REBEL BELLE

Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper’s destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength, and lethal fighting instincts. And just when she thinks life cant get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she’s charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy, and possibly Harper’s least favourite person. Things get even more complicated when Harper starts falling for him – and discovers that David’s own fate could very well be to destroy Earth. 

 

 

I picked up Rebel Belle because I was intrigued to read about a strong female character (with a girly side), and found the concept of a girl who has to save the boy a refreshing change. It made me think of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (minus the vamps), and I was sold! Okay, so I was a little put off by the ‘chosen one’ cliché and the fact she falls for the male character, but at least where that’s concerned, he isn’t described as good looking (at least where his clothes are concerned), and Harper only sees him as physically attractive after falling for him as a person. Which is preferable to the oft used instalove, am I right? Continue reading REBEL BELLE

THE CALL

On her birthday, Nessa finds out the terrible truth about her homeland, Ireland – the truth that will change her future forever. That she and her friends must train for the most dangerous three minutes of their lives:

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That any day now, without warning, they will each wake in a terrifying land, alone and hunted, with a one in ten chance of returning alive.

And it is Nessa, more than anyone, who is going to need every ounce of the guts, wit, and sheer spirit she was born with, if she – and the nation – are to survive.

The book’s cover is adorned with skulls, and the intriguing tag line: ‘You have three minutes to save your life.’ It sounds dark and urgent, more thriller than fantasy…but is it a little misleading? Maybe a bit, but I wasn’t disappointed.

The faerie folk (or Sidhe), and the grey land in which they reside are suitable terrifying. O’Guilin has created an imaginative and horrifying world, full of terror and suspense. Nothing makes you read on with bated breath, quite like the concept of a hopeless cause in a fight for survival. You sympathise with every character unlucky enough to receive ‘the call,’ and hope they survive until the end. These sections are nicely interspersed throughout the novel, picking up the pace where it’s needed, and keeping the sense of urgency going from beginning to end.

Continue reading THE CALL

SLADE HOUSE

sladeOn one side of a high wall lies a narrow alley; on the other, a sunlit garden; and between them, a small black iron door.

You just need to open it.

Welcome to Slade House.   

 

 

 

              

 

First of all…how gorgeous is that cover?? Certainly a testament to the artist, because its what drew me to it. I’ve never read any of David Mitchell’s other work, so had no idea what to expect from it, and the blurb wasn’t willing to give too much away either. A risky move, but I was intrigued (in part, because it’s a brief 230 pages long), but within the front cover lies a fleshed-out brief on what to expect. A supernatural tale with a touch of the old gothic style definitely caught my interest.

Continue reading SLADE HOUSE

HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, but no one’s ever looked past her weight to see who she really is. Sine her mum’s death, Libby’s been hiding, but now she’s ready for high school. holding-up-the-universe

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin too – sexy, aloof and too cool for school. But Jack’s swaggering confidence is hiding a secret he must keep at all costs.

Then Jack meets Libby. And their worlds change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I’m honest, I wasn’t blown away by the blurb. The plot seemed thin, and a little obvious about the direction it was going. Probably the only thing that sold it to me was the concept – so rarely seen –  of an overweight protagonist. I’m always interested in how minorities are portrayed in YA, and a fat girl as protagonist probably doesn’t happen too much (I’m aware of Butter, although I haven’t read it myself.)

The trouble is, when the minority/ background/ unrepresented characters DO come to the forefront, it’s never within a genre capacity. Boy meets girl, but it’s all about the character. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Where Holding Up The Universe is concerned, I found Jack Masselin a far more interesting character as a result of his neurological disorder. I’d heard of prosopagnosia through the works of Oliver Sacks (also mentioned by the characters in the book), but not to the in-depth, and first-hand account as given by Jack. This is a bonus for such books, it introduces readers to experiences and conditions they would otherwise have been completely unaware of. The trouble is, without these traits appearing in strong, plot driven pieces, the novel becomes about their differences from able-bodied, straight, white counterparts. It still draws a line of separation between one, and the Other.

Something to think about, I guess.

But back to my thoughts on Holding Up The Universe

Continue reading HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE

THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER

Twylla is blessed. The Gods have chosen her to marry a prince, and rule the kingdom. But the favour of the Gods has its price. A deadly poison sineatersdaughterinfuses her skin. Those who anger the queen must die under Twylla’s fatal touch.

Only Lief, an outspoken new guard, can see past Twylla’s chilling role to the girl she truly is.

Yet in a court as dangerous as the queen’s, some truths should not be told…

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d only read about a chapter of The Sin Eater’s Daughter before it was side-lined to the TBR shelf (to join the other partially started novels), and I hadn’t thought of reading it again until I spotted its sequel, The Sleeping Prince. More inclined to finish it with the prospect of a sequel (provided the first one was any good), I got stuck back in.

