Book review: The Future Of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

It’s 1996. You’re about to log onto the Internet for the very first time.  The World Wide Web is about to be opened up to you…exciting right? Imagine though if that very first time you were faced with a strange website called Facebook, and even stranger it seems to be you updating it…well your future self that is.
That’s exactly what happens when Emma receives her first desktop from her Dad. Confused at first she calls in Josh, life long neighbour and friend to take a look. At first he’s convinced someone’s playing a prank…until they discover Emma’s friends list and realise he also has a page. As it dawns that this is themselves, fifteen years in their future, they both feel very different about what they see. While Josh can’t believe he’s married to the most popular girl in school, Emma’s concerned by her clearly miserable and lonely life. When she realises decisions she makes now can affect the future according to Facebook she becomes obsessed. But knowing the future is a dangerous thing. Changing it might be even worse.
This book appealed on so many levels I just had to get a copy as soon as it was released. I was a teen when the Internet first arrived in homes and schools and can distinctly remember loading up cd-roms and painfully waiting for dial up pages to load. The Future Of Us was certainly a nostalgia trip for me, even down to the fashions, TV shows and Discmans.
The idea of coming across Facebook before it was even invented and seeing your future life played out was genius. Who wouldn’t be tempted by that? Emma and Josh’s perplexity at the things they were posting about in the future was hilarious. If someone had described Facebook to me fifteen years ago I’d probably have thought it sounded ridiculous too.
Aside from the nostalgia I was also intrigued by the time slip element in this book. Emma becomes obsessed with changing her future and then checking its implications on Facebook and I thought this would be fascinating. Unfortunately I think a massive opportunity was missed here to make this book brilliant. The idea is fantastic, the execution is disappointing and the authors just don’t explore things enough. It’s all very surface, I wanted to know so much more. Why did this happen? What are the far-reaching repercussions? What do the characters learn from it all? The opportunity to change your future is unbelievably fascinating but sadly, all Emma comes across in being interested in is which guy she ends up with.
I also felt I just didn’t connect with either of the characters. The book is told from both Josh and Emma’s viewpoint and is written by two authors. I’ve no idea which parts where written by whom, whether they each wrote a character or contributed to both so I don’t think the issue was down to two styles not meshing. I think it’s down to a lack of depth and detailing. By the end I had no idea why this pair were as connected as they were. I also wonder how teens today will relate to this book; after all it’s aimed at them yet the most enjoyable part of it for me was the 90’s nostalgia. I’m not convinced they’ll truly get it.

If you take The Future Of Us as a piece of easy, fluffy story telling then it’s an enjoyable read. I can’t deny I flew through it in a couple of hours. If you start scratching the surface though then you realise there’s a lot of faults. Not least the ease with which Emma accepts Facebook in the first place and understands it’s from her own future. I found this an easy and entertaining enough read, but ultimately unsatisfying. I rated this book as three stars on goodreads when I finished reading it, now as I write my review I realise it has pretty big flaws and think I was possibly a little generous. If you find yourself with a copy of The Future Of Us I’d say as a quick easy read it does the job. On the other hand I wouldn’t recommend this as a must read and overall it was a disappointment.

Published January 2012 by Simon & Schuster Children’s books (UK)

Book Review: Reckoning (Strange Angels #5) by Lili St. Crow

Reckoning is the fifth and final book in the Strange Angels series by Lili St. Crow. It was published on 27th October 2011 by Quercus and the book is 304 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy for review.
Nobody expected Dru Anderson to survive this long. Not Graves. Not Christophe. Not even Dru. She’s battled killer zombies, jealous djamphirs, and bloodthirsty suckers straight out of her worst nightmares. But now that Dru has bloomed into a full fledged svetocharare, beautiful, and toxic to all vampires—the worst is yet to come. Because getting out alive is going to cost more than she’s ever imagined. And in the end, is survival really worth the sacrifice? 
Dru Anderson’s not afraid of the dark. 

