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Currently reading: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness [Review]

Written by: Patrick Ness.
Published by: Walker.
Format: Hardback.
Released: 27th August 2015 (UK) / 6th October 2015 (US).
Rating: 5/5.

Official synopsis: "Award-winning writer Patrick Ness's bold and irreverent novel powerfully asks what if you weren't the Chosen One? The one who's supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death? What if you were like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again. Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week's end of the world and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life. Even if your best friend might just be the God of mountain lions... "


I am going to start this review with a confirmation. A confirmation that things are about to get real gushy around here, because my love for this book... UGH! I cannot contain it and I cannot even begin to explain it! Just... This book!!! Ugh! Life affirming! Just bear with me, we'll get there, I promise!

Longterm readers of my blog, or followers on my twitter, will probably know that I am a bit of a latecomer when it comes to Mr. Ness. I have only read his last few releases (from 2013's The Crane Wife onwards...) but what I have read I have loved and so I had high hopes for The Rest of Us Just Live Here. I mean the title alone had me hooked and demanding to read on, before I'd even read a single sentence of the book itself. And once I got into the real meat of the story I was not disappointed! I was surprised! I had formed an idea of what I thought the book would be just from the blurb and I was so wrong and I am so glad that I was because the book is way better than what I thought it would be!

We are all too used to reading the story of the hero, the chosen one, the one slayer in every generation, the boy wizard who alone has to power to stand up to the darkness, the blah blah blah. Yes, these make for exciting, high octane stories. But what about the bystanders? Your general citizen who isn't the chosen one? Who doesn't have any extraordinary power to help them save the day. What about them? Their lives are just as important, aren't they? Their stories. Sometimes the most important thing in the world isn't that there is a zombie invasion about to break, or a group of vampires ready and waiting to decimate your entire town. Maybe the biggest problem in the world is that you want to go to prom and that you're scared to ask the girl you want to go with. And it doesn't help when your mum is a politician, running for some office you couldn't care less about, neglecting you and your siblings more and more with every passing day. Isn't it that simple to understand? The world is so much more than disaster waiting to happen. There are far harder things to face than the big bad itself.

I really do not know what I can say that hasn't been said by countless others. Patrick Ness is a total genius. His characters are so real and relatable. Especially Mikey. OH GOSH MIKEY! I cannot begin to explain just how much I related to Mikey. I don't think I have ever in my life connected and related to a character like I did Mikey. His thought processes, and the horrible, gut-wrenching feeling that I know all too well. That you're the least wanted person around! I think it's such a fundamental human feeling to have. We all get it at times, I know, but some more than others. I've had my fair share of crap over the years and one thing I've always dealt with is feeling like an outsider. At school. At work. At home. Even in my own mind sometimes. So the moment I read that section of the book, and got deeper into Mikey's mind, I'm not going to lie there might of been a few tears. Just a few, but tears nonetheless.

The portrayal of mental illness, in the form of OCD in this book, was phenomenal. It felt real, at times shocking and most of all thought-provoking. I think it's all too easy these days for people to be so flippant about it. "Ooh, I've got a touch of OCD... My desk has to be immaculate, I hoover my floors every day." But for some people it isn't flippant. It's real, it's dark and it's scary and the way this book opens your eyes to it is amazing, and for that alone Patrick should be proud of himself for writing such an incredible piece of work. I also feel it is so easy for people to be dismissive to people with mental illness. Some people brush it off, don't believe in it so to speak, claim that it is put on. But the message in this book that it isn't your fault, that you do need help and can get it is a wonderful, beautiful thing. BRAVO!

The subplot running through the book at the start of every chapter was also an awesome addition, and one that I think works very well. The characters we are dealing with have no idea that the end of the world might happen tomorrow. They are just going about their everyday life, but the indie kids fighting the end of the world know all too well what is going on. Some of the chapter openers had me howling, they had me concerned for the safety of Mikey and his friends, and they kept me wanting to read on because it showed a great contrast between the two sides. Mikey and his ordinary life, just trying to get on, and the lives of the superheroes trying to save the town and the world.

