18 Sep 2014

The winner's curse - Review


The winner's trilogy book one
Available now
bloomsbury.co.uk 

What's it about?

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.
As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction.
Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. 
Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.
My review
The winner's curse was a perfect mix of intrigue, politics and romance in a beautiful setting. It's everything a fantasy book should be and I really enjoyed it. I particularly liked that it was told from both of the main characters so that we really get to see both sides of the story here, as the General's daughter, Kestrel is in the social elite and as a slave, Arin is on the very bottom of the chain. It's your classic Romeo and Juliet forbidden love story but then it's also so much more than that and very well written. Although Kestrel is high in society, she's not the elitist princess you may be imagining, she's strong willed, passionate and independent, I liked her a lot, she's very smart and the kind of person you'd want as an ally, not an enemy. I liked Arin too and getting to understand the kind of hidden rage he has, something I don't think we'd have got to see at all had he been a secondary character in Kestrel's story, he has his own story to tell, something I hope to see more of in future books.
The story itself is woven together extremely well, its not all as simple as it all seems at the start and as we burrow deeper into the world and the learn more about both the past and present, the plot thickens and you'll find yourself torn between two sides. It wasn't rushed and the end will leave you begging for more.
Rutkoski writes a brilliant story with intriguing characters while simultaneously building a believable and complex world complete with a well described backdrop, a social hierarchy and a history.
I really can't wait for book two and I can't guess at all what will happen next but I'm excited to find out.

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12 Aug 2014

Dylan's amazing dinosaurs: The Stegosaurus - Review


Published by Simon and Schuster.

What's it about?
Join Dylan on his amazing dinosaur mission
Dylan loves exploring and learning all about dinosaurs. In his amazing treehouse he has a magic journal. Every time he opens it awesome things happen - even his toy pterodactyl comes to life! They fly off on dinosaur discovery missions to the Land of Living Dinosaurs. This time they are he has to discover what secret weapon a stegosaurus has.
Review
If your little one is a fan of dinosaurs then they're going to love this book. Its full of facts about the Stegosaurus, lovely illustrations and a nice little story to showcase the facts given about this particular dinosaur, plus it solves one little mystery about the creature at the end. It's a fun book, worth adding to your little ones collection and follows in a similar series, each book focused on a different dinosaur, I haven't seen those ones for myself but judging by this one, I'd guess they're just as good.
It's lovely and colourful and comes with a pop up dinosaur for them to play with, creating extra fun, I will definitely be looking out for the other books in this series for my little boy who really enjoyed listening to me read this one to him and pointing out the pictures.



11 Aug 2014

Better than perfect - Review


Wild cards book one
Available now
bloomsbury.co.uk 

What's it about?
Ashtyn's life just got complicated. Her boyfriend is being distant and her sister's back at home after ten years - with a stepson in tow!
Derek has a perfect body, THE sexiest smile and a car - Ashtyn's only way to escape from her crazy life. But Derek likes to play by his own rules and is keen to take Ashtyn on a ride she'll never forget. As they spend more and more time alone together, will Derek's flirty games drive Ashtyn wild?
My review
While Better than perfect was a perfectly good read I didn't find that it held the same kind of tension as the Perfect chemistry series, the only other other series by this author that I've read. I was completely hooked to those books so of course was excited when I had the chance to read her new book and admit the bar was set pretty high for me after reading some of her previous work. But anyway, perhaps I shouldn't be comparing it to her other books and just review it for what it is.
Better than perfect was a fun read with a believable, imperfect love story. I've read many stories where the characters start off hating each other only to realise that they're actually in love and were confusing their emotions. It can get annoying and sometimes it doesn't work but in this case it did, I appreciate that Elkeles was trying to build up a tension with the two characters arguing a lot but sometimes it did feel a little flat and I didn't feel the sexual tension between them. But I enjoyed the story and read through the book quickly and will certainly be reading more in the series as they become available.
I really liked Ashtyn, she wasn't a typical heroine, she plays (American) football and can hold her own which is always something I admire in female characters, I'm not one for damsels in distress and Ashtyn certainly wasn't one of them, she has a strong head and is dedicated to her sport, not to mention how she faces the struggle of being a girl in a boys world, for example, when she goes to football camp, she is literally the only girl there, the boys don't want her and she spends a lot of the book being told football is not for girls, which just isn't true. I'm glad she was strong enough to stand up for herself and continues to keep trying.
Derek was a good protag too but I was definitely more team Ashtyn in this one.
The writing was just the quality that you'd expect from Simone Elkeles, she knows how to get to the heart of a characters emotions and I always felt like I knew what everyone was feeling which sometimes had me near screaming at the book when they were both trying to deny their emotions to themselves when it was clear as day.
I'd recommend this to any fans of the other or anyone just looking for a summer read, its a perfect beach book for your holidays.

