March Wrap Up and April TBR!

Tuesday, 31 March 2015 0 comments

So I thought I would start a little segment on my blog that I know is very popular around the book blogging community and that is to discuss what I read in the previous month and what I intend, or hope to read in the following month. So here goes nothing, this is my March Wrap Up and my TBR for the month of April!

So March for me was quite an active month. Being a supply teacher for local primary schools, my job includes a lot of travelling via public transport. This month I was extremely lucky because I was really busy due to being called in a lot. As my daily transport can be anything from 30 minutes to 2 hours a day, this gives me lots of reading time. So overall I felt that I didn't do too badly, I kind of stuck to my March TBR with a few aversions along the way. I read a grand total of 7 books this month, making my total 19 books read so far in 2015. I'm currently 7 books ahead of schedule! Below I'm going to tell you the books that I read in that month as well as my general opinions of them.

1. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (4/5 stars)
In my goodreads updates I used one word over and over to describe this book. Intense. I utterly adored this book. It was just what I was in the mood for and what it delivered was very impressive. If you are looking for that medieval fantasy type read then this is definitely one for you to pick up and check out. It's that perfect blend between a high fantasy and a dystopian set in a very archaic type of world. It's a fantastic read and clearly one of my new favourites of the year. This book in my eyes is a mix of X-Men and Crown of Midnight.
You can read my review of the book here.

2. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E.Schwab (5/5 stars)
I absolutely adored A Darker Shade of Magic, it's definitely left me wanting more which means until then I will be stalking Victoria's twitter feed and spamming her with never-ending tweets about the sequel, yet untitled. ADSOM provides the reader with such a unique and adventurous reading experience that when you finish it you will dream of what you only wish were possible. V.E.Schwab sums this thought up really well in her dedication in this book: For those who dream of stranger worlds - and I truly believe that this book is perfect for thatOverall ADSOM was a thrilling, adventurous read for those who do indeed dream of stranger worlds... You can read my review of the book here.

3. I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (5/5 stars)
It is clear to see that I thoroughly enjoyed this book to the extent that I claimed it my favourite contemporary ever. It resonates so personally with each reader and the way Jandy Nelson makes the reader view the world through the twin's eyes is nothing short of spectacular. If you haven't read or added I'll Give You the Sun to your TBR pile yet, I highly suggest you do because it's popularity proceeds it and gratefully so. You can read my review of the book here.

4. New World: Rising by Jennifer Wilson (4/5 stars)
I thought this was a thoroughly enjoyable read. It had an exhilarating plot with fully fleshed out, realistic characters in a dystopian setting one can only fully imagine the horrors of in their head. I will be excited to read the sequel to this book, New World: Ashes which released July 10th 2015, so not too long to wait. I would recommend this to anyone who is a fan of a good dystopian novel or who just likes characters with a kick ass demeanour but secretly hide more to themselves than they're willing to let on. You can read my review of the book here.

5. Weird Things Customer's Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell (5/5 stars)
Oh my goodness I absolutely loved this book. It was hilariously relatable, especially having worked in a bookshop in the past. Honestly, the things people come out with are ridiculous. This is a great little read if you need perking up a bit, or just fancy a bit of a giggle. I really couldn't wait to pick up the next book in this series.

6. More Weird Things Customer's Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell (3/5 stars)
I enjoyed this book but unfortunately the first book set the bar quite high. This one didn't seem as funny to me and a lot of the segments were really long which made a lot of the quotes lose their impact - I much prefer the short and sharp ones because they seem to be more humorous. Still a really enjoyable read though and I am glad to have it in my collection.

7. Splinted by A.G.Howard (3/5 stars)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I am excited to see where the sequel takes us. Hopefully we delve back into the realm of Wonderland and get some much needed development to some of our male protagonists. I do however look forward to seeing how Red Queen's influence in this story is going to take hold. Now that Alyssa is back in the human world, is Wonderland going to start weaving it's way back into her life? Perhaps elements of Howard's dark and eerie Wonderland will break through the seal of the rabbit hole. I look forward to finding out. You can read my review of the book here.

So those were the books that I read in March, so what do I intend to read in April? Well April is going to be quite a busy month, I'll be away in Disneyland Paris from the 5th-9th April so I suppose I'll have the train ride down to London and then the plane to Paris. I also have my birthday on the 19th so I am anticipating I will get a few books that might take preference over my TBR. However, I am going to attempt something I'm calling 'ARC April' - a month that I am going to solely dedicate to trying to read all of the advanced copies I've received from publishers, especially one's on NetGalley! My first read however is an exception as I've already started it in March! I know this TBR is extremely ambitious however, this is what I am planning on reading...
  • The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black (Currently reading)
  • The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle
  • The Catalyst by Helena Coggan 
  • Mind Games by Teri Terry
  • The Lives and Loves of Jesobel Jones by Anna Mainwaring
  • The Silence of Six by E.C. Myers
  • The Boy in the Book by Nathan Penlington
Let me know in the comments below what books you read this month and one book you're looking forward to reading next month!