It ticks all the boxes for a typical high fantasy novel with its medieval-style royal court, hunts, feasts, and historical conflict…and although this is undoubtedly what saw it sitting on my TBR shelf for as long as it had (I prefer urban fantasy), the world Melinda creates is definitely captivating. Every town and character has been fleshed-out with a detailed backstory that contribute to the story of the protagonist, without being so complicated as to confuse the reader.

Continue reading THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER

THE CAKE SHOP IN THE GARDEN

The cake shop in the garden

Fay Merryweather runs her cake shop from her beautiful garden. She whips up airy sponges and scrumptious scones while her customers enjoy the lovely blossoms and gorgeous blooms. Looking after the cake shop, the garden and her cantankerous mother means Fay is always busy but she accepts her responsibilities because if she doesn’t do all this, who will?

Then Danny Wilde walks into her life and makes Fay question every decision she’s ever made.

When a sudden tragedy strikes, Fay’s entire world is thrown off balance even further and she doesn’t know which way to turn. Can Fay find the strength  to make a life-changing decision – even if it means giving up the thing she loves the most?

 

I was pretty much sold on the book from the cover alone. Nothing appeals to my inner-granny more than cakes and tea gardens!

The protagonist, Fey, is frumpy, set in her ways and living a mundane lifestyle that has her bogged down by family commitments. No doubt relatable character traits for many women of a certain age, Love interest Danny Wilde is clearly a manifestation of a generation’s worth of romantic fantasies.

And before I say any more – Danny Wilde. (Talk about an eye-roll moment when I read that name.) He is, quite literally, described in the stereotypical love interest-style of tall, dark and handsome.

Continue reading THE CAKE SHOP IN THE GARDEN

A MONSTER CALLS

A monster calls cover

Conor has the same dream every night, ever since his mother first fell ill, ever since she started the treatments that don’t quite seem to be working. But tonight is different. Tonight, when he wakes, there’s a visitor at his window. It’s ancient, elemental, a force of nature. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. 

It wants the truth.

 

 

 

 

I like a good spooky story as much as the next person, and thought that was what I’d be getting from purchasing A Monster Calls. Yes, there is a monster (of sorts), but one that’s more a reflection of inner turmoil and grief, than a physical monstrosity driven to send chills down the reader’s spine.

Continue reading A MONSTER CALLS

Charles Dickens’ Birthplace Museum

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Over a (mostly) sunny bank holiday weekend, I spent a day in Portsmouth to pay a visit to the Charles Dickens’ Birthplace Museum. I do love a good museum trip, especially one of a prominent literary figure! Similar to Jane Austen’s house in Chawton, it was all small rooms and creaky floorboards. Actually, smaller rooms with nothing but creaky floorboards! The house is furnished in the Regency style his parents would have furnished the house in, with a few Dickens-owned articles including his snuff box (made from a deer foot, would you believe) and the couch where he died. 😦

 

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The house may be more of a time capsule for the early 19th century, as it was his parents’ house (they moved elsewhere a year after Charles was born), there are enough things from Charles’s later years to make it worth a look around. Access to the museum is through the kitchen (now the gift shop), still with the original Victorian range cooker and shelving unit that can’t be removed, as it’s built into the wall. Upstairs leads to the other rooms, which include a decorated parlour, dining room and bedroom that offer an atmosphere of the time period. The exhibition room (with the couch), is dedicated to displays and information relating to Dickens’ work and illustrators (with crazy rap star nicknames like ‘Kyd’ and ‘Phiz’ (to match Dickens’ pen-name ‘Boz,’ apparently.)

 

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The Parlour

 

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‘Reading to his Daughters’
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1. Rent book   2. Lorgnette  3. Ring  4. Snuff Box  5. Waistcoat Buttons  6. Cheque  7. Lock of his hair  8. Carte de Visite photographs

Despite its size though, we managed to spend a good hour there, possibly more considering the time we took in the gift shop (and I do love a good gift shop!) As it stands, I’ve only read one Dickens novel. Great Expectations – from either secondary school or college, with the standard knowledge of Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol that film and TV provide. As it was Dickens’ first published novel, I wanted to get a copy of The Pickwick Papers from the gift shop (alright, it was mostly because of the cool sounding title) but where books are concerned, I refuse to buy those with real-life people depicted the cover. I just find them kind of tacky. So, a little disappointed, I scoured the shelves for something else (I was NOT leaving without having purchased a book), and decided on The Old Curiosity Shop. As far as wanting to read more classics go, it definitely goes some way to filling the quota.

