Monday, 30 June 2014

Monthly Wrap Up: June

Gosh, I am actually at a loss of where to begin, or what to even include in this month's wrap up - I mean a hell of a lot of stuff happened. I guess I should start with one of the most important things and (if you don't know already) that is the fact that I now have a co-blogger, the lovely Zoe has decided to join me in blogging madness. We wrote an introductory post that was in tune with an Aladdin song (awesome, I know) which you can read here. But before that I held a little event sort-of thing where you got to know some of my best bloggy friends via their alter Divergent or Hunger Games ego's. I had great fun with that, and it really seemed to gain some popularity, so I might bring it back for other people who want to participate!

Next thing that I somehow feel the need to address is the number of reviews that went up this month, six (five of which were my own) - I know this might not sound like a lot to other bloggers, but it is the most I've done in one month so far, and I am actually really proud of some of those reviews, and Zoe's review too! Also, in total, seventeen posts went up this month - which I am stupidly proud of, and although the coming months may not contain as many posts, due to the fact that most of this month's posts were impromptu, I hope you still enjoy the content! On the subject of books and reviews (not really, but anyways...) I got a crap load of books this month, which I will not be including in this wrap up, but I have written a separate "June Book Haul" post that's going up soon (tomorrow, actually) - so if you're interested in seeing all the books I got this month then you can check out that post when it is live.

Side note; it was also my blogoversary this month! Yay *throws confetti* my blog was officially one year old on the 26th of June, and I wrote a very, very, long post about it in which I say thank-you a lot, but I did go to the liberty of adding in some gifs; this way to see the gifs --> heeeeere are the gifsNow since I'm so nice I have helpfully categorized all the posts and reviews that went up this month... yay for organization.


Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – 3/5

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell – 4/5 

The Moment Collector by Jodi Lynn Anderson – 4/5

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira – 2/5
Say Her Name by James Dawson – 4/5
Louder Than Words by Laura Jarrat -- 5/5


Day One - Holly
Day Two - Charli
Day Three - Amy
Day Four - Sabrina
Day Five - Saira
Day Six - Sophie

A Whole New World... (co-blogger introduction)

In other news? This month has been absolutely hectic, and not just blogging wise - I had my end of year exams so it was nose to the grindstone with revision. Then my gran flies over to give us a visit (she's still here) which is fun, I mean apart from the fact that her being here limits my Twitter time, but its a small sacrifice. Haven't really read much this month, which is kind of disappointing, but I'm actually pretty okay with it - I did start the highly praised We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, and have yet to finish it. Then, I mentioned this briefly at the start of my blogoversary post, I got pretty ill - I think I'm over it now - and felt like death, now all I'm left with is this ulcer that really hurts (tmi?) not even a consolation prize. I did a couple of guest posts this month which was fun (if you want to read any of those, they're listed under the 'Press' tab) especially since I got to talk about Heir of Fire... OH MY GOD, THIS BOOK - JUST EPICNESS IN A JACKET. Like seriously, this book will not disappoint, I think its my favourite in the entire series, so far. I think I ended last months wrap up with caps about a book... yeah... adios for now peoplez.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

I'm In A Reading Slump...

I am in a reading slump. I have been on and off since April! So I thought I would tell you about it and how I'm trying to kick myself out of this slump.

In April I got some bad news. This news had been following on from the lots of bad news I had been getting since last October. And I stopped reading. I didn't want to, I just did. For a few days, every book was the wrong book. And then RS, which is what I call my Reading Slump, decided he wanted fantasy. So I got fantasy and I started to read them.

And it worked! YAY!! Until it didn't. And then I was back to square one. So then I seen something on Twitter about reading your favourite book. So I grabbed one of my copies of Little Women and tried to read it. But I wasn't in the mood for it. Or should I say, RS wasn't in the mood for it.

So then I started reading more contemporaries. And it sort of helped. I wasn't in a reading slump, but I was reading books EXTREMELY s l o w l y. In fact I've only read three books in the last two months at a relatively fast speed and they were City of Heavenly Fire, We Were Liars and How To Love. Everything else is taking me weeks.

But, I think I may have found a cure. I was looking at my shelves when I saw a series calling to me. I walked over to them and grabbed the first in the series and read it. And then the second. And then the third. And the fourth. This series is the Silver Spires series by Ann Bryant, one of my favourite childhood series. I love them so much.

I know I could be speaking too soon and that my reading slump may come back but for now, it's going and that's all that matters. 

So there you go. My reading slump in a few paragraphs. I just wanted to write about it and let you all know. Sorry!! Bye!!! 

Friday, 27 June 2014


Baaaasically this was actually supposed to go up on the 26th which was yesterday, but then I got kinda-semi-really ill and just wasn't in the mood to put it up and so on and so forth, so I'm really sorry about that - I'm still quite ill at the moment (even worse) but I couldn't leave it any longer... so here it is, my blogoversary post!

