Category: books and libraries

City Of Fallen Angels Book Review

Author: Cassandra Clare

Rating: 4/5

This re-read is actually starting to make me sad. My 14-year-old self is yelling at me for being so critical, but I can’t help but see the general averageness of the writing style. Which sucks because the story and the world are amazing, as well as the beautiful, loveable characters.

I’m going to get the negative out of the way and talk about how pointlessly angsty the Clary/Jace romance is. I understand why it happens in terms of the plot, but I got so bored of their back-and-forth events of “Jace wants to punish himself”. I dreaded their interactions, which upsets me because just because  they’re the main characters doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the book – apart from the fact that they’re in every chapter

BUT the other romances in this book are beautiful and exciting to explore. Not only the romances, but the friendships too. I love seeing these perfectly formed characters interacting and thinking ‘wow that was such a Jace thing to say’ or ‘that was so Magnus’, and it’s probably unhealthy how much I feel like I know these characters…

Reading this book knowing that the series was originally just going to be a trilogy definitely changed things for me. Half of me felt that this book was just unnecessary… But putting that out of my mind, I did still enjoy it – a very readable and yet still exciting instalment.

Beth Holland’s review of The Coldest Girl in C…

Beth Holland’s review of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown: undefined

La Belle Sauvage Book Review

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Author: Philip Pullman

Rating: 5/5

Buy: Amazon US

         Amazon UK

I never realised how much I missed this universe until I re-entered it. La Belle Sauvage is the 1st novel in a prequel trilogy to the His Dark Materials series, some of my most beloved childhood books. It follows Malcolm, the 11-year-old son of an innkeeper who meets a beautiful baby named Lyra who he is determined to protect. However, Malcolm isn’t aware of the political and transcendental conflict surrounding Lyra and is caught in the middle of a catastrophe.

I want to talk about daemons, because I don’t think I’ve encountered such a cute yet complex concept. For those of you who don’t know, the soul of each person in this universe is split between them and their daemon, an animal which is born with them and dies with them too. They have the intellectual and emotional capacity of their human (and can talk!), but the pairing also share pain and cannot be separated or they will likely die. I fear that it’s a concept that cannot be fully understood unless you have read a book in this universe, but I highly recommend that you do because daemons are a vital and complex part of this world, and Pullman can use them to twist the plot craftily (as well as my emotions).

Onto the actual book! First of all, I loved Malcolm. HIs young, naïve yet perceptive view of life is fabulous to read from, and I enjoyed him not only as a character but as a narrator as well. I loved how utterly normal he was, with his amicable yet sarcastic family dynamic and his colloquial way of speaking. 

Furthermore, I don’t think Philip Pullam could have created a more hateable villain. There is something so wrong and incandescently evil about him; so incomprehensibly horrid that he actually scared me. Even the way he talks make me cringe, and Pullman uses his daemon to create a Jaws-like suspense motif that was truly horrifying. So much for this being a kids book…

If I had one tiny criticism it would be that the magical elements of this novel weren’t dealt with quite right for me. They were hardly there, so maybe it’s something that will evolve in the next instalments.

All in all, I really loved this book and cannot wait for the sequel! (PS I know this isn’t the best shot of the book but my dog was looking so cute I couldn’t help it)

I Am Thunder Book Review

Author: Muhammed Khan

Rating: 5/5

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         Amazon UK

Stunning. Stunning. Stunning! Thank you so much to my librarian for showing me this book because it was phenomenal. I Am Thunder is a brilliant YA novel focussed on the prejudice against Muslims and the threat of radicalisation from the viewpoint of a high school student. Muzna has lived her life with her strict parents showing her that she is Pakistani first, Muslim second and British last – if at all. After moving schools, she meets a boy who treats her like she will become something, and she discovers freedom. It sounds quite fluffy at this point but (without spoiling anything) events begin to take a dark turn as she is torn between the hate people give her, and the possibility of hating them in return.

My knowledge of Islam is limited, which is why I was so keen to pick up this book. I’m an atheist, but understanding religion is something I not only find fascinating, but essential as well. Muzna is from a background of conservative Islam, trying not to obviously be religious due to their fear of prejudice. Firstly, I found this heart-breaking. To know that people feel the need to hide who they are in fear of hate is shocking – and I hope books like this can show the awfulness of Islamophobia and bring about change. 

