Thursday, 8 December 2011

Debut Author Challenge 2011

I've signed up for the 2012 Debut Author Challenge hosted by The Story Siren. The aim of the challenge is to read and review a minimum of twelve young adult or middle grade debut novels in 2012.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge 2012

I have signed up for the Mystery & Suspense Challenge hosted by Book Chick City. I'm planning to read at least 12 mystery and suspense novels in 2012 for this challenge.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Dark Matter by Michelle Paver

Dark MatterSynopsis: Out of nowhere, for no reason, I was afraid. My skin prickled. My heart thudded in my throat. My body knew before I did that I was not alone...

London, 1937. Jack is poor, lonely and desperate to change his life, so when he's offered the chance to join an Arctic expedition, he jumps at it. Spirits are high as the ship leaves Norway and at last they reach the remote, uninhabited bay where they will camp for the next year.

But the Arctic summer is brief. As night returns to claim the land, Jack feels a creeping unease. One by one, his companions are forced to leave. Soon Jack will see the last of the sun, the sea will freeze and escape will be impossible.

And Jack is not alone. Something walks there in the dark...

My thoughts: Dark Matter is written in the form of main character, Jack's journal and follows his journey from the first moment he meets his expedition companions for a drink in London right through until just before he is rescued from the Arctic. After that point, Jack refuses to write in his journal but we get a narrative from inside his head instead, which brings more urgency in one of the more action filled parts of the story.

Over the course of his Arctic expedition Jack changes as a character. At the start of the novel, in London, he is a solitary person who is quite looking forward to the peace and stillness of the Arctic. But by the time he is truly alone in the Arctic wilderness he realises what it's like to have friends and he realises that he does need people after all.

I wasn't really sure about the 'ghost' that Jack was seeing. I couldn't work out if it was real or if it was his imagination playing tricks on him because he was alone in an endless night. But whatever it was, the author built up the tension really well and as I was reading I had a strong feeling that something bad was about to happen. It was the sort of feeling where I didn't want to turn the page because I was scared, but had to carry on because I was desperate to know what was coming next.

This is one of those books where although it seems like a straight-forward ghost story, there's definitely a psychological element too as Jack seems to slide into madness. A great book for anyone who enjoys a good scare now and then!

Received for review on behalf of WHSmith's

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Midwife On Call by Agnes Light

Midwife on CallFrom the back cover:Agnes Light trained as a nurse in the 1960s and went on to become a midwife - helping to bring new lives into the world for over thirty years.

After fainting from shock at the first birth she attended as a student, Agnes eventually grew to adore her job and the lifelong friends that worked with her on the maternity ward. In her enchanting memoir, she recalls how she struggled at first with the strict rules of hospital etiquette, and the expectation that she would always know the right thing to do - from dealing with hysterical fathers to miracle multiple births - Agnes quickly learnt she had to keep a cool head whatever the circumstances.

This is a heartwarming portrait of a thoughtful and compassionate midwife. Funny poignant and rich with period detail Midwife on Call traces Agnes's touching journey from squemish pupil to assured professional.

My thoughts: This is a really interesting memoir about the author's time as a midwife, from the start of her training and through her career as a nurse and as a community midwife. Before reading this book I didn't know much about what midwives did, or even very much about childbirth in general. This book certainly taught me a few things that I didn't know. I was even quite shocked by some of the attitudes of medical professionals mentioned in this book.

The book is written in quite a laid back style and reading it feels like having a chat with an old friend as the author shares interesting and funny anecdotes about births she has attended.

I'd definitely recommend this book for anyone interested in a career in nursing or midwifery. But even if you're not interested in those careers you'll still enjoy this book.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Blog Relaunch!

Ok, so I've finally returned from my overly long blog hiatus. I hope that some of my old followers will find their way back, and welcome to any new readers too.

I've given the blog a new URL, it's now and because I've had to import all the old posts and stuff across a lot of the info probably needs updating and I know I lost my followers so please refollow!

I will be posting some fresh new reviews over the next couple of days, but in the meantime there's plenty of older ones to look through.

Thanks for visiting :)

Monday, 7 March 2011

blog hiatus

So you might have noticed that I haven't blogged in absolutely ages, I've had so much going on in real life lately that I just had the time or the inclination to blog, and I've hardly been reading much anyway.

I haven't been keeping up with emails either, so if you've emailed me in the last month or so and I haven't replied it's not that I'm being rude, I just don't want to do this stuff right now.

