Profile for J. A. Carvell > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by J. A. Carvell
Top Reviewer Ranking: 109,122
Helpful Votes: 28

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
J. A. Carvell "Jackie" (UK)

Page: 1 | 2
Book of Ivy, The
Book of Ivy, The
by Amy Engel
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dystopian YA At Its best., 2 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Book of Ivy, The (Paperback)
I had heard a lot about 'The Book Of Ivy' from fellow bloggers and booktubers and could not wait to get my teeth into it. Needless to say, I was not disappointed and finished the entire thing in one sitting.

Admittedly, while the author was setting the scene I was a little apprehensive. The whole 'USA destroyed by war and the survivors coming together to rebuild society' concept has been done many times before - 'The Hunger Games', 'Divergent' and 'The Testing' to name but a few. I was struggling to see what could be different about this book. How could Amy Engel spin it to keep my interest and not just be another HG clone. Well,she did it. Let me tell you what I love about 'The Book Of Ivy'...

My favourite part of the book is Ivy herself. She is not just a starry eyed romantic who falls instantly in love with Bishop. She is intelligent and blessed with common sense. She didn't want to go down the expected route and have children, she wanted a job and to keep busy. Engel writes in a way that you can relate to Ivy and feel her struggle with her loyalty to her family versus her ever growing feelings to the husband she did not want.

*Warning - Spoilers Ahead*

Ivy has been brought up in a society of two halves. The leaders marry off their sons to the daughters of the other side. Sixteen year old Ivy is to be married to the presidents son, eighteen year old Bishop. A boy she has never met and whose father she believes is responsible for the death of her mother. At least that is what her father and older sister Callie have lead her to believe. They have manipulated Ivy into thinking that Bishop is a cruel, uncaring man just like his father and that she must kill him so that her father can take charge of their society. However, as Ivy gets to know Bishop, she finds out the truth about her mother and develops feelings towards him which prevent her from carrying out her mission.

From the start of this book I thought that there was something fishy about Ivy's father and sister. They seemed all too eager to pass her to a complete stranger just to further their plan to overthrow the government. Ivy seemed to grow to understand how she was being manipulated by them but still gave them the benefit of the doubt up until the very end of the book when they essentially threw her under the bus. It spoke volumes when even though it was obvious to Callie and her father that Ivy was developing feelings for Bishop, they still expected her to poison him just to get to his father. Ivy's father had hidden motives for wanting Bishop dead. He was jealous of President Lattimer because Ivy's mother had been in love with him, and had ultimately committed suicide because she could not be with him. He wanted the President to feel what it was like to lose someone that he loved (his son). Ivy was loyal right to the end though, because just as she could not kill Bishop, she also could not let her father and sister get 'put out' because of the plot so she set herself up to save everyone that she loved.

This book is the best YA I have read in a long time. The plot is well thought out and the ending has left me willing November to hurry up and arrive! The romance was believable and not rushed. I cannot wait to get into book two. I have a feeling that we haven't seen the last of Mark Laird, the rapist. Now that Ivy has been put out, I think he will cause problems for her. I really hope that Callie and her father get what is coming to them and that Callie doesn't get her claws into Bishop. Hurry up November 2015!

This book gets a solid five stars from me and I would urge anyone who likes dystopian fantasy novels to give it a try. I guarantee you will not be able to put it down.

Zoya Ivanka Nail Polish 15ml
Zoya Ivanka Nail Polish 15ml
Price: £10.33

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, 20 Dec. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This polish is absolutely beautiful The green reminds me of Elphaba from 'Wicked'. It lasted a week without chipping when I used an Essie base coat and Chanel top coat. Easily my favourite polish.

We Need to Talk About . . . Kevin Bridges
We Need to Talk About . . . Kevin Bridges
by Kevin Bridges
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Funny. Honest. Real., 20 Dec. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is one autobiography that I am eternally grateful did not have a ghost writer. I’m not sure anybody else could capture Kevin Bridges quite as well as Kevin Bridges. Ever since being introduced to him on ‘Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow’ in 2009, I have loved his self-deprecating humor and his ‘realness'; not being ashamed of his working class roots and even building his early routines off of them.