Top Ten Tuesday #4: Ten Books You Recently Added To Your To-Be-Read List

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly feature created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they post a new Top Ten list that you have to answer. You can find out more about this feature here.

This week's feature is: Ten Books You Recently Added To Your To-Be-Read List. Right, well because I can't remember the last ten books I bought and physically added to my TBR list, I'm going to change the feature up a bit and list the top ten books I added to my Amazon wish-list, which is essential my never-ending TBR.

1. Mosquitoland by David Arnold
After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the "wastelands" of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland. So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.

2. Scott Pilgrim Volume 1: Precious Little Life (Colour Edition) by Bryan Lee O'Malley
Scott Pilgrim's life is totally sweet. He's 23 years old, he's in a rockband, he's ""between jobs,"" and he's dating a cute high school girl. Nothingcould possibly go wrong, unless a seriously mind-blowing, dangerouslyfashionable, rollerblading delivery girl named Ramona Flowers starts cruisingthrough his dreams and sailing by him at parties. Will Scott's awesome life getturned upside-down? Will he have to face Ramona's seven evil ex-boyfriends inbattle? The short answer is yes. 

3. A Whole New World by Liz Braswell
Welcome to a new YA series that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways. This dark and daring version of Aladdin twists the original story with the question: What if Jafar was the first one to summon the Genie? When Jafar steals the Genie’s lamp, he uses his first two wishes to become sultan and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Agrabah lives in fear, waiting for his third and final wish.To stop the power-mad ruler, Aladdin and the deposed Princess Jasmine must unite the people of Agrabah in rebellion. But soon their fight for freedom threatens to tear the kingdom apart in a costly civil war.

4. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
Harry August is on his deathbed--again. No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes--until now. As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. "I nearly missed you, Doctor August," she says. "I need to send a message." This is the story of what Harry does next, and what he did before, and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.

5. Wicked by Clover Donovan (RichardReads)
For brother and sister, Ethan and Emma Drake, their world is about to get flipped upside down when they discover a malicious warlock is after their power and they are descended from a dark bloodline. And not to mention their deceased father was the most wicked warlock to walk the earth. While attempting to uncover their spine-chilling ancestry and keeping themselves alive at the same time, Ethan becomes tempted by the dark magic that lies within him... Can Ethan and Emma figure out how to stop the warlock and save each other all at once? Join Ethan and Emma as they race against time to save their lives, their world, and fall in love in all the wrong places. 

6. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero. But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado - taking you with it - you have no choice but to go along, you know?Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little bluebirds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still a yellow brick road - but even that's crumbling. What happened? Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe. My name is Amy Gumm - and I'm the other girl from Kansas. I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked. I've been trained to fight. And I have a mission.

7. GeekTastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd by Holly Black et al. 
Acclaimed authors Holly Black (Ironside) and Cecil Castellucci (Boy Proof) have united in geekdom to edit short stories from some of the best selling and most promising geeks in young adult literature: M.T. Anderson, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, John Green, Tracy Lynn, Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Barry Lyga, Wendy Mass, Garth Nix, Scott Westerfield, Lisa Yee, and Sara Zarr. With illustrated interstitials from comic book artists Hope Larson and Bryan Lee O'Malley, Geektastic covers all things geeky, from Klingons and Jedi Knights to fan fiction, theater geeks, and cosplayers. Whether you're a former, current, or future geek, or if you just want to get in touch with your inner geek, Geektastic will help you get your geek on!

8. Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King 
Would you try to change the world if you thought it had no future? Graduating from high school is a time of limitless possibilities — but not for Glory, who has no plan for what's next. Her mother committed suicide when Glory was only four years old, and she’s never stopped wondering if she will eventually go the same way... until a transformative night when she begins to experience an astonishing new power to see a person’s infinite past and future. From ancient ancestors to many generations forward, Glory is bombarded with visions—and what she sees ahead of her is terrifying. Glory makes it her mission to record everything she sees, hoping her notes will somehow make a difference. She may not see a future for herself, but she’ll do everything in her power to make sure this one doesn’t come to pass.

9. The New Ghost by Rob Hunter
A beautifully rendered, literally haunting tale of the afterlife, Robert Hunter's The New Ghost follows a spectral entity on his first day at work: dark, gentle, poetic, and heart-warming all at once, it is an atmospheric tale to dash the conventions of comics and leave you thirsty for more from this young storyteller.

10. The Guest Cat by Takashi HiraideA couple in their thirties live in a small rented cottage in a quiet part of Tokyo. They work at home as freelance writers. They no longer have very much to say to one another. One day a cat invites itself into their small kitchen. She is a beautiful creature. She leaves, but the next day comes again, and then again and again. New, small joys accompany the cat; the days have more light and colour. Life suddenly seems to have more promise for the husband and wife; they go walking together, talk and share stories of the cat and its little ways, play in the nearby Garden. But then something happens that will change everything again.