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4 Aug 2014

Mr Brown can moo! Can you? - Review


Moo moo! Hoo hoo! Cock-a-doodle-doo! Oh, the wonderful sounds Mr. Brown can do. Now see if you can do them too! This fabulous book is ideal for teaching young children all about noises!

Review
This may be an old one but that doesn't make it any less fun. Me and the kids had fun making all the animal and other noises, doing them in the order they are in the book and trying to do them quickly and with silly voices. You can do so much more with this book than just read it, there's lots of fun to be had and I think its a perfect example of why Dr Suess' books have stood the test of time and are loved by many.
Although this is a new edition, I like that the original artwork has been kept as its a big part of what makes it recognisable as a Dr Seuss book and I couldn't imagine the artwork being any different.
This is one to add to your children's collection, both for them and yourself.

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31 Jul 2014

Divergent official illustrated movie companion - Review


Available now
harpercollins.co.uk 

What's it about?

With never-before-seen photos; personal interviews with the directors, actors, and writers; and exclusive extras, this lush, oversize volume is a true behind-the-scenes look at the filming of Divergent.

Review
The illustrated movie companion for the Divergent movie is full of beautiful images from the movie and behind the scenes. It also has some really interesting insight into what went into making the movie, like building the sets and even how much difficulty they had casting Four, I for one can say I'm glad they waited until the found the perfect actor because I couldn't imagine anyone other than Theo James playing him.
I definitely think this book would make the perfect little extra for fans of the movie and/or books who want to know a little more of how making Divergent into a movie became a reality and its amazing to see just how dedicated the whole team were in being true to the book and the lengths they went to, to make sure the sets were perfect. It makes you realise that they didn't just make the movie for themselves but for the fans too whom they also used as extras in some scenes, something I didn't know.
So, if you're looking for something to tide you over while you're waiting for the DVD release so you can watch Divergent again, I 'd recommend picking this up, if for no more reason than there are full page pictures of Four in it!


18 Jul 2014

Inside Divergent; The intiate's world - Review


Available now
www.harpercollins.co.uk 

What's it about?

This eye-catching volume takes you inside the film version of Divergent. With more than 100 photographs—many never before seen—Inside Divergent will immerse you in the thrilling dystopian world of futuristic Chicago, where you'll meet the initiates and discover the factions.

Review
This is a nice little extra for fans of the movie, although if you've read the books then don't expect to learn anything new as it only covers the basics about the factions and main characters. But it comes with some lovely glossy pictures from the movie and is still worth a look through. I particularly liked the pictures in the last section which is about Dauntless because you get to see up close some of the extra little details that went into the set for the movie and its all as I imagined. I liked the little character profiles and what's not to like about a full page picture of Four?
So I'd certainly say give this a peruse even if you're a huge fan and know all the details, it won't take long to read and will sit pretty next to your collection of the books. Its also a great intro into the world if your not familiar with it or if you need reminding of  a few facts if you haven't read the book in a while and want to brush up before watching the movie.