But she should be.
What I thought
As one of my favourite YA series, I am really sad to see Strange Angels come to an end. Lili St. Crow has given us 5 books that stand out so much compared with other series and they do not go on for longer than was needed.
In true Strange Angels style, Reckoning starts as it means to go on – full of action and intensity. Because of the nature of the plot, Dru is most definitely oneEven of the strongest and bravest girls in YA. Even though she kicks ass most of the time, it was nice to see a different side to her this time around. After other books of hard times, no wonder she finally started to break down. Preparing to face off with the king of vampires would do that to me (and anyone) as well! I loved seeing the contrast from her tough chick persona. If I had been in her situation though I would have been sat in the corner crying like a baby and refusing to move. Some of the scenes in Reckoning are extremely hard hitting and very emotional. I really wasn’t expecting this book, even as it is the last in the series, to make me well up and nearly cry.
Reckoning is set in various locations due to the vampires being after Dru. The fact that the characters are on the run for quite some time makes for many interesting and exciting situations. I don’t want to give anything away about these but I will just say that everything and anything happens in this book. The plot focuses on Dru getting her revenge on Sergej for the pain and upset he has caused her over the course of the series. As this is the main storyline in the book, it comes with a lot of action. As Dru was on her journey to do what she set out to do, I was hooked! I couldn’t read fast enough to find out how the final showdown between her and Sergej would work out. I was pretty sure it was going to go in her favour but you really never know with Lili St. Crow.
Due to the plot sending Dru all over the damn place, many of my favourite character were missing for quite a large amount of the time. Christophe isn’t around nearly enough. Dru and Graves didn’t get enough one on one time and poor Dib barely gets a look in. I also really missed the friendship between Dru and Nat. There was a serious lack of female characters and it’s not often I say that at all. The one thing I will say though about the lack of use of the other characters is that it really made Dru shine. It showed that she really is a surviver and that she can do things all on her own (even if she has no choice in the matter).
My one major disappointment with Reckoning though is the ending, which was a complete cop out in my eyes. I don’t want to say too much though apart from that I think it ruined the end of the series. For anyone who has already read this book, I’m sure you will know what I am talking about. Nothing is really defined clearly enough and everything really is left for the reader to decide. I wanted concrete answers from the last book in a series but that wasn’t what I got at all. Apart from that though, I did really enjoy this book because it was such a roller-coaster of emotions.

I really am sad to see this series end but I will be watching Lili St. Crow for what she does next. After enjoying this series so much, I will definitely buy anything that she writes now.

Book Review: This Is Not Forgiveness by Celia Rees

I’m a massive fan of Celia Rees’s historical novels and Witch Child sits firmly on my ‘favourites of all time’ shelf. When I first read the synopsis for her latest novel, This is Not Forgiveness, I felt a little pang of disappointment as I’d been so looking forward to another fantastic historical read. However this was quickly followed by excitement and I was eager to give something different a go.
This Is Not Forgiveness is a tense psychological thriller told from alternating viewpoints of the three main characters, Jamie, Caro and Rob. When gorgeous and unobtainable Caro starts showing an interest in Jamie, he can’t believe his luck. He’s heard the rumours about her, particularly from his sister Martha who hates the girl with a passion, but he doesn’t care. He can’t help but be attracted to her impulsive and dangerous attitude.
But over the summer Jamie comes to realise there’s more to Caro than anyone even realised. Caro’s deeply political beliefs are becoming increasingly extremist, which Jamie feels less and less comfortable with. And that’s not his only worry. His older brother, Rob, who was injured out of the army in an explosion in Afghanistan, is falling apart; drinking heavily and becoming angry and violent. Separately, Caro and Rob are enough to keep Jamie awake at night, but when the two come together no one could have predicted the outcome.
Saying this book is different to anything I’ve read by this author before is an understatement. Firstly it’s set very much in modern times and Celia Rees proves she has as much a handle on the youth of today as she does on those in her historical novels. Her tiny observations and detailing are rich and evoke clear images making her characters both main and minor very real.
The book starts with the ending, which I wasn’t immediately aware of and prompted a little bit of confusion, as did the switching narrative. It took me a few chapters to fully get into the stride of this book and understand which viewpoint I was actually hearing from. Once I did though I couldn’t stop reading. It isn’t an easy book at all. The characters in this book are flawed and damaged, the themes are political and the ending is as desperate a climax as the lead up to it. It’s thought provoking and very much a story of our times.

