Posted in review, romance, young adult

All The Bright Places – Jennifer Niven


Blurb: “Theodore Finch wants to take his own life. Violet Markey is devastated by her sister’s death. They meet on the ledge of the school bell tower, and so their story begins. It’s only together they can be themselves… But, as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to Shrink. How far will Violet go to save the boy she has come to love?”

At the start of the year I read a list of the upcoming Young Adult books in January – March. My eyes instantly fell on All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven and I made a mental note to buy it the second I found it in my local bookstore. Sadly it spent a good month on a shelf whispering “read me” until my beloved book jar decided that I was ready to pursue this adventure.

Before I delve into this review I have to give a content warning.
As you’ve guessed from the blurb, this book contains adult themes and so may be unsuitable for those at the younger end of the YA age bracket. Also, suicide plays  big role in this book so if you’re easily triggered by that topic, be careful. (It’s not my place to tell you what to and what not to read. You have that freedom.)

The story follows teenagers Theodore Finch and Violet Markey who meet on the ledge of their school’s bell tower, both attempting to end their lives. In a twist, Finch manages to convince Violet to step away from the edge but when rumours spread around the school, Violet is seen as the hero who saved Finch; not the other way around. Violet and Finch are the typical type of characters you would expect in a YA contemporary: Violet is the popular one and Finch is the badass everyone hates. What made this book stand out for me despite this, was the fact it was told from both Violet and Finch’s perspective. This was really refreshing as it allowed me to get inside the heads of both characters and learn what problems they face. In this case, Finch has attempted to take his life before and still thinks about it every day, even keeping a journal listing ways to commit suicide and how successful they have been (hence the trigger warning). While Violet, is plagued by the death of her sister caused by a car accident in which Violet was the driver. The topic of death was handled very delicately and didn’t feel like it was stereotyped.

Finch and Violet are paired together on a Geography project about discovering new places. Finch recommends they discover places around Indiana and if they take something from that place, they leave something behind as a memory of themselves. Thus the story begins.

The concept of wandering really changed my outlook on life. The idea of going out and leaving your mark in places, even if they were only small, was a fundamental part of this book as it also showcased the growing friendship between the two characters.

At first I was unsure about Finch. He felt like too much of a cliche for me but as I continued reading I actually started really liking him. The characters were fleshed out so well that I could relate to them and I felt like they were real. I cared deeply what happened to both of them. (Warning: this book is a tearjerker)

I spent most of this reading experience wanting to give Violet a hug. She was just a wonderful character and if any fictional person could be my friend, I would want it to be Violet Markey.

I cannot give this book justice. I can’t describe exactly what I felt when reading this book but it was a unique feeling.

Also another thing I loved about this book was the addition of helpline numbers listed in the back for anyone going through similar situations to the characters.

I recommend that everyone pick up this book and give it a read.
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Posted in lgbt, Non-Fiction, young adult

This Book Is Gay – James Dawson


Blurb: “Former PHSCE teacher and acclaimed author James Dawson gives an uncensored look at what it’s like to grow up as LGBT. Including testimonials from people ‘across the spectrum’ this inclusive book explores everything anyone who ever dared to wonder wants to know – from sex to politics, how to pull, stereotypes to come-out and more. Spike Gerrell’s hilarious illustrations combined with funny and factual text makes this a must read.”

This was a book which I stumbled across when perusing the teen fiction shelves looking for LGBT fiction. The title really stood out and I found myself drawn in by the bright rainbow coloured cover. Taking a different direction this time, this is a review of a non-fiction book, but that doesn’t make it any less important.

I am so glad that this book exists. It’s the kind of book I wish I’d had in my early teens as it would have answered all those pesky sexuality questions a lot sooner: I always knew I liked men and women, however, it wasn’t until I was fifteen that I discovered the term “bisexual.”

Whether you identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, asexual etc. or even if you’re questioning/curious or firmly identify as straight, this book has a wealth of information that covers everything from sex, STIs, stereotypes, definitions and background history on the sexuality terms, what NOT to say when interacting with LGBT and even lists of websites, safe places and numbers you can contact for help.

No matter what you identify as, you will come out (pardon the pun) with so much knowledge about each aspect of LGBT and more, basically the big no-no’s such as misgendering a trans person. Seriously, don’t do it.

I expected, given the subject matter, for this to be a serious book. And it was, but it had a nice, frequent injection of humour delivered both by Dawson and Gerrell (the illustrator). It made it more enjoyable to read than just reading a textbook on a subject. Obviously, coming out is terrifying. When I came out to my parents, I had been with my boyfriend for a year, so I had the fear that they wouldn’t believe me because I was (and still) am in a monogamous, heterosexual relationship. There is a whole chapter dedicated just to how to come out.

I actively search for information on trans people and issues and this book was a learning curve for me. I came out of it with a better understanding of what trans people go for (even though I can never identify with trans issues and feelings in the way they do).

The addition of stories from various LGBT people around the world was really interesting and shows that there are in fact bisexuals out there like me who have a long-term partner but still say “yes I am bisexual.” I felt comforted by that. The quote I connected to the most was : “I identify as bisexual, thought I rather like to describe it as ‘people are beautiful. People are hot. People are attractive, and if I fall in love, I fall in love.'”

I applaud all the research and planning that went into this book, covering all the areas the silly education system fails to include.

I encourage everyone to read this book!

