Booksword 2013

15

Apr

love-johnlock-good:

Hostage Three
By Nick Lake
Published January 2013
Reviewed by Naomi Dinmore
Picture this:
A luxury yacht in the Indian Ocean.
My dad: A rich banker. Grey hair, charming smile, sharp teeth.
The stepmother: don’t ask.
Me: I’m Amy. I’m sort of nothing-ish, except for the piercings.
And the guns? The Pirates: Farouz? You can’t see them yet. This is before.
This was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime. The risk was meant to be tiny. But that means it has to happen to someone, doesn’t it?
This is honestly one of the best books I have read in a while. Sorry, this will contain spoilers because I cannot talk about it without kinda giving it away…
Amy Fields travels with her dad and stepmother on a yacht around the world. She is quite a rebellious, enclosed character, she got kicked out of her final A level exam, has many piercings, goes clubbing and is always listening to dubstep on her iPod. She describes dubstep as: ”disembodied voices… broken, fractured, seeming to come at you like distant singing from the radio of some destroyed spaceship. They’re like the voices of dead people you love”.
One of the reasons she is so enclosed is because her mum committed suicide when Amy was only 10. She does not like Sarah- the stepmother, because she loved her mum. ”Before” as she refers to it, she loved classical music and was a talented violin player- one of the best in the country. She doesn’t play it until later on in the story.
The plot sort of reminded me of Infinite Sky - unexpected and unrequited love between two opposing sides. Basically, the yacht is captured by some modern day pirates, and one of the pirates - the youngest - Farouz is the one Amy gets to know most. I found it very interesting as it gave the reader an insight into the Pirate’s life and childhood. It is also based off a true occurrence in the news about Somali pirates. This is similar to Lake’s other book: ”In Darkness” (which I haven’t read yet but I know is about the Haitian Earthquake) which is also inspired by a true occurrence. Anyway, towards the end of the book, Amy and Farouz get together, and it was one of those moments where I was very scared because the ha got together and there was still too many pages to read…
But, I was very disappointed as I progressed. There was an extremely cliché bit as Amy runs off to Somalia with Farouz and they rescue his brother from prison and they live happily ever after. I hated it - it was way too simple and boring. Apparently my face was of distaste as I read that, according to my mother.
However, when I turned the page, it was blank, except for one islated word: ”No.” the next was: ”No, that is not what happens.” and the next: ”But I imagine it afterwards. I imagine it so many times, until it is a scene in my head, incredibly vivid. A film. That I can watch whenever I like.”
My heart almost leapt with joy at that. Yay! not so cliché! But I almost wished afterwards that is what happened. *SPOILER* Farouz gets killed by the Navy. He was innocent in Amy’s eyes, and my eyes too, as we were given an insight into his struggles and his horrific childhood, his dead parents and his imprisoned brother. This was feel-generating, John Green style.
I absolutely loved the structure, though. At the end, there is an epilogue titled ”three months later”. In this bit, although she misses Farouz greatly, her life is almost back on track. She now refers to her stepmother by her actual name. She also meets up with Farouz’s brother who Is out of prison. She also plans to go to violin college. Then, she recalls one of Farouz’s best stories. It is a heartwarming story about him and his brother.
A part of the form I really liked was how Lake used dashes to indicate speech instead of speech marks. This was original and suited Amy’s character - quite enclosed and shy.
I would recommend it to older teens as there are some older issues and themes in the book eg violence and death, rape, the value of money and swearing.
I would definitely give it a full 5/5.

love-johnlock-good:

Hostage Three

By Nick Lake

Published January 2013

Reviewed by Naomi Dinmore

Picture this:

A luxury yacht in the Indian Ocean.

My dad: A rich banker. Grey hair, charming smile, sharp teeth.

The stepmother: don’t ask.

Me: I’m Amy. I’m sort of nothing-ish, except for the piercings.

And the guns? The Pirates: Farouz? You can’t see them yet. This is before.

This was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime. The risk was meant to be tiny. But that means it has to happen to someone, doesn’t it?

This is honestly one of the best books I have read in a while. Sorry, this will contain spoilers because I cannot talk about it without kinda giving it away…

Amy Fields travels with her dad and stepmother on a yacht around the world. She is quite a rebellious, enclosed character, she got kicked out of her final A level exam, has many piercings, goes clubbing and is always listening to dubstep on her iPod. She describes dubstep as: ”disembodied voices… broken, fractured, seeming to come at you like distant singing from the radio of some destroyed spaceship. They’re like the voices of dead people you love”.

