Saturday, 21 November 2015

REVIEW 'Love, Tanya' by Tanya Burr

'Love, Tanya' by Tanya Burr

Goodreads Synopsis:

"Hi everyone and welcome to my book! It's really close to my heart because it's inspired by my journey to becoming confident and feeling happy about who I am. I wanted to write the book to share the things I've learnt with you - to reveal my top tips on fashion, beauty, love, friendship and YouTube... and loads more! Plus there is room for you to list your own hopes and dreams alongside mine - so get creative and get involved! I'd love it if this book became a keepsake you can treasure for years to come and learn to love yourself along the way - like I have. I hope you enjoy it!"






4****

Hey Elementareaders!

‘Love, Tanya’ is a book by British YouTuber and internet personality Tanya Burr. The book is part memoir, and part tips and guide to make-up, hair, fashion, healthy living, baking and happiness and confidence.

Tanya’s writing style, like her videos, is very conversational and down to earth. Reading this book was like talking to a friend. Despite her YouTube fame, Tanya is a very modest and normal twenty-something. I’ve been watching Tanya, and her husband Jim’s, videos for a while now and one thing that I really love about them is their bubbly personalities.

‘Love, Tanya’ begins as a memoir. In the first couple of chapters Tanya talks about growing up in Norfolk. She had a very normal childhood, but her teen years were ridden with anxiety and panic attacks, something which I can very much relate to. Tanya talks more about this in a later chapter.

The next few chapters, Skincare Essentials, Make-Up Essentials, Hair and Nail Essentials, Fashion, Love, Life, Baking and Recipes and Confidence & Happiness and a gold mine of Tanya’s real-life experiences along with her tips and tricks. At the end of each chapter Tanya make a list of her top ten things in a certain category (for example; My Top 10 Fashion Tips, My Top 10 Skincare products). These lists are not only useful in finding out more about Tanya, but are also full of great tips to research and try. One thing that I think would have improved these sections though would be the addition of pictures of some of the products and items that she talks about. After these lists is a little section for the reader to write their own notes, which I thought was a really good idea.

The book has many glossy colour photographs scattered throughout. Mostly childhood pictures, photoshoots and selfies. I did find that some of the pictures didn’t always relate to what the chapter was about, but Tanya is a beautiful human being so I enjoyed the photos all the same.

This is a book that I can see myself coming back to again and again in the future. The style and content reminded me a little of ‘Brunette Ambition’ by Lea Michele (which was the very first book I reviewed on my blog!) but Tanya’s personality really shone through in the text, so although similar I thought they were both fantastic books in their own right.

I would definitely recommend this book to any teen or young adult who enjoys Tanya’s videos and wants to learn a little more about her.


I would give this book 4 stars :)


Places to buy:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
The Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Audible.com

Find Tanya Burr on:
YouTube
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween Elementareaders!

This is going to be a bit more of a chatty post than one of my usual book reviews. I'm wanting to do few more posts like this to let you guys know a bit more about me (as I feel book reviews can be quite impersonal) and to hopefully get to know a bit more about my readers too!

I hope you're all having a fantastic year so far! Halloween is by far one of my favourite times of the year as I love all the spooky decorations and I love being able to put fake cobwebs up all over the place. Halloween is also when it really starts feeling autumny, as the clocks have just gone back and it's getting darker earlier.

I didn't go out for Halloween this year as I have a non-existent social life (boo-hoo) and I'm also not too well at the moment (but I'm not going to go into that now). In fact, I don't think I've been out for Halloween since I left school in 2007! I just stayed in, watched 'The Cabin in the Woods' and ate a ton of snacks,

I'm quite happy with my little Halloween set-up in my room this year so I thought I'd share some pictures.


Most of the decorations were from Asda either this year or last year with the exception of the fake cobwebs & plastic spiders (QD), skull & pumpkin fairy lights (also QD) and colour-changing LED lights (can't remember where I got those!) Unfortunately my crappy camera wouldn't take a decent picture without the flash on so you don't really get the full spooky effect here. It's looks so much better with all the lights off!




I think one of my favourite things is this creepy skeleton bunting which was also super cheap (only £2 from Asda!) plus the really awesome cobweb table cloth.






I'd love to hear what you did for Halloween, what you dressed up as and if you has any awesome displays of decorations. Let me know in the comments below and tweet me some pics @elementaread

And until next year... stay spooky!! :)

Saturday, 10 October 2015

REVIEW 'Contest' by Matthew Reilly

'Contest' by Matthew Reilly

Goodreads Synopsis:

"The New York Public Library. A silent sanctuary of knowledge: a hundred-year-old labyrinth of towering bookcases, narrow aisles and spiral staircases. 

But for Doctor Stephen Swain and his eight-year-old daughter, Holly, it is a place of nightmare. Because, for just one night, this historic building is to become the venue of a horrifying contest. A contest in which Swain must compete — whether he likes it or not.

The rules of the challenge are simple: seven contestants will enter, but only one will leave. 
With his daughter in his arms, Stephen Swain is plunged into a terrifying fight for survival. The stakes are high, the odds are brutal. He can choose to run, to hide or to fight - but if he wants to live, he has to win. 

For in this contest, unless you leave as the victor, you do not leave at all."

5*****

Hi Elementareaders!

‘Contest’ by Matthew Reilly is a science-fiction thriller set in New York City, where some unwilling human contestants are pitted against savage aliens in a fight to the death.

I first read ‘Contest’ around ten years ago when I was about thirteen/fourteen-years-old when a family friend loaned me a copy because he thought I would like it. He was right, I LOVED it! I think I read the whole book in two or three sittings (which was impressive at that age) and it is one of the books that really got me into reading. I thought I’d pick it up again ten years later to see if it was as fantastic as I remembered and I fell in love with it all over again.

The Presidian is an intergalactic contest held every one thousand Earth years in which seven contestants fight to the death. This book is the story of the seventh Presidian. Humans have only taken part in the last two contests, as human development was only considered to be advanced enough two thousand years ago. Both times the human contestants were the first to be eliminated. As humans are the only species that do not know about the existence of other worlds or the Presidian, the Earth contestant is selected by outsiders after a long period of surveillance.

The seventh Presidian is to be held on Earth, in the New York State Library. There is an electrical grid all around the library to stop any contestants from escaping or outsiders from getting in. Each contestant also has a wristband, which will detonate in fifteen minutes of being outside the electrical grid, if the contestants were to somehow find their way out. Each contestant also has a guide, a little man dressed in white who can give them information about the other contestants, and who submit information about the kills to the outside.

Stephen Swain is a doctor from Connecticut. One evening he is surrounded by a bright light a teleported into the library to be the Earth contestant. But Swain’s young daughter, Holly, who he is carrying at the time, is teleported with him. There are also two police officers inside the library who have no clue what is happening, but end up caught in the middle of it. One by one the other contestants are teleported in, and when Swain’s wristband reaches seven the contest will begin. Swain, Holly and their guide, Selexin, are suddenly thrown into a fight for survival against some of the most brutal killers in the galaxy!

