Confessions of a Reader

'Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.' – Mason Cooley


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Top Ten Books people have been telling me I MUST read!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted buy The Broke and The Bookish. Each week they post a new topic and invite everyone to share their lists.

toptentuesday2

Top Ten Books that people have been telling me I MUST read (but I haven’t yet!)

There are absolutely tons of books that people on BookTube, Book Bloggers, and friends have recommended to me time and time again, because they think I would like them or because everybody-must-read-it-at-some-point-in-their-life. Some of them I’m not in a rush to get to.

SKWeddingNight
Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella

FanGirl

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

TFioS

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Anna&TheFrenchKiss
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth

WeWereLiars

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

DiaryOfAnneFrank
The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank

TheBronzeHorseman

The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons


VampireAcademy
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

WeAreCalledToRise

We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride

Have you read any of these or are you planning to? Are there any that you think I should definitely pick up?

Happy Reading!


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Reckoning – Kerry Wilkinson

Reckoning

Format: Paperback (library copy)
Published: 22nd May 2014
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Pages: 416
Series/Standalone?: Series: Silver Blackthorn #1
Genre: YA / Dystopian / Fantasy

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

 Synopsis taken from Amazon:

In the village of Martindale, hundreds of miles north of the new English capital of Windsor, sixteen-year-old Silver Blackthorn takes the Reckoning. This coming-of-age test not only decides her place in society – Elite, Member, Inter or Trog – but also determines that Silver is to become an Offering for King Victor.

But these are uncertain times and no one really knows what happens to the teenagers who disappear into Windsor Castle. Is being an Offering the privilege everyone assumes it to be, or do the walls of the castle have something to hide?

Trapped in a maze of ancient corridors, Silver finds herself in a warped world of suspicion where it is difficult to know who to trust and who to fear. The one thing Silver does know is that she must find a way out…

My Thoughts:

Upon finishing this book I have real mixed feelings towards the plot, structure and narrative. I will attempt to make all of this coherent in this short review. The novel in itself is a decent read, I just had a few issues with it.

The second half of this novel is much better than the first. I felt more engrossed within the action, and wanted to keep reading. Up until this point I wasn’t invested in the story and nearly put the book down on a number of occasions. It really felt like a combination of various other well known YA Dystopian reads e.g. The Hunger Games, with various elements blended together to make a ‘new’ story.

The setting was promising – UK based YA fiction, with a royal monarch – great. I didn’t fully understand the class system and this continued to arise throughout the novel. Each person that undertakes the ‘reckoning’ is allocated a status. The Elites are the highest status, upper class – Members and Inters are what I can only assume to be of upper and lower middle class status, leaving the Trog’s as general working class citizens – the lowest possible category. This part was simple enough, what I didn’t understand was how these statuses mattered in the general scheme of things. The jobs allocated to the members did not represent their ‘class status’ for example: a Trog and Elite both worked together in the kitchen. This confused me a little – I didn’t see the relevance of a class system that had no affect on job roles, champion status, or treatment by the King.

The romance element within this novel also frustrated me somewhat. It felt like a very quick, insta-love kind of romance in which boy and girl fall head over heels for each other in a very short space of time. I felt like the romance wasn’t explained in enough detail, although I wouldn’t have wanted this to become the prominent storyline – it just felt a little rushed and done merely for effect.

The main protagonist Silver Blackthorn – really despise the name – was a strong character. She had a clever attitude, to neither be seen nor heard so as to not attract any unwanted attention. This did have some flaws though. She didn’t interact with many of the other characters enough for the reader to get the ‘bigger picture’.

The style of narrative was perfect at the start of the novel. The use of first person narrator allowed me to understand Silver and her thoughts well. When the main plot twist occurs towards the end of the novel, this first person narrative caused some problems. The character somehow withholds information from us as the reader, and consequently herself – how is this possible?

