Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Top 5 Books of 2020

 


So I used to do this as a YouTube video, but seeing as I have yet to revive my YouTube channel (I do have a plan for that!) I thought I would do it as a blog post instead. I only read 27 books last year, but it was still enough to find some all-time favourites! I honestly wish I could give a paragraph to every book I read last year, but I will have to be content with 5.


5: Frozen Charlotte




I read this book around Halloween and it was super creepy! I’ve always found dolls to be creepy, so this book was perfect to read at Halloween. As I don’t usually enjoy horror stories I didn’t think I’d like it much, but it was interesting and fast-paced so I got through it pretty quickly! I won’t go into details on what it’s about as I have yet to post my full review, but I’m definitely glad I decided tor read something outside my comfort zone as I really enjoyed it!


 4: Rick



Rick follows a boy who is confused about his sexuality and ends up identifying as asexual. This book had so many important messages and helped explain different sexualities and genders in an easy to understand way. I think this would be a great book for kids to read when they’re just coming to understand sexuality and gender. 

3: Who Let the God's Out?



This one is a bit of a cheat as Who Let the God’s Out? Is the first book in a series! I started the series at the start of 2020, so I think it must have been pretty special for me to still remember it by the end of the year! I adore Greek Mythology, and this middle grade series is packed with Greek God’s. adventures and friendship. I loved how funny it was and how despite the silly plot, it was able to cover some important themes such as broken families and grief. Really I wish I had started it a little later in the year as it was a great form of escapism.


2: Life of Riley: Beginner's Luck
 


This one is a middle grade book by one of my all time favourite authors, Simon James Green. Simon’s books never fail to make me laugh and this one was no exception! This is Simon’s first middle grade book and follows Riley, a ten year old who is convinced he is cursed. This was such a funny and light hearted read. As we’re all going through a tough time right now, it’s perfect for escaping our problems for a little while. I loved the themes of friendship and the uplifting message of having better days ahead of us. As it’s so easy to assume the worst and think we have nothing to look forward to right now, I think it’s a message that we all need to hear!  



1: Howl's Moving Castle



 
This one probably comes as no surprise for those who know me. I’m a huge fan of Studio Ghibli, so it’s no surprise that I adored this book! I have a whole post scheduled for Howl that will be up soon so I won’t talk about this book too much here, but I loved it just as much as the movie. I adored book Howl, and particularly loved that he was originally from Wales. He was so dramatic along with being extremely charismatic and charming. Really though can Howl please be my boyfriend? As the book was sitting on my shelf gathering dust for years I’m so glad that I finally picked it up!

 Even though they didn’t quite make it into my top five, I just want to mention An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green, Run, Rebel by Manjeet Mann and Midnight’s Twins by Holly Race. These were all fantastic books that I definitely recommend. Let me know what some of your favourite books were in 2020 and who knows, maybe they’ll end up in favourites for this year. Happy New Year and have a wonderful 2021 full of books!



Friday, 11 December 2020

Blog Tour- Brand New Boy

 



Daniel is an ordinary boy who goes to an ordinary school with ordinary friends. That is until George shows up. George is a new boy who gets put in Daniel’s class, and although he seems friendly enough something about him is a little… odd. At first, Daniel doesn’t think much of it. I mean everyone is a little odd in their own ways right? However Daniel soon discovers the shocking truth about George which changes the lives of him and his friends forever!

So today is my stop on the Brand New Boy blog tour! I thought I’d share my thoughts on this interesting and thought-provoking middle-grade book. Honestly, I have no idea how I’m going to write this review without giving away the big reveal that happens in the middle of the book as I just want to rant about all the things but I’ll do my best to keep it spoiler-free! 