Usually I’m pretty good with words, but as of now, I really don’t know what to say. I think I’m slightly shell shocked. Words always come so easy to me, and when they don’t it’s a bit of a grey area, I’d class this as dark grey. I think I know what I should say. I should say thank-you, and I’m happy, and I’m going to, but when something becomes such a big part of your life that you can’t imagine not getting out of bed and working on a blog post, or writing review notes or just flicking through a book bloggers twitter.

When you come to fully realize how much it’s a part of you then, it’s kind of scary, but completely mind-blowing. I really am in awe, in awe that this has lasted so far, an entire year (!!), in awe that things have happened that I never expected, I’ve made a ton of new friends who I couldn’t think of losing now. When things get a bit stressful, or I’m just downright depressed or sad or angry talking to one of these wonderful people always cheers me up, and even though it can be a bit of a pain sometimes (ehem, blogger being naughty) every time I put a post live, I get this unexplainable feeling of pride, and nervous excitement.

Even after nearly a year of it happening, I still can’t understand why publishers, actual fricking big name publishers, would send ME of all people, books that I covet, and at the same time you have no idea how grateful I am. How much I flap like a deranged seal, and squeal like a tortured cat when I find book post, it will never get old. I might mature, I might grow out of blogging (I hope I don’t) but no matter what happens, and this has been a truly unforgettable experience.

The dance I do after I've semi-calmed down from getting book post... I'm so cool.
So, here’s what you’re probably waiting for, thank-you. Thank-you for everything. Thank-you for going on this journey with me, thank-you for all the feedback, the friendships, the awesome chats. Thank-you.

If I listed every single person I needed to thank we’d be here for a while, and the list would be very, very long, but there are some people I need to mention nonetheless - I've italicized this bit so you can skip it if you want to - but I did add in Sherlocky gifs, you you might as well look at those in-between the text diarrhea (they are actually relevant to what I'm saying...). 

Amy, thank-you for just being you, and for being my friend, with your (newly discovered) sass, cat humor, and excellent reasoning, I couldn’t ask for a better evil twin, or a better writing-pusher, thank-you for all your encouragement! Georgia, thank-you for just being generally awesome and putting up with me for so long! The oooother Georgia, thank-you my parabatai, for everything, every little tweet and fangirly message, oh, and thanks for letting me borrow Jace from time to time ;) Zoe, zoe, zoe, what can I say? You are one of the nicest people I have ever met, I’m just sad I haven’t met you in person yet! Thank-you for welcoming a newbie book blogger into the fold, and your great convo’s! The other Zoe, well, you’re my co-blogger now, I can’t even begin to put my gratitude into words at having you as a friend, and now as a co-blogger – you’ve become someone I greatly admire and trust, and I’m so glad I ever got the opportunity to meet you, even though you weren’t a book blogger. And the third Zoe, I think you already know how much I love you, nearly as much as our Crisps for Cats campaign (which, I’m afraid, the council shut down…) we haven’t spoken recently, which really is a shame, but nothing has changed on my part, I still think you are an amazing person, with an equally amazing personality and voice! 

Hawwa, my little unicorn, my little sarcastic, mostly mean, cynical, unicorn, what’s not to like? But siriusly, I would probably be moping about wondering what the meaning of life is if you weren’t here, so you know, thanks for being born ;P CHAAAARLI, I genuinely don’t know what to say, you’re like this big bundle of everything I could possibly like, we’ve done various things together, buddy reads, epic recs, that brief period of time when I staked you, and just thank-you really for deciding that I wasn’t just a rosy cheeked wannabe blogger and someone who was actually worth getting your friendship! Jack, jack, jacky, jack, jack, you bemused broccoli you, one of the very few guy bloggers I talk to, who also happens to be Irish, double points! I will always associate our friendship with Pringles, Doritos, and a wallet with interesting contents (yeah, that conversation hasn’t left my mind) which, I’m guessing, is a gift in disguise, thanks my little buddy.  Ambuuuur, without you I wouldn't have even started blogging and since I have started you've been the most helpful and kindest person, and then I go and send you a three ton book that will probably kill you from feels. That’s what our bond is, very strong, very full of edible items, and just fabulous really. 