This Is Not Forgiveness is at times shocking and uncomfortable reading and isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste. Personally I thought it was a compelling, edgy thriller that left me thinking about its themes once I finished the last page. While it doesn’t quite match up to Rees’s historical novels for me, it does nothing to waiver my admiration for this author. I do hope for more historical from Celia Rees, but I also look forward to seeing what else she may come up with eagerly. 

Published by Bloomsbury February 2012 (PB) Kindle version available for download now.
thanks to the publishers for providing a copy for review.

Book review: Torn by Cat Clarke

Torn is the second novel by Cat Clarke. It was published by Quercus on 22nd December 2011 and the book is 384 pages long.
Four girls. One dead body. A whole lot of guilt.

Alice King isn’t expecting the holiday of a lifetime when she sets off with her classmates on a trip to the Scottish wilderness, but she’s not exactly prepared for an experience beyond her darkest nightmares…

Alice and her best friend Cass are stuck in a cabin with Polly, the social outcast, and Rae, the moody emo-girl. Then there’s Tara – queen of mean. Powerful, beautiful and cruel, she likes nothing better than putting people down.

Cass decides it’s time to teach Tara a lesson she’ll never forget. And so begins a series of events that will change the lives of these girls forever…

What I thought
I LOVED Cat Clarke’s début novel, Entangled so when I found out about her next release, I couldn’t wait to read that either.
Cat Clarke has an amazing ability to get into the head of teenage girls and write exactly what they are feeling/ have felt at some point or another. School is not an easy place for any teenager and girls especially can be really bitchy and cruel. The teenagers in Torn are real – beyond belief. What I love so much about Clarke’s writing is that she isn’t afraid to say exactly how things and she doesn’t shy away from real issues. In this book, the issue tackled is bullying and how people deal with being bulled/ what the bullies themselves deal with. It isn’t very often that you see the story of things like this from both sides and I liked being able to form a complete opinion about the people in questions.
As the main character, I really liked Alice. I probably shouldn’t have though. Alice is pretty damn messed up, not only because of what happens on that school trip but also other things that have happened in her life. Because of this, I couldn’t help but empathise with her, slightly understand why she was feeling a certain way or why she would think certain things. I could completely feel Alice’s guilt over what happened and why she was so undecided about how to feel in regards to what happened.
Other characters were just as good. From Cass, Polly and Rae who are in on everything with Alice to Tara, the bully. Tara is where the different sides of characters comes in. While I really wanted to smack Tara round the face (multiple times) but then a few minutes later, I kind of wanted to hug her. Really, who has the ability to write about the biggest bitch in the world that you also want to hug?! I’m sure if Tara had been in my school though I wouldn’t have wanted to hug her, much like 99% of the other girls she did go to school with.
As for the story, it was gripping, thrilling and pretty damn nasty at times but I loved that. It takes no time at all for the story to get going, diving right into what happened on that school trip. Part way through, I was really disappointed and thought that everything had been explained way too early but then I realised just how much more there was to it. It wasn’t just about what happened on that trip. It was about what happens after, what happened before and everything in-between. There are plenty of twists to keep you guessing and wanting to read as fast as possible to figure out what is really going on.
Torn reminded me of a mix between I Know What You Did Last Summer and Jawbreaker – two great films all mashed together in one book! While I didn’t like it quite as much as I did Entangled, it is still bloody good!!

Book Review: 15 Days Without A Head by Dave Cousins

Fifteen year old Laurence hasn’t had the best upbringing. With an alcoholic mum and a six year old brother Jay who thinks he’s Scooby Doo he’s left to pick up the pieces in their chaotic life more often than not. But when their Mum doesn’t come home one night, Laurence has to face his biggest challenge yet. Over Fifteen days Laurence does everything he can to keep their dysfunctional family together, but with no money and a nosy neighbour poking their nose in it isn’t easy. Dreading the authorities getting involved and the thought of being separated from Jay, can he get his mother back before anyone finds out and the family is torn apart for good?

