Friday, 28 April 2017

5* BOOK REVIEW | 'The Hate U Give' by Angie Thomas

Hi guys, and happy Friday! I hope you are all looking forward to the weekend, and if you're in need of a book you can binge read over the bank holiday weekend, then I have something that might interest you...

I have been so lucky to have been sent so many amazing books in the past month, which would explain the barrage of 5* reviews over the past two weeks! However, the book I will be reviewing today is different, mainly because it is not only a great book, but a complete game changer. It is a book that has potential to change the world, and sparked inside me such a sense of determination to change things that I haven't gotten from a book in a really long time.


Of course, the book I am talking about is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Since finishing this book, I have recommended it to almost everyone - my parents, my friends, people from my creative writing class. I feel so passionately that this is a book everyone needs to read right now, because it is so unflinchingly honest about the terrible situation we have found ourselves in, in this day and age, as a human race.


The Hate U Give follows Starr, a sixteen year old living in a rough side of town where the sound of gunfire at night is a regular occurrence. When she attends the prep school in the suburbs she feels like she has to be a different Starr, and feels like her friends just won't understand the world in which she comes from. One night, Starr finds herself in the middle of a nightmare as her childhood friend, Khalil, is shot dead by a white policeman. When the tragedy becomes front page news, Starr has to make a decision about whether to speak up for what is right, or let this death silence her forever.


Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...


Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.


But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Even though this is the longest book I have read in a while, I devoured it in a couple of days. It's not an easy book that you can escape the world in: The Hate U Give confronts us with the realities of our society today, not just in America, but all around the world. I didn't find this easy to read because it resonated with the horrific stories and pictures I had seen on Facebook, Twitter and the news, however I found reading this book such an enriching experience. I came away not only being a lot more knowledgeable in the ways that police violence and brutality can have such a shattering effect on a community, but also I felt that there were ways that I could somehow do something to change things - by protesting, by using social media to spread the message, but not keeping silent.

Starr was a fantastic protagonist who was just so realistic and easy to relate to. I felt like I was getting to know a real person who lived on the other side of the world, and loved every moment. Thomas' writing is so fresh and invigorating, bursting with life. This is a book that undeniably needed to exist, and I'm so glad Angie Thomas was the person to write this book.

All of the characters were wonderful and they all seemed so real to me. In particular I loved Starr's parents, especially her Dad. I wanted to highlight everything he said and imprint it in my mind forever.

I loved how you could see the growth of Starr throughout the book - how she started from being so broken by what had happened to realising the importance and power and strength of her voice, and how she could use it to change things. Even though The Hate U Give isn't a fairytale story (and I am so glad it isn't), there is a sense of hope in the way Angie Thomas writes, that if the people who read this book are affected by it, that they will be the ones to speak out about #BlackLivesMatter and slowly, but surely, the world will wake up to the atrocities that are happening. Because it has to.

This is an extraordinary debut novel and it's a book that is required reading, for people of any age. It is my hope that this book will provoke important discussions and that more people who have been silenced like Starr will have the courage to speak out.

Once again, here is proof that YA is an invaluable genre. YA gives the silenced a voice, and opens up a space for conversation, for understanding, for kindness.


Check out Angie Thomas here: http://angiethomas.com

Check out #BlackLivesMatter here: http://blacklivesmatter.com



Until next time :) 

Thursday, 27 April 2017

CONFESSIONS OF A HIGH SCHOOL DISASTER | BLOG TOUR | Top 3 Reasons It's Still Important to Keep a Diary

Hi guys, and happy Thursday! I hope you are all doing well and are excited for the weekend (it's not far away now!)

Today I am very excited to be taking part in a blog tour - celebrating the publication of Emma Chastain's Confessions of a High School Disaster: Chloe Snow's Diary. This is a brilliant, heartwarming, laugh-out-loud contemporary that you will be sure to fall in love with. I absolutely adored it - keep an eye out for my review coming out on Monday!

Check out the blurb here...