Thanks for reading my list! Feel free to share your thoughts on these books in the comments below, or over on any of my social media platforms. If you feel like doing this then feel free to do your Top Ten Tuesday post and link me it, I'd love to read what you come up with!

Book Review # 31: Splintered by A.G.Howard

Monday, 30 March 2015 0 comments
Product details:
Harry N. Abrams
Format: Paperback
Length: 400 pages
Published: 2014
Rating: ☆☆☆
Source: Purchased

Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.
When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

A YA fantasy series based around the timeless classic Alice's Adventures in Wonderland? Count me in. Alice in Wonderland was always one of my favourite stories growing up and I utterly adored both the modern and the classic Disney films. I've always admired the fantasy setting of Wonderland but always wondered whether in fact the hallucinogenic world of Wonderland was indeed appropriately set for children. A.G.Howard takes that idea and completely flips it on it's head, but what did I think of it overall?

In terms of the plot, we as readers are introduced to our main protagonist Alyssa Gardner and her family lineage, dating back all the way to her ancestor Alice Liddell who was supposedly Lewis Carroll's inspiration for the novel. What is revealed to the reader is how when Alice tumbled into Wonderland she left having caused a bit of a chain reaction that has led to elements of Wonderland to fall into dismay. With this novel I think each section (beginning, middle and end) has it's own features to talk about, because not only are they intertwined, each presented themselves to be very different and I found two of them a lot more enjoyable than the other.

I thought that the beginning of this novel was really well developed for an introduction, the world was built up nicely and we as readers were given enough context, introduced as Alyssa's incentive that forged the underlying plot of this book- saving her mother and herself from the Alice family curse. We are slowly introduced to Alyssa's relationship with Jeb as well as her surroundings and how life in general effects her. I really enjoyed this aspect because it gave Alyssa's character a bit more depth and made her slightly more realistic than the others, but we'll get to that later. The pace of the novel really started to develop and increase as Alyssa found her way to the rabbit hole and tumbled down into Wonderland. What she found when she reached the bottom however was a Wonderland much different to Carroll's original descriptions. Howard's Wonderland is warped and a lot less friendly than some of the singing flower's in the Disney Version led you to believe, and talk about some of the creatures - Rabid White was just plain disturbing. Howard took an innocent character and turned him skeletal and warped. I really admired Howard's interpretation of Wonderland because the original had so much potential to be developed in such a dark and eerie way and I think Howard captured that essence perfectly. I thoroughly enjoyed how there were elements from the original tale that Alyssa had to test herself against. I thought this was an amazing testament to the original story and played well in Howard's adaptation, while never once feeling as if Carroll's tale was simply being retold. Howard definitely added that aspect of originality which is quite often lost when paying tribute to an already established world. 

Contrary to my love of Howard's creations, I have to be honest and admit that while I absolutely loved the setting and the plot that was being unravelled as the book progressed, the plot itself did unravel quite slowly during the middle of the book. There was just so much going on at times that I would often find myself skim reading chunks of text until I found something that really captured my attention.  I think that was primarily down to the fact that a lot of the tasks were very repetitive in their structure. Alyssa is run around quite a bit and the tasks seemed to be solved a bit too quickly for my liking that whenever we got to the next task, I found myself losing attention. With the middle section of this novel you definitely need to be patient with it because it does pick up the pace more when you get about 70% of the way through the book. The ending chunk for me was wholly satisfying, we got closure in some elements while opening up a whole other world of problems. With the spirit of Red Queen being released and kind of taking hold of Alyssa, we got an insight into just how manipulative and vindictive her character can be, and I'm excited to see how this progresses in the upcoming instalments. I was satisfied enough with Jeb losing his memory of Wonderland and am intrigued to seeing how this element will play in the sequels because I think it could be handled delicately or it could completely go downhill, which would be a shame for such an intense build up of a novel.

If I'm going to be completely honest, Alyssa was the only character I really connected with and enjoyed reading about of the main trio, although at times she did seem slightly pretentious. I enjoyed her backstory and the small rebellious streak in her attitude that allowed her to see reason in regards to everyone around her trying to control and decide her life. I thought that was a really noble and realistic trait to have because otherwise I think I would have really disliked Alyssa's character, and she was slightly led on with to begin with.

Jeb's character. Mmm. Interesting I have to say. I enjoyed his character in terms of how much he seemed to care about Alyssa as the story went on and how important his role seemed to be in the story, but he was a bit of a jerk. Denying her everything because he loved her all along and wanted to protect her from him? Excuse me? No. Sorry just no. Let her live her life as she wants, thank you. Jeb's character was kind of the hopeless romantic for me, I could see where he was going but sometimes he just seemed to be written in such a childlike manner for someone who was written as slightly adult. 