I cannot express enough how much I love this book. The plot, the characters, the writing style… all are just perfect. The book was just as thrilling and captivating this time as it was when I read it ten years ago and I fell in love with it all over again.

Swain is your typical ‘unlikely hero’. A man who has all the odds stacked against him, but will not go down without a fight. I loved his determination and his intelligence really set him apart from the other contestants. Also, the fact that he was on Earth worked to his advantage. But I think the main thing that kept him alive and fighting was Holly. Swain has his young daughter to protect, and I loved how strongly their relationship came across in the writing.

This book is so incredibly fast-paced, and although it is pretty long at 488 pages, I flew through it and found myself stuck in a reading vortex where I would not be able to put it down for hours. I love Matthew Reilly’s writing style as it’s so easy to read. He describes the action so well that it’s like having a movie playing out in your head.

Looking back now, I wouldn’t recommend giving this book to your 13/14 year old to read as it is pretty gory in places and there is a fair amount of horror/death. But this book would be prefect for older teens and adults who love thrillers with a sci-fi/alien element. I actually think this book is one of the reasons that I really got into sci-fi, and now I’ll jump at anything that involves aliens and other worlds.

This is such a fantastic book! Maybe I’ll come back to it in another ten years and see if I still love it as much at age thirty-four :)


I would give this book 5 stars :)


I’d love to hear your thoughts on ‘Contest’. And let me know in the comments which book(s) got you into reading, and which books you like to come back to time and time again!


Places to buy:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
The Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Audible.com

Follow Matthew Reilly on:
matthewreilly.com
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

REVIEW 'Jessie Hearts NYC' by Keris Stainton

'Jessie Hearts NYC' by Keris Stainton

Goodreads Synopsis:

"Jessie's just arrived in New York, hoping to forget about her awful ex. 

New Yorker Finn is in love with his best friend's girlfriend. 

They might be perfect together, but in a city of eight million people, will they ever find each other?"












5*****

Hi Elementareaders!

‘Jessie Hearts NYC’ by Keris Stainton is a fun young adult contemporary novel about a teenage girl looking for love in New York City.

English teenager Jessie is visiting her mum in New York for the summer with her best friend Emma. She has just broken up with her boyfriend, Taylor, and is now looking for romance in the Big Apple. Jessie’s mum, Natalie, is a playwright, and her play Small Change was such a success that it (and she) moved to Broadway, leaving Jessie in Manchester with her dad. Jessie and her mum have never been close so at first their relationship is a bit awkward, but all that is soon forgotten when she starts exploring the amazing city. Jessie has a crush on Ben, the lead actor in Natalie’s play, and is hoping that he likes her too.

Meanwhile, New Yorker Finn is spending his summer working as an intern with his dad’s insurance company and being the third wheel to his best friend, Scott, and his girlfriend, Sam. But Finn has a problem. He really likes Sam and is annoyed at the fact that Scott got her first. Plus his overbearing father is making him major in business and follow his footsteps into insurance, when Finn really wants to be an architect.

Jessie and Finn keep bumping into each other all over the city. Both have boy/girl trouble and these two teens finally bond. But can Jessie get over her mum’s secret relationship, and can Finn get over Sam?

This was such a great, fun read! The characters are so loveable and the story is really uplifting. The writing style is so easy to read and the dialogue sounds really authentic. The book just flows so well and I ending up reading the majority of it in one go.

I’ll definitely be looking for some more of Keris’s books. This would be a prefect summer read for anyone looking for something light, quick and fun that will leave you with a nice warm glowy feeling.


I would give this book 5 stars :)


Places to buy:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
The Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)

Follow Keris Stainton on:
keris-stainton.com
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

REVIEW 'Fangirl' by Rainbow Rowell

'Fangirl' by Rainbow Rowell

Goodreads Synopsis:

"Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they're off to university and Wren's decided she doesn't want to be one half of a pair any more - she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It's not so easy for Cath. She's horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she's experienced in real life.

Now Cath has to decide whether she's ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she's realizing that there's more to learn about love than she ever thought possible ...

A tale of fanfiction, family, and first love."



5*****

Hi Elementareaders!

‘Fangirl’ by Rainbow Rowell is a young adult contemporary novel following a girl named Cath on her first year at college. I’m a bit late on the bandwagon with this book (I’ve seen people talking about it online for years!) but I finally grabbed a copy to read, and I freaking loved it!

Cather and Wren are twin sisters from Nebraska. Their whole lives they have done everything together, including going to the same college, but Wren wants to branch out an make new friends meaning that she doesn’t want to share a room with Cath. ‘Fangirl’ follows Cath as she makes her way through her first year of college without being beside her sister. Cath is shy and socially awkward, and would rather spend her evenings in her room writing fanfiction than out partying. Cath is a huge fan of ‘Simon Snow’, a series of books about a young magician, and she writes a very popular fanfiction that has thousands of readers. She aspires to be a writer and is studying English Lit and Fiction Writing.

Cath’s roommate Reagan is her opposite. She doesn’t spend much time in their room and is always out with her boyfriend, which suits Cath just fine, but she also gets the feeling that Reagan doesn’t like her. Reagan’s boyfriend Levi, on the other hand, won’t leave Cath alone and keeps finding excuses to hang out with her. He particularly enjoys when she reads her Simon Snow fanfiction to him.

Cath faces countless teen troubles throughout her year; being apart from her sister, being accused a plagiarism in her Fiction Writing class only to get a story that she has worked on stolen, and her ever increasing feelings for Levi.

This was such a fantastic book! I loved the plot and the writing style was so easy to read that I read the whole book in a couple of days. The characters are fantastic, especially Cath and Levi.

I see a lot of myself in Cath and find her very relatable. She has social anxiety (like me) and she is quite shy and withdrawn. In fact, she spent the first month of college living off protein bars because she didn’t know where the dining hall was and was too anxious to ask anyone. One of my favourite quotes from the book is “I'm the kind of girl who fantasizes about being trapped in a library overnight.” That just pretty much sums up the life of every book nerd. In fact, there are so many FANTASTIC quotes from this book that it’d take an entire blog post for me to list them all.

Rainbow really gets what it’s like to be part of a fandom and that comes across so strongly in the writing. She understand that fanfiction isn’t just a silly hobby undertaken by crazy fans, but is in fact a form of literature and a great creative outlet for fans. I don’t write fanfiction myself but I have read some, and some of the things you can find online are amazing works of literature.

I had a major book hangover after finishing ‘Fangirl’. It was so incredible that I just want to read more. I want to hear about Cath’s second year in college. Her third. And what she does after. In fact, if Rainbow were to write about the rest of her life in epic detail I would lap up the whole thing. I would also LOVE to read more about Simon Snow. The excerpts at the end of each chapter really made me want to read more about the World of Mages.

This really was a fantastic book and I’ll definitely be reading more by this author in the future! I would recommend to any book nerd (teen or adult) who loves a good story with fantastic characters.