In the tradition of Bridget Jones’s Diary, a lovably flawed high school student chronicles her life as she navigates the highs and lows of family, friendship, school, and love in a diary that sparkles with humor and warmth.

I’m Chloe Snow, and my life is kiiiiind of a disaster.

1. I’m a kissing virgin (so so so embarrassing).
2. My best friend, Hannah, is driving me insane.
3. I think I’m in love with Mac Brody, senior football star, whose girlfriend is so beautiful she doesn’t even need eyeliner.
4. My dad won’t stop asking me if I’m okay.
5. Oh, and my mom moved to Mexico to work on her novel. But it’s fine—she’ll be back soon. She said so.

Mom says the only thing sadder than remembering is forgetting, so I’m going to write down everything that happens to me in this diary. That way, even when I’m ninety, I’ll remember how awkward and horrible and exciting it is to be in high school.



Today I am lucky enough to be hosting the wonderful Emma Chastain on my blog, to talk about diaries (the novel is written in diary form - so cool!) and why it's still important to keep one, even once you've moved past the stage of crushes on boys and glittery mascara.


My novel is told in diary format: there’s one entry for each day in a year of Chloe Snow’s life. Chloe writes in a paper diary, and at first I was worried that would seem antiquated, like I was forcing my contemporary character to wear a corset or drive to school in a barouche-landau. But then I found a study claiming that up to 83% of girls ages 16 to 19 write in old-fashioned diaries. Why would they do this, when they could be sharing their feelings with their many followers online, or at the very least taking notes in an app? I think there are three key reasons.

1. The lack of an audience is a relief. There’s so much pressure to perform online. Yes, there are a variety of modes available: you can be elaborately kind, or share interesting content, or make cutting remarks, or crack jokes, or post beautiful shots. But if you want those likes/retweets/shares, you have to keep your audience in mind at all times. It’s exhausting. What a relief, then, to turn to your diary, where your only audience is your future self. Do you feel like wallowing in self-pity, or fuming about how annoying your best friend is being, or making a list of guys you want to kiss? You can’t do any of that on social media (well, you can, but you really shouldn’t). But in the pages of your diary, anything goes. No one’s watching. Give in to your most selfish impulses, free of the fear that you’ll be unfollowed or screenshotted. 



2. It helps. I don’t know how it works, exactly, but I know that when you’re upset, writing about it eases the pain. Typing about it kind of works, but not nearly as well as picking up a pen and scratching away in your diary until your hand cramps. 


3. You’re making a time capsule. You think you’ll remember exactly what it felt like to be a sophomore/a college student/a single 20-something/a new mother/etc. But you won’t unless you write it all down. The act of writing itself solidifies your memories, even if you never revisit your old diaries. But if you do revisit them, you’ll find that you’ve captured a whole world, that your childhood is still accessible to you, that you can commune with the kid who dotted her i’s with hearts. It’s magic that you make yourself.

Thank you so much, Emma, for appearing on my blog. Make sure you guys check out the rest of the posts on the blog tour!

Buy Confessions of a High School Disaster: Chloe Snow's Diary here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Chloe-Snows-Diary-Confessions-Disaster/dp/1471160467/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493277172&sr=8-1&keywords=confessions+of+a+high+school+disaster

Check out Emma Chastain here: https://twitter.com/emmachastain?lang=en

Until next time :) 


Monday, 24 April 2017

5* BOOK REVIEW | 'The Pavee and the Buffer Girl'

Hey guys, and happy Monday! I hope you all had wonderful weekends and are not too sad to be back in the office/school/wherever you are! I started my final term at university today and I am feeling just a little bit sorry for myself...

But to make it all better, today I am going to be reviewing an amazing graphic novel that you can curl up and lose yourself in. I was kindly sent The Pavee and the Buffer Girl by Nina Douglas in exchange for an honest review. 


The Pavee and the Buffer Girl is a Romeo and Juliet-esque love story, following the unlikely friendship between Jim, a traveller boy, and Kit, a settled girl who takes Jim under her wing, teaching her to read and making his time at their school a little less traumatising. For Jim and his family, their life is coloured by prejudice and hardship, and friendships are hard when you have no idea when you will be next uprooted...

