Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2014: Finding Myself

2014 has been a weird year. An excellent year, but most definitely a strange one. I've had five different jobs, two of which I balanced for five months. I moved city once and house twice - one of which was a move to my own little dream flat. I had a lot of changes and not too many constants. I entered 2014 unwell, insecure, unhappy and with no idea who I wanted to be - and without being too mushy, in 2014 I found myself.

Yes, I know how cliché that sounds, but I did. I've become happy in my own skin. I rediscovered a love for reading and writing that  I wasn't sure was ever going to surface again. I learnt that it is okay to like what you like - and I like YA Fiction and Taylor Swift and Unicorns. I learnt that no is a complete sentence. I learnt what it is to speak and read and write (badly) in two languages. I learnt that if I wanted to see thirty without a whole host of problems than I needed to start taking my health seriously. Mostly, I learnt to participate in life rather than just cruise alongside it. 

I learnt that anyone who did not accept me for all that I am and all that I learnt isn't worth having around at all.

2014, thank you for all you gave to me. 2015, here we go.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Hello Blogging World! I am back.

Oh my god it has been so long since I've logged in to this website. 2014 has been an interesting year for me. Interesting and busy and so so complicated, and blogging had to take a back seat. 

But I am back! Or I am trying to be. I can't make any promises, because I'd only set myself up to fail. But I'm really looking forward to 2015 in the blogging world and all it brings me.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Fearsome Dreamer - Laure Eve | Review

Author: Laure Eve
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publishing Date: 03/10/2013

In Fearsome Dreamer, Europe is transformed into a dark, alternate world. England has become Angle Tar – a rural, technophobic country holding its own against the mass of other nations who have signed up to the new technological advances. While it has the premise of being a very interesting story, I found it hard to connect with.

Fearsome Dreamer starts off slow and unfortunately I didn’t feel that it really picked up at any point. At the very first instance we’re introduced to Rue, a young witch’s apprentice, and while her early story was interesting I soon found myself skipping her chapters in favour of White’s. All in all though, I couldn’t connect with the characters.

The back of the book synopsis hints at a romance between White and Rue and I felt like a lot of the story was a difficult plot with the sole objective being to bring them together for the romance towards the end. It was glaringly obvious throughout that the book was part of a series, and while I’m sure it did a great job of setting up for the rest of the series, it was unable to stand on it’s own feet.

My review of this book feels disjointed, and honestly a lot of that is because the book felt disjointed. I can’t coherently seem to write my thoughts about it. I was expecting a solid four star book, and I found myself reading a two star. It was disappointing.

I’ll still read the sequel, because Fearsome Dreamer did do an excellent job of setting up some questions that will niggle at me until I know the answers.  

2/5 stars.

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*A copy of this book was provided by Hot Key Books in return for my honest review

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Say Her Name - James Dawson | Review **AND GIVEAWAY**

Author: James Dawson
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publishing Date: 05/06/2014

Bobbie Rowe is not the kind of person who believes in ghosts so when she’s dared to summon Bloody Mary with her best friend Naya and cute local boy Caine, it’s no big deal. Nothing happens, until the next morning when Bobbie finds a message on her bathroom mirror: ‘five days'. But what does it mean? As their time runs out, Bobbie, Naya and Caine race to find out.

Ever since this book was announced, I’ve quite literally been counting down the days. James Dawson never fails to impress with his brilliant, inventive stories, and Say Her Name lives up to that reputation he’s firmly set in my mind.

Say Her Name, while being a truly creepy story also has a lot of other classic YA elements which give you a bit of light relief every now and again – Bobbie and Naya have a great friendship, there’s some cute romance bits, that sort of thing. Bobbie grows so much from the very first chapter to the very end of the book, and she is believable and adorable and I was cheering her on throughout. You get to dip in and out of the little snapshots of Bobbie’s life you’re provided with (you know, when she’s not being haunted and stuff). The background plays its part and does its job but that’s all, and Dawson is able to get a beautiful balance here. Also, in typical James Dawson fashion, it’s modern and up to date.

James does a fantastic job of building the tension slowly and gracefully, until you’re suddenly sitting right in the corner of the sofa unable to breathe properly and not entirely sure how you got to that point. But you can’t put the book down, because you always need to know what happens next. And with his big moments, he delivers. Mary is every bit as terrifying as the old stories will tell you, but with a new refreshing twist and background which may pull on your empathetic strings. I never thought I’d feel empathetic and scared at the same time, but it happened.