Overall, The Rest of Us Just Live Here is a fantastic, life affirming and important read. As is becoming expected from Patrick, it is beautifully written. Funny. Emotional. Highly addictive - you just cannot stop at one chapter before bed! It's impossible! I cannot recommend this book enough - whatever you are doing just get it and read it. It really is a marvel!

Thank you for such a wonderful book, Mr. Ness, and thank you to Walker for allowing me to read it so early ahead of publication. I am so honoured!

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

The Death Code by Linsday Cummings [Review]

Written by: Lindsay Cummings.
Published by: Greenwillow.
Format: Hardback.
Released: 26th May 2015.
Rating: 4.5/5.

Official synopsis: "With short, fast-paced, alternating point-of-view chapters, The Death Code starts several weeks after The Murder Complex ended. Zephyr keeps the secret about Meadow close—that if she dies, The Murder Complex will be destroyed, too. Meadow, desperate to find her brother, father, and little sister, is determined to fearlessly fight to the end, even if it means sacrificing herself and her friends, new and old. The Death Codeintroduces a memorable cast of secondary characters and delivers a vivid and scary thrill ride read."


Oh lordy! Oh lordy lordy lordy lordy LORDY!!! This book! Oh gosh I do not know where to start. Really, honestly and truthfully I don't! This book has been like something of a myth to me for so long. It was supposed to be coming but it felt like the wait just got longer and longer and longer, to the point where I wondered if it would ever come. That was how much I wanted, no... NEEDED this book in my life! I first read the first book in this two-parter, The Murder Complex, over Christmas 2013 and having to wait 18 months to see what would happen next and how it would all wrap up was so painful! But it came! It finally came and the book was everything I hoped and dreamed it would be.

Just as explosive and bloody as it's predecessor, The Death Code sees our heroine, Meadow, on the run from the Initiative again, but now, things are worse. Way worse. They have installed a metal box on the back of her skull - they call it a regulator, and torture Meadow in ways she never thought possible. But she is just a determined as ever, if not more so, to find and rescue her family, and her search will take her beyond the Shallows and deeper into a country in complete and utter turmoil.

Personally I enjoyed the book. There were however some aspects I didn't like, just as much as I loved. The ending did seem pretty damned rushed. The book, while fast paced by most books standards, felt slower than its predecessor, and it wasn't really until the last 100 to 150 pages that the pace really amped up and started to get exciting. But then BAMN. It was over. I was left begging for more, I tell you. Absolutely begging. There had to be more! There had to had to had to! Alas, there is not. My hopes for this becoming a trilogy have been dashed, as while the ending is open, it is clear that Meadow and Zephyr's story is finished the time being, and the fact that the acknowledgements confirm this saddens me greatly.

I just wish this series never had to end. I have fallen head over heels for these characters and their ways. Meadow is really pushed to her limits in The Death Code. Her health is failing but she still goes on, fighting harder and harder, pushing on harder than she has the rest of her life, knowing that she is running out of time to do what she has to do before it is too late. Her fearlessness really shines in this book and proves just how much of an influential character she is. And Zephyr is struggling to be honest with Meadow and feels like he is losing her. This aspect of their relationship was fun to read, to see how their dynamic has been changed by the events they have faced together and the things they need to do in order not just to save their lives but the lives of everyone they love.

This book, obviously being a closing chapter, has some very sad moments that made me want to put the book down so I didn't have to accept what was going on, and there is a twist near the end that made me reel before I forced myself to pick my copy up again and continue and thank god I did because that ending happened and I liked it, although it is very very open, WIDE OPEN, and it leaves me with hope that Lindsey might one day pick the characters up again. I beg you Lindsey... PRETTY PLEASE!! More Meadow and Zephyr please! More Koi! More Peri. Even Sketch... More Sketch, please!

