29 March 2016

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Pages: 496
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance, Science Fiction
Book Description:
For sixteen-year-old Tris, the world changes in a heartbeat when she is forced to make a terrible choice. Turning her back on her family, Tris ventures out, alone, determined to find out where she truly belongs.
Shocked by the brutality of her new life, Tris can trust no one. And yet she is drawn to a boy who seems to both threaten and protect her. The hardest choices may yet lie ahead….

My Opinion:
I'm finally joining the hype that is this trilogy and I really don't know why I waited so long because this book was awesome!
Set in a dystopian world where everyone is divided into factions, we follow Tris as she discovers who she is and where she belongs, as well as the fight between what is right and wrong.

This message is one of the first things I liked about the novel. I thought that the struggle between choosing right and wrong, between good and evil was really interesting and thought provoking as I found myself constantly asking what I would do if I was her. I'm very glad that the message wasn't about choosing between two guys and I'm so glad there wasn't a love triangle because they're cliched and boring!

Which brings me onto my next point about the romance. Although it was really predictable, I did enjoy it. I completely ship Four and Tris and I love how the two of them discover things about each other. These realisations were powerful and connected the characters further, which added a more unexpected twist onto something that I predicted from the beginning. Their individual character development and development as a couple was well written and I felt connected to them.

The entire plot was fantastically written and gripping. I was hooked and read this book in a matter of days. Just when I thought everything had calmed down something new and dramatic occurred and this was a really effective feature. I can't wait to read the next two novels in the trilogy and hope they're of the same fast pace and full of intrigue like this one.

Overall this was a really enjoyable read. I'm so glad to have jumped on the bandwagon after procrastinating reading this series for so long - what's wrong with me?! I recommend this to everyone even though it's predominantly aimed at young adults because it had me hooked the entire way through and caused me to dive straight into the second book already!

Favourite Quotes:

Becoming fearless isn't the point. That's impossible. It's learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it.


Politeness is deception in pretty packaging.


Sometimes, the best way to help someone is just to be near them.


That is death - shifting from "is" to "was"

Rating ★
5 out of 5 stars 

 Next book I'm going to review:
Insurgent by Veronica Roth

22 March 2016

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

Title: The Wasp Factory
Author: Iain Banks
Pages: 192
Genre: Gothic/Horror, Thriller, Mystery
Book Description:
Meet Frank Cauldhame. Just sixteen, and unconventional to say the least:

Two years after I killed Blyth I murdered my young brother Paul, for quite different and more fundamental reasons than I'd disposed of Blyth, and then a year after that I did for my young cousin Esmerelda, more or less on a whim.

That's my score to date. Three. I haven't killed anybody for years, and don't intend to ever again.

It was just a stage I was going through.

My Opinion:
Following the narrative of a 16 year old boy who lives on a remote island with his father, we discover the tragedies that occur and how the characters deal with these in their own separate ways. I had heard lots of good things about this novel so I decided to pick it up and, boy, am I glad I did!

The characters in this novel were so unique. I loved seeing how the protagonist changed from who he was at the beginning and who he was at the end, and uncovering the mystery about his older brother was something I thoroughly enjoyed. I also found Frank's father to be quite intriguing however my opinion of him did change as I reached the ending.

The plot line was amazingly written and full of constant intrigue. It's very twisted right from the first chapter all the way to the last paragraph and this is something not many authors succeed at, but Banks has done a phenomenal job and kept me hooked the entire way through.
There is a fantastic twist at the end. As I was reading it, (the last sentence in particular) my jaw literally fell open because it was so unexpected; you wouldn't even be able to guess it!

I'm not going to deny that this book is very messed up and could be quite disturbing for some readers. Sometimes I question how the author came up with something like this but I wouldn't change anything because it's one of the best novels I've read in a while! I'll definitely be checking out some of his other books!

This is such an awesome read that I recommend to everyone, especially those horror lovers who find twisted and gothic novels interesting. I've read many in the past and I have to admit, this is one of the best I've come across! Just some advice, don't be put off by how disturbing it can be and read to the end because I guarantee you will be shocked (in a good way!)