Some elements of the story seemed to be done for efficiency – doors of important rooms left unlocked in a very secure establishment, full of paranoia and guards?!

Overall, the plot was promising and elements of the story were good – the sequel may deal with some of my frustrations and confusion, but it is not one I will be rushing out to purchase or borrow. If you like YA Dystopian then give this a read, it just might be the book for you.

 

http://kerrywilkinson.com/
@kerrywk

 


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Crown of Midnight – Sarah J Maas

CoM

Format: Paperback
Published: 15th August 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens UK
Pages: 418
Series/Standalone?: Series – Throne of Glass #2
Genre: YA Fantasy

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

 Synopsis taken from Amazon:

Eighteen-year-old Celaena Sardothien is bold, daring and beautiful – the perfect seductress and the greatest assassin her world has ever known. But though she won the King’s contest and became his champion, Celaena has been granted neither her liberty nor the freedom to follow her heart. The slavery of the suffocating salt mines of Endovier that scarred her past is nothing compared to a life bound to her darkest enemy, a king whose rule is so dark and evil it is near impossible to defy. Celaena faces a choice that is tearing her heart to pieces: kill in cold blood for a man she hates, or risk sentencing those she loves to death. Celaena must decide what she will fight for: survival, love or the future of a kingdom. Because an assassin cannot have it all . . . And trying to may just destroy her.

Love or loathe Celaena, she will slice open your heart with her dagger and leave you bleeding long after the last page of this New York Times bestselling sequel, in what is undeniably THE hottest new fantasy series.

My Thoughts:

Okay, so – I didn’t know where to start with this review. I loved this book so much that I wanted to write a coherent review, without over the top gushing! Eek! I will attempt to keep this short and sweet.

I absolutely loved this sequel to Throne of Glass. After enjoying the first novel and enjoying it, but not absolutely loving it – I was apprehensive. All I can say is WOW! – this was so much better than the first one in my opinion.

Crown of Midnight took me a few chapters to become completely hooked. Once I was hooked, I could not put this down – managing to finish this in a day or two! It had the right amount of love, lust, action, suspense, drama, fantasy, magic – and then some.

I loved the development of relationships in this novel. Chaol is my ultimate, all time favourite male protagonist. Totally swoon-worthy, everyone needs a Chaol in their life. Thank you to Sarah J Maas for creating this absolutely gorgeous, heart-throb of a character!

I was completely shocked at (what I would consider) the two main plot reveals – I had no idea that they were going to happen in the way that they did. Celaena showed more vulnerability in this sequel, whilst remaining totally kick ass! We learn more about her and I empathised more with her in this novel, I grew to like her even more.

Sarah J Maas manages to write in a way that completely captivates and engages – the whole way through. There was never a dull moment, I truly felt like I was in the castle corridors and rooms with the characters – plotting, planning and scheming.

I absolutely NEED Heir of Fire now – 11th September cannot come quick enough. This is a fantasy series that I feel could be on par with Harry Potter – the anticipation of each novel is intense. If you haven’t read it, then do – you will not be disappointed.

www.sarahjmaas.com
@SJMaas

 


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Paper Swans – Jessica Thompson

PaperSwans

Format: Paperback
Published: 31st July 2014
Publisher: Coronet
Pages: 441
Series/Standalone?: Standalone
Genre: Contemporary Adult Fiction – Chick Lit

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review – thank you BookBridgr!

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

 Synopsis taken from Amazon:

Ben Lawrence seems to have it all – the hot job, the flashy car, the luxurious apartment. But one tragic day in his past mars his future.

Since the events of that day he hasn’t truly got close to anyone.

He made a promise that love was the price he would pay for his mistakes.

When Effy Jones – a bright, ambitious charity founder – walks into the PR firm where Ben works, neither realise that their lives are about to be turned upside down.

Paper Swans tells of how love can conquer all, and how when everything is broken one person can help to put the pieces together…

My Thoughts:

First of all – isn’t this cover beautiful? I absolutely loved it, it was solely what drew me to the book, having never read a book by Jessica Thompson before.