Until I started reading this book I had very little idea of it’s subject so was somewhat surprised to find such a powerful and touching story. This is a very real story of neglect and life with an alcoholic parent and one I’m sure too many children across the globe live with everyday. My heart went out to Laurence, who at fifteen years old has to be parent to his younger sibling for most of his childhood. With a responsibility a lot of adults couldn’t cope with and zero resources, I admired his loyalty and determination to to keep his younger brother with him. 

This could quite easily have been a depressing read, but with Dave Cousins humour it has plenty of moments of lightness which had me laughing out loud at times. In one scene where, in his desperation to get money from his savings account, he tries dressing up as his mother, I was almost crying with laughing. The author has a natural comedic talent and the brothers plight is made all the more poignant by moments like this. I also felt very angry at times while reading this book, that a mother could just abandon her children for the sake of a drink. Yet Laurence never waivers in his support and belief in her. He recognises her alcoholism as an illness and his insight into it is thought provoking.  

15 Days Without A Head is one of those books that encourage thought and education about it’s topics without you even realising. Despite it’s dark subject I found it quite uplifting and hopeful by the end. A brilliant book that I’ll be encouraging my own teenager to read and one I recommend highly. 

Published by OUP January 2012
Thanks to the publishers for sending an advance copy for review. 

Book Review: Stolen Away by Alyxandra Harvey

Stolen Away is a stand alone novel by Alyxandra Harvey. It was published on 5th January by Bloomsbury and the book is 278 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
For seventeen years, Eloise Hart had no idea the world of Faery even existed. Now she has been abducted and trapped in the Rath of Lord Strahan, King of Faery. Strahan was only meant to rule for seven years, as Faery tradition dictates, and then give up his crown to another. But he won’t comply, and now chaos threatens both worlds.

The only one who can break his stranglehold on the Faery court is his wife. . . Eloise’s aunt Antonia. Using Eloise to lure Antonia, Strahan captures his wife, desperate to end the only threat to his reign. Now Eloise must become the rescuer. Together with her best friends Jo and Devin, she must forge alliances with other Fae, including a gorgeous protector named Lucas, and Strahan’s mysterious son, Eldric—who may or may not betray them.

What I thought
I love Alyxandra Harvey’s Drake Chronicles series and when Stolen Away came through the door, I couldn’t wait to read it. Knowing it was about fey and along with the stunning over, I knew it would be something that I enjoyed.
The book starts off with Eloise, who was a great heroine. From the very beginning, she showed that she was far from stupid and had plenty of street smarts. Eloise was clearly different from her friends and I liked this about her. She stood out. She was also pretty funny. When Lucas turns up at her table and acts the way that he does, she thought he was insane and I would have been exactly the same. I definitely would have told him where to go! As the story really got going, Eloise’s strength and bravery began to shine through. Having to deal with a complete change in her life would have been hard to begin with but add in being kidnapped and a faery king and you know things are about to get complicated.
As much as I liked Eloise, it was Jo that I loved. For some reason, Jo has a bit of an obsession with all things British, especially slang words. Because of this, you can expect a fair amount of swearing compared with a lot of YA books. Obviously, Stolen Away isn’t really for younger readers because of this aspect but it was perfect for me! I have always said that real teenagers swear and although some won’t like this being used in a YA book, I loved it. I didn’t only love Jo’s foul mouth though. She’s feisty, knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go for it – especially if what she wants is a seriously hot boy. Overall, I loved Jo so much because on top of all of these things, she was really funny too and was generally a well rounded character.
Not only does this book have some kick ass female characters but there are also a couple of swoon worthy boys as well. On each end of the spectrum we have Lucas and Eldric. One is so good that a halo should be shining above his head whereas the other should probably have a pair of little red horns. It’s strange how I loved both of them pretty ewually. Each boy had something wonderful to offer and I would have quite happily had either of them. I’m not that picky!
As Stolen Away is a standalone, quite a lot is packed into just under 300 pages. Still, the pacing is fantastic. It didn’t take long at all for me to feel like I knew Eloise and Jo really well and because of this, I didn’t mind how quickly the story really began. The moment that Eloise meets Lucas (and that’s only a few pages in) is where things begin to get interesting. Eloise’s world is turned completely upside down when she realises that everything is not as it seems. Her family aren’t who she thought they were and things exist that shouldn’t be possible. I loved how exciting the world Alyxandra Harvey created was. It seemed as though anything could happen next and some other fantastical creature could pop up at any minute out of no where. Due to the size of this book, I didn’t think there would be quite as many twists and turns but there was… all over the place.
Alyxandra Harvey never fails to amaze me!

