Tuesday Review Day

Tuesday Review Day: ‘Caraval’ by Stephanie Garber

This was one of those books that took me a while to get into. It might have been because I started it straight after finishing ‘Normal People’ which I loved and was hard to let go of. It might also have been because I found it hard to relate to the characters in the beginning. I found Scarlett to be a bit weak as a character as her personality seemed to revolve around her upcoming arranged marriage. I found myself wishing that Tella was the protagonist as she was the more rich and fiery character. However, that probably had a lot to do with the fiction that I have read in the past, especially YA fiction where there is always a rebellious female character as the lead. Think ‘Hunger Games’.

As the book went on though I started to appreciate Scarlett as a character and realised that ‘Caraval’ wasn’t the type of book I expected it to be, however much it looked like it and felt like I when I first picked it up. It is much more than the magic and the fantasy, although that is a big part, and at its heart is a strong coming of age story in the sense that the book and the plot surrounds Scarlett’s journey of self discovery and development. She became more of the fiery, self-assured character that I wanted to be in the beginning. But she couldn’t be that person in the beginning and I think that added to the story as we truly got to see her transform.

One thing that Garber did well though is her description and her world building, especially in regards to her use of colour. The island itself truly came to life in the book and I could picture it vividly in my mind. She didn’t include too much description which I think can take away from the narrative, but I felt like I had a good sense of the atmosphere and the environment to the point where it was easy for me to fill in the gaps and use my imagination to create the scenery. Like I said, her use of colour is what helped this. I loved how she contrasted the dull colours of the beginning of the novel with the bright colourful landscape of Caraval. She also did a great job of building the island itself, with all of its secret passageways and surprises. That is what made this book so exciting to read.

I love a story with a strong platonic or familial relationship at its heart. I get tired of all the cliché romance books on the market where a girl falls in love with a boy she’s only known for two minutes. Because of this I was so happy when I started reading the book and realised the story revolved around the relationship between two sisters. I have said before that I think too many female relationships in books revolve around competition (mostly for a guy). I also liked that her motivations in the book started as needing to save her sister, rather than needing to fall in love or impress someone. Spoilers: *This is why I was slightly disappointed with the ending. Not the fact that they all got to live – that I was happy about. But the fact that she was seriously considering whether to save her sister or the boy she has known for a few days. Obviously I was happy that she chose her sister but I feel like that shouldn’t have even been a question. *

I’m sure I’ve said before that I also like a book with good twists. I like to be shocked and surprised when I’m reading and although there were a few things that I managed to guess along the way, I thought I had guessed it all. Therefore, it was nice to be proved wrong. There are a lot of clues along the way so I would say pay attention whilst you are reading but I quite enjoyed just being swept up in it and seeing where it took me. It is funny because towards the beginning of the book the characters get a warning about not getting too caught up in the magic and the fiction and I feel like it is very possible to do that as you are reading.

I could probably use a whole other blog post to talk about Legend and tell you my thoughts on him, which I might do To summarise though, I thought he was a good villain as villains go. He has depth and layers and although he barely features in the book, he is still ever present as a threat that hangs over them. I would have loved to know more about him and his back story, instead of the brief tale that is passed on to them, although I do understand that that is probably done to add to the mystery. I’m hoping that I will find out more about him in the final two books of the trilogy.

All in all, I did enjoy this book. Ans I was actually disappointed when it finished and I realised there were two more books. Not because I didn’t want to read more, but because I wanted answers now. Apart from some of the issues that I had, especially surrounding the relationships in the books and some minor contradictions and plot holes, I did enjoy being swept away in the magic and the amazing world that Garber has created.


‘Paper Towns’ by John Green

‘The thing about Margo Roth Speigelman is that really all I could ever do was let her talk, and then when she stopped talking encourage her to go on, due to the facts that 1. I was incontestably in love with her, and 2. she was absolutely unprecedented in every way, and 3. she never really asked me any questions…’

Quentin Jacobson has always loved Margo from afar. So when she climbs through his window to summon him on an all-night road trip of revenge he cannot help but follow. But the next morning, Q turns up at school and Margo doesn’t. She’s left clues to her disappearance, like a trail of breadcrumbs for Q to follow.

And everything leads to one unavoidable question. 