5/5 stars easily, a truly creepy read.

*Book given to me by Hot Key Books in exchange for my honest review

Want a chance to own all three fiction books by James Dawson - Hollow Pike, Cruel Summer and the brand new Say Her Name? Enter the giveaway below for your chance to win all three. 
*Giveaway closes on 13/06/2014*
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Friday, 23 May 2014

We Were Liars - E. Lockhart | Review

Author: E. Lockhart
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Published: 15/05/2014

This is going to be one of those reviews where I really skirt around what happens in this book. I’m not going to tell you about the plot. I’m not going to tell you what happens. I’m not going to tell you how it ends. It is honestly better if you go into this book knowing as little as possible.

That’s what I did. I knew nothing about this book before I sat down to read it as part of the #LiarsLiveRead on twitter, except that everyone who had read it LOVED it. That was it. Those I follow who had got ARCs had kept quiet about the plot, while loudly telling everybody that would listen to read it as soon as it was available. And I’m afraid I’m going to echo them. I will tell you that the narrator is 17 year old Cadence, the oldest grandchild of the wealthy Sinclair family. This is the story of her Summer(s).

Moreover, I can tell you is that the captivating, twisting fiction that Lockhart has crafted is housed in one of the most beautifully written books I think I’ve ever read. The descriptive language used is truly stunning, and there are metaphors that are so cleverly done that you re-read the same page a few times before moving on, soaking it all in. I was transported from my sofa to Beechwood Island with Cadence, living the story alongside her.

We Were Liars is a story that was desperately needed in the YA genre. Beautifully written, captivating and an emotional roller coaster, I honestly believe that I will struggle to find many people that don’t like this book. I finished it a couple of hours ago of sitting down to write this review and am already ready to reread it!

5/5 Stars.

*I received a copy of this book from Hot Key Books to participate in #LiarsLiveRead

Monday, 5 May 2014

Library Haul | May

Now I've moved again and am back to using a library with free reservations, I've gone on a little reservations spree! The books I've got out from the library to read in May are:
  • The Silver Linings Playbook - Matthew Quick
  • Anime: A History - Jonathan Clements
  • The Bone Season - Samantha Shannon
  • Ketchup Clouds - Annabel Pitcher
  • More Than This - Patrick Ness
  • A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness
  • The Weight of Water - Sarah Crosnan
  • She Is Not Invisible - Marcus Sedgewick
  • Sisterland - Curtis Sittenfield
  • All the Truth That's in Me - Julie Berry
This is a significant chunk of my to read list, thankfully. Sometimes it seems like that thing is never ending. I'm already through Ketchup Clouds, which lived up to it's hype even if it was a bit hard on an emotional level for me, and She Is Not Invisible, which I loved!

Which of these have you read?

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Sunday, 27 April 2014

The Tiffin - Mahtab Narsimhan | Review

The Tiffin is set in Mumbai, crafted around the dabbawallas – delivery men who take tiffins, hot boxed lunches, to office workers all over the city. It’s a highly organised operation, and the dabbawallas take much pride in its high delivery success rate: only one in six million tiffins never makes its intended destination. 13 years after a Tiffin with a note tucked inside it goes missing, Kunal is reaping the consequences.

The Tiffin is a quick read, all of 162 pages long. This is certainly frustrating at points because lots of plot points are introduced but never developed and followed through despite the potential and I think led to me finding the story dull at times. Kunal goes through a lot of growth to get to where he is at by the end of the novel, but it is demonstrated somewhat suddenly at the very end of the story. In my opinion, I would have preferred his growth to be more obviously wound into the story and not so out of nowhere.

I have never been to India, so that I can’t personally vouch for how well represented it is, but I felt fully immersed in the setting of contemporary Mumbai. It is described in such detail that I felt transported there, eating the delicious Indian food that was described in mouth-watering detail and fighting my way through the busy crowds at the train stations. I feel like I learnt a lot about Indian culture from reading the book and it’s a great way for younger readers to learn more about India.

I do think that this is an excellent MG read, and will engross younger teens and allow them to be transported to another country and culture all in one book. There are some storytelling issues, but I did like it – 3/5 stars.

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*Image c/o Goodreads

*Book provided by Hot Key Books in exchange for my honest review. Thanks to the folks at Hot Key!

