About Me

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United Kingdom
I'm a librarian based in the UK who loves books. I'm happiest when I'm either talking about them, reading them or buying them. This blog is dedicated mainly to my addiction to YA fiction but you will also find some adult and non-fiction book reviews as well.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Review: Everything, Everything - Nicola Yoon

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon, published by Corgi on 3rd September 2015

Goodreads synopsis:
Madeline Whittier is allergic to the outside world. So allergic, in fact, that she has never left the house in all of her seventeen years. But when Olly moves in next door, and wants to talk to Maddie, tiny holes start to appear in the protective bubble her mother has built around her. Olly writes his IM address on a piece of paper, shows it at her window, and suddenly, a door opens. But does Maddie dare to step outside her comfort zone?


Review:
Nicola Yoon's debut novel is an extraordinary book.  The story was so captivating that I read it in one sitting, unable to tear myself away from it's pages.  It's emotional, beautiful, sad and hopeful all at the same time.  It is a book that I will be recommending to everyone I know.  I actually haven't read many books this year which have totally blown me away but this one definitely did.  I absolutely loved it!

The main character Maddy, is an eighteen year old girl unable to leave her house.  Protected by the four walls around her and by her mother and nurse, she has never known any other kind of life.  When new neighbours move in, Maddy forms a life-changing friendship with Olly, the boy next door.  When friendship turns to love, Maddy's world changes and she suddenly has some tough choices to make about her future.  This story definitely posed some interesting questions about love and life which resonated with me a lot and which I found incredibly moving at times. 

The relationship between Maddy and Olly is something special and was beautifully conveyed.  They have an incredible bond which opens both their eyes and makes them consider what really matters to them both.  I felt the intensity which they share and the depth of feeling which lies between them. 

I did not see the HUGE twist coming at the end of the story but it was absolute genius.  It turned everything upside down and posed an interesting dilemma for the characters. 

I loved all the artwork and illustrations that accompany Maddy's story too.  These really enriched the book and were created by Nicola Yoon's husband David.

A stellar five star read which rescued me from a long reading slump!  

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Review: The Complete Peter Pan - J.M. Barrie

The Complete Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, published by Alma Classics on 15th October 2015

Goodreads synopsis:
The boy who wouldn't grow up, Peter Pan has the power of flight and lives on a magical island. But he is fascinated by Mary Darling's bedtime stories for her children and makes covert night-time visits to their Bloomsbury home. One evening he loses his shadow, and after Mary's daughter Wendy helps him reattach it, he invites her to fly away with him on an extraordinary adventure.



Review:
This is the perfect edition for any Peter Pan fans' collection.  A truly lovely edition which would also make the perfect Christmas stocking filler. 

In addition to the novel Peter and Wendy, this edition also includes Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens and the play Peter Pan. Plus, it features lovely illustrations by Joel Stewart.  I hadn't actually read the Kensington Gardens story before so it was nice to read something new about such a classic tale. 

I have read Peter Pan itself so many times before, but it was super to hold such a fine edition in my hands and revisit the wonderful world of Neverland.  I never tire of reading about Peter's adventures with the faithful Tinkerbell and the Lost Boys by his side and I'm sure this book will introduce many more children to such a classic tale of adventure.  

Monday, 23 November 2015

Review: These Shallow Graves - Jennifer Donnelly

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly, published by Hot Key Books on 27th October 2015

Goodreads synopsis:
Set in gilded age New York, These Shallow Graves follows the story of Josephine Montfort, an American aristocrat. Jo lives a life of old-money ease. Not much is expected of her other than to look good and marry well. But when her father dies due to an accidental gunshot, the gilding on Jo’s world starts to tarnish. With the help of a handsome and brash reporter, and a young medical student who moonlights in the city morgue, Jo uncovers the truth behind her father’s death and learns that if you’re going to bury the past, you’d better bury it deep.



Review:
'These Shallow Graves' is a Victorian murder mystery, featuring feisty young heroine Josephine Montfort, or Jo as she likes to be known.  Jo's father dies at the beginning of the story and she takes it into her own hands to find out the truth about his death, helped along the way by handsome journalist Eddie. 