This was the first John Green book I’ve read and because of how popular he is as an author and his massive fan base, I thought I should give one of his books 18742111_10210386098342835_216993488_na try. I chose this one because it was the one that my sister owned and therefore the easiest to get my hands on. After watching ‘A Fault in our Stars’ and building an opinion of John Green as someone who writes extremely emotional books, I was glad that this one wasn’t too heart-breaking. I really enjoyed the way that Green uses this book to question society and the way in which we live our lives, especially through his use of metaphors. A favourite theme of mine, and one of the main ones of the novel, was the invisible strings that are within us all that can get tighter and tighter. When discovering the body of a man who has committed suicide, Quentin describes how the strings within him had snapped. The writing Green uses is really beautiful, almost like poetry. One of my favourite lines from the book is this:

“I mean, at some point, you gotta stop looking up at the sky, or one of these days, you’ll be  back down and see that you floated away, too”

I also really enjoyed how the book progressed and defied expectations. (*SPOILERS* I was annoyed at first with the way in which Q idolised and seemingly worshipped Margot and thought that the whole book was just going to become a boy chasing after a girl, like any other cliched teen romance. Therefore I was glad when it turned into a message of how it is dangerous to idolise people and expect too much of them because after all people are just people, they are all made of paper, and you have to read them and understand them rather than throwing your own story upon them.)

As a recent literature graduate, the only fault I can pick with the book is that there is a lot of analysis of literature, especially of Whitman poetry, for a reader who has spent the last three years of her life doing nothing but that. However this is a personal problem and not really an issue at all – it just brought back memories of late night study sessions hunched over a poem that I have stared at for hours without being able to make any sense of it.

HOOKABILITY: 7/10 – It took me a bit longer than usual to read this book, probably just because I had a lot going on but there were occasional places that dragged slightly. However the mystery of (*SPOILER* finding Margot) added to the book’s excitement and made me impatient to discover the answers to the puzzles left behind.

CHARACTERS: 9/10 – I really enjoyed the three main characters – Q, Radar and Ben – and their relationships within the text. I found them funny and they worked really well along side one another – they were all unique and easily distinguishable as characters, yet all were extremely believable just like three best friends you would find together in real life. The only character that I was frustrated at was Margot, but this was part of her creation as a dangerous person to be friends with, playing her games with the other characters, especially Q, who I just wanted her to leave him alone so he could get on with his life.

OVERALL EMOTION: 7/10 – The beginning of the book, where the characters find the body of the man who committed suicide (not really a spoiler – it happens on the first page), I found to be extremely emotional. The other part of the text which I suppose was meant to be emotional, the ending, I was just relieved by. I was happy that both Q and Margot had found a middle ground where they finally understood each other and appreciated each other as people rather than idols that they have created in their minds. I also found the book extremely funny, even laughing out loud on a few occasions.

Recommended if you like:

  • Deep readings of modern day society
  • Awkward teen characters
  • Coming of age fiction
  • Mystery and clues to be solved
Five star books · Tuesday Review Day

Review: ‘Everything I Know About Love’ by Dolly Alderton

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

Before I really get into my review I want to start by asking that you please recommend this to any woman in your life who is currently in her 20/30s. Obviously other people can read it too (and you definitely should) but as a 24 year old woman myself, this book was so relatable and also reassuring. Some of the stories that Alderton tells could have been taken from my own past, particularly the ones about her experiences at school and University. I also went to an all girls’ school and Dolly grew up in a town very close to me so even the places that she mentions are familiar.

Usually reference the authors in my reviews by their surnames, as I have learnt to do as a student, and now teacher, of English. However, after reading her book, I have to call Dolly by her first name. It was such an intimate read, and she really lays herself bare on the pages, and to refer to her in such a separating way would be a disservice to the relationship I feel like we have built, and the journey we have been on together, as reader and author.

Early on in the book, Dolly talks about how the internet formed her teenage years, with the rise of MSN and then Facebook when she was at University. I am a little younger than her so this happened later for me, but it took me back to the dramas of slow connections and who to put in your MSN name. I never really had MySpace but I remember when Facebook became a thing because I remember sitting in my room agonizing over what that day’s post was going to be (the cringey consequences of which still haunt me through the ‘on this day’ feature).

This book is just the perfect representation of what it is truly like to be in your 20s, from the terrible mistakes to the amazing memories. There is so much I could relate to in this book, but also so much that hit home and made me think about myself, particularly my relationship with myself. Like I said before, Dolly doesn’t hold back but I think this book is what I really needed, especially at this time of lockdown.

Dolly also includes hilarious parody emails and recipes that she has made in times of emotional need. I loved the way it was broken down into sections of her life, and sections of her own journey of trying to understand herself. My favourite sections were the ‘everything I know about love at…’ in which she would talk about what love meant tot her at different parts of her life. They were definitely very similar to what I would have said at those points in my own life, and showed me how we learn through experience and through mistakes.

Honestly, this book is a must read! In my opinion, it is not a self help book but a self reflection book. It helped me to think about the importance of certain things in my life and the unimportance of others, most of which I spend too much of my time agonizing over. But that’s the great thing about this book; it shows you that it’s okay to get things wrong as we all do! And the moral of the story? Friendship is one of the most important forms of love.