Friday, 25 April 2014

Night School - C.J. Daugherty | Review

Allie Sheridan’s world is falling apart. Her brother’s run away from home. Her parents ignore her. And she’s just been arrested. Again.
This time her parents have had enough. They cut her off from her friends and send her away to boarding school, far from her London friends.
But at Cimmeria Academy, Allie is soon caught up in the strange activities of a secret group of elite students.
When she’s attacked late one night the incident sets off a chain of increasingly violent events. As the school begins to seem like a very dangerous place, she finds out that nothing at Cimmeria is what it seems.
And that she is not who she thought she was.

I’ve always enjoyed boarding school books. I adored Malory Towers and St Clare’s as I grew up. I’m always drawn towards boarding school books. I think that equates for a lot of the reasons that I chose to pick up Night School.

I didn’t know too much about it going in, and I actually expected a paranormal novel of some kind. The synopsis and plot makes it seem that way, however it has no paranormal elements whatsoever. To be very honest, this was a nice change from my somewhat monotonous reading routine.

One of my main issues with the book is that Allie’s “rebellion” disperses pretty much as soon as she gets to Cimmeria. Before Cimmeria she is troubled, acting out and being arrested and expelled all over the place. While she is sent to Cimmeria to be “sorted out” if you will, her personality changes quickly and we lose the rebellious, feisty main character for one that is solidly average. While I like Allie more in later books in the series, much of Night School was made strong by the supporting characters.

Due to the nature of the school all the plots were so cloaked in mystery you got absolutely no resolution about anything that happened until the very end, which could be frustrating. Even then, due to the bigger story arc of the series, you’re left with more questions. It can be a frustrating experience, although that is ultimately what made me read the next one in the series almost straight away.

C.J. Daugherty’s writing is so smooth and beautiful, transitioning easily through different settings and scenes and this definitely made up for some of the somewhat flawed, content.

3/5 stars
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*image c/o Goodreads

**This review was originally posted on collaborative book blog Blogger's Bookshelf**

Saturday, 19 April 2014

1) UKYA authors are very friendly on twitter!

They are a friendly bunch! They tweet back, favourite and retweet often.

2) Loads of books by UKYA authors are set in the UK! You can finally visualise where the story takes place.

For example, the most recent UKYA books I've read include a book set near Norwich (Looking for JJ), books set at a school in the English countryside (Night School and it's sequels) and a dystopian Britain (Fearsome Dreamer).

3) When a UKYA author does a book signing or tour, it's not inconceivable to think you might actually be able to go!

Ok, yes, I know that many signings make the mistake of thinking that London is the only place that matters. However, more and more authors are going on book tours to promote their books which take place up and down the country.

4) You get the warm fuzzy feeling of supporting homegrown talent

Supporting authors who have come from the same country as you gives you a special feeling. And lot's of pride that British people are such a talented bunch!

5) You can join in with the fabulous #UKYAchat on twitter, and the UKYA livechat's starting in May.

#UKYAchat is a chat that happens regularly on twitter, where people discuss and recommend UKYA books.

6) You get to experience the amazing UKYA books out there. 

This is obviously the most important point. I've only become vigilant about making sure I include a decent amount of UKYA on my TBR lists in the last few months, but it's opened up a whole world of new books that have quickly become favourites. Cruel Summer by James Dawson, The Night School series by C.J. Daugherty and The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss are some of my absolute favourites.

**Today is UKYADay!! Organised by Project UKYA - their website is HERE and their twitter is HERE. Check them out for fantastic posts celebrating the best of UKYA. **

Monday, 24 March 2014

Grimm Tales for Young and Old - Philip Pullman | Review

Ever since I heard that Philip Pullman was releasing a re-imagination of some of the best loved Grimm Tales, I knew that it was something that I wanted to read. Philip Pullman brings worlds to life, and I knew that he’d put a fantastic spin on these stories and really draw them out of the pages and into the readers mind.

In this compilation, Pullman has taken 50 of the tales from the Grimm’s catalogue and rewritten them to flow elegantly for the contemporary reader. At the end of each story, there is a short explanatory afterword, which explains some of the changes that he may have made and the context of the original version. It was a really helpful way to keep track of the changes that he was making in his retelling.
Obviously, as it is a compilation of stories – it is large. It took me a long time to get through, but that’s because it was the kind of book that you’d read one story and then put it down. That didn’t detract from it in my opinion, but made me enjoy it more as I was taking my time with it and making sure that I had full comprehension. 