I would give this book 5 stars :)


Places to buy:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
The Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Audible.com

Follow Rainbow Rowell on:
rainbowrowell.com
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads

Sunday, 13 September 2015

REVIEW 'Username: Evie' by Joe Sugg

'Username: Evie' by Joe Sugg

Goodreads Synopsis:

"Like anyone who feels as though they just don't fit in, Evie dreams of a place of safety. When times are tough, all she wants is a chance to escape from reality and be herself.

Despite his failing health, Evie's father comes close to creating such a virtual idyll. Passing away before it's finished, he leaves her the key in the form of an app, and Evie finds herself transported to a world where the population is influenced by her personality. Everyone shines in her presence, until her devious cousin, Mallory, discovers the app... and the power to cause trouble in paradise. "






5*****

Hey Elementareaders!

‘Username: Evie’ is a fantasy graphic novel by the YouTuber Joe Sugg (ThatcherJoe). Joe was one of the first people I ever watched on YouTube and I absolutely adore his videos. I was so excited when I heard he was creating a graphic novel, and it certainly didn’t disappoint!


Evie is an outsider. She doesn’t have many friends in school and is bullied by her cousin Mallory. Her mother died when she was very young and her dad is ill too. Poor Evie wants to just escape her life, and sometime shuts herself in the fridge after school to get away (not the best idea, so don’t try that at home!) She is always reassured when she gets home to hear her father, a software pioneer, typing on his computer, but one day she gets home and everything is quiet. She finds that her father has passed away, and Evie is shunted off to her cousin’s house with no time to grieve before Mallory starts making her life hell.


But Evie finds a way out. On her laptop she notices an app called E.scape. She doesn’t know where it has come from, but when she clicks on it a video message from her dad plays saying that he has created this app to help Evie escape her normal life. Suddenly, Evie is transported into a virtual world, a world created entirely for her where her decisions and actions influence everything. Unbeknown to Evie, whilst she is exploring, Mallory finds the app and is whizzed away into the virtual world too. But Mallory brings with her a bad attitude and her influence soon throws the world into chaos; the people becoming monsters and fire and destruction everywhere.


Only Evie can stop the destruction. The race is on to find a way to stop it, and get out of the world before she is trapped there forever!





I’d been anticipating this book for so long. Ever since Joe announced it was happening, before even a vague description of the story was mentioned, I’d been waiting for it and eagerly lapping up any snippets and clues about the story along the way. Joe is one of my favourite YouTubers and he has such a vivid imagination that I knew anything coming out of his head would be pure gold. When the cover and blurb were finally released my excitement grew even more. I absolutely love this genre, and the graphic novel format. The image of Evie on the cover is just spectacular and just by looking at it I knew she would be a fantastic character.

And I was certainly not disappointed! This book was so brilliant. The storyline, characters, artwork; everything was just great. Evie is such a fantastic character and I think she is very relatable for a lot of young girls. I think most people at some point in their lives have felt like her, like an outsider with no means of escape. This novel really grabs onto to that idea of wanting to escape by creating a whole new virtual world, but it also really sends the message that eventually you have to go back to your real life. Evie’s virtual world was designed to help her to become a better version of herself for when she did come out of the simulation.



“Be proud of who you are, and never lose sight of the fact that you are loved” ‘Username: Evie’ pg 30.


The above quote is my favourite from the whole book. I love the message that it sends, that you should be yourself, be proud, and know that someone out there loves you. I think this is such an important message especially for the age group this book is aimed at. I wish someone had said that to me when I was in school some 8 years ago, and I know a lot of Joe’s fans are teenagers.

This book was so visually stunning that sometimes I found myself staring at one page for ages. The artwork and colouring (by Amrit Birdi and Joaquin Pereyra) was so fantastic. I particularly liked the double-page landscapes on the “Part 1”, “Part 2” and “Part 3” pages showing how the beautiful world Evie’s father created gradually went from idyllic to disastrous.

 I particularly enjoyed the fact that Evie lived in a house with a thatched roof, a nice little reference to Joe’s former job as a roof thatcher. I also had a little giggle at the fact that one of the characters was called Jaspar (if you watch Joe’s videos you’ll know why :p)


All in all I thought this was a fantastic debut book by Joe for both young people and adults alike. I would really recommend it to anyone who likes the idea of online worlds and virtual realities. I hope Joe produces more work like this in the future, as I’m sure he has plenty more fun ideas roaming around in his head!


I would give this book 5 stars :)


Places to buy:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
The Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)

Find Joe Sugg on:
YouTube
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads

Friday, 11 September 2015

REVIEW 'A Brief Stay at Earth Human Camp' by Marie C. Collins

Image from Goodreads.com
'A Brief Stay at Earth Human Camp' by Marie C. Collins

Goodreads Synopsis:

"Once you find out your mother is an alien, what ISN’T possible? 

That’s what 12-year-old Anne and 10-year-old Atticus Reade want to know. Minutes after learning that their mother is from the planet Farbookonia and that their parents’ secret project has put them all in danger, the children are wrenched from their sheltered existence in the Midwest and whisked off to sleep-away camp in New Jersey — each with a tiny, protective “Globot” on one shoulder.
Painfully aware they’re not like the others at camp, Anne and Atticus do their best to fit in while concealing their alien background and the “special talents” that go with it. But everything is so new to them, they have a hard time sorting reality from fiction. Quirky campers, campfire ghost stories, a bizarre camp director, Anne’s mysterious dreams, and Atticus’s unusual animal encounters are all equally disturbing.
Just as they start getting the hang of life among young Earth humans, a broadcast on the Rec Hall TV shakes things up, and things that are truly strange emerge from normal newness. It turns out Anne and Atticus — and their new friends — may not be safe at camp after all. A Brief Stay at Earth Human Camp thrusts them into a reality they wish was fiction."

5*****

(This review may contain some small spoilers as I got excited and went into a fair bit of detail about the plot. Oops! Nothing that will really ruin it though :))

Hi Elementareaders!

‘A Brief Stay at Earth Human Camp’ by Marie C. Collins is a middle-grade sci-fi adventure about a pair of half-human, half-alien siblings trying to fit in at an American summer camp. Marie kindly sent me an e-copy to read and review.

Anne and Atticus Reade believe they are perfectly normal human children until they are suddenly told by their parents that their mother, Cameo, is actually an extra-terrestrial being from the planet Farbookonia. True, their upbringing has been very unconventional; living way out in the countryside, home-schooled, and never having had contact with anyone other than each other, their parents and Friday, their housekeeper, but they had no reason to believe that wasn’t normal. Plus they have special gifts, Anne can performs tasks with super speed and Atticus can communicate with animals. But these children’s lives are turned upside-down when their parents confess the truth, and proclaim that their scientific research is under threat, meaning that they will have to jet off to a secret lab, leaving Anne and Atticus at a summer camp for three weeks. The children are thrust out of their secluded lives and will have to fit in with other kids their age, which means learning how to behave and not using their special gifts. To help them out, their father has made them a small holographic being each (Globots) that only they can see and hear. Bella (for Anne) and Huck (for Atticus) sit on their shoulders and give advice about how to behave and what to say.