However, nothing compares to my strange and unusual dislike of Morpheus' character, which is a real shame because I was really trying to like him. I did like his personality and how blunt he was but I just felt he was slightly underdeveloped. I knew there was something up with his character from the beginning and I totally guessed the ending - completely narcissistic and self centred. What really irked me about his character though was his fondness of Alyssa. I mean yes you grew up together in her head, but this hopeless romantic flaw similar to Jeb just made me want to tear my hair out sometimes. I understand how other's could love him, he has that seductive aura about him I agree, but just his soppy romanticism really made me turn away from him. I did however really appreciate Morpheus in the end of the novel. I understand that character development must be a thing in a successful novel, but if Morpheus was as intriguing through the development of this novel as he was in the last few chapters then I feel I would have enjoyed his character a lot more. I feel it's important to mention here that while there was a love triangle that didn't work for me, I really did love the banter that went on between Morpheus and Jeb. I think their feisty dialogue that went on between each other while fighting over Alyssa was quite hilarious, except for the fact that it felt quite childish and these characters were written like adults. 

Saying that, overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I am excited to see where the sequel takes us. Hopefully we delve back into the realm of Wonderland and get some much needed development to some of our male protagonists. I do however look forward to seeing how Red Queen's influence in this story is going to take hold. Now that Alyssa is back in the human world, is Wonderland going to start weaving it's way back into her life? Perhaps elements of Howard's dark and eerie Wonderland will break through the seal of the rabbit hole. I look forward to finding out. I give Splinted by A.G.Howard a 3 out of 5 stars on my classification scale.

Falling Behind on Friday # 2: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Friday, 27 March 2015 0 comments

Falling Behind on Friday is an original weekly feature created at Moirae the Fates. The idea is that each week you pick a book that you are ashamed to admit has been on your TBR pile for a longtime and showcase it to your audience. You can find out more about this feature here.

This week I am falling behind on:


The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered--fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature--and of herself--while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Why am I falling behind?
Now this is probably another one that people are going to be throwing stuff at me for. How could I have not finished Allegiant yet? You see the thing is, I have read the book, just not all the way through. I know the ending and what happens along the way, I just haven't devoured every single page because I might have skipped over a few chapters. Oops? When Allegiant first came out there was just so much hype around it that when I got to it, I wasn't enjoying it as much as I should have. It also didn't help that I wasn't enjoying the story as much as I was hoping for - it just seemed to be a bit anticlimactic to me. I will get to this book eventually though! I plan on marathoning the entire trilogy one after the other to get the full effect and be able to remember everything that happens as I go along. So there is another shameful secret that you guys get to know!

What books are you falling behind on this Friday?

Let me know in the comments below, or over on any of my social media platforms. I'd love to read which books you guys are falling behind on.

Waiting on Wednesday # 3: New World: Ashes by Jennifer Wilson

Wednesday, 25 March 2015 0 comments

Waiting on Wednesday is an original weekly feature created at Breaking the Spine. The idea is that each week you make a post that spotlights upcoming releases that you're eagerly anticipating. You can find out more about this feature here.

This week I am deciding to spotlight:


After Phoenix, a 17-year-old orphan rogue, sacrifices herself for her loved ones, her world again takes an unexpected turn. She may have forgotten her past, but it hasn’t forgotten her. A war is coming and her role in it will be pivotal.

That is... if she survives.

“The much-anticipated sequel to New World: Rising.”

I read New World: Rising recently and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a hearty dystopian novel, fast paced and gripping with relatable characters. The sequel, New World: Ashes is due to release July 10th 2015 and frankly I cannot wait for it! It left the reader on such a cliffhanger that I am dying to know more!  You can check out Jennifer Wilson on Twitter here and you can read my review of New World: Rising here

So what is your Waiting on Wednesday pick this week? 

Let me know in the comments below, or over on any of my social media platforms. I'd love to read what your picks are!

Top Ten Tuesday # 3: Top Ten Books From My Childhood (Or Teenage Years) That I Would Love To Revisit

Tuesday, 24 March 2015 0 comments

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly feature created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they post a new Top Ten list that you have to answer. You can find out more about this feature here.

This week's feature is: Top ten books from my childhood (or teenage years) that I would love to revisit. Ooh now this one is a tricky one because I read a lot of books as a child, but it's difficult to try and remember what exactly I read but I'll try, so here we go my Top Ten books from my childhood/teenage years:

1. A Series of Unfortunate Events: A Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
Dear Reader, I'm sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune. In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast. It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing. With all due respect, Lemony Snicket.

2. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling
When a letter arrives for unhappy but ordinary Harry Potter, a decade-old secret is revealed to him that apparently he's the last to know. His parents were wizards, killed by a Dark Lord's curse when Harry was just a baby, and which he somehow survived. Leaving his unsympathetic aunt and uncle for Hogwarts, a wizarding school brimming with ghosts and enchantments, Harry stumbles upon a sinister adventure when he finds a three-headed dog guarding a room on the third floor. Then he hears of a missing stone with astonishing powers which could be valuable, dangerous, or both.

3. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can't seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse-Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy's mom finds out, she knows it's time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he'll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends -- one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena -- Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.

4. Witch and Wizard by James Patterson
The world is changing-the government has seized control of every aspect of society, and now kids are disappearing. For fifteen-year-old Wisty and her older brother Whit, life turns upside-down when they are hauled out of bed one night, separated from their parents, and thrown into a secret compound for no reason they can comprehend. The new government is clearly trying to suppress Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Being a Normal Teenager. Imprisoned together and condemned to death, Wisty and Whit begin exhibiting strange abilities and powers they never dreamed of. Maybe there is a reason they were singled out. Can this newly discovered witch and a wizard master their skills in time to save themselves, their parents-and maybe the world?

5. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Juli├ín Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets--an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.

6.The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is a murder mystery novel like no other. The detective, and narrator, is Christopher Boone. Christopher is fifteen and has Asperger's Syndrome. He knows a very great deal about maths and very little about human beings. He loves lists, patterns and the truth. He hates the colours yellow and brown and being touched. He has never gone further than the end of the road on his own, but when he finds a neighbour's dog murdered he sets out on a terrifying journey which will turn his whole world upside down.

7. The Edge Chronicles: Beyond the Deepwood by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
Young Twig lives in the Deepwoods, among the Woodtrolls, but he isn’t one of them. In a brave attempt to find out where he belongs, Twig wanders into the mysterious, dangerous world beyond the Deepwoods. He meets a collection of odd companions, such as his wise guardian, the Caterbird; the Slaughterers, a peaceful race who butcher animals for their livelihood; and the vicious, bile-swilling Rotsucker. Always watching out for the horrible Gloamglozer, whose presence haunts the thoughts of all the inhabitants of The Edge, Twig steadfastly pursues his quest until he discovers his roots, not among the trees, but in the skies. . . .

8. Peter Pan by J.M.Barrie
In Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, J.M. Barrie first created Peter Pan as a baby, living a wild and secret life with birds and fairies in the middle of London. Later Barrie let this remarkable child grow a little older and he became the boy-hero of Neverland, making his first appearance, with Wendy, Captain Hook, and the Lost Boys, in Peter and Wendy. The Peter Pan stories were Barrie's only works for children but, as their persistent popularity shows, their themes of imaginative escape continue to charm even those who long ago left Neverland.

9. Half Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer
A curious young detective. A notorious criminal family. And a pretty girl. It all adds up to just one thing...trouble. With a Capital T! 'One month ago a case came knocking on my door that made me consider getting out of the detective business for good. I'd just turned twelve' Meet Fletcher Moon. Half-pint schoolboy and fully qualified private investigator. Since graduating online, he has solved all sorts of minor mysteries at school and at home. It was only a matter of time before things got serious... These are strange days in the town of Lock. There has been a spate of odd crimes, including the theft of something very special belonging to one April Devereux. Fletcher investigates - and the finger of suspicion is soon pointing firmly in the direction of the notorious Sharkey brothers, Herod and Paul. It looks like an open and shut case. But nothing is quite as it seems. And, as Fletcher delves deeper, it's not long before the hunter becomes the hunted...

10. Fergus Crane by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
Fergus Crane has an almost ordinary life--having lessons taught by rather odd teachers on the school ship "Betty Jeanne "and helping his mother in the bakery. But then a mysterious flying box appears at the window of his waterfront home and Fergus is plunged headlong into an exciting adventure! The box is followed by a winged mechanical horse that whisks him off to meet his long-lost uncle and his penguin helpers, Finn, Bill, and Jackson. Fergus finds out that his teachers are not quite what they seem-- they're actually pirates! Can Fergus and his winged horse save his schoolmates on the far-off Fire Island? And who else will he find there?

Thanks for reading my list! Feel free to share your thoughts on these books in the comments below, or over on any of my social media platforms. If you feel like doing this then feel free to do your Top Ten Tuesday post and link me it, I'd love to read what you come up with!

Book Review # 30: New World: Rising by Jennifer Wilson

Sunday, 22 March 2015 0 comments
Product details:
Publisher: Self Published
Format: Paperback
Length: 226 pages
Published: 2014
Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Source: Purchased

Since witnessing her parents' murders at the age of eleven, Phoenix's only purpose in life has been to uphold her mother's dying words- to be strong and survive. But surviving outside of The Walls- outside of The Sanctuary- is more like a drawn-out death sentence. A cruel and ruthless city, Tartarus is run by the Tribes whose motto is simple, "Join or die." Refusing to join and determined to live, Phoenix fights to survive in this savage world. Trusting no one, she lives as a rogue, fending only for herself. Then in a moment of rash judgment, she breaks all of her rules to save a child, and in that moment her life is turned upside down. When the rescue mission goes awry, Phoenix is captured by an underground group who claims no allegiance with either the Tribes nor The Sanctuary. She finds herself in the most dangerous game of survival she has ever played. In her captivity, only one person- the handsome and oddly sympathetic Triven- shows Phoenix something she has never before experienced: kindness. While warring with unfamiliar emotions and still skeptical of her captors' motives, Phoenix quickly realizes that these people may just hold the key to her lost memories. But who can she trust, when no one can be trusted? Not even herself.