 The book follows Daniel, a young boy who goes to an average primary school in Newcastle. However, things change for Daniel when a strange boy shows up accompanied by an equally strange lady. I loved the introduction of George, as it wasn’t immediately clear that something was weird with him. Being put in the spotlight in front of the whole school when you’re the new kid would make anyone feel awkward, and people have different responses to being put in an uncomfortable situation. To me, George just seemed to be a little overwhelmed and I wasn’t particularly suspicious about him until we got to know him a little better. It started to become obvious that George wasn’t “normal” as time went on, but Daniel and his friends start to question what normal even is. I loved how the kids tried to befriend George even though he seemed strange to them. Kids who don’t immediately fit in tend to get bullied, so I loved that everyone was interested in George and wanted to befriend him rather than deciding to be mean to him. 

 This book was honestly a big existential crisis. Daniel questions things such as why they follow orders from teachers, and why they do the exact same thing every day and sit in tiny square classrooms sitting at tiny square desks. It really made me start to think about these kinds of things myself. Who makes us do these things and why do we do them? It’s too easy to get into a spiral of questions on our existence when we think about it too deeply, but I think we all have these thoughts from time to time. I loved how it delved into the question of what makes us human really. Is it our emotions? Our ability to think for ourselves and learn new experiences? What makes us different from say a cat or a computer or a robot? I loved the discussions about artificial intelligence, as this is something that we are seeing more and more of in the modern world. Although we are not quite at the point where we see robots walking around in our day to day lives, technology is certainly heading that way, and if on day robots can feel emotions, would that make them human? This book honestly made me think about so many things that I really wasn’t expecting from a Middle-Grade book! 

 I adored the friendships in this book, and how easily the kids invited George into their friend circle. Even after learning how George was different from them, they treated him like everyone else and tried to help him as best as they could. They were put into a situation they had never even thought about before and handled it brilliantly. It was heartwarming to see them be so kind and thoughtful towards George when some of the adults saw him as nothing more than an experiment. Even though George was with them for such a short time, they made sure he had positive experiences and that he knew they were his friends. Kids are often more open minded than adults, so it was nice to see how they treated him despite knowing so little about him.

 So what is George exactly? Is he a robot? An alien? A shapeshifter?A hologram? A glitch in the matrix? Well you’re just going to have to read the book to find out! However, I do promise it’s nothing too sinister and it may just include some Sci-Fi themes! There are a few hints in the book towards what George is, and I did manage to figure out what it was before it was properly revealed by the way he acted, so even though I’m not giving anything away I didn’t really find it too shocking. It wasn’t really something I was expecting going into the book though so I was still somewhat surprised.

 I overall loved this book and loved the themes of love and acceptance, and the thought-provoking themes of humanity and our existence. I also adored the illustrations and I felt like they really helped to tell the story.  Although David is obviously a very popular author I’ve never actually read any of his books before, so this one has definitely made me want to read more! I don’t think there’s anyone who wouldn’t enjoy this book so I definitely recommend it!




Brand New Boy is now available to purchase!

Monday, 30 November 2020

Review on Beyond the Odyssey

 




With two Chaos Stones in his possession, Elliot is halfway to recovering them all. However, Elliot’s home life is becoming more complicated. His father has returned, and even with the extra help, Elliot’s mother's condition seems to be worsening. However, there may be something that can save her, a potion that is said to cure any illness. If Elliot wants to find it, he must go further than he has ever been before. Elliot must not only find the third Chaos Stone, but find the potion that will save his mum and Hermes. 

I can’t believe I’m already on book three! I’ve loved this series and this book was no exception. The stakes are higher than ever before, and on top of finding the third Chaos Stone, Elliot must also find Panacea’s Potion. Something I immediately loved was that we got to see more mythological places in this book. For the most part, Elliot has remained in the mortal world, and although he has had to retrieve chaos stones from highly protected places such as The Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and The Natural History Museum, they have all been close to where he lives and he was able to go back home at the end of the day. However, Elliot’s search takes him to far more distant places this time, including an island inhabited by the Cyclops, deep under the sea and on a perilous journey across the ocean. I found this book more exciting than the previous two, and I loved that we were being taken away from reality a little more.