Anne and Atticus’s first impressions of Earth humans are not great. Upon arriving at camp they are split up. Anne, at 12 years old is put in the Bobcats cabin, and Atticus, at 10 is put in the Timber Rattlesnakes cabin. And the kids assigned to take them to their bunks, Arianna and Max, are not very friendly. They soon make friends, however, with their bunk mates Maylin and Nicola, and before long are welcomed into the group.

They find Bella and Huck’s information very handy, but a few days in both the Globots have malfunctioned, leaving Anne and Atticus entirely on their own. But their instincts click in, and with the help of their new friends they both have a fantastic time.

But there’s trouble in paradise. A few days in the Camp Director, Aunt Maddie, mysteriously vanishes leaving a new director in her place. The new Madam Director acts very strangely, not joining in with activities and yelling ‘YOU SHOULD NOT BE HERE’ at anyone who goes near the old ruins near camp. Another camper, Benedek, is also acting weird and clinging on to the bully, Max. Things go from bad to worse when Max is poisoned and the nurse ends up in a weird coma state that she won’t wake from. Anne and Atticus believe their parents may be involved, and this is to do with their research… involving robots! Now the kids have to save Aunt Maddie and everyone else in camp before Parents Day!

This was such a fantastic, FANTASTIC book! I enjoyed every sentence from start to finish, and even though it’s pretty long for a middle-grade book I was so disappointed when it ended. I loved the writing style. It was very conversational and easy to read that I found it almost impossible to look away from my screen and read the whole book in only a few sittings.

Anne and Atticus are both brilliant characters and I loved seeing the world from their point of view. We don’t have camps like this in the UK so I was just as in the dark about what goes on as these children were. I think the maps and camp schedule at the beginning of the book were a really nice touch, and it was great to go back to them throughout to get a really good idea of where everything was.

I love how this book mixed the adventure and sci-fi. The alien aspect was great, but the real sci-fi element came from the robots. I really didn’t see it coming!

This truly was a brilliant read and I’d recommend it to kids aged 10+ and adults who love a great story with fantastic characters. I’m looking forward to reading more of Marie’s work in the future. The way this book ended makes me think there’s opportunity for a sequel, so I really hope that happens as I would love to read more about these characters and the Farbookonians!


I would give this book 5 stars :)


Places to buy:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
The Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)

Follow Marie C. Collins on:
secretsoffarbookonia.com
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads

Sunday, 6 September 2015

REVIEW 'How I Live Now' by Meg Rosoff

'How I Live Now' by Meg Rosoff

Goodreads Synopsis:

"Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy.

As power fails, and systems fail, the farm becomes more isolated. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. 

But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way."




5*****

Hi Elementareaders!

‘How I Live Now’ by Meg Rosoff is a dystopian novel set in the near future that follows the journey of a group of children through a world war three scenario.

Daisy is a fifteen-year-old American girl from a broken home. Her mother died when she was young and she doesn’t get on very well with her father and step-mother. With a new baby on the way, Daisy’s father sends her off to live with her aunt and cousins in England, where he believes she will be safer from the impending war.

Upon arriving in England, Daisy is surprised to find that her cousin Edmond, who is only fourteen, will be driving her back to their farm and that he smokes cigarettes. It turns out that her Aunt Penn is constantly engrossed in her work and barely leaves her study. Arriving back at what will be her new home, Daisy is introduced to the rest of her cousins; Isaac, Edmond’s twin brother, Osbert, the eldest at sixteen-years-old, and Piper, the youngest and only girl who is nine. Daisy finds it difficult to fit in at first, especially with her eating disorder. Life on the farm is so different from New York, quieter, slower-paced, and as Aunt Penn isn’t around much she has to grow up fast.

Shortly after Daisy arrives, Aunt Penn has to go to Oslo, Norway for a few days for work. But while she is gone the dreaded war finally breaks out and all air travel into the UK is stopped, meaning that she can’t get home and the children will have to manage on their own. They start off by moving to the old lambing barn, and spend their days fishing, swimming and growing food. During this time Daisy becomes much closer to her cousins, particularly Edmond. But before long they are found living alone, and are split up; the boys sent to one place, and Piper and Daisy to another. ‘How I Live Now’ is the heart-wrenching tale of how Daisy and Piper survive the war-ridden country, trying to make it back to the farm and the boys.

I saw the film adaptation of this book a few years back and I really enjoyed it. I loved the storyline, characters and whole aspect of the world it was set in. I recently found a copy of the book and fell in love with the story all over again. There are some major differences between the book and the film, but the general story is the same and both are fantastic!

I adore Daisy as a character. She is quite withdrawn and finds it difficult to trust, which makes it all the more heart-breaking when she falls so in love with her cousins, then has them torn away from her. Piper is also an amazing character. She’s just so unbelievably cute!

I love the story and the journey that these characters went on. The world war three scenario is so scarily realistic that it’s not difficult to imagine yourself in Daisy’s shoes. I think the thing that makes it so real is that this could happen at any time. But I found it wonderful that the story centered so tightly around this group of children and that we saw it entirely through Daisy’s eyes. The only information the reader gets comes from her, which is most apparent when they refer to the Enemy. They don’t know who it is or what the war is even really about and the reader is just as in the dark as the characters, but this works so well with the idea and writing style, and is just perfect.

Meg Rosoff’s style of writing is so unique. I really like how it is written almost like Daisy’s diary, and how it is prose all the way through. In fact, until part two near the end I don’t think there is a single speech mark, which is unusual but it works incredibly well. The language is so conversational and very easy to read.

I’ll definitely be reading more of Meg’s books in the future!


I would give this book 5 stars :)


Places to buy:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
The Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Audible.com

Follow Meg Rosoff on:
megrosoff.co.uk
Twitter
Goodreads

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

REVIEW 'Penetrated on Ponetown' & 'Boned on Bluecreek' by Moxie Darling

'Penetrated on Ponetown' by Moxie Darling

Goodreads Synopsis:

"On a mission to bring the love of literacy to impoverished rural children, Clover Willoughby finds herself stranded on a dry, dusty West Virginia back road. Out of gas, out of service, and out of patience, she starts walking. When she stumbles across a quaint cabin in the woods, she's relieved at her good fortune. Her relief turns to trepidation—and anticipation—when the rough, crude mountain man living there offers to assist her . . . for a price. And he's not interested in money.

(Disclaimer: this novella is for adults only. It contains explicit sex scenes, rough sex, ménage situations, sex with strangers, and taboo elements that some might find offensive.)"