17 Jul 2014

Trust games - Review

Trust games by Simon Packham
Available now
piccadillypress.co.uk 
What's it about?When kind, charismatic new drama teacher, Mr Moore, arrives at school, Beth s life starts to look up. She s cast as the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet, and as she grows close to super-popular Hannah (Juliet), Beth finally has the female friend she s been yearning for. Meanwhile it seems that all the girls including Beth are in love with Mr Moore. And when a scandal breaks, Beth must make a decision that can only have dire consequences for everyone involved.
My review
I've got to be honest, when I first started Trust games I wasn't really into it, there's no particular depth to the writing and I didn't like Beth at all. But I continued because I wanted to see how it handled such a sensitive subject and its pretty short so I knew I'd read it quickly.
After turning the last pages I feel myself conflicted, see, I kept turning the pages, the story felt true to life and I wanted to see what happened but at the same time I wish the book had more to it, that it was written better. I just felt like everything could've been explored more and that the dialogue left something to be desired, but then maybe I'm just too used to reading American books because even when I read British books by British authors, the slang always sounds off to me because I know me and my friends don't talk like that in reality. Either way it makes it hard to figure out if that's just a personal problem for me, who knows.
Anyway, I mentioned before I wasn't a fan of Beth, there was something so pathetic about her and she was so sullen, I'm not sure why Grunt was friends with her at all, even if they'd known each other since they were kids. I also wish we'd got to know Mr Moore better because I couldn't see the attraction to him at all except that he was young and good looking, all Beth knows about him is that he likes poetry and The cure. Becuase of this, the characters and their actions didn't always ring true but the story itself did, it was really something that could happen exactly like that in reality. And Beth's final action at the end of the book did something towards redeeming her character and I liked that she at least went a way to fixing the other relationships in her life that she seemed pretty blind to, and selfish about, at the start of the book.
What I did like about this book was how it explored the content, obviously its about a teacher and student relationship of the forbidden kind. I was glad it, at least briefly, explored a difference of opinion between the characters outside of the relationship, everyone was trying to find somewhere to place the blame but the ultimate message of the book was that no matter if the young girl said yes and thought she was in love, Mr Moore was completely in the wrong, as the adult, he was taking advantage of a young girl and should have been the one to stop it from happening, something I agree with whole heartedly.
So all in all, I'd recommend this for a quick read but don't expect it to change your life, well unless you're thinking about sleeping with your teacher, then it'll show you why not to!

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16 Jul 2014

Love monster and the last chocolate - Review


Love monster and the last chocolate by Rachel Bright. 
A delicious new story about Love Monster, the only monster in Cutesville, from phenomenal, award-winning picture book talent Rachel Bright! When Love Monster finds a mystery box of chocolates at his door, he can't believe his luck. But he's soon thrown into a whirlwind of turmoil. Should he keep the chocolates for himself? Or risk the perils of sharing his good fortune with his friends? This super-funny-rumbly-tummy-sherbert-explosion of a story shows that when faced with the selection box of life, following your heart will bring you the best treats of all.


Review
Children and adults alike can relate to this cute little story, who doesn't get a box of chocolates and want to eat them all to themselves? When Love monster arrives home from holiday to find a box of chocolates on his doorstep, this is the dilemma he faces, he knows he should share, but what if there aren't enough to go round? Will he do the right thing and share with his friends or will he sneak away to eat them by himself? Its a good message for children that's handled well in this story because it recognises that sometimes we don't want to share rather than just telling kids that they should, the book shows that sharing makes Love monster feels good about himself in the end, which is worth more than a box of chocolates, and in doing so he finds a surprise himself.
The illustrations are lovely too, I love the eye catching gold cover and all the pictures within which focus on what's happening with little background scenery but bright colours.
This is one to check out, it makes a nice bed time story with a message of sharing and friendship.