One of the reasons she is so enclosed is because her mum committed suicide when Amy was only 10. She does not like Sarah- the stepmother, because she loved her mum. ”Before” as she refers to it, she loved classical music and was a talented violin player- one of the best in the country. She doesn’t play it until later on in the story.

The plot sort of reminded me of Infinite Sky - unexpected and unrequited love between two opposing sides. Basically, the yacht is captured by some modern day pirates, and one of the pirates - the youngest - Farouz is the one Amy gets to know most. I found it very interesting as it gave the reader an insight into the Pirate’s life and childhood. It is also based off a true occurrence in the news about Somali pirates. This is similar to Lake’s other book: ”In Darkness” (which I haven’t read yet but I know is about the Haitian Earthquake) which is also inspired by a true occurrence. Anyway, towards the end of the book, Amy and Farouz get together, and it was one of those moments where I was very scared because the ha got together and there was still too many pages to read…

But, I was very disappointed as I progressed. There was an extremely cliché bit as Amy runs off to Somalia with Farouz and they rescue his brother from prison and they live happily ever after. I hated it - it was way too simple and boring. Apparently my face was of distaste as I read that, according to my mother.

However, when I turned the page, it was blank, except for one islated word: ”No.” the next was: ”No, that is not what happens.” and the next: ”But I imagine it afterwards. I imagine it so many times, until it is a scene in my head, incredibly vivid. A film. That I can watch whenever I like.”

My heart almost leapt with joy at that. Yay! not so cliché! But I almost wished afterwards that is what happened. *SPOILER* Farouz gets killed by the Navy. He was innocent in Amy’s eyes, and my eyes too, as we were given an insight into his struggles and his horrific childhood, his dead parents and his imprisoned brother. This was feel-generating, John Green style.

I absolutely loved the structure, though. At the end, there is an epilogue titled ”three months later”. In this bit, although she misses Farouz greatly, her life is almost back on track. She now refers to her stepmother by her actual name. She also meets up with Farouz’s brother who Is out of prison. She also plans to go to violin college. Then, she recalls one of Farouz’s best stories. It is a heartwarming story about him and his brother.

A part of the form I really liked was how Lake used dashes to indicate speech instead of speech marks. This was original and suited Amy’s character - quite enclosed and shy.

I would recommend it to older teens as there are some older issues and themes in the book eg violence and death, rape, the value of money and swearing.

I would definitely give it a full 5/5.

04

Apr

Here’s a nice surprise for most of you: our Booksword group discussion now comes on audio!

In episode 1, we discuss The Maze Runner by James Dashner.

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/audiobooksword/id850102909

19

Mar

Unhinged
By A. G. Howard
Published January, 2014
Reviewed by Charlotte Brindley

Unhinged is the sequel to Splintered, and if you read my review on Splintered then you’ll know how much I love this story and the author’s writing style – if not, care to let me elaborate.Unhinged starts off where Splintered left off; Alyssa has returned from Wonderland and is adjusting to human life with Jeb as her boyfriend and her mom finally at home after being released from the Asylum. Howard continues with her dark themes and madness that she used so eloquently in Splintered to draw you back into Alyssa’s world – the first line immediately yanking you into the situation with Alyssa’s new medium of art stemming from pricking her finger – something that reminded me of Sleeping Beauty.And Alyssa definitely is a Sleeping Beauty: I enjoyed how she blossoms from a confused and stressed teenager into a dark and powerful netherling queen throughout the novel. In true Howard style, the descriptions of Alyssa’s fashion, artistic skills, thoughts/feelings and actions make her one of my favourite female protagonists of all time.In Splintered, the reader went on a journey to Wonderland – and even though such trip isn’t made in Unhinged, the madness and chaos of Carroll’s land is everywhere. I thought I’d be disappointed that Alyssa and Jeb didn’t go back to Wonderland to reunite with some of my other favourite characters – Sister One, Ivory Queen, Chessie and Rabid White. However Howard brings Wonderland to our world and that made the situation even… scarier.Howard definitely explores darker themes in Unhinged, the tulgey trees and the truth behind Alyssa’s parents’ past definitely made the story more gripping. As well as the events, Howard makes the people darker: Jeb who was the one I wanted Alyssa to be with the most seemed to have developed an aspect of darkness himself. He tries to evenly split his attention between his career and Alyssa, and while this is respectable, I believe he made some stupid moves that proved Alyssa’s netherling side had rubbed off on him. On the other hand, Morpheus seemed to show a gentler side – even though he caused even more trouble than he did in Splintered, his vulnerable and caring side was exposed and I felt myself wanting him as much as Jeb. No wonder Alyssa has trouble deciding between the two of them!