Bravo James Dawson, Bravo.
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Posted in children's fiction, fairytale retelling, fantasy, review

The Land Of Stories: The Enchantress Returns by Chris Colfer

Blurb: “After decades of hiding, the evil Enchantress who cursed Sleeping Beauty if back with a vengeance. Alex and Conner Bailey have not been back to the magical Land of Stories since their adventure in The Wishing Spell ended. But one night, they learn the famed Enchantress had kidnapped their mother! Against the will of their grandmother, the twins must find their own way into the Land of Stories to rescue their mother and save the fairy tale world from the greatest threat it’s ever faced.”

Like probably many of you, I first discovered Chris Colfer in the hit American TV show Glee. It was my admiration for his work ethic and his focuses outside of Glee that led me to The Land of Stories series. I adored the first book. The creativity and twists on classic fairy tales such as Red Riding Hood were so refreshing to read.

I finally muddled through my TBR (to be read) and reached the second book in the series titled The Land of Stories: The Enchantress Returns. Truthfully, I was nervous going into this book. The first book, The Wishing Spell, was so good that I was worried that this book would fall below my expectations. Which sadly tends to happen a lot with a series. (See Mockingjay in The Hunger Games series) I wasn’t sure how much this initial idea could expand and it was a long book to say it’s 9-12 fiction – the edition I read was 517 pages.

But praise the literary Gods for Chris Colfer did not let me down.
This book was perfectly paced: no parts felt like they were rushed and none felt like they were dragging. The twists on each fairy tale had me in awe over Colfer’s clever mind. The writing didn’t feel as solid for me as in The Wishing Spell but the plot was on point, which made up for the writing.

The driving plot focus of The Wishing Spell , for those unfamiliar to the series, was in fact… the wishing spell, which is a kind of portal to the real world. Protagonists Alex and Conner Bailey have to take memorable things from each kingdom to build it, in order to return home. For example, Cinderella’s glass slipper is one of the objects they have to obtain.

In this book, just as the title suggests, The Enchantress is back and she has a whole lot of vengeance to dish out. When Alex and Conner’s mother is kidnapped, they find themselves back in The Land Of Stories trying to save her. To destroy The Enchantress, Alex and Conner need to build “The Wand of Wonderment” which is made out of the six most prized possessions of the six most hated people in the world (ie the villains). I liked the villain  aspect being the plot driving force. It was nice to see them more involved than just the single baddie the protagonist has to defeat.

There is a third book in the series titled The Land of Stories: A Grim Warning and Colfer is currently working on a fourth book.

He also has a Young Adult book out called Struck By Lightening which has been adapted into a film starring Chris Colfer himself.

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Posted in discussion

Going Nowhere

Blurb: “Life has changed since university. Robert, Louisa and Jim’s careers are going nowhere. Yet when the three friends are brought together once more, their past regrets will lead them on a trip of ambition, recognition and revenge. Evan Hargreaves is dead. Faced with a new appreciation of their own mortality, the former-classmates embark on an impromptu getaway. But what starts as a simple writer’s retreat to the Sunshine State quickly goes awry.”


While the purpose of this blog is to deliver book reviews, this time I’m going to be sharing something a little different. I am a third year Creative Writing student and sadly in a few months I’ll be entering the  “real world.” For one of my final projects, we had to produce a publication with the end goal being to sell it to the general public at the big Independent publisher fair which happens every year in Leicester.

I had the honor of working with friends (and super talented writers) Thomas Arthur and Corey Bedford.I couldn’t have picked better people to work on this project with and I’m truly grateful that I had these guys around for when I was on the verge of crying over how much work we had to put into this. But it was so worth it.

People often tell me that I’ll never make a lot of money from being a writer. This is something I accepted long ago. That was never my end goal when it came to writing. I just wanted to write. For me, it’s holding the final product in your hands. Getting to hold “Going Nowhere” after the months of planning, writing and editing was a feeling that I truly cannot put into words.

We have to present them at a showcase at the festival this weekend and hopefully sell all of our copies as it was only a small print run. I’m very proud of this piece because it wasn’t Young Adult, so I had to branch out and even write some poetry (which Corey will know better than anyone how much I struggle with).

It’s been a wonderful adventure and while I’m a little bit sad that it’s over.

On to more writing projects!

– Charlotte


Posted in contemporary, review, young adult

Don’t Even Think About It – Sarah Mlynowski


Blurb: “What would you do if everyone could hear your thoughts? Your best friend. Your worst enemy. Your secret crush. No secrets. No privacy. No escape. Sounds like your worst nightmare, right? We should know. It happened to us.”

I made this blog because I am an avid reader and writer of Young Adult literature. I wanted to use this blog to rant and rave about my favourite reads, however, to ignore the not-so-great ones would be doing a disservice to those who read my blog.

This isn’t a book I would have picked out myself if I saw it on a shelf. It was given to me as a present last year. I originally liked the idea. The blurb is very intriguing which I’ve often found rare in Young Adult. Yet, when I started reading it, I instantly discovered a problem.

The story follows a group of high school teens who all get vaccinations. For some reason, they begin hearing voices and come to the realization that they can hear people’s thoughts. Wonderful idea and I love the originality here, but the problem for me is that it felt too rushed.

The big reveal as to why they have suddenly gained these powers comes very late in the book and I feel it would have felt much better learning this halfway through and then dealing with other aspects after. Instead, you’re basically told “this is why this is happening now turn the page, oh look you’ve finished the book!” It made me feel uncomfortable.

Truthfully, the only reason I persevered with this book is because it counts towards the 2015 reading challenge. If it wasn’t for that, I would have given it up after the first few chapters.

The character introductions were far too quick. You were bombarded with too many characters at a time and then there wasn’t much effort made to distinguish between them. They weren’t fleshed out enough for me to be able to relate to any of the characters or care what happened to them.

While I read primarily YA Fantasy, I do like the occasional YA contemporary romance but this just wasn’t it.

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