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...


Jim and his family have halted by Dundray and the education people have been round mouthing the law. In school the Traveller kids suffer at the hands of teachers and other pupils alike, called 'tinker-stinkers', 'dirty gyps' and worse. Then the punches start. The only friendly face is Kit, a settled girl who takes Jim under her wing and teaches him to read in the great cathedral chamber of the cave below the town. With Kit and the reading, Jim seems to have found a way to exist in Dundray, but everyday prejudice and a shocking act of violence see his life uprooted.

I haven't read a graphic novel in such a long time, and this was a special one, to say the least. The illustrations by Emma Shoard made the book so magical, and I completely lost myself in it. I loved the character of Jim - his strength, determination and defiance in the face of awful prejudice and bullying made him such an inspiring character to read about. Kit was also a fantastic character and their relationship was so beautiful to read about.


The story is so elegantly written and everything was so well described. Siobhan Dowd is evidently someone who not only ardently cared about social justice, but who also was a magnificent storyteller. This was an immensely moving story which opened my eyes to the atrocious prejudice traveller families will face on a day to day basis, and particularly how parents' intolerance and discrimination can affect their children's behaviour and actions. The children were by far the cruellest perpetrators of the prejudice and resultant violencein this book, and I think there is a lot we can learn today about how we are affecting the opinions of the children around us, with the specific political rhetoric (surrounding refugees, for example), and the importance of teaching children kindness, respect and tolerance.

This is a book that exudes love and kindness, that somehow survives even in the extremes of adversity. This is a quick read, but a vitally important read nonetheless. I finished the book with a feeling that love and tolerance really can change the world, even if it is two people and one small town at a time.

So please rush down to your local bookshop and pick up a copy! I promise you won't regret it.


Check out Siobhan Dowd (and the Siobhan Dowd Trust) here: http://siobhandowdtrust.com




Until next time :)

Friday, 21 April 2017

5* BOOK REVIEW | 'Phantom Limbs' by Paula Garner

Hey guys, and happy Friday! Today I am excited to share a review of a book with you I read over my Easter holidays, and absolutely adored. It was one of those books that, once I picked it up, I couldn’t stop reading it! It held me captive from the very first page, and didn’t let me go until I had closed the cover.

Of course, this novel is none other than Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner! If you’ve read this book you will understand why this book enraptured me so much. I was kindly sent Phantom Limbs by Walker Books in exchange for an honest review.

Phantom Limbs follows Otis – a keen swimmer, floating through the awkwardness of his adolescent years, missing his once best friend Meg and his deceased younger brother, Mason. Otis is under the control of Dara, who is coaching him for the Olympics, however things begin to unravel when Meg expectantly moves back to town. Suddenly, everything that Otis has known for the past three years is thrown up in the air – and he thinks he can never be the same Otis again.

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here…


How do you move on from an irreplaceable loss? In a poignant debut, a sixteen-year-old boy must learn to swim against an undercurrent of grief—or be swept away by it.


Otis and Meg were inseparable until her family abruptly moved away after the terrible accident that left Otis’s little brother dead and both of their families changed forever. Since then, it’s been three years of radio silence, during which time Otis has become the unlikely protégé of eighteen-year-old Dara—part drill sergeant, part friend—who’s hell-bent on transforming Otis into the Olympic swimmer she can no longer be. But when Otis learns that Meg is coming back to town, he must face some difficult truths about the girl he’s never forgotten and the brother he’s never stopped grieving. As it becomes achingly clear that he and Meg are not the same people they were, Otis must decide what to hold on to and what to leave behind. Quietly affecting, this compulsively readable debut novel captures all the confusion, heartbreak, and fragile hope of three teens struggling to accept profound absences in their lives.