I also loved how Morpheus and Jeb represented the two sides of Alyssa – Morpheus represented the dark, powerful and sultry side of Alyssa and Jeb the light, good and innocent side of her. Even though it’s a fantasy story, this element made Alyssa even more relatable because I believe we all have different sides to ourselves.Overall, I loved Unhinged and I highly recommend it to anyone – teenagers and adults alike (though it’s definitely not for children). If you haven’t read the first one, then I suggest you read Splintered, but be warned that you probably won’t be able to shift the Wonderland bug once it’s bitten you (giggles). The only problem I have with this series is that the final book ENSNARED won’t be out until 2015! Definitely looking forward to last instalment of Wonderland goodness!

Unhinged
By A. G. Howard
Published January, 2014
Reviewed by Charlotte Brindley

Unhinged is the sequel to Splintered, and if you read my review on Splintered then you’ll know how much I love this story and the author’s writing style – if not, care to let me elaborate.

Unhinged starts off where Splintered left off; Alyssa has returned from Wonderland and is adjusting to human life with Jeb as her boyfriend and her mom finally at home after being released from the Asylum. Howard continues with her dark themes and madness that she used so eloquently in Splintered to draw you back into Alyssa’s world – the first line immediately yanking you into the situation with Alyssa’s new medium of art stemming from pricking her finger – something that reminded me of Sleeping Beauty.

And Alyssa definitely is a Sleeping Beauty: I enjoyed how she blossoms from a confused and stressed teenager into a dark and powerful netherling queen throughout the novel. In true Howard style, the descriptions of Alyssa’s fashion, artistic skills, thoughts/feelings and actions make her one of my favourite female protagonists of all time.

In Splintered, the reader went on a journey to Wonderland – and even though such trip isn’t made in Unhinged, the madness and chaos of Carroll’s land is everywhere. I thought I’d be disappointed that Alyssa and Jeb didn’t go back to Wonderland to reunite with some of my other favourite characters – Sister One, Ivory Queen, Chessie and Rabid White. However Howard brings Wonderland to our world and that made the situation even… scarier.

Howard definitely explores darker themes in Unhinged, the tulgey trees and the truth behind Alyssa’s parents’ past definitely made the story more gripping. As well as the events, Howard makes the people darker: Jeb who was the one I wanted Alyssa to be with the most seemed to have developed an aspect of darkness himself. He tries to evenly split his attention between his career and Alyssa, and while this is respectable, I believe he made some stupid moves that proved Alyssa’s netherling side had rubbed off on him. On the other hand, Morpheus seemed to show a gentler side – even though he caused even more trouble than he did in Splintered, his vulnerable and caring side was exposed and I felt myself wanting him as much as Jeb. No wonder Alyssa has trouble deciding between the two of them!

I also loved how Morpheus and Jeb represented the two sides of Alyssa – Morpheus represented the dark, powerful and sultry side of Alyssa and Jeb the light, good and innocent side of her. Even though it’s a fantasy story, this element made Alyssa even more relatable because I believe we all have different sides to ourselves.

Overall, I loved Unhinged and I highly recommend it to anyone – teenagers and adults alike (though it’s definitely not for children). If you haven’t read the first one, then I suggest you read Splintered, but be warned that you probably won’t be able to shift the Wonderland bug once it’s bitten you (giggles). The only problem I have with this series is that the final book ENSNARED won’t be out until 2015! Definitely looking forward to last instalment of Wonderland goodness!