Fame is known to change people and not always for the better, but in this book, Bridges shows himself to be a humble man with an affection for his family that is obvious when he talks about them. Cleverly taking inspiration from the title of another book (We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver), Bridges not only tells us about his upbringing and journey into stand up comedy, but throws in his views on controversial issues such as benefits and immigration. One of my favourite quotes from his book is “We were the ones dropping bombs on them, so we couldn’t complain when they were looking for a place to stay”.

Bridges story begins when he was a nervous little boy in nursery and there is a particularly hilarious anecdote involving a wendy house that had me crying with laughter. His reluctance for his mother to leave him continued into primary school and he soon found his escape at home playing various football games with his dad. Going into high school, he was a bright boy but was very much an old head on young shoulders. Over thinking everything was a major problem, even when, at 17 he ventured into a Glasgow comedy club and did his first 5 minute set.

I could relate to a lot of the stories in this autobiography as Bridges and myself are the same age. I too remember staying up late to catch Eurotrash on Channel 5 ( I think everybody around my age will admit to that! :) ) and chatting for hours on MSN messenger (RIP). The anxiety and feeling like being funny was all you had – without it your friends would obviously drop you right? Because what are you if you’re not funny? – is also all too familiar.

‘We Need To Talk About…’ showcases not only Bridges comedy talent but also his flair for writing. (I feel like an fool for continually calling him ‘Bridges’ but ‘Kevin’ makes it sound like we’re BFF’s or something!) He shows himself to have many endearing qualities, the most obvious being his humility. When taking part in two competitions early on in his career, he says that he struggled feeling that he had to impress the judges. That the opinion of what is funny is completely subjective and worrying about catering to one person is not what he got into stand up for (I’m paraphrasing there but that’s the gist of it).
Overall, I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. The quality of writing along with Bridges modesty, even when talking about his roaring successes, make for a read that is full of laughs and showcases his family values and down to earth attitude perfectly. Despite this being a hefty read at over 400 pages, I would recommend this to not just fans of Kevin Bridges, but to anyone interested in a ‘boy done good’ story that will make you smile and reminisce along with him.

Girl Online
Girl Online
by Zoe Sugg (aka Zoella)
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £6.00

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's ok if you're 12..., 9 Dec. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Girl Online (Hardcover)
Let me start off by saying that I am glad I waited a couple of days after reading this before writing my review as Zoe has now confirmed she had a ghostwriter (Siobhan Curham).

I have very mixed feelings about ‘Girl Online’. The writing style is very immature but at 28 years old, I’m not sure that I am the target market for this novel. I would recommend it more for ages 12-18. It is a very light read with a rather predictable plotline -

awkward girl meets hot boy
best friend becomes jealous
hot boy teaches awkward girl to believe in herself
boy and girl are separated
they begin to doubt their relationship and break up
big reunion at the end and everything is peachy
I can’t help but feel I’ve read this multiple times before. It’s the classic ‘teen angst’ plot line. Little things about the story bothered me, like using all the standard ‘touristy’ places in Brighton – beach, pier, Choccywoccydoodah etc. I would have thought that people actually living in Brighton would have had their fill of these places and visit other locations not swarming with tourists. If any of my readers are from Brighton, please feel free to correct me on that as I am just assuming.

Another issue I had with this novel is the believability of Noah as a famous musician and song writer. If you have read the lyrics of his song’Autumn Girl’ you will probably get my point. I mean…really?!

Some plot points seem to be thrown in just to fill up pages. Elliot’s homophobic father just seemed like an afterthought and Ollie suddenly deciding that he likes Penny just doesn’t sit right with me. I mean, I get that Ollie is a symbol of her awkward phase before she met Noah and that Noah represents how she has blossomed into a confident young lady (at this point I have Britney Spears ‘I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman’ in my head but you get where I’m coming from) but why, after 4 or 5 years does Ollie suddenly want her? There is no reason given. I’m probably being pedantic here but it annoyed me.

Anyway, enough whining, lets get to what I did enjoy about ‘Girl Online’. It was a light enough read to pull me out of an almost-4-month reading slump. I could just switch off and relax whilst reading it and didn’t have to concentrate too hard to follow what was going on. I only actually took around 3 hours to read this which surprised me as the book does look fairly hefty but if you look inside you will see the print is quite large. Honestly, the book could have been condensed down a lot more to save paper. I am however, interested to see where Zoe (Siobhan?) goes with the next installment.