Ruby! One of the only people I know who’s read and can talk to me about Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, that already makes you a best friend for life, but you are also incredibly sweet and deigned my first proper header, for which I thank-you humbly! Holly, we don’t talk as often as I talk to some other people on Twitter, but there’s no denying the fact that I still regard you as a close friend, between talking about tfios posters and other matters! Erika, we started blogging around the same time, you've helped me out with quite a few technical issues, and you've also been a great friend!
C'mon I had to fit Dr Who in somewhere.... ;)
 Sandra, you sarcastic bugger, because of you I spent half my time writing in a Scottish accent and acting way more hardcore than I really am… which it turns out is actually a good thing, you helped me grow as a surly teenage, and for that I thank you, missus. Lillian, oh my god, I don’t know what I would have done without my loyal and trusty servant to do my bidding, you really have been the most delightful servant I have ever owned, I think it’s time we let you eat some cake *cackles evilly*.

I’m so sorry if I left anyone important out, as I said I couldn't list everyone! As a side note it’s also 2:48am, June 4th, 2014 – so my thoughts may be a little scrambled, but I doubt that really matters since I have time between now and the 26th to edit. I probably won’t remove much though, I’m sentimental like that.


Also a big thank-you to the following publishers for all their support and awesome books; Curious Fox, Hot Key Books, Bloomsbury, Oxfords Children's Press, Chicken House, HarperCollins, and Electric Monkey.
Moving on,  most of all I have to say thank-you to you, sitting there reading this, thank-you for following and being a reader, without you… well, I’d probably still post, just because I love it, but because of you it feels so much more satisfying. Thank-you. Apart from all that, I think that’s all the thanks I have to give.

Now for the other fun stuff... booooks.

I couldn't very well write a blogoversary post and not give you lovely people some books, so tomorrow I will be putting up a post that lists all the blogoversary giveaways I'm doing! I decided to do it in a separate post to this one for two reasons, one; this is already long enough, and two; I forgot to make the Rafflecopter forms, so imma go do that now, haha.

*Just click on the names of anyone I have mentioned and you will be redirected to their book blog*
*Again, I really apologize about the length of the post! But if you're still reading, well done, and thank-you!*

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

REVIEW: Louder Than Words by Laura Jarratt

Book Title: Louder Than Words
Author: Laura Jarratt
Publisher: Egmont, June 5th, 2014
Source: Bought
Format: Paperback, 416 pages
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository
Rafi hasn't spoken for eight years. It's up to her to tell her brother's story now that he can't speak either ...
Rafi idolizes her seventeen-year-old brother, who is popular, generous and a borderline genius. Ever protective, Silas always includes her when he's with his friends, so Rafi gets to hear all sorts of things that younger sisters wouldn't normally be a part of. Like the time Silas hacks a gaming site to help out his friend Josie, who has been trashed by her ex.
With Josie, Rafi finds herself with a proper friend for the first time in her life. As they grow closer, she realises that she wants to find a way back into the world - she wants to learn to speak again. But Silas has found a new interest too - and it's taking him away from everything that was once important to him. Can Rafi find the words to save her brother?
I loved this book. I went into this book very excited. I love Laura Jarratt and I was so excited for her new book so when I seen it in the shop, I squealed slightly and had to have it.

This book deals with a girl who has selective mutism. I was really excited by this because selective mutism is something I am interested to learn more about. The story is also about friendships, families and relationships and it's told as if you were hearing the story, from the past to the current moment.

Rafi is such a sweet, endearing character. You want to hug her and protect her from everything. The relationship Rafi has with her brother, Silas, is just lovely. Silas really protects her and understands her in a way most siblings in real life wouldn't. Silas is such an important character. The story it's self is supposed to be Silas' story. Silas is the protective and caring character. He protects everyone and is instantly likeable. But for me personally, Josie is the real star of the show. Josie is vulnerable at the start but is also able to protect herself and stand up for herself. She and Rafi form an extremely close bond and Josie helps Rafi to come out of her shell.

An interesting part of this book is the element of politics and the law. Doing what's right for someone, doing what's right by law, and the idea of politicians not always being right. This added something different to the book, to make it different from most others and it made me think, which I loved.

I really loved this book and no review I write could do it any justice. Laura Jarratt has written another brilliant book that I was completely hooked to and I will be pushing this one to people left, right and center. This book will stay with me for a long, long time.

Rating = 5 Bookish Birds

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

GUEST POST - I Predict A Riot Blog Tour: Classic V Trashy

Today I am participating in the I Predict a Riot blog tour; bringing you a Guest Post from the author of I Predict a Riot, Catherine Bruton, and she's written a post that I think is highly relatable!

So here’s my big confession – I have  trashy taste! But don’t go telling anyone! Cos if you read my author biog I sound dead high-brow – 1st Class Degree from Oxford in English Literature, writes for The Times and The Guardian, nominated for The Carnegie. I sound like the sort of writer whose novels are inspired by worthy stuff like Dickens and Chaucer and Shakespeare and William Golding and  contemporary modern classics, don’t I? And I am – honest, I am! In fact, all those writers inspired I Predict a Riot. But not all my influences were quite so – um – classic!  Made in Chelsea, Youngers, Top Boy, The Only Way is Essex, My Mad Fat Diary, Skins, Son of Rambow, The Smurfs ….  even Twilight (so sorry!).  Yup – they all feature in my latest book (although some more obviously  than others!).

