you jump for joy, you have a very good chance of experiencing a painful bump on the head, unless you make sure you are standing some place with very high ceilings, which joyous people rarely do. Clearly, the solution to anything involving jumping is either to make sure you are jumping to a safe place, or not to jump at all.’

Is that not fantastic?! I love that! There are many more short sections like this throughout the series and little notes and comments from the author as he tells the story of the 3 children. If you haven’t read the series, I really do recommend them. You don’t have to be a kid to read them or to enjoy them – like I said, I’m planning on buying them all so I can read them again and again and again…

Guest Review | Paper Towns | John Green

Thursday 7 March 2013

Guest Review | Paper Towns | John Green

photo (1)

The Paper Towns' blurb goes like this: "Who is the real Margo? Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life - dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge - he follows. After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. She has disappeared. Q soon learns that there are clues in her disappearance ...and they are for him. Trailing Margo's disconnected path across the USA, the closer Q gets, the less sure he is of who he is looking for." 

It's about a teenage girl who I think it is fair to say is a little bit lost and looks at life in a very different way, and a boy who learns that not everybody can be saved, one of the most important lessons to learn. 

 Green writes wonderfully; in my experience of his writing I've found that he depicts adolescents perfectly, which is not as easy to do as it may seem. His characters are incredibly believable and I found myself desperate to find out where the story ended up. I don't want to write too much about it, but it made me think. 

Just as I've written before, when I visited the theatre, I love it when things make me think. Not in the simple sense of the word, as humans we're constantly thinking about something or other, but when something makes me think more profoundly about the world we're living in, I cannot recommend it enough. And Paper Towns did just that for me, it's a lot about not knowing where you're going, a feeling of not belonging and a fear of the unknown, something I think we can all relate to. I'm not going to write about vocabulary, or plot, or imagery, that's not really me, but I doubt I will forget this book in a hurry. 

This post was written by guest blogger Anna, find her blog Reasoning My Soul here.
Photo c/o Anna
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The Culling | Steven dos Santos | Review

Wednesday 6 March 2013

The Culling | Steven dos Santos | Review


“Lucian "Lucky" Spark has been recruited for training by the totalitarian government known as the Establishment. According to Establishment rules, if a recruit fails any level of the violent training competitions, a family member is brutally killed . . . and the recruit has to choose which one. As the five recruits form uneasy alliances in the hellish wasteland that is the training ground, an undeniable attraction develops between Lucky and the rebellious Digory Tycho. But the rules of the training ensure that only one will survive--the strongest recruits receive accolades, wealth, and power while the weakest receive death. With Cole--Lucky's four-year-old brother--being held as "incentive," Lucky must marshal all his skills and use his wits to keep himself alive, no matter what the cost.” Source 

The Culling is the first book in a new YA dystopian series which takes place in a society where five teens are forced to compete against each other in a series of trials. In this particular world the stakes are high, each candidate also has two ‘incentives’ who are family members or friends that mean the most to them. 

You may be thinking to yourselves that this setup sounds a little familiar and whether intentional on the part of the author or not there are various similarities to one of the most popular books of the genre; The Hunger Games. Amongst other things Lucky’s reasons for his determination seem to revolve around his younger brother much like Katniss’ need to protect Prim, not to mention the potential romance between competitors in the trials just like in The Hunger Games arena. 

As is often the case when starting a new series the first time I picked up the book I was disappointed, the story didn’t captivate me right from the beginning and it wasn’t until a little later that I began to enjoy it more. The actual trials themselves kick in around two thirds of the way through and that’s when the story becomes much more engaging as the writing is fast-paced to match the action. The trials themselves were truly horrible and gripping with so much at stake for each candidate. The substance of each trial varied and the ideas were creative and interesting; something which is difficult to achieve in such an overcrowded genre. Of course with every task came the dreaded moment where the loser would have to select which of their incentives would be killed and the various methods of doing so could be fairly graphic. The book has its fair share of twists and turns throughout although none of them are particularly surprising. 

Aside from Lucky and Digory we also get to know the other three candidates as well as an important character from Lucky’s past. There was a lot of information to take in not just about each character but also the world itself within which I found the locations confusing at times. While I didn’t love any of the characters I did find it particularly interesting to find out a bit more about each of their backgrounds which was mainly achieved through the reveals of who their incentives were and their choices when faced with which one would be executed. 

I would recommend this book for fans of The Maze Runner series and of course The Hunger Games as you will most likely enjoy The Culling too, although in my personal opinion it isn’t as good as either of those. I will be picking up the second book in the series as I’m intrigued to find out where the plot was headed as part of a bigger picture rather than just the initial trials. 

There were a few things here and there that didn’t make sense to me and I did find the setting difficult to get used to but overall I’m glad I read The Culling. If the characters had been more developed and the first third of the book stronger then I would have enjoyed it a lot more but as it stands I think Steven dos Santos’ Young Adult debut deserves a 3/5 

*Review of an eARC c/o Netgalley: Although I received a copy of this book free of charge this has not influenced my opinion and my review, as always, is 100% honest.

This post was written by regular reviewer Erin, get to know her here.
Image via Goodreads
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Tuesday 5 March 2013

Guest Review | Graceling | Kristin Cashore

An average young woman’s life consists of the same simple elements: education; friends; crushes; heartbreak. Katsa, however, is not an average young woman, nor does she have an average life.

In the Seven Kingdoms there are people gifted with abilities that outmatch any human. These come about the day their eyes settle two different colours and can range from simply being able to swim like a fish or climb like a squirrel, to being Graced with the ability to control people’s minds. Because the Graced are so different from regular humans they live a cruel life, shunned by many and exploited by the rest.

Katsa is cursed with the worst Grace of all – the Grace of Killing. Not only is her Grace terrible enough, she’s also the niece of the terrible tyrant, King Randa, who uses her to send a message to those that wrong him. These messages generally warrant a broken bone or the removal of a finger or limb. But under the King’s order if he tells her to jump, she jumps. If he tells her to kill, she kills without hesitation. 

This is where the story gets interesting however. When the King of Lienid’s father goes missing she makes it her duty to locate and bring him back to safety without her uncle knowing about it. This brings about a whole new mystery that provides a chance to free herself from Randa’s hold, only to discover something far more sinister lurking in the shadows and rumours of a malicious one-eyed King. 

Along comes the next thing I love about books – romance. Unbelievably it does exist quite prominently in this book, and in the rest of the Seven Kingdoms trilogy. Apart from their first slightly violent encounter as he searched for his grandfather, Katsa finds Prince Po of Lienid’s company quite acceptable – possibly because he’s the only person that can match up to her fighting ability. With one eye of gold and the other silver, Po is Graced with hand-to-hand combat, though the waters run deep and as we find out later on in the book, there may be more to both his and Katsa’s Graces as they take to the wild in search of the one-eyed King. 

As a writer-in-training (har-har), I’ve always found it ironic that I’m so picky with the books I enjoy reading but Graceling is everything I love about the art of writing. Its short-tempered, stubborn-as-a-mule protagonist is a strong woman who, despite her Grace, has an innate desire to do good rather than evil. Even with her terrifying reputation she manages to build a secret society dedicated to protecting those oppressed by the unjust Kings and quickly develops a collection of loyal friends, despite her stating she’d no need for them. Cashore may not be the most imaginative, risky, or intricate writer, but her love for storytelling is obvious to the reader. So many well thought-out characters and a strong sense of story run through Graceling like electrolytes, and create an all-together excellent thrill ride, full of excitement, anxiety, and love. 

My overall opinion on the book: I’ve read it over fifteen times and I’ll read it again and again and again until the damn thing breaks, Graceling is an excellent first installment and is a wonderfully easy read for fantasy lovers and non-fantasy lovers alike. 

This review was written by guest blogger Emily.
*image via GoodReads

Struck By Lightning | Chris Colfer | Review

Monday 4 March 2013

Struck By Lightning | Chris Colfer | Review

SBL cover
“...Once upon a time,
there was a boy who flew.”

Struck By Lightning is the novel companion to the movie of the same name (still to come out in the UK unfortunately) written by actor (and screenplay writer of the film) Chris Colfer.

Meet Carson Philips, a highly ambitious high school outcast, hell-bent on heading to Northwestern University to study and one day become a writer for The New Yorker. But first he has to get out of his small town of Clover and bolster his college application by submitting a literary journal. The problem is he hates everyone in this town and he's pretty sure he's one of the least popular guys in schools thanks his Holden-esque attitude on life - not that he actually cares. His dreams, however, are bigger than his obstacles so he and his friend Malorie set out a plan...blackmail the most popular students in the school to contribute and the rest will follow suit.

The story pans out as Carson delves into the lives of his fellow classmates, discovering some reputation altering secrets and using them to his advantage. All the while he's managing his broken home life, alcoholic, drug addicted mother, and M.I.A. father, with his only respite being his grandmother, who suffers from Alzheimer's. Despite his malicious and selfish intent Carson finds that he's not the only one with problems and dreams of getting out of town.

SBL spine

So what's my verdict?

Writing this as unbiased as I can, and believe me as a Colfer-fan this is hard, I have to say the novel was just okay. It's a simple young adult story of a boy who just wants to get out of town, Carson himself isn't a very likable character at the beginning but he is relatable especially towards the end and his moments of sheer annoyance at his fellow classmates are something I'm sure many of us have felt. The humour in the novel reeks of Chris Colfer's natural sarcastic tone but the subtle moments of emotional dialogue are definitely heartfelt. The secondary characters are both ridiculous and hilarious, Marlorie in particular has some of the best lines in the book, and Carson's relationship with his ailing grandmother and his mother is really well done. The book won't shake the earth in terms of originality but the story carries through nicely, and will leave you with a bittersweet feeling at the end.

As a backwards screen-to-book adaptation I do feel like I should have seen the movie before hand, as the screenplay alongside the actors' own personal improvisational lines aid the story's humour and emotional arc. That being said I would definitely recommend this for any who wants a quick read or is curious about Colfer's writing style.


Dirty Little Secret: All American Rejects; Everyday Is Like Sunday: Morrisey; It's Only Life: Kate Voegele; Teenagers: My Chemical Romance; Bad Reputation: Joan Jett; 

For lovers of

Will Grayson/Will Grayson, Catcher In The Rye, John Hughes movies and Chris Colfer (and I mean CHRIS COLFER, if your reading for Kurt Hummel you're not gonna find him here). Also check out the SBL trailer here (warning, be prepared for lots of LoLs)
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