16

Mar

Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne YoungPublication Date: August 27th 2013Reviewed Megan Charvill ( and how long it’s been)
So I’m back on track! Homework and school got in the way but she’s back and has a ton of books to read, expect more reviews in the coming weeks.
Caroline is at a crossroads. Her grandmother is sick, maybe dying. Like the rest of her family, Caroline’s been at Gram’s bedside since her stroke. With the pressure building, all Caroline wants to do is escape—both her family and the reality of Gram’s failing health. So when Caroline’s best friend offers to take her to a party one fateful Friday night, she must choose: stay by Gram’s side, or go to the party and live her life.The consequence of this one decision will split Caroline’s fate into two separate paths—and she’s about to live them both.Friendships are tested and family drama hits an all-new high as Caroline attempts to rebuild old relationships, and even make a few new ones. If she stays, her longtime crush, Joel, might finally notice her, but if she goes, Chris, the charming college boy, might prove to be everything she’s ever wanted.Though there are two distinct ways for her fate to unfold, there is only one happy ending…
So, anyone who knows me, will know I am a complete sucker for romantic novels, so this one hit home instantly.
Just Like Fate is a book that parallels two lives, both belonging to the main character Caroline, showing what would happen if she stayed with her Gram when she passed or went to the party her best friend, Simone, begged her to go to. The chapters alternated between the two choices telling the reader her life if she stayed or went.
This book was so believable, the characters are easy to compare to those you know around you and in your own life. The plot was beguiling and left me wanting more. I was absolutely in love with Caroline and Chris’s relationship, although I may or may not have wanted Chris for myself. He was so down to earth, so cute and quirky and so easy to like and fall in love with.
In the end, it left me questioning fate, whether or not it was something to be believed or if it was just a lie.
This book gives a nice message to teenagers: Life is messy, you are going to mess up but in the end, everything will fall into place. It sounds completely cliché, I know!
Overall, I adored this book, it’s one of the best I have read in a while, I would recommend to anybody who enjoys romance and a more realistic plot.

Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young
Publication Date: August 27th 2013
Reviewed Megan Charvill ( and how long it’s been)

So I’m back on track! Homework and school got in the way but she’s back and has a ton of books to read, expect more reviews in the coming weeks.

Caroline is at a crossroads. Her grandmother is sick, maybe dying. Like the rest of her family, Caroline’s been at Gram’s bedside since her stroke. With the pressure building, all Caroline wants to do is escape—both her family and the reality of Gram’s failing health. So when Caroline’s best friend offers to take her to a party one fateful Friday night, she must choose: stay by Gram’s side, or go to the party and live her life.

The consequence of this one decision will split Caroline’s fate into two separate paths—and she’s about to live them both.

Friendships are tested and family drama hits an all-new high as Caroline attempts to rebuild old relationships, and even make a few new ones. If she stays, her longtime crush, Joel, might finally notice her, but if she goes, Chris, the charming college boy, might prove to be everything she’s ever wanted.

Though there are two distinct ways for her fate to unfold, there is only one happy ending…

So, anyone who knows me, will know I am a complete sucker for romantic novels, so this one hit home instantly.

Just Like Fate is a book that parallels two lives, both belonging to the main character Caroline, showing what would happen if she stayed with her Gram when she passed or went to the party her best friend, Simone, begged her to go to. The chapters alternated between the two choices telling the reader her life if she stayed or went.

This book was so believable, the characters are easy to compare to those you know around you and in your own life. The plot was beguiling and left me wanting more. I was absolutely in love with Caroline and Chris’s relationship, although I may or may not have wanted Chris for myself. He was so down to earth, so cute and quirky and so easy to like and fall in love with.

In the end, it left me questioning fate, whether or not it was something to be believed or if it was just a lie.

This book gives a nice message to teenagers: Life is messy, you are going to mess up but in the end, everything will fall into place. It sounds completely cliché, I know!

Overall, I adored this book, it’s one of the best I have read in a while, I would recommend to anybody who enjoys romance and a more realistic plot.

15

Mar

Interview with Kendare Blake: Author of 'Anna Dressed In Blood'

Q) What was your inspiration for Anna Dressed In Blood?
A) I wanted to write something full of blood and guts. During my time at Middlesex University, I had written mostly literary, but as time went by, I noticed some of my short stories edging toward the gore and the strange. I don't think I can stay away from gore and strange for very long.
Q) Within the novel, which charcater do you most identify with?
A) Hmm. I should probably say Cas, because I know him the most intimately, since he speaks through me. But I wouldn't say I identify with him. I do feel the closest to him and Anna, but I'm not really like either one. Except Cas and I have the same sense of humor. We could totally hang out.
Q) Obviously a lot of research went into creating the novel, but what made you choose Jamanican voodoo and the Obeahman as the villian and darkness of the novel?
A) He showed up that way. I saw him, walking down a dark stairwell from a locked door, and he told me he'd been up there eating cats. It was fairly scary. I loved him right away.
Q) Where there any suprises along the way when you were writing Anna?
A) Lots. I don't plot per se, the story spools out and takes me along for the ride. Any ideas I have about where it might go are only guesses. So Carmel didn't die, like I thought she would, and Lake Superior didn't play a role, like I thought it would, and the final fight didn't involve a storm, like I also thought it would.
Q) Your characters are very complex, for example Anna is a murderer but is also a hero, how do you ensure that there is an equal balance between the good and bad within a character?
A) I don't think there is an equal balance. But I think that everyone has a little bit of both. As for ensuring, I don't do much. The character reveals it naturally as I learn more about them. If we were to spend more time with the Obeahman, I'm sure he'd show us his sympathetic point of view also. But I was in Cas' head, so I never got to find out.
Q) Were any characters influenced by people you know, or people you are inspired by?
A) Only the cat, Tybalt. He's my cat. I do use things and small traits from people I know. Thomas drives my best friend's car from high school. Morfran calls ring bologna "sausage" just like her dad does. And I put my brother's dog in Antigoddess. The saskatoon jam that Cas learns to love is made by the lady who owns and operates the Bed and Breakfast in Thunder Bay where I stayed to do location research.
Q) In a battle who do you think would win, Anna or Jestine?
A) Before Jestine had her new athame? Anna, hands down. And even now, it would probably be Anna. She is a badass ghost. But, she has mellowed out a lot since losing her rage, and finding Cas, and Jestine is more driven than ever. So I don't know. I really don't. Would be interesting to watch, though.