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14 Jul 2014

Since you've been gone - Review

Available now
simonandschuster.co.uk 
What's it about?
The Pre-Sloane Emily didn't go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn't do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell.But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just... disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try... unless they could lead back to her best friend. Apple Picking at Night? Ok, easy enough.Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not? Kiss a Stranger? Wait... what?
Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find?
Go Skinny Dipping? Um...
My review
Since you've been gone is a heart warming book about a young girl who spends a summer challenging herself and discovering who she really is, and falling in love along the way. It was a really enjoyable book, full of the fun of summer.
I liked Emily a lot and taking her journey with her, I felt her become braver as she continued to complete Sloane's list and I fell in love with Frank alongside her, but then its hard not to fall for such a good guy.
I think what I liked best about this book was the slow build up in the romance, I've been reading so many books with a case of instalove lately that this was such a refreshing change. It happened so slowly that Emily didn't even realise it was happening, I was eventually screaming internally at her 'Kiss him you idiot!' and when they did, it was full of the right tension.
The book wasn't all about the romance though, don't get me wrong, there was plenty more filling up the pages whilst that happened in the background. It was a lot of fun seeing how Emily fulfilled the items on her little list of dares as they became more outrageous and wondering if she'd really do them all. Then there was the big mystery of where Sloane had disappeared to and if Emily would find her, I've never had a friendship as close as hers with Sloane but I felt her heartache at missing her best friend, but it was nice that she made a new circle of friends too. Since you've been gone is definitely about friendship at its core and how important those friendships are, its nice to have a boyfriend but the relationship with a best friend takes the same amount of work to keep going if you want to keep that friend around. Its beautifully written and, being my first read by this author, has made me want to read the rest of her books right away.
So, if you're looking for a perfect beach read with the feel of summer and the message of friendship and a dash of romance, then put Since you've been gone in your TBR immediately because this book is for you.

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9 Jul 2014

Bookish questions: Does size matter?


Do you prefer long books or short ones?

When it comes to the length of a novel, perhaps there is no perfect amount of pages that a book should be.
But when it comes to my own personal preference, most of the time I'm looking for a quick read, something I can get through in a couple of days instead of feeling like I've just spent half my life reading it.
Honestly, big books scare me, there's just something intimidating about a novel big enough to club someone with, then there's the other problems of 'How will I fit that in my handbag?' if I decide I want to take out to read on my travels and don't get me started on the thumb ache and weighed down arms when trying to read it. Big books can be a work out all of their own.
After these issues, there's the more pressing worry that I could be investing a lot of time in something I mightn't even like, an author I've enjoyed in the past or a synopsis that sounds like my perfect story are more fair game but if I've never heard of you and your book is 450+ pages, chances are I might be scared out of reading it. Unless of course all of my friends have read it because, I admit, sometimes I'm a sheep.
But most the time I just have to wonder, how much story do you really have to tell for it to be that long? Am I going to end up reading pages and pages of unnecessary descriptions that leave nothing for the imagination, or is the book filled with lots of extra plot twists that don't really need to be there, just to make it longer, or maybe the book just changes halfway through and possibly could've just been two separate books?
All these worries and more run through my head when I'm weighing up a hefty tome and even though the book might actually be brilliant, there's a good chance I'll never know because I was too scared to read it.
There is a flip side to this though, like I said I'm usually after a quick read, about 300 pages is my perfect size, but countless times I've finished a novel this length and upon closing the book have wistfully though 'I wish that had been longer to go into more detail.' I know right, I'm a total book hypocrite! I want to spend more time in a book I love, yet I won't pick it up if its reeeeally long so I'm often putting myself in a lose-lose situation.
If its a sequel to a book I loved, then I'll pick it up without hesitation no matter the size, because chances are, I'm going to love it as much as the book(s) before it, but if its something new to me, I'm more on the fence and spend so much time umming and ahhing about it that it usually ends up back in the TBR and I read something else.

What's your preference when it comes to book size?

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