The writing, as ever with Lindsey, is top notch. So fluid and fast and immersive and totally faultless. It draws you in so deep that you cannot get enough, falling deeper into the world of the Shallows and the secrets of the Murder Complex and what Meadow's connection to the system means and the consequences it brings. Overall the book is a satisfying conclusion to what has been an, albeit too brief, fantastic series. I cannot praise Lindsey enough, or thank her for such an amazing reading experience over the last few years - I cannot wait to see what the future holds and finally get around to reading the Balance Keepers books too! I also cannot recommend these books enough. If you want a fast paced, high-octane read that you'll speed through and fall totally in love with, then The Murder Complex, and The Death Code are for you!

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard [Reviews]

(NOTE: I don't know why this wasn't posted earlier, it's been sat in my drafts section for god knows how long?! I honestly thought I had posted this! Oops! Oh well, here it is now and I've updated it with the title of Book 2.)


Written by: Victoria Aveyard.
Published by: HarperTeen (US) / Indigo (UK).
Format: Hardback.
Released: 12th February 2015.
Rating: 5/5.

Official synopsis: "This is a world divided by blood – red or silver. The poverty-stricken Reds are commoners, living in the shadow of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers. To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from the Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change. Then Mare finds herself working at the Silver palace, in the midst of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control."


You know that feeling you get sometimes when you've finished a book, almost like you're in a coma? You just can't pick anything else up. You can't do anything else. Think about anything else. You just want to lie there and weep or think about the wonder you have just read. Well, Red Queen is that sort of read folks. You definitely need to buckle your seat belts because once you start reading this book you are in for one hell of a bumpy ride, let me tell you!

From the very beginning Red Queen is bloody, feisty and heart-racingly addictive. It'll have you gasping at every twist and turn and racing through it at break-kneck speed! It is literally non stop. Every page, and I mean every page, will have you desperate to read on. I just could not get enough!

The world of Red Queen is so utterly unique and high-octane that you cannot help but fall in love and wonder what life would be like if you lived in it. There are the Reds. Lowlife. Dirty. Disposable - only there for the pleasure and enjoyment of the Silvers. And of course the are the Silvers. The elite. The powerful. The desirable. There's no love lost between both bloods, the Reds suppressed by the Silvers for centuries, treat as slaves and nothing more. I found this so interesting as it was another way of looking at race and the way people are towards one another, just because they are different. The world itself, the palace in particular is so beautifully described and conceived. I almost wanted to be a Silver for a day, just to get to see it for myself!

We meet Mare. She's going to be conscripted, she knows it. She doesn't have a job or a trade like her sister, and she knows that like her brothers before her she will have to go and fight in a war that the reds shouldn't even be involved in, but then she meets a mysterious man who she tries to pick-pocket before he realises what she is doing and catches her in the act. The next thing she knows she's being whisked away to serve the Silver royal family, the people she despises most in the world. But things do not go smoothly and soon it turns out that Mare is a special type of Red. A unique Red. She exhibits Silver powers which she should not and soon she finds herself wrapped up in more danger than she knows how to handle and to hide herself from her enemies she must masquerade as a Silver. The Queen loathes Mare but tolerates her as she is taken in to become a consort to the prince, Mavern, but it isn't Mavern she is interested in. It's his older brother, Cal, their heir to the throne and the very same person she tried to pickpocket in the first place.

Danger is aplenty as Mare tries to fit into a world with which she doesn't want to be a part of. She must play the game carefully, but she cannot help but make enemies in the process, it just happens. But not only is she making enemies, she's making powerful allies to, and with a rebel group, the Scarlet Guard, growing in power and profile Mare is putting more than just her life on the line as she helps them get an establishment inside of the palace.

The book builds to an electrifying crescendo with a twist that will leave you reeling and absolutely gagging for book two, which we now know is titled Glass Sword and has an absolutely stunning cover, just like Red Queen! The book is beautifully written and the prose just draws you in so completely that the book has this major cinematic feel, no wonder there are whispers of it being made into a movie and not that far away! I honestly cannot get over just how much this book captured me and took me over completely. I just could not get enough of Mare, and Maven and Cal, and of Reds and Silvers. It was just so wonderful and something I think everyone needs to experience. When it was released, Red Queen went straight in at number 1 on the New York Times bestsellers list and it is clear to see why and to say that it is totally deserved! I cannot wait to see what Glass Sword, and indeed Book 3 have in store for us, and with some novella's due in September 2015 and January 2016, it looks like there is plenty more to enjoy within the world of the Red Queen. I cannot wait!