I might return to the blog in a couple of weeks, but for now I'm taking a break while I deal with some huge real life changes.

Thanks to all my followers for sticking with me :)

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Johnny Swanson by Eleanor Updale

Johnny Swanson This is the answer to smelly feet - wear a clothes peg on your nose. 11-year-old Johnny Swanson is in business. He's raking in the money with his advertising scams and his agony aunt persona, Ada Ardour, who offers advice on absolutely anything in return for a shilling. But his money-making schemes are getting him in too deep. Everything is spiralling out of control, and now his own mother is in mortal danger. There's only one thing for it: Johnny must assume another role - as undercover detective.
My thoughts: The title character, Johnny, hates being short so when he sees an advert in the newspaper that promises the secret to tallness he steals some money off his mum to send away for the secret. Unfortunately this is a con, but it gives Johnny an idea for his own money-making scheme to help pay back the money he stole and to help his mum pay the rent. He places his own adverts in the paper to trick people into sending him money. Some of his adverts were really clever and funny, and even though he was technically breaking the law I really wanted his plans to work.
Later on the focus of the book shifts as a murder is committed and Johnny's mum is the prime suspect. Johnny knows he must clear his mum's name, even if it means risking getting into trouble himself.

The book is set in 1929 and a lot of the story is centred around Tuberculosis and the treatment of the disease. This historical aspect made for interesting reading and I certainly learned some facts about TB that I didn't know before. But the book is so much more than just a historical story, it's a fun mystery story with a fantastic character who I couldn't help but love.

ISBN: 9780385616423
Publish date: April 2010
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Author website:
Book source: Personal collection

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Monthly Round-up January 2011

January News
In case you hadn't noticed, I switched to a custom domain. This is something I'd been meaning to do for ages, I was just a bit scared that it wouldn't work but thankfully it did. You can now find the site at, but don't worry, any old links will still work just fine. I also have a new layout, which I'm still tweaking to my liking.
Highlight of the month: I did an interview with Maria V. Snyder. She's one of my favourite authors, so this was kind of a big deal for me!
Also in January I launched a new weekly feature/meme called Monday Memories where every Monday I talk about one of my favourite childhood books. I've really enjoyed doing this feature, it's fun to look back at some of the books that kicked off my reading addiction.

Books finished in January
Friends of Choice by Linda Nelson
Puzzle For the Secret Seven by Enid Blyton
Die A Little by Megan Abbott
The Ring O' Bells Mystery by Enid Blyton
The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
Dead in the Water by Carola Dunn
Tomorrow's Guardian by Richard Denning
Fire Season by V.H. Folland
The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean. M. Auel
Hector & The Secrets of Love by François Lelord

My favourite book this month was The Clan of the Cave Bear.  It was nothing like any other book I've read and it was just amazing. 

My reviews for all these books will be up in the next couple of weeks, I'm still trying to catch up with reviews from last year!

Reviews posted in January
Anne of Green Gables/Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery
My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent
Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder
A Step Too Far by Meg Hutchinson
Summer, Sun & Stuff According to Alex by Kathryn Lamb
The Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton

Monday Memories in January
The Famous Five series by Enid Blyton
Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian

Books received this month: 16
Added to wishlist: 21

What's coming in February?
On Feb 16th I'll be taking part in the blog tour for Tomorrow's Guardian by Richard Denning. I'll be posting a review of the book and Richard will be answering a couple of questions.
I've also got plenty of reviews lined up and I'll be continuing with Monday Memories.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Monday Memories 2

"Monday Memories" is my weekly blog feature. Every Monday I'll be taking a look back at one of my favourite books or series from when I was younger. I hope you enjoy this feature, and feel free to join in with your own Monday Memories post too if you want to!

This week I'm going to discuss Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian. I first read this book when I was 10 or 11 and I've read it several times since then. I still have my original copy that my parents bought new for me back then. I was really pleased when I first got this book because it was one of the first 'grown up' books I read. 

Goodnight Mister TomThe story itself is very emotional and there are parts where it makes you smile and parts where you can't help but cry. Willie is evacuated to the countryside from London during the war and he is sent to live with Mr Tom. It soon transpires that Willie has been abused by his mother before he was evacuated, and understandably he's very nervous of Mr Tom who comes across as a grumpy old man. Gradually Willie comes out of shell and starts to lead a happy life in the countryside with Mr Tom as his guardian, but then Willie's mother asks for him to be sent back to London. After that the story takes a dark turn and when Will doesn't keep his promise to write, Tom heads off to London to find Will knowing something is very wrong. 