As soon as I read the first page of Phantom Limbs I knew it was a book I would devour in a mere couple of days. I was completely swept up in the writing – it was humorous, heartfelt and overwhelmingly honest. Otis is such a wonderful character and entirely believable, and I was rooting in his corner the whole way throughout the book. All the characters in this book jumped out from the pages right into my heart – my favourites were Otis, Dara and Meg – even through sometimes she infuriated me so much that I wanted to scream into the book (not recommended – people will think you’re crazy). All of the characters and the situations they found themselves in were so relatable and realistic – Garner has a knack at writing teenagers, for teenagers. 



There were so many layers to this book – it was something I could lose myself in and was the perfect holiday novel, but Garner also touched upon so many important issues that are vital for people, especially young people, to read about. Grief, relationships, sexuality, disability and mental health are all delicately and brilliantly handled - I didn't felt patronised as a reader, and really appreciated this insight I received into the characters' minds.

Phantom Limbs is a book that is desperately sad, but leaves the reader with a distinct sense of hope for the future - that is not cheesy and hard working. This is an intensely realistic book that portrays life as it is - all with it's knocks and bumps and jolts along the way. Garner shows us that life isn't always perfect, but when things go wrong, there is always a happiness to be found in something. 

Garner's writing is fresh, invigorating and magnificent - this is about as good as YA gets. This is an extraordinary debut, and I can't wait to see what Paula Garner writes next <3

I adored Phantom Limbs, and I'm sure you will too! Rush out to your nearest bookshop and grab a copy, or click the link below.

Buy Phantom Limbs here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Phantom-Limbs-Paula-Garner/dp/0763682055

Check out Paula Garner here: http://www.paulagarner.com

Until next time :)

Friday, 14 April 2017

BOOK REVIEW | 'And Then We Ran' by Katy Cannon (****)

Hey guys, and happy Friday! Today I am delighted to be sharing with you another review of a book I finished this week... And Then We Ran by the wonderful Katy Cannon. And Then We Ran  is a beautiful story following Megan and Elliott and their adventure of a lifetime. It's a novel about following and chasing your dreams no matter what anyone else has to say. I think it's a brilliant book with a great message at it's heart, with perfect writing and unforgettable characters that won't leave you, even after the very last page.

I was kindly sent And Then We Ran by Stripes Publishing, in exchange for an honest review :)

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...


A road-trip story about following your dreams and embracing the unexpected.

Megan knows what she wants out of life and she intends to get it, whatever her parents say.

Elliott has given up on all his plans for the future – but then Megan bursts into his life with a proposal that could change it forever.



Together they embark on a road trip to escape their hometown and chase their dreams. But life is a journey and not even Megan can control where theirs will lead…


And Then We Ran was a brilliant book from start to finish, with a great fast-paced storyline and vibrant yet realistic teenage characters. The book is blurbed as being perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, and I definitely got that heartwarming, reassuring, summer-reading vibe from this book (despite the fact that it's set in winter!) I really liked the Welsh setting, and it gave the book a sort of individuality to set it apart from other road trip novels. The small town of St Evaline was so well depicted and described and I think it was the perfect setting for this book.

I love novels whose narrative are split into two different perspectives, and this book was no different. Megan and Elliott were two strong, likeable characters that were sharply and smartly written. They were totally believable and I can actually imagine the two of them existing somewhere, which is important when depicting teenage characters. Their relationship was very well developed and great to read about. Cannon is evidently a master at writing characters who the reader can connect to, and actually care about.

I think that YA fiction is massively ignoring the issue of further education, and I think that it should be written about much more. Cannon tackles this issue and I could definitely relate to the way Megan was feeling (I was very determined about taking a creative writing degree - much to the bewilderment of some of my teachers, and at first, my parents) and I think the issue was very well dealt with in this book. Cannon was not patronising in the least and I like how she gave her characters the chance to grow and develop and make their own decisions, all whilst showing the importance of having a healthy and respectful relationship with parents.

I liked the back-story of Lizzie's death, though at times I felt that it was slightly forgotten about, even though it clearly impacted about many of the events that occur throughout the novel. I wanted Lizzie's death to be dealt with more, maybe some flashbacks to the court hearing and so forth, and this is the only reason this review is 4*s instead of 5.

