Posted in contemporary, review, young adult

Big Bones – Laura Dockrill

“Yes, before you ask, I am fat. Yes. I just called myself fat and that’s allowed. And… I’m not greedy. I just love food.”

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Blurb: “A heart-warming teen story from the unique voice of Laura Dockrill, about Bluebelle, aka BB, aka Big Bones – a sixteen-year-old girl encouraged to tackle her weight even though she’s perfectly happy, thank you, and getting on with her life and in love with food. Then a tragedy in the family forces BB to find a new relationship with her body and herself.”

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
From the outset, the protagonist Bluebelle – nicknamed BB – is told by a nurse that she is fat and needs to lose weight, and given a food diary to track her eating habits. BB is a very forceful, in-your-face kind of character who knows exactly what she wants and that is to eat what she wants, when she wants and to leave school. So she is forced into a deal with her mother: shift some pounds, and she can leave education.

I was really interested in reading this because of it being pegged as a “body positivity” book and, as a fat girl myself, I wanted to see how this would play out. Sadly, it did not have a good outcome. All BB does is talk about food. And I mean that’s all she does. For over 60% of this book. Each chapter heading is a reference to food and the contents focuses either on a memory or her current situation surrounded by whatever food is taking the centre stage. I get that this book is essentially meant to act as the reader traipsing through her food diary but there’s only so many food descriptions and recipes processes one person can read before they are left wondering where the plot actually is. I mean, a fat girl who only talks about food? That’s really breaking the mould… It isn’t until 75% in when the plot really gets going and BB actually starts to re-evaluate her behaviour and start to become more of a formed character. I just wish that had been there from the start.

Of course, her sister – Dove- had to be the exact opposite: she’s skinny and super fit, her main hobby being parkour and I really liked her. I loved seeing her relationship with BB and how they stuck by each other while their separated partners feuded but once again that was piled under layers of food talk.

Big Bones was a book that could have been a game changer. Sadly, it wasn’t one for me.

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Posted in adult fiction, fantasy, Rereads, review

A Darker Shade Of Magic (Collector’s Edition) – V.E.Schwab

“Kell wore a very peculiar coat. It had neither one side, which would be conventional, nor two, which would be unexpected, but several, which was, of course, impossible.”

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Blurb: “Most people only know one London; but what if there were several? Kell is one of the last Travelers—magicians with a rare ability to travel between parallel Londons. There’s Grey London, dirty and crowded and without magic, home to the mad king George III. There’s Red London, where life and magic are revered. Then, White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. But once upon a time, there was Black London…”

A Darker Shade of Magic was a book I didn’t expect to fall utterly in love with. While I adore Fantasy – and frequently scrabble for any read with a trace of magic in it- I am very picky when it comes to enjoyment; if it’s too heavy, I simply don’t get on with it. This book has the perfect balance of detail without completely overwhelming the reader and with the release of a new collector’s edition, I was able to revisit the story in a new and exciting way.

Kell continues to be a truly fascinating character; while he can seem reserved and almost disconnected at times, this is counteracted by the lengths he will go to for the people he cares for. When he accidently smuggles a piece of dark magic to another London, it’s impossible not to feel the rising threat following him throughout the tale. Prince Rhy is just as wild and hilarious as I remember and continues to prove why he is my personal favourite. Delilah Bard, the cut-throat thief, really does end up in quite a messy situation after bumping into the Antari known as Kell.

Without a doubt, the best thing about this book is the world building. The alternate Londons and how they operate are purely genius and leads the reader to ponder if I lived within this universe, which London would be my home?  (Personally I think Grey London would be safer though rather boring) V.E.Schwab gives you just enough crumbs to build up your own view of the world without feeling restrictive; giving room for the reader to piece together some aspects for themselves. While rather obvious to say, with A Darker Shade Of Magic, V.E.Schwab cements herself as one of the greatest fantasy writers on the scene right now.

It is not entirely clear why a collector’s edition of this book has come into existence; as the release of it is still fairly recent, but if it is successful enough, there is the chance that the rest of the books in the series will follow the same redesign. In terms of the visuals, it’s beautiful. Additions include new short stories focusing on side characters, a glossary of terms and an interview between V.E.Schwab and her editor. Admittedly, I didn’t care much for the stories themselves as they felt more like adding a little bit of backstory but the glossary is a stand out and covers things such as the languages used and translations for spells. The most intriguing is the interview which uncovers how A Darker Shade Of Magic was essentially co-written between Schwab and her editor which I found truly fascinating.

If you’re already a fan of the series and unsure as to whether the collector’s edition is worth adding to your collection, trust me, it is worth every bit of ink and paper.

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Posted in Audiobook Of The Month

Audiobook Of The Month | The Belles

It’s hard to believe that we’re in March with all the snowfall England seems to be getting lately, but it’s time to delve into a new audiobook. This month was a bit of a struggle as nothing really seemed to be grabbing me. I’d heard a lot about The Belles but was on the fence because it sounded like something I would love though mixed reviews had pushed it further down my TBR… until I saw FantasticBooksAndWhereToFindThem’s review which finally swayed me to give it a go.

