19 Oct 2014



Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite. But they don't laugh. Melanie is a very special girl. Emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end, THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS is the most powerful and affecting thriller you will read this year.

When I'm trying to describe this book to people I always describe it as The Walking Dead meets Matilda - and as soon as you read it you'll see exactly what I mean.

It's very difficult to review a book when you want to keep all the twists and turns as fresh as shocking for the next reader as it was for yourself... All I will tell you is the bare bones, which is this:

The Girl With All The Gifts is set in a post-apocalyptic England where a deadly virus has destroyed most of the population - what becomes of these people, and how Melanie ends up in the midst of it all is brutal, terrible, and infinitely fascinating. It is honestly one of my favourite books of this year, and one of the best thrillers I have ever read. It is also one of the first sci-fi books to make it on the the Waterstones Book Club. That takes a lot.

So remember: The Walking Dead meet Matilda. And if that doesn't intrigue you enough to go out and pick it up then more fool you because it's definitely an experience worth having.

Please note: this book is not suitable for younger readers, and is so awesome your heart might stop. Or explode. I take no responsibility for either occurrence.

16 Oct 2014


People are keeping secrets from Oli - about where his father is, and why he hasn't come to join them at his uncle's house in the country.

But Oli has secrets too.

He knows what lives in the attic. Eren - part monster, part dream, part myth. Eren who always seems so interested, who always wants to hear more about Oli's life. Eren, who needs to hear stories to live, and will take them from Oli, no matter the cost.

Eren is one of the strangest books I have ever read, and it's a debut that's one of the most unique and exciting stories I've read this year.

When Oli's Mum moves him away from his London home he begins to feel isolated from his life. He goes to live at his Uncle's house and when exploring the attic meets a very strange creature... Eren. Eren feeds off stories of all sorts, and the more detailed and imaginative the better. They make him stronger. He begins to take over everything in Oli's life.

Eren is really a story about what happens when children are protected from the hardships of adult life. By not telling Oli what is happening with his Dad or why they had to move to London, Oli's imagination begins to take on a life of his own, spreading from simple storytelling to reconstructing his own history with the detail and flourish that Eren keeps pushing him for.

Storytelling affects everyone. Everything is an interpretation of the truth and affects the way we see ourselves and our histories. It can bring magic and wonder, sometimes giving us new ways to see situations, to understand and explore emotions.

Eren is a beautifully produced fairytale for both adults and children, about the power of imagination and how easily it spills into and influences our everyday lives.

28 Jul 2014


What do you do when everybody says you’re someone you’re not?
Alex wants change. Massive change. More radical than you could imagine. 

Her mother is not happy, in fact she’s imploding. Her dad walked out. Alex has turned vegetarian, ditched one school, enrolled in another, thrown out her clothes. And created a new identity. An identity that changes her world.

And Alex—the other Alex—has a lot to say about it. 

Alex As Well is a confronting and heartfelt story of adolescent experience—of questioning identity, discovering sexuality, navigating friendships and finding a place to belong. Alex is a strong, vulnerable, confident, shy and determined character, one you will never forget.

Alex doesn't believe he is a boy. He's not always sure that he is a girl either - but for the purpose of this review I'll refer to Alex as a girl. The book opens with Alex at a make-up counter, allowing herself to get a make-over. It's so interesting how this part is written. It's not obvious at first what gender Alex is and my brain tried to pick up keys in the text to find out if Alex is actually a boy or a girl, because this is what we are programmed to do. It is this programming that the book explores and you do find yourself wondering what you would do if you were Alex or Alex's parents.

Alex As Well does exactly what a good book should do - it puts you in someone else's shoes. Live as Alex for a few days and understand exactly how precarious our ideas of gender are. I could understand her Mother's reaction. There must be a certain amount of denial and bewilderment and social pressure. I understand this, I don't condone it. For Alex, I sympathise. How many of us have wished we were someone else? Imagine if you believed you were someone else and had the guts to make that huge change to your life. The most frustrating part of the book is that Alex's parents knew that this day would come.

4 May 2014


Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it's been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and he still loves her - but that almost seems besides the point now. Two days before they're supposed to visit Neal's family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells him that she can't go. She's a TV writer, and something's come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her - he is always a little upset with her - but she doesn't expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her. 

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she's finally done it. If she's ruined everything. That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It's not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she's been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts...Is that what she's supposed to do? Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

Landline follows Georgie, an American sitcom writer with 2 kids and a husband, Neal. When Georgie lands the chance to write her dream series it means leaving Neal to take her children to his parents on his own. With their relationship already strained, the time without Neal makes Georgie start to look at their relationship and what he means to her.

One evening when Georgie stays with her mom she tries to call Neal from her old yellow landline - and when he answers it's not who she's expecting. Right guy, wrong time. She somehow manages to connect with him in a past state, just before he proposes to her. Georgie has to ask herself - should she try to put him off from proposing believing that she can't make him happy, or are they destined to be together no matter what?

6 Jan 2014


An utterly gripping thriller from bestselling author Lauren Oliver. Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a poor town of twelve thousand people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do. 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. She'd never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought. Dodge has never been afraid of panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game; he's sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that he's not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for. For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them-and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

Panic is a game. A dangerous game, elevating in every round. For most contestants, including Heather and Nat, best friends who join the game after finally graduating High School, it's a chance to win big - big enough to get them out of the small cramped town of Carp. 

I've not long finished the Delirium series and after finding that I was disappointed overall I wasn't over-eager to continue to read Oliver's work. However, I felt the writing in the final book was becoming much stronger, and a new series might be the opportunity to put my misgivings aside and start afresh.

I've recently been trying to avoid reading the blurb of books to see if it changes what I anticipate in a book and I'd done quite well with Panic. I went in with tentative steps, finally sinking into the developing narrative and finding that I had flown through the first 100 pages without wanting to put it down. I was worried that we'd be back into the whole YA forbidden/torturous love territory again but I was pleasantly surprised. Heather, the books female narrator, is actually a really good character. She's not perfect by a long shot - she calls a girl "shrimp-faced" and refuses to feel bad about it because she thinks she actually does look that way. She doesn't fall in love with her 'cute' best friend straight away, and amusingly thinks her friends shouldn't be allowed to be happy when she's miserable. We've all been there, right?

A few things that annoyed me about Panic: why is everyone's family so damaged? Just because they live in a small town where opportunities are sparse it doesn't mean that everyone's Mom had to be a prostitute or a drunk. Also, how have the Police not clocked on to Panic in previous years? I'll say one thing for Lauren Oliver, she loves a good Police raid! I'm also not a huge fan of swearing in YA literature. I've always thought of it as lazy writing, there's enough in an implication of swearing. It doesn't need to be so prolific. In fact if it wasn't for this the age scope would be much bigger.

These YA 'elimination games' seem to be a big literary premise since The Hunger Games films really took off. I'm not saying that it's not a good premise, just that I'd like to see authors bringing something new to the scene. What I did love about this is that Lauren Oliver has really grown as an author and it shows. It's not an all encompassing dystopia like her previous series, which is good because it was exhausting and tense, and there are some great elements of down time here too. It isn't quite contemporarily realistic either but theres a good balance. 
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