'Boned on Bluecreek' by Moxie Darling

Goodreads Synopsis:

"When Willow Spencer receives an intriguing letter from her best friend, she heads to West Virginia with only a suitcase and a lust for adventure. Agreeing to live with a man you’ve never met and be nanny to his three children is a little dangerous and a lot of crazy. In other words? Just what she needs. A wild child at heart, Willow leaves life as she knows it behind without a backwards glance. But when she arrives at the rundown trailer deep in backwoods territory and meets the rough, practically mute mountain man who seems immune to her flirtatious charm, she begins to doubt her decision and her sanity. 

(Disclaimer: this novella is for adults only. It contains explicit sex scenes, rough sex, sex with strangers, and sexual situations some might find offensive.)"


THIS REVIEW IS FOR BOTH NOVELLAS


4****

Hi Elementareaders!

‘Penetrated on Ponetown’ and ‘Boned on Bluecreek’ are two erotic novellas by Moxie Darling. I don’t usually read anything in this genre, but Moxie was kind enough to send me e-copies of her novellas to read and review.

‘Penetrated on Ponetown’ begins with Clover Willoughby, a girl in her twenties, travelling on the back roads of West Virginia trying to find the Barlow’s house to teach Mr Barlow’s three young children to read as part of her library’s Rural Literacy Outreach program. But Clover soon finds herself out of gas in the middle of nowhere. She sets out on foot to try and find some signs of civilisation, and after a mile and a half she comes across a long, winding driveway which leads to a small cabin. Unfortunately the men who live there, Jim and his son Eustace, don’t have any electricity, so no phone for her to call for help, but do have gas for her car. They aren’t interested in conventional payment, however. They want Clover. Jim especially wants her for his son, who has never been with a woman. Clover, being from a hippie commune, in unabashed by sex and agrees to stay with them for a week, pleasuring both men. But she begins to develop feelings for the young, awkward Eustace and isn’t sure she’ll want to leave once the week is up…

‘Boned on Bluecreek’ takes place a little while after. Clover’s friend, Willow Spencer, is driving to her new workplace where she is to be nanny to the widowed Teddy Barlow’s three children. Upon arriving she sees that the Barlow’s house is little more than an old trailer in a state of disrepair. Teddy, a mechanic, isn’t Willow’s usual type but when she meets him she is very taken with his rough exterior and intimidating personality. Willow decides to make it her mission to help Teddy get over his late wife by offering her body to him. Teddy is rather reluctant however, but the more time she spends with him, Willow whittles him down and gets to know the man underneath the cold exterior.

As I mentioned before, I don’t normally read this genre so I didn’t really know that to expect (other than the obvious!) I have to say though that I really enjoyed both stories!

These novellas very well written and I found myself well and truly wrapped up in the stories of these two young girls. Clover and Willow were very interesting characters, both coming from a hippie commune they were very free with their bodies, but what I found most interesting was how they came to really care for the men and even fall in love.

Both books were very good, quick reads for adults and I would recommend to anyone looking for a fun summer read. Thank you Moxie!


I would give both books 4 stars :)


Places to buy:
Amazon UK (PoP)
Amazon UK (BoB)
Amazon US (PoP)
Amazon US (BoB)

Follow Moxie Darling on:
moxiedarling.blogspot.com
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Saturday, 29 August 2015

REVIEW 'Summer Flings and Dancing Dreams' by Sue Watson

'Summer Flings and Dancing Dreams' by Sue Watson

Goodreads Synopsis:

"Dance like nobody’s watching. Love like you’ll never get hurt…
Laura Watkin's heart isn’t broken, she’s just forgotten how to use it. After years on her own, the highlight of single mum Laura's week is watching Strictly Come Dancing with a glass of Pinot Grigio and a large helping of imagination.
With her daughter Sophie going travelling, Laura knows the time is right to do something for herself for a change. One disastrous Zumba class later and Laura ends up at the feet (literally) of gorgeous dance instructor Tony Hernandez.
A natural dancer and inspiring teacher, Tony rekindles in Laura a passion she inherited from her ballroom dancer father – and with it comes a dream… to make him proud.
But when Tony enters them to perform at the National Dance Festival, can Laura’s new-found confidence survive the test? And with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to learn Flamenco in Spain, could Laura truly learn to dance like nobody's watching… and love like she’ll never get hurt?"


4****

Hey Elementareaders!

‘Summer Flings and Dancing Dreams’ by Sue Watson is a fun and light-hearted romantic comedy. I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads Giveaway program, very kindly signed by Sue herself!

Laura is a forty-something single mum from Manchester who lives her life working in a supermarket and watching TV. She’s content with her life until her daughter, Sophie, bluntly tells Laura that she doesn’t want to end up like her, single and stuck in a dead end job with her only pleasure coming from watching Strictly Come Dancing and imagining herself on the dance floor.

Six months later Sophie is travelling abroad and Laura is still in her same routine. But the chat with her daughter has been a wake-up call and when Laura’s friend Carole invites her to a Zumba class, she says yes. It turns out Zumba isn’t really her thing, but after one disastrous class she meets a handsome stranger inviting her to his dance class – Latin and Ballroom.  Laura’s parents were Ballroom champions in their day and it seems that Laura has picked up on some of their rhythm and flair. She’s a natural, and when she gets the chance to learn the flamenco in Spain (her late dad’s dream) she jumps at the chance. Suddenly Laura’s life is filled with dancing and she’s never been happier!

This was such a lovely book! I did find it a little slow at the beginning, but once I got into it I really enjoyed it. Laura is just your typical forty-something singleton in a dead end job and she is so passionate about dance. She proves that anyone, any age can achieve their dreams, which I think is a lovely sentiment.

The book’s motto ‘Dance like Nobody’s Watching’ has always been one of my favourite quotes. I love the idea that you should do whatever makes you feel good regardless of whoever’s watching and judging. Suffering from social anxiety, this is a motto that I find difficult to put into practice, but I still think it's such a wonderful idea.

This is such a feel-good book and it made me laugh, smile (and occasionally cry) all the way through. Laura is so passionate that it made me want to get up and dance myself. I LOVE Tony. He’s the best friend that everyone wants, and Laura was lucky enough to find.

This was a really great book and I’ll be looking out for more of Sue’s novels in the future!


I would give this book 4 stars :)


Places to buy:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
The Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)

Follow Sue Watson on:
suewatsonbooks.com
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Tuesday, 25 August 2015

REVIEW 'You Have to Stop This' by Pseudonymous Bosch

'You Have to Stop This' by Pseudonymous Bosch (Secrets Series #5)

Goodreads Synopsis:

"The finale to the New York Times bestselling Secret Series! 
I always feared this day would come. A secret is meant to stay secret, after all. And now we've come to this: the fifth and final (I swear!) book in my saga of secrets. 
A class trip to the local natural history museum turns dangerous when Cass accidentally breaks a finger off a priceless mummy. This "crime" of vandalism leads her and her friends Max-Earnest and Yo-Yoji on an expedition into a land of majestic pyramids, dusty tombs, and the walking dead. Is it Egypt? Or somewhere much stranger..."