Saturday, 25 April 2015

The Crocodile Tomb cover and synopsis!

Now if you've been around the last few years you will know that I am OBSESSED with Michelle Paver. I adored her Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series! So much so that I got a tattoo inspired by the books! And I am equally loving her current series, Gods and Warriors, and it hardly seems real to say this, but the fourth and penultimate instalment comes out in August and I cannot wait to read it!

Well, now we have the cover art and the synopsis to whet our appetites and boy oh boy does this sound like a corker!

"A country at the edge of the world. A hidden tomb. A buried secret. Hylas and Pirra have found their way to the mysterious land of Egypt in pursuit of the dagger of Koronos, only to find that the Crows have got there first. Led by Hylas's deadly enemy, Telamon, they are determined to recover the legendary blade, by any means necessary. But the dagger now lies buried beyond the reach of mortals. If Hylas and Pirra want it back, they will have to make the most dangerous journey of all - into the realms of death itself . . ."
Wow! I am so excited to see how Hylas and Pirra react to Ancient Egypt and how things continue! With only 1 more book after The Crocodile Tomb it's an exciting time to be a Michelle Paver fan as she knows how to wrap a series up incredibly well and I cannot wait to see how this one fares! Roll on 6th August!

Saturday, 18 April 2015

My Bookish Tattoos

Why hello there! 

So, yesterday I finally overcame my fears! After years and years of planning, thinking about it, worrying about pain, blood and needles, and finally biting the bullet, I got not 1, but 2 new tattoos! Yay! I have wanted both of them for an incredibly long time, and being the mega nerd I am, they are both book related, so I wanted to take the time to make this post just to explain the reasons behind them and the meanings too!

So first off, here they are! I freaking love them! They are still a bit red and swollen here as this was about 2 or 3 hours after they had just been done. There are still some ink smudges around that will be cleaned off, of course, but I LOVE THEM!

So, some explanations... The first one I had done, the one on the left is obviously the most recognisable. It's iconic and unique to the wonderful Harry Potter series by the incomparable J.K. Rowling. And it is of course the mark of the Deathly Hallows! I was obsessed with the books as a kid, reading the first 3 back to back when Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban came out because my Nan saw the books and thought me and my sisters would like them... She was right of course, and my obsession has never really died down. Through the rest of the series, to the films, to now, I am still as obsessed as ever and as soon as I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I knew I wanted one day to have some way of remembering my obsession and the mark of the Hallows seemed like a great place to start! 

Not only is it symbolic of my love for this series, but also for something it kickstarted in me. I remember being 11 years old, on holiday at Haven Caravan Park in Hastings (somewhere in the south of England) and getting Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix. I had been waiting so long! I couldn't get it the day it came out because it was a family friends wedding. Gosh I remember that day so well! We even walked past a WH Smith with a massive banner outside saying that the book was on sale that day. I was so mad. My mum said I couldn't have it, so I went to my Nan who was also there, the same one who introduced me to the series, and she said no too. Man, I was GUTTED! But I waited, and after 2 weeks, I finally got a copy when we were on holiday and I spent the rest of the time in the caravan reading and falling in love again. I remember thinking how people were getting so excited about this book, how everyone was clamouring for it and dying to know what happened next, and I wanted to give people that same feeling! It was around this time that I decided I wanted to be a writer and ever since I have been crafting and honing my writing. I dream of being published one day, but until such a day comes, I still know that it is J.K. Rowling and her world, her characters, her words and her incredible imagination that inspired me to start writing in the first place, and for that passion I have found I will never be able to thank her enough!