I have deliberated long and hard about the rating for ‘Girl Online’. I originally wanted to give it 2.5 stars but in the spirit of the holiday season and taking into account the fact that it has eased me out of my reading slump, I will give it 3 stars. I would recommend this for teen readers who want a nice, easy read over the Christmas holidays.

Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking. Outstanding. Life - changing., 7 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Boy21 (Kindle Edition)
Check out more of my reviews at

I received an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Little, Brown Books For Young Readers and to Bookbridgr.

"You can lose yourself in repetition - quiet your thoughts; I learned the value of this at a very young age." - Finley.

When I read the blurb for this book, I really thought it would do absolutely nothing for me. I mean, basketball and space aren't exactly high on my list of interests. However, 'Boy21' has really reinforced the saying, 'don't judge a book by it's cover'. It's by Matthew Quick, who also wrote 'Silver Linings Playbook' and 'The Good Luck Of Right Now', both of which I hear fantastic things about and are on my TBR list.

Boy 21 deals with friendship, love, loss, family, priorities and how we all deal with grief in our own way. The book is narrated by Finley, a boy in his last year of high school who is one of the only white boys there and the only one to play for his school's basketball team. Finley has dealt with the grief of losing his mother by turning inward. He rarely speaks and not many people, other than Erin, his long time girlfriend, and Russ, Boy21, understand him. Russ has dealt with the loss of his parents by pretending they haven't really died, but are up in space and will be returning for him soon. He does this because it is easier than admitting the truth to himself, and to others who ask.

The book explores how the friendship between Finley and Russ helps them both to come to terms with what has happened to them and how Russ and Finley's family help him make a life changing decision when something horrific happens to Erin. Finley helps Russ rediscover his love of basketball and Russ shows Finley that basketball is not the be-all and end-all.

I love how Russ uses 'Harry Potter' to show Finley that he is in charge of his own destiny. Here's the quote:

“Someday an opportunity will come. Think about Harry Potter. His life is terrible, but then a letter arrives, he gets on a train, and everything is different for him afterward. Better. Magical."
"That's just a story."
"So are we- we're stories too.”

We're stories too. How true is that. I think we all need reminding of that from time to time.

I wasn't crazy about the first chapter because as I read it, I thought it was setting the tone for an over-sexual book. Finley thinking about Erin and having to calm his "stiffness". I really don't need to hear that. I'm no prude but it's just not necessary. I confess that I almost put this book down after reading that first chapter but what a mistake that would have been. As I read on I was drawn in to the friendship between these two boys and the difficulties that everyone faced in a town ran by drug dealers and the Irish mob.

The ending of this book is both heartbreaking and wonderful. Finley gets his 'Harry Potter moment' and Russ gets what he was always destined for. I cried at the end. I give this book the full five stars because it is just outstanding. This is not just a book to be enjoyed by young adults. Everyone should read Boy21. It's full of life lessons and spoke to me in a way that a book hasn't done in a long time. Just breathtaking and I will definitely be re-reading.

What Happens to Men When They Move to Manhattan?
What Happens to Men When They Move to Manhattan?
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Read, 30 July 2014
I received a e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Jill Knapp and HarperCollins.

“What Happens…” is a contemporary coming of age story about Amalia Hastings, a 20-something girl living in Manhattan and attending grad-school. I was so excited to read this as I love anything set in New York. I’m obsessed with the place (flight ticket donations accepted ;) I will get there one day! ).

Now I have a confession. Chick-lit isn’t always my favourite genre to read. I get tired of the ‘damsel-in-distress’, weak and helpless women portrayed in some books. This novel, however, got me hooked straight away and I could hardly tear myself away from my Kindle. Amalia, Cassandra and Olivia are sassy, strong ladies who, despite having the odd man-related blip, really seem to have their s*** together. The lifestyle these girls have made me really wish I was a friend of theirs. Going to expensive clothing stores, flashy clubs and stylish restaurants. Cassie’s high paying job – who wouldn’t want that? The only people I was kind of indifferent to, were Amalia’s housemates, Liz and Christina. There really wasn’t anything likable about them, or even anything to hugely dislike. They were rather bland.