Favourite Quotes:

Maybe he's up to something, maybe he's not really crazy after all. Perhaps he just got fed up acting normal and decided to act crazy instead, and they locked him up because he went too far


I killed little Esmerelda because I felt I owed it to myself and to the world in general. I had, after all, accounted for two male children and thus done womankind something of a statistical favour


It made me feel good to know that I could see him and he couldn't see me, and that I was aware and fully conscious and he wasn't

5 out of 5 stars 

 Next book I'm going to review:
Divergent by Veronica Roth

15 March 2016

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Title: Lolita
Author: Vladimir Nabokov
Pages: 378
Genre: Classic, Romance
Book Description:
Humbert Humbert - scholar, aesthete and romantic - has fallen completely and utterly in love with Lolita Haze, his landlady's gum-snapping, silky skinned twelve-year-old daughter. Reluctantly agreeing to marry Mrs Haze just to be close to Lolita, Humbert suffers greatly in the pursuit of romance; but when Lo herself starts looking for attention elsewhere, he will carry her off on a desperate cross-country misadventure, all in the name of Love. Hilarious, flamboyant, heart-breaking and full of ingenious word play, Lolita is an immaculate, unforgettable masterpiece of obsession, delusion and lust.

My Opinion:
This well known classic, follows the story of 37 year old Humbert and his love for a 12 year old. From reviews I have seen, this seems to be a very controversial topic since it's about pedophilia, however there is the idea of true love as well.

I found the novel to be very well written. I liked Nabokov's descriptions, from setting the scene to how he felt about Lolita, in which were some of the most powerful descriptions I have ever come across. Despite the underlying concept that what the protagonist is doing is pedophilia, I really believed that he loved her and he writes in a way that makes the audience feel sorry for him.

Similarly I liked the concept that this story was actually being written while Humbert was in jail. This was something I forgot as I was reading but there were times when this was referenced again. I thought this technique to be really unusual as it was like a story in a story.

Although I really enjoyed this book overall, I did find it to be quite slow at some points, as many classics are. I struggled with this but persevered due to the interesting scenes following and the ending!

The ending had to be my favourite part. I loved the realisation that Humbert experienced in that his love for Lolita wasn't just temporary in that when she excelled out of her 'nymphet' stage it would be over, but that actually this love was eternal. Along with her rejection of him multiple times, the ending felt so tragic and I actually had sympathy for him!

Overall I found this to be a really interesting read. By the end of the book I came to the conclusion that Humbert's love for Lolita was sincere, however this was only something he realised when it was too late and when she had decided to reject him for the final time. Although seducing an under age female is an offense, it was a unique take on the concept which I believe is one of the many reasons it's still talked about and read today. Despite some of the perhaps 'disturbing' scenes and slow parts, this is definitely worth the read!

Favourite Quotes:

It was love at first sight, at last sight, at ever and ever sight


Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins


She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita


Perhaps, somewhere, some day, at a less miserable time, we may see each other again

4 out of 5 stars 

 Next book I'm going to review:
The Wasp Factory by Ian Banks

11 March 2016

Phoenix Burning by Bryony Pearce | Blog Tour and Author Interview

Title: Phoenix Burning
Author: Byrony Pearce
Pages: 409
Genre: Dystopian, Science-Fiction, Young Adult
Book Description:
Toby and Ayla have to infiltrate a sect of sun worshippers to steal the equipment their ships need. They enter a trial to be chosen as the Sun and the Moon, a position of great honour for the sect. As the trial commences, Toby and Ayla discover the true cost of failure. But there are other young couples who are equally desperate to win...Can Toby and Ayla survive days without sleep, hours sitting in the blistering sun and a deadly maze? They'll need to work together to win - their mission depends on it...
Perfect for fans of Veronica Roth, Anthony Horowitz, Philip Reeve and Suzanne Collins.

I received a physical copy of this novel from the author and the wonderful people at Little Tiger Press (Stripes publishing) in return for an honest review! This has in no way affected my opinion of the novel. I'd like to say a special thanks to them for allowing me to be a part of the tour!

My Opinion:
After receiving the first novel in this series, Phoenix Rising (you can read my review here), I jumped at the chance to join the journey again! This time, we follow Toby and Ayla as they join forces to try and find the missing piece that will get them to the island. Encountering hardships, deepening feelings and plenty of heat, this novel overall was a fantastic sequel!

Sometimes with series, the following novels can lose the spark the first one held. This one didn't! It was just as intriguing and gripping as the first, maybe even more so. I loved the twists and turns, not quite knowing what was going to happen next and who could be trusted on either ships!

The ending was my favourite part because it just leaves so many  possibilities, hopefully for a third novel! I really enjoyed the revelation on the final pages, which tied up all the loose ends and brought the novel closure, whilst at the same time leaving it open for more possible adventures.