Book Review: Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

Forgive My Fins is the first book in the Fins series by Tera Lynn Childs. The book was published by Templar on 1st July 2011 and the book is 295 pages long.

Lily Sanderson has a secret, and it’s not that she has a huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Unrequited love is hard enough when you’re a normal teenage girl, but when you’re half human, half mermaid like Lily, there’s no such thing as a simple crush.

Lily’s mermaid identity is a secret that can’t get out, since she’s not just any mermaid – she’s a Thalassinian princess. When Lily found out three years ago that her mother was actually a human, she finally realized why she didn’t feel quite at home in Thalassinia, and she’s been living on land and going to Seaview high school ever since, hoping to find where she truly belongs. Sure, land has its problems – like her obnoxious, biker boy neighbour Quince Fletcher – but it has that one major perk – Brody. The problem is, mermaids aren’t really the casual dating type – when they “bond,” it’s for life.

When Lily’s attempt to win Brody’s love leads to a tsunami-sized case of mistaken identity, she is in for a tidal wave of relationship drama, and she finds out, quick as a tailfin flick, that happily-ever-after never sails quite as smoothly as you planned.

What I thought
Having previously read Tempest Rising, I decided mermaids were definitely my thing. I’d had this book sitting around for months without having read it and the book just mentioned is the one that made me decide

The main character, Lily, was one that I loved completely. Being a teenager, she has insecurities and worries like everyone else – mainly asking out Brody, the guy she’s been drooling over for ages. She stumbles her words and gets extremely nervous around him and I can remember being exactly like that when I was in school. Even with the help of her best friend, Lily is no closer to getting the boy that she so desperately wants. As well as having normal teenage worries though, Lily has bigger things to think about. She’s actually half human, half mermaid and this causes her no end of problems.

Due to her mermaid heritage, Lily comes out with all sorts of wonderful sayings. She uses analogies from the sea and relating to fish and any other water creature you can imagine. Hearing her say these kinds of things really made me giggle throughout the book. The way she speaks and the way she mixes in her mermaid life with her human one was one of the things I loved most about Lily. Being half mermaid comes with some pretty big issues though. When a mermaid kisses someone else, it means that they are bonded for life so she can’t go around kissing just anyone. Lily hopes that Brody will be the recipient of this kiss and be with her forever.

Things don’t quite work out as she planned though. Instead of kissing Brody, Lily manages to accidentally kiss her neighbour, Quince and become bonded to him instead. Yes, he’s hot but she can’t stand him! Quince was ass great as Lily though and I thought that they worked really well together. The banter and jokes between them made for funny, light-hearted reading but there were also more serious things going on underneath that. Although Quince begins as a bit of a joker, he does have a lot of charm at the same time. From the beginning you can tell that there is more to him than meets the eye and I couldn’t wait to see what he was really like.

The story of Lily and Quince, their bond and what they were planning to do about it was fresh, exciting and refreshing. I haven’t read a book quite like this before so it was really nice to read something completely new and original. The way in which Lily and Quince get to know each other, are forced to spend time with each other and experience quite a lot together was written in such a believable way – even though we’re talking about mermaids here. Their situation brings about a wonderful underwater world, Thalassinia, and while it did feel a little like The Little Mermaid at times, I didn’t care. The different creatures and personalities under the water were diverse and really helped to make the story as good as it was.

Forgive My Fins is a fabulous read and I can’t wait for the next in the series, Fins Are Forever! 