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Check out that bookmark…made of silk, don’t you know.

I believe there are other parts of Portsmouth with links to Dickens, but within the town itself, we ventured as far as Guildhall for a quick pic of the first large-scale public statue of the man himself, which was unveiled in 2014 for his 202nd birthday. Intriguing to know what else the city has to offer regarding his life and works (especially as it’s right on the doorstep), his birthplace museum is definitely the place to start for anyone wanting to get a feel for the time period of his life and writing, or who is thinking of exploring the work of one of England’s best-loved writers.

Check out the Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum Here

 

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BARTIMAEUS: THE RING OF SOLOMON

Demon extraordinaire, Bartimaeus, is stuck as a spirit slave doing dead-end jobs in King Solomon’s Jerusalem. The shame of it! Solomon’s ring of legend, which affords its master absolute power, has a lot to answer for.    The Ring of Solomon

But the arrival of an assassin girl who has murder on her mind, things start to get…interesting. Throw in a hidden conspiracy, seventeen deadly magicians and some of the most sinister spirits ever to squeeze inside a pentacle,  Bartimaeus is in trouble. He’s going to have to use every ounce of magic in his ever-shifting body to wiggle his way out of this one.

 

 

 

 

 

Due to other commitments, it’s taken me a while to get through this book. It became something I could leave untouched for a while, read a page or two, before forgetting about again. Mostly down to my studies (which brought with it an ever-growing reading list), but in part as a result of the setting. Although in keeping with djinn origins from Arabian mythology, I’m not on for historical-type novels. The other books within the Bartimaeus sequence (previously Trilogy), are set within the modern day, and offer a more realistic approach to modern wizards than other children’s books I could name!

This brings me to a point of contention I have with these novels. They’re beautifully written, include an extensive vocabulary with unique, witty characters. Having them side-lined purely as ‘children’s books’ limits their readership, which, given the chance, has the potential to be wide-reaching.

Continue reading BARTIMAEUS: THE RING OF SOLOMON

Chawton Vintage Fair

WP_20160417_13_23_36_ProSo yesterday called for a little trip to Chawton, for their Vintage, Antique, Collector’s and Craft fair! The sun was shining, the birds were singing, the dog made it all the way there without throwing up…perfect!

 

We didn’t stop in at Austen’s place this time (still haven’t finished my hardcopy of Sense and Sensibility from the last visit!) but definitely plan to return for a copy of Pride and Prejudice, because I love the hardcover classic designs. 

I hadn’t been to one of their vintage fairs before (to be honest, I didn’t even know it was a thing!), and despite being the home of Jane Austen, what I left with was a gothic-style picture of the bard himself. Can’t wait to get this up in my bedroom somewhere, once I’ve finished with the whole decorating/putting-up-shelves-I-don’t-own-yet stage that is. Which will probably take forever, because if there’s one thing that distracts me, it’s EVERYTHING ELSE. I’d hoped there’d be more stallholders there, but it is a small village hall, and these things are always nice to trawl the table tops for a hidden treasure. And who knows, might go again next month. 

 

WP_20160417_17_21_01_Pro (1)What a stud

 

Unfortunately we suffered another near miss when it came to Cassandra’s Cup (we’ll get in there one of these days!) but I did get a lovely bit of sponge cake at the village hall because let’s be honest, that’s what you have to do at these things. Drink tea, and eat cake. That’s basically my life’s motto. That, and ‘Leave me alone, I’m reading.’

On the way home we made a quick stop off somewhere I’d been meaning to get to for a while now – the grave site of my great great great grandfather. He was something of a minor celeb back in the day (not for the best reasons, unfortunately). The village is mostly notable as the home of Gilbert White who, I don’t know…drew pictures of birds or something? (Riveting, I know) but with an ‘award winning tea parlour,’ and huge garden for the dog to roam, we’ll probably end up going back to see the house and explore the grounds. This time, we only went as far as the gift shop (mostly to ask if dogs were allowed in the garden. They are) and after a quick look around, found a book detailing great etc granddad’s exploits, with a rendition of his five minutes of fame on the front cover.

WP_20160417_14_32_16_Pro (1)My great great great grandfather The Trumpeter of Selbourne, doing his thing.

Had to take a picture for my great uncle who researches the family tree, BUT, that little gift shop was where I bought these.

 

WP_20160417_17_18_38_Pro (1)Pretty right?

 

I’ve never in my life used a bookplate before, or written my name in a book (sacrilege!) but I couldn’t resist. To be honest, I was mostly taken with the box, but I’m sure I’ll whack a few labels in some books with a vintage, feminine style. Starting with my copy of Sense  and Sensibility.

For more details on the Chawton fair, click on the link