 Despite the book heading deeper into mythology, Elliot still faces the very real problem of his mothers declining health. This book seemed to face it more head on, and confirms our suspicions that Josie is suffering from early onset dementia. It was heartbreaking to see things from Josie’s point of view, and how frustrating and confusing everything was for her. People suffering from dementia often retain their long term memory longer than their short term memory, so it was particularly heartbreaking when she was moved to the hospital where nothing was familiar to her and she started to lose herself even more. It was horrible to see Elliot go through this at such a young age, especially when his grief took over to the point he started lashing out at his friends who were just trying to help. I loved how understanding the God’s were, and how they didn’t take his outbursts personally and continued to try to help him.

 The one thing I was disappointed in was the lack of my favourite character, Hermes. Even though him being in a coma was one of the main things that drove the plot, I missed him being around, and I especially missed the brotherly bond between him and Elliot. Hermes seems like the closest thing to a sibling that Elliot has, and I missed their antics and Hermes’ fun personality. I’m hoping the last book has lots of Hermes content to make up for it! 

 There were some interesting new characters in this book, but my favourite has to be Gorgy, Virgo’s pet baby gorgon. Gorgy was constantly getting into mischief, and although he’s tiny and adorable, he actually had some pretty impressive powers of his own that saved Virgo on more than one occasions! I loved that although everyone initially disliked Gorgy, they came to accept him as part of their gang. Really he made me want a pet gorgon of my own!

 I have to talk a little about Virgo, who has to make some pretty tough decisions in this book. Virgo wants nothing more than to be accepted back onto the Zodiac Council and get her kardia back, and will do anything to get what she wants, leading her to make some bad choices, including voting to lock away all the elementals. Virgo eventually realises what she did was wrong, and does her best to fix things. I loved that although Virgo was initially selfish, she came to realise that the freedom of the elementals was more important than her own wants.

 I’m usually good at guessing plot twists, but there was one that came towards the end of the book that I just wasn’t expecting at all! I’m not going to give it away, but it completely surprised me, but at the same time seemed so obvious when it was revealed. There was obviously something strange going on, but I just didn’t pick up on it until the end where it made perfect sense. I love it when a book is able to take me by surprise like that as it rarely happens.

 I didn’t enjoy the book quite as much as the first two just because of Hermes’ not being around, but I did enjoy meeting so many new characters and seeing all the new places. As Hermes is finally back in action, I’m looking forward to reading the final book in the series and seeing how everything ends for Elliot and his friends.




Thursday, 19 November 2020

Review on Witch

 





When Evey’s mother is murdered by witch hunters, she is determined to get her revenge. Unlike her mother and younger sister Dill, Evey doesn’t see herself as a true witch, and believes she is powerless. However after meeting Anne, a girl she had met in her childhood, Evey discovers she may have some abilities of her own after all. With the help of Anne and her mother's scrying stone, Evey discovers the truth about her family and her powers, and what she must do to set things right.

This book was such a perfect Halloween read! It follows Evey, a young witch who sees her mother murdered by witch hunters. After barely escaping with her own life, Evey decides she is going to get revenge on everyone involved. I initially disliked Evey, especially with the way she treated her younger sister Dill. She was too harsh on her at the start of the book and left her alone with a group of witches they barely knew, along with stealing the scrying stone from Dill that her mother had given to her before her death. Evey was selfish and cruel, which started off a chain of terrible events for her.

 I loved how Evey became more likable as the book went on, and how she came to regret leaving Dill behind and stealing the stone. Dill rightfully doesn’t forgive Evey right away once they meet back up, causing even more problems for Evey. I loved that Evey had to work to regain Dill’s trust and show she had changed, as it felt more realistic for Dill to hold a grudge against Evey after everything that had happened to her because of Evey’s selfish ways. Evey’s character development felt realistic and didn’t feel rushed, and I loved how I started to like her more as the book progressed. 