When I first read this book they'd just brought out a TV adaptation of it, which really brings the story to life. If you've never read this book I strongly recommend it, and I recommend watching the TV adaptation too, but make sure you have the tissues ready because it will make you cry! 

Sunday, 30 January 2011

In My Mailbox 29

For review:
My Soul to Save by Rachel Vincent - I've been really looking forward to this one. Thanks MiraInk.
Hector & The Secrets of Love by François Lelord - I just finished reading this yesterday, it's a really fun story. Thanks to Gallic.

From BookMooch 
Damsel in Distress and Requiem for a Mezzo by Carola Dunn
The Rilloby Fair Mystery by Enid Blyton
Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery
The Gravedigger's Daughter by Joyce Carol Oates
Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James

It's been a pretty good week for me! What did you get?

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

The Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton

The Tapestry of Love
A rural idyll: that's what Catherine is seeking when she sells her house in England and moves to a tiny hamlet in the Cévennes mountains. With her divorce in the past and her children grown, she is free to make a new start, and her dream is to set up in business as a seamstress. But this is a harsh and lonely place when you're no longer just here on holiday. There is French bureaucracy to contend with, not to mention the mountain weather, and the reserve of her neighbors, including the intriguing Patrick Castagnol. And that's before the arrival of Catherine's sister, Bryony.
My thoughts: Set in rural France, the pace of the story is relaxed just like the setting. Because of the slow pace of the story I didn't notice just how much had happened in the book until I finished it.
It was obvious from the moment Patrick appeared that he was going to be Catherine's love interest, but I liked the way that she didn't notice how her feelings for him crept up on her.
I liked some of the characters, my favourite was Catherine's daughter, Lexie, with her jobs at niche magazines. To be honest I think I'd have preferred to read a book about her.

I did like this book, I just think it moved a bit slowly and although I enjoyed reading about the French countryside it did get a bit boring after a while.

I received this book from the author in exchange for a review. 

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Summer, Sun & Stuff According to Alex by Kathryn Lamb

Summer, Sun and Stuff According to Alex
"Long, long, loooooooong and BORING weekend... Mark should be back from Spain by now, but he hasn't contacted me. I am NOT going to contact him - he didn't even send me a postcard! I try not to worry. I trust Mark! Don't I?" 
Alex and Mark are back together, but now Mark is suddenly being elusive, and Alex is beginning to worry. Then she finds out he is going to Italy with Fabulosa's family! Alex's friends come up with a plan to win Mark back. But as usual, things don't quite work out as expected. Her new goth look scares everyone, her sunburn peels, her sister, Daisy, has a row with her new husband and moves into Alex's room...
My thoughts:  Written in diary format, this is the story of Alex's summer. She thinks her boyfriend is losing interest in her and that he's more interested in her friend. She tries everything to get him back, apart from actually talking to him! Because of this the summer is full of misunderstandings and there were some quite funny consequences.
This is a cute story and there are some fun illustrations throughout the book. Although Alex is supposed to be 15/16 she seems quite immature, so I think the book is more suitable for younger readers than for readers of Alex's age.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

A Step Too Far by Meg Hutchinson

A Step Too Far
"You be a cheat and a liar Katy Hawley, no wonder your folks d'aint want you! Well we don't want you neither, do we girls?" 
It was only a playground spat but the cruel words burned like acid into Katrin Hawley's brain. For they hinted at a truth her parents had long tried to bury.  
Revenge is a dish best eaten cold, and Katrin waited until she could hit her persecutors where it hurt. One by one, those three girls suffered the consequences of her hate, but in ways so cunning that they didn't even suspect Katrin was the architect of their woes.  
But there was another object of her vengeance, one whose sin could never be forgiven. And in her pursuit of vengeance against him, Katrin takes a fatal step too far.

My thoughts: This book originally caught my attention because it's set in wartime Britain, which is one of my favourite periods to read about. The author has done a good job of describing the atmosphere and the way people were feeling during the war. I enjoyed that aspect of the book.
Unfortunately the main character Katy is very unlikeable. She has some major issues! She is seeking revenge on her 'friends' for something they once said to her years ago at school. I found it very unlikely that someone would take such drastic actions over something that seemed so petty.
Luckily the book redeemed itself by not focusing solely on Katy. There is a glimpse into the lives of the other characters, which made some interesting side-stories.