I read this after taking a little break from my fantasy kick and wasn’t disappointed. It was a quick and easy read, which I managed to steam through in about 2 days – on and off. It took a little while for me to get into the novel, but once I was past the first few chapters I felt more invested in the story.

Paper Swans is a romantic, chick lit novel with a darker edge and twist within the plot. I enjoyed the unravelling of Ben’s story – I was always guessing what had truly caused his pain and suffering. The novel deals with mental illness and grief in a sensitive way, yet still manages to get across the true impact of this illness on the sufferer and their life, and the way if affects those people around them. Ben’s grief is alluded to throughout the novel, but we don’t really find out the whole story until right at the very end. This added a lot of intrigue, to what is essentially a love story.

Both of the main protagonists are likeable characters – I enjoyed each of their quirks and traits. I thought Ben’s vulnerability was portrayed well. I enjoyed Effy’s story – setting up her charity, Dafina Kampala. This is something I haven’t come across in a novel before and enjoyed this aspect immensely.

Effy sets up her charity in Africa which holds a special place in my heart. I visited Kenya back in 2009 and absolutely fell in love with it and hope to revisit one day. I think this was the winner for me, a book partly set in a country I love – what more could I want?

The only element that did frustrate me a little – although this didn’t affect my overall rating – was some of the decisions Effy made. I thought some were slightly unrealistic.

Overall, I enjoyed this story with it’s unusual plot twist. A light-hearted book for reading by the pool, whilst soaking up the sun.

 

www.jessicathompsonbooks.com
@Jthompsonauthor

 


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The Shock of the Fall – Nathan Filer

TheShockOfTheFall

Format: Paperback
Published: 7th January 2014
Publisher: The Borough Press
Pages: 314
Series/Standalone?: Standalone
Genre: Fiction – Adult Contemporary

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

 Synopsis taken from Amazon:

*WINNER OF THE COSTA BOOK OF THE YEAR 2013*

‘I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.’

There are books you can’t stop reading, which keep you up all night.

There are books which let us into the hidden parts of life and make them vividly real.

There are books which, because of the sheer skill with which every word is chosen, linger in your mind for days.

The Shock of the Fall is all of these books.

The Shock of the Fall is an extraordinary portrait of one man’s descent into mental illness. It is a brave and groundbreaking novel from one of the most exciting new voices in fiction.

My Thoughts:

Overall, I found this to be a good, interesting and informative read. The novel deals with mental health and grief, depicting Matthew’s battle to overcome his demons, whilst coming to terms with the death of his brother during childhood. The circumstances surrounding Simon’s death are uncertain, we know that something tragic happens but it is not until the end of the novel that we find out exactly what and how. Filer builds up great suspense here, you are left guessing throughout – I was gripped from the start.

I felt like I got to know Matthew well, as much as the novel allows. It was a very personal insight, nothing was really held back – a very honest account. You grow to hope that he gets the help he so clearly needs.

I enjoyed the flashback style of the novel, flitting back and forth between past and present. The inclusion of pictures, sketches and pieces of text written on Matthew’s typewriter add another dimension. The Shock of the Fall is beautifully written, the prose is seamless. It encompasses many different themes – mental illness, death, grief.

The experience the author gained is apparent throughout this novel. He does not idealise mental health patients or staff, he shows that people have good and bad days – I found this rather refreshing.

An informative read – sensitive and beautifully written.

http://nathanfiler.co.uk/
@nathanfiler

 


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Heroic – Phil Earle

Heroic

Format: Paperback
Published: 25th April 2013
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 304
Series/Standalone?: Standalone
Genre: YA

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book People

 Synopsis taken from Amazon:

‘For the past five weeks I’d prayed that I’d never see my brother’s name spelt out in poppies. In the weeks that followed I often wished I had.’