It was great to read these stories again, that I had not read for years. The same moral lessons are there, and they serve the same purpose. It was nostalgic and wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed my reading experience with this one.

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Friday, 21 March 2014

The Boy in the Smoke - Maureen Johnson | Review

The Boy in the Smoke, released as part of World Book Day, is a prequel to The Name of the Star/ The Shades of London series. I adore Maureen Johnson and the Shades series, so I was very excited to read this. The Boy in the Smoke follows Stephen Dene as he comes to terms with the hand life has dealt him, and how he becomes head of the Shades.
I’ve become very emotionally invested in Stephen Dene’s story, and I couldn’t wait to read more about him in this book. There was definitely a worry that the book might not appeal to those who haven’t read the Shades books. And admittedly, it’s true, this book gave current readers a really big understanding into Dene’s character and motivations. However I felt the story existed in its own right. Readers could read The Boy in the Smoke and not take another foray into the Shades universe if they didn’t want to. However it also wonderfully sets the scene, should they go on to read The Name of the Star, The Madness Underneath and subsequent books still to be released. 

The narrative in this book is beautifully written, and makes a nice change from the slightly angsty feel that Rory usually gives to the book. Instead it’s just heartbreaking. As I said earlier, I’ve become emotionally invested in Stephen’s story and some things definitely felt like a punch in the chest. It’s undeniably sad at parts, but there’s a lot to be said for the way in which certain themes are explored and not at all glossed over. 

I really enjoyed it, and couldn’t put it down. It’s fantastic for the old fans and new ones alike and I'm sure many people enjoyed spending their £1 book token on it.

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Friday, 7 March 2014

Writes of Passage | 50 Books That Will Change Your Life

Hi guys, did you all have a lovely World Book Day? I spent it attempting to articulate into words how much I liked Maureen Johnson's book for WBD, The Boy in The Smoke, and reading a bit more of Philip Pullman's Grimm Tales. I've been reading it for over a month now, but even if it kills me, I'm going to get the to the end of that book.

Released on World Book Day was the Writes of Passage, 50 books which have been nominated by Young people and adults as the books that will change your life. I thought I'd pass it on, and go through it and see how many I've read.

Books that will...Scare You
  • The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
  • The Rats by James Herbert
  • The Shining by Stephen King
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Lord Loss by Darren Shan
Score: 1/5.
I don't do well with being scared. I can't even watch Pretty Little Liars after 8pm. The only book I've read here is 1984!

Books that will...Teach You About Love
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Forever by Judy Blume
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  • Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
  • How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Score: 2.5/6. Better! I've read Anne Frank's diary, Twilight, and some of Pride and Prejudice, hence the .5! Typically, How I Live Now is very high up on my reading list.

Books that will...Make You Laugh
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  • Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
  • Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
  • Geek Girl by Holly Smale
  • The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend
Score: 3/6 - I sense a theme here. I've read Hitchhiker's, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging.  I was seven or eight when Angus... came out, who would have thought it's been that long!? I wanted to read the series when I got to about 12/13 but my mum never let me, so naturally  I did it anyway.

Books that will... Transport You
  • The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  • Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
  • Percy Jackson (series) by Rick Riordan
  • Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling
  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein
Score: 3/6, technically. I haven't read all of the Percy Jackson books, just the first one. Obviously read Harry Potter and who hasn't read the absolutely fantastic Northern Lights.

Books that will... Change The Way You Think
  • Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman
  • A Streetcat Named Bob by James Bowen
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  • The Book Thief by Marcus Zusack
Score: 4/7. Noughts and Crosses is one of the books I thank for my love of reading and writing stories. Perks I read recently, same with Wonder. I read Curious Incident not long after it came out, and I want to read it again soon, as an adult. I'm currently reading The Book Thief but didn't want to cheat and include it.

Books that will... Make You Cry
  • Before I Die by Jenny Downham
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
  • The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  • My Sister's Keeper by Jodie Picoult
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  • The Colour Purple by Alice Walker
Score: 1/7. Dropping way down again! I read War Horse when I was much younger - and yes it did make me cry!

Books that will... Help You Understand You 
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  • The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Score: 2/5 - TFiOS and The Knife of Never Letting Go. 

Books that will... Thrill You
  • A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  • City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
  • Gone by Michael Grant
  • Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
  • Divergent by Veronica Roth
Score: 2/7, The Hunger Games and Divergent. 