It also symbolises some things personally for me. Around the time the series was coming out, we lost all four of our surviving grandparents (we had been raised with 6 technically, as my mums mother and father both remarried) from 2004-2008 in very quick succession and this took a massive toll on us. Around this time, my reading and writing really helped me through some tough times and was a real form of escapism that I just could not get enough of. The symbol in the book obviously related to death and how if you have all three Hallows you will become the Master of Death, and this spoke to me. Kind of a reminder that we can't fight death and just to enjoy my life as much as I can while I am here!

The mark comes from the Tale of the Three Brothers, taken from The Tales of Beedle the Bard. I ADORE my collectors edition copy, which I only got last year. It is stunning and I love this picture I took of my tattoo and the book! I'm so happy I have had it done at last!

And on to the second tattoo, then! This one is a wee-little dinky one, and it literally took 30 seconds but it's one I love and have wanted even longer than I have wanted the Deathly Hallows mark. 

People that know me will know that I am freaking obsessed with Michelle Paver. I think she is an incredibly talented individual with a stunning mind and her books feel so real and yet so magical, so fantastical, that I only have to turn the page and I am drawn into the world of the Forest with its hunter gatherer society, or the world of Ancient Greece with their bronze daggers and erupting volcanoes. This tattoo comes from her first series, Chronicles of Acient Darkness which started with Wolf Brother, and continued on through Spirit Walker, Soul Eater, Outcast, Oath Breaker and finally, Ghost Hunter. This series literally blew my mind. I would get the newest addition, read it in several hours and already begin lamenting the fact that I had a whole year to wait for the next one. My love knew no ends. I have met Michelle several times, and used to write to her all the time (which reminds me, I should really write to her again as it has been a while!) and she is so kind, so sweet and so brilliant to be around. She gives off this energy that is so intoxicating and makes you want to go on adventure like her characters. It's amazing. Again, she has been a MASSIVE inspiration for my writing, and has given me a lot of advice and encouragement which I cannot thank her for enough. I attended a writing course she did back when Outcast came out in 2007 and it was so much fun and she was such a great teacher in that respect. 

This particular series follows Torak and his friends as they try to rid the Forest of the dreaded Soul-Eaters. A group of rogue Mage's who are hell bent on destroying everything and unleashing demons upon the world. It takes you from the open forest, to the sea, to the far north, to the east, deep into the darkest depths of the Forest and into the high mountains and never stops for a second. It also has a lot of great, heart-felt moments too. And one such moment is when Fin-Kedinn, leader of the Raven Clan and Torak's kind of father figure after his birth father dies in the first pages of Wolf Brother, is talking to Torak about good, and evil, and the choices you can make. He says:

“Evil exists in us all, Torak. Some fight it. Some feed it. That's how it's always been.” 

And it is so true! We all have good and bad sides, and it is up to us how we choose to utilise them. Whether we act upon our good intentions or our bad ones, what sort of person we really are. The symbol I have had tattooed is the mark of the Soul-Eaters. In the books, they have it on their chest, directly over their heart, but I didn't want it there. I wanted it as a reminder of the above quote, that I can be good and I can be bad, it's up to me who I am and who I want to be, as well as the fact I just think it is cool and for Michelle's inspiration. The design itself is probably different from the one they actually had in the book, it isn't actually specified as far as I can remember. However in the books, they use little symbols in the place of asterisks to mark breaks in the story whilst still in the same chapter. At times in the series there are reeds, mountains, waves, a small oak tree, and this symbol, which I took directly from the text for my tattoo!

We first encounter the Soul-Eaters properly in the third book, Soul Eater, so I took a picture with the book just because! Who needs a reason? Ha!

Yes it is small, it's the exact size as it appears in the book, but I am not a fan of massive tattoos and wanted little ones to start off with so if I do decide I want a bigger one at some point in the future I know I can handle it and what to expect pain-wise, because it was literally painless. I didn't feel much of the Hallows tattoo, but when he did the Soul-Eater tattoo, it felt a bit like the needle was pretty deep in my skin and tickled a fair bit but like I said, that was 30 seconds of my life and now I have 2 tattoos I love and am proud of. They have true meaning for me, my life and I have thought about them for a very, very long time so cannot see myself ever regretting getting them!