Radicalisation is not something often depicted in novels, especially YA. However, this book shows how slowly it can weed into a person – without them really realising it; how sly extremists are when it comes to manipulation. But what I appreciated in this book is that Muslims were treated as the victims, not the masterminds, of this radicalisation. This is how people should be viewing extremism! It’s horrific that terror attacks are caused by people using religion as an excuse, and the people who truly believe in this religion are taking the fall! 

Even with the themes aside, I Am Thunder is  an excellent YA novel. The language is so colloquial and readable; time past so quickly whilst I was reading it! The plot develops quickly, but almost under the radar, so that you can’t really tell how intense things are until it hits you like a train. 

The author is own voice, so I hope that he is able to portray an honest experience of being a British Muslim. However, if you don’t agree with the way themes are tackled in this novel, please tell me and I’ll add your thoughts to this review. But otherwise, this read was both enjoyable and enlightening – an emotional rollercoaster.

The House Of Hades Book Review

Author: Rick Riordan

Rating: 5/5

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My favourite Rick Riordan book so far! After being a teeny bit disappointed with The Mark Of Athena (I liked it! It was just a little… dense?), I fell absolutely in love with the world and the characters all over again.

There’s something about Heroes Of Olympus… It’s as if I don’t want to call it a series because it’s more like a saga. I’m listening to them back-to-back, so maybe it’d be different if I took a break between each book – but it’s such an epic, ambitious and honestly impressive saga that I never want to stop reading. If your not one for series though, I would probably wouldn’t recommend it. Sometimes it requires a little patience.

I can talk for hours about the characters in this book, but for now I wanna focus on a few. Firstly, Nico Di Angelo my absolute fave, welcome back to the middle of the action! I don’t think Rick Riordan has ever created a character so complex, but now all I want is a chapter or two from Nico’s POV. The other characters I was afraid were going to get swallowed by the sheer size of the plot were Percy and Annabeth. But no, they shine just as much as they did in PJO – which is awesome.

The whole multiple POV thing… I think it works. The fact that it’s all in 3rd person stops it from being confusing (lookin at you The 5th Wave), and you get to see a little more of each character each time. Since this book follows two different groups of characters in two different places, I was worried that I’d be bored in one section and just be waiting for the other to start again. But that wasn’t the case! I loved both sides of the story completely.

The only thing I can’t help be a little irritated at is that all the characters rely on coincidence to get them out of bad situations. To be honest though, it’s become a trademark of the universe so I don’t really care.

Overall, absolutely adored it. I’m so upset that Blood Of Olympus is the final instalment, but I’ve already started it so… 🙂                                              

The Testing Book Review

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Author: Joelle Charbonneau

Rating: 4/5

Buy: Amazon UK

         Amazon US

I gotta say, I’m divided on this one. I adored the plot and loved the world, I could tolerate the characters, but the writing was just basic in my opinion. Howevever, that wasn’t enough to stop me enjoying this novel.

We’ve seen many a YA dystopia: young adult girl who’s not traditionally beautiful but still pretty goes on with her oblivious life until one day [insert event here] happens and she realises she must rebel against the corrupt society she lives in. Not gonna lie, this isn’t much different. BUT, when reading it I found that I didn’t actually care? It was entertaining! I was never bored, and I enjoyed the progression and character arcs. And whilst the setting was mysterious, I thought it was definitely dystopian, but it was also quite relatable and relevant. 

The characters were not bad. I didn’t fall in love with them as much as those from a lot of series, but they’re certainly weren’t unlikeable. I did enjoy the developments each character went through, and how they each dealt with the loss of innocence that faced them all. Some threw it away willingly and relished the freedom, whilst others avoided immoral acts at all costs, shocked when they realised were the only ones who did. The theme of morals and values was prominent, along with “do the ends justify the means?”, both of which are fascinating, psychologically, to explore.

However, the writing was pretty basic. It wasn’t badly written, it just didn’t do much for me. There was a line that literally said, “And then the world exploded”, which is a little ridiculous even for YA. I understand that not all writing styles are jaw-droppingly clever, I just prefer more adventurous styles.