Tuesday Review Day

Review: ‘The Holiday’ by T.M. Logan

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Yes, another thriller. This one set in a massive villa in the South of France (it definitely made me miss having a holiday this year even more). As you can see from the cover of the book, it is another example of a story where the reader begins with an inkling of what is going to happen at the end, and the whole narrative surrounds building up to that moment and bringing everything together; it is another puzzle mystery, where you get given more and more clues as you read which become a whole picture at the end. To take the puzzle metaphor one step further, the reader is also pushed to try different clues, or pieces, in different places, often in the wrong place, as they try to work out for themselves what is going on.

I really liked how Logan did this – how I felt on many occasions like I could see through the plot and knew exactly what was going on and then he pulled me off of my comfortable position on my pedestal with one additional piece of information that I never saw coming. He uses the idea of the untrustworthy narrator really well – I totally believed everything Kate believed and interpreted everything she witnesses in the exact same way she does. However the reader is in an even worse position than she is as as you read you are also being fed pieces of the other characters’ stories and flashes of events that have happened in the past which Kate knows nothing about. Yet because I felt like I was 100% on Kate’s side, I used what I was shown to just strengthen what I already thought was true.

It also surprised me when I found out after reading that T.M. Logan is a man. Often I think male writers don’t quite get it right when writing female characters and aren’t able to get into their heads. They do say, after all, that you should write what you know. I will say that there was not much backstory to any of the characters apart from the teenagers, which is why I took away half a star, and even then we only get to see what is relevant to the ending, but I did feel like the characters were believable and different enough to feel like they each had their own story and place in the plot.

Overall, it was a really gripping read and I read the second half in the book in one go, as I just had to get to then end to know what happens as all the tension keeps building up throughout. The drama was written really well and the way the reader is drip fed the information really adds to the reading experience. It is a great summer read – ideally one to be read whilst relaxing outside. I would love for it to have been by the pool, but I had to settle for the sofa.

Ending Review *Spoilers*: I love how even to the end, Logan has us guessing. I also liked how there was never an affair in the first place in terms of what that says about the unreliable narrator and how all of the information we are given is through Kate’s tinted lens so she would never have been able to see the truth of the car accident. I did feel however, that Lucy was skipped over in the ending. I wanted to know that she was okay and that she was doing better after all the awful stuff that she went through and how she was made to feel. I understand that she was part of the accident, but let’s face it we’ve all said stupid stuff when we’re drunk. Daniel being alive didn’t shock me, although I was questioning it for a moment, especially with the funeral. I was happy with how Kate took control of the situation and the way that plot cam to a close, I just really wanted a prologue chapter, set years later, so I could see how everyone was doing. I guess that shows how much I was taken in by it.

Tuesday Review Day

Review: ‘Little Fires Everywhere’

This book was given to me by my mum over a year ago now and it has been sitting on my book shelf ever since. I hadn’t heard much about it at the time (looking back I don’t know how) but with the hype around the new tv show I had to read it before I watch it. I loved how they handled ‘Big Little Lies’, which was Reese Witherspoon’s last project, so I have high hopes for this one too. Plus she has always picked books that I have enjoyed in her book club.

I am all for ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ but I am also a massive culprit. I will often pick the book with the nicest cover in the shop, but then again that is the first thing we see and in a sea of books we’re are going to pick up the ones that we are aesthetically drawn to. The cover of my edition, the same cover shown above, did not really stand out to me, and perhaps that is why it was left on my shelf for so long.

Once I started, however, I was hooked. It was very similar to ‘Big Little Lies’ in the way that it starts with the ending – you know something has happened, in this case a house has been burnt down, but you have no information about any of the characters and their stories, or why it happened. I do love books like this because they draw you in from the very beginning and make sure you’re invested in finding out what happened.

I originally thought it was going to be just another suburban thriller with the ‘perfect family’ who turn out to be not so perfect, and whilst this is true, it was much more than that. The book deals with some really big issues which are extremely relevant at the moment with the Black Lives Matter movement and the problems surrounding the whitewashing of history and the lack of representation in the media for people from minority ethnic groups. I think it tells the characters’ stories incredibly well, in a way which allows the reader to apply what has happened to their own lives, an how they might have reacted. For me, it really showed me my privilege as it forced me to compare the ways in which Mia and Bebe were treated and the way in which I might be treated if I was in the same situation. By doing this, it forces the reader to examine their own bias, but also the systematic racism that is in our society.