Overall the book was quite good, and I think if you don't take it too seriously it's actually pretty funny.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Monday Memories 1

I'd like to introduce you to my new weekly blog feature, "Monday Memories". Every Monday I'll be taking a look back at one of my favourite books or series from when I was younger. I hope you enjoy this feature, and feel free to join in with your own Monday Memories post too if you want to!

I thought it would be fitting to kick off with my all time favourite book series, The Famous Five by Enid Blyton. I absolutely loved these books, I had the whole series and I used to read them constantly. My brother and I even used to make up our own adventures and pretend to be two of the Famous Five (I was always George because she was my favourite).

I don't really remember how or when I first got into these books, I assume my parents thought they were the sort of books they wanted me to read and decided to buy me some. I remember having about half of the series that were old second hand copies, then I would save up my pocket money to buy new hardback copies of the books I was missing. I remember they were about £2-3 and because I only used to get £5 a month pocket money I could only buy one a month so it took me a while to get the full set.

I loved all of Enid Blyton's books, but the Famous Five were always a firm favourite. I loved the relationship between the characters, I loved that George was a tomboy and she had her own island, and I loved Timmy the dog. They used to have the coolest adventures, and I think that reading these stories probably made me more adventurous too.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

In My Mailbox 28

These are the books I've got in the last 2 weeks. 

From BookMooch:
Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene - I really wanted to read this one after seeing this review on The Children's War (which is an awesome blog by the way)
Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella - This has been on my wishlist for ages, I love Sophie Kinsella's books.

Carnival of the Dead by Laurence Staig - This was 49p in a sale, how could I resist?

For review:
The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel - Received from Hodder & Stoughton
Tomorrow's Guardian by Richard Denning - Received from Richard Denning for a blog tour stop on Feb 16th.

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Author Interview - Maria V. Snyder

Today I'm joined by Maria V. Snyder author of the Study and Glass trilogies and the Inside Out series.

Can you describe Inside Out in 3 words?
Fast-paced, action-packed, world-changing. That's three.....right? :)

Do you have any habits while writing?
A few – I need music on in the background or else it's too quiet. I put on pop music because I heard those songs so much, I don't have to listen to them any more. I usually have a cup of tea on hand, and I write down how many words I'd written each day.

A lot of your characters have unusual names, how do you come up with these?
I have about three baby name books that are very useful. When I start a novel, I go through my books and pick out one name for each letter of the alphabet for each gender. Then when I'm writing and need a name, I go to my list. I pick names that mean something special and, I would tell you what Trella means, but that would give away one of the twists ;). I have an article about my characters' names on my website. Here's a link if anyone is interested: and I did a guest blog that gives more details here:

In Inside Out Trella uses technology to help her on her quest. What technology do you think would make your life easier?
Somedays I think technology makes my life harder! I think having a smart house would be ideal. The house would keep track of food and when we run low on milk, it would automatically order another gallon from the store (which would deliver for free). The house would sense the laundry baskets filling up and would collect them and do laundry. Same with cleaning and cooking :)

If you lived Inside would you be like Trella and try to find out the truth?
I don't think I'd be that brave, but I would help her if I could :)

Thanks so much for inviting me onto your blog! If your readers would like more info about me and my books, I have the first chapter of all my books on my website as well as a number of free short stories they can read. I also have a page full of writing advice for any aspiring writers out there :) Here’s the link: And my blog is:

Friday, 14 January 2011

Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder

Inside OutKeep your head down. Don't get noticed. Or else.
I'm Trella. I'm a scrub. A nobody. One of the thousands who work the lower levels, keeping Inside clean for the Uppers. I just do my job and try to avoid the Population Control Police, who dream of recycling scrubs into fertiliser. So what if I occasionally use the pipes to sneak around the Upper levels? It's not like it's dangerous...
Well, turns out it is. Because I know every corridor, pipe and shortcut I've become the go-to girl to lead a revolution. I know if we find a gateway to Outside it'll be suicide plain and simple. But guess who likes a challenge?

I should have just said no...
My thoughts: I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I'm a big fan of Maria's Study and Glass series but because this is a dystopian novel I worried that I might not like it. That was totally not the case however, I absolutely loved this book!
The novel is set Inside, which is like a big metal box with all sorts of corridors, rooms and pipework. Trella is a scrub and she works cleaning the pipework. As rumours grow that there is more than just Inside, Trella is roped in to helping discover the truth.
I really liked Trella and her friends and I was rooting for them all the way through the book.