Ultimate Score: 18/50. 
Wow! I expected to have read much more of them. Bad book blogger. Looks like my TBR list will be going up a little bit!

How many have you read?

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** Blogger's Bookshelf are holding The Literary Oscars this month!! To vote click here.Remember to check Blogger's Bookshelf on the 15th March to see if your favourites won!**

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Tribute - Ellen Renner | Review

Zara is a mage, one of the elite in a world where magic is power, and the non-magic majority live as slaves. When her slave child best friend is killed for the crime of literacy, Zara seeks revenge by spying for the rebel Knowledge Seekers. 
But her bravery and magical skill tested to the limit when a hostage from the other side of the wall arrives at her palazzo. Seeking a kindred spirit, she promises to help him - but before she can, her secret is discovered. Hunted by her own kind, she must convince the Knowledge Seekers that she is really on their side. But can she convince herself?
First of all, I just want to acknowledge how utterly gorgeous the cover is. Beautiful. Anyway, on with the review.

Tribute is quite unique, not least in the way that it tackles racism. In this world the mages dominate over the non-magic users - who they call kine, like cattle. These non-magic users are oppressed and downtrodden and loathe the mages. Zara believes that both groups are as human as each other and are equals, a spirit she inherited from her late mother. Zara is impressively imperfect - she's been brought up with the most racist of views and they still surface sometimes, and to experience her dealing from it from her own perspective is impressively distinctive.

There's a lot of big ideas in Tribute. Some common YA themes all thrown together and I feel like none of them were really given enough justice or explained fully. Even after the book has ended I have no idea about most of the world Tribute is set in, even though the first half of the book felt like little more than world building. I wish that more focus was given to the factions and guilds and what have you that I felt were mentioned randomly and not really explained. I kept thinking that I'd missed a few pages and found myself coming up confused quite often.

 I honestly found it hard to get in to at first. It is such a big story and while the world-building was necessary, it was definitely boring me slightly. I spent much of the book struggling with the language, only to finish it and find a glossary at the back! About mid-way into the book, when the 'mission' of the story begins to get started it really begins to pick up and from then I couldn't really put it down.

All in all, I do feel that the second half of the book saved it for me. The plot moved quickly and the writing was excellent. It's set up the second book fantastically and I'm looking forward to reading it.

3 out of 5 stars. Honestly, I've found it really hard to rate! I really liked it, particularly towards the end but unfortunately the story ran away with itself and left me behind too many times for anything higher.

Tribute is released tomorrow March 6th! Let me know in the comments if you pick up a copy!

*I received my copy of Tribute from Hot Key Books. Thank you to them!

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Monday, 3 March 2014

The Year of the Rat - Clare Furniss | Review

The world can tip at any moment … a fact that fifteen-year-old Pearl is all too aware of when her mum dies after giving birth to her baby sister. Told across the year following her mother's death, Pearl's story is full of bittersweet humour and heartbreaking honesty about how you deal with grief that cuts you to the bone, as she tries not only to come to terms with losing her mum, but also the fact that her sister - The Rat - is a constant reminder of why her mum is no longer around…
The Year of the Rat is the debut novel by Clare Furniss, a look at grief through the eyes of a bereaved sixteen year old. 

I knew that I would like The Year of the Rat when I cried a few pages in. Nothing particularly sad or bad had happened (apart from the death of Pearl’s mother, but that was a predetermined event just before the book takes place) but all the emotional that the characters were feeling came over me like a wave. Everything Pearl and her family goes through and feels is raw and real and carries you through the story.  

Throughout the book Pearl talks to her mother, who occasionally appears to her. In these appearances Pearl’s mum has gone back to everything she was before she had Rose – before everything so dramatically changed: she no longer has a baby bump, she smokes again, she’s annoying and she’s normal. In the beginning, while Pearl’s grief is so new she screams and shouts for her mother to appear to her. As the book reaches its conclusion her mother appears less and less until Pearl is finally able to let go. This is such a unique illustration of grief and really touched me.

So much admiration has to go to Clare for writing so well, and this is honestly fantastic for a debut novel. I have a feeling big things are coming for her. I have so little to fault this book on, and as soon as it’s out I’m going to be recommending it to everyone I know, teenagers and adults alike. 

Without any doubt it’s 5/5 stars from me.

The Year of the Rat is published on the 24th April.