The characters, however, are not defined by their race. Too often in books it is obvious when a writer has added a character for ‘diversity’ as the first thing used to describe them is the colour of their skin. Ng also brings up interesting questions surrounding culture and identity and the importance of being brought up understanding your heritage and being taught to embrace it. The really problematic statement of ‘I don’t see race’ is really explored in this book and it shows exactly why this is so damaging for society.

*SPOILERS* I did like the ending and the way that Mia finally told Pear everything and it felt like they were going off to finally settle down somewhere and live their life with a deeper understanding of each other and each other’s experiences. I hope also that the Richardson family also have built connections to one another and understand each other more, although I feel this will be tougher for them. I was also extremely happy that Izzy went to find Mia and Pearl, it just frustrated me that I wouldn’t know whether she ever would.

Overall I think this was a great book. I was really hooked in the events of the novel and in the characters’ lives. It was incredibly well written and touched on some very important themes, and themes that are relevant to the current climate.


Exploring the History and Psychology of ‘Peter Pan’

I didn’t want to call this a review because I’m not really making any judgements on the book. The live action version of Peter Pan (2003) has been a real favourite of mine, and a great source of comfort for me ever since it was released when I was seven. I was recently bought the beautiful Minalima edition because of this and so have read it for what I’m ashamed to say is probably the first time, unless I read it when I was too young to remember. The differences and the nuances of the book really interested me and it was not what I was expecting. I also read ‘Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens’ which was also written by Barrie. Therefore I wanted to do a more in-depth examination of the books and their themes, which are much darker than the representation of Peter Pan that is in popular culture.

I want to start with the history of Peter Pan as a character before then looking at J.M. Barrie’s life and the role that played in influencing his writing. The character of Peter Pan first appeared in Barrie’s ‘The Little White Bird’ which was written from the perspective of a man who befriends a boy called David and they go on adventures around London together, and into other fantasy places. The chapters which involve Peter Pan were later published separately after the character became so popular through the success of ‘Peter Pan and Wendy’. This is what I have read recently. In this section, Peter has run away from home. He was able to fly out of the window and befriended the birds. He then became trapped on an island in the middle of Kensington Gardens when he realised he was not a bird and could no longer fly. The saddest part of the story is when Peter tries to go home to his mother but the window is barred and there is another child in his place. This is something that is not mentioned in the version of the story that is popular today; the story that was told in the Disney version, and then the 2003 version. However, there is a small part of the end of the 2003 film where Pan and Hook are fighting and Hook is taunting Pan. He says about Wendy:

Hook: She was leaving you Pan. Your Wendy…. was leaving you. Why should she stay? What have you to offer? You are incomplete. She’d rather grow up than stay with you. Let us now take a peep into the future. What’s this I see? The fair Wendy’s in her nursery. The window is shut.

Pan: I’ll open it

Hook: I’m afraid the window is barred

Pan: I’ll call out her name

Hook: I’m afraid she can’t hear you.

Pan: No

Hook: She can’t see you

Pan: Wendy! Stop

Hook: She’s forgotten all about you. What is this I see? There is another in your place. He is called… Husband.

Although this is about Wendy shutting him out, and not his mother, it is extremely similar to what he finds when he goes home in ‘Peter in Kensington Gardens’, echoing this fear within him to be forgotten. Although a lot of the film’s audience would not be aware of what happened to him when he returned to his mother, it emphasises Barrie’s intentions to present Pan as a lost character, not having anyone in his life to turn to as a constant. It is this that is at the heart of both the book and the play, and represents some of Barrie’s own fears.

When Barrie was seven, his older brother David, the inspiration for the child in his first book, died in a skating accident. The death is said to have impacted Barrie greatly and is what caused him to fixate on the idea of children being frozen in time and never growing up. It meant that throughout his life his brother was always a child even when he was had grown up and become an adult, something which is looked at with horror in the books, especially by Pan. He then befriended a family with five children, who he met in Kensington Gardens. The children were named George, Jack, Michael, Peter and Nicholas. He would play make believe with the children and said the character of Peter Pen was the five of them blended into one. When the parents, Sylvia and Arthur, passed away he adopted the children. It is clear that they influenced many aspects of the books because of the familiarity of the names. He was able to explore Neverland with the children through the games that they would play together and the stories he would tell them, just like the Darling children.

This is where some of the deeper themes of the book come from, themes which a lot of children might not grasp on first reading. The idea of innocence and trying to hold onto that innocence is key, as well as the idea of loss and the importance of being loved vs. the importance of being free. There are also the more lighthearted themes as well of course, such as bravery and friendship, and the way that Barrie explored the darker issues was through a child’s lens, meaning that they are presented through fantasies and play. The fixation on the mother figure is also said to come from Barrie’s relationship with his own mother and how he idolised her.