So I have to admit that New World: Rising was an impulse purchase made last month because of the hype I had heard about it on Booktube from Sarah Churchill and Benjaminoftomes. Both were raving about this book, claiming it to be the next dystopian series to look out for. Now you guys know I love a good dystopian book, it's probably my favourite genre of book, so when I saw that this was not only an upcoming dystopian series but also was self-published by the author herself, I knew I had to try this out. To be honest I have to say that I wasn't disappointed with this book - it promised a solid dystopian setting and interesting characters, even if I had one or two slight issues with it but we'll get to those later. So enough summary, what did I think?

Cover- The crumbling buildings and wrecked foreground really give a dystopian vibe from this cover, and as it should because that is exactly what this book features. I love the smokey effect and I think the font is very bold and futuristic, although keeping with the simplistic look it's not overpowering. The colour scheme used, the bold green against the plain white is very appealing to look at, it literally screams look at me and forces you to look at all of the miniature details hidden behind what looks to be a very intriguing cover. 

Design - I don't usually mention overall design of the books in my reviews but I wasn't quite sure where to mention this and it's definitely a feature that I thoroughly appreciated in New World: Rising. Not only do we get a map of Tartarus in this book, which is extremely helpful if you're trying to navigate the story in your head, but we also get hand-drawn images of each of the tribes and their traits. You can see examples of all of these here on my Instagram - aren't they stunning. I found these to be a really unique feature that you don't see in a lot of books these days, you get maps but you never get detailed images of characters to aid with the descriptions! You find as well in the story that these images seem to be taken out of a notebook which plays a minor role in Phoenix's story and a major role in her survival. 

Plot - Now a dystopian novel wouldn't be dystopian without a crumbling society and the spark of rebellion in the plot and New World: Rising gives us just that. The plot was very fast paced and exhilarating, but never jumped around too fast so that you weren't taking in all of the detail. Jennifer Wilson does a brilliant job of enticing the reader with her words and allowing them to absorb all of the surroundings that Phoenix passes by. The writing style is extremely vivid and flows beautifully, it's detailed without overloading the reader with countless metaphors and rebellious tropes - something that I'm afraid I've seen a lot of recently in attempted dystopian-eque novels. Tartarus is a city split up into tribes, each with their own virtues and Phoenix is the only exception to the rule, or so she thinks. When she saves the life of an innocent little girl from a group of Ravagers, she is thrown into a world of new found rebellion. Now originally when I read this book I was a bit skeptical to whether being the only person not to join a tribe in the entirety of the city (besides The Subversive) was wholly believable. Surely there would be others out there, avoiding the system just as she was. I think I would have liked to see more insight into the possibility of others. In such a huge city I found it slightly unrealistic that she would be totally alone in her endeavours for six years. In terms of things about the plot I would have liked to have seen, I would have liked to see more involvement with the other tribes. In the beginning of the book we are introduced to the various tribes and their respective traits, but we only really ever see mention of two; the ravagers and the wraiths while we got to visit characters beyond the tribes, such as The Healer and I would have liked to have seen some development on the minor characters. In the next book I am hoping that we get to see more involvement of the other tribes - especially some battle scenes between different tribes because I think with their individual ways of killing, that would be interesting to read about. I also complained in my notes earlier on that I would have liked to have seen more involvement with Mouse's character considering she was what really set off this plot for Phoenix, but as the ending drew closer and closer we slowly got to see more involvement from her which I was very pleased about and the ending leaves us on a cliffhanger that promises so much more from her, perhaps even a backstory to why she ran away from The Sanctuary. Speaking of the ending, my goodness it was dramatic and shocking! My heart was pounding in those final few pages and when I saw the end of the last chapter I was internally screaming, why would you leave it there?! I need more now! All props go to Jennifer for that because that was an amazing use of suspense, even if I sort of hate you for leaving us until July before the next book! However, not everything can be perfect, the ending did leave me wondering whether it should have ended slightly sooner? It's just my opinion but I felt that entering the city could have been a nice ending to kind of round off what Phoenix and The Subversive had been building up too the entire book. I also think the suspenseful ending would have made a really good opener to the book to certainly grip the readers in!