22

Feb

love-johnlock-good:

Sales of The Hobbit have rocketed recently with the gripping film adaptations being watched all over the world. But is it really worth all this popularity? Keep scrolling…
The Hobbit                                 
J. R.R. Tolkien
First published 1937
Reviewed by Naomi Dinmore
Well the answer to ”does it deserve all this popularity?” Yes. Yes it does - Definitely.
For those of you who do not know, this book is about a hobbit. (Well I never would have guessed that!) 
My summary of a Hobbit:
A hobbit is an ”unobtrusive” man, of roughly three feet high, slightly stout with large feet. They like living in the countryside, and most of them can be found in Hobbiton, located in the Northwest of Middle Earth. (There are very useful maps in the whole series which help you visualise it even more.)
As you can see, the detailed descriptions alone are enough to make the book five stars, but there’s a fantastic original plot as well!
”Bilbo Baggins is a Hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely travelling further than the pantry of his hobbit hole in Bag-End. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard, Gandalf (who I bet was the inspiration for Dumbledore in Harry Potter) and a company of thirteen dwarves arrive to whisk him away on a journey supposedly going ”there and back again”. They have a plot to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug (there is an ongiong debate about the pronunciation of his name - whether it’s an ow sound or an or sound!) The Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon.” (played by Benedict Cumberbatch in the film, which is always a plus).
Although sometimes the language is hard to process, I found it was very rewarding because I persevered. As the reader gets used to the language, the vivid descriptions draw the reader in; and the frequent use of imagery (oh dear, it’s starting to sound like an English essay) compliments the wide range of vocabulary to make it seem like their own film is playing in their head. 
Yeah, who needs the film?! (Well actually, the film is good because it heavily popularised this classic! Oh, and we mustn’t forget how brilliant Martin Freeman is! ;D)
Overall, YES! It certainly deserves this popularity, so I shall give it a 5/5

love-johnlock-good:

Sales of The Hobbit have rocketed recently with the gripping film adaptations being watched all over the world. But is it really worth all this popularity? Keep scrolling…

The Hobbit                                

J. R.R. Tolkien

First published 1937

Reviewed by Naomi Dinmore

Well the answer to ”does it deserve all this popularity?” Yes. Yes it does - Definitely.

For those of you who do not know, this book is about a hobbit. (Well I never would have guessed that!)

My summary of a Hobbit:

A hobbit is an ”unobtrusive” man, of roughly three feet high, slightly stout with large feet. They like living in the countryside, and most of them can be found in Hobbiton, located in the Northwest of Middle Earth. (There are very useful maps in the whole series which help you visualise it even more.)

As you can see, the detailed descriptions alone are enough to make the book five stars, but there’s a fantastic original plot as well!

Bilbo Baggins is a Hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely travelling further than the pantry of his hobbit hole in Bag-End. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard, Gandalf (who I bet was the inspiration for Dumbledore in Harry Potter) and a company of thirteen dwarves arrive to whisk him away on a journey supposedly going ”there and back again”. They have a plot to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug (there is an ongiong debate about the pronunciation of his name - whether it’s an ow sound or an or sound!) The Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon.” (played by Benedict Cumberbatch in the film, which is always a plus).

Although sometimes the language is hard to process, I found it was very rewarding because I persevered. As the reader gets used to the language, the vivid descriptions draw the reader in; and the frequent use of imagery (oh dear, it’s starting to sound like an English essay) compliments the wide range of vocabulary to make it seem like their own film is playing in their head.