In contrast to the young women in the book, most of the guys (with the exception of Amalia’s brother) act like complete asses. I guess that’s the whole point of the title though. Nicholas, who starts off as the textbook perfect boyfriend, is transformed into a stereotypical yuppie. Bryce just made me want to slap him and Michael was a selfish jerk who seemed to improve towards the end. I look forward to the next book in the series to see how he turns out. Alex, we didn’t really hear much about so I can’t really say if he was any better than the others.

As a main character, I really love Amalia. I got totally invested in her and really related to some of the situations she ended up in. Her break up was very real and raw and I could almost feel her hurting. The confusing situation with Michael is something I think most girls would would be able to empathise with. I even found myself rooting for her when she was sitting exams! I was heartbroken when her parents forgot she was coming home. I had huge amounts of empathy for her there, having useless parents myself (yay for grandparents! :D ). The plot flowed nicely and there really wasn’t a part of the book that struggled to keep my interest.The ending made me want to reach into the book and high-five Amalia! She matured so much throughout the year and I think the end was the cherry on top of the cake for her. I could almost hear her humming Destiny’s Child ‘Independent Women’!

I’m going to give ‘What Happens To Men When They Move To Manhattan?’ a strong 4 out of 5 stars. I really enjoyed the story and cannot wait for the next installment of the ‘What Happens…’ series.

by Rainbow Rowell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I struggled to finish it., 23 July 2014
This review is from: Fangirl (Paperback)
For more of my reviews please visit

I'm the sort of person who, when I start a book, I have to see it through to the end. This book almost made me wish I wasn't that person. Normally, I can read a book like this in a day. This took me three. Throughout the first couple of chapters, I was seriously considering abandoning my 'see-it-to-the-end' attitude but I thought I would give it a chance. I had to keep repeating that phrase, 'give it a chance', all throughout the novel. Not a good sign.

The plot itself, I don't mind. A coming of age novel set in a Nebraskan college. A socially awkward, hardcore fangirl with an inferiority complex towards her identical twin sister and pretty much everybody else too. They were brought up by their bi-polar father after their mother left on September 11th. Yes, the September 11th. A moody roommate and a charming love interest. The fangirl discovering herself. It's all fine. I don't hate the plot. I don't love it - it can get really repetitive ( I rolled my eyes at how many times the phrase "she rolled her eyes" was used) - but I don't hate it.

The excerpts from 'Simon and Baz', I could do without. It was a lesser quality 'Harry Potter'. I wish I'd skipped these bits completely They make the book unnecessarily long (and it drags quite a bit anyway). To be honest, I found the fact that Cath could only allow herself to be touched by Levi whilst reading, quite strange. It was like she wasn't there when he was kissing her and touching her which made it feel a little rapey to me.

I had major issues with a few of the characters.


As a main character, despite suffering from social anxiety myself, I really couldn't relate to her and I found her extremely unlikable. She was a terrible sister (OK, Wren wasn't much better) and a neurotic girlfriend. She expected her college professor to think her fan fiction was amazing and when the professor dared to criticise her she reverted to being a three year old. Because she didn't agree with Wren's lifestyle, she basically abandoned her whilst complaining that Wren had done that very thing to her. She caught her crush kissing another girl and completely ignored him for weeks afterwards when in fact, she had sent the wrong signals to him by not returning his texts after he had kissed her. Cath thinks that Wren is the know-it-all one when in reality, Cath is the one who melts down when anyone dares to disagree with her. She expects Wren not to see their mother just because she doesn't want to see her. I really don't like Cath.


She has the nerve to set ground rules when Cath begins dating Levi. Erm, I'm pretty sure you cheated on him so what gives you the right to do that? She encourages Cath to pursue Levi but then confesses that she may at times want to remind Levi that he did actually like her first. Selfish, self-absorbed and vain much? Other than that, she is a pretty good friend to Cath though and is one of the characters I'm more fond of in this story.