The setting for the story is New York, 1890.  I thought that Jennifer Donnelly did a really good job of incorporating a sense of the atmosphere of the period.  Women did not have many rights beyond working if they were poor and marrying if they were rich.  Jo subverts the line between the two by coming from a wealthy and privileged background, but she also wants to pursue her own dreams which are far greater than simply being a wife.  She is an interesting heroine because she is incredibly ambitious for the time and refuses to stop throwing herself into the path of danger if it means she will discover answers to the elusive questions the story poses.   

I enjoyed the way that Jo peeled away the layers of mystery and intrigue to gradually piece together the truth about her father and what really happened to him.  I love a good murder mystery and this one kept me on my toes. 

This was quite a long book at nearly 500 pages.  I found it quite slow in places at the beginning and I'll admit that I nearly gave up on reading it at one point but it picked up considerably as the pieces of the mystery began to come together.  I do think that the plot could have been tighter and there were some elements which didn't altogether work for me but there was a lot I liked to.  I don't feel that this was a very memorable read but if you enjoy historical murder mysteries then it's definitely worth a try. 

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Blog Tour: Dangerous Lies - Becca Fitzpatrick

Becca Fitzpatrick has stopped by A Dream of Books today to provide some advice for teens. 

On being a teen or advice for teens

In my writing I tend to draw, at least in bits and pieces, on my own teen years. In Dangerous Lies I based Chet Falconer, the story's hero, on my high school boyfriend. I had a great high school boyfriend. He was kind, smart, athletic, good looking. At the time, I wondered why he was with me. Girls would come up to me at school and say things like, “Is he really with you?” and it made me more insecure. I think teens can be really hard on themselves. We're very critical of every perceived flaw. Recently, a friend from high school contacted me and said, “You had everything. I wanted to be you.” I was baffled.

Moral of the story: Love yourself. Be kind to yourself. Focus on your good qualities, because someone out there sees them.

Becca's new book 'Dangerous Lies' (published by Simon and Schuster) is out now. 

Stella Gordon is not her real name. Thunder Basin, Nebraska, is not her real home. This is not her real life.  After witnessing a lethal crime, Stella Gordon is sent to the middle of nowhere for her own safety before she testifies against the man she saw kill her mother’s drug dealer.

But Stella was about to start her senior year with the boyfriend she loves. How can she be pulled away from the only life she knows and expected to start a new one in Nebraska? Stella chafes at her protection and is rude to everyone she meets. She’s not planning on staying long, so why be friendly? Then she meets Chet Falconer and it becomes harder to keep her guard up, even as her guilt about having to lie to him grows.  As Stella starts to feel safer, the real threat to her life increases—because her enemies are actually closer than she thinks.
   


Don't forget to check out the rest of the stops on the 'Dangerous Lies' blog tour. There are some great posts still to look forward to. 




Monday, 9 November 2015

Review: Can We Live Here? - Sarah Alderson

Can We Live Here? by Sarah Alderson, published by Blink on 6th August 2015

Goodreads synopsis:
In 2009, Sarah and John Alderson quit their full-time jobs in London and headed off, with Alula, their three-year-old daughter, on a global adventure to find a new home. For eight months, they travelled through Australia, the US and Asia navigating India with a toddler in a tutu, battling black magic curses in Indonesia and encountering bears in North America asking themselves one defining question: Can We Live Here?

Inspirational, hilarious and fascinating this is an unforgettable travel memoir and a unique guide to quitting your job, following your dreams and finding your home in a far-flung paradise.



Review:
Sarah Alderson's first non-fiction title charts her escape from the rat race of London to a new adventure, trying to find a home somewhere in the world with her husband and young daughter.  As they travel through places such as India, Bali, Singapore and Australia, she contemplates finding the perfect place to settle in and put down new roots. 

I am not a big traveller myself and I definitely don't have the travel bug but what I could identify with in the book was Sarah's musings on escaping the trappings of day to day life and believing that there is something more out there - a simpler and less complicated way of living.  A life away from the routines, complacency, bills and the never-ending cycle of work that threatens to sap out spirit.  Sarah was brave enough to make the plunge into the unknown, which I really admired. 

