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Curiosity Killed The Bookworm (Dorset, UK)
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Night School: Resistance: Number 4 in series
Night School: Resistance: Number 4 in series
by C. J. Daugherty
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.24

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit on the slow side, 4 Aug 2014
The long game is being played out, which kind of means not a lot of anything is happening much at Cimmeria apart from waiting for Nathaniel to do something again. I have loved the other Night School books but struggled to get into Resistance, as it takes a good long while for anything happen (bar the opening scene).

This also meant the focus was on Allie’s relationships. She's conflicted, again. It felt like she had decided on Sylvain at the end of Fracture and that she loved Carter as a friend. So why is she all confused again at the start of a new book? I liked the way the previous books portrayed her indecision but this just draws it out too far. Series should be allowed to develop and move away from the same character arc every book. It’s OK for a protagonist to be content in her relationship.

I enjoyed the second half much more and I'll still be reading the next book.


The Seventh Miss Hatfield
The Seventh Miss Hatfield
by Anna Caltabiano
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Light and overall enjoyable Victorian-style imposter story, 4 Aug 2014
This is Anna Caltabiano’s second novel, written by the age of seventeen! She should be praised for a light and enjoyable Victorian tale, with a dash of fantasy. However, based on the blurb, I expected more of a focus on the fantastical but once Miss Hatfield has travelled back, she’s there for the long term. Her immortality might sway her final decision but she could be any imposter in a Victorian home.

Saying that, I liked the imposter story. She’s attempting to steal a painting from the Beauford household when she is mistaken for Mr Beauford’s niece. She goes along with it, as does his son, Mr Henley, who is quite taken with the mystery of it all. She does seem to fit quite well in the time, I would have liked a little more awkwardness on her part, trying to adjust to a different way of life. Maybe that’s why Anna chose to take her from the 50’s and not now. Less of a culture shock.

I felt the writing improved as the story progressed. It could be argued that the simplistic voice of the first few pages is that of the young Cynthia, as the sixth Miss Hatfield does say her speech and mannerisms were aged too. The style suits a prim and proper young lady of the turn of the century. However, the case falls through a bit when you remember Cynthia was displaced from the 1950’s.

Review copy provided by publisher.


Say Her Name
Say Her Name
by James Dawson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.24

4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and unsettling read., 4 Aug 2014
This review is from: Say Her Name (Paperback)
Make sure you don’t need the bathroom when you start reading Say Her Name. There’s some seriously creepy moments all interspersed with nuggets of wisdom and wit from the newly crowned Queen of Teen. The story still manages to touch on a number of real world issues without them being the focus.

It’s interesting to see a horror story with some compassion for the ghost, whether or not they’re doing evil things, they are supposed to be troubled spirits. Maybe they had a tough time in life. I liked that Bobbie investigates who Mary was and the events that trapped her in the mirrors.

As always. James’ characters feel like real people, the kind that you went to school with (or are at school with now). They’re easy to relate to even if they are at a private school. They’re all imperfect, even those who might like to project otherwise.


Broken Monsters
Broken Monsters
Price: £4.35

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A serial killer yarn intertwined with social commentary on the internet age, 4 Aug 2014
This review is from: Broken Monsters (Kindle Edition)
Don’t make the mistake of judging Broken Monsters on the first few chapters. It starts off like any other serial killer thriller and you may start to wonder if Lauren Beukes has turned her pen to vanilla crime fiction. There a single parent detective, a down on his luck journalist and a group of people on the edges of society. However it’s one of those books that just gets better and better as the story unfolds. Keep turning the pages to reveal a serial killer yarn intertwined with social commentary on the internet age against a backdrop of urban decay.

Where The Shining Girls was firmly rooted in the past, Broken Monsters is very much in the now. Lauren writes modern life so well with so many observations that make you think or nod in agreement. Both the journalist and the artists struggle with the quest for originality; everything has been done before and everyone can have an audience via digital media. How do you stand out? How do you make a living? There’s comments on everything from self-publishing and cyber bullying to dwindling attention spans and competition for audience.

The book can probably be read in two ways. It’s an engaging thriller that gets seriously creepy in places. I got a bit freaked out reading it late at night with the windows open. On the other hand, there’s a metaphor within the pages; a message about how we live our digital lives.

Review copy provided by publisher.