So there you go. My bookish tattoos. Maybe I'll get more, may I won't. Who knows? 

Do you have any bookish related tattoos? Please comment below, share, tweet, whatever. I love being part of the bookish community and am interested in what tattoos others have! :)

Pyramids by Terry Pratchett - Terry Pratchett Blog Tour

First off I want to say what an honour and privilege it has been to be a part of this whole thing. The Terry Pratchett blog tour started off as a spark of an idea had by the lovely Viv of Serendipity Reviews and it has grown incredibly into this well planned and immaculately thought out series of posts! Terry himself was an incredibly talented individual and to see so many people, bloggers, book tubers and so on, coming together to celebrate his worlds, his characters and his writing in general. It is refreshing and gratifying to see, and I could not be happier to be a part of this!

I have long planned to read all of the Discworld series, somewhere on the right there is a link to a challenge I set myself, back in 2013 I believe, to read the series, and I have failed spectacularly. However, now more than ever, I am determined to read them and so this has also been an honour to be a part of AND an excuse (not that any are needed of course) to read a brand new Pratchett adventure, and for this blog tour, I was escorted to the kingdon of Djelibeybi... No, really... it's one of the oldest kingdoms on the Disc, and Teppic has just become king. Tasked with building his fathers pyramid to help ease him into the Netherworld and with trying to rescue a crumbling kingdom, all sorts is going on!

I won't lie, Pyramids, which was originally published in 1989, isn't my favourite instalment of the Discworld series I have read yet. That award is still held by my first ever venture into Terry Pratchett's world, Hogfather. However, this book still trumps some authors at their very best, and that is no mean feat. The book is fun all over. I loved getting to see Teppic training to be an assassin with the Assassin's Guild in Ankh-Morpork, a world so different in a million and one ways to the one he is used to. I loved how he looked at his home afterwards in a new light, that there were improvements that needed making.

And as with any Pratchett novel there are a myriad of characters to love, hate and love to hate. From the late King Teppicymon XXVII, to his son, Teppic, Dios the high priest and Ptaclusp and his sons, there are a range of characters for you to fall in love with, and laugh at. And laugh I did! That is the thing about Terry and his work. It doesn't matter what the subject matter is, no matter how tender he is around said subject, he has this knack of making things funny. And sometimes his humour is so subtle! There are some parts that upon first reading them you just breeze over it, but then a half second later it hits you and makes you laugh big time.

Death, the character, also made an appearance and so far every time he has popped up in one of the books has been a highlight. It's just so insightful and funny!

I really enjoyed his take on Ancient Egypt and how it fits in with the more modern world that surrounds it. The idea of the pyramids lighting up at night, full of power was very cool and something I liked. I also loved, as I always do in Terry's work his use of things in our world, twisting them to fit the world of the Disc and making them more of a commentary. Whilst his books are a lot of fun to read, they are also very thought-provoking, questioning things of varying seriousness. 

I for one am so happy that I have another 30 or so Discworld books to read as it means I have a lot more fun adventures to experience on the Disc and I cannot wait to get started. I've read the first 2 books and Hogfather and next I'm thinking it'll be time to re-visit my favourite charter of Pratchett's I have read yet, Death, with Mort. Terry may be gone, but with the legacy he has left behind there is no way at all that he will ever be forgotten. His stories, his characters and his settings, are timeless and will go down well for generations to come and that makes me feel kind of warm inside. There is a quote from Death that people shared a lot when he first passed that really speaks to me and made me well up a little if I'm totally honest...

“No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away...”

And you know what, it is totally true! The ripples that Terry has caused will never fade, and so he will live on, in a way, for years and years to come! May he rest well!

Be sure to follow the Terry Pratchett Blog Tour over on twitter. It's running until 5th May and there are a lot of great posts coming! The quality so far has been amazing so far, only testament to how loved Terry and his work is!