‘So I say Thank you For The Books…’ Featuring Robin Wasserman

Today we’re welcoming Robin Wasserman as part of the UK Blog tour for her new novel, The Book of Blood and Shadow. (I’d also like to apologise to Robin for the lateness of this post due to a confusion over dates! Over to you Robin…

I’m told that when I was a baby, my first word was “book.” (I should add here, as my parents always do when telling this story, that my first word didn’t happen until absurdly late, by which point my parents had resigned themselves to having a mute child. I suspect by my teenage years, they came to regret being wrong.) I don’t remember what first inspired my love of reading, or even whether “love” was the right word for it, because when I was a child, books weren’t just some random thing you loved, like cupcakes or roller skates or Oscar the Grouch.  Books were like food, like air, like my parents: Necessities of life. Pre-conditions of life. I loved reading the way I loved breathing. It would just never have occurred to me there was any other way to be.

My father was an English teacher who visited four libraries per week and took me along to each one; my mother was a former English major/almost-before-she-got-a-more-“practical”-mathish-type-job-librarian who never went anywhere without a book in hand.  And I was a shy kid who liked nothing more than to shut my door against the world and escape into a world of my own, or someone else’s imagination. So it’s no wonder I read, and read constantly: While I ate. While I brushed my teeth. While I was walking to school or down the stairs. While I took a bath (tricky but manageable, even with a library book—though don’t tell my school librarian). And I guess you could say that all those books turned me into a writer—not so much because they inspired me to write stories of my own, but because I came to see books as the only truly valuable in the world. So when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, there was ever only one option: Writer, of course. Because writers made books. And I couldn’t conceive that, given the choice, any grown-up would bother to do anything else.

So I thank my parents for addicting me to stories at an early age; I thank my eye doctor for making sure I could read them (even if it meant wearing coke bottle glasses in nursery school), and I thank the people who wrote the books that changed my world, as only the books you read as a child can do:

The Velveteen Rabbit, Harold and the Purple Crayon, and A Child’s Garden of Verses (especially “The Land of Counterpane”), which showed me that if you told yourself the right story, you could make the world of your imagination come to life. 

A Wrinkle in Time, A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Interstellar Pig (actually, everything Madeleine L’Engle, Douglas Adams, and William Sleator ever wrote), which made me laugh, made me wonder, and most of all, made me think. I spent most of my teen years reading nothing but science fiction and the occasional (under duress) fantasy novel, and for that I have these three books to thank.

The Westing Game, because it is perfect.

It, which may not be the best of Stephen King’s books, but will always be my favorite, because it is the book that gave me courage when I needed it—which, in my dark junior high years, was plenty.

These are the books—along with hundreds of others, all of which I wish I had the space to mention here—that let me escape from my boring and angsty suburban life, that showed me the possibilities of the universe, that let me breathe and helped me dream, and that eventually persuaded me that if I wanted my life to mean something, I would devote it to writing books of my own, and hoping that someday, somehow, one of them would change someone’s life. 

The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman is published by Atom as a paperback original on the 19th January 2012, £6.99

It was like a nightmare, but there was no waking up. When the night began, Nora had two best friends and a boyfriend she adored. When it ended, she had nothing but blood on her hands. Chris was dead. Adriane couldn’t speak. And Max, Nora’s sweet, smart, soft-spoken Prince Charming, was gone. He was also-according to the police, according to her parents, according to everyone-a murderer. Desperate to prove his innocence, Nora’s determined to follow the trail of blood, no matter where it leads. But Chris’s murder is just one piece in a puzzle that spans continents and centuries. Solving it may be the only way she can save her own life.

Please do go and checkout the other stops on the tour!

Visit Robin’s Website:

Book Review: The Haunting Of Charity Delafield by Ian Beck

A magical, enchanting tale, with stunning illustrations that will transport you into another world. 

Flame-haired Charity Delafield has grown up in a vast, isolated house – most of which she is forbidden to explore – with her fiercely strict father. With only her kindly nurse, Rose, and her cat Mr Tompkins for company, she knows very little of the outside world – or of her own family’s shadowy past. What she does know is that she is NEVER to go outside unsupervised. And she is NEVER to over-excite herself, because of the mysterious ‘condition’ that she has been told she suffers from. 