The Rain
The Rain
by Virginia Bergin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.24

3.0 out of 5 stars She's annoying but that's OK, 17 July 2014
This review is from: The Rain (Paperback)
I’ve seen a few reviews that say Ruby’s annoying. And well, she is, but she does come across as a fairly authentic teenage voice. We’re used to mature protagonists in young adult really. Heroines that take charge and show themselves in a positive light. I don’t expect the average person, let alone teen, would be prepared for what she has to go through. Ruby’s self-obsessed, naïve and also, a little bit in denial. It might hit a little close to home, be uncomfortable to see the negative qualities that so many people possess laid out, but fiction isn’t always about liking the characters.

I can see that it might ruin your enjoyment though, so if annoying characters are a big no-no, stay away. I was frustrated and angry with Ruby at so many points. Not the obsessing about the kiss, but her wastefulness of water. At one point she loots some beauty supplies (this sounds awful, but at this point in the story, she really doesn’t have a whole lot to occupy her, it sort of makes sense). She does a fake tan that goes horribly wrong, and she decides she will use the tonic water to wash it off. As Simon tells her, she has to THINK, something she really doesn’t do at times.

On one hand, I like the fact that Ruby isn’t running round saving the day, but the pace does start to stagnate. I do feel sorry for her, but then she’ll go and open her mouth and say something stupid. She can be anti-grown-up at times but with loss comes understanding. Underneath her bluster is a scared little girl, you just have to stick with her long enough to see that.

The science behind the contaminated water is a bit iffy. We’re in contact with water all the time, not just the rain, and it’s brushed off that small amounts, such as dew, are harmless. But if the pathogen needs to be in certain quantities, then why is it so fast acting? And they are going outside after it rained all the time. Sometimes I think it’s better not to explain these things. We don’t need to know the details for this particular story.

Review copy provided by publisher.


The Queen Of The Tearling
The Queen Of The Tearling
by Erika Johansen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars World-building a bit confusing but an enjoyable fantasy, 17 July 2014
It took me a while to get into but there was a turning point where it grabbed me. I’ve always struggled with epic fantasy but this one probably has less waiting for stuff to happen than most. It probably would have best for me to read it when I wasn’t so busy as it did suit being read it bite-size chunks. Despite the young protagonist, it is definitely not young adult in style or content.

Initially I was thrown off by the use of some modern words; things that wouldn’t exist in a world without science. But then The Crossing was mentioned. The original Tearlings came over from America and Europe, the relation to the worlds is never explained. For once I would have liked more back story. It’s hard to fathom how people setting off to create a utopia end up with a medieval style world, with traces of modernity spattered about.

What I did like was the sense of hope throughout. Here is a world that is cruel and corrupt and a new ruler comes along and isn’t instantly thwarted. Kelsea has her troubles and she gets in deep water, but she leaves us with hope. Maybe she can do good. There might be no hope for the utopia, but there might be some for peace and fair treatment.

Kelsea was cleverly bought up in isolation but her education was stuffed to the brim with history and literature. She was kept from corruption and developed a good moral compass. I did fear for her safety a lot. She treads on many toes and it could seem like she gets out of things a little too easily, but it’s a refreshing change from doom and gloom.

Not that things don’t get dangerous. The Red Queen of Mortmesne was an interesting character, even if we don’t see much of her. She starts of as purely an evil enemy of Tearling but there’s more depth to her than that. There is a glimpse of how she became the way she is, and I would definitely read on in the trilogy to find out more.

So the world-building is a bit confusing but the characters definitely made up for it by the end.

Review copy provided by publisher.


The Unfinished Symphony of You and Me
The Unfinished Symphony of You and Me
by Lucy Robinson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love Lucy Robinson, 15 July 2014
I loved Sally within the first few pages. She has this amazing talent but is crippled by fear. Lucy Robinson’s characters always feel like people I could know, not because they do the same things as me but because they are so imperfect but lovely at the same time. They’re capable of thinking stupid thoughts and saying stupid things as well as being serious and displaying the full range of emotions.

If you’ve enjoyed her other books, you’ll love this one too, don’t be put off by the opera aspect. We probably think of opera singers as being full of confidence and outgoing, but maybe they’re just like us inside. I laughed, I cried. Fiona’s story is tragically believable, a wonderful and talented woman who doesn’t believe in herself and goes into destruction mode. Whilst there were things I could see coming, there was something rather major I did not.

Review copy provided by publisher.


The One (Selection 3)
The One (Selection 3)
by Kiera Cass
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

4.0 out of 5 stars Who will get the crown?, 15 July 2014
This review is from: The One (Selection 3) (Paperback)
This seems to be the year for finishing trilogies and I’m glad I stuck with this one. It’s such indulgent reading, a bit like watching America’s Next Top Model, but with rebels and royalty. I’ve freely admitted to not liking things in these books, but by now I’ve forgotten the details that really got on my nerves and I was able to sit back and enjoy the show. Will America be The One or will she be beaten to the crown?