However, overall I loved this book, and the ending was everything that I wanted it to be. I definitely got that warm, comforted feeling once I turned the very last page, which is everything you want at the end of a book like this.

So rush down to your local bookshop and pick up a copy of And Then We Ran! I promise you you won't regret it, I can definitely see it being one of the books to read this summer. 

Last week I was part of the blog tour for And Then We Ran - where Katy Cannon spoke about her own career journey, and the importance of not only realising but actively pursuing your dreams. Check out that post here


Buy And Then We Ran here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1847157998

Check out Katy Cannon here: https://katycannon.com

Until next time :) 

Thursday, 13 April 2017

DELIGHTFUL KIDS BOOKS | 5* REVIEW | 'The Mysterious Librarian' by Dominique Demers

Hey guys, and happy Thursday! Today I am excited to be sharing a review with you of another gorgeous children’s book – The Mysterious Librarian, by Dominique Demers, illustrated by Tony Ross. Over Christmas I reviewed the first book in the amazing Miss Charlotte series, The New Teacher, which you can check out here.

I was kindly sent The Mysterious Librarian by Alma Books, in exchange for an honest review :)

The Mysterious Librarian is the second book in the Miss Charlotte series, following this eccentric lady as she embarks on another adventure – this time, the taking over of a library, in a town that seems to have forgotten about the vital importance about books. Constantly in battle with the grumpy mayor, Miss Charlotte soon enough succeeds and transforms the library into a magical place that the town’s children fall in love with, however problems arise when Miss Charlotte gets a little too engrossed in the books. Will the children be able to wake her up again? Or will they lose her forever?

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here…


When the mysterious and eccentric Miss Charlotte arrives in the village of Saint-Anatole to take over the tiny library, the locals are surprised to find out that she does things differently. Wearing a long blue dress and a giant hat, she takes her books out for a walk in a wheelbarrow and shows the children that reading can be fun and useful. Sometimes she is so caught up in the magic of the stories she shares with her audience that she forgets all sense of reality - so much so that one day she loses consciousness and the children must find a way to bring her back.


The second in Dominique Demers's popular The Adventures of Miss Charlotte series, The Mysterious Librarian, brilliantly illustrated by Tony Ross, is a wonderful story about the magical and inspiring power of books.

I absolutely loved everything about this book, hence the 5* review. Yet again, the illustrations were top-notch, and really did bring the story to life. The characters in this book were just as realistic and loveable as in the first book, and the storyline was as exciting and gripping and action-packed as I expected it to be. Miss Charlotte is certainly a character that all children will fall in love with, and ardently care about, until the very last page.

I loved how the importance of reading (and the sheer joy of it) was emphasised in this book, also the significance of libraries – a very topical issue at the moment! This is truly a magical book, made even more magical by the fact that it shows that reading is just, if not even more, exciting than watching TV!

The letters between Leo and Marie were such an adorable inclusion to the book, and I loved how a character from the previous book was included in this one. Demers writes in such a fresh, exciting way that will immediately grip children’s imaginations and wish that they had a librarian like Miss Charlotte! The characters are larger than life – I especially liked the Mayor Mark Peevish with his love of ginormous pastrami sandwiches!

This book is recommended for children aged 6-8, however you could read this book aloud to children younger than this – it is honestly a book that every member of the family will enjoy – including the grownups!

Buy The Mysterious Librarian here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mysterious-Librarian-Adventures-Miss-Charlotte/dp/1846884152

Check out Dominique Demers here: http://almabooks.com/alma-author/dominique-demers/

Check out Alma's brilliant selection of children's books here: http://almabooks.com/alma-junior/

Until next time :)



Monday, 10 April 2017

5* BOOK REVIEW | 'The Possessions' by Sara Flannery Murphy

Hey guys, and happy Monday! I hope you have all had lovely weekends and have been making the most of the gorgeous weather.

Today I am very excited to be sharing a review with you of a book I read recently, which I absolutely adored. Just before Christmas Scribe Publishing sent me a wonderful package complete with chocolate, bath bombs, lipstick and a book that looked as delicious as the rest of the goodies. As soon as I read the blurb I knew The Possessions would be a book I could devour in a few days, and I wasn't wrong!