Yeah, who needs the film?! (Well actually, the film is good because it heavily popularised this classic! Oh, and we mustn’t forget how brilliant Martin Freeman is! ;D)


Overall, YES! It certainly deserves this popularity, so I shall give it a 5/5

18

Feb

Anna Dressed In Blood
By Kendare Blake
Published August, 2011
Reviewed by Charlotte Brindley

“Cas Lowood is no ordinary guy – he hunts dead people”

Before I chose this book I was searching for something that was a little different, something a little unusual – and I’m so glad that I chose this one. It’s only February, but I believe this is my best read of 2014!

Prepared to be scared, that’s all I can say! The book’s disclaimer reads: ‘not for younger readers’ and that’s definitely true, but it should also advise readers not to read at night – because I did, and I have never been so scared by a book in my life.

It wasn’t a ‘nervy’ scared, like in horror films where you’re waiting for something to jump out and scream. No. It’s the worst kind of fear. The book educes you in a paralysed state of fear where you can’t move a muscle because you’re so afraid, at one point I wasn’t able to breathe because I was so fearful (whether it’s because I’m a wuss or because the book’s terrifying, well you’ll have to read the book and decide for yourself).

Another warning is that the book is gory – which for me wasn’t a problem, but if you’re squeamish then I’d advise not to read it. Blake’s descriptions of the hunts and the murders were so detailed that I felt as if I was inside Cas’s world, watching as he battled against a murderous ghost. Blake’s imagery is probably one of the best I’ve read in an older teen book.

Aside from that, the book is a love story – between the main protagonist Cas and Anna – Anna Dressed In Blood. I was slightly weary (and scared) of Anna at first, however as the story developed I felt myself fall in love with her, the same way Cas does. Anna is such a strong character that has an emotional impact that resembles a physical slap in the face. Blake portrays Anna in such a strong and powerful way, dealing with her past and her wrongdoings in a delicate, yet extremely potent manner, which makes Anna my favourite character. 

Cas (Theseus Cassio) Lowood is the star of the story, and for a ghost hunter, he is a very relatable character. Blake cleverly weaves the struggles of teenage life in with her story of horror and mystery; also, even though the novel is told from a boy’s point of view, I found myself connecting to Cas. Cas’s courage is extremely admirable, along with the love and protectiveness he has for his mother. 

Overall, I loved this book. I loved how Blake wove dark and gory elements into her story which made her supernatural book more believable, unlike some dark romance/supernatural books out there. I extremely enjoyed Blake’s new and fresh approach to the dark romance genre, and I advise anyone who likes this genre to definitely pick up this book. Even if you have been put off the dark romance genre, I advise you to give this book ago as it is everything you want from a book that deals with ghosts, death and romance. I’m definitely hooked on this book and am eagerly awaiting the sequel!

Anna Dressed In Blood
By Kendare Blake
Published August, 2011
Reviewed by Charlotte Brindley

“Cas Lowood is no ordinary guy – he hunts dead people”

Before I chose this book I was searching for something that was a little different, something a little unusual – and I’m so glad that I chose this one. It’s only February, but I believe this is my best read of 2014!

Prepared to be scared, that’s all I can say! The book’s disclaimer reads: ‘not for younger readers’ and that’s definitely true, but it should also advise readers not to read at night – because I did, and I have never been so scared by a book in my life.

It wasn’t a ‘nervy’ scared, like in horror films where you’re waiting for something to jump out and scream. No. It’s the worst kind of fear. The book educes you in a paralysed state of fear where you can’t move a muscle because you’re so afraid, at one point I wasn’t able to breathe because I was so fearful (whether it’s because I’m a wuss or because the book’s terrifying, well you’ll have to read the book and decide for yourself).

Another warning is that the book is gory – which for me wasn’t a problem, but if you’re squeamish then I’d advise not to read it. Blake’s descriptions of the hunts and the murders were so detailed that I felt as if I was inside Cas’s world, watching as he battled against a murderous ghost. Blake’s imagery is probably one of the best I’ve read in an older teen book.

Aside from that, the book is a love story – between the main protagonist Cas and Anna – Anna Dressed In Blood. I was slightly weary (and scared) of Anna at first, however as the story developed I felt myself fall in love with her, the same way Cas does. Anna is such a strong character that has an emotional impact that resembles a physical slap in the face. Blake portrays Anna in such a strong and powerful way, dealing with her past and her wrongdoings in a delicate, yet extremely potent manner, which makes Anna my favourite character.