Similarly to Phoenix Rising, there was wonderful character development. It was so good to see the introduction of many new characters as well as the same crew. I liked discovering the back stories of each ship causing them to be the way they that are. And of course, the intensification of the romance was a lovely feature to involve, because even that included unexpected twists in itself!

Overall, this was a fabulous sequel to the series, with Phoenix Rising and Phoenix Burning being a must read series for young adults. I really hope there's a third novel as I'd love to find out whether they reach their destination or not, and join these two love birds on another epic journey!

Rating ★
5 out of 5 stars 

Author Interview!

After being offered the chance for an interview on the blog tour of her first novel, and declining, I'm glad to say that I've finally come out of my shell and accepted this one! They've always seemed a little daunting to me but I'm prepared to give it my best shot.

So today I'm joined with the wonderful Bryony Pearce and I'm going to be talking to her about her latest novel, Phoenix Burning, which is out now!

To start things off, how would you describe yourself as a writer?

I am a writer who is very character driven, I often come up with characters before their stories. Sometimes I write supernatural, sometimes dystopia, sometimes science fiction, but my writing is always dark, thrilling and aimed at young adults.

What inspired this series? Any books or films?

Not directly. All writers are influenced by everything they’ve ever read or seen. Sometimes you think you’ve had an original idea and someone will point out that it’s similar to a book or film that you don’t even remember reading or seeing! The Phoenix series will have elements of all my literary influences and there are obvious touches of Mad Max on the ocean, but nothing deliberate.

How did you come up with the names for the characters, especially the other competitors who have quite unusual names?

In Phoenix Burning Toby and Ayla meet a number of other young people, who are part of a particular religious order who worship the sun. I have talked before about previous novels I have written about how important naming is to me, so often you can get a sense about who a person is from the name I have given them.
These teens come from all around the world, so the first important thing about their names is that they show where they come from.

  • Moira and Brody are from Glasgow
  • Arthur and Summer are from Cornwall
  • Uzuri and Zahir are from Cape Town
  • Celeste and Aldo from a village near Pompeii
  • Adele and Adrien from Brittany
  • Noah and Layla were originally American, but their families fled to Morocco after the US was all but destroyed
  • Lenka and Matus are from Zagreb
  • Bianca and Cezar from Budapest

In terms of their name meanings, Moira can mean bitter and Brody, brother. Brody is Moira’s cousin, but their relationship is very much a sibling one and their lives have been hard. Moira’s bitterness informs her whole personality.
I named Summer because she is from Cornwall, with its associations of surfing and blue skies. Arthur is so named because of its associations with heroism. Arthur means ‘strong as a bear’ and Arthur’s physical strength is a key part of his persona. Toby is attracted to Arthur’s apparent goodness.
Uzuri means beauty and Zahir shining or bright. I named them for their association with the sun, as they were marked for the festival from the moment of their birth.
The name Celeste was also chosen to indicate her religious fervour. Her name means from the heavens. (Aldo is so called because I have an Italian friend and I like the name – sometimes this happens too).
Noah, of course is named for the biblical Noah who escaped the flood with his family. It was, of course, a supervolcano that this Noah fled from, but it was a similarly apocalyptic event.
Lenka (Illumination) and Matus (gift of God) were named for their religion.
Dahon and Hesper, the heads of the order, were so called for the poetry of their names. Hesper – the sibilance in her name gives her a sinister feel before we even get to know how awful she is. Dahon is a harsher word, his name has plosives and is also a warning.

Who was your favourite character to write about?

Always Ayla. Although I love Toby, I have a real place in my heart for a strong female character who gives zero f***s. And I enjoyed writing her even more this time because of the fall-out from Phoenix Rising. This is a character who is dealing with a lot of confusing emotions, whose dedication and loyalty to her own ship, is at odds with her feelings for Toby, who has experienced weakness and failure for the first time and who has discovered some terrible things about her own history. This time when we see her, she has fears and weaknesses that she never had before. She has to find a way to make Toby trust her, when he knows he shouldn’t. And her usual way of dealing with situations – fighting her way out – may, for the first time, be a disadvantage here.

What has drawn you to the YA genre? 

There are lots of fantastic reasons for writing YA.
Young people are the most enthusiastic readers, if they love your work, they let you know it. Writing for teens also offers the potential to really make a difference in someone’s life. The fiction I write often hides messages or has issues for readers to think about – Bullying (The Weight of Souls), Forgiveness and Redemption (Angel’s Fury), Trust (Phoenix Rising), Religion (Phoenix Burning), Freedom (Wavefunction) and Feminism (Windrunner’s Daughter) are all key themes in my books.