5*****

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST FOUR BOOKS IN THIS SERIES. Click on the links to read my reviews of ‘The Name of This Book is Secret’, ‘If You’re Reading This, it’s Too Late’, ‘This Book is Not Good for You’ and ‘This Isn’t What it Looks Like’.


Hello Elementareaders!

'You Have to Stop This' is the fifth and final book in the middle-grade 'Secrets' series by Pseudonymous Bosch. This series follows the adventures of Cass, Max-Ernest and Yo-Yogi, three young members of the Terces Society, as they try to keep the dangerous Secret safe from the evil Midnight Sun.

At the end of the previous book Cass comes back from her trip into the past still none the wiser about what the Secret is. But she does know that Lord Pharaoh had got his hands of some of Senor Hugo's time-travel-chocolate and has followed her back into the present. Cass has to discover the Secret before Lord Pharaoh does, and the answer may just be at a new exhibit in the museum.

Cass unexpectedly receives a large trunk in the mail from none other than her ancestor, the Jester, himself. In the trunk, amongst the gold and jewels from the bandits thieving days, she finds a piece of papyrus with the Secret written on in hieroglyphics. But before Cass has a chance to decipher it, the papyrus disintegrates from old age. This leads Cass on a journey to try and translate the hieroglyphs from memory, with the help of Max-Ernest who cannot know the true reason. Cass also finds an ibis ring in the trunk, which will become very useful in her discovery of the Secret.

A new museum exhibit, a mummy from ancient Egypt, turns out to be the remains of Dr Amun, the man who discovered the Secret in the first place. To find it out herself, Cass must place the ibis ring on the mummy, but before she gets a chance the mummy is stolen. This leads Cass, Max-Ernest and Yo-Yogi on and epic trip to Las Vegas, where they must defeat Lord Pharaoh himself…

The next instalment in this series certainly didn't disappoint! The plot of this book was so fast-paced and the action is non-stop so it was so easy and fun to read. I really like this authors writing style. It's very conversational and the little footnotes are very fun (and informative!)

I love the characters, especially Cass. It's been great to see her grow up throughout this series. Max-Ernest's character development has also been a joy to read, and I particularly enjoyed his (final) graduation speech.

This is a really great series that I think both children and adults will enjoy, and I'll definitely be looking out for more of Pseudonymous Bosch's books in the future (assuming he is still writing under that name! :p)


I would give this book 5 stars :)


Places to buy:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
The Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)

Follow Pseudonymous Bosch on:
thenameofthiswebsiteissecret.com
Twitter
Goodreads

Monday, 24 August 2015

REVIEW 'This Isn't What it Looks Like' by Pseudonymous Bosch

'This Isn't What it Looks Like' by Pseudonymous Bosch (Secrets Series #4)

Goodreads Synopsis:

"Cass may be in grave danger. She's eaten the dreaded Time Travel Chocolate--and you know what that means. I won't even begin to tell you what trouble this delicacy has caused in the past. If only Cass could leave the past behind! But it appears she is literally stuck in it. 

Meanwhile, Max-Ernest is worried for his best friend. Can our expert hypochondriac diagnose Cass's condition before it's too late? And will he have what it takes to save the survivalist? 

For Max-Ernest, it's a race against time; for Cass, a race through it. For the rest of you, well, it's a race to find out what happens next, of course. But proceed with caution, and be sure to read carefully because...this isn't what it looks like."


5*****

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST THREE BOOKS IN THIS SERIES. Click on the links to read my reviews for ‘The Name of This Book is Secret’, ‘If You’re Reading This, it’s Too Late’ and ‘This Book is Not Good for You’


Hi Elementareaders!

'This Isn’t What it Looks Like' is the fourth book in the middle-grade ‘Secret Series’ by Pseudonymous Bosch. These books follow the adventures of three young members of the Terces Society, a secret organisation whose job it is to keep the Secret (to immortality) from getting into the wrong hands. On three previous occasions these children, Cassandra, Max-Ernest and Yo-Yogi, have thwarted the evil Midnight Sun's plans and kept the Secret safe.

At the end of the previous book Cass has discovered that she is a decedent from the Jester, the original founder of the Terces Society, and that she is the Secret-Keeper. The only problem is, she doesn’t actually know the Secret. With the remains of Senor Hugo's extra strong time-travel-chocolate, Cass has gone back to medieval times to meet the Jester and find out what the Secret is.
Unfortunately for Cass, while her mind is in the past her body is still very much in the present and the adults believe she has fallen into a coma. She is in the hospital's Paediatric Intensive Care Unit and her distraught mother is unwilling to let Max-Ernest visit. The couple of times Max-Ernest has been close enough to Cass to try and give her the antidote and bring her back, it hasn’t worked.

Meanwhile Cass meets a seer also named Cassandra who gives her some advice, and a useful double monocle which allows her to see far away and through solid objects. But the evil alchemist, and founder of the Midnight Sun, Lord Pharaoh finds Cass while she is searching for the Jester and ends up locking her in a cell with her ancestor. In the process he steals the double monocle and the last remaining piece of the time-travel-chocolate. Cass has now found what she was looking for, but will the Jester be able to help her uncover the Secret? And can Max-Ernest wake Cass up before it is too late?

This really is such a great adventure series for both kids and adults alike! These books are a fantastic mix of mystery, action and adventure with a little time-travel and alchemy thrown in. The characters are fantastic and I especially like Cass, the survivalist, and Owen, the master of disguise.

There were some great new characters introduced in this book too. I LOVED the Jester and Anastasia is a brilliant bad-ass bandit. Mr Cabbage Face, the homunculus for book two also makes a brief, but memorable appearance as his past-self. Ms Mauvais and Dr L don’t play such a big part in the book, but in their place we meet the horribly evil Lord Pharaoh.

The story was so fast-paced and well written. I really enjoy this authors writing style, and I love the little footnotes and appendices. This book also has a fantastic little author interview at the back which was a fun read.


I would give this book 5 stars :)


Places to buy:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
The Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)

Follow Pseudonymous Bosch on:
thenameofthiswebsiteissecret.com
Twitter
Goodreads

Sunday, 23 August 2015

REVIEW 'This Book is Not Good for You' by Pseudonymous Bosch

'This Book is Not Good for You' by Pseudonymous Bosch (Secrets Series #3)

Goodreads Synopsis:

"Cass, Max-Ernest and Yo-Yoji, the youngest members of the top-secret Terces Society, have been given a crucial mission: to track down a cursed Aztec tuning fork that has the power to recreate any flavour the user has ever tasted."












5*****

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST TWO BOOKS IN THIS SERIES. CLICK THE LINKS TO FIND MY REVIEWS OF ‘The Name of This Book is Secret’ and ‘If You’re Reading This, It’s too Late’


Hi Elementareaders!

'This Book is Not Good for You' is the third book in the young adult 'Secrets Series' by Pseudonymous Bosch. This review will probably contain spoilers for the first two books in this series, so check out the links above if you want to read my reviews for those first.