Overall, I think that a lot of the ideas presented in Barrie’s writing come from his own fears and insecurities, and the experiences that he went through. But they are so beautifully written and presented in his writing that they can become lost behind the magic world of fairies and mermaids and never having to grow up. The ending always made me upset as a child as I wondered why the lost boys didn’t stay with him to keep on playing as children. Now, however, I see it the other way – why can’t Peter join them and live a full and happy life with them. But then that would ruin the magic of the story. Instead he is a friend for all children, visiting them and giving them wild adventures until they are older and no longer remember him.

There is also a beautifully haunting idea that Peter Pan is there to watch over the children who have passed away and carry their spirits to the Neverland. I don’t think this is an official part of the story but I have heard it so many times that I feel there must be some basis for in in Barrie’s writing. There is the section at the end of ‘Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens’ where he takes it upon himself to make gravestones for all the children that the fairies have not taken kindly to. Even though this is before he travelled to Neverland perhaps this is where the idea came from and I think it is a lovely idea. I also see how it would have been a comfort to Barrie remembering his brother David, allowing himself to imagine him playing with Peter Pan in Neverland.

Here are my main sources where I learned some of the information for this post:



Here is a clip of the final fight scene between Pan and Hook that I referenced: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFtAjJzuc3w

Tuesday Review Day

Book Review: ‘Greatest Hits’ by Laura Barnett

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It is not often that a book has a Soundtrack, which is something that makes this book really unique. The book tells the story of Cass Wheeler, a singer songwriter. In the book she is spending a day listening to her old music and reflecting on the part they played in her life before holding a party to release a Greatest Hots album. At the beginning of each chapter is a song which is then relevant in the chapter itself as it tells the story behind the words. The soundtrack means that you can listen to the songs as you are reading. They were written by musician Kathryn Williams, and I think this is a really lovely way of bringing the story to life.

Overall however, I have very mixed opinions about this book. It’s very hard for me to put down a book that I’m not enjoying – I usually feel a strong pressure to keep reading or on the odd occasion that I have given up I often go back to it after feelin guilty or worrying that it might have gotten good after the part that I stopped at. I didn’t give up with this one but there were times where I wanted to. It’s very up and down in pace, with a lot of long, drawn out sections. There were parts of it that were great, and parts that were really emotional, but by the end I have to see I felt a bit relieved when I finished it.

The book started off really well and I connected to Cass quite quickly as I got swept up in the events of her childhood and into her young adult years as a Rockstar. I also felt that Cass was well constructed and a likeable, relatable character at the beginning. However, I felt that the Cass in those flashbacks didn’t connect to the Cass in present day for me. I don’t know what it was but they didn’t feel like the same person. And yes, I get that it’s meant to be like that – you are meant to see the effect her life has had on her on a person and how she has changed, but it still felt a bit disjointed, like the essence of the character was not the same.

I also felt that about the narrative – as it got about halfway through there started being more than two different timelines going on. It wasn’t just the present day and the flash backs any more. Barnett started bringing in bits Of Cass’ life that happen between the two because she obviously felt they were relevant to the present day, but it just made the whole thing confusing and jumpy. I would have preferred her to stick to the two separate timelines, with the present just going through the one day as she looks back, and the flashbacks staying in chronological order. For the most part that is how it was – but there were parts were time frames became blurred for me.

A lot of the book is about the relationships that Cass has shared with the people in her life, which usually would equal a lot of different characters with a lot of different names to remember and get confused. However, I think Barnett did really well and creating distinctive characters. They were also all relatable in the sense that as I was reading I could compare them to people that I have in my life, which I think is a good way of making the book realistic and enjoyable. My favourite relationship in the book is between Cass and her Aunt Lily. Their relationship is perfect but it is constant and pure. Therefore I think it was a shame that it wasn’t explored a bit more when they were older; she becomes just a fleeting mention when Cass becomes an adult herself.

*SPOILER* I also think it was a bit of a shame that the focal relationship at the end of the book is the one between Cass and Larry. I understand that Barnett has a certain audience after her first book, ‘Versions of Us’; an audience that likes happy ending and romance, but I do wish that the last few pages had been given to the relationship she shared with her daughter Anna. I do think it is great how Barnett used the book to look at some tough topics like eating disorders and teenage suicide but I did feel slightly that after she was gone Anna’s death became associated with Cass’ own mental health struggles rather than the time they had had together. I would have liked for the book to end with Cass finding peace and reflecting back on who Anna was as a person and the positive moments they shared together.

Overall, it wasn’t a bad book – there were some lovely moments and Barnett really brought to life the struggles that we face as humans and the pressure that life puts on people. It is also a great story of how events can build up and you never truly understand what a person has been through or what they carry with them. I just think that it could have been better constructed and there were things that should have been given more focus. But being quite a hefty book already, I understand that maybe that is a bit much to ask with a book like this.