Overall, worth the read. Definitely one for if you don’t want to focus too hard but still want a compelling story.

The Strange And Beautiful Sorrows Of Ava Laven…

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Author: Leslye Walton

Rating: 5/5

Buy: Amazon UK

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Wow. Another all-time favourite for sure! The Strange And Beautiful Sorrows Of Ava Lavender is such a whimsical and tragic, yet still gorgeous, tale about a girl born with wings, how that came to be, and all the beauty and sorrow it comes with.

The factor that puts this book over the majority of other magical realism novels is the writing style. It was sumptuous and metaphorical, yet still gives the reader a clear image of Ava and the world around her. More than clear, in fact. It’s colourful and vibrant and lavish and everything I love in literature.

And yet, somehow, the author creates such believable characters and story lines that feel so real! Utterly human characters are placed next to fantastical ones until you don’t see why they should ever be separated. 

There are very real issues tackled in this novel too – mental health, grief, love and loss, sexual abuse – and, although they aren’t always directly addressed, they described in a way so raw it was almost brutal. I will stick a trigger warning for sexual assault here because, although it isn’t an overly-detailed description, it’s ruthless and a little disturbing even to someone like me, who isn’t usually psychologically affected by what happens in a book.

Still, I recommend this book so so highly – it may be in my top 10 favourites of all time!

Holiday reads off to a whimsical start with th…

Holiday reads off to a whimsical start with this, I adored this book so much!

Tower Of Dawn Book Review

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Rating: 4.5/5

*check out my reviews for The Assassin’s Blade, Heir Of Fire, Queen Of Shadows and Empire Of Storms with these links*

If you had told me when I first started this series, “Hey, Beth! SJM is writing a 650 page book just about Chaol!”, I would have groaned and written it off. I hated Chaol with a passion, and so you can understand my hesitance around Tower Of Dawn even without knowing that I’m really not a die-hard ToG fan. HOWEVER, I adored this book so so so SO much! As in, it’s only my second to The Assassin’s Blade in this series. It was awesome.

Let get to the soppy bit first, shall we? So, I couldn’t walk for a couple of years due to a chronic ill health condition I have. It took me 9 months in bed and then 15 months of walking with a crutch to get me out of it – and here we have such a similar situation with Chaol. What makes it so emotional for me was that he used to feel so in control and courageous in the first couple of books, but in Tower Of Dawn he’s so vulnerable in himself. It’s so bloody relatable and, for anyone who doesn’t know whether to trust the disabled rep – it’s incredibly accurate. 

Right, now that that’s over with I wanna talk about the characters. As usual with SJM, I fell in love with each and every one! I love how they compliment and contrast each other, and seeing their relationships evolve was utterly stunning. 

Furthermore, I adored the southern continent! So much exploration of culture, which is fascinating especially in a fantasy novel. This world is so much bigger than I ever could have imagined, and I don’t want it to end.

The one teeny tiny issue I had was the weird description of Chaol’s healing process. That might just be me and ASD and not being able to visualise stuff that well, but it was a little too metaphorical for me.

Still, highly highly recommend to anyone – even those who, like me, hated Chaol beyond measure. You will learn to love him, I promise!

Day 7 Book Review

Author: Kerry Drewery

Rating: 3/5

*For synopsis and thoughts on the first book of the series check out my Cell 7 review here!*

Well, it was better than the first one. I always finish series and I wasn’t going to let the Cell 7 trilogy beat me – and to be honest I’m quite glad it didn’t. I liked the path that this book took the series in and I’m actually looking forward to reading the next one.

It certainly wasn’t perfect. The world is still a little shallow and 1-dimensional, the narration is still a little frustrating and the writing style is still a little… odd. Yeah, the writing still confuses me. It could be quite good if the script-like chapters were simply described instead of given in too-long stage directions and interrupted speech. But, it is. So it’ll have to do.

However, we have character development! Thank God. I loved watching the characters grow together – and apart – throughout the story as they all faced their own problems and fears. I both liked and disliked how broken the main character seemed. It definitely made her more real, but we spend a lot of time with her just breaking down so I’m not sure.

In conclusion, I think I’ll stick with it. But if you haven’t started it, this instalment isn’t quite enough reward for dragging yourself through the first one.