Currently Reading

Currently reading: Zom-B Bride by Darren Shan.

Monday, 16 February 2015

The Rest of Us Just Live Here cover revealed!

I fell in love with Patrick Ness when I read The Crane Wife last year, and feel even deeper in love when I read More Than This which was a stunning read! Bear with me, I haven't mentioned the Choas Walking books, because I haven't read them. Please don't shoot me, I'm well aware that I am missing out and I am hoping to rectify that this year and read the trilogy. However we have new Patrick to look forward to this year with the release of The Rest of Us Just Live Here in August! And now it has a beautiful cover for us to oggle and I am in LOVE!!!


OH MAN JUST GIVE IT TO ME NOW!!!

"What if you weren’t the Chosen One? What if you’re not the one who’s so often the hero in YA fiction; 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..."

Roll on 27th August!

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven [Review]

Written by: Jennifer Niven.
Published by: Puffin.
Format: Paperback.
Released: 6th January 2015.
Rating: 5/5.

Official synopsis: "Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him. Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death. When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink."

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From the first moment that I heard about this book, in an email from Carolyn at Puffin, that I knew I had to read it and I also had an inkling that it would either be a book I would totally adore or one that I hated. It sounds amazing, don't get me wrong... But a kid who is fascinated with his own mortality and wanting to kill himself... I just didn't know how I would feel reading a whole book like that or even if I would be able to make it all the way through. Yeah, the packaging is pretty but what about the contents?

I have to say that my concerns were ill-conceived and the book itself is, in fact, an absolute masterpiece. A stroke of genius. It's wonderfully, beautifully, written. It's evocative and thought-provoking and had me questioning so many things, aspects, of my own life and the people around me.

From the second I started reading I was so engrossed in Finch and Violet, in their blossoming relationship and the way they are perceived by those around them. This is the sort of life-consuming read that completely takes over your life. I could not stop reading and at one point crying! It's emotional and so charged that I still, a few weeks after reading it, feel deeply affected. As someone who has had to deal with issues on a similar (although not as drastic, I might add) scale, the book felt incredibly real and raw to me. I felt like it was talking directly to me, that Finch was talking to me, that Violet was sharing herself with me. The book deals so well with mental health issues, suicide and the grief that follows the death of a loved one. It covers a whole range of emotions and at times left me breathless as I recalled thoughts and feelings I had had - thoughts and feelings that had made me feel so alone but I now know are shared the world over, and this book was the key to that. 

I am not normally a fan of a two-narrative driven story. I don't think they work that well most of the time, but when it is right, it's right. And fortunately with All The Bright Places, it most certainly is right. Finch and Violet both have such distinct voices that there is no confusing one for the other. They both feel so fleshed out. I really liked how they came to know each other so well because they both had the same intention before Finch talks Violet out of doing what she was intending. But because Finch is the school clown, mocked and laughed at, of course the story is given a completely different spin and as far as their fellow pupils are concerned, Violet has just saved his life, not the other way round like it really was. It is this chance encounter that brings them closer, starting a relationship based on exploration, one that is about finding the happier moments in life.

Ultimately, the ending was very unexpected for me. I didn't think it would end the way it would, but it left me in absolute pieces. Really, I was ruined when I finished the book, I turned over the page and almost yelled, demanding more. I needed more. It couldn't end there, there had to be another part somewhere and my copy had been misprinted? It had to be. That to me is the sign of a good book, when you're gasping for more, even when all the plot lines have been tied together into a neat ending, and you still want more. Even if it's mundane, so far removed from the book, you just want more.

This book would be perfect for people that liked The Fault in Our Stars, or just for anyone who needs a little enlightenment in their life. Honestly, please just pick this book up. It is a life-changing experience that you should not miss out on.

My thanks to Carolyn at Puffin for my copy - I will cherish it for years to come! Thank you!

Sunday, 15 February 2015

5th Blogiversary! GIVEAWAY!


I can't believe it. I genuinely can't. When I set up my blog all those years ago I never dreamt it would still be a thing I did and thought about. I started it just for a bit of fun after discovering that book blogs existed. I don't even know how I came to realise this but I know the first one I ever found was Jenny's incredible Wondrous Reads site. Since then I've gotten to speak to so many amazing people, and even got to go to a film premiere because of it, which is something I never imagined would happen (although I haven't met anyone yet... which is s0 FRUSTRATING!!!!). The past few years have been pretty hectic and I always completely forget about my blogiversary and will just happen to realise that is has already passed so I cannot do anything to celebrate... Well not this year!

As a massive thank you to each and every one of you out there that has supported me, read the blog, follows me on twitter and instagram, and to all the amazing publishers and publicists and their amazing authors, I am running this give away! Wahoo! I've always wanted to do one but I wanted a good reason and my blog turning 5 seems like a good idea to me. And what is better is that it is an INTERNATIONAL giveaway! As long as the Book Depository ship to your country then you can enter! Fantastic stuff! Yo can find a list here of all the countries they ship to!