Tuesday Review Day

Tuesday Review Day: ‘Wonder Woman: Warbringer’ by Leigh Bardugo

I received this book as part of a book subscription box which I used to get regularly. However, I quickly realised that I couldn’t get through the books that I already had and receiving more books through the mail didn’t help, especially as they were books which I hadn’t chosen myself, taking away from the best part of getting a new book. I am a superhero nerd so this book intrigued me, especially as it was a wonder woman story in the form of a novel rather than a comic book. At first glance, I thought it would be the book companion to the film but the story that is told in these pages is quite different to the story told on screen. The basics are the same; the lore of the Amazons is still there and it begins on the island of Themyscira. There is also a wreck with a human that Diana has to save. But the other characters are very different, as is the quest she has to go on to save them. That is where the Warbringer comes in.

I don’t want to spoil too much of the story so I won’t say much more but it is set in modern day which I was actually slightly disappointed about. I enjoy how the films work through different eras but I understand why Bardugo did it for this book. I think that as this is also part of a series of books called DC Legends, they had to set it in modern day so they were all set during the same time. I’m assuming there is going to be a final Justice League book that will bring them all together. I also understand that this book is aimed at a young teen audience and so they wanted the characters to be relatable, which is something that Bardugo does extremely well. This is why they are quirky, awkward teenagers living in New York.

I did like the characters in this book; they were sweet and loveable in the typical YA fiction way. There were times when I felt like Alia could have had a bit more to her – I would have liked to have gotten to know her back story in a bit more detail. However, this is probably because I felt she was slightly overshadowed by Nim. I loved how Nim wasn’t just the best friend in the way that a lot of authors create a best friend; as a sidekick or someone who is only there to provide advice to, and be used by, the main character. Instead, Nim became a hero in her own right and I loved how much depth she was given as a character. Perhaps she is the character that I related to most but I really felt like I got to know her, and I wanted her to be my friend too, by the end of the novel. Bardugo really manages to capture the moods of the characters in an extremely relatable, realistic and often comic way. The relationships between the characters were also written very well. I enjoyed the bickering between Nim and Theo in a way that took me back to my own teenage years. It was also so lovely to read these relationships as there was no sense of competition or motivation; they were just truly lovely friendships. This especially relates to the friendship between Nim and Alia. They were more like sisters than friends and it was so lovely to read after reading so many books with girls fighting over guys or because of jealousy.

I also liked how accessible this book is in terms of the mythology that the story is based on. Bardugo manages to find a great balance between telling us the stories we need to know and inundating us with mythology that overshadows the plot of her story. It definitely enhanced my reading experience as there was no point where I was lost or confused by the drop of a reference.

Overall, I really liked this book as the simple escapism that it is written as. It is a great YA book and teaches some really valuable lessons for young people, including being there for your friends but also being there for yourself I think there is a lot of valuable stuff about loving yourself and fighting the insecurities that are felt by all teenagers. It is not like the film if that is what you are looking for, but it definitely stays true to the Wonder Woman legacy.

Let me know in the comments what you thought of the book, and how you thought it compared to the film or comics.

Happy reading and stay safe x

Tuesday Review Day

Tuesday Review Day: ‘Dark Heroine’ by Abigail Gibbs

One of my favourite things to do is spending time exploring a book shop, scouring the bookshelves for something to get lost in. It’s even better if there is a coffee shop. I usually come back with at least a couple of books to add to the tower of unread texts on my shelves. I bought this book on one outing where I got slightly carried away by the sale section. Those boxes that they put by the front of the store with all the books that, lets face it, aren’t doing so well. Like most young teenage girls in the late noughties and early 2010s, I was drawn into the vampire hype. I think obsessed is probably the word that I am looking for here, and that is what caused me to buy this book (and the extremely cheap price – probably should have seen this as a sign).

My main problem with this book is how unsubstantial it is, especially when it is over 500 pages. The protagonist, Violet Lee, comes across as your typical teenager at the beginning but then she seems to unravel on the pages. I don’t feel like I got any real sense of who she is as a person. I feel that Gibbs may have tried to make her so relatable and typical that she forgot to give her a personality, or rather she gave her lots of different personalities that don’t quite fit together. What I mean by this is that she is constantly shifting from being scared and defenseless to being nonchalant and accepting in a way that doesn’t make sense. For example, when the vampire that we are meant to hate attacks her she is rightly terrified but she is more than happy to live with the ‘good’ vampires and just accepts what they are and the fact that they are forcing her to live with them after she watches them slaughter a whole group of humans in Trafalgar Square (not a spoiler – this is how the book opens). Part of this confusion is that we are never really given a detailed look into her life and experience – we meet a few members of her family but know nothing about the rest of her life. A boyfriend comes in halfway through that I don’t even remember hearing about before that. We also only get a surface look at her thoughts and feelings – which all seem to revolve around Kaspar rather than having anything to do with herself or what the hell is going on!

I also had a lot of questions about the plot – it is very jumpy and there were times that I felt Gibbs was just adding things in as she was thinking of them. However, I do believe this is down to the fact that the story was first written on Wattpad – released through a series of installments. Wattpad is basically like a fanfiction site – anyone can post stories for anyone else on the site to read. It is free and packed with people trying to get themselves noticed as writers so it is a massive achievement to write something that manages to get so popular and successful on the site. The fact that most of the website is teenage girls probably has something to do with the success as well. This is definitely something I would have enjoyed as a young teenager if I had read it when I was 12 or 13. But now that I have been trained to read critically I couldn’t get past the messy plot and weak characters.

The feminist message in the book is also awful (again something I wasn’t noticing in my younger years). Firstly, her main dilemma in the book is that she is falling for a boy, rather than thinking about how she is going to escape to get back to her sister who is suffering with cancer – something that seems to be thrown in for no reason at all, as she doesn’t seem to think about it much at all. Secondly, throughout the book the idea of where she belongs is controlled by two men – will her father come and save her or will she be controlled by the mysterious male vampire who kidnapped her (definite Stockholm Syndrome at play here). There is no thought at all given to the idea that she might be able to save herself, apart from one feeble attempt at running away right in the beginning. In fact, she doesn’t even question the idea that just because they chose to take her she now belongs to them. There is also the character of Lyla, the only female vampire in the house apart from Charity, who is just there to play the jealous blonde bimbo whose role is simply as a play toy for Kaspar. Lyla and Violet seem to be friends in the beginning, until they fall out over a boy, at which point they become bitter rivals, and Lyla even starts blackmailing and threatening Violet. Because it’s impossible for two girls to have a friendship that doesn’t revolve around boys. Oh, and Lyla’s role in the house seems to be choosing Violet’s clothes.

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I have to say though, the concept itself isn’t bad. It’s definitely not original – but it’s not bad. It’s the construction and execution of the plot which made this so difficult to read. The problems definitely come from in being a Wattpad production but it just needs more depth to it. If there was more worldbuilding and better constructed characters then it wouldn’t be so bad. I just think at the moment I finished it having too many questions – and not the right kind of questions. I finished it so I wanted to see what would happen in the end, which is definitely a point in its favour, but I wouldn’t bother with the next one.

Tuesday Review Day · Uncategorized

Tuesday Review Day: ‘Normal People’ by Sally Rooney

Like any lover of books, I had to read this book before I started watching the television show so I started reading this a couple of weeks ago. And I read it in about a day and a half. I was hooked! I’m ashamed to say I have had it on my bookshelf since it was first released in 2018 so the fact that it is now on television was definitely the push I needed. I’m not going to say much about the BBC adaptation (I’ve watched the first 5 episodes) because what I would like to do is write a full post on my thoughts on it and comparing it to the book. Therefore I don’t want to give too much away yet.

Even though I have had it since couple of 2018, I have to say I didn’t know much about it before I started reading it – I bought it because of the hype surrounding it at the time and because of all the prizes it was nominated for, including the Man Booker for which it was longlisted. The title doesn’t give much away either, but from the cover I gathered there was going to be some sort of relationship involved and I supposed the idea of ‘Normal People’ suggested that there would be questions of what is normal.

I therefore went into it thinking it would be a commentary on the people around the main characters. I don’t know where I got this idea from but I quickly realised I was mistaken. I was pulled into the world of Marianne and Connell and everyone around them became secondary; they were background noise. (Although I did fall in love with Lorraine, Connell’s mother). The book seemed to revolve around their hidden moments together, away from the rest of the world. This is where you got to know their true selves and they were only able to show their true selves to each other. Normally I get annoyed by the ‘I’m just so misunderstood’ trope, but here it was different. It wasn’t that they felt misunderstood by everyone around them in a pretentious way, but they truly could not be themselves around the people around them. For Marianne it is because of her relationship with her family, whereas for Connell it’s the need to fit in and the expectations placed upon him by society. Their moments together are their chances for escape, and that is what draws them together.

The connection between them is extremely strong and Rooney manages to create real tension and chemistry in the pages, probably more than any book I have read in a long time. The connection between them feels raw and animalistic; it is almost a Heathcliff and Cathy type romance, emphasised by the fact that they keep being drawn apart. Most of the time with romance fiction the ‘will they won’t they’ question is always diluted by the fact that you know they will. However, in this book there was never a time when that was a certainty for me, and that is what made me keep on reading.

The thing that I loved the most about this book is that the action and narrative doesn’t occur through the events of the book, they occur invisibly. For us, the reader, we are allowed a glimpse into these invisible worlds, but everything happens through their thoughts and feelings and how they develop as a character and as a ‘normal’ person. It also means that the book is not just about the relationship between them, but it is also about their relationships with themselves and their understanding of who they are and how they relate to the world around them, which I think makes this book really special and is why I fell in love with it so much.


I know a lot of people that were annoyed by the ending and how it was left uncertain whether they would end up together or not. I loved the ending because it truly showed that the ending isn’t the most important thing in this book; it is the journey and the fact that there will always be this invisible connection between them. If I was to say that anything could be improved, it would be Marianne’s relationship with Joanna, because I think it is a beautiful depiction of friendship and I think that is something that is missing in a lot of books today, as female characters are shown in competition with each other.

Just please read this book! It is a truly beautiful account of what it is to be human and have a true human relationship. It perfectly depicts the rough as well as the smooth; it shows that everyone has cracks, which is something that is needed in a time of Instagram and filtered lives. It is a book that I think will stay with me for a very long time. It was also extremely comforting as I could see parts of myself in the characters, and it showed me that I’m not alone – we all go through things and this does not make us different – we are all ‘Normal People’.

Tuesday Review Day

Tuesday Review Day: ‘The Murders at White House Farm’ by Carol Ann Lee

As I said in my previous review, I am a bit of a true crime fan. This mostly relates to my Netflix bingeing and the podcasts I listen to, but I’ve been telling myself that I need to read more non-fiction so I thought I would give this book a go. I must admit that before I started reading, I didn’t know much about the case at all. My family watched the BBC television series but at the time I had so much else going on that I didn’t have time to join them. I originally downloaded this book on my phone when I was stuck on a train one day that wasn’t moving and it was one of the rare times that I didn’t have a book with me. It then became a book that I would read whenever I was caught without a physical book (which is far superior). When the lockdown started I forgot about it until a few days ago, when I felt I should probably finish it before I forgot what I had already read.

There were a few problems with reading a book like this on my phone. Firstly the photos were at the end of the book and so I didn’t see them until I finished reading, whereas I think it would have been useful to be able to refer to them as I was reading. Secondly, there were so many characters in this book that I struggled to keep up with all of them. This was mostly in relation to all of the secondary family members. This is something that annoys me in any book but at least when I have a physical book I can flip back and check who the character is, and in this case how they are related to Jeremy. However, I do understand that in a true crime book it is unavoidable as all the people mentioned are relevant to the case and understanding what happened.

One of the things that Lee does particularly well is providing a background to the case and the murders. I think with true crime, cases can often be reduced to facts and figures with lots of technical language that can be hard to keep up with. However, Lee gives an in depth background to the crime and tells the stories of each of the family members, going back to the parents of Nevill and June. I think she was extremely respectful in her telling of the story as well; she was honest about the things that had happened to the family and the things they had done, but there was no judgement from her. I got the sense that she was telling us what she felt we need to know to fully understand the case, but in a way that allows the reader to form their own opinions.


In terms of the case itself, I was shocked by some of the things that happened. I couldn’t believe that the police accepted the fact that it was a murder-suicide. Surely there are procedures in place which mean that they have to investigate alternatives. I’m sure there must be something like that now, but apparently not at the time. It meant that they cleared the house and disposed of anything which had blood on it. It seemed like they did this as a gesture of good will because of the horrific events that had occurred, but how do you know whether something is a clue until you know exactly what happened? I’m no crime professional, but even I know that must have been a massive mistake.

Towards the end of the book, where Lee looks at the trial, it does get a bit more technical as the professionals explain evidence and there are things like ballistic reports but Lee does handle this balance well. There are also parts of it that are really interesting, even if I did not understand all of it.

There is also a lot about the faults of the media, and how they demonize the people involved in the case. The things they said about Sheila the day after it happened, when the crime scene hadn’t even been investigated yet, and she could not defend herself, were disgusting. It is something which is still relevant today, and something that still happens with the rise of click bait and fake news, as media companies say whatever they need to to sell their stories.

If you are into true crime and want to know more about the case then I would definitely recommend this book. Like I said before, I think Lee deals with the sensitive subject matter really well. There are parts that are extremely difficult to read and I think it is important to remember that the people talked about in these pages were and are real people.

Overall, from what I have read, I do think Jeremy did it, but I think it is more important to remember the lives of the innocent people that were killed, especially the young twins, rather than to give attention to trying to come up with a judgement.