Cas (Theseus Cassio) Lowood is the star of the story, and for a ghost hunter, he is a very relatable character. Blake cleverly weaves the struggles of teenage life in with her story of horror and mystery; also, even though the novel is told from a boy’s point of view, I found myself connecting to Cas. Cas’s courage is extremely admirable, along with the love and protectiveness he has for his mother.

Overall, I loved this book. I loved how Blake wove dark and gory elements into her story which made her supernatural book more believable, unlike some dark romance/supernatural books out there. I extremely enjoyed Blake’s new and fresh approach to the dark romance genre, and I advise anyone who likes this genre to definitely pick up this book. Even if you have been put off the dark romance genre, I advise you to give this book ago as it is everything you want from a book that deals with ghosts, death and romance. I’m definitely hooked on this book and am eagerly awaiting the sequel!

17

Feb

Skinny
By Donna Cooper
Published October, 2012
Reviewed by Charlotte Brindley

“Ever Davies is fifteen years old and dangerously overweight.”

Skinny is about Ever Davies’ journey to lose weight; it tackles controversial subjects such as gastric surgery and obesity. I didn’t quite know what to expect with this book.

Ever Davies is the main protagonist in this story, she is a likeable character, but can be quite annoying when she makes stupid mistakes that, as the reader, know will have disastrous consequences. However I really admired Ever and her journey, her lack of self-esteem and her inner demon, named ‘Skinny’, made her a relatable character. I could see parallels between Ever’s life and my own, along with my friends’ – which I thought was a very clever and ingenious for Cooper’s target audience.

As much as I loved Ever, Rat was my favourite character by far. Even though his full name is Theodore Simon Wilson, the character acquired his nickname from his appearance and its likeness to a character in a novel. 

I also believe that his nickname is a work of Cooper’s genius of making this story have parallels to the Cinderella story, as Ever is Cinderella; Rat as one of the mice who help Cindy, but appears more than he seems; Briella is the (evil) stepsister; Charlotte is the (evil) stepmother; and Jackson Barnett as Prince Charming, though he also isn’t what he appears to be. There are also events, such as the Ball, which are associated with the Cinderella story.

I liked Rat so much because he is a fun and loyal character – he always stays beside Ever, even when Skinny is breaking her down inside. Rat seems like an amazing friend and also is relatable though how he is willing to anything for his friends. 

Overall, I did enjoy this book though the storyline was a little cliché; however it is very inspirational to all teens, no matter what issues they have. I would recommend this to older readers as the gastric bypass surgery is slightly controversial, and I believe difficult for younger readers to understand – but I would recommend it to anyone who is searching for a book that is inspirational and sweet.

Skinny
By Donna Cooper
Published October, 2012
Reviewed by Charlotte Brindley

“Ever Davies is fifteen years old and dangerously overweight.”

Skinny is about Ever Davies’ journey to lose weight; it tackles controversial subjects such as gastric surgery and obesity. I didn’t quite know what to expect with this book.

Ever Davies is the main protagonist in this story, she is a likeable character, but can be quite annoying when she makes stupid mistakes that, as the reader, know will have disastrous consequences. However I really admired Ever and her journey, her lack of self-esteem and her inner demon, named ‘Skinny’, made her a relatable character. I could see parallels between Ever’s life and my own, along with my friends’ – which I thought was a very clever and ingenious for Cooper’s target audience.

As much as I loved Ever, Rat was my favourite character by far. Even though his full name is Theodore Simon Wilson, the character acquired his nickname from his appearance and its likeness to a character in a novel.

I also believe that his nickname is a work of Cooper’s genius of making this story have parallels to the Cinderella story, as Ever is Cinderella; Rat as one of the mice who help Cindy, but appears more than he seems; Briella is the (evil) stepsister; Charlotte is the (evil) stepmother; and Jackson Barnett as Prince Charming, though he also isn’t what he appears to be. There are also events, such as the Ball, which are associated with the Cinderella story.

I liked Rat so much because he is a fun and loyal character – he always stays beside Ever, even when Skinny is breaking her down inside. Rat seems like an amazing friend and also is relatable though how he is willing to anything for his friends.

Overall, I did enjoy this book though the storyline was a little cliché; however it is very inspirational to all teens, no matter what issues they have. I would recommend this to older readers as the gastric bypass surgery is slightly controversial, and I believe difficult for younger readers to understand – but I would recommend it to anyone who is searching for a book that is inspirational and sweet.

Beautiful Creatures
By Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Published December, 2009
Reviewed by Charlotte Brindley

“Is falling in love the beginning… or the end?”