The Possessions is a haunting novel following Edie, a young woman who works for the Elysian society, a place where people who are grieving can reconnect with their lost loved ones. Edie spends her days channeling the dead, escaping from herself and her dark, troubled past. But when she gets too deeply wrapped up in the life of one of her clients, and his wife's mysterious death, Edie begins to lose a sense of herself, and gets lost within the shell of this other woman, who suddenly seems to not be entirely different to herself...

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...


In this electrifying literary debut, a young woman who channels the dead for a living crosses a dangerous line when she falls in love with one of her clients, whose wife died under mysterious circumstances.

In an unnamed city, Eurydice works for the Elysian Society, a private service that allows grieving clients to reconnect with lost loved ones. She and her fellow workers, known as “bodies“, wear the discarded belongings of the dead and swallow pills called lotuses to summon their spirits—numbing their own minds and losing themselves in the process. Edie has been a body at the Elysian Society for five years, an unusual record. Her success is the result of careful detachment: she seeks refuge in the lotuses’ anesthetic effects and distances herself from making personal connections with her clients. 

But when Edie channels Sylvia, the dead wife of recent widower Patrick Braddock, she becomes obsessed with the glamorous couple. Despite the murky circumstances surrounding Sylvia’s drowning, Edie breaks her own rules and pursues Patrick, moving deeper into his life and summoning Sylvia outside the Elysian Society’s walls. 

After years of hiding beneath the lotuses’ dulling effect, Edie discovers that the lines between her own desires and those of Sylvia have begun to blur, and takes increasing risks to keep Patrick within her grasp. Suddenly, she finds her quiet life unraveling as she grapples not only with Sylvia’s growing influence and the questions surrounding her death, but with her own long-buried secrets. 



A tale of desire and obsession, deceit and dark secrets that defies easy categorization, The Possessions is a seductive, absorbing page-turner that builds to a shattering, unforgettable conclusion.

From the very first line of The Possessions, it's fair to say I was hooked. Sara Flannery Murphy has such an electrifying way of writing, in a way that is fresh and inventive and vibrant. Although this novel is set in an unnamed city, I had such a sure idea of the setting and this anonymity of place really added to the dark mystery colouring the novel.

I thought Edie was a brilliant character and I think the way the novel was written really brought out the elusiveness and distance of her character. There was also a sense of unpredictability with Edie and I never knew what she was going to do next, which kept me turning the pages impatiently until, sadly, reaching the very last page.

The Possessions is a novel that is so brilliantly fast-paced and sharply written, perfect for fans of Only Ever Yours - defined by realistic characters, haunting secrets and definitely a feminist edge. It is a novel full of grit and darkness, but there is a sense of hope at the end, one for a future that will allow Edie to move on from her distressing and traumatic past. 

I felt like I was on tenterhooks throughout the novel and I loved the way that Sara Flannery Murphy didn't reveal Edie's haunting secret until the last few chapters. It kept me guessing throughout and, coupled with Edie's eccentric and unpredictable character, this made for an incredibly tense reading experience. There were plenty of twists and turns throughout The Possessions... Sara Flannery Murphy has perfected the art of sharp, electrifying writing. This is an absolute belter of a debut novel and I can't wait to see what Murphy comes up with next!

I think it's pretty clear from this review that I adored The Possessions and I think it makes for perfect holiday binge-reading... pop down to your local bookshop to grab it for your Easter holidays!

A few weeks ago I participated in The Possessions blog tour, where I got the opportunity to interview Sara about all things ghost stories, the importance of writing through self-doubt, and the influence of the Gothic in the novel. Check that interview out here: http://delightfulbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/the-possessions-blog-tour-q-with-sara.html 

Buy The Possessions here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Possessions-Sara-Flannery-Murphy/dp/191134403X

Check out Sara Flannery Murphy here: https://saraflannerymurphy.com

Until next time :)