The previous book ended with Cass, Max-Ernest and their new friend  Yo-Yogi, once again thwarting the plans of the Midnight Sun and keeping the Secret safe. This book picks up a little while later. Cass is working in her grandfather's old-firehouse-turned-junk-shop with the sole purpose of trying to find the box in which she was left on their doorstep as a baby, to try and find out more about where she came from. Instead they find a magazine inside a box of recent donations, and are shocked to see the teen pop star twins Romi and Montana Skelton, members of the evil Midnight Sun, on the front cover. The article inside says that they are visiting the 'Loving Heart Orphanage' (and chocolate plantation) in Côte d'Ivoire, West Africa. The friends are even more shocked to see that the 'nun' running the orphanage is none other than Ms Mauvais, leader of the Midnight Sun.

Cass and Max-Ernest are eager to tell Pietro, head of the Terces Society, about their find, and Pietro immediately dispatches a team out to Côte d'Ivoire to track them down. The Terces Society believe that the Midnight Sun are after the legendary 'Turning Fork', a piece of cutlery that “has the power to stir into being any taste in the world – as long as the eater has tasted it before.” (Chapter 4, Pg 61).

Seemingly unrelated, Cass and her mother are taking part in a cookery course taught by the famous blind chef, Senor Hugo. Cass accidentally lets slip that she knows about the Turning Fork and suddenly finds herself, he mother, Max-Ernest and Yo-Yogi invited to Senor Hugo's restaurant. The restaurant is unusual, however, as it is completely in the dark so the diners can use their other senses more when tasting the food. But during the meal Cass's mother is kidnapped, and Cass is given 48 hours to find the Turning Fork and bring it to Senor Hugo.

This leads to an epic search, and an adventure that will take them right into the heart of the Midnight Sun's chocolate plantation. But what does chocolate have to do with the Secret? And can Cass save her mother and defeat the Midnight Sun again?

This series just keeps getting better! There was so much more character development for Cass in this book and I’m as excited as she is to find out more about her mysterious past, and her ancestors. Like the previous two, this book was very fast-paced and difficult to put down.

This is such a great series of both kids and adults who love adventure stories. I have the final two books on order from my local library and I'm looking forward to reading them!


I would give this book 5 stars :)


Places to buy:

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Thursday, 20 August 2015

REVIEW 'If You're Reading This, It's Too Late' by Pseudonymous Bosch

'If You're Reading This, It's Too Late' by Pseudonymous Bosch (Secrets Series #2)

Goodreads Synopsis:

"Proud new members of the top-secret Terces Society, Cass and Max-Ernest can't wait for their first mission. And no sooner have they decoded a message hidden in Cass's shopping list than they are kidnapped by their dastardly enemies, the Midnight Sun. Can Cass and Max-Ernest escape?"











5*****

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST BOOK IN THIS SERIES ‘THE NAME OF THIS BOOK IS SECRET’ You can find my review of that book HERE


Hi Elementareaders!

‘If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late’ is the second book in the Secrets series by Pseudonymous Bosch. I really enjoyed the first book, and this sequel was definitely not a disappointment! This is a middle-grade mystery/adventure series that follows the escapades of Cassandra and Max-Ernest, two children who stumble across a dangerous Secret.

At the end of the first book Cass and Max-Ernest receive gifts and a coded message from Pietro Bergamo inviting them to join the Terces Society, a secret organisation formed to protect the world from the dangerous Secret. The children hindered the evil Midnight Sun from uncovering the Secret in their last adventures, so were asked to join for proving their courage and bravery.

This book begins a little while after the end of the first and Cass and Max-Ernest are still waiting to hear from Owen, a member of the Terces Society who is supposed to be taking them to meet Pietro. One lunchtime Cass finds a note in her lunchbox which appears to be from her mother, but they discover that it is actually a coded message from Pietro (or so they think!) telling them to meet him at Dock 3 on their field trip the next day.

The survivalist and the decoder go to the dock to find that it is a trap and they are once again in the clutches of the Midnight Sun, until Owen turns up in another one of his ridiculous disguises and rescues them and gives them a hint to the location of the Terces Society headquarters. Cass and Max-Ernest are then put on a dangerous quest involving a Sound Prism, an alchemist and a five-hundred-year-old homunculus with the task of stopping the Midnight Sun discovering the Secret once again.

This was a fantastic sequel! The story was just as fast-paced as the previous book and the plot was brilliant! I loved the character development of the two heroes and there were some great new characters introduced too. It was good to finally meet Pietro and Yo-Yoji was an awesome new character and friend for Cass and Max-Ernest.

I’m very much looking forward to reading the next book!


I would give this book 5 stars :)


Places to buy:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
The Book Depository

Follow Pseudonymous Bosch on:
thenameofthiswebsiteissecret.com
Twitter
Goodreads

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

REVIEW 'The Name of This Book is Secret' by Pseudonymous Bosch

'The Name of This Book is Secret' by Pseudonymous Bosch

Goodreads Synopsis:

"WARNING: DO NOT READ THIS BOOK!

...For amongst its strange and alarming contents you will find:

two extraordinary adventures...
a missing magician's diary...
a symphony of smells...
and a deadly secret

But wait, you already know too much! It is too late. I'm afraid nothing will stop you now. Open the book if you must.
But, please, tell no one."




5*****

Hi Elementareaders!

‘The Name of this Books is Secret’ by Pseudonymous Bosch is a middle-grade mystery/adventure story about two eleven-year-olds who stumble across a secret that will change their lives.

Cassandra is a survivalist. She always carries a backpack crammed full of things that will be useful if a disaster occurs (torch, compass, rope, space blanket etc…). Her grandfathers, Wayne and Larry, own a junk shop in an old firehouse and one day whilst Cass is there an estate agent named Gloria brings them a box of things from the house of a magician who recently died in a fire. Among the bric-a-brac they find a box containing ninety-nine crystal vials each containing a different scent. The inscription on the box reads ‘The Symphony of Smells’.

Max-Ernest is an aspiring comedian, and the type of boy who doesn’t know when to stop talking. Because of his terrible jokes and his inability to stay quiet he doesn’t have any friends. Whilst trying out his latest joke on Cass, he examines the Symphony of Smells and discovers that it has a secret compartment. In the compartment is a riddle, which spells out ‘HELP’. Convinced that this is a message from the magician who is still alive, they quickly become friends and collaborators, and try to find out what the message means and how to help him.

But it isn’t all plain sailing for Cass and Max-Ernest. They face numerous perils along their journey and discover a dreadful secret group named the Midnight Sun who are experimenting with some truly awful age-reducing remedies…

This was such a fun read! The first couple of chapters are the author telling you not to read this book as it contains secrets that are dangerous. Obviously that just wants to make you read on. Once it got into the story the book was so fast-paced and really easy to read. The authors writing style reminded me a little of Lemony Snicket. He described everything as if it really happened and he was just telling the story, which I think is a really fun way to write a fiction book.