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Set in Orlèans, the Belles are girls who have the power to make others beautiful. Just like in our world, beauty is a massive industry with magazines, photo cards of the belles and exclusive places residents can go to for treatments from their favourite belle. But the position of honour is the Queen’s Favourite which is the job of Camelia’s dreams.

The audiobook is narrated by Rosie Jones who is utterly outstanding. She has this innocence and wonder to her voice that just fills Camelia’s narrative with life. Listening to the story, the reader can really feel how much the protagonist loves this world and how excited she is at her new career prospects.

The writing is beautiful, woven together with a lot food imagery which works wonders for making the world appear sickly sweet. I don’t know if it’s intentional or not but it’s rather clever.

At the time of writing this post, I am 39% in and still the story hasn’t really gotten going so I feel this may be one of those books where everything else outweighs the plot.

Have you read The Belles? If so, what did you think of it?

And, as always, if you have any audiobook recommendations, please let me know!

Posted in adult fiction, contemporary, review

Some Kind Of Wonderful – Giovanna Fletcher

“I’ll wake up and be happy again. I’ll wake up and won’t feel so hurt, betrayed and humiliated. But right now the journey ahead seems bleak, lonely and hostile. This wasn’t a road I ever envisaged seeing myself on and I’m in no shape and no way prepared.”

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Blurb: “Lizzy and Ian have been a couple since their first day at university. Now, after celebrating a decade together, everyone thinks they’re about to get engaged. A romantic escape to Dubai is the perfect moment, but instead of the proposal Lizzy hopes for, Ian reveals he’s not sure he even wants her anymore.”

I’ve hooked on  Giovanna Fletcher’s writing ever since I picked up her debut Billy and Me. So naturally I’ve have been waiting impatiently for her next release to roll around.

Some Kind Of Wonderful takes the reader into the life of Lizzy who has been waiting for the moment that her long-tern boyfriend, Ian, will finally pop the question. But when she returns from a romantic holiday single, Lizzy is forced to start deconstructing her life and work out her identity all over again.

There’s something charming and addictive about Giovanna’s writing. She manages to make the common-place and every day of a character’s life something that is impossible to put down. It just feels like sitting down and listening to a long story from a close friend.

It’s hard not to feel for Lizzy as her whole life is tipped upside down and she’s forced to work out who she is all over again. It tackled the scary ideas about identity and who we really are outside of our connections to other people: who exactly are we when we strip away our links to others and how people perceive us? I worried that the plot would fall flat after the initial driving force but there was just something about it that kept me turning page after page, desperate to find out what happened next; Lizzy’s voice was so strong that it felt as if she was a real person.

Some Kind of Wonderful is fundamentally a story about growth and walking with your head held high while everything seemingly crumbles around you.

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Posted in children's fiction, discussion

Thoughts On World Book Day

When I was a child, World Book Day was like an extra Christmas day for me. I took that token as if it was the most important gift bestowed upon me and picked out the book I wanted as if the fate of the entire world rested on my tiny shoulders.

Sadly, gone are the days when I am eligible for those magic tokens, but it doesn’t stop me, at the age of 24, making sure I buy at least one book from the line up every year. (I mean, they’re £1 each. How could I not?!)

So, when March 1st rolled around, I ventured out into the snow (yes, snow. England’s weather certainly took an interesting turn) and went to make my selections for the year. Here’s what I bought:

Brain Freeze by Tom Fletcher

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Blurb: “A little girl discovers that eating ice cream from her grandfather’s old ice-cream truck gives her the power to travel through time.”

If you’ve been a long time reader on my blog or watch my videos you won’t be surprised in the slightest to see that I picked up Tom Fletcher’s book. Despite being incredibly biased, I’ve always found his stories to be fun, witty and just downright enjoyable. So Brain Freeze was a no brainer for me.

Paddington Turns Detective And Other Funny Stories by Michael Bond

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Blurb: “Nothing is ever straightforward when Paddington is involved. Whether he is attempting detective work, helping to sail a boat or performing magic, ordinary things have a habit of becoming quite extraordinary!”

I have a confession to make… I’ve never read any Paddington Bear stories. Or seen the films. I know, I’m a mess of a reader but with this collection of fun stories making it onto the list, I can’t think of a more wonderful way to get started.

Oi Goat! by Kes Gray and Jim Field

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Blurb: “Frog turns stylist in this boisterous picture book, making all the animals put on their glad rags for World Book Day. But will everyone be as fashion forward as Frog?”

If you haven’t heard about the Oi! picture book series, then you’re seriously missing out. It’s a hysterical rhyming series about animals sitting on other animals and I think they’re utterly brilliant. So again, it was a no brainer to add this one to my picture book collection.

And there you have it! That’s what I picked up for World Book Day!

Did you grab anything?
Do you have any amazing memories to do with World Book Day?

Let me know!

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Posted in children's fiction, fantasy, review

Percy Jackson And The Lightning Thief – Rick Riordan

“The real world is where the monsters are.”

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Blurb: “Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse—Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods , where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea.”