Rowell portrays Levi as a perfect gentleman. Helping Cath with her heavy laundry basket and walking her home at night. All that corny stuff. But with other people his behaviour is different. He kisses a girl who he says himself meant nothing to him. Intelligent girls in his lectures are used to help him study. Levi claims this is innocent but then Cath herself questions as to why he doesn't ask smart guys to help him too. When he gets together with Cath he notices that reading fan fiction relaxes her and so uses that to his advantage to be able to touch her and kiss her. His niceness and kindness seem more manipulative than genuine to me and he comes across as a creep.

Laura (The twins mother)

I dislike her purely for naming her twin girls 'Cather' and 'Wren'. Of course, she is a complete a**hole too but it's mainly the names.

I'm giving 'Fangirl' 1 star. The one star is for the plot. This feels harsh and I really tried to love it, I promise you I did. I read all of the glowing reviews and was excited to read it but I just ended up feeling like I had been sent a different book than all of those reviewers. I hate not liking a book that is universally loved. It makes me feel almost as though there's something wrong with me for not liking it. I'm not giving up on Rainbow Rowell though. I've ordered her other books too and will give them a chance as I gave 'Fangirl' a chance.

Fangirl is a book I will not pick up again. It's a shame really as I ordered the special addition hardback and it's too pretty to just be left on the shelf but I don't think I would ever have the patience to read it again.

Haunted Broughton, Tales From The Graveyard Shift
Haunted Broughton, Tales From The Graveyard Shift
Price: £10.78

1.0 out of 5 stars For more reviews visit, 23 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I love anything remotely scary. Especially anything related to asylums/hospitals. I always love the idea of long-dead, mistreated mental patients coming back to get revenge or people being committed and getting possessed or being haunted. Films like 'House On Haunted Hill', 'Death Tunnel' or 'Session 9' and books such as Amy Cross's 'Asylum' both fascinate and terrify me.

But this book.....this book was a huge disappointment. I was expecting chilling stories of ghostly experiences but it just fell flat. The blurb promises "...many unexplained and paranormal events." But all of these events were totally cliched. Ghost appearing in deserted areas as you drive past then nothing there when you look in the rear view mirror. Walking down a corridor past someone who you think is a member of staff, only to be told later by a colleague that their description matches someone who died long ago. Please! These is like a 'Goosebumps' book for children.

I don't doubt the fact that the author experienced all these things. I do question her decision that these experiences are interesting enough to write a book about. For a researcher or paranormal investigator this book would probably be ideal as it is full of historical information, but for me, it's nothing special. I wanted scary, can't-go-to-the-bathroom-alone type stories. These disappointed me.

I kind of feel guilty for saying I hate this book because I expected too much of it. It is what it is. 'Haunted Broughton' was a dull read and for nearly £10 for the Kindle edition, it's really not worth it.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Leather Cover, Fuchsia  [will only fit Kindle Paperwhite (5th and 6th Generation)]
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Leather Cover, Fuchsia [will only fit Kindle Paperwhite (5th and 6th Generation)]
Price: £29.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Fine for purpose., 8 Dec. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Great colour, great fit for my Paperwhite, feels good quality. Like others, I am unconvinced it is real leather as it does smell 'fake' and if so then it was very pricey. But overall I am very pleased with it as I think it will do the job fine.

Kindle Paperwhite 3G, 6" High Resolution Display with Built-in Light, Free 3G + Wi-Fi [Previous Generation]
Kindle Paperwhite 3G, 6" High Resolution Display with Built-in Light, Free 3G + Wi-Fi [Previous Generation]

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost perfect., 8 Dec. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have been in two minds about purchasing an e-reader for a while and have researched them extensively before doing so.

The Paperwhite is, in my opinion, the best e-reader for simply reading lots of lovely books. If you are looking for an e-reader to also browse the web, this is not for you. The experimental browser is adequate for a quick check of social media but that is about it. However I have a computer and smartphone for browsing the internet so this is of no matter to me. If you want to also play games in between reads then may I recommend the Kindle Fire as the Paperwhite does not play games. I also, however, have a gadget for gaming so it's no issue for me. I have used it for reading in bed and the "nightlight" function is perfect, and adjustable so as to avoid eye strain. My only very minor bugbear is the flickering for a split second when you 'turn' the page of a book.

In short, if you want an e-reader purely for (shock horror!!) reading, as I do, then you will struggle to beat the fabulous Kindle Paperwhite.

Page: 1 | 2