But I’m not going to apologise for my guilty pleasures (well, not much anyway). Cos I can’t be the only writer with a secret passion for Nashville and Alvin and the Chipmunks – can I? OK – perhaps it’s best if I explain.

The Outsiders v The Only Way is Essex

I remember exactly where I was when I first read ‘The Outsiders’ by S. E Hinton. I was thirteen years old, it was a blisteringly hot summer day and I devoured it in a single sitting in the field at the back of school. Up till then I’d been subsisting on a diet of pony books and Jackie Collins. Then I read  S.E, Hinton’s masterpiece and felt as if a lightbulb had gone on in my head and the world would never look the same again.

‘The Outsiders’ is a story of teen gangs in 70s America that was written by a sixteen year old school girl and it isn’t like anything that had ever been written before – or since. The characters of Sodapop, Ponyboy, Dallas, Darry stay with you forever. It remains one of my favourite books of all time. 

‘I Predict a Riot’ is set during the 2011 UK riots and tells the story of three kids who set out to make a movie and end up in a riot, in a summer that will change their lives forever. Like ‘The Outsiders’  it  looks at kids on both sides of the tracks – from Maggie, the politicians’ daughter, to Tokes, son of  a notorious gang member, running from trouble, and Little Pea, the kid who everyone has given up on – abused by his mum, neglected by society and pushed around by the ruthless Starfish Gang who rule the streets in Coronation Road.

There’s a stabbing, a shooting and a riot and I kill off one of my favourite characters of all time (are authors allowed to have favourite characters – it feels a bit like parental favouritism, but still…).  The scenes in the park, the death of my most beloved character – all of that is indebted to S.E. Hinton.  If I capture anything of the spirit  of her ground-breaking novel in mine then I can die happy.

But – and  this is going to sound a bit anti-climactic – I’m also a teensy weensy bit channelling ‘The Only Way is Essex’. Actually, more ‘Made in Chelsea’ (and I’m sort of allowed to like MIC cos occasionally an old pupil of mine appears in it – which makes it OK, right!) The thing is that ‘I Predict a Riot’ is written as a film script. Maggie is making a film about her neighbourhood  and Little Pea fancies being a reality TV star. He turns it into ‘The Only Way is Coronation Road’ and ‘Made in the Starfish’ warning Maggie that ‘some scenes have been set up for your viewing entertainment’. His attempts to stage conflict and help Maggie find the perfect ending for her movie land all three kids in more trouble than they could ever have imagined.

At this point it gets less Binky and Jamie and a bit more Pigeon  English, more The Knife that Killed Me than The Only Way is Essex, but, trust me, there’s a bit of Spencer and Louise written all over it.

Golding, Great Expectations and …The Smurfs

‘I Predict a Riot’ is my ‘Lord of the Flies’. Now that sounds like a more high-brow statement of literary intent, right?

In the  summer of 2011 I watched the unfolding events of the UK riots with horror, seeing kids as young as ten looting, rioting, destroying their own neighbourhoods. Shortly afterwards, I was teaching Lord of the Flies; to my ‘naughty but nice’ GCSE group  and, struck by the parallels with recent events, I asked the class if there were any circumstances in which they could see themselves getting involved. The discussion that followed fundamentally shaped the book I wrote. 

Like Lord of the Flies, I Predict a Riot looks at how kids from very different backgrounds end up getting dragged into violence, crossing lines, fatally compromising themselves.  In it, I set out to challenge the presentation of young rioters in the national press, the commonly held assumptions about class and the factors which prompted kids to end up looting and rioting that summer.

But unlike Golding’s book, I Predict a Riot offers a bit of optimism. Golding believed in the ‘darkness in man’s heart’ but I’ve always secretly suspected he was one of those teachers who don’t actually like kids very much (you know exactly the ones I mean – I bet you were/are taught by at least one!).

Golding seems to suggest that all kids are ultimately corruptible whereas the belief that underpins my writing (and  my decision to be a teacher) is that all young people have the capacity to make good. That it only takes one person to say ‘I believe in you’ to help a kid turn their life around. In I Predict a Riot it’s a teacher called Miss Kayacan  (who is based on a real  wonderful teacher!) but who is also my tribute to all the teachers I have ever worked with who have refused to give up on even the most challenging of pupils.  