I think this would be a fantastic book for both children and adults. It’s easy enough for an eleven-year-old to read, but the plot and characters are so fantastic that adults would really enjoy it too. I’m looking forward to reading the next books in this series!


I would give this book 5 stars :)


Places to buy:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
The Book Depository

Follow Pseudonymous Bosch on:
thenameofthiswebsiteissecret.com
Twitter
Goodreads

Thursday, 6 August 2015

REVIEW 'Habibi' by Craig Thompson (Graphic Novel)

'Habibi' by Craig Thompson

Goodreads Synopsis:

"Sprawling across an epic landscape of deserts, harems, and modern industrial clutter, Habibi tells the tale of Dodola and Zam, refugee child slaves bound to each other by chance, by circumstance, and by the love that grows between them. We follow them as their lives unfold together and apart; as they struggle to make a place for themselves in a world (not unlike our own) fueled by fear, lust, and greed; and as they discover the extraordinary depth — and frailty — of their connection.

At once contemporary and timeless, Habibi gives us a love story of astounding resonance: a parable about our relationship to the natural world, the cultural divide between the first and third worlds, the common heritage of Christianity and Islam, and, most potently, the magic of storytelling."

5*****

Hello Elementareaders!

'Habibi' is a graphic novel by Craig Thompson that follows the lives of two child slaves. The book has strong Islamic religious themes with some hints of Christianity. As an atheist myself I wouldn't normally read this kind of book, but the cover caught my eye so I flicked through and completely fell in love with the artwork.

We first meet Dodola, a young white girl, aged nine who has just been married off to a scribe. Not a nice situation for any young girl, but the scribe does teach her to read and write. Before long, however, their home is raided and her husband killed. Dolola is then sold as a child slave where she meets Cham, a three year old black boy and forms a bond. Dodola manages to escape her captors and takes Cham with her, who she re-names Zam. She also refers to him as ‘Habibi’, which means 'Beloved' in Arabic. They find an old abandoned ship in the desert which they make their home. They spend six years together with Dodola selling herself into prostitution for food and Zam collecting water. During this time Dodola tells Zam lots of stories from the Qur'an including Adam and Eve, Noah's Ark and Moses amongst others. At first Dodola is a mother figure for Zam but as he grows older he begins to develop a lust for her.

Suddenly at ages 12 and 21 the two are separated and have to survive without each other. Dodola finds herself imprisoned in the Sultans palace where he challenges her to please him for 70 nights in a row. On the seventieth he gets bored but spares her life. He then sets her another challenge, she has seventy months to turn water into gold in exchange for her freedom. During this time she becomes pregnant with the Sultan's child and gives birth to a baby boy. But, still torn up about her separation from Zam she neglects the child, only to try and make up for it later, but she doesn't get the chance.

Meanwhile Zam is trying to make a life for himself in the nearby town, when he is taken in by a group of eunuchs and he makes some serious life choices that will affect his future. Zam eventually gets a position in the palace but will he and Dodola ever be reunited?

 First things first, the artwork in the book was absolutely stunning! Each of the 600+ pages was so beautifully decorated and there was so much to look at that I went through after I'd finished it to look again. As well as the pictures depicting the story the backgrounds and borders were filled with Arabic letters and words and although I couldn't read them, they looked beautiful. It really added to the Islamic themes of the book too.

As I mentioned before, I am not religious and wouldn't normally read this type of book but I'm incredibly glad it did! The story of Dodola and Zam was so captivating and I really fell in love with these two young survivors.

The narrative of the book is quite mixed up and there are time-jumps and flashbacks. Quite often I find this kind of style difficult to follow, but this story was so beautifully written that it was so easy. The story is also interspersed with tales from the Qur'an and although I'm not religious I found them really interesting and they fitted in so perfectly with the story.

This was a truly wonderful book to read and I'm sure I'll be going back to it in the future time and time again. The book does contain adult themes and depictions of nudity so I wouldn't recommend it to younger readers, but most adults, religious or not, will be delighted by this wonderful graphic novel.


I would give this book 5 stars :)


Places to buy:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
The Book Depository

Follow Craig Thompson on:
craigthompsonbooks.com
Facebook
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Sunday, 2 August 2015

REVIEW 'Dragon Rider' by Cornelia Funke

'Dragon Rider' by Cornelia Funke

Goodreads Synopsis:

"With lonely Ben aboard, brave dragon Firedrake seeks mythical place where silver dragons can live in peace. Over moonlit lands and sparkling seas, they meet fantastic creatures, summon up surprising courage - and cross a ruthless villain with an ancient grudge determined to end their quest. Only a secret destiny can save the dragons and bring them the true meaning of home."











4****

Hi Elementareaders!

'Dragon Rider' by Cornelia Funke is an epic tale of adventure, magic and friendship.

Firedrake is a Silver Dragon, living in a remote valley in the Scottish Highlands. There are a small cluster of dragons living there and they are unsure whether they are the last of their kind as the humans are slowly taking over the planet. Sorrel, a Forest Brownie (a kind of cat-like creature that walks on two legs) is out foraging for mushrooms when a rat brings news of the humans planning to take over their valley.

Upon hearing this news, Firedrake and Sorrel set out on an epic quest to find the 'Rim of Heaven', the mythical place where it is said all dragons came from and somewhere that they will be safe. Rat tells them to stop and see her cousin in the city, who can give them a map. Whilst in the city they meet Ben, a young homeless boy, who helps them find the rat and the map (showing the Rim to be somewhere in the Himalayas), and ends up embarking on this journey with the Dragon and the Brownie.

But the journey isn't going to be a safe one. When resting on a mountain they meet some dwarves, one of which runs off to his master, the giant and fearsome gold Dragon, Nettlebrand, who enjoys eating Silver Dragons like Firedrake. Nettlebrand sends out a spy to follow them in the hope that they will lead him to the Rim of Heaven and lots more tasty dragons. The gang go on many adventures and meet lots of new friends along the way, but can the defeat Nettlebrand before it is too late?

This was such a wonderful adventure story! The characters were great, although Sorrel did get on my nerves a bit sometimes, but her personality was so well written. I love that this book was set in our world rather than some far off fantasy land, and it was great to believe for a second that these magical beings; dragons, brownies, dwarves, basilisks & more, could be living in our world.

I adored the little illustrations at the tops of the chapters, and the few scattered in between. I think the pop-up replica of the map was also a really nice touch and it was great to look at the map whilst reading to get a better idea of their journey.

While the storyline was amazing, I do thing some of the writing was lacking in the area of descriptiveness. Although I suppose some of it make have been lost in the translation from German. The language is nice and simple for children to read and understand.

Overall I thought this was a really great adventure fantasy for both adults and children alike.


I would give this book 4 stars :)


Let me know in the comments if you've read ‘Dragon Rider’ and what you thought of it! And if you had a dragon, what would you name it?


Places to buy:
The Book Depository (free delivery worldwide!)

Follow Cornelia Funke on: