Saturday, 25 March 2017


Hello people of the internet! It's Lydia here, I hope you are having a good evening. On this post I will be reviewing Aversion by Kenechi Udogu, the first book in the Mentalists series.

Title: Aversion
Author: Kenechi Udogu
Published: 2012
Page: 133
Rating: 4\5
Genre: Young Adult, Modern Day Fantasy, Romance.

Gemma Green is an Averter; she has the ability, like many others in our modern world, to prevent other incidents before they happen by influencing their minds to change their actions. Her life is simple and rather secluded from other people. She lives with her father, who teaches her all his personal knowledge about Averters. Russ is her first aversion, initially she thinks everything went well. Then, when he remembers her the next day, Gemma has to fix his mind. As the two teenagers grow close, Gemma discovers how she is unique in her abilities, but a unique Averter isn't a good thing in this world.

I have always loved Young Adult novels, and even though I'm coming to the end of my teenage years, even in adulthood I think I will love and enjoy reading this genre. As an inspiring author, I always think it's clever how writers set their short stories and novels. In Aversion, Udogu has set the story in modern day with elements of magic and supernaturalism, which as a reader was easier to imagine. Sometimes in pure Fantasy books if you read over one detail of setting it can confuse you in later parts of the story (I know this from experience). But in Aversion I was completely clear with the story and the narrator. All readers of this book will see themselves in Gemma, as the narrative shares her thoughts and feelings with the reader, it creates a confidant kind of relationship, which was hilarious at times, as Gemma would have some extremely blunt and sassy thoughts.

Udogu's originality I found remarkable and inspiring, she didn't copy off of some other Fantasy series' like The Mortal Instruments or Vampire Academy; this shows how the writer has good creative and imaginative skills, where they can create a whole other society of people. This really kept me on my toes and intrigued the entire time. I will be reading and reviewing the whole of The Mentalists series and I'm looking forward to reading the second book, Sentient.

There were a few aspects of the book that I didn't particularly like, as both a reader and writer I take notice in the key details in stories. In some parts of Aversion I thought that there could be more detailed description in the backstory about Gemma's parents, due to little detail, as a reader was I left a bit lost and confused at times. Some of the terminology that depicts why Gemma is different from other averts and the term for why her and Russ have a strange connection I found a little strange, and again it needed to be elaborated more. Though I feel that this will be explained in the second book. At times, the developing relationship between Russ and Gemma was a tad cliché, however because I've read a lot of books that have romantic relationships entwined into the plot, this is just my opinion. Yet I have always said that it doesn't matter too much if it has cliché elements to the writing, just as long as it's written well, and I was, overall, impressed with Udogu writing.

Except from those tiny nit bits about the story, Kenechi Udogu has left me wanting to find out more about the world of the Averters and how Gemma and Russ' relationship will progress - like whether they were fated to meet!

If you're interested in finding out more about The Mentalists series and Kenechi Udogu, you can purchase the book on Amazon and I'm going to put a link to Kenechi's Goodreads profile below.

I hope you enjoyed the review, and look out for my next review on the second book in the series Sentient. trixycae

Friday, 24 March 2017

Blood of Kings: Power – Perversity – Redemption

Hello, this is Heather! With possibly the longest title of a book we've reviewed yet, here's a review on Norton's illustrated thriller, Blood of Kings: Power - Perversity - Redemption. Thank you to the author, Patrick Norton, for letting me read it in exchange for a review.

Author: Patrick Norton
Published: 28th March 2017
Publisher: Patrick Norton Books
Illustrator: Juan Manuel Gonzalez
Length: given the complicated format, I’m not sure

Rating (all out of five)
Plot: ★★★★
Characters: ★★
Writing Quality: ★★ (writing is not critical to this book though, it’s illustrated so naturally there’s less imagery!)
Overall: ★★★ ½

When John is asked by his adoptive father (before being murdered later that day) to protect a key that holds crucial secrets about his business venture, he finds himself embarking on a dangerous mission. Riddled with betrayal, drama and insecurity, the pitter-patter of bullets are a constant throughout. What makes this it stand-out are the 1254 digital illustrations that bring the story to life.
I adored the concept of using digital art within the book. Much like a comic book, but with a different style of art, this makes it more appealing to those that are daunted by large sections of text. As a book lover, I really hope that this style will encourage those that find reading tedious or challenging a far simpler task with the aid of pictures. It also clarifies any bits of the story that the reader is still puzzled over, reaffirming the plot. I did find the digital art style reminiscent of game art and thought that the book might be better suited in some ways as a game. I know that there is already a market for murder based games on gadgets like Nintendo where the user can simply click or solve riddles to progress with the story and feel this book would fit that very well. In terms of writing style, it’s basic, but considering the quantity of pictures there’s no need for imagery; you can literally see what’s happening instead.
The plot itself was interesting. Most of the twists were unforeseeable, making it a captivating read in which one is never sure what will occur next! I liked how the author addressed the issue of poverty in the novel, including some rather shocking figures to put emphasis on how fortunate those of us with a roof over our heads, clean water and food truly are. Although I got a bit annoyed with John for buying an emerald and platinum necklace towards the end despite all the efforts to show the reader that other people are in dire need of basic tools to survive whilst we splurge out of luxuries. Aside from that, the ending is incredible. I have never laughed so much – I don’t want to spoil the plot, but there’s a saxophone scene and it’s just the most sweet and random little addition.
The illustrations of the characters were great, but I did yearn for a bit more characterisation at points. The reader learns to sympathise with John and Laura about having lost their parents, particularly John who clearly had a strong bond with his adoptive father. Though he spends very little time pondering about his father’s death, the book being very plot heavy, so whilst it’s made clear that he is sad I felt that there could have been more description about his feelings of devastation. There’s also little time spent in remorse, which I thought the characters would have felt after having killed so many, even if in defence. The dialogue between each character seemed quite similar in dialect, with exemption to the culprit and evil villain who came across as… well… evil.
To conclude, I’d like to praise the book on its originality in artistic style, but did find the characters a little wooden at points. Many readers do prefer plot over description, so I can see how this will appeal to them and wish the author the best of success!

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Loot Crate Design – Tolkien Dream Crate

Hello everyone! Today we're doing something a bit different; we were inspired by Loot Crate ( to come up with an idea for what we would put in our dream crate. Loot Crate offers a monthly box of fandom related products for us geeks and nerds for a set price. Our idea for the Dream Crate was to follow a Tolkien theme.

The first product within our crate is a Pop Vinyl of Gandalf – every Tolkien fan’s favourite wizard. This adorable design appeals to everyone fond of Tolkien; it can sit on your bookshelf or be a part of a collection.  

Next in our crate would be a phone case with a Tolkien based design, for instance this one from Red Bubble by YesImObsessed. Loot Crate permits you to select the options that apply to you – so it’d be easy to ensure the phone case was appropriate for your phone.

We also loved this sweatshirt from, which features a Middle Earth map to locate your inner nerd lies. The sweatshirt is unisex and the size can be selected to fit you perfectly and make a nice addition to your wardrobe. It’ll be sure to keep you warm on your next quest!

Another item in our crate is this leather journal notebook with the Tree of Gondor on it. This is available on Etsy by the seller WolfPathStudio. This item is perfect for sketching, writing, journaling or as a planner or even a dream diary.

Also on Etsy is this gorgeous quote poster! It would probably not include the frame as this may be a safety risk for sending the crate. It has an iconic quote from the series with a map background.

If you need a place to store your books, here it is! With Bilbo’s door on the front, it is a powerful design from Redbubble user KanaHyde that all hobbits need.

A necessity for all Tolkien fanatics is the ring of course. You can wear this precious ring by your heart to embrace your inner Gollum.

Thank you Loot Crate for giving us the opportunity to design a Dream Crate – it’s been a fun experience for us all. If you want to check out the crates currently on offer, please see their website; for more details! Their crates vary from Harry Potter to Marvel to Anime. Comment below to let us know what you'd put in your crate.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Valentino's (A Creative Writing Piece by Shani)

Hello, everyone! It's Shani and today I'm going to share with you a piece from my Creative Writing class. We were asked to create a piece of fiction based on an 'Unexpected Event'. I decided that I wanted to explore a normal setting - a coffee shop for example, and turn it into place where someone who appears to be normal, but is actually not normal whatsoever, frequents. I hope you all enjoy it!

Valentino's is always crowded in the afternoon. Filled with nervous students who gaze mindlessly at their textbooks. Brimming with the old and the young, both desperate for some bittersweet coffee to accompany them as they listen to the soft crooning of a new poet, who is attempting to pry their heart open with their words for the audience to witness. Valentino's is a breeding ground for those obsessed with all things literary. A beacon for artists, lost poets, and scatter-brained writers.

I stop by Valentino's at one o'clock everyday, no later or earlier, and sit in the same antique lime chair by the front window. I stay for exactly an hour. I sit at my table and watch the people who dart, stroll, and saunter past, all of them having some place to be. London is a city in constant motion, but here at Valentino's life slows and stops for a blissful hour of my day.

I wrench my gaze from the sea of faces which rush past the window, as a deep aroma of ginger, sugar, and coffee beans settles around me. My eyes latch onto a china cup, which is encrusted with little blue lilies around the rim, accompanied by a china saucer and two ginger bread biscuits. For a moment I am stunned, for though I heard footsteps approaching I did not think my beverage would be ready so soon. Yet, here it sits.

"Your latte, sir," A high pitched sultry voice declares from above me.

I hide my grimace as I turn to meet the eyes of my server. Candice. I knew it was her from the moment she opened her mouth, Candice has been my server every day for the past year, a flirtatious smile always ready on her thick cherry lips, a teasing look in her hazel eyes. I like to think that the only reason she continues to serve me is because of my consistent lunch breaks from work and her respective work shift. I like to think that, because the alternative option disinterests me and I can't bring myself to care. Funny, had it been a year ago I would have jumped for the chance to date someone like Candice.

"How are you today?" She says sweetly as she tucks a curl of blonde hair behind her ear, and gives me a teasing smile. "No sign of your mystery girl?"

A wave of annoyance washes over me.

"No, not yet." I clench my teeth to keep from hissing at her. "But she'll be here, she always is."

"You're such a stalker," Candice laughs innocently.

I flinch. I pick up my the hot cup of spicy liquid before me, hoping that my fingers aren't shaking, and let it scold my throat as I take a sip. I don't look at Candice. I can feel her frowning at me, her eyes on my face, searching to see what she has said wrong. What has caused this sudden tension between us. I don't look at her.

"E-enjoy your latte, sir." Candice's voice is strained. Hurt. Then her footsteps are clacking away and I am left alone.

I'm glad to be alone. I don't want to be seen talking to Candice. I know that there is a chance that she, my mystery girl as Candice has shamelessly branded her, may see. Anxiety seeps into my veins and I whip my head up to scour the room. Relief, such relief that she has not yet arrived and witnessed the encounter. I don't want her to get the wrong idea about Candice and I. She mustn't misunderstand. She is the only one.

Frustration coils in the pit of my stomach. Waiting for her is always the worst part of my day. Anticipation thrums inside me like an incessant tune, a question of will she stop by? There's a chance she may not. She doesn't visit Valentino's everyday, no, her movements are quite random - much to my annoyance.

The little tinkle of Valentino's front door has me looking up once more in hope. The chatter from various customers around me seems to cease, the high-pitched hiss of the coffee machine falls quietly into a small hum, and the poet who is obnoxiously reading Edgar Allan Poe's 'Annabel Lee' in the corner, dies out. There is such silence in my head.

 I see her it and it feels as if I'm seeing her for the first time all over again. Today, her short caramel hair is curled in small ringlets framing her delicate heart shaped face. Her thin lips which are usually free from colour are painted a brilliant red, fierce and inviting. Black eyeliner sweeps across her eyelids and her soft green eyes leap out at me from across the room. Beams of sunlight filter in from behind her as she steps inside, the rays making the golden flecks of her freckles visible on her translucent skin, as if someone has loaded a paintbrush with gold paint and flicked it across her face.

Normally, I am accustomed to her wearing long, tatty jumpers, with thick black leggings and winter boots. She doesn't seem to like the cold all that much, but today the sun has been kind to her. A vivid red summer dress adorns her small body, cascading to her knees in a river of ruffles. The neckline plunges just below her collar bones, exposing fragile pale skin and bones that stick out at beautiful awkward angles. Tiny black flowers are sewn along the bodice of the dress, black veins twisting down to the waist, and swirling out slightly at the skirt. Mahogany sandals adorn her pale feet, the laces of the sandals twisting up and around her dainty legs like snakes.

She scrunches her nose up for a moment, she smell of foamy milk, sugar, flour, coffee beans, and buttery pastries crowding in on her. Then finally, her face gives way to a radiant smile, red lips stretching across pale cheeks.

I marvel at her. My mystery girl. Her presence is a balm to my frazzled mind. I've been waiting for weeks for her to resurface, and the relief threatens to bubble over. All of the anger, the frustration, the mind-numbing worry that I felt whilst she was away is gone. My aches and pains soothed. Suddenly, the dull yellow wallpaper which I have been staring aimlessly at for weeks springs to life, the irritating noises of the baristas pottering around behind the counter turns into a gentle melody, and the crumpled flowers in their hanging baskets seem to revive themselves as she walks in. She is the bringer of new life, of harmony, and peace. A spring Goddess walking among us mere mortals.

She makes her way across the room. My chest automatically tightens, I can feel sweat coating my fingertips, and the relentless sound of thunder thumping in my ears. She won't sit at my table. She never does. That doesn't stop me from hoping that some day she will, that the gentle smile she gives out so freely to the members of staff, to the elderly couple sitting in the corner, to the gangly teenager attempting to read Carol Ann Duffy's 'Havisham' aloud, will some day be directed at me. It never is. Instead, she bypasses me completely, our skin nearly touching as she moves past me to sit at the opposite table.

Disappointment twists like a knife in my stomach, but it soon dwindles into acceptance. Understanding. It isn't her fault. She doesn't know that I lust after her like this, desperate for a single glance from her, a single smile. She doesn't know and she surely wouldn't understand if she did.

She orders the usual. Hot chocolate with marshmallows, no cream. Never mind that it's above twenty degrees outside. The world could be up in flames, and she would still be content to drink her hot chocolate. I hide my growing smile behind my cup, cautiously stealing glances at her when I believe she isn't looking. It takes a great amount of restraint not to outright stare at her. To stride over to her and demand to know where in God's name has she been for the past several weeks, and why didn't she inform that she would be away. I know I could never do such a thing. The poor girl wouldn't understand. She doesn't know me. She doesn't know that I wait for her here, at Valentino's each day, just hoping to catch a glimpse of her. She doesn't know that I watch her when she is here, watching the way she plays with her hair, wishing I was the one who was playing with it. She doesn't know that I study her movements, the little furrow of her eyebrows, the crinkle of her nose when she smells something mouthwatering, the frustrated frown when she rushes in from the rain. She doesn't know these things and I don't want her to know. She isn't ready to know.

Too soon, she has finished her drink and is placing her money down, overpaid tip no doubt, onto the table. I was wrong when I said waiting for her was the worst part of my day. This is. Watching her leave Valentino's and being unable to utter a single word to her. Over the span of the year, you would think that some progress would have been made, but...

She's walking past me again. Heading towards the exit. If I reached out my fingertips ever so slightly I could brush the flesh of her arm, feel her skin against mine. I could knock my cup off the table, let her pick it up as she passed, say thank you and then strike up a conversation. I could accidentally trip her over, move my leg out at the last minute, and then rush to her aid the moment she hits the ground. I could simply stop her and give her my phone number. Tell her that I think she's the most breath-taking woman on this planet, and that she should give me a call sometime. I do none of these things.

Instead, I watch her walk past me, sending smiles to those she passes and small waves to the members of staff, and then I watch her slip out of the door, and out of my life for another day.

Apart of me wants to roar. To scream and break things. To run after her like the desperate fool I am. I sit quietly in my chair and sip at my latte. The clock on the wall across the room chimes two o'clock and I gather my things. It's okay, I tell myself over and over again as I head towards the exit, she'll be here tomorrow.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Three Little Words

Hi, this is Heather here! Thank you to Pegasus Publishers for sending me this book to read in exchange for a review. I've got a few more books lined up to read over the next week, so expect some more stuff soon.

Author: J.M. Robson
Published: February 2017
Publisher: Pegasus Publishers
Length: 253

Rating (all out of five)
Characters: ★★★ ½
Plot: ★★★ ½
Writing Quality: ★★★
Overall: ★★★ ½

Three little words is a horror/thriller/ghost story that places emphasis on the pain from a broken heart literally leading to death when the phrase ‘I love you’ is not reciprocated. Basically, some evil demons have escaped from hell to terrorise the world by feasting upon, and thence causing the death of, those with freshly broken hearts. The story mostly told through the perspective of the distraught Lilly Anne, who in the first chapter loses her husband because she could not repeat the words ‘I love you’ to him when he momentarily awakes from his coma, which obviously attracted a demon to make him scrawl a final message in blood to haunt her dreams… chamber of secrets anyone? By my synopsis, it’s probably pretty obvious that this is an intense book, with several deaths popping up, I wish I’d read it around Halloween!
Despite there being several key characters (at least 8) within less than 300 pages, the author manages to make each memorable, so the reader is in no way puzzled - this is a challenge for most writers, so I was very impressed with it. The plot itself was easy to follow, though perhaps a little too obvious around the end; I was hoping that there would be a majestic plot-twist to shock us all. I’m thrilled to report that the author is writing a sequel, which I hope will answer the questions the end of the book did not cover, the reader being uneasy about what next will occur. Another positive to the plot was that the subject of love was not merely constrained to heterosexual romance, featuring a homosexual couple and the familial love of a mother and her son. It was lovely to read a book that addressed love in all its forms without hesitation.  
Lilly Anne develops a love interest fairly early on, a mere six months after her husband died. Under normal circumstances I’d have no problem with this but given the fact that her husband was literally possessed by a demon, you’d expect her to take more time to recover from the trauma and guilt. I did appreciate that their relationship was gentle and sweet within the book though, with each agreeing to stick to kisses and wait to get intimate, particularly as Lilly Anne was pregnant. 
The description was good, especially for describing Bertha, but I felt it could have been improved in some areas. I’d have liked to have had more time devoted to creating full imagery, inclusive of all the senses, since the plot is pretty eccentric the writing should be instilling a sense of realism. The mourning itself was underplayed; with tragedy often comes sorrowful chapters of woe in any book that contains death. However, I’ll confess that the lack of wallowing in pity meant that the book flew by, with the swift pace making the book difficult to put down. I also feel the book could have included more chapters between the key events, perhaps focusing solely on self-condemnation and regret from having lost someone dear.
To conclude, this is quick read (I finished it in one evening, it's definitely a page turner) and the plot really provokes the moral that one should be gracious to those they love - else a demon might kill them! Though I felt the description could have been more in depth, it’s still a strong thriller with an intriguing story.

Leave me a comment if you're feeling particularly nice!

Sunday, 19 March 2017


Hello, it's Shani here! Today I wanted to discuss one of my favourite books, which I was able to reread again! I'm back once again to discuss another Rainbow Rowell book, Fangirl! I hope you all enjoy this review and if you haven't read Fangirl, I would definitely suggest you pop to your local bookshop and purchase it!

Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published: 10 September 2013
Publisher: St Martin's Press
Length: 479
My Rating: 4.5/5

Fangirl, written by Rainbow Rowell, is about an eighteen year old girl named Cather Avery who is attempting to survive her first year of College (or University), however she finds herself struggling due to her obsession with writing Fan Fiction for the Simon Snow universe.

In a sense, I have never related to a book character quite like I have to Cather's. Cath lives and breathes through her reading and writing, it is the only way she is able to make it through her everyday life. Her anxiety about starting a new chapter in her life, going to University and moving away from her family home, make her a very realistic character and I have found that a lot of people my age have found themselves being able to relate to her. Cath's obsession with the Simon Snow universe, which is a series made up entirely by Rowell but in the novel is written by Gemma T. Leslie, has numerous elements of Harry Potter by J.K.Rowling. I found this interesting because I had never seen a Young Adult novel acknowledge the fact that Fan Fiction is an active, almost essential part, of a novel's 'hype'. There are over 637,063 Fan Fictions of Harry Potter on the internet alone, and never I have seen a writer such as Rowell acknowledge that Fan Fiction exists. Not only does Rowell acknowledge it, but she encourages it, and many other writers have begun to as well. This was one of the main things I loved about Fangirl so much, it presented the reader with a character who cared deeply for two characters - Simon Snow and Baz - and used them as a coping mechanism in her every day life. It makes the reader realise that caring about fictional characters isn't a bad thing and should be more encouraged rather than disregarded.

The subject of mental health is handled beautifully in this book. Not only does Cath suffer from GAD - General Anxiety Disorder - but her father Arthur, referred to as 'Art', suffers from mental health issues as well. Rowell breaches subjects, such as parental abandonment, without any reluctance whatsoever and presents the reader with Cath's various different emotions throughout the stages of her school year. Though the book is written in third person, the narrative is around Cath throughout the entire novel, and in a sense it almost feels as if it is written from a first person account. Cath's conflicting emotions over the rift with her twin sister, Wren, and her estranged mother, Laura, are written beautifully by Rowell and show the complex emotions that one goes through when faced with challenging circumstances. Rowell is unafraid to show her young adult audience that it is okay to be upset when faced with these type of issues, her writing presents a certain fragility and vulnerability that many young adults go through.

Another aspect which was wonderful about this novel was that at the end of certain chapters, Rowell would include an extract from Cath's Fan Fiction. This was so wonderfully written and added new life to the novel, making it more interesting as the reader went along because you are almost reading two stories at once. I think perhaps my favourite thing about this novel though, was Levi's encouragement of Cath writing Fan Fiction and how blatantly obvious his love for Cath was. Cath first meets Levi when she finds him in her room on the first day of moving into the University dorms. Cath is initially terrified of Levi, she doesn't quite know how to behave around him which I found hilarious. Her awkwardness seems real and Rowell has crafted Cath's anxiety so well that we as readers can feel it ourselves as we read along. Levi is unbelievably supportive of Cath and her Fan Fiction, going so far as to ask her to read it out loud to him. I thought the dynamics between them were unbearably sweet, portraying an accurate depiction of 'first love'.

Other characters such as Wren and Reagan had me laughing uncontrollably at times during Fangirl. Though the novel has serious issues addressed, and has wonderfully written romance, the book is first and foremost a comedy. Rowell's humour is perhaps my favourite thing about this book. The witty and sarcastic language makes the novel an entertaining read which has me returning to read it again, and again!

Friday, 17 March 2017

The Waves

Hiya, it's Heather here, back with another Virginia Woolf book! Hope you enjoy, let me know what you think in the comments if you've read or are planning on reading her stuff.

Author: Virginia Woolf
Published: October 1931
Publisher: Hogarth Press
Length: 324 pages (according to Wikipedia, though mine is only 177, so I'm not quite sure what to believe...)

Rating (all out of five)
Characters: ★★★★ (4.5, I need to somehow find a half star symbol)
Plot: ★★★
Writing Quality: ★★★★★ (I'd add more if I could)
Overall: ★★★★

Regarded as one of Woolf’s most experimental works, I’d consider The Waves to be more of an epic poem than a standard novel. The Waves is narrated by six individuals – Susan, Rhoda, Jinny, Louis, Bernard and Neville, as they each grow up. The plot, as usual with Woolf, focuses on the everyday, the ordinary, which I found soothing, many books clinging to their readers with dramatic and over the top events that really aren’t necessary to keep the reader engaged. Is this an easy read? It is probably the most confusing book I’ve read so far, frequent narrative voice changes with a mere so-and-so said, then sinking into the rambling mind of said character, signifying whose perspective you’re reading. I’ve decided to underline the characteristics of each narrator as oppose to writing a plot summary, since the plot is really based around how each character mentally processes everything, and the process of growing up, beginning with the awakening of each child in the morning and ending during their later adult life, which is somewhat difficult to write about without including spoilers.
Having read a fair amount on Woolf’s life, Rhoda is clearly a demonstrating of the isolation that the author herself felt. An insightful narrator indeed, she is often sketched out to be an outcast, dreaming of alternatives and longing to fit in yet also clinging to her moments of solitude for comfort – I think this is a side that many introverts, like myself, could also relate to. Like Rhoda Louis believes he is an outsider, repeating several times that his Australian accent is stigmatised at school. However, their similarities end there as Louis is shown as passionate about bettering his situation, working hard to escape from any relative deprivation with his peers and exceed everyone’s expectations of him. Another element of Woolf features within Louis as he mentions a yearning for capturing the everyday, something she does indeed achieve.
Given the publication date, I found Neville equally fascinating, but for different reasons. Though his sexuality is never actually stated, Neville is completely, hopelessly and beautifully portrayed as in love with Percival, a boy whom all the characters adore. His account is truly heart-rending as the reader sympathises with his shame for being weak and inadequate for Percival, his longing stretching out throughout the book. Considering the treatment of Oscar Wilde some thirty years prior to the book’s publication, Woolf may have evaded blatantly labelling Neville as gay, but her inferences towards it certainly show the hardship of unrequited love that he felt he should hide, perhaps by not stating it she was showing that even Neville did not want to admit his homosexuality to himself directly. Neville also enjoyed writing, using the torment he endured as a power to write, finding solace in the clarity of language. Bernard, as a comparison, struggled with language, fearing the idea of distorting reality and being concerned with how people change.
Susan seemed to represent the consequences of conforming to the gender stereotypes, as in later life she realises that by devoting herself to the act of being a mother, she’s lost a part of herself. In childhood, she flourishes in life, having sentimentalities towards the tranquil country life, yet also has an awareness of social norms and how to fit in. Likewise, Jinny is social, but is presented as a character that scrutinises the beauty of others far more, she was probably my least favourite narrator, though that is not to say that Woolf intended for her to be dislikeable, in fact I grew to sympathise with her more as the book progressed. I found these two to be quite similar at points, I'd have also liked to have seen more language variation as everyone seemed very sophisticated - which is fine, but it'd have been nice to have a contrast or a more comedic character to break up the passages.
There are so many themes in this book – from life and death, to solitude, to mental health, to love (and sexuality depending on your interpretation), to childhood, to dreams and resentment and regrets. As usual, I felt humbled by the beauty of Woolf’s writing and how she somehow managed to include every little detail necessary. The lack of clear dialogue can be a deterrent for many, as can her sudden switches in narrative, and I’ll admit that it did make the book tricky to read, but it’s also a wonderful use of experimental writing that makes her book stand out. She includes these brief passages between each section that describe the movement of water, with imagery that is so descriptive, it’s simply stunning. I’d love to include a quote from literally every page of this book, because I adore her use of language, but that’d take up too much room, so I’ve decided to simply include one from the first page before I conclude!

“the sky cleared as if the white sediment there had sunk, or as if the arm of a woman couched beneath the horizon had raised a lamp and flat bars of white, green and yellow spread across the sky like the blades of a fan. Then she raised her lamp higher and the air seemed to become fibrous and to tear away from the green surface flickering and flaming in red and yellow fibres like the smoky fire that roars from a bonfire. Gradually the fibres of the burning bonfire were fused into one haze, one incandescence which lifted the weight of the woollen grey sky on top of it and turned to a million atoms of soft blue.”

I probably went over the acceptable quote length, but isn’t that just gorgeous? This is just a fraction of one of her descriptions, the paragraph goes on and the writing is consistently perfect. Anyway, I’ll stop fangirling now. If you want to get into reading Virginia Woolf, I’ve got a couple of review up on two of her other books – this one’s extremely experimental, so if you’d prefer to start with something with a simpler writing style, I’d highly recommend Mrs Dalloway or To The Lighthouse. Feel free to drop me a comment below!

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Can't Buy Forever

Hey guys, it's Lydia here! Sorry about this late post, I finished this book a few days ago, but have been so busy and only managed to fit it in this morning.

Title: Can't Buy Forever
Author: Susan Laffoon
Publishing: Self-published
Published: 2015
Genre: Teen/Young Adult fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Fantasy.
Rating: 1/5

Can't Buy Forever is set in 1950's America and is about a young woman, Odesa Drake (or Dessa, which she is referred to as throughout most of the book), who is in her last year of high school, she lives with her Aunt Flo in her boarding house in Mineville, New York. For years Dessa has loved and been friends with Nicholas, a miner and boarder at their house. Nicholas has never revealed much about his past, but as they grow closer, secrets are revealed as trouble escalates further and forces them to flee across the country.

Sadly, this book was not for me. I found the story line quite hard to follow and occasionally became confused at some points of the novel. The beginning of the book again had me confused as the writer used such loving and affectionate language that as a reader I thought that Dessa and Nicholas were already a couple, but it wasn't until later that they profess there love for each other.

The writing style that the author chose wasn't used to the best ability. It revealed the mystery of Nicholas' past and the main plot of the book as the story progressed, this became a frustrating read as the author didn't reveal enough to build a good foundation of plot and character, and as a result I was puzzled for a good half of the book.

Nicholas was an interesting character once his past was finally revealed. The idea of him living for a long time as a result of being cursed created a great backstory and plot twist. He was quite a relatable character, he spent a very long time living in the shadows and mourning over a lost love, where he didn't think he was redeemable to love another person again. This creates a very relatable atmosphere, as some people find it hard to trust others and open up our deepest and darkest secrets to almost complete strangers. This is a common fear amongst most people.

The protagonist Dessa was quite a weak character and didn't have much backbone. She depended and leaned upon a lot of the other characters. Perhaps, given the context that the story was set, some women had to be meek and complacent to men and to know their place within society. However, for a younger reader to buy this book she wasn't the best role model, my personal opinion is that she was too ostracised as a damsel in distress and seemed to constantly need someone to rescue her. The excessive language of love when the narrator (Dessa) was around Nicholas became quite boring, repetitive and corny.

Can't Buy forever was not particularly my cup of tea, however the book had some clever and interesting plot surprises and character development, that led the story to a pleasant ending.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Always Listening

Hey guys! It's Lydia here. Sorry it's been so long since I last posted, its been a real slog with all the mocks. But there over now so I will hopefully be posting more frequently! Enjoy this weeks creative writing shindizzle from me :)

A warm heat surrounded my body, and a kind hand stroked my head and glided along my back, and I lent into its soft touch. The darkness lulled me asleep, along with a child’s voice speaking sweet music, and in response a grateful grumble erupted from my chest.

The humming and twittering of birds awoke me, and the cold hush of the wind made me stand upright. I turned my head to see the house behind and almost decided to venture inside, but the bleak dark windows spoke otherwise.  I prowled along the wooden fence, quietly listening. My ears twitched as the slam of a door sounded behind me.

My stomach wined in desperation, but no human call beckoned me for food. The world began to swirl into black and white visions, as my body ushered into focus. Only one thought remained in my mind now.