But I also channel a bit of the Smurfs! And don’t knock The Smurf movies – small blue people can make great art too, you know!   I went all Alvin and the Chipmunks in my book We Can be Heroes (Uncle Ian is the baddie – I mean, come on, how did you not notice this before!) and there are a couple of Smurf-a-licious references in I Predict a Riot which I challenge you to find (answers on a postcard please).
I could go on – ‘Top Boy’ v Dickens, The Twilight Volturi v  ‘The Tempest’, ‘My Mad Fat Diary’ v Meg Rosoff – they all crop up in I Predict a Riot at some point!!!

So, Classic v Trashy. I think the lines get a bit blurred.  Cos, you know what, I reckon Dickens would have LOVED Top Boy, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say I reckon he’d have enjoyed a bit of Made in Chelsea too. Golding might not have been an avid Smurf fan and I can’t see Shakespeare reading Twilight (actually, he’d have gone a bundle on the Romeo and Juliet refs in book one but surely he’d have objected to the misogynist incestuous overtones of the last book!).

I Predict a Riot is about a kaleidoscope of clashing cultures  - a London neighbourhood where worlds collide  and parallel universes clash together. And I guess that’s what the book does too, bringing together all the many myriad influences that inform my writing in an eclectic and rather volatile mixture that might detonate at any minute!

Thank-you so much for that Catherine! More information about Catherine's book below:

Book Title: I Predict A Riot
Author: Catherine Bruton
Publisher: Electric Monkey, June 5th, 2014
Source: ARC from publisher
Format: Paperback, 304 pages
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository
Welcome to Coronation Road - a kaleidoscope of clashing cultures and parallel lives. There's Maggie and her politician mum in their big house. There's Tokes and his mum in a tiny bedsit, running from trouble. And there's the ruthless Starfish gang, breeding fear through the neighbourhood. Amateur film-maker Maggie prefers to watch life through the lens of her camera. In Tokes, she finds a great subject for her new film. And when violence erupts, led by the Starfish gang, Maggie has the perfect backdrop. But as the world explodes around her, Maggie can't hide behind the lens anymore...
Be sure to follow the rest of the tour! 

Monday, 23 June 2014

The Book Sacrifice Tag!

Another tag opportunity, yay! The lovely Rita at Weaving Pages tagged me to do this, and I'm super excited because I have been itching to do this tag since Zoe (Bookhi) did it. I hope my answers are at least satisfactory, and like Rita said, I repeat, this tag is just for fun and is definitely not mean't to offend anyone!

An Over-Hyped book: Let's start this off with a Zombie Apocalypse! Let's say you're in a book store, just browsing, when BAM! ZOMBIE ATTACK. An announcement comes over the PA System saying that the military has discovered that the zombies' only weakness is over-hyped books. What book that everyone else says is amazing but you really hated do you start chucking at the zombies knowing that it will count as an over-hyped book and successfully wipe them out?! 
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl - Uh... hmm, I feel kind of guilty about this one because a close friend rec'd it to me and I didn't even finish it, it was a DNF for me. I'd heard lots about it, and its been made into a movie I think, or a t.v. show, I don't even know. I was all ready to love this book, but it was a real let down - I don't get the hype at all.

A Sequel: Let's say you've just left the salon with a SMASHING new haircut and BOOM: Torrential downpour. What sequel are you willing to use as an umbrella to protect yourself?
Angel Fire by L.A. Weatherly - Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved the first book in this trilogy, but the sequel was just... well, I thought it was crap. It was basically 'this guy or this guy' - love triangle, unless I've missed something, it just wasn't my scene. 

A Classic: Let's say you're in a lecture and your English teacher is going on and on about how this classic changed the world, how it revolutionized literature and you get so sick of it that you chuck the classic right at his face because you know what? This classic is stupid and it's worth detention just to show everyone how you feel! What classic did you chuck?
Animal Farm by George Orwell - Basically, I actually really like this classic, but I have read this book so many times, and analyzed it and listened to my teacher discuss it so many times and memorized quotes that I am sick and tired of it now. Just... ugh... *throws book*

Your least favourite book of life: Let's say that you're hanging out at the library when BAM global warming explodes and the world outside becomes a frozen wasteland. You're trapped and your only chance for survival is to burn a book. What is the book you first run to, your least favourite book of all life, what book do you not fully regret lighting?
Pawn by Amiee Carter - I came into this book with such high hopes, I'd heard a lot about it, and it really did sound like it would be a great dystopian but I was left wanting after finishing the book. It was quite boring, and a seemed like a waste of paper. I wouldn't regret burning this to survive, at all. 

(polandbananasBOOKS's added bonus question!) Bad Ending: You're about to go up on stage when you realise you're chewing gum. You have all your favourite series backstage to steady your nerves before your performance and you realise you have to rip out the last page of the last book in one of your favourite series to rid of your gum BECAUSE YOU CAN'T GO ON STAGE CHEWING GUM! What book do you choose to rip out the last page of?
Allegiant by Veronica Roth - C'mon, this hardly needs any explanation. I'm most definitely not bitter about the ending, unlike other people I'm actual pretty satisfied with it, but even so. I WANT TO RIP OUT THE ENDING SO IT NEVER HAPPENS, OKAY. So that's basically why I chose Allegiant... this was actually the easiest choice out of all the questions.