I enjoyed reading about all the places she and her family ended up visiting and the new and unusual experiences that they have.  Some of her anecdotes are absolutely hilarious, such as in Malaysia, when a bus and a bottle are involved.  I did have to laugh.

It was also interesting to discover more about Sarah herself and to find out her path to becoming a published author.  I found it quite incredible how luck seemed to land in her lap, although she obviously had a talent for words all along and since then has worked incredibly hard writing lots of fantastic young-adult novels to keep all us readers entertained. 

Overall, an enjoyable travel memoir for those looking for a glimpse of a simpler way of life. 

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Review: George - Alex Gino

George by Alex Gino, published by Scholastic on 25th August 2015

Goodreads synopsis:
When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she's not a boy. She knows she's a girl.

George thinks she'll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte's Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can't even try out for the part . . . because she's a boy.

With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte -- but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.


Review:
Alex Gino’s debut novel is a moving and hopeful story about a boy called George who believes that he is really a girl inside (I’ll refer to George in the female tense from now on).  Even though George is only ten years old, she knows who she truly is but how can she get anyone else to see her for who she is meant to be.   When she gets the chance to be part of the school play of Charlotte’s Web, she becomes convinced that if she can only play the part of Charlotte, then she will finally be able to show her true self. 
 
George is a loveable character and one who you warm to immediately.  I liked the friendship she has with her best friend Kelly, who is incredibly supportive and provides the hand to hold that George so desperately needs.  It was also interesting to see how George’s relationship with her mum evolves, as this is obviously a tough situation for any parent to react to and know how to handle.    
 
This is an important book for young people to read, as it shows how we need to be accepting of others and not judge people for who they are.  I haven’t read a lot of LGBT books, but this is one that should really find a place on school library bookshelves.  

Monday, 2 November 2015

Review: Dangerous Lies - Becca Fitzpatrick

Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick, published by Simon and Schuster on 10th November 2015

Goodreads synopsis:
Stella Gordon is not her real name. Thunder Basin, Nebraska, is not her real home. This is not her real life.

After witnessing a lethal crime, Stella Gordon is sent to the middle of nowhere for her own safety before she testifies against the man she saw kill her mother’s drug dealer.

But Stella was about to start her senior year with the boyfriend she loves. How can she be pulled away from the only life she knows and expected to start a new one in Nebraska? Stella chafes at her protection and is rude to everyone she meets. She’s not planning on staying long, so why be friendly? Then she meets Chet Falconer and it becomes harder to keep her guard up, even as her guilt about having to lie to him grows.

As Stella starts to feel safer, the real threat to her life increases—because her enemies are actually closer than she thinks.



Review:
'Dangerous Lies’ was probably the best book I’ve read by Becca Fitzpatrick so far.  I’ve had a bumpy track record with her books, some I’ve loved and some I haven’t enjoyed, but I thought this was a great read.  It wasn’t a five star standout but it had a good plot which featured a hot guy (it always helps!) and there was an exciting turn of events which kept me hooked until the end.
 
At the beginning of the story, Stella Gordon enters the witness protection programme which leads to her relocating to the middle of nowhere, or Thunder Bay, Nebraska to be more specific.  Although upset to be apart from her boyfriend and her old life, she finds that there are some things to enjoy about life in a small town, local boy Chet being one of them.  I thought that the idea for the plot was great – teen hides out alone from bad guys in a small town.  I kept wondering if Stella was really as safe as she appeared to be and this kept me on my toes throughout the book, as I was constantly looking for danger around every corner.  Not only does Stella have some pretty dangerous people to watch out for, she also has to deal with local bad boy Trigger McLure.  I have to say that I didn’t quite understand why Trigger hated Stella as much as he did but he was one very bad piece of work.
 
Chet on the other hand was wonderfully dreamy!  He has had a lot put on his young shoulders but he copes with things admirably and I could easily see why Stella began to fall for him.  He has a lovely personality and is gorgeous too!
  
Although Stella wasn’t my favourite heroine, she grew on me throughout the book and I enjoyed finding out about the secrets she is hiding at the end.  There were some good twists and turns and a dramatic conclusion which had me on the edge of my seat.  More like this please Becca Fitzpatrick!
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