Category Archives: YA

Gather the Daughters- Jennie Melamed


Disclaimer: This book was given to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis

A remote community lives on an island, the only place that is safe after a disaster left the rest of the world as a wastelands. Only the wanderers have seen the wastelands, where they go to forage for supplies, and occasionally save survivors.

There are rules to the island. The men lead, it is the women’s job to keep house and birth children, which they start to do on their first ‘Summer of Fruition’.

But one year a girl, who is soon to become a woman, sees something which starts the girls questioning what they had always been told, and that things had to be the way they are.

Review

I really raced through this book, it reads like a pretty standard dystopian YA novel, but it has some really dark subject matters which are hinted at; rape, domestic violence, paedophillia, murder, anorexia, and persecution. The community follows the laws laid down by the ancestors in ‘Our book’, and in this sense and the way that the community was quite basic and old-fashioned made me think of the Amish (although I wouldn’t expect the Amish to have a community who raped their daughters as a ‘normal’ thing).

Looking back it does seem that that Melamed wanted to add as many issues as she possibly could, but at the time of reading I found that I wanted to keep reading to see what would happen next, so I guess that was actually a good thing.

At the beginning I found it a little difficult to define the characters from each other, but as I got to know them better I found them easier to distinguish. I ended up really liking Janey, she was strong, I would call her a role model but I’m not sure she is really a good one, whilst her actions have fairly sound reasoning behind them they aren’t always the best choices, and I can see some parents not wanting their kids to read the books because of it.

Other reviews I’ve read have described ‘Gather the Daughters’ as too depressing. Whilst I don’t think it is too depressing I also would say that if you like to read light and easy books it won’t be for you. Overall though I would recommend it.

4/5

‘Gather the Daughters’ is released on 25/7/17 in hardback and kindle editions and on 5/4/18 in paperback

Pre-order now:

Hardcover (£14.88)

Kindle (£8.49)

Paperback (£8.99)

Other Reviews:

Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

Did I miss your review? Leave me a link in comments and I will add it here

Visit the Official ‘Gather The Daughters’ webpage

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Filed under Dystopian, Fiction review, YA

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close- Jonathon Safron Foer


Synopsis (from amazon)

Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is an inventor, amateur entomologist, Francophile, letter writer, pacifist, natural historian, percussionist, romantic, Great Explorer, jeweller, detective, vegan, and collector of butterflies.

When his father is killed in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Centre, Oskar sets out to solve the mystery of a key he discovers in his father’s closet. It is a search which leads him into the lives of strangers, through the five boroughs of New York, into history, to the bombings of Dresden and Hiroshima, and on an inward journey which brings him ever closer to some kind of peace.

Review

After loving Everything is Illuminated I had high hopes for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, maybe that’s why I was a little unimpressed. It took me a while to really get going, and it really didn’t have the emotion that I expected. I expected Oscar’s Dad’s death to be a major theme but it was more of a trigger point for the rest of the story.

There was a certain amount of emotion, but I’m pretty sure Oscar was autistic, or at least he didn’t show emotion in the ways most people would. It just didn’t hit me like I expected.

Reading on a kindle didn’t help either, there are pictures in the book, which were in the kindle version, but they were never very well displayed, whether that is just a kindle thing I’m not 100% sure, but I think it probably was.

In the end I did sort of enjoy it, but I probably wouldn’t recommend it to anyone

3/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£4.99)

Paperback (£8.99)

Other reviews:

Knitting and Sundries

The Perpetual Page Turner

Lit and Life

 

 

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Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, YA

Wool Series- Hugh Howey


The Wool series consists of 3 books; Wool , Shift and Dust

Synopsis (written by me, because there isn’t just one)

Years in the future a civilization, the only survivors on earth are living in a silo. Outside the air is poison. The Wool series of books looks at how this came to be, and how things started to fall apart.

Review

Note on the review: Because I read Wool, Shift, and Dust one after the other I have decided to review them all in one go rather than as separate books. Because of this I’ve decided to use a sort of key code. Anything in black refers to all the books and isn’t a spoiler. Anything in red refers to Wool, there may be spoilers for Wool but won’t be any spoilers for previous books. Anything in green refers to Shift, it may contain spoilers for Shift or Wool. Anything in purple refers to Dust, it may contain spoilers for any of the three books.

I bought Wool (and later Shift and Dust) for my partner initially. There were quite a few reviews around at the time (I definitely remember that Ellie reviewed Dust) and I thought the books sounded good, but not quite me. These sorts of sci-fi things are more my boyfriend’s taste. However when he enjoyed it I thought I would give it a read too.

Overall I did enjoy the series although for all the books I found they started slow and after a while became more interesting. I must admit as well that I found my interest in the series overall wavered with each book, so although I fairly enjoyed Dust, it had significantly less pull than Wool did.


By the end of Wool I was really looking forward to starting Shift and seeing what happened next. My boyfriend warned me I would be somewhat disappointed, and he was right because Shift doesn’t continue on from where Wool left off, instead it jumps back to when the silos were new and gradually moves to the same time but in silo one- head silo- and how the events in Wool effect that silo.

I still enjoyed Shift by the end, it was interesting to see another side. It was also interesting how Jules almost became the enemy. Or I suppose I should say how it didn’t seem like the plans we learnt about in Wool were so bad after all. They seemed somewhat good intentioned.

I sort of wish things had stayed that way, where you can see both sides of the coin, but Dust changed it into bad plans again. I think it would have been more interesting to see Jules and silo one discussing her problems with what they were doing and maybe finding a solution.

Dust’s start was rather disappointing. It didn’t start where Wool had left off but jumped a little further forward, and I think partly because of this things were a little confusing. Jules seemed to know a lot but it was difficult to understand how she knew a lot of it. Of course I could have forgotten what exactly had happened in Wool which may have marred my impression of Shift.

 

Would I recommend the series? I don’t know. A lot of promise seems unfulfilled, but I did enjoy reading them, so maybe

3/5

Buy it:

Wool (from £4.99)
Shift (from £4.99)
Dust (from £4.99)

Other reviews:

Leeswammes’ Blog Wool | Shift

Curiosity Killed the Bookworm Wool | Shift

Quirky Bookworm Wool

The Sleepless Reader Wool

Did I miss your review? Leave me a message in comments and I’ll add it here

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Filed under Contempory, Dystopian, Fantasy, Fiction review, YA

How to Build a Girl- Caitlin Moran


Synopsis (from amazon)

What do you do in your teenage years when you realise what your parents taught you wasn’t enough? You must go out and find books and poetry and pop songs and bad heroes – and build yourself.

It’s 1990. Johanna Morrigan, 14, has shamed herself so badly on local TV that she decides that there’s no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde – fast-talking, hard-drinking Gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer! She will save her poverty stricken Bohemian family by becoming a writer – like Jo in Little Women, or the Brontes – but without the dying young bit.

By 16, she’s smoking cigarettes, getting drunk and working for a music paper. She’s writing pornographic letters to rock-stars, having all the kinds of sex with all the kinds of men, and eviscerating bands in reviews of 600 words or less.

But what happens when Johanna realises she’s built Dolly with a fatal flaw? Is a box full of records, a wall full of posters and a head full of paperbacks, enough to build a girl after all?

Review

Some books you want to review as soon as you’ve finished them, you don’t want to wait for all the feelings and thoughts to fall out of your head. How to Make a Girl was one of these books, so I moved it to the top of my review pile (despite the fact that I still have reviews of books I read in 2014 that I need to write). Unfortunately I couldn’t actually write the review straight away, so I hope my thoughts are still clear enough.

I was excited to read something of Caitlin Moran’s after basically having a girl crush on her after reading How to Be a Woman (don’t ask me how I haven’t managed to read Moranology yet, it’s a mystery to me). I must admit though I had my doubts about How to Build a Girl, it seemed basically to be an autobiography pretending to be fiction (a bit like Stephen Fry’s Moab is my Washpot and The Liar, which I still confuse).

There are a lot of similarities between Caitlin’s life and Johanna. They both grew up in Wolverhampton. They both had Irish fathers who were once in bands but now had some sort of problem causing them pain. They both had large families. They both had early jobs writing for music magazines. They even both won awards for writing before they entered the world of work. Oh and they both had a slightly goth look.

So you can see why I was wondering how much more was based on Caitlin’s life. At times it even distracted me from the story itself, especially early on. It didn’t help that Johanna had a very similar voice to Caitlin too.

One thing I like about Moran is that she’s so forthright. She’ll say whatever she’s thinking, not worrying about embarrassing herself or others.  I admire her for it. Johanna is the same. Although I think more with Johanna I didn’t want to know, maybe because for a good chunk of the book she was a teenager. In a sense I would say this is a YA book, I could certainly see myself connecting with Johanna at the beginning of the story, in some ways at least. However I can see it not being a hit with parents due to how frank it is. There’s little in there I don’t think the average teen would know, but I think it’s the way it’s put across too. I don’t really want to go into too much detail here, but if you have listened to Lily Allen’s album ‘Sheezus’ it’s a similar sort of frankness (listen here, beware explicit), you can probably guess just by looking at the titles in fact.

I did really like How to Build a Girl in the end though. I loved Johanna, even if she made me cringe at times at her decisions, and at her cluelessness when she seemed so ‘grown-up’. She seemed fairly realistic, if a bit of a teenagers dream. The ending was satisfying but did seem to lead to more. Apparently there are two more books to come, which I would be interested to read too.

4/5

Buy it:

Hardback (£10.49)

Kindle (£9.42)

Paperback- pre-order (£6.39)

Other Reviews:

Sam Still Reading

Lit and Life

Nylon Admiral –start of a readalong

As the Crowe Flies (And Reads) – also start of a read-a-long

Have I missed your review? Post a link in comments and I will add it here

 

 

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Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, YA

Fangirl- Rainbow Rowell


Synopsis (from amazon)

Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they’re off to university and Wren’s decided she doesn’t want to be one half of a pair any more – she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It’s not so easy for Cath. She’s horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she’s experienced in real life.

Without Wren Cath is completely on her own and totally outside her comfort zone. She’s got a surly room-mate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

Now Cath has to decide whether she’s ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she’s realizing that there’s more to learn about love than she ever thought possible.

Review

When I reviewed Landline I mentioned how much I had loved Fangirl (which I had just finished reading).

I really identified with Cath, more than I identified with Eleanor (of Eleanor & Park), I think that’s a skill of Rainbow Rowell’s- making characters which are easy to identify with.

To me Cath was a Harry Potter fangirl, I’m not quite her (only the occasional dip into the world of fanfiction) but I certainly ‘knew’ people like her, and saw a lot of elements of myself in her. Harry Potter was a big part of my world for a while (which I have spoken about before), so I think I understood Cath, although maybe I was more of a balance between her and Wren when it came to uni.

Thinking about it, actually, Fangirl is quite a lot like 4 to 16 characters, although I did prefer it.

It’s cute, and it’s romantic, and it’s real, that’s what’s awesome about it.

5/5

Buy it from an indie store (via hive):

Paperback (£6.23)

Buy it from amazon:

Kindle (£2.99)

Paperback (£4.19)

Hardcover (£9.09)

Other reviews:

The Perpetual Page Turner

Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

Bookjourney

The Leading Librarian

Recovering Potter Addict

So Long And Thanks For All The Fish

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Filed under Fiction review, Romantic, YA

The Fault in Our Stars- John Green


Synopsis (from amazon)

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

 

Review

So. The Fault is in Our Stars. So many people adore this book. That’s part of the reason I read it, and because I wanted to read it before the film comes out. Oh and because I forgot something to read in the bath whilst away from home.

I enjoyed it, I really did, but, I don’t know, I felt there was something off with it, and I couldn’t put my finger on it. Then I read Una’s review. She got me thinking

“Augustus may be the most unrealistic teenage boy ever written: he keeps cigarettes but doesn’t smoke them, his first topic of conversation is ‘oblivion’ and he talks like a Nietzschian philosopher. ” (from Una’s review)

It was Augustus. I didn’t like him instantly. He seemed so pretentious, and yes unrealistic. I’ve sorry but no teenage boy talks like that. And the whole not smoking cigarette’s so they loose they’re power. It’s a bit stupid. For one thing I doubt that most people start smoking because they want to breathe smoke in, so not smoking a cigarette doesn’t make it loose its power. I came to like Augustus more. He went from someone pretentious to a ‘perfect’ boyfriend. It’s still unrealistic but it was more real. I didn’t feel for him in himself though. I more cared about his effect on Hazel.

Hazel was more realistic. She seemed to struggle more. Maybe that was just because we saw things through her eyes, but, either way it made her more realistic. The whole battle type thing, in a way how she appeared. It was almost like she was a ‘normal’ teenager. Her approach to things is more hesitant, for a variety of reasons. Where outside she may be all bravado inside she has fears, and dreams.

Augustus had a more carpe diem attitude (or YOLO if you must), was that because he had been through different experiences, or did he just not care about potential bad consequences? Maybe a bit of both, but possibly the most realistic part of him was his denial of certain things which let him live in the moment. If I was Hazel I would have hated him for that. She didn’t, but they say love is blind.

There are better books about cancer. There are better books about love. This is an easy read however. Maybe a step towards more gritty books which whence your heart rather than pull its strings.

4/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£3.85)

Kindle (£2.49)

Hardback (£14.27)

Other Reviews:

Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

Book Journey

Reading is the Ultimate Aphrodisiac

Annette’s Book Spot

As the Crowe Flies and Reads

Reading With Tea

Under a Gray Sky

The Book Barbies

Owl Tell You About it

Polliwog Blog

Every Book Has A Soul

No Page Left Behind

Keep Watching the Words

Alison McCarthy

The Relentless Reader

Quirky Bookworm

Roof Beam Reader

Words for Worms

Silly Little Mischief

Writer, Reader, Dreamer

Book A Week

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Filed under Fiction review, YA

Eleanor & Park- Rainbow Rowell


Synopsis (from amazon)

Eleanor is the new girl in town, and she’s never felt more alone. All mismatched clothes, mad red hair and chaotic home life, she couldn’t stick out more if she tried. Then she takes the seat on the bus next to Park. Quiet, careful and – in Eleanor’s eyes – impossibly cool, Park’s worked out that flying under the radar is the best way to get by. Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall in love. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you’re 16, and you have nothing and everything to lose. Set over the course of one school year in 1986, Eleanor & Park is funny, sad, shocking and true – an exquisite nostalgia trip for anyone who has never forgotten their first love.

Review

There are so many reviews of Eleanor & Park out there that I almost feel that something original cannot be said. Do have a look at the reviews at the bottom for more detailed or different reviews. I tend to go with feelings rather than any real analysis.

So Eleanor & Park. After Attachments I expected to enjoy it, I didn’t expect better because it’s YA and I only usually read YA when I just want to read without thinking. As a more relaxing, easy read. It was on offer for the kindle though, so I thought I would give it a try. Actually I think it was better than Attachments. It was maybe in some ways less adult but it was less superficial I think. Especially from Eleanor’s side of the story.

I got Eleanor. The escapism. the shyness. The uncertainty. I was like her a lot in school. Whilst not having a bad time of it as she does; at home or at school, I could identify more with how she felt at times.

In a sense she was saved by Park. Una @ Watching the Words (see her review below) says it’s anti-feminist. Well maybe, but I don’t see that. It’s just another form of escapism. He facilitates so much of her escapism. The comics, the music. Why can’t he be a form of escapism himself? Does she need him? Maybe not. She ultimately helps herself. He makes it better though. He makes it easier. That’s not about him ‘saving’ her. It’s not about him being a boy. It’s about love. She doesn’t want that to end, of course she doesn’t.

I can’t say I liked Park so much. He grew on me. He understood more about life as he went through.

Yes this is a story about love, but it’s more than that. It’s a story about hope. It’s a story about overcoming bad things in life. It’s a story about finding yourself, and believing in yourself.

4.5/5

Also can I add I love the Rainbow Rowell US covers, the British not so much. Plus this one represents the book much better on the US version

Buy it:

Kindle (£1.49)- until 6th May only
Paperback (£5.59)
Hardback (£14.26)

Other reviews:

If I (somehow!) missed your review post a link in comments and I will add it here.

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Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Romantic, YA

The Book Thief- Markus Zusak



Synopsis (from amazon)

HERE IS A SMALL FACT – YOU ARE GOING TO DIE

1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier.

Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall.

SOME IMPORTANT INFORMATION – THIS NOVEL IS NARRATED BY DEATH

It’s a small story, about:

a girl

an accordionist

some fanatical Germans

a Jewish fist fighter

and quite a lot of thievery.

ANOTHER THING YOU SHOULD KNOW – DEATH WILL VISIT THE BOOK THIEF THREE TIMES

Review

Oh wow! Someone asked me if they should bother reading this (whilst I was still reading it) because they’d heard that the ending was horrible. Which is a bit of a silly thing to ask about really. A story narrated by death, in Nazi Germany, pretty much guaranteed to to have some not very happy bits. Yes, by the way, the end is pretty horrible but inevitable, and not unexpected. With death being the narrator it means that you do get some sort of inkling of some of the things which will happen. Not the complete situation, but enough not to be too surprised.

You would think that with knowing what would happen would make you stop yourself from getting too attached to the characters involved, or stop you from being too sad when things happen to them. Somehow it didn’t however. Maybe it was where the hints were placed, that we got to know the characters enough to be a little attached already.  Maybe it was that you can’t really stop yourself from becoming attached to characters even when you really, really don’t want to be attached to them.

Either way I did feel attached. At times that made things heart wrenchingly sad. At times it brought tears to my eyes.

But I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

4.5/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£3.50) Edition other than shown 

Kindle (£0.99)

Other Reviews:

Lit and Life

So Long and Thanks For All The Fish

Writer, Reader, Dreamer

Words for Worms

Book Journey

Knitting and Sundries

Earphoria

Keep Watching the Words

HeavenAli

Reading is The Ultimate Aphrodisiac

The Perpetual Page-Turner

My Devotional Thoughts

Yeah, pretty much everyone has read this!

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Filed under Fiction review, Historical, YA

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock- Matthew Quick


Ugh, horrible cover

Are you looking for the Giveaway Hop? You can find it here

Disclaimer: I was given this book free of charge (via netgalley) in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis (from amazon)

How would you spend your birthday if you knew it would be your last?

Eighteen-year-old Leonard Peacock knows exactly what he’ll do. He’ll say goodbye.

Not to his mum – who he calls Linda because it annoys her – who’s moved out and left him to fend for himself. Nor to his former best friend, whose torments have driven him to consider committing the unthinkable. But to his four friends: a Humphrey-Bogart-obsessed neighbour, a teenage violin virtuoso, a pastor’s daughter and a teacher.

Most of the time, Leonard believes he’s weird and sad but these friends have made him think that maybe he’s not. He wants to thank them, and say goodbye.

Review

Okay, so to review this book in any sort of decent way I have to reveal an important plot point. It’s major, but not really a spoiler, you find out in the first few pages. However, if you want to go in completely blind just know I would recommend this book, and don’t read any more of this post.

Leonard takes a gun to school. He plans to kill one boy. A boy who has made his life hell. Then he plans to turn the gun on himself. First he wants to say goodbye to his friends. Will anyone work out that something is going on? And can they stop him?

I picked this up from netgalley mainly because I’d heard good things about one Quick’s previous novels; The Silver Lining’s Playbook (which was made into a film). I didn’t expect some literary great, but I liked the sound of the plot, and I was interested to read it. I wasn’t disappointed.

The one thing which really struck me about this book is how much I liked Leonard. I didn’t think I would be able to have more than sympathy for him, and whatever had made him want to become a killer. I liked him though. He was a little weird maybe, but I like quirky people.  I didn’t want him to kill anyone, I didn’t want him to start shooting that gun. I can’t say I didn’t believe that he would, but I thought there might be a chance he would see another way. Each time it seemed like he might give up on his plan, and at times when it seemed he would see t through I was impassioned, either cheering that it might be okay, or hoping that he might still not do it.

For a long time we don’t really know why Leonard wants to kill his classmate. We can see why he dislikes him, but not why he hates him enough to want him dead.

I don’t think I can say much more without spoiling. It’s a fairly easy read. It’s style is conversational, and it isn’t all doom and gloom, there is a little humour there too, mostly black humour, yes, but it provides light relief.

(highlight for spoilers) The end? Well it just wasn’t right. It should have either stopped earlier or carried on further. I respected Herr Silverman for going out of his way as he did, and he undoubtedly helped Leonard, but there was something a little phony about him to, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. I wouldn’t have got that if it ended earlier, if it had ended when Leonard was saved from himself. Then there was the whole thing with Linda not taking him seriously. Honestly I thought she was worse than Asher, I could understand (even if I didn’t agree with) how Asher behaved, but Linda just didn’t seem to care. With Leonard refusing help from Herr Silverman, and being denied help from his Mum (Linda) I didn’t see how things could really get better for him. Maybe he no longer wanted to kill Asher, or no longer could, but does that mean he wouldn’t resort to some other desperate measure. I needed to know that Leonard got help.

4/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£2.99)

Paperback (£6.49)

Hardback (£6.59)

Other Reviews:

Recovering Potter Addict

The Perpetual Page Turner

Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

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4 to 16 Characters- Kelly Hourihan



Disclaimer: I received this book free of charge (via netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Told exclusively in online content – instant messages, social media posts, e-mails, fanfiction, and more – 4 to 16 Characters examines the role that online friends, fandom, and fantasy play in helping one teenage girl to survive unbearable realities. When fifteen-year-old Jane Shilling’s mother died and her father turned to drinking, Jane had to find a way to escape. So she devised a number of online personas, each with a distinct personality, life history, and set of friends. Together with her involvement in the online fan circle for her favorite TV show, Look to Tomorrow, Jane thought she’d found the perfect way to cope forever. But as she draws closer to her online friends, she struggles to find a way to maintain real friendships with people who don’t even know her real name. Soon Jane is forced to begin to sift through her issues… but that involves taking a hard look at what her life’s like when the computer is shut off, and that’s a reality she’s been fighting for years.

Review

I started this review months ago but it kept getting overtaken by reviews for books which were out sooner, or already, then NaNoWriMo happened. So my memories of this book are a little hazy. I think I should remember enough for at least some sort of review though.

I did enjoy this novel. I liked the way it was written with all the different voices against Jane’s own diary. In a way I could understand the escapism of the internet too. Sometimes it is easier to type than to talk.

It was easy to read, but a lot of the type that was more because of style than substance. In a way I actually felt sometimes the author had added extra elements just because she didn’t feel she could spread the current one enough. I am sure there are people with that many issues but it did feel a bit much. Just what was involved in Jane’s life rather than herself would have been enough I think.

It was an interesting concept, and it did work well, generally.

3/5

Buy it:
Kindle (£3.14)
Paperback (£9.00)

Other reviews:
Have you reviewed this book? Leave me a link in comments and I will add it here.

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Boy Meets Boy- David Levithan


Boy meets boy, David Levithan, book, young adult, book cover, YA
Disclaimer: This book was given to me free of charge by the publisher (via netgalley) in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis (from amazon)

The unforgettable debut novel by co-author with John Green of Will Grayson, Will Grayson

To be together with someone for twenty years seems like an eternity. I can’t seem to manage twenty days…

How do you stay together?

Paul has been gay his whole life and he’s confident about almost everything. He doesn’t have to hide his feelings like best friend Tony or even cope with loving the wrong guy like his other best friend Joni.

But heartbreak can happen to anyone. Falling in love changes everything.

Review

I have a growing relationship with David Levithan. I loved The Lover’s Dictionary, and vowed to read more of him, but seeing as he’s generally a YA writer, and that’s a genre I only read once in a while I haven’t really been actively seeking him out.

Anyway I saw Boy Meets Boy- which was Levithan’s first solo book up on netgalley for its re-release. Thinking of my plan to read more Levithan I decided to request it, and got it, yay!

Boy Meets Boy is set in an ideal town where being ‘different’ is accepted, even praised. At Paul’s school there are gay people, straight people, bisexuals, and transvestites, but everyone accepts everyone else for whom they are. It was a little difficult to get my head around at first because, unfortunately, real life isn’t like that. It made it sort of unrealistic.

However once I got more comfortable with the story I started to really enjoy it. I quite liked Paul, although I certainly wanted to shout at him a fair few times for lack of foresight.

I much preferred Noah, Paul’s love interest, as a character, he was more interesting for one thing. Or maybe it was just because we saw him through Paul’s eyes when Paul was falling for him.

The most realistic character was Josh, I think maybe I would have preferred a story about Josh. Being gay wasn’t easy for Josh, and though we saw a bit from Paul’s friendship with him I think it would have made a more interesting story to have it from Josh’s perspective.

It was quite a cute story when it came down to it, and rather romantic. Not some great amazing piece of literature, but I still enjoyed it immensely, and it took me less than a day to read because I couldn’t put it down!

Oh and you know what I love about everything I’ve read by Levithan so far? He obviously loves words!

5/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£5.29)

Paperback (£5.75)

Other reviews:

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Fyre- Angie Sage



Fyre is the seventh (and final) book in the Septimus Heap series. You can see my reviews of the previous 6 books by using the Septimus Heap tag.

Synopsis (from amazon)

Septimus Heap, Wizard Apprentice, must fight the remnants of the Darke Domaine. For this, the ancient Alchemie Fyre must be relit, a task which will test Septimus to his limits and send him on a perilous journey. Septimus will finally discover who he is – but at what cost? And who will prevail when the greatest Magyk of all is kindled?

Prepare for a spellbinding finale, as FYRE masterfully weaves together every character from this epic series.

Review

For some reason they don’t seem to have the edition of Fyre I read listed new on amazon anymore, but it’s most like the collector’s edition (which is not yet available). I ordered that particular version because of the cover. For some reason Bloomsbury have decided to change the cover design for the last book so it doesn’t fit with the other 6 I have on my shelves. it’s rather annoying, especially as I do not like the new cover even without comparison with other. The version I got was a ‘roughcut’. There are a few complaints about it on amazon (possibly why it has been taken down) but the pages are meant to be roughcut to look like old pages or parchment pages. I rather like the effect, it looks like an old spell book. The pages are also thinner which probably makes the book less weighty.

Anyway, on to the story. There are a few reasons why I read the whole series of Septimus Heap books, and none of them are that closely related to plot

– A friend gave me his copies of the first two books, so you know I may as well read them

– I have a thing about series (which I have spoken about before) and hate to leave them unfinished, unless it was a real struggle even to get through the first book.

– My boyfriend also wanted to finish the series, so we decided to take it in turns to buy each book (hence why he bought this one) with whomever pays for the book getting to read it first.

– I was interested enough in the storyline to want to know how it ends, but not enough to feel I had to know right now (as I was with Harry Potter)

If you have been reading the series as it comes out then I would recommend re-reading the series before you read Fyre, I didn’t and I think maybe my enjoyment suffered because of it. Fyre draws together lots of little storylines and characters from throughout the books. It’s one of the things I most like about the books because it is rather clever, but it does mean that if you have forgotten about a character or plot theme then you may find yourself a little lost in parts. Personally I think I forgot about 99% of the plot of Syren (although at the time of reviewing I did say that it didn’t seem to be a book which the series really needed).

Again I had that issue that for a long while everything was just being set up. Not much was really happening that engaged me, but by the end I wanted to stay up to finish reading. You can tell I wasn’t that interested from my status updates on goodreads, in the first 5 days I only read 57 pages- where it usually takes me a week to read a whole book.

The story generally though was a nice conclusion, and it did come together well. There was a bit of a message there too about self change and how circumstances can force people to be a certain way.

Oh yeah and one thing I didn’t like was Sage shoving in a blatant ‘read my other books’ message. The character seemed to be added just so she could say ‘look this character who has no real role and you’ve never heard of before, guess what? I wrote a series about her, you should read it’. Nothing would make me want to read that series less.

3/5

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Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares- Rachel Cohn and David Levithan


Disclaimer: This book was given to me free of charge via netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis (from Amazon)

I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.

Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favourite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions? Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

Review.

I haven’t read a book this quickly in an age. Or stayed up late just to read ‘one more chapter’. It helps that Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares is a young adult book. That means it was easy to read, and generally quite plot driven. The chapters were short so it didn’t seem like much to read just one more chapter (although I did that for about 10 chapters in a row).

I’ve been thinking about reading something else by David Levithan since reading A Lover’s Dictionary which I loved. Seeing as most of his other books are YA however I hadn’t rushed out to read another by him. Not because I won’t read YA, it’s just not usually the first thing I would pick up. Those things combined meant that seeing Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares on netgalley gave me the perfect excuse.

I wouldn’t say the book was any great literary genius, but I never expected it to be. I loved the idea of two people meeting through a little red book. It’s the kind of thing you just wish would work in real life (I imagine in real life a shop assistant would have found the book and chucked it into lost property- as often happens with bookcrossing books). I also loved how it seemed to show a love of books too, what more could a literary girl want.

I almost immediately loved Lily as a character when I saw her words in the notebook (the first we hear of her voice. (highlight for spoiler) Although I was rather disappointed to find out those initial words weren’t hers, nor the idea, it made me like her less. She convinced me to like her again by the end however.

It took me longer to warm up to Dash but I probably loved him even more by the end. There was something about Lily which started grating on me (although I still loved her). Dash however had a sarcastic, slightly cynical streak which I took to, and I loved his passion for words.

I enjoyed the fairytale references as well. I suppose in a way the story was a modern fairytale, a little unbelievable, and romantic in the way fairytales often are, but also with a touch of realism which you don’t see in traditional fairy stories.

This book is set during Christmas time. It’s not essential to read it over Christmas but I think I might have enjoyed it more if I read it then (rather than early-September, which is when I did read it).

I wonder now about looking into reading something more by Rachel Cohn seeing as I liked the Lily chapters.But then I think of how much I enjoyed P.S. Longer Letter Later as a teenager, and how disappointed I was to find that Ann M. Martin was the writer of The Babysitters Club (pretty much the last thing I would think to read).

4/5

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dreams is not released until 5th October 2012 in the UK but you can pre-order it now from Amazon

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If I Stay- Gayle Forman


Synopsis (from Amazon)

The last thing Mia remembers is the music.

After the accident, she can still hear it. And she can see her damaged body being taken from the wreck of her parents’ car – even though she can’t feel a thing.

All she can do is watch as doctors rush to save her life, as her friends and relatives gather outside her room, as the boy she loves struggles to be near her.

As the next twenty-four hours unfold, Mia must come to terms with what came before the crash – and what could come after. And she knows she must make the most difficult choice of all.

Review

Pretty much every book blogger was reviewing this book a while ago, and loving it, but I don’t really have much to say.

The idea was good, and I liked all the music references but it wasn’t as emotional as I expected really. I didn’t feel I got to know any of the characters that well except for Mia, so I couldn’t really connect that well to her emotions.

There was a lot of talk about the past but the current bits felt like they could have been much more emotional except Forman seemed to feel the need to be making something happen the whole time which took a focus off the emotions.

The ending felt rushed and I never really got a sense of Mia debating whether to stay or go.

3/5

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Other Reviews:

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Books From Bleh to Basically Amazing

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The Testament of Jessie Lamb- Jane Rogers


Image from Amazon

 Synopsis (from Amazon)

Women are dying in their millions. Some blame scientists, some see the hand of God. As she watches her world collapsing, Jessie Lamb decides she wants to make her life count. Would you let your daughter die if it would save the human race? The Testament of Jessie Lamb is the story of one daughter’s heroism and one father’s love.
Review
The Testament of Jessie Lamb is the story of Jessie Lamb (believe it or not). Jessie lives in a world where humans are dying out. Every human is infected with a deadly virus which is activated when a woman become pregnant. This means that no new babies can be born and Jessie’s generation will be the last humans if a solution isn’t found. Jessie wants to save the world, and she will go to any lengths to do it.
This book is listed as a contemporary novel but it actually reads much more like Young Adult fiction. That’s not to say it was bad, in fact I enjoyed it quite a lot, but for an adult novel it wasn’t especially sophisticated. I liked Jessie quite a lot. She had a real sense of morality, not just where it came to the virus but also with other issues which we can see in the real world today- for example the greenhouse effect, or feminism. I liked how she had her principles and she would stick to them no matter what. It was sad to see what happened to her but also somehow right.
I wonder about the biblical references in this book. There are the Noah’s who are a bit like evangelical Christians (or should I say the stereotypical evangelical Christians) but then there is a certain biblical parallel to Jessie herself. (highlight for spoiler)She sacrifices herself for the world in the same way Jesus did, and her surname is lamb like lamb of God.
4/5
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Mockingjay- Suzanne Collins


Image from Amazon

Mockingjay is the third book in The Hunger Games trilogy. Read The Hunger Games and Catching Fire first.

Synopsis (from Amazon)

The final book in the ground-breaking HUNGER GAMES trilogy. Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’ worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12
Review
Note: I’m about 99% sure that I can’t write this review spoiler free, so I’m not going to try. I will however block out spoilers in my usual fashion. However I won’t be blanking out spoilers from the previous 2 books.
I’m sad to see this story end.  I must admit I would have been perfectly happy with just the first book and I’m still not 100% sure it had to be a series, however I enjoyed the second book much more than I had anticipated and was eager to read this one.
It’s much more of a war type novel than the previous two, I guess though the other two books contain some sense of rebellion they weren’t as geared towards rebellion as this one was- and that was something I expected after how Catching Fire ended.  In some ways it made me like it less. It felt so much more, I don’t know, planned, I guess. In The Hunger Games Katniss was just going with the flow really, following her heart if you want. In this she seemed less in control in a way, more manipulated. I didn’t really like how there was something a bit wrong about how she thought she was being independent. I guess by he end she did though and it shocked me. [highlight for spoiler] I never ever expected for her to shoot Coin, but I understood it. Really the only thing good about Coin is that she wasn’t Snow. She seemed to be just as power hungry. She was willing to sacrifice Katniss so she would win power. She even wanted to do what Snow did, use the Hunger Games to show how powerful she was. Maybe only once but if anyone in the capital is innocent surely it’s the kids? I was surprised Katniss voted for it though, I mean she knew what it does to people, she’d let more people go through that?
4.5/5
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Catching Fire- Suzanne Collins


Image from Amazon

Catching Fire is the second book in The Hunger Games Trilogy. Read my review of the first book here

Synopsis (from Amazon)

The second book in the ground-breaking HUNGER GAMES trilogy. After winning the brutal Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta return to their district, hoping for a peaceful future. But their victory has caused rebellion to break out … and the Capitol has decided tat someone must pay. As Katniss and Peeta are forced to visit the districts on the Capitol’s Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. Unless they can convince the world that they are still lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying. Then comes the cruelest twist: the contestants for the next Hunger Games are announced, and Katniss and Peeta are forced into the arena once more.
Review
For some reason I appear to have low expectations of these books. For the first one it sort of made sense, but I really liked that one so surely that should give me high expectations of this one. I guess I thought the whole going back in the arena thing would be a bit much of a stretch, sort of trying to keep the story going past where it should end (which is something I dislike because it just feels like they are trying to get more money out of you). Actually though I was happy to find myself proven wrong (again). In some ways I even enjoyed this one more than the last. It had a bit of a puzzle to it and more story lines to follow. Still can’t say I really like Katniss though.
5/5
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Mockingbird- Kathryn Erskine


Image from Amazon

Synopsis (from Amazon)

11-year-old Caitlin has Asperger’s syndrome, and has always had her older brother, Devon, to explain the confusing things around her. But when Devon is killed in a tragic school shooting, Caitlin has to try and make sense of the world without him. With her dad spending most of his time crying in the shower, and her life at school becoming increasingly difficult, it doesn’t seem like things will ever get better again.

Review

I read a really nice review of this book last year and added it to my wishlist. By the time I actually got around to buying it I had kind of forgotten why I had put it on my list. I remembered that I had read a review but didn’t really remember much about what the review had said, or even what the book was about. I mainly bought it because I wanted to add new books to my Kindle before I went o holiday and it was quite a lot cheaper on Kindle than as a paper book (I really have a thing about Kindle books having to be cheaper).

I was a little unsure about having Asperger’s and a school shooting in the same book. It just seemed as if Erskine needed to add an extra issue to make her story a book. Actually though on reading the book I didn’t find it to be so. It was really interesting to see the shooting through Caitlin’s eyes. No, that’s not true really because the shooting didn’t so much come into it. It was more seeing the loss caused by the shooting and the effects of it on other people through Caitlin’s eyes was the interesting thing. It didn’t really matter much what the sad event was, it was the response to it that really mattered.

I thought the way Caitlin’s voice was captured was really authentic, you could tell that Erskine was drawing from personal experience.

It was funny, and sad, and sweet. I loved Caitlin.

It’s a quick and easy read without loosing any substance and I would really recommend it to anyone.

5/5

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The Hunger Games- Suzanne Collins


Image from Amazon

Synopsis (from Amazon)

A fight to the death – on live TV. The game show where you kill or die, and where the winner’s prize is survival. In District 12, where Katniss Everdeen lives, life is harsh and brutal, ruled from afar by the all-powerful leaders of the Capitol. The climax of each year is the savage Hunger Games – where twelve boys and twelve girls from each District face each other in a murderous showdown. When sixteen-year-old Katniss is chosen to represent her district in the Games, everyone thinks it’s a death sentence. Only one person can survive the horrors of the arena. But plucky Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature…

<br<

Review
So basically I was resisting reading this for ages because I thought it just sounded like s sanitized version of Battle Royale. Which is a stupid reason not to read it really seeing as I have only ever seen the film of Battle Royale and it was too gory for me, why would I not prefer a sanitized version? Maybe there is just a part of me who thought I would find the book easier, after all that is what I found with The Beach, I could read the book but couldn’t watch the film. And while Battle Royale was too gory for me I could appreciate it was a good film, so maybe I just didn’t want a dumbed down version? I don’t know, I’m just stubborn, and I don’t like reading popular things for some reason (unless I read them before they become popular, that’s ok).
Anyway I am waffling. I was actually pleasantly surprised by The Hunger Games. It took a little while for me to properly get into it although it was easy reading so I didn’t get through the less interesting chunk at the beginning. I found the book generally well paced and it contained enough twists to keep me on my toes. There was plenty of action  to keep me reading and wanting to know what happened next. but enough calmer times to be able to reflect on what was going on and to stop the book seeming too plot driven.
I am unsure about reading the next book. Based on the blurb it sounds a bit like a sequel for the sake of writing a sequel, although The Hunger Games was open ended enough to allow a sequel (or not).
I must admit though I do want to read Battle Royale now, even if just to see how similar the two books really are.
5/5
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Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince- J.K. Rowling


Image from Amazon

This book was read as part of the Harry Potter read-a-long.

Synopsis (from Amazon)

‘In a brief statement on Friday night, Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge confirmed that He Who Must Not Be Named has returned to this country and is once more active. “It is with great regret that I must confirm that the wizard styling himself Lord – well, you know who I mean – is alive and among us again,” said Fudge.’ These dramatic words appeared in the final pages of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. In the midst of this battle of good and evil, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince takes up the story of Harry Potter’s sixth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, with Voldemort’s power and followers increasing day by day …

 

Review

Oh dear I am a bit late with this one aren’t I? November’s read for the Harry Potter read-a-long. I almost finished it in time, I finished on the 1st December so only a day over but it’s taken me up till now to actually write this post.

Half-Blood Prince is my favourite Harry Potter book along with Chamber of Secrets. I especially like learning about Voldemort’s background, and I would probably quite happily read a book just about his rise to power, as a sort of prequel. There is quite a romantic level to this book too, I think we know by now where things are going in this sense. Initially one of the pairings I wasn’t too happy about, mainly because it just seemed too predictable and…perfect, but it grew on me.

And of course we know know what everything has been leading up to.

5/5

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Crazy- Benjamin Lebert


From Amazon


Synopsis (from Amazon)

Benjamin Lebert introduces himself on the first day at his new school: “Hi, I’m Benjamin Lebert, I’m 16 and a cripple. Just so you know…” He is paralysed down his left side, but nevertheless lives his life to the full as a rebellious schoolboy, smoking, drinking, running away, meeting girls and having sex – and all the while pondering the meaning of life.

Review

When I reviewed The Perks of Being a Wallflower (which I loved) Zee of Zee’s Wordly Obsessions recommended Crazy to me, suggesting that it may be something similar. Well I’m sorry Zee but I really didn’t really find Crazy comparable to The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I’m not saying it was bad, I just couldn’t find myself relating to it in the way that I related to The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The one thing I found a could relate to was Benjamin’s annoyance at his body not doing what he wanted but it was only briefly mentioned. I can say I preferred it to Catcher in the Rye though, I never really liked Holden but I didn’t mind Benjamin. In some ways I thought Lebert was trying to make Crazy more like Catcher in the Rye as he often included passages where the boys would philosophise. Mainly though this philosophising seemed pointless, and even annoyed me a little. There was nothing profound about it, but I did kind of like how the boys thought they were being profound, it seems realistic for how teenagers would view their own thoughts- as being really original and earth breaking.

One thing I didn’t understand is that the book is categorised as a novel (it even says a novel on the back cover), but the main protagonist has the same name as the writer, which suggests it’s actually and autobiography. Does anyone know what it actually is?

A quick and easy read, it took me less than 2 days to read.

3/5

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Darke- Angie Sage


Image from Amazon

Darke is the Sixth book in the Septimus Heap Series

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Septimus is on the threshold of his fourteenth birthday, which falls on the shortest day of the year. While everyone celebrates and the Castle is lit with the traditional candles, Septimus has greater concerns on his mind. He has finally reached the period in his Apprenticeship known as Darke Week. During this crucial time, he hopes to undertake the very dangerous mission of restoring Alther from Banishment, following the attempted invasion of the Castle of Syren. But while this preoccupies him, other Darke things are afoot in the Castle.
Review
Oh I think this has got to be my favourite Septimus Heap book so far. I think they have been gradually getting less childish. While I would still classify Darke as a children’s book it is much more sinister than the last 5. With the horrible ‘Things’ and the two faced ring and it’s power it brings to mind Tolkien’s Dark Riders and The One Ring. I still feel somewhat sorry for Merrin, somehow despite everything he has done he still seems like a victim to me. Maybe because of the way he was introduced to the Darke, maybe just because in many ways he is still a child. Somehow that makes what he does seem not so bad. Increasingly the barriers between Magyk and Darke Magyk are being blurred. The bad guys are not so bad (certainly not in the way Dom Daniel was) and maybe the good guys are not so good either. It all adds up to a book which is distinctly more adult than the others in the series. I wouldn’t go as far as to say children shouldn’t read it. Nothing is too graphic except in where your own imagination may work on something.
4/5
My Septimus Heap Reviews (in order):

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire- J.K. Rowling


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was a re-read as part of the Harry Potter Read-a-Long.

This review may contain spoilers for the Harry Potter series of books and films.

Synopsis (from Amazon)

The summer holidays are dragging on and Harry Potter can’t wait for the start of the school year. It is his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and there are spells to be learnt and (unluckily) Potions and Divination lessons to be attended. But Harry needs to be on his guard at all times – his worst enemy is preparing a terrible fate for him.

Review

Oh I had forgotten how much I loved this one. I mean I knew I love it but I had forgotten how much. I suppose the fact that the spine has fallen off my original edition shows how much it has been read, and that must show some love. I decided to buy a new copy because I neither wanted to destroy my original nor lug a great big hardback around with me (not that that ever stops me but it’s a bonus to buying a new copy). So I bought one of the new signature editions, which I think are really quite pretty but don’t hold the same wonder for the that the original children’s editions do, maybe simply because they are not the Harry Potter books I know. Anyway I am waffling.

Right from the onset Goblet of Fire promises an excitement which isn’t promised at the start of the previous three books. The Riddle House is somewhat of a mystery in the way it links to the whole story (I remember when I first read it someone asking me about The Riddle House). Savy readers will see the link between Voldemort’s real name (Tom Riddle) and the house, I don’t quite understand how I didn’t get it the first time, maybe just eagerness to get on with the story.

Then of course the excitement continues at the Quidditch World Cup, then there’s the Triwizard Tournament. It’s just excitement after excitement from start to finish. Considering how long this book is that’s no mean feat.

A lot of my feelings to do with this book are to do with my own personal Harry Potter history. It was the release of this book that made me realise that there were other people who loved Harry’s world as much as I did when I saw its release on newsround. I remember reserving the book at my local bookshop (which is the strangest bookshop come newsagent come grocers) and actually getting it a day early because that was when it was delivered. Oh the excitement that I could read this eagerly awaited book before most people had even got their hands on it! It was also this book which started getting me into fandom, so indirectly it’s to thank (or blame!) for this blog.

Ooh Order of the Phoenix next…that means I get to meet Luna!

5/5

 

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Million Dollar Mates- Cathy Hopkins


Million Dollar Mates is the first in a series

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Jess Hall’s dad is the new general manager at Porchester Park, and is moving Jess, her brother and pet cat into a staff apartment there. Jess is dreading the move, until she learns the apartments are strictly A-list only and soon to be populated by actors, musicians, models and millionaires…But fraternising with the stars isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and soon Jess is wishing for a return to real-life – but can she admit to her friends that the gilded cage isn’t quite as golden as she’d anticipated?
Review
No you haven’t fallen into the wrong book blog. No I haven’t suddenly decided to start reading books I would have read as a teenager. But yes I don’t normally read young adult fiction, especially of the chick-litty type. I was given this book by somebody at work and when I found myself at work without a book I decided I’d dig this one out of my locker rather than attempting to read on my i-pod over lunch.
When I was about 13/14 I went through a bit of a stage when I liked these types of books. At the time I actually read one of Cathy Hopkins’ other series, “Mates, Dates and…” (or what was released of it at the time). At the time I did enjoy those books, although they weren’t my favourite of the type (they would probably be the Louise Rennison books, which I still remember fondly) and there is little about them not that sticks in my mind. As with the Mates, Dates series this book had a certain level of emotion in it (In this one the main character’s mother had died, in the mates dates it was more everyday teenage matters), although that wasn’t the overwhelming theme. Generally in fact I found it pretty shallow. Maybe I would have found the characters meaningful as a teenage but not now.
Even then I did prefer books hat had somewhat of an issue, gave you something to think about, and this one really didn’t.
2/5 

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban- J.K. Rowling


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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This book was a re-read as part of The Harry Potter Read-A-Long.

This review contains spoiler for the Harry Potter series

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Harry Potter is a wizard. He is in his third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It’s always a relief after summer with the Dursleys, however, Harry doesn’t realise that this year will be just as eventful as the last two! The atmosphere at Hogwarts is tense. There’s an escaped mass murderer on the loose, even the Muggles have been warned. The sinister prison guards of Azkaban have been called in to guard the school and Harry, Ron and Hermione rapidly discover why all witches and wizards live in fear of being sent to Azkaban. Lessons, however, must go on and there are lots of new subjects in third year – Care of Magical Creatures and Divination among others. Plus the delights of Hogsmeade, the only village in the UK entirely populated by the magical community.

Review

I know this book is a favourite among many of Harry’s fans but of the books I’m read so far it’s been the one I’ve looked forward to the least. It’s not my least favourite but it is far from my favourite and my excitement about the read-a-long has abated a little. I was trying to stop myself reading The Prisoner of Azkaban at the beginning of the month but suddenly the end of the month was here and I was worried I wouldn’t finish it in time! Luckily I finished it today just within the time!

Having said this is not my favourite there still are a lot of things I like about it. Not least of all. I love the introduction of Lupin in this book, I think he remains my favourite teacher, or at least my favourite Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. In fact Lupin remains a favourite character of mine all the way through, despite his behaviour in Deathly Hallows. I also quite like hearing a little bit about James’ time at Hogwarts and his friends, and finding out a little about what happened the day Harry’s parents died. Those who know my love of Harry will confirm I’ve always been very interested in back story. However Marauder back story, although interesting is not something I feel the need to explore, I would much rather read about Voldemort’s school days. I think that’s one of the reasons I don’t like Prisoner of Azkaban so much, it’s very light on Voldemort. Despite that I do think it’s important in Voldemort’s gradual rise to power

5/5

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Mini Review: Tales of Beedle the Bard


This review is more from memory than from a recent read, but I wanted to mention it

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a book of Wizard’s Fairy Tales. It features strongly in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and the story of the Hallows is taken from it. It’s a charming little book, the fairy tales follow a structure which will be familiar to anyone who has ever been told a fairly tale, but they are completely new tales. Of course the Tale of the Three Brothers is the one which is interesting in terms of the series itself, as it is the tale of the hallows, but in terms of The Tales of Beedle the Bard we already know the story from Deathly Hallows. My favourite is The Fountain of Fair Fortune, I’m not really sure, maybe just because it’s the closest to a ‘muggle’ fairytale. The book also includes notes and a forward written by Dumbledore, which is funny and well worth the read.

Don’t forget to enter my Harry Potter Giveaway, entries close tomorrow.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

Image via Wikipedia

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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets- J.K. Rowling


Cover of "Harry Potter And The Chamber Of...

Cover via Amazon


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the second book in the Harry Potter series and was read as part of the Harry Potter read-a-long

Synopsis (from Amazon, adapted by me)

Harry Potter is a wizard. He is in his second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Little does he know that this year will be just as eventful as the last …even getting there is an adventure in itself! The three firm friends, Harry, Ron and Hermione, are soon immersed in the daily round of Potions, Herbology, Charms, Defence Against the Dark Arts, and Quidditch. But then horrible and mysterious things begin to happen. Harry keeps hearing strange voices, and sinister and dark messages appear on the wall.

Review

How much I love his book, for the longest time it was my favourite Harry Potter book, and now it shares that position with Half-Blood Prince (if you have read both you can probably guess what I liked about these two). I must admit part of what I loved about this book is that I felt I was looking for it for forever after having loved Philosopher’s Stone- I must have missed it immediately though because I don’t have a first, or even second edition. My joy when I found it, finally, though was so strong.

I must admit this is the one book where I really like Ginny, and it’s a book where we first really see her (apart from a small couple of glimpses in Philosopher’s Stone) [highlight for spoiler]as well as a book where Ginny is a very important character. I guess I like the funny little moments when she is in front of Harry she seems so young and innocent [highlight for spoiler] and yes I think that picture of her is important, you would never in a million years suspect Ginny, or at least not until she was going to tell Harry and Ron.

Something I do find about the book though is that it really is very, very dark. I know they say that the books get darker, and maybe in ways they do, certainly there is more of a threat a little later on, but at least that threat is known. I mean nobody knows what is happening in the school, nobody knows who is controlling what is happening, and Harry is hearing voices in the wall. Sometimes an unknown horror is worse than one that you at least know something about, at least with the later books they knew the threat was Voldemort and they knew, at least up to a point what they would get from him. Even when you know what this horror is it still seems so unknown and impossible to control [highlight for spoiler]I mean even Voldemort can’t kill you by simply looking at you! (As they say in Potterwatch (Deathly Hallows:

“So, people, let’s try and calm down a bit. Things are bad enough without inventing stuff as well. For instance, this new idea that You-Know-Who can kill with a single glance from his eyes. That’s a basilisk, listeners. One simple test: Check whether the thing that’s glaring at you has got legs. If it has, it’s safe to look into its eyes, although if it really is You-Know-Who, that’s still likely to be the last thing you ever do.”

And that’s not even mentioning giant spiders, or an angry Snape!

What I really like about this book though is the information we get about Tom Riddle. It’s really interesting to see where he came from, and a bit of what he was like in school. I find it interesting that even early on I liked this aspect, even when I did not know how important it would turn out to be later on

5/5

Don’t forget to grab your chance at winning the whole Harry Potter Series in my giveaway

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Syren- Angie Sage


The cover art for Syren from the Septimus Heap...

Image via Wikipedia

Syren is Book 5 in the Septimus Heap series

Synopsis (from Amazon)

In the fifth book of this Magykal series, Septimus and his friends find themselves on an island whose secrets are as dark and dangerous as its inhabitants. Septimus Heap returns to the House of Foryx with Spit Fyre to pick up Jenna, Nicko, Snorri, and Beetle. But the journey home does not go well and when Septimus and his friends are caught in a storm, Spit Fyre crashes into the Rokk Lighthouse. They are rescued by the lighthouse keeper who is disturbingly sinister, and who has an equally sinister cat …And all the while, Septimus is trying to fight the strange pull he’s feeling to the island and its mysterious secrets.

Review

There is something about the Septimus Heap series in that it takes a while to really get going, you get hints that it will get exciting but it’s only towards the end that it actually becomes exciting with a gradual build. his was still true of Syren, although I do think it got going a little quicker than the previous books. I think I am enjoying the stories more as we go through the series as well, and whereas before I read the other books without and real anticipation I am actually really looking forward to Darke, I just wish it was out already!

Really my main problem with this series is that it isn’t much of a series in the way the books link together. In some ways this one was linked to the other books, and I can definitely see how it may link to the next book, but it also seems in some ways unneccessary to the series as a whole, and as if Sage was just trying to stretch out the books.

3.5/5

 

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Dragon’s Pupils: The Sword Guest- Martin Chu Shui


Image from Goodreads

I was given a copy of this book free in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis (from Amazon)

The story centers on Liz, born of half Australian and of half Chinese descent. Growing up in Australia, she isn’t very interested in her father’s ancient Chinese stories. She is concerned with problems that are far more contemporary — such as environmental issues, and particularly her friend’s handsome brother who is an environmental activist. But her disinterest in Chinese culture changes when her two worlds collide, after a catastrophic accident sets thousands of ancient monsters loose near her home. Suddenly Liz must learn many new skills and call on all of her Chinese heritage if she is to prevent the monsters from destroying Earth. Helped by her twin brother and best friend, Liz sets out to discover why the monsters exist and how to stop them. When she is injured in a battle, she must travel to China to seek a cure that is spiritual as much as it is physical. But can she find the old man who can help her before the monsters catch her? How will she manage in a country that is so strange and yet so familiar? And can she learn enough about a world she has ignored to stop the monsters in time?

Review

I really respect the author of this self-published book, I think it must take a lot of courage to put yourself out there in the way he has by choosing to self publish. I really, really wanted to like this book because I am all for supporting new writers and self published writers.

When I first read the synopsis of this book I thought it sounded a little strange but it did sound unique and so many books are just same old, same old these days. I thought the plot did sound interesting if a little hard to pull off, and if it was done well it could make a fantastic book. I’ll give this to Chu Shui, the element of the book that I was most unsure about, that of the magic pen, was done pretty well. When it was first introduced I thought it could give lots of opportunity, even if it did remind me a bit of Penny Crayon! Unfortunately I don’t think the magic pen idea was utilized very well, in fact the initial idea of it was barely used, and I did think it could have been used to great effect and made a unique plotline. In some way it gave me the impression that the author didn’t really know what to do with the idea, or if he did that it wouldn’t make enough of a story so he decided not to make it a major plot point.

When it came down to it I felt that a lot of the time Chu Shui was trying to stretch the story to make it into a full book. The fight scenes became very repetitive which made them somewhat predictable. After a while I  became bored with what should have been the most exciting parts of the book and I began to get the impression that the battles were added because the author felt that the story was getting boring. If my impression is true it’s a real shame because I generally prefered the sections between the battles. I liked the way that Chu Shui used old chinese tales to link to how Liz and her friends should fight, I particularly liked Liz meeting the Grandfather and finding out about the history behind her methods. I know the whole book couldn’t be made of that, she needed to be able to apply what she had learnt, but I think sometimes it was cut down in favour of battle scenes.

I think this book could have been so much better. The premise was good but it felt like I was reading a first draft (and not an especially good one at that). With a bit more work and editing it could have been enjoyable, but I began to wish I had another book with me by the end.

But hey it didn’t bring out the feelings of hatred that I have for Twilight, so if you think it sounds good download it, it’s not expensive. Just don’t bother spending your money on the paperback.

2/5

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Queste- Angie Sage


Cover of "Queste (Septimus Heap, Book 4)&...

Cover of Queste (Septimus Heap, Book 4)

Queste is the fourth book in the Septimus Heap series

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Septimus faces a perilous quest to find Nicko and Snorri, who have been trapped back in time. Everyone at the Castle is realising that Nicko and Snorri’s chances of coming back are slim. Septimus, aided by Alchemist Marcellus Pye, learns of a place where all time meets: the House of Foryx. But how does he get there? Jenna and Septimus find Nicko’s notes from the past and discover that he knows of the House of Foryx as well and has been creating a map to plot the house’s hidden location. With the help of the Questing Stone and Nicko’s faded maps, will Septimus be able to save Nicko and Snorri? Meanwhile, Simon Heap has taken on Merrin Meredith, former apprentice to DomDaniel, as his own apprentice, giving Merrin an opportunity he has been waiting years for. With the help of a frightening creature called a Thing, Merrin plans to reclaim the identity he used to have …that of Septimus Heap.

Review

I found I got through this Septimus Heap book much quicker than the others. It still took a while to get going but the end of the previous book (Physik) felt like much more of a cliff hanger than the previous books in the series so Queste felt like more of a sequel than just another book with the same characters. I wanted to find out what had happened after the last book so I was eager to get going. I was pretty impressed to, I’ve liked the other Septimus Heap books but the series seems to be getting better the further I get into it and I found a big difference with this book. I think this book was a bit more individual, a lot of the time I find the Septimus Heap books could just be any other book about wizards, you know it has everything you would expect from a wizarding novel but nothing that really sets it apart. I found with this novel that it was more like Sage had created another world, the forest and all its contents felt rather original, although there were still sections that were the type of things that are pretty standard to fantasy novels (not that that’s a problem, it’s just nice to have something different).

There was one thing I didn’t like in this book though and that was the sections with Merrin. I can’t say I ever really liked Merrin but I had some sympathy for him and that was pretty much destroyed by this book, and it was more or less uneccersary. I think Sage could have filled his role easily some other way seeing as he was basically there to secure one small plot point. I thought using him to secure that point was actually a little unrealistic and I could think of a few other ways in which it could be introduced without using Merrin.

4/5

 

 

 

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Physik- Angie Sage


Physik by Angie Sage

Image via Wikipedia

Physik in the third book in the Septimus Heap series

 

Synopsis (from Amazon)

When Silas Heap unseals a forgotten room in the Palace, he releases the ghost of a Queen who lived five hundred years earlier. Queen Etheldredda is as awful in death as she was in life, and she’s still up to no good. Her diabolical plan to give herself ever-lasting life requires Jenna’s compliance, Septimus’s disappearance, and the talents of her son, Marcellus Pye, a famous Alchemist and Physician. And if Queen Etheldredda’s plot involves Jenna and Septimus, then Dark adventure awaits With heart-stopping action and endless wit, Angie Sage continues the fantastical journey of Septimus Heap.