All you have to do to win is fill out the form below. It's as simple as that! No tricky questions, nothing major. Just fill out the form and sit back and wait! What I have decided to do is pick five of my favourite books I have reviewed. One from each year I have been blogging... So, here are the choices!

2010: When I Was Joe by Keren David.
2011: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.
2012: Gods and Warriors/The Outsiders by Michelle Paver.
2013: Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan.
2014: This Book Is Gay by James Dawson.

Now I am going to have 3 winners who each get to pick one book and then I will also pick out a wildcard entry who will win all 5! Now, the competition is open until 11:59pm on 6th March and winners will be picked some time that week and contacted for their addresses so I can send their prizes out! Good luck to everyone, and thank you for an amazing five years! Here's to another 5!

(Please note, winners will be picked using Random.org and will be emailed for confirmation of address!)

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Department 19: Darkest Night cover revealed

If you have been around the past few years there you will have definitely heard me and several other bloggers babble on about how amazing Will Hill and his Department 19 series is. Well, 2015 sees this  epic saga come to a conclusion with the publication of the fifth and final book, Darkest Night

I for one am incredibly excited but also excuciatingly scared. I have even put off reading book 4, Zero Hour because I don't want the series to end and I want to make the wait between the two books as short as possible as I have heard that the ending of Zero Hour leaves readers gasping for more and knowing Will and his cliffhangers I am not sure I could cope with it all.

That said I am so excited to see how everything wraps up. It has been building up so well and Will is a masterful storyteller! 

Well, now, the cover for the final book has been unveiled and it is an absolute stunner.


ARGHHHHH!!!!! The colours! The bones!!!! Everything!!!! Oh god!!!! It's incredible and I love it. It matches so well with the rest of the series! It's out in June I believe and I can't wait to see what happens!!!

Monday, 26 January 2015

Marly's Ghost by David Leviathan [Review]

Written by: David Levithan.
Published by: Electric Monkey.
Format: Paperback.
Released: 8th January 2015.
Rating: 2/5.

Official synopsis: "A remix of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with a Valentine’s twist... When Ben’s girlfriend, Marly, dies, he feels his life is over and the prospect of Valentine’s day without her fills him with bitterness. But then Marly arrives – or at least, her ghost does – along with three other spirits. Now Ben must take a journey through Valentines past, present and future – and what he learns will change him forever.

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Oh man, I really do not know where to start with this one. I really don't. I hate writing reviews like this, I really do, First off, let me say that me and David Levithan have a very, VERY, on off relationship. The first work of his that I read was Boy Meets Boy which I really did not like... Then his second piece of work that I read was Two Boys Kissing and I would never of accredited the two books to the same author. Ever. Two Boys Kissing was life-affirming, incredible, stunning and my favourite book of 2013. So I entered Marly's Ghost with some trepidation, wondering whether this was going to be a repeat of my time with Boy Meets Boy  or with Two Boys Kissing.

Sadly it appears to be the former... 

From the start I found Marly's Ghost really jarring. I just couldn't take in what was happening. I struggled to retain information. Dialogue. Key plot points. In fact half way through I had to put it aside and try to recall what I could remember. I know the book is supposed to be, and is marketed as, a remix/rehash of the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, so I knew this when I started the book. But I didn't expect it to be so similar. Then when I read the author notes/acknowledgements it became clear that this was intentional, that Levithan actually wrote the book whilst reading A Christmas Carol and went through it page by page, paragraph by paragraph... He then proceeded to re-write it to give it a modern twist... But the modern twist is entirely lacking. These are teenagers who we're reading about and yet their dialogue is so jarring, so Victorian and I struggled with this. It just didn't feel right to me and often put me off.

Something I also found highly annoying and mildly offensive if I'm honest, is the complete and utter lack of compassion. Four months is a relatively short space of time, especially when you consider that a loved one has passed away. This is a story about first love that ends in tragedy and understandably our male lead, Ben, is grieving and quite heavily. Four months. And yet his friends are treating him like some kind of mad man. Some have given up on trying to include him in their plans while others are either on the cusp of giving up or still willing to put the effort in. I found this quite unsettling. Four months when you lose anyone you love is an INCREDIBLY short space of time, a very raw time that is a minefield of good and bad days, in my experience anyway having lost several family members. I just cannot describe how angry this aspect of the story actually made me. At one point, I actually almost threw my Kindle that I was reading it on across the room. I was so annoyed I didn't care if it broke I just wanted to stop the book there and then - I'm not going to say what point it was because it is a big spoiler for anyone that wants to read the book... Let's just say that it involves the final spirit... Oh man I raged!