I hope you had fun reading my answers! Now for the people I tag:

Ruby @ Feed Me Books Now
Amy @ Amy Bookworm
Emma @ Mab is Mab

Sorry if you've already done the tag!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

REVIEW: Say Her Name by James Dawson

Book Title: Say Her Name
Author: James Dawson
Publisher: Hot Key Books, June 5th, 2014
Source: ARC from Publisher
Format: Paperback, 240 pages
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository
Roberta 'Bobbie' Rowe is not the kind of person who believes in ghosts. A Halloween dare at her ridiculously spooky boarding school is no big deal, especially when her best friend Naya and cute local boy Caine agree to join in too. They are ordered to summon the legendary ghost of 'Bloody Mary': say her name five times in front of a candlelit mirror, and she shall appear... But, surprise surprise, nothing happens. Or does it? Next morning, Bobbies finds a message on her bathroom mirror... five days... but what does it mean? And who left it there? Things get increasingly weird and more terrifying for Bobbie and Naya, until it becomes all too clear that Bloody Mary was indeed called from the afterlife that night, and she is definitely not a friendly ghost. Bobbie, Naya and Caine are now in a race against time before thei five days are up and Mary comes for them, as she has come for countless others before...
Say Her Name is the new spine chilling contemporary YA horror book from James Dawson, author of Cruel Summer, and let me tell you, this book will make every hair on your body stand on end. Honestly, this book needs to come with a warning. Dawson really knows how to build suspense, and coupled with well written descriptions… well, it guarantee’s one hell of a horror book - and its set in a boarding school. Class. 

I finished this in one reading at half two in the morning, and… I kept darting glances at my wardrobe door, which has a mirror on the other side, then hugged my knees and watched Inkheart to take my mind off ghoulies and ghosts. Funnily enough I didn't even realize it was officially Friday the 13th, not that I’m superstitious, but still.

The ONLY negative that I can bring to mind is the fact that I didn’t feel like there was a real connection between me (the reader) and Bobbie (the main character and narrator of the story), it was as though she was reading off a script – but I can say that she was a well written and pretty relatable character, it was just that lack of feeling between me and her that took away from the book.

Now, as a child I knew a roundabout story of Bloody Mary, which my best friends had told me; I was about seven at the time. Basically, what I knew was you had to turn all the lights off, stand in front of a mirror, spin round three times whilst saying the phrase ‘Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, come and haunt me, I killed your son.’ And yes, I went into the school bathroom, at the end of the day with my bestie, we turned off the lights and did it. Nothing happened.

I didn’t expect anything to happen even at that age, and I still don’t believe in things like that; but the reason I’m bringing this up is because Dawson took an urban legend and made it his own, whilst it seemed pretty faithful to my knowledge of the legend, he gave it a new twist and it worked really well with James’ writing presence, giving it a real flair, but still keeping it classic.

A bonus is the fact that I found ALL the characters likable, even the mean ones, I felt like Dawson was channeling his inner Mean Girl then.

Something that I was pretty impartial to was the ‘romance’, I liked that it wasn’t in your face and that it seemed pretty normal. No insta-love or any of that rubbish - the pacing of it, and the entire book really, was just spot on.

NOW HERE’S SOMETHING IMPORTANT THAT I WANT TO TALK ABOUT. THAT ENDING. Just when you think everything is nice and dandy, the author decides to do something that plot-wise is very smart, and scares the pants off you. And then you see the last page which makes you think ‘Does that mean what they were worried about has now happened and she’ll go away?’ (That may not make much sense but I’m trying not to spoil it!!) As I said in my tweet, bloody good job James Dawson – pun intended.

To surmise Say Her Name is a great new take on the urban Bloody Mary legend, with great descriptions this book is not one to read in the dark – I loved every minute of it!