I brought this book after watching the film, and I know it’s meant to be the other way round but I’m glad I did it the wrong way round. 

This is purely because I enjoyed the film all the way up to the end, and I shall not spoil it but I thought the ending was terrible. So I decided to see if the book was any better, and agreed it was.

If you’ve watched the film then I do advise you read the book because there are many cute scenes/chapters within the book that explore Lena and Ethan’s love in more depth than the film did, even though the film was pretty good with the romance aspect. Also, after reading the book, a lot more aspects of the film made sense.

However there was one aspect that I hated in both the book and the film. In the film, the character Larkin is a good guy who is a bit of a joker, and was my favourite character in the film. But in the book he was the complete opposite. 

SPOILERS!!! Larkin turned out to the bad guy and was a horrible person. I cannot express how much that annoyed me; surely if you’re going to make a film of your novel, you’d keep the characters the same? Well apparently not.

SPOILERS OVER!!! Apologies for the rant.

Overall, I can’t really decide whether I like the book – in my personal opinion, the film is better because all the loose ends are tied up, whereas in the book it’s a bit of a mess, which I assume will be sorted out in the sequels. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes Twilight or the Mortal Instruments, but I’d advise them to read the book first.

Beautiful Creatures
By Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Published December, 2009
Reviewed by Charlotte Brindley

“Is falling in love the beginning… or the end?”

I brought this book after watching the film, and I know it’s meant to be the other way round but I’m glad I did it the wrong way round.

This is purely because I enjoyed the film all the way up to the end, and I shall not spoil it but I thought the ending was terrible. So I decided to see if the book was any better, and agreed it was.

If you’ve watched the film then I do advise you read the book because there are many cute scenes/chapters within the book that explore Lena and Ethan’s love in more depth than the film did, even though the film was pretty good with the romance aspect. Also, after reading the book, a lot more aspects of the film made sense.

However there was one aspect that I hated in both the book and the film. In the film, the character Larkin is a good guy who is a bit of a joker, and was my favourite character in the film. But in the book he was the complete opposite.

SPOILERS!!! Larkin turned out to the bad guy and was a horrible person. I cannot express how much that annoyed me; surely if you’re going to make a film of your novel, you’d keep the characters the same? Well apparently not.

SPOILERS OVER!!! Apologies for the rant.

Overall, I can’t really decide whether I like the book – in my personal opinion, the film is better because all the loose ends are tied up, whereas in the book it’s a bit of a mess, which I assume will be sorted out in the sequels. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes Twilight or the Mortal Instruments, but I’d advise them to read the book first.

Star-Crossed
By Rachael Wing
Published January, 2007
Reviewed by Charlotte Brindley

“Who doesn’t want to star in the world’s greatest romance?”

I picked this book up a while back, and when I read it I did enjoy it – so I thought I’d review it. 

Star-crossed is about Jen Anderson who auditions for the role of Juliet in the school’s rendition of ‘Romeo and Juliet’, however Chris Banner gets in the way. 

It’s a modern day Romeo and Juliet story, as the Andersons’ and Banners’ hate each other, but Jen and Chris fight against their parents’ feud to be together. All together, it’s a cute short romance novel written by Wing, who wrote it as a teenager, which is very inspirational. 

Even though the plot line was cliché, and the romance became a little too sickly at times, I did enjoy it as it was short and sweet. My favourite character was definitely Reuben, or Rubes. I enjoyed the relationship between him and Jen, and how he was portrayed – I’d definitely like him as a best friend. 

Overall, if you want something light and fluffy to read, this is definitely the novel to read!

Star-Crossed
By Rachael Wing
Published January, 2007
Reviewed by Charlotte Brindley

“Who doesn’t want to star in the world’s greatest romance?”

I picked this book up a while back, and when I read it I did enjoy it – so I thought I’d review it.

Star-crossed is about Jen Anderson who auditions for the role of Juliet in the school’s rendition of ‘Romeo and Juliet’, however Chris Banner gets in the way.

It’s a modern day Romeo and Juliet story, as the Andersons’ and Banners’ hate each other, but Jen and Chris fight against their parents’ feud to be together. All together, it’s a cute short romance novel written by Wing, who wrote it as a teenager, which is very inspirational.

Even though the plot line was cliché, and the romance became a little too sickly at times, I did enjoy it as it was short and sweet. My favourite character was definitely Reuben, or Rubes. I enjoyed the relationship between him and Jen, and how he was portrayed – I’d definitely like him as a best friend.

Overall, if you want something light and fluffy to read, this is definitely the novel to read!