Jammy and Sonny McGann are brothers, but that’s where the similarities end. One is calm when the other is angry; one has a plan while the other lives purely in the moment.

When Jammy returns from Afghanistan a very different man to the one who left, it’s Sonny who is left to hold things together. But just how far will he go to save the brother who always put him first?

Inspired by S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and by the battles facing young soldiers all over the world, this is a devastating novel about brotherhood and sacrifice, from the award-winning author of Being Billy and Saving Daisy.

My Thoughts:

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, the first I have read from Phil Earle.

The story follows two brothers, currently living very different lives. The story is told from their perspectives, making a refreshing change to read something seen from two, strong male characters. The plot and subject matter is very current and real, dealing with an issue close to many hearts both in the past and present.

The story deals with a particularly sensitive subject – the aftermath of war and soldiers suffering with PTSD. The topic had clearly been very well researched, it felt real and believable throughout. I felt great empathy for both characters, hoping for a positive ending. I enjoyed the sibling relationship – two brothers – and the journey that they undertook both individually and together throughout the novel. They both grew so much and their relationship, although near breaking point, grew from strength to strength too.

The scenes depicting war were well written – gritty, real and hard hitting. The novel was dramatic and fast paced, building up to the climax near the end. The loss and tragedy was also dealt with sensitively, but in no way sugar coated.

Overall, a fantastic read dealing with sensitive and current issues, one that I highly recommend.

 

Phil Earle
@philearle

 


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The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak

TheBookThief

Format: Paperback
Published: 1st January 2008
Publisher: Black Swan
Pages: 560
Series/Standalone?: Standalone
Genre: Historical Fiction – YA

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

 Synopsis taken from Amazon:

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak was the best-selling debut literary novel of the year 2007, selling over 400,000 copies. The author is a prize-winning writer of children’s books, and this, his first novel for adults, proved to be a triumphant success. The book is extraordinary on many levels: moving, yet restrained, angry yet balanced — and written with the kind of elegance found all too rarely in fiction these days. The book’s narrator is nothing less than Death itself, regaling us with a remarkable tale of book burnings, treachery and theft. The book never forgets the primary purpose of compelling the reader’s attention, yet which nevertheless is able to impart a cogent message about the importance of words, particularly in those societies which regard the word as dangerous (the book is set during the Nazi regime, but this message is all too relevant in many places in the world today).

Nine-year-old Liesel lives with her foster family on Himmel Street during the dark days of the Third Reich. Her Communist parents have been transported to a concentration camp, and during the funeral for her brother, she manages to steal a macabre book: it is, in fact, a gravediggers’ instruction manual. This is the first of many books which will pass through her hands as the carnage of the Second World War begins to hungrily claim lives. Both Liesel and her fellow inhabitants of Himmel Street will find themselves changed by both words on the printed page and the horrendous events happening around them.

My Thoughts:

I am quite ashamed to say that I have had this book on my shelf for at least a year, after reading it will stay on my shelf for years to come.

I absolutely loved this book. I was a little apprehensive due to the hype it has received on BookTube, I was not disappointed. This is a truly amazing book about love, tragedy, friendship, power and humanity. A powerful novel, that nearly reduced me to tears on a number of occasions.

Liesl is a fantastic female, child protagonist. She has just the right amount of courage, love, determination, vulnerability and independence. I also loved her fascination and enjoyment from books – what a great touch. I loved all of her relationships with the other characters in the book, seeing these grow and develop over time. Her relationships with Max, Papa and Rudy touched my heart in all kinds of different ways.

The climax towards the end of the novel was devastating, yet powerful. The use of death as a narrator was also one of a kind – eerie, suspenseful and somewhat beautiful. A true triumph and one that I will read again and again and again.

If you haven’t read this novel, then do – it might break your heart, but it is definitely worth it.

Markus Zusak  – Website
Markus Zusak – Tumblr
@Markus_Zusak