Characters- Now this book introduced us to many characters, our main protagonist Phoenix, the oddly sympathetic Triven, the adorable and silently sweet Mouse as well as a variety of other characters both inside the world of Tartarus and from inside The Subversive. Now when I originally read Phoenix's name as the main character I instantly was curious to Jennifer's choice of name. It's not the most usual of names to have I must admit, but when we were made aware that it was infact the character of Phoenix herself that chose her name, and her real name is personally forgotten, it made total sense! Like a Phoenix itself, she has shed her previous life and rose out of the ashes new and more dangerous than before. I loved that! As for Phoenix herself she was strong, hearty, feisty and extremely moralistic but behind her survival facade she revealed innocence, compassion and friability. In this sense it made her character extremely relatable and realistic to the reader. She wasn't always strong and doesn't always remain it throughout, and we were introduced to her tragic backstory to how she became who she is.There are scenes when Phoenix's violent and animalistic nature comes into play and we can see that she is more than capable of standing up for herself, but without anyone to be there for her those six years after her parents died, she willingly gives herself to signs of compassion and want for her. This is why I think the relationship between her and Triven worked so well. Although at times it felt slightly rushed for the length of the book, when you learn about who Phoenix truly is and her character you realise that perhaps the romantic elements aren't as farfetched and rushed into as you once though. Triven's character in my opinion was sarcastic, flirtatious, had a strong moral sense of honour and showed that rebellious attitude towards family that we also see from Four from the Divergent series. Now that is a very good comparison to be making! Mouse's character was adorable, I loved her little attempts at sign language and I really appreciated Jennifer's reluctancy to have Mouse's character speak. It showed just how much of an impact this world has on this little girl, even if we haven't fully been made aware of how drastic and misplaced the thought of utopia in The Sanctuary truly is. I would have liked to have seen perhaps some flashbacks on Phoenix's part to get a better insight to what she remembers of her parents before they died, but perhaps we'll gain this in the sequel 'New World: Ashes' because I think this would be really beneficial to Phoenix's character development and for the story. There is something that makes me think that Phoenix is perhaps more than just who Astrid is letting her on to be, there is a secret being hidden and I am excited to see if my thoughts are justified in the sequel.

Overall I thought this was a thoroughly enjoyable read. It had an exhilarating plot with fully fleshed out, realistic characters in a dystopian setting one can only fully imagine the horrors of in their head. I am so glad that Jennifer Wilson took the opportunity to self publish this novel and series because I think it's about time we had more praise and created greater awareness for the self-publishing industry. I will be excited to read the sequel to this book, New World: Ashes which released July 10th 2015, so not too long to wait. I would recommend this to anyone who is a fan of a good dystopian novel or who just likes characters with a kick ass demeanour but secretly hide more to themselves than they're willing to let on. I give New World: Rising by Jennifer Wilson a 4 out of 5 stars on my classification scale - I am thrilled to see where she takes us next. If you haven't already, go and check out Jennifer's book trailer for New World: Rising because I think it's fantastic.

Book Review #29: I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Friday, 20 March 2015 0 comments
Please note before you read this review that I am reviewing this publication for Walker Books. I received an advanced readers copy of this title in exchange for an honest review. In no way is my opinion of this title influenced by the fact that I received this publication free of charge. Now on with the review!

Product details:
Publisher: Walker Books
Format: Paperback 
Length: 416 pages
Published: 2015
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Source: Physical ARC from Publisher
Jude and her twin Noah were incredibly close - until a tragedy drove them apart, and now they are barely speaking. Then Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy as well as a captivating new mentor, both of whom may just need her as much as she needs them. What the twins don't realize is that each of them has only half the story and if they can just find their way back to one another, they have a chance to remake their world.

So before I even begin to form my thoughts on this review, I need to mention that although I requested this ARC due to it's popularity, I began to become sceptical on whether I'd actually enjoy it. It received so much hype when it was released over in the USA so I was instantly worried about whether it would live up to all of the praise. That is one of the major things I worry about when it comes to over-hyped books, but luckily in this case I'll Give You the Sun matches up to every single word of that hype. It was phenomenal. Absolutely so. It is quite possibly the best contemporary novel I have ever read, and I've read a few. Anyway enough of my introductory thoughts, lets get into what you really came here to read, my detailed thoughts. So what did I think of it?

Cover-  So I actually really like the UK versions of these covers in comparison to the US editions. They're very simplistic but for a contemporary book that is what I adore about it. I love the way the black outline of the sun and the title are done in a painting style - it really reflects the themes and importance of art in this book so I feel that was a necessary choice. The colour of the colour is vibrant and warm, but not too bright that it's overpowering. It reminds me of summer, warmth and happiness and by the end of this book, happiness is exactly the emotion you should be feeling and if not - you need to read the book again.