The setting of this book is obviously a major part of the story. I found that the setting was described really well and you can quite easily picture in your mind what it's like.

Although the setting is very different to Maria's other books, the writing is still just as great, and there's another awesome female MC. So if you loved Maria's other books, I highly recommend this!

Be sure to stop by my blog again tomorrow when I'll have an interview with Maria!

Thanks to Mira Ink for sending me this book for review.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent

My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers, #1)Something is wrong with Kaylee Cavanaugh...
She can sense when someone near her is about to die. And when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally.
Kaylee just wants to enjoy having caught the attention of the hottest boy in school. But a normal date is hard to come by when Nash seems to know more about the dark forces behind Kaylee's power than she does.
And when classmates start dropping dead for no apparent reason and only Kaylee knows who'll be next, she realises that finding a boyfriend is the least of her worries!
My thoughts: Kaylee is a bean sidhe but doesn't know it. All she knows is that she sees when someone is about to die and uncontrollably screams until they do die.
This was a really great story and I really liked the characters, especially Kaylee and Nash.
I hadn't heard of bean sidhes before so I was pleased to see that the mythology behind them was explained in the story.
This was a fantastic start to the series and I can't wait to read the next book!

Thanks to Mira Ink for sending me this book for review.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

In My Mailbox 27

I haven't done IMM for ages, so these are all the books I've got since the middle of December.

For review:



So that's what I got, now all I need is some time to read them! lol

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Anne of Green Gables/Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables / Anne of Avonlea (Anne of Green Gables, #1-2)Synopsis: When Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert apply to an orphanage for a boy to help on their farm, Green Gables, they are astonished when a loquacious little girl steps off the train instead. Anne, red-headed, pugnacious and incurably romantic, causes chaos at Green Gables and in the village, but her wit and good nature delight the fictional community of Prince Edward Island, Canada, and ensure that Anne of Green Gables continues to be a firm favourite with readers worldwide.
Anne of Avonlea continues Anne's story. Now half-past sixteen but as strong-headed and romantic as ever, Anne becomes a teacher at her old school and dreams of its improvement. But her responsible position and mature ambitions do not prevent her entanglement in the scrapes that still seem to beset her in spite of her best intentions.
My thoughts: I read these two stories one after the other in an omnibus book. I wish I'd have read this book sooner because I really enjoyed both stories. Anne was such a great character, and I wish I lived in Avonlea because it's sounds delightful. 
The writing was beautiful and so descriptive that I felt like I was actually there. 
Each character is very well-written and even the background characters are very fleshed out, which I really liked because there are so many authors who don't tell you much about the background characters. 
I'm really looking forward to discovering the rest of L.M. Montgomery's books, she's an amazing author!

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Looking back at 2010

Happy New Year everyone! I'm really sorry I haven't posted very much lately, I've had the flu and haven't been online much.
I can't believe this blog has been running for over a year now, the time seems to have gone really quickly. So, here's a quick look back over what I've read in 2010.

I read 125 books in 2010, you can see the full list on my 'read in 2010' page.
I've reviewed 53 books since the blog was launched.

My top 12 books that I've read this year, based on which books I picked as my favourite read each month, are (in no particular order):
1. 85A by Kyle Thomas Smith* | goodreads
2. My Soul To Take by Rachel Vincent* | goodreads
3. Spy Glass by Maria V. Snyder | goodreads
4. Endal by Allen & Sandra Parton | goodreads
5. Moonshine by Christina Jones | goodreads
6. House At The Corner by Enid Blyton* | goodreads
7. The White Empress by Lyn Andrews* | goodreads
8. Angus, Thongs & Perfect Snogging by Louise Rennison | goodreads
9. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters | goodreads
10. Double Stitch by John Rolfe Gardiner | goodreads
11. Diary of a Hapless Househusband by Sam Holden | goodreads
12. Gorilla Adventure by Willard Price | goodreads
* review to come

 Author appearances:
Interview with Rachel Vincent, author of Shifters series and Soul Screamers series
Guest post by Richard Galbraith, author of Concrete Operational
Interview with Luisa Plaja, author of Split By A Kiss

Thanks to all of my lovely blog readers for sticking with me through my first year of book blogging. Here's to 2011, and let's hope it's even better than 2010!