But Charity has a secret. All her life, she has had the same strange dream – a dream of a dark corridor, hidden somewhere in the house. Then, one day, Charity stumbles across the corridor. It leads to a door . . . and suddenly she realises things are not quite what they seem. (From Goodreads.Com)

The Haunting Of Charity Delafield is one of those books that once you open the first page, will transport you into another world completely and keep you hooked until the very last page. Reading it was an absolute pleasure.

The book is set in Victorian times, which as I’ve mentioned once or twice before is my most favourite time of all to read about and Ian Beck captures it beautifully. All the ingredients of a delicious Gothic tale are here: a huge, intimidating mansion, family secrets and  loyal servants. Everything about this book screams children’s classic and it reminded me of books like The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgeson Burnett and The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken, my two favourite books from childhood and the ones I credit my love of books to. Like those books, I can see the Haunting Of Charity Delafield also inspiring a love of reading and it’s certainly a book you’d want to read over and over again.

It also has a magical, fairy tale element which is revealed towards the end of the book and I admit I wasn’t actually expecting. it’s beautifully written and imaginative though and I absolutely loved it. At only 200 pages long it’s perfect for confident readers of age ten upwards and I know if I’d read this at that age I would have been spellbound by it. This is certainly a book I’ll be keeping for my daughter to enjoy in a few years time. 

My copy was a proof, but the hardback is truly a thing of beauty with it’s gold tipped pages and stunning illustrations, it makes the perfect gift. A book for children to inspire a love of reading, and adults to enjoy a nostalgic journey of their own childhood books, this is one book that should be making it into Christmas stockings this year. 

Published by Random House Children’s Books 2011
Thanks to the publishers for providing a copy for review

I was lucky enough to interview Ian Beck about The Haunting Of Charity Delafield earlier this year and you can read it HERE

Book Review: The Name of the Star (Shades of London #1) by Maureen Johnson

The Name of the Star is the first book in a series by Maureen Johnson. It was published by Harper Collins Children’s Books on 29th September and the book is 252 pages long.
The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it’s the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.

Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn’t notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target?

What I thought
I used to be fascinated with Jack the Ripper, which is a little bit morbid for a 13 year old girl, I know. When I heard about this book, I couldn’t have been more excited. It is quite safe to say that I loved this aspect of the book.
The Name of the Star feels very authentic to London and its old, cobbled streets. The whole setting of this book, especially the hard hitting and gruesome beginning is eerie and creepy but it draws you right in. I was hooked after only one 1 page and I have to applaud Maureen Johnson for beginning the first book in a series this way. It made a massive impact on me and it’s now an opening I don’t think I could ever forget. If more books were written like this, I would be a very happy girl.
The mystery in this book is by far the best part of it. I couldn’t wait to find out what was really going on and to find out what the deal was with all of the killings and strange going ons. However, when the twist was finally revealed, I was extremely unsure about it. It seemed pretty insane and I was hoping it had been something else for quite some time. After more and more about it was explained though, I thought it was actually really clever, fresh and exciting.
The main character is not Jack the Ripper at all, like I was thinking it might be. Instead, it is American teenager Rory who has just moved to England. As her parents are working in Bristol, Rory has to attend a private boarding school in London. She’s completely out of place in a country she doesn’t really understand even after trying to. I liked Rory though as she tried to make the best out of her situation. I don’t really know how I would react to moving to London in the middle of a Jack the Ripper-esque killing spree.
Unfortunately, other aspects of the book did not quite do it for me. There were a lot of characters all over the place and this made certain things quite confusing at times. Rory’s romance (if you can call it that) with Jerome was seriously un-needed. Fair enough that the YA audience like this in a book but at least make it integral to the rest of the plot. For me, their relationship was only about kissing and it had nothing to do with anything else at all. I think the time spent in this area of the book would have been better spent focusing on the twist and the other things that were going on.
I know my review sounds like a real mixed bag for this book but I really did enjoy it. It is a fantastic thriller full of mystery but as a series, I wonder where it can possibly go next.