 

Review

 

Considering the simplicity of the Septimus Heap range of books Physik took me a long time to read, but I have been ill so I blame that factor, sometimes when I’m ill I just don’t have the attention span for reading, my new addiction to Twitter probably hasn’t helped either, but then again there is always a distraction. I do think generally speaking this series has progressed in quality of writing  at  least since Magyk although I have still read book which are better written (and don’t think this is me being a reading snob, I know my own quality of writing is less than stunning, and up to a point I can enjoy writing which isn’t of great quality to the same level as I can enjoy something you could describe as literary, sometimes more seeing as more complex writing requires more energy to read…I feel I am going off on a tangent). I felt as if Physik’s plot was a little more planned than the other two, and while this did give more flow to the story and allowed it to be more complex it did give a slight sense that the plot was a little artificial, I suppose you have to balance the two aspects when you choose whether to plan carefully or more write as you think (the second is what I do, I guess that is pretty obvious!). The one thing that did feel really artificial was the introduction of Snorri, I really liked her as a character, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of her in the next book, but her introduction seemed more of a plot device and a convenience than other characters have and I didn’t really like that. At first her introduction puzzled me and I wanted to get back to the characters I knew but when I got further along I understood it and I actually thought that if her introduction had been written differently she would feel less like a plot device.
I feel like this review has been mainly negative but actually this has been my favourite book of the series so far, it’s more complex and the plot, while being a little slow to start has been more engaging. For the first time since I started this series I am actually looking forward to reading the next book in the series rather than just wanting to read it for the sake of finishing the series.

 

3.5/5

 

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The Graveyard Book- Neil Gaiman


Cover of "The Graveyard Book"

Cover of The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book was read as part of the Take a Chance Challenge

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Winner of the Newbery Medal When a baby escapes a murderer intent on killing the entire family, who would have thought it would find safety and security in the local graveyard? Brought up by the resident ghosts, ghouls and spectres, Bod has an eccentric childhood learning about life from the dead. But for Bod there is also the danger of the murderer still looking for him – after all, he is the last remaining member of the family. A stunningly original novel deftly constructed over eight chapters, featuring every second year of Bod’s life, from babyhood to adolescence. Will Bod survive to be a man?
Review

I’ve only ever read one book by Neil Gaiman before, Coraline, and I enjoyed it enough to want to read more but somehow never got around to it, despite loving the film Stardust and wanting to read the book. I did start listening to The Graveyard Book on Neil Gaiman’s website once, but I have low concentration for audiobooks and the sound wasn’t too good (possibly because of the recording quality, possibly because my old laptop didn’t have the greatest speakers). All in all the graveyard book has been on my wishlist for about five years.
I do kind of wish I had read The Graveyard Book when I was younger, when I read Coraline I found parts were actually scary, and I may have found this the same if I read it when I was younger, some parts were creepy but not actually scary. The atmosphere was built really well, you get an amazing sense of what the graveyard was like, both for someone who was comfortable there, and for someone who was not. I must admit that I didn’t like the action parts as much as the rest, Neil Gaiman builds atmosphere really well but the action seemed a little rushed and not especially exciting, in parts it was even a little predictable. I did enjoy it in all, and will probably look out for more Neil Gaiman in the future, but maybe I will try his adult novels next time.
4/5

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Flyte- Angie Sage


Cover of "Flyte (Septimus Heap, Book 2)"

Cover of Flyte (Septimus Heap, Book 2)

Synopsis (from Amazon)

The evil necromancer DomDaniel has been disposed of, but something Darke is stirring. A Shadow pursues ExtraOrdinary Wizard Marcia Overstrand around, following her every move, growing stronger every day. Septimus senses something sinister is afoot, but before he can act, Jenna is snatched – taken by the most unlikely kidnapper. Septimus must rescue his sister but does not, at first, realise what he will be facing. “”Flyte” is the second of Angie Sage’s engaging and energetic novels about Septimus Heap…We can’t get enough. More, please!” – “The Times”
Review
My memory is a little rusty on this one. I finished it over the weekend and I usually write my review the same or next day but haven’t been able to do that this time. As with the last Septimus Heap book I wasn’t bowled over with the writing style, although the standard stayed the same all the way through where it had got better by the end of Magyk. I did find myself a little more compelled to read this one too and it got going quicker, although it still took too long.
3/5

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I Am Number Four- Pittacus Lore


This was by book recommended by a loved one for the Take a Chance Challenge. My wonderful boyfriend lent it to me.

Synopsis (from Amazon)

John Smith is not your average teenager.

He regularly moves from small town to small town. He changes his name and identity. He does not put down roots. He cannot tell anyone who or what he really is. If he stops moving those who hunt him will find and kill him.

But you can’t run forever.

So when he stops in Paradise, Ohio, John decides to try and settle down. To fit in. And for the first time he makes some real friends. People he cares about – and who care about him. Never in John’s short life has there been space for friendship, or even love.

But it’s just a matter of time before John’s secret is revealed.

He was once one of nine. Three of them have been killed.

John is Number Four. He knows that he is next . . .
Review

Right from the start this book was predictable, I could have predicted what happened at the end right from the onset, although I couldn’t have predicted how we got there I could predict almost everything before I got to it. It was just so formulaic. It felt as if it was put together by a team trying to decide what teenagers  would most like. After all (sorry to break it to you guys) Pittacus Lore is not just one person, but a collaboration between James Frey and Jobie Hughes (hmm where have we seen James Frey lying before?). Okay maybe I am being a bit harsh, it was enjoyable enough, and an easy read, I pretty much read it in two days. The predictability reduced the excitement quite a bit, but I liked the characters enough to find the end moving, and I will probably read the next one, although I won’t rush out to buy it when it comes out.

All in all there are better, more exciting fantasy stories but if you are after an easy read with a bit of bite you can’t go wrong with this one

3/4

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Magyk- Angie Sage


Magyk

Image via Wikipedia

This book is the first in the Septimus Heap series

Synopsis (from Amazon)

A baby girl is rescued from a snowy path in the woods. A baby boy is stillborn. A young Queen is taken ill. An ExtraOrdinary Wizard mysteriously resigns from his post. And all on the same night. A string of events, seemingly unconnected, begins to converge ten years later, when the Heap family receive a knock at the door. The evil Necromancer DomDaniel is plotting his comeback and a Major Obstacle resides in the Heap family. Life as they know is about to change, and the most fantastically fast-paced adventure of confused identities, magyk and mayhem, begin.

Review

I was given this book by a fellow Harry Potter fan who described it as the new series he was addicted too. It’s taken me a while to get round to actually reading it, partly because despite some of my favourite books being fantasy I’m not a big reader of fantasy as a whole, and partly because I didn’t want to compare Magyk to Harry Potter, because I knew it would be pretty hard to meet up. Luckily to compare the two would be quite difficult, apart from tragic beginnings, and similar aged main characters the two have very little in common. Plot wise there were some pretty good ideas going on but, partly because of the way Magyk was written I did find it very predictable, the main twist is given away because of some bad decision making- which may be on part of the publishers rather than Sage herself. I must admit a fair bit of the plot didn’ seem particully original either, partly because I think Sage had used myths to do with magic- which is probably a good thing, and partly because it was predictable. There were some really good ideas though, I particully liked the dragon ring and it’s surrounding storyline. I will read the rest in ther series, because I dislike leaving a series unfinished but I wouldn’t activelly seek them out.

3/5

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Beauty- Robin McKinley


Synopsis (from Amazon)

When the family business collapses, Beauty and her two sisters are forced to leave the city and begin a new life in the countryside. However, when their father accepts hospitality from the elusive and magical Beast, he is forced to make a terrible promise – to send one daughter to the Beast’s castle, with no guarantee that she will be seen again. Beauty accepts the challenge, and there begins an extraordinary story of magic and love that overcomes all boundaries. This is another spellbinding and emotional tale embroidered around a fairytale from Robin McKinley, an award-winning American author.

Review

I won’t usually pick young adult fiction for myself, not because I don’t think it will be good as much as because I never really think to look at it. When I do read YA fiction it’s because of recommendations- and that’s how I found Beauty. I’ve seen a number of reviews and it had sat on my wishlist for a long time, if some lovely person from BCF hadn’t sent me a copy I probably still wouldn’t have read it! (I have a horrible habit of not buying from my wishlist). This book in particular interested me because I love the story of Beauty and the Beast, it’s my favourite fairytale and I wanted to see a different way of telling it. I really loved Disney’s Beauty and the Beast as a child (and it is still amongst my favourite Disney films) and that’s where my main impression of the story comes from, I am sure it has its own changes but it was what I was comparing to the whole way through.

Some changes I did really like. I was unsure of the idea of Beauty and her family once being rich but becoming poor. Somehow I imagined that even though Beauty had never really been a fan of some of the luxuries gave her it may have changed the way she viewed her new life in the castle. There were more things I preferred though. I liked how Beauty didn’t start off beautiful, it made me like the Beast more and showed how similar they were in looking below the surface, I had the impression that the Beast saw her as beautiful because he loved her. (highlight for minor spoiler) I wasn’t so sure about her becoming beautiful. On one side I liked the idea that she may have become beautiful because she was in love, but it also gave me the impression that she had to be beautiful for everything to be ‘perfect’ and I didn’t like that. I liked the library and the way that it had books that had not been written yet, and it caused a fair amount of humour.  The library in the Disney film is half the reason it’s a favourite of mine, I think it’s just the perfect library, and I was looking forward to seeing how McKinley did it. I did feel it was rushed a little- but I guess that most people wouldn’t want paragraphs describing a room which was actually not that important to the plot. It’s just the bibliophile in me that loves libraries and bookshops.

In terms of writing style I wouldn’t call Beauty a masterpiece but it wasn’t written badly, and I felt I got to know Beauty quite well. The Beast probably could have been written better, I only really cared about him for Beauty’s sake, not because I liked him. It’s an easy and quick read and I would recommend it, just don’t expect any literary genius.