I jumped, pushing off with my back legs, bracing myself for the prickly grass. The green embraced my form and camouflaging me. I scanned between the thin threads, then engulfed the scent of a little creature. The smell of earth mixed with musk filled my nose and heated my blood. I could almost feel its wet flesh on my tongue and bones cracking against my teeth. I stretched my limbs forward, one in front of the other, kissing the ground with my silence as I moved closer.

Feed was all I thought, kill was all imagined as I saw the mouse nibbling away at a berry. It didn’t even suspect me closing in on its life. Edging nearer and nearer. It’s steady benign heart thudding inside its body reverberated in my ears. My mouth opened slightly in readiness to thrust my fangs around its neck.

Only two inches away, I slowly emerged through the grass about to clasp its body in my claws, but a sharp shrill scream broke my silence. The mouse’s head pricked up and it began to hastily scuttle away, but I launched out my leg and trapped the creature in a cage of claws.

I peered at the beast through the sharp bars; it quaked and shivered in the shadowed corner. It stared at me with small dark eyes, pleaded with me to let it go. But I was so hungry. It continued to hold my gaze, asking and silently begging me to retract my claws. He spoke through his unreeling look to set me free.

I twinge of pain coursed through my gut, and I slowly unclenched my claws from the mud. The mouse instantly scurried away and buried itself deep and safe underground, where I could not follow.

I gloomily walked towards the house. A deep voice erupted from the brick walls.

“How dare you!” the voice flamed. 

A low thud and crack followed, and then a whimpering cry sounded from another.

I entered the house and the flip clap of the cat flap was the only sound I heard. I turned the corner into the kitchen and saw the body of a little girl huddled in the darkest corner. Annie saw me and stretched out her fingers that called me forward. Her once smiling face and joyful eyes were swollen and sore, purple and grey blemishes blotched her head and cheeks, and clear water leaked from her distance blue eyes.

“Hello my beautiful boy,” she croaked.

I stared into her face, the light once shone there was lost and irretrievable amongst the dark liquid that dripped from her nose and smudged her skin. Yet she still scooped me up into her arms, scratched my chin and spoke into my fur, “I think its dinner time Benny, don’t you?”

Shelf Joy

Generally, we stick to just posting book requests, creative writing pieces and author interviews, but we were contacted by Shelf Joy last week and felt their site may interest some of you readers!

Shelf Joy is a free website for avid readers to discover books similar to those they are reading. The site uses a bot which basically takes the genre or book you’re reading and looks across a ‘shelf’ of other books that may be of interest to you. This makes finding a new book easier and faster.

Alternatively, you can speak to the bot by messenger (which isn’t as scary as it sounds!). The bot will give you a few options of what to say to it in a button format, so you just have to click the answer. For instance, after requesting to ‘Show Shelves’, I was able to click the arrow on the messenger shown below to find different categories, and when I felt satisfied with the choice I’d made (in this case science books for non-scientists), I clicked ‘Explore this shelf’ to get some books recommended. As you can see below, there are a few minor technical problems as the messages from the bot tend to send twice, but it replies instantaneously and gives you the cover of a book, its rating and a brief description, so the positives outweigh the negatives.

As I don’t use Twitter, I found that I was unable to login to the site, but this didn’t matter too much – regardless of having a login, you are allowed to find the ‘shelves’ you are interested in by typing in the genre required, for instance ‘women-writers’, then explore books on that shelf. The site is really easy to use and I’m glad to report it did not pry for any personal details, there are no pop-ups or adverts. The only other aspect that could be bettered is if the site was to have an 'about' section clearly marked that explained what it does for any new users.

Overall, it’s got a neat appearance and makes scouring for books a lot easier, though the website still has room to improve I’m sure it’ll thrive in popularity in the years to come!

Saturday, 4 March 2017

The Fourth Monkey

Hello! It's Heather, apologies for being a day late with posting this, my laptop had a breakdown and deleted my first draft of the review. This book is being released later this year, so let me know if you want to read it in the comments.

Author: J.D. Barker
Published: June 27th 2017
Publisher: Harper Collins
Length: 416 pages

Rating (all out of five)
Characters: ★★★★
Plot: ★★★★
Writing Quality: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★★