4/5 Bookish Birds

*Thank-you to Hot Key Books for sending me an Uncorrected Proof Copy of Say Her Name by James Dawson – this in no way affected my review.* 

Saturday, 21 June 2014

REVIEW: Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Book Title: Love Letters to the Dead
Author: Ava Dellaira
Publisher: Hot Key Books, May 1st, 2014
Source: ARC from publisher
Format: Paperback, 327 pages
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository
It begins as an assignment for English class: write a letter to a dead person - any dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain - he died young, and so did Laurel's sister may - so maybe he'll understand a bit of what Laurel is going through. Soon Laurel is writing letters to lots of dead people - Janis Joplin, Heath Ledger, River Phoenix, Amelia Earhart... it's like she can't stop. And she's certainly never dream of handing them in to her teacher. She writes about what it's like going to a new high school, meeting new friends, falling in love for the first time - and how her family has shattered since May dies. But as much as Laurel might find writing the letters cathartic, she can't keep real life out forever. The ghosts of her past won't be contained between the lines of a page, and she will have to come to terms with growing up, the agony of losing a beloved sister, and the realization that only you can shape your destiny.
Written by Chbosky’s protege, and praised by him on the cover, Love Letters to the Dead seems like a really promising read – indeed I thought so, this book as been on my wish list since November of last year, with a beautiful cover and intriguing blurb I think this caught the eyes of many people. I really wanted to like this book, but it seemed to have other ideas.

I found the format, letter writing, similar to that of Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher and frankly Dellaira’s book didn't measure up - I didn't feel any personality from the main character, Laurel, at all, and even  though she’s the same age as me (fourteen) I couldn't relate to her at all. I didn't find Laurel the slightest bit interesting, it’s like she was trying too hard to be internally haunted by the ‘ghost’s of her past’ that it just felt really fake to me. This transparency backed up more by the fact that I didn't believe the grief of losing her sister was portrayed very well. Being someone with a sibling I know how I would feel if I lost mine, and in Lover Letters to the Dead it felt as though that grief was very toned down and ironed out. I did enjoy the secondary characters Hannah and Natalie though; they had more life to them and were one of the only reasons I carried on reading Love Letters to the Dead to the end.

Plot-wise… I’d say it was okay. I didn’t particularly like the romance that transpired between Sky and Laurel, perhaps if it was explored a little more in the book it would have been better executed. One thing that I really liked, and I mean, really really liked, was all the culture references I thought they were well explained and presents, although the fact that I could relate to that more than the main character isn’t exactly great.

All in all after reading Dellaira’s book I was disappointed, and this really saddens me because near the end of the book I felt like we were finally getting somewhere, finally getting some emotion and then it was over. This book has so much potential to be an amazing read, and whilst others may take more out of it, I was just left underwhelmed – I nearly went back and re-read the book; I had this desire to find something, like I’d missed out half the book, that I’d missed that real wow factor. But I didn't. 

To surmise; I felt that Love Letters to the dead has very little personality, the author seemed to have lost her way half way through, but the secondary characters and culture references made it bearable.  

Rating = 2 Bookish Birds

*Thank-you to Hot Key Books for sending me an advanced readers copy of Love Letters to the Dead - this in no way affected my review*

Friday, 20 June 2014

REVIEW: The Moment Collector by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Book Title: The Moment Collector
Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson
Publisher: Orchard Books, August 7th, 2014
Source: ARC from Publisher
Format: Paperback, 256 pages
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository
'The yard of this house is a graveyard of moments and everything left behind is a clue. And I am here to dig.' There's a ghost haunting 208 Water Street. She doesn't know who she was, or why she's still here. She does know that she is drawn to Maggie, the new girl in town, and her friends - beautiful, carefree Pauline and Liam, the boy who loves her. But the ghost isn't all that's lurking in Gill Creek... Someone is killing young girls all across the county. Can the ghost keep these three friends safe? Or does she have another purpose?
SPOILER ALERT: They're all covered - just highlight the text if you want to read them.

This book was just… eurgh, BE-AU-TI-FUL. I would leave the review here, and be done with it, but I feel like this book deserves more – and I doubt one sentence count’s as a review, more of an opinion really. Firstly, I think this book requires a certain type of person to like it, to love it. Point blank, nothing much actually happens in the book, there's no fast-paced plot, and any drama included is used for other means rather than to keep the reader on the edge of their seat - but I think that’s something that just really made it quite an endearing read to me. Usually this type of read bores me to no end, but the writing was so amazing that it didn't even bother me. 

There were a few things that did irritate me though...

Initially, I think people could find this pointless, or find a lot of elements that were unneeded – but I personally think every page, every moment, built up to this book that I won’t forget in a hurry. Needless to say my favorite bits of the book were the italicized sections from the point of view of Maggie as a ghost, they really intrigued me and at the end of the book it all came together, I just… it was a heart-stopping moment. I think that sums up this book nicely, heart-stoppingly beautiful.

And I think the reason this book is so impacting is that it’s more about the message it carries than a girl having experiences and then dying. The message, I think, is this; your life can simply cease, any time, any day – think about those moments, big and small, spilling orange juice down your favorite top, they make up who you are, and they’re all that’s left when you die. Forgetting those just makes you float, remembering changes everything.