But I am a believer that if you start something you should finish it, and I don't like putting a book down half way and never finishing it. I always wonder if there might be a redeeming factor lying in wait at the end. Sadly, no. The ending is a sugar-coated sickening shower of love as Ben tries to spread the message that love is great and that you need to move on. I know, as well, that Levithan is well known for his portrayal of LGBT characters but the couple we meet in this book felt so unnecessary. They didn't make sense in the story and the whole thing just felt so off.

Overall I think it is safe to say I was disappointed with this book. Greatly disappointed. Part of me wants to attempt another of Levithan's works, I have heard wonderful things about Everyday but I am worried that with my history with his works it'll be a pointless exercise. We shall see.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

This Book Is Gay by James Dawson [Review]

NB - I don't know what took me so long to review this, I read it just after it came out and absolutely adored it and I had meant to review it but my list of things to do grew and grew and overtook me... Oh well, better late than never, right?

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Written by: James Dawson.
Published by: Hot Key Books.
Format: Paperback.
Released: 4th September 2014.
Rating: 5/5.

Official synopsis: "Former PSHCE teacher and acclaimed YA author James Dawson gives an uncensored look at what it's like to grow up as LGBT. Including testimonials from people across the gender and sexual spectrums, this frank, funny, fully inclusive book explores everything anyone who ever dared to wonder wants to know - from sex to politics, how to pull, stereotypes, how to come-out and more. Spike Gerrell's hilarious illustrations combined with funny and factual text make this a must-read."

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Oh James! James, James, James, James, JAMES! You wonderful, wonderful man, you! 

I do not normally read non-fiction. People that know me know that I actively hate non-fiction. I'm not a big fan of biographies, autobiographies, fact books, any books to do with research or anything that that. Generally I find them boring and will only read them if it's something I am particularly interested in (I think to date I only own 3 autobiographies...). I'm more of a fiction kind of guy. I love being in made up worlds, made up situations, with made up people... Characters. And someone who's fiction I love very much is Mr. James Dawson himself. Author of the witchy tale Hollow Pike, sun, sea, sand and murder tome Cruel Summer, and school girl haunting Say Her Name, James has captivated a wide audience. And when I first heard about This Book Is Gay, I just knew I had to break my own reading limitations and read it because coming from James it was bound to be good.

And you know what? I was surprised just how much I enjoyed this book. I thought I might as James had said it was funny as well as informative and this was something I was a bit worried about. Was it simply going to be a big information dump? Fact after fact after fact, that although it was designed for the YA market it would still have the usual non-fiction feel, almost a clinical kind of cleanliness and way of delivering information. But that couldn't of been further from the truth. What is actually contained within the brightly coloured cover is a fun, sometimes gut-wrenchingly funny, well thought out and delivered book that doesn't feel like learning at all. It is informative, don't get me wrong. As a gay male myself I found myself relating to thinks in the book. I read bits and experiences similar to my own and also things that I didn't know, or haven't yet encountered. 

I loved the whole thing. From the section on stereotypes, to gay icons, it kept me glued to the page as much as any thriller ever has. It's so well executed that I cannot thank James enough for its existence and Hot Key Books enough for actually publishing it. The book itself feels so important. If this book had been around 10 years ago, heck, even 5 years ago, I feel like my own adolescence and transition into an adult would of been a million times easier. It's not a secret that I struggled with coming to terms with my own sexuality until as last as the end of 2013 but we never had anything remotely like this. We never had anything that showed it was okay to be gay and that it wasn't that different from being straight, things were just a little different. This book really opened my eyes and actually made me mourn for the years of my life I wasted worrying and hiding - it had almost the same affect on me that David Levithan's Two Boys Kissing did, only this one showed me things I had never imagined! I'd never thought about sterotypes and the like.

The book is also a great form of sex-ed for young gay people, both male and female. It isn't that explicit but it's the sort of information you are NEVER taught in school and I find this so valuable and important. I had a brief twitter convo with George or as you may know him GesterG91 on BookTube/YouTube and we both agreed that the book should become required reading in schools and I couldn't argue this point more if I tried. Whilst I do think the book is very good for LGBT people I also believe it would be a very beneficial read for many straight people too. Gay people are all to often brushed aside by straight people and it is something I see and experience every day and think the book would help give some people a little bit of understanding, a bit of an idea of what it might be like to be a bit different to the norm.

So I am rambling, I am aware. I just cannot express my love for this book enough. It's just... GAH! One of my favourite books I've read yet and the best piece of nonfiction I have ever encountered, that is for sure!

Please, please, please, give this book a go! I promise you won't be disappointed, it is James after all, the man is incredible! 

Thank you so much to Hot Key Books for sending me a copy.