Plot -  First of all I need to mention that I'm not going to go into complete detail with any of the plot points in this novel. I am a firm believer in just going into this novel knowings it's about a set of twins and how their lives develop. Certain elements of plot can really ruin the reading experience and I only wish to keep the experience as enjoyable as possible. So plot wise, the book is told from dual perspectives from two different timelines. Jude's perspective is told from when the twins are 16, and Noah's perspective from when they were 13. Now instantly when I saw this going into the book I was worried that it was going to be really difficult for me to tell apart the two different narratives and that it would all blur into one. This was not the case at all. Throughout this story it is always clear exactly who is narrating and what timeline you are in, and each has their own special details which I'm going to discuss in a bit. So as the synopsis states we're introduced to our two main characters, a set of twins called Noah and Jude. Now when they were younger they were as close as you could be, but after a variety of tragic events happen, their inseperable nature diminishes and their relationship is extremely rocky. Now without spoiling what this event, or events are, we follow the twin's journey's throughout their timelines and they begin to coincide with one another until our conclusive ending. I adored each of their storylines, I thought Jude's experience of creating her artistic masterpiece was really fascinating as was Noah's journey with his sexuality and dream of getting into Art college. Each had their own ways of seeing the world in this story which really emphasised the writing and plot. In Noah's perspective we are introduced to how he see's the world, in colour and sketches. This is shown to the reader through a selection of snippets into Noah's thinking through portraits he creates in his mind. I loved this way of thinking and the way it was written in to Noah's journey was incredible. Jude's was a bit plainer but still as enjoyable to read about. Jude see's the world plainly but tends to stick to psychological rules based from her Grandmother's bible teachings - I don't mean in the biblical sense, it's more teachings of luck ect.  We get snippets along the way that suggest how Jude is thinking - such as if someone gives you an orange then they love you. It was little pockets of information like that in Jandy Nelson's writing that really emphasised just how the character's saw the world and this made the writing extremely believable. 

Characters - In this book we focus obviously around our main protagonists, Noah and Jude, but these are not the only characters who get a great deal of focus in this book. We also explore Noah and Jude's family relationship with their parents, their love interests with Brian and Oscar as well of that as other friends and in Jude's case, an instructor. Now it's very difficult to discuss how exactly Jude and Noah's characters were in this book from beginning to end because they don't develop in that way. In Noah's perspective, both of the twins have that almost innocence about them in terms of their thinking, but by Jude's perspective we learn that each of the twins are dealing with their own struggles - loss, denial, jealousy, guilt etc. and this progresses as the book takes it's shape from each end. In my mind I don't see this book as a straight plot that starts on one side and ends in the middle, no - in my mind the beginning of the book starts at either side and the ending is in the middle and each of the perspectives have to reveal information along the way to get to this central point.  Now you're probably sitting there thinking 'but who was your favourite of the two?' and that is seriously a difficult question to try and answer because it changed throughout the book. From the beginning of the book I sympathised and slightly preferred Noah's character because of the perils he was having to go through both in the past and in the present, whilst Jude's character just seemed to deal with the majority of them in her own perspective. However, as we gradually gained more insight into Jude as a person the boundaries of favouritism began to overlap - so much so that it is difficult to put my finger on it, but if I'm honest I think it would be Noah by that very little percentage just because I thought character wise he was more inclined to take things slowly in reality (not necessarily in his mind) while Jude tended to rush things a bit quicker than I would have liked (yes instalove I'm looking at you.) Now saying that, I did have a slight problem in the beginning with Jude's romantic notions with Oscar because I did feel at first they were kind of forced together, but as we saw Jude's heart tossing and turning between the notions, it started to balance out so much so that I barely noticed it. Jandy Nelson did a fantastic job of enticing me with the romantic elements of this book which is something that usually turns me off if too heavily focused, so well done to her! Now speaking of romantic relationships in this book, I was glad to see the involvement of a homosexual character. A lot of YA contemporaries these days are starting to involve gay characters in their writing, without purposely identifying them and singling them out. Holly Black did a wonderful job of this in The Darkest Part of the Forest and Jandy Nelson did it brilliantly in this. With Noah's character you really got to explore his true feelings in their full capacity towards how a teenager of Noah's age would actually deal with it. This for me was extremely realistic, and although not being gay myself I don't have experience with dealing with those situations, I know people who have and their struggles with revealing who they truly want to be, and in my opinion this was handled exquisitely in this book. There was no element that felt slightly exaggerated or overused and when blended with Noah's unique way of viewing the world in his artistic style, I think it just went hand in hand. Looking at some of the other character's, Brian's character, for what we saw of him really indulged me, he was that perfect blend of slightly nerdy but being able to stand up for who he was, even if originally his romantic involvement with Noah was to be kept hushed. I wasn't a huge fan of Oscar's character - I would have liked a bit more development on his front, to explore exactly how he got to be where he was and why. I just saw him as a bit flat - two dimensional if you will. Noah and Jude's parents were interesting - I would have liked to see more dimension to the mother's character in Noah's timeline, because I felt we explored a lot more of the father figure in this book, and obviously I understand why this can't be in Jude's. 

So overall it is clear to see that I thoroughly enjoyed this book to the extent that I claimed it my favourite contemporary ever. It resonates so personally with each reader and the way Jandy Nelson makes the reader view the world through the twin's eyes is nothing short of spectacular. If you haven't read or added I'll Give You the Sun to your TBR pile yet, I highly suggest you do because it's popularity proceeds it and gratefully so. I award I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson the full 5 out of 5 stars on my classification scale. A definite recommendation! 

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