 I have to talk about Anne, who was probably my favourite character! Evey first meets Anne when she rescues her from one of Evey’s mother’s killers when he tries to finish off the job and kill her too. We’re so used to seeing a handsome man on horseback saving the damsel in distress that it was pretty refreshing to see the protagonist having a woman as a savior! After talking a little with Anne, Evey soon realises that this isn’t the first time they have met, as years ago Evey’s mother had tried to save Anne’s mother's life with witchcraft when she was sick. I loved how despite her father's hatred for witches, Anne did not feel the same way and helped Evey on her quest along with saving villagers and other witches. I loved how the friendship between Evey and Anne grew throughout the book, but I did feel a little baited as I assumed a romance would form between them. Honestly I don’t think I’ve seen a platonic friendship where one wouldn’t stop talking about the other's eyes before. As the book is about empowering women I would have loved for it to be sapphic too. Evey and Anne had great chemistry so I was a little disappointed their relationship didn’t go into that territory.

 I found the book difficult to get into at first because of the writing style. The book is set in the 1600’s and is told in first person from Evey’s point of view, so it was written in a very old fashioned way that I wasn’t used to. I read the first 50 pages pretty slowly as I was struggling with the style to the point I almost DNF’d, but once I actually got used to it I started to enjoy the style and felt that it made it seem more realistic and helped me to get into the story more. I tend to stick to books with more modern ways of writing, so after the initial struggle I found the writing style refreshing, and as the book picked up the pace, I was glad that I stuck with it! 

 I think I would have preferred the book to be a little longer. Nothing felt rushed but I did feel like we didn’t see enough of Evey’s powers, as she only fully realizes she has them towards the end of the book. I loved her special bond with birds and how she could get them to help her, but I did wonder what else she could get them to do and if her powers went beyond birds. I don’t think the witches' abilities were explained well enough, as I wasn’t sure if they all had special gifts, and if they did what were they? I always love books with backstory and lore, and for a book about witches there just wasn’t enough of that.

 This was an interesting read and definitely brought me out of my comfort zone! Once I got used to the writing style I was able to enjoy this book. Even though I had a couple of issues with it, I loved the themes of forgiveness and empowering women. All the girls in this book kicked the witch hunters' asses and I was living for it! This was the perfect read for Halloween, and even though the spooky season is over it’s still the perfect read for those dark afternoons!

Witch is now available to purchase!




Saturday, 31 October 2020

Blog Tour- The Forest of Ghosts and Bones


HAPPY HALLOWEEN!! I hope you're all having a spooktacular day full of pumpkin carving and costumes. Today I'm taking part in a very spooky blog tour for The Forest of Ghosts and Bones, the brand new fantasy novel by Lisa Lueddecke. I adored A Shiver of Snow and Sky (you can read all about my thoughts on that book HERE) so I'm super excited to read this brand new story from Lisa and share my thoughts on it! For now, I have a very spooky Q&A with Lisa herself! 


Hi Lisa! As it's coming up to Halloween, what type of books get you into the Halloween spirit?

I have a bit of a soft spot for thrillers and mysteries, so when it starts getting towards Halloween, those are what tend to draw me in. Books that add to the feeling of unease.


The Forest of Ghosts and Bones is inspired by the myths you knew growing up. Are there any around this time that are your favourite or remind you of Halloween?

I’m honestly just so inspired by anything that has to do with souls or ghosts. I always get this delightfully eerie feeling as Halloween gets closer like I might see something haunting a window, or hear footsteps on the stairs. Since the book was inspired by a comment my grandmother made about souls lingering in the world, I think that fascinates me the most.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

 Liljana, for sure. She had a lot of history, and she made questionable choices, which made her an interesting person to write. Other than her, though, I really liked writing Benedek. He was a lot of fun to hang out with, in my mind.