I have read very few thrillers, but I love crime fiction so was delighted to be afforded the opportunity by Harper Collins to read this in exchange for a review (thank you to them!). The Fourth Monkey is a book based around the ideology of ‘hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil, do no evil’ as the elusive murderer first sends the ear of a daughter of one corrupt individual in a neatly wrapped box, then her eyes, then her tongue, then leaves her corpse to be found. This strangely reminded me of the MAGIC! song, no evil. Having been in action for five years prior to the book, the killer has just taken a new victim so the reader follows detective Sam Porter as he tries to save her and unravel the man nicknamed #4MK’s true identity using clues from his diary, which is left in the jacket of a man that’s just stepped in front of a bus. The reader is treated with a range of perspectives including Porter's narrative, extracts from the diary and occasional glimpses into how the victim herself is fending.
Anyone that is deterred by gore may want to avoid this one; Barker has carved (sorry, bad pun, don’t kill me) intensely vivid imagery of the horrors that both the killer and the victims experience… honestly… I had a nightmare about knives plunging into my flesh after having read a particularly graphic scene before retreating to bed. Any book that, even days after reading it, can make you shudder and tremble and tense at every faint noise in case you get kidnapped and tortured should be commended. The writing is truly excellent and conjures up disturbingly strong images in your mind that will haunt you. As someone squeamish about the whole let’s-cut-off-some-limbs-oh-look-a-stream-of-blood-and-tissue-that-you-don’t-blow-you’re-nose-on, this book was a challenge to get through without vomiting, so I’m proud to have succeeded in that. The diary part was especially sinister, but really fascinating to uncover what turned #4MK to his psychopathic antics.
Like I said earlier, generally I’ll indulge in standard crime and detective fiction, be it some Agatha Christie, M.C. Beaton, Alexander McCall Smith or a radio-play of Paul Temple and various television crime shows, so this was quite different. At first, I clung to Porter’s familiar detective narratives, being reluctant but intrigued to read the diary parts. Porter is pretty standard in terms of crime fiction, he loves his wife and job and is very fond of his colleagues. The way his police team tease each other makes his narrative entertaining to read, I particularly enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes based quips they had for Watson. Porter is also undergoing some personal issues that become clearer as the book progresses, so overall, he’s a very effective character. I’d have liked to have seen more interaction with his co-workers as they had an amusing relationship that left me craving for more.
The perspective of the victim of #4MK was probably the most distressing as the reader is exposed to her astonishment of waking to find her ear extracted, trapped within a dark room with music blaring aggressively and no exit… oh and the knowledge that her tongue and eyes will probably be removed too. Each glimpse into her head reveals madness feasting upon her through the voice of her deceased mother, comfortingly scolding her. The reader really develops a sympathetic bond with her character and finds themselves turning the pages frantically in the hope that she’ll survive this without endearing too much more pain.
My aim since co-creating this book blog has been to explore different genres and thriller/horror is one that I rarely venture to, being reluctant to read gory description, so I’m really glad I’ve read The Fourth Monkey for overcoming this. The plot is delicately constructed with several plot twists diverging, especially at the end, a few of them I could predict but that didn’t make the read any less enjoyable and one of them was so spectacular, I’m not complaining. I’d really recommend this to any fanatics of the genre, or anyone like myself who wants to conquer more variety in literature. Of course, I’d highly dissuade anyone from reading some parts of this before eating or to relax, be warned of the risks, it’s creepy and it’s startling, but it’s also addictive to read.


Hello there! It's Shani and today I wanted to show you guys a piece I recently did for my Creative Writing exam. If you haven't guessed from the title, it is once again about Anxiety, however the question in my exam fit in so well with this theme that I felt I needed to write about it. I hope you guys enjoy!


My mobile phone vibrates against the bedside table. I pretend I cannot feel the vibrations rocking my rickety metal bed frame, I pretend to feel nothing at all. 

The bed covers piled around me off some semblance of peace - soft sheets wrap around my overheated skin, swaddling me like the child I am. I refuse to look at my room. I know what is waiting for me and I don't want to see it. Clothes launder the floor, piles of dirty garments and socks beginning to grow sky high. The silver curtains are twisted , caught in a recoil of distaste for the disaster site which was once my bedroom. Though they are allowing flickers of light into the room, tiny rays filter through every so often which scream hope. Happiness. I abandoned those feelings long ago. 

Plates of untouched food rot on my desk. Mother has stopped trying to make me eat now; instead she simply brings me steaming hot plates of food with a weary look in her eyes, and then collects the same untouched plate hours later. She's terrified for me, and though I wish I could say something to reassure her, my lips refuse to move whenever I try to apologise.   

I wasn't always like this. 

Once, I had been a joyous, albeit shy, child who adored being outside in all seasons - flinging my little body into leaf piles with my brothers, chasing my dog through the thick snow in winter, having water balloon fights with my mother on a sweltering summer's day, and braiding daisy chains into my long wavy hair in the spring. Now, I am a creature made up of twisting limbs and a stuttering tongue. Ashes of the person I once was. 

Leaving the house is a challenge. The eyes of my neighbours seem to follow me wherever I go, their thoughts transparent on their twisted faces; freak, loner, strange child. I deny none of these things. I wear my anxiety like a second skin, a jacket which is sewn onto my flesh. Present at all times during the day, pouring tar into my ears, turning my thoughts to pitch. 

How fragile the human mind is. I smile blankly when I am spoken to now, and nob robotically to appease my peers. The fools sense nothing - nothing, nothing, nothing. They aren't even aware that they are interacting with a person devoid of a soul. 

Vibrations convulse alongside my bed, and I shift my body in the cocoon of blankets to reach for my phone, with trembling fingers. Five missed calls and eleven text messages. I put the phone down. My lungs squeezing against my rib cage, trying to choke down some air. My friends are clearly worried about me, and some part of my sick deprived mind rejoices because they actually seem to care. Yet, a disgusted voice echoes through my mind. 

"As if anyone would ever care about you! The voice hisses at me. "You're a worthless little thing, and the would be a far better place if you never existed!" 

I am far too exhausted to cry. I know what the voice says is true. I am a worthless, lonely creature, desperate for an acceptance of my nervous disposition which will not come. I sink further into the creases of my mattress. I am nothing, I am insignificant -

My mobile phone vibrates against the bedside table. I pretend I cannot feel the vibrations rocking my rickety metal bad frame, I pretend to feel nothing at all.