Earlier I did mention that there were a few things that irritated me;

  1. The person going round taking and killing girls, that was a loose end, you never find out what their purpose was, or why they was doing it, we don't even get a scene where the narrator interacts with the mystery killer - I just didn't see why that couldn't be tied up some way. Leaving it the way it is feels very cut-off, and backs up the 'unneeded elements' theme. 
  2. The romance, and feeling shiz - just what? Like. Ugh. The entire time I was like 'what are you doing you stupid girl - and you, how the hell can you say you love her then go off with the best friend' - I knew the so called 'relationship' would be a disaster waiting to happen. Not for me.
  3. The blurb is pretty (kinda) misleading; if you were looking for a murder mystery then this ain't the book. I don't actually know why this irritated me so much, but it was as if the jacket and the story were two completely different things. 

But apart from that, I need to stress that this novel is one that really explores characters, emotions, and relationships. Anderson also gives us a harsh spoonful of reality with the ending, and in all honesty I was expecting it, I was expecting Maggie's death, that she was the ghost. What I didn't expect was how Anderson still made it as touching as she did. 

I'm definitely sure that this review doesn't convey how beautiful the book is, or how much inner conflict I had with rating this. In the end I decided to give it four out of five, simply because I couldn't give it a three.

4/5 Bookish Birds

*Thank-you to Hachette Children’s Books for sending me an Uncorrected Proof Copy of The Moment Collector by Jodi Lynn Anderson – this in no way affected my review.* 

*This book is also being published in another edition under the name 'The Vanishing Season', HarperTeen, July 1st, 2014.*

Thursday, 19 June 2014

MINI REVIEWS: Fangirl and Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

I have been wanting (and erm, threatened convinced) to read Fangirl and any Rainbow Rowell book for ages – Fangirl and E & P have been sitting on my shelves for quite a while, so I picked them up (Fangirl first then Eleanor & Park) and read them both within five hours. One was… likable, and the other was just PERFECTION <3. 

Book Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: Pan Macmillan, January 30th, 2014
Source: Bought
Format: Paperback, 459 pages
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository
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 anymore - she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loos. It's not so easy for Cath. She's horribly shy and has always buries 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 have 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... 
I think the name says it all, we are all fangirls. If you’re not, get out, get out right now.

Fangirl  is a novel about fanfiction, and not just any fanfiction, Simon Snow fanfiction (a set of novels referenced in this book, that don’t actually exist) which I think was a very unique addition to the book. Rainbow could have done Harry Potter fanfiction or The Hunger Games fanfiction, but no, she created her own set of novels and included passages from them, which was pretty amazing. I really loved the Simon Snow extracts.

Levi, Levi, Levi, everyone seems to love Levi but I… well, for the first half of the book I thought he was fake, with his smiling all the time, like really, who does that? But I started warming up to him after the half-way mark, and by the end I admit Levi is sweet, not exactly a complex character, but nice nonetheless.

Cath, the main character, is a little boring, and often quite introverted - not that being introverted is necessarily a bad thing, but Cath didn't really do anything due to that -  if I’m honest (which I always am, obviously) but really likeable. Reagan is my spirit animal though! I didn’t see the big fuss about the book, and I still kind of don’t, but it was thoroughly enjoyable and had an excellent ending which wrapped things up nicely. I was only slightly disappointed when I finished as everyone had told me it was awesome and I didn’t feel that it was awesome, as such.

Rating = 3 Bookish Birds

Book Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: Orion, February 1st, 2013
Source: Bought
Format: Paperback, 325 pages
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

Eleanor is the new girl in town, and with her chaotic family life, her mismatched clothes and unruly red hair, she couldn't stick out more if she tried. Park is the boy at the back of the bus. Black T-shirts, headphones, head in a book - he thinks he' made himself invisible. But not to Eleanor... never to Eleanor. Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall for each other. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you're young, and you feel as if you have nothing and everything to lose.
After reading Fangirl I was hesitant to start this next Rainbow Rowell novel, but it truly is amazing, I love this book so so so much.

Set in the 1980’s, which I found strange at first after reading the first few pages, but really came to appreciate and thought that the time period the book was set in made its story feel really sincere than it would have been if it was told from nowadays.

Eleanor & Park is a love story that carries a lot of feeling, it’s not just some reproduction of churned out lovey dovey rubbish - it’s real. Both main characters are relatable, and loveable in their own ways, I really feel like Eleanor and Park are a part of me, what they represent won’t leave my memory anytime soon.

I have to admit I wanted to cry at the ending, mentally I was, but I couldn’t have been happier with the way that it ended, and I mean that, I wouldn’t change it so they all lived happily ever after together. In Eleanor & Park I got a better idea of Rainbow’s writing style and it’s very unique, and no doubt very recognizable. I’m excited to read Attachments and Landline soon. 

Rating = 4 Bookish Birds

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More books by this author:

Landline by Rainbow Rowell, coming July 2014!