 To get into the Halloween spirit, what would Béata, Liljana, and Benedek go as for Halloween?


Béata would probably go as a dead person from history, like an old royal, or someone from a story. Something like that. Benedek would probably not dress up at all, but he would spend some time with family and friends just the same. Liljana would either go as herself, because she quite likes herself. Or she would go as her take on a queen, with a magical, possibly deadly twist. 





I'd like to say a big thank you to Scholastic for letting me take part in the tour and providing me with a copy of the book! I had such a fun time going out to take spooky pictures with it and I'm looking forward to reading it. The Forest of Ghosts and Bones is available to purchase now!





Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Review on Grave Matter




Samuel’s world is turned upside down when his girlfriend Eliza dies in a car crash. Unable to move on, Samuel seeks the help of his estranged Aunt, who he remembers healed an injured bird with Hoodoo. However bringing someone back from the dead is a lot more complicated than healing, and Samuel must tread a darker path if he is to be reunited with Eliza

I picked this book up on a whim just because Juno is one of my favourite authors, and I thought a short book could help me out of my reading slump. This book is short and is printed on good quality paper with double spaced text, making it super easy to read! It specifically caters towards people who don’t normally enjoy reading, and those with dyslexia, and even though neither of those apply to me I did still find the book easier to read than most books. Usually, I can’t read for long periods of time due to eyestrain and headaches, so I was surprised that I was able to read the whole book in one sitting without the usual problems I have when reading for longer periods. I was also grateful for the larger font, as my eyesight is pretty terrible and I can sometimes struggle with reading tiny fonts. 

 So onto the actual plot! Bringing a loved one back from the dead only to have everything go terribly wrong seems like an overused idea, so I was surprised that despite this being the main plot, the story still managed to be interesting and unique. The way Samuel brought Eliza back was pretty terrifying, and I loved how making him do awful things like sacrificing a goat showed us just how desperate he was to get Eliza back. As Samuel was the one to crash the car that had killed her, Samuel feels guilty about Eliza’s death, and feels like he has to put things right by bringing her back to life. What I loved about Eliza’s resurrection was that it didn’t just bring her back, it rewrote the whole timeline so that Eliza had never died and it was Samuel who had got hurt in the crash. To everyone but Samuel, Eliza had never died, and Samuel even wonders if everything had been a weirdly vivid dream he had while he was in a coma. However, Samuel starts discovering things to prove that it had all been real, such as his bank account being empty from paying for the recipe to bring Eliza back, along with seeing a terrifying shadow monster that seems to be the cause for his mum’s mysterious illness. I loved how even though everything seemed to be fine at first, Samuel starts to see the severe consequences bringing Eliza back had.

The characters were pretty thought out for such a short book, especially Samuel. I’m not sure if he was intended to be such an unlikable character, but he came across as a spoilt rich boy who was used to getting his own way. Even though he felt guilty, he also seemed to have selfish means for wanting Eliza back, and did some pretty awful things that no normal person would ever dream of doing… Also he called his parents mother and father and really who doesn’t want to secretly slap a character who does that? I also want to mention The Milk Man, who is much scarier than he sounds I promise! The Milk Man was a mysterious albino man who gave Samuel the recipe to bring Eliza back, and he didn’t seem entirely… human. Basically, he was a really creepy bloke who’s motives remained a mystery. Apart from stealing every penny in Samuel’s bank account, we don’t really get a proper reason as to why The Milk Man helped Samuel. Maybe he just wanted to rob a rich snobby kid who knows. Whatever his motives he was a pretty creepy guy!

I loved this book and even though it’s short, there is a lot packed into it. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a creepy and interesting read, and I would even go as far as to say it’s a good book to give to anyone who dislikes reading! Reading big books can be a daunting task for anyone who isn’t used to reading for pleasure, so this could be the perfect book to start off a lifelong love of books!