Are you currently working on anything, a third book in the series perhaps?

I have a couple more books out this year, the science fiction novels Windrunner’s Daughter and Wavefunction. I have a new stand-alone book that I have recently finished planning and which I am about to start writing, I’m really excited about it.

If any of the characters were a representation of you, who would it be and why?

I think they’re all representations of me in some way – all came from me. Every character I write has elements that I admire – even my antagonists, who I refuse to make one-dimensional, and every character has their flaws, which I understand well, because I often give them my own.

Are there any authors that inspire you?

Loads. I’m often inspired by whoever I’m reading in a particular week!  However my particular writing heroes are Anne Macaffrey, Stephen King, David Gemmell and Terry Pratchett.

Have you got any tips for getting rid of writers block?

I can only suggest what works for me – everyone is different, but here are my tips for avoiding the dreaded block:
  • Plot what you are writing out carefully. If you know where a particular scene or chapter has to get to, even when you aren’t feeling it, you can keep writing.
  •  If you really aren’t feeling it, just keep writing. Keep writing until you do. Eventually you’ll reach a scene that fires you up again. You can always go back and fix the less than sparkling bit later on.
  •   If that really hasn’t worked, there’s only one thing for it. Give up. Stop trying to write. Leave the computer alone. Walk away.  Give yourself some time off – a week, a month, whatever it takes. Do another hobby, go for walks, watch television, spend some time with your family, go to work, drink wine. Sometimes, like every battery, your creative spark needs to recharge. Let it. One day you’ll go to bed feeling as if you’ll never write again and the next morning you’ll leap out of bed fired up and ready to.
And lastly, have you got any advice for aspiring writers?

The best way to learn to write is to read and write. Read everything you can get your hands on, check out different styles and voices, stories and genres. See what appeals to you, what gives you inspiration. Then write. The best way to learn to write is to do it.

On a practical note, look for critique groups in your area (check your local library), join an organisation such as SCBWI (Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators) or SOA (Society of Authors), enter competitions and once you feel you have something you want to send to an agent, use a consultancy like Cornerstones – they can tell you what you’re doing right and wrong.

Thanks again to Byrony Pearce for allowing me to interview her! If you're interested in her latest novel then I'd definitely recommend checking out the series, as well as her other equally acclaimed titles!

Next book I'm going to review: 
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

1 March 2016

DNA by Dennis Kelly

Title: DNA
Author: Dennis Kelly
Pages: 64
Genre: Play, Drama
Book Description:
group of teenagers do something bad, really bad, then panic and cover the whole thing up. But when they find that the cover-up unites them and brings harmony to their otherwise fractious lives, where’s the incentive to put things right? DNA is a poignant and, sometimes, hilarious tale with a very dark heart.

A new play for younger people DNA opened at the National Theatre in February 2008

My Opinion:
This was one of the core texts I had to study for my GCSE English exam 2 years ago. After discovering it in the back of my wardrobe, I decided to reread it to see if I had changed opinions on the play. I didn't.

In the past, I've had a history of poorly chosen texts for the English exams, including Paddy Clarke, Ha Ha Ha and Of Mice and Men. On the contrary, this one was quite different! Following the story of a teenage gang, we discover the traumatic crimes in which they've committed and how they react to a discovery that could put them away for good.

The best part was the characters! Because the teenagers are part of a group, it was interesting to see the dynamics between each character and who the leaders were. My favourite characters were Leah and Phil (they kind of come as a pair) because their contrasting attitudes intrigued me. Plus, Phil is very secretive and surprised me a lot as the story went on.

Speaking of the storyline, there were many fantastic twists, besides the main one that has been hinted at in the blurb, that kept me hooked the entire way through. Despite it being a very short play, which is something I also enjoyed (since I was able to read it in a day!), I felt like a lot happened. It was fast paced and kept me intrigued and whole time.

Lastly, the messages in this play really gave me something to think about. Some of the themes included status in the group between the members, peer-pressure and the morals between what is right and wrong. I ended up thinking about it a lot after I'd finished, mainly imagining myself and what I'd do in a situation like that.

Altogether this was a fantastic play and I'm very pleased to have discovered it through school! It's a shame to think that if I hadn't studied this, I doubt I'd have ever come across it since I don't read plays often and it's not that well known. This is something I'd like to see changed... Definitely worth the read!

Favourite Quotes:

What's more important; one person or everyone?


Rating ★
5 out of 5 stars 

 Next book I'm going to review:
Phoenix Burning by Byrony Pearce (Blog Tour and Author Interview!)