Some might say it’s a foregone conclusion, but I was forever doubting America and Maxon’s relationship. He isn’t getting rid of The Elite any time soon. His father is still in severe opposition and getting meaner towards her. And America isn’t being very honest with herself or either of the boys regarding her feelings for Aspen.

I enjoyed the relationships between the final girls. Where they start to see each other as real people and walls come down. The Queen had such little parts but that didn't mean her fate wasn't important to me. I wanted her to be more than just the King's wife. There's a lot more political manoeuvring and tough choices in this one too.


The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy 3)
The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy 3)
Price: £5.69

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A satisfying conclusion, 15 July 2014
The All Souls books have never been fast paced and this is no exception, however the world is so absorbing and once you get settled, you won't want to leave her world. There's such detail put into everything, from the locations right down to the furnishings and everyday tasks such as making a cup of tea. I think this has always been part of the charm of these books, but it does mean they're not always pages turners.

Deborah has said that her plan for a trilogy meant she would get a go at writing three different genres; fantasy, historical and thriller. The Book of Life certainly does have its thrilling moments, but they are tempered by everyday family life. The story returns, at times, to the research lab and the libraries full of antiquated books; along with all the procedures that must be followed. The interweaving histories of all the characters and creatures is so complex but I love learning all the links.

Of course, one of the best things about ending a trilogy is following favourite characters through their journeys. I'm possibly fonder of some of the supporting cast by now than Diana and Matthew. I love Gallowglass and really felt for him in this; he is so loyal and could make anyone feel safe. I like Phoebe, who manages to be the voice of modernity among so many old souls. I never felt Diana was really of our time. And then there's Jack, whose part is small but manages to pull on the heartstrings.

It's getting all exciting and then, well, then there's babies. OK, babies do interrupt life and adventure, but there was just a bit too much on the labour and the days running up to the christening, that it killed off the pace. I admit, I'm particularly adverse to baby talk, but these chapters didn't feel necessary to the whole plot.

It was a satisfying ending, with lots of loose ends tied up and the answers to many questions that made sense. They felt right. Yet, there's still that urge to read more about these characters, maybe a few years on, what will become of them and the whole world of creatures.

Review copy provided by publisher.


The Man Who Couldn't Stop: OCD and the true story of a life lost in thought
The Man Who Couldn't Stop: OCD and the true story of a life lost in thought
by David Adam
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.89

4.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening and entertaining, 28 May 2014
A lot of people have misconceptions about what OCD is. Often, they are confusing it with OCPD, where we think of people being overly clean and keeping everything in order. Those with OCPD don't see it as irrational behaviour. OCD on the other hand is obsessing over intrusive thoughts and using compulsions to counteract them. Sometimes those compulsions are cleaning or order, but often not. The book goes into the difference and similarities between anxiety and OCD, which helps put it into context. However awful anxiety gets, there’s a logic to it, an immediate threat that our fight or flight instincts respond to. OCD is usually completely illogical, the sufferer’s obsessing over thoughts that contradict who they are.

Picking this up, I thought it was going to be more of a memoir than it actually is. David does cover his own story in part, but there’s a lot of science and history of OCD. It’s the kind of non-fiction book I am drawn to and enjoy. The book shows varied cases of OCD throughout history and many of the treatments used, some which did more harm than good. Freud is rather amusingly dismissed on several occasions.

The stuff about intrusive thoughts was really interesting. You know when something pops into your head and you’re horrified by it? How on earth could I think that and does it make me a bad person? Well, if you don’t get them, the chances are you’re a psychopath or lying. Most people manage to shake these thoughts free, but OCD sufferers latch onto them and can’t get them out of their heads.

David is both a science journalist and an OCD sufferer. He knows what he’s talking about both from personal experience and the research mentality his work gives him. He isn’t judgemental but he sets everything out straight. It’s a very accessible book to read too. His obsessive thoughts were focused on catching HIV, not through risky behaviour but just through everyday contact. He couldn’t shake the thought that there could be infected blood lying around. No matter how slim the chances, his brain wouldn’t be at peace. This was apparently a common OCD obsession in the 90s, when HIV was considered a horrible death sentence.

There’s some repetition in the first half but somehow it feels appropriate for the subject matter. I found the section on the history of lobotomies morbidly fascinating. Then there’s a great part that explains how drugs gets into your brain after taking a pill. Overall an enlightening and entertaining read.

Review copy provided by publisher.


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