I have attempted this series before in the past and never really got on with it. It’s something that’s always pained me a little as I’ve seen how many readers seem to adore Riordan’s work. So after much contemplation, I decided to give the Percy Jackson series again. But this time on audiobook.

The story follows a troubled boy called Percy whose life is turned upside down when he discovers that he is a demi-god, and later, the son of Poseidon. He is then taken to a place called Camp Half-Blood a summer camp/safe haven for kids of the Greek Gods. When Zeus’ famous lightning bolt goes missing, Percy’s father is accused, causing Percy to go on a mission to absolve his father of the accusation.

I’m glad I decided to go for audiobook format for this one as the narrator, Jesse Bernstein really took on the character of Percy; I felt like I was listening to him telling this story and I was utterly invested. So much so that it’s hard to remember what my previous issues were with this adventure. I was gasping, laughing and groaning in fear throughout the chapters and even breathed a sigh of relief when it was all over and I could finally relax.

I think my big apprehension with this series is that I don’t really have an interest in Greek mythology and I will admit that I did get a little confused at some of the history. But I persevered.

It was so brilliantly action-packed and I didn’t know what could be waiting around the next corner. All I can say is that Percy is a very unlucky kid.

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Posted in discussion

Is The Anniversary Edition for City Of Bones Worth it?

“Clary and her friends are heroes who make their stories true- as, in the end, do we all.”

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If you’re unaware who Cassandra Clare was and what The Mortal Instruments is then you must have been living under a proverbial rock for quite a few years. Having been turned into both a Hollywood movie and a Netflix TV show, this series continues to grow in popularity. Last year marked ten years since the release of the first book, City of Bones, and with it a brand new edition to mark the occasion. Naturally I indulged, interested to see if it’s worth it.

As you can see from the above picture,  the anniversary edition is a gorgeous cloth-bound hardback with embossing that doesn’t come off when worn from reading, unlike the Penguin Classics. Inside, the story itself is accompanied by beautiful illustrations – some taking up full pages- and colourful end pages, along with other artwork of the main group of characters and a map of the book’s locations for extra measure. At the end of the book is a compilation of “official clave files” which are basically character profiles listening everything from appearance to motivations and, my personal favourite, “recommended actions” which provided quite a few laughs.

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And, of course, there’s an introduction to accompany the anniversary, which I thought might be a bit longer than it is, and focuses mainly on the aspect of stories becoming a reality and why Cassandra Clare was so fascinated with this idea and decided to explore this through Clary, Of course, this was interesting as I love learning more about a writer’s thought process.

So is this anniversary edition worth it?
The answer is yes and no.
If you’re new to the series, I think getting the regular edition is obviously the best place to start. This is something designed for readers who are really big fans of the world,  and as one of those readers, I personally don’t think it’s worth it. The additions don’t really add anything new to the world and the brief introduction was the only thing that I found interesting in the new material. (Apart from the map which would have been super helpful in the original edition)

But it looks pretty nice on my shelf and I mean, that’s what really counts…. right?

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Posted in fantasy, review, young adult

Children Of Blood And Bone – Tomi Adeyemi

“One day magic breathed. The next it died.”

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Blurb: “Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.”

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Children of Blood and Bone was my most anticipated read for the year. So when I was sent an early copy I, unashamedly, ran around my house screaming with joy a few times, and then set down to reading.

The story is told through three perspectives: Zélie who is a maji, Amari who is a princess confined to her castle, and Inan who is Amari’s sister, a prince and in charge of the royal guard. Each point of view added an extra layer of depth to the world and none of them felt like they were there simply to pad out the story. While I feel that Tomi Adeyemi is trying to sway the reader more towards Zélie, the character I became most fascinated by was Inan. He was so utterly complex and is fighting a massive inner conflict throughout the book but not in the way you would think; I found myself rooting for him in situations when I should have been on the other side. Having said that, Zélie’s character arc over the course of this book is outstanding and I can’t even begin to imagine where it’s going to lead in future books. If you’re someone who loves character-driven books then this is definitely the one for you.

I’ve seen this book described as a “young adult Game of Thrones with POC characters” to to attempt to associate it with anything else feels almost like an insult. Children of Blood and Bone is unique. While some plot points have been seen before, it just felt like reading something entirely new. It was a breath of fresh air. It’s more of a tresure hunt mixed with a cat-and-mouse story with a whole host of diverse characters that simply exist. The writing reads so beautifully and methodically; like every word was chosen with care.

The story has a bit of a slow-down in the middle and I found my attention shifting for quite a few chapters but it managed to pick back up as Inan’s purpose in the plot started to grow.

A big aspect I could not get behind, no matter how hard I tried, was the romance. Given the type of story it had been built up to be, along with a strong enough platonic connection already existing between the two characters, it just felt like it wasn’t needed and distracted from the more pressing issues in the narrative. I’ve never been a fan of romance thrown into stories that could work without it and my enjoyment of it really dissolved once this was introduced.

Having said that, Children of Blood and Bone is an incredible read with characters that are firmly embedded in my soul. I will not forget them for a while.

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