*I received a copy of this book through Netgalley. A big thank you to Simon & Schuster for the ARC.

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Friday, 28 February 2014

Thoughts on libraries and age rating and those sorts of things

Recently, there's been a bit of a debate online (due to some idiotic articles) about age rating Young Adult and Teen fiction and whether that is an idea that is viable, and if it is how the publishing industry should go about it.

I'd done my fair bit of reading the articles, commenting on it a bit on twitter, RT'ing authors when they make points I agree with, you know. However, last week something happened that made me view it all from a new light.

I was refused a book in a library. A public library. I had reserved Legacy by C.J. Daugherty, the second book in the Night School series. Is good, would recommend. I have lots of problems with the library service in this county compared to the one where I used to live, and quite high up on that list of issues is the matter of paying £1 per book to reserve them. But, the library here is tiny and the only way I get to read anything I want is to reserve them and pay the money and feel bitter for absolutely ages about it.

So on Tuesday I went to collect the book and the librarian serving me asked me my name then searched the books behind her. She looked at me. Then she searched it again. She looked at me again and tentatively pulled out a book. "Yep, just that one!" I said cheerily. She looked at the book and put it back on the shelf and said, "I don't think that's it. That book has a T+ sticker on it."

After a bit of insisting that yes I am twenty one and yes I do still want to read it, she handed the book over. Ironically, I think it's the only time I've ever looked too old for something.

It got me thinking. Age ratings are somewhat necessary in libraries - they tell the librarians where to place the book, readers where to find books they might like, parents where to direct their children to etc. However a goal of libraries and librarians is to promote reading, not prevent it.

I'm glad I'm an adult and I'm stubborn and I can decide for myself, but I hope no young readers get dissuaded from reading something due to lack of access. Read everything, that's what I was always told. It hasn't done me any harm. 

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** Blogger's Bookshelf are holding The Literary Oscars this month!! To vote click here. Remember to check Blogger's Bookshelf on the 15th March to see if your favourites won!**

Monday, 24 February 2014

Panic - Lauren Oliver | Review

Lauren Oliver, the author behind the popular Delirium trilogy and additional novellas, is back to the Young Adult fiction world with her latest offering Panic, released March the 6th.
Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But everyone has something to play for, and Panic brings unexpected revelations for all of them. 

Panic is a game, the stuff of legends in small-town Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere. It began one summer because there was nothing else to do. The graduating class see it as their only way to get out – pooling their money and giving it to the winner.

The opening couple of chapters of Panic really gripped me. The book starts with an action scene and is quickly vividly described, moving fast and taking the reader along for the ride. You then get introduced to the characters, who seem intriguing and make you want to know more about them. Heather and Dodge qualify for Panic, and the story begins.

The main characters have motivations for playing Panic which are discovered throughout the book. Dodge’s primary motivation for playing is revealed fairly early on, and while obviously sad was very one-dimensional in my opinion. I had much more appreciation for Heather’s motivations, which were multi-layered and developed throughout the story. 

My main issue with Panic is that there was very little world building. Lots of things were unrealistic and had me rolling my eyes. I’m sure that even small boring towns have a police force that would do more about loads of teenagers literally risking their life for a bit of cash then just complaining a bit and being a bit grumpy. There was literally no consequence of action for anyone. Also, as the book drilled into us, it takes place in a “small town” and yet no-one knows about Panic? Unless all the residents of Carp are ignorant as well as bored… Yeah, ok, you keep working on that plot hole. I mean, no-one wants to read a book where the main characters are in a various cycle of crime – arrest – repeat but let’s try to have a little bit of realism, shall we? 

However, every time something made me raise my eyebrows or roll my eyes I did read something that I really enjoyed. I could relate to the bond between Heather and her sister. Although Heather’s version of protecting her was a bit screwed I’m glad that relationship was focused on over the romantic relationship. Granted, it was building for the majority of the novel didn’t actually come into play until the latter end of the book. It made a nice change.

I’m torn. At times I thought it was exciting, and the themes of desperation and friendship were well written and developed. The beginning was fast paced and kept me reading, but it just got weaker. I couldn’t get fully attached to the plot because it was predictable and unrealistic. It’s so unusual to find a standalone not-dystopian young adult novel currently, and I commend Lauren Oliver for that. I honestly feel confused over how I feel about it, and have found it difficult to put into words – 3/5 stars.

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*review copy c/o netgalley
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