4/5

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- J.K. Rowling


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Image via Wikipedia

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Harry has been burdened with a dark, dangerous and seemingly impossible task: that of locating and destroying Voldemort’s remaining Horcruxes. Never has Harry felt so alone, or faced a future so full of shadows. But Harry must somehow find within himself the strength to complete the task he has been given. He must leave the warmth, safety and companionship of The Burrow and follow without fear or hesitation the inexorable path laid out for him.

In this final, seventh installment of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling unveils in spectactular fashion the answers to the many questions that have been so eagerly awaited. The spellbinding, richly woven narrative, which plunges, twists and turns at a breathtaking pace, confirms the author as a mistress of storytelling, whose books will be read, reread and read again.

Review

I am a complete Harry nut but all the same it’s been a couple of years since I last read a Potter book, and I’ve only read Deathly Hallows a couple of times. Part of it is that there’s a sadness to this book other than the story itself. It’s the end of something which has been in my life for so long, and which has effected my life. If it wasn’t for Harry this blog would probably never exist because it’s Harry that started my internet life. I wanted to re-read Deathly Hallows after seeing the film, I felt I wanted to know it better- as well as I know the other books, and I wanted the satisfaction that doesn’t some from the film. I never really like the films, they just don’t match up to the books.

As far as the book itself is concerned it’s not my favourite (that jumps between Chamber of Secrets and Half-Blood Prince….can you see the common theme?) but it’s not my least favourite either. There is a lot of time when there isn’t actually that much happening. When they have no idea where to find a horcrux- or at least no probable idea. In fact finding out where the next horcrux is was pretty much good luck really, and not that much they actually worked out for themselves. That’s not to say it was boring. Maybe it’s my love for Harry that kept me reading, that I had to know how it ended? But I don’t think that would keep me reading a second and third time. I think that there was the right balance of realistic timing and events which kept the reader reading.

This book is by far the saddest for me. In a way it is sadder after the first reading because you anticipate what is coming. You’re sad before what makes you sad has actually happened. There was one bit which was less sad than the first time for me because I know what was about to happen, although it was still somewhat upsetting. (highlight for spoiler)This was when Harry thought he was going to die. I can remember being so shocked the first time and trying to convince myself that he couldn’t die , and I really thought he might. Deaths wise this book was so sad because there was a realism there. That war isn’t fair and the people who ‘shouldn’t’ die aren’t exempt. It’s not nice but it seems right, I think I would have disliked it if only people we didn’t care for died, because it would be like Rowling was trying to stop fans from being upset.

As for the controversial epilogue? I’m not a fan. It answered very little for me, and somehow made everything as the fans expected- not that that’s a problem, but it’s kind of too perfect, and it’s what I would have presumed for myself- I wanted to know other things. Some of it Rowling has revealed in interviews but I am still hoping for the rumoured encyclopaedia. I like to debate but it would be nice to know.

5/5

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower- Stephen Chbosky


Synopsis

Charlie is a freshman. And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it. Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But Charlie can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

Review.

I really really liked this. It’s been compared to Catcher in the Rye and I can see why, it has a similar tone and both have a teenage boy speaking. However I didn’t feel like I related to Holden whereas Charlie reminded me quite a lot of myself in high school (but more so). Of course me going to an all girls school made me even more innocent than him… I related quite well to him. I suppose mainly it was his thing of not getting involved, just watching that felt like me, I had my friends but I was a bit of a loner. I liked the characters a lot too. I think probably Sam was my favourite, I can imagine being friends with Sam. She seemed to be the one who cared most for Charlie too and actually the one who was trying to help her. I liked Bill too, he was like the perfect teacher. One who actually cared for his pupils and wanted to get the best out of them rather than just getting them through the exams.

It’s a very quick and easy read but really has some substance, it doesn’t really loose anything for it. I suppose I would change something and that would be to see a bit more about how the surprise revelation affected him, but having said something in a way everything we had read showed that.

5/5

My sidebar tells me that there is going to be a film of The Perk of Being a Wallflower, written by Chbosky himself. Seeing as he is writing it I think it could be really good. Apparently Emma Watson and Logan Lerman will be in it. Lerman looks pretty close to how I imagined Charlie, maybe a little more pretty boy but Watson isn’t how I imagine any of the female characters, maybe she could be Charlie’s sister but I certainly cannot see her as Sam.

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Alice in Wonderland- Lewis Carroll


Synopsis (from Amazon)

When Alice tumbles down a rabbit hole one hot summer’s afternoon in pursuit of a White Rabbit, she finds herself in Wonderland. And here begin the fantastical adventures that will see her experiencing extraordinary changes in size, swimming in a pool of her own tears and attending the very maddest of tea parties.

Review

My Mum read this to me first time when I was little, and I was really surprised by how much I remembered. I’ve seen the Disney film a million times but I still managed to remember some bits that weren’t in it, my favourite being the Duchess which I remembered fondly anyway. I enjoyed it a lot this time round too, even though there was a page missing (it was the same copy, and used to belong to my Nanna). I don’t remember the ending being so disappointing though. I knew that [highlight for spoiler]she woke up and it was all a dream. But then it went into some stupid thing being all nostelgic about childhood which doesn’t have much point in what is meant to be a children’s book.

Still worth a read. I’m not sure whether to read Through the Looking Glass or not.

4/5

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Wicked- Gregory Maguire


Synopsis (from Amazon)

An astonishingly rich re-creation of the land of Oz, this book retells the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, who wasn’t so wicked after all. Taking readers past the yellow brick road and into a phantasmagoric world rich with imagination and allegory, Gregory Maguire just might change the reputation of one of the most sinister characters in literature.

Review

I did rather enjoy this book. I really liked Elphaba the majority of the time, in parts she kind of reminded me of me, although I did think she took to long to appear. I dislike Galinda but once she became Glinda I began to like her although I always found her a little snobby. Ultimately though I didn’t think her actions were meant badly. I can’t say I though much of he end though. It didn’t seem to fit very well with the rest of the story and [highlight for spoiler]I didn’t understand why she wanted the shoes so much. It’s worth a read though, and I may read the sequel if they have i at the library.

3.5/5

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Eclipse- Stephanie Meyer


Cover of "Eclipse (The Twilight Saga, Boo...

Cover of Eclipse (The Twilight Saga, Book 3)

Synopsis (from Amazon)

‘Bella?’ Edward’s soft voice came from behind me. I turned to see him spring lightly up the porch steps, his hair windblown from running. He pulled me into his arms at once, and kissed me again. His kiss frightened me. There was too much tension, too strong an edge to the way his lips crushed mine – like he was afraid we had only so much time left to us. As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob – knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which? Following the international bestsellers Twilight and New Moon, Eclipse is the much-anticipated third book in Stephenie Meyer’s captivating saga of vampire romance.

Review

Can someone tell me why I persist with reading these books?! They are awful. Badly written, and I want to smash Bella’s head against the wall to knck some sense into her.

And this one doesn’t even have a halfway decent plot behind it.

Yet I know I will still read the last.

1/5

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New Moon- Stephenie Meyer


Cover of "New Moon (The Twilight Saga, Bo...

Cover of New Moon (The Twilight Saga, Book 2)

Synopsis (from Amazon)

I stuck my finger under the edge of the paper and jerked it under the tape. ‘Shoot,’ I muttered when the paper sliced my finger. A single drop of blood oozed from the tiny cut. It all happened very quickly then. ‘No!’ Edward roared …Dazed and disorientated, I looked up from the bright red blood pulsing out of my arm – and into the fevered eyes of the six suddenly ravenous vampires. For Bella Swan, there is one thing more important than life itself: Edward Cullen. But being in love with a vampire is more dangerous than Bella ever could have imagined. Edward has already rescued Bella from the clutches of an evil vampire but now, as their daring relationship threatens all that is near and dear to them, they realise their troubles may just be beginning …

Review

Ok first off I want to establish I am not a Twilight fan. I find the books pretty insubstancial and plot driven (which is not a bad thing for everyone, but is for me- having said that I would rather read a plot driven book than a book with no plot 99% of the time). I knew lots of people who had read them before I picked up the first one, a lot of them hadn’t thought much of them but still seemed sucked into them, and I was intrigued. I’m not going to put a review of the first book here but lets just say I didn’t see anything special, still the plot had got to me enough to be interested in seeing what happened next. That I didn’t want to spend money to read the next one, and that it took over a year for me to be able to read New Moon should tellyou something. I could go on and on about the things I generally dislike about the books (Bella being somewhere at the top of the list) but I’m just going to focus on this book.

Most people seem to say this book is poorer than the previous but I actually preferred it. Part of this I think is because I realised early on that actually I hated Edward (I spent too much time hating Bella to realise before I think!). I mean what sort of a boyfriend is he. He claims to love her but at the same time lets her get closer when he’s ‘dangerous’ (highlight for spoiler) and knows he has to leave, for God’s sake he gives her a sentimental present the day before he leaves her! I much prefer Jacob, he seems to care for her a little beyond ‘I man I protect woman’ type mentality, in fact for this book he’s quite advanced in terms of how he sees women and himself. I found the whole (highlight for spoiler) werewolf thing must more interesting than the Vampire thing too. I was intregued at what changed at that age, and why there weren’t more than 5 of them. Plus the Vampires were never really a risk, whereas they were so much more volatile.

Basically I would pick Jasper any day of the week over Edward (even if he does ‘dazzle!’) (actually I would probably pick Eric, but that is neither here nor there). Even if it was just for a story.

2.2/5

Oh and you know what else annoyed me, she kept comparing them to Romeo and Juliet…just on a literary level that offends me! Let alone on a romantic level
(I do agree with Edward about Romeo though!)

Oh and you know what else annoyed me, she kept comparing them to Romeo and Juliet…just on a literary level that offends me! Let alone on a romantic level
(I do agree with Edward about Romeo though!)

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