Thursday, 30 April 2015

Z is for Zusak | Blogging from A to Z

The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak

How could I mention anyone other than Markus Zusak for 'z'? In fact on the final day of the A to Z challenge it seems pretty fitting to mention a book that's narrated by Death himself.

I only read The Book Thief after a friend of mine bought it for me for Christmas. I love historical fiction, but for the most part I stay away from fiction set during the Second World War, not only because I just don't find Modern history quite as interesting as Medieval and Early Modern history, but also because it's often just so upsetting. I love it when books bring out emotions in me, whether they make me happy, furious or bereft, but The Holocaust is something else entirely. It's a dark period of our history that should never be forgotten about, but it's so, so upsetting.

I'm so glad that I did read it, though. Like many of the books I love now I read it while I was at university and it made me cry more than once. Not just a few little tears, either, this book made me weep. What I love most about it is that it's just so different, and I don't even mean the whole 'narrated by Death' thing (though that is an interesting element!); another reason I tend to stay from WW2 fiction is because it's often quite samey, but in The Book Thief we're told the story of a little girl from Germany during the Second World War. We see Germany portrayed not as a country brimming with mini-Hitlers, but as a country who is suffering just as much as the rest of the world, perhaps even more so.

If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Review | Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

by Jenny Colgan

My Rating: 

Polly Waterford is recovering from a toxic relationship. Unable to afford their flat, she has to move miles away from everyone, to a sleepy little seaside resort in Cornwall, where she lives alone above an abandoned shop. And so Polly takes out her frustrations on her favourite hobby: making bread.

But what was previously a weekend diversion suddenly becomes far more important as she pours her emotions into kneading and pounding the dough, and each loaf becomes better and better. With nuts and seeds, olives and chorizo, with local honey (courtesy of local bee keeper, Huckle), and with reserves of determination and creativity Polly never knew she had, she bakes and bakes and bakes.... And people start to hear about it. Sometimes, bread really is life...and Polly is about to reclaim hers.

I don't read contemporary all that often, although it's definitely a genre I've started exploring a little more over the past year. Contemporary settings I can handle, but I love my speculative fiction; if a book doesn't even have a hint of magical realism in it then I'm immediately less likely to pick it up, but that isn't always the case. Sometimes I need something fun and light to fill me with the warm fuzzies, and contemporary is ideal for that.

Little Beach Street Bakery isn't the first Colgan book I've read, I fell in love with her Rosie Hopkins books at the end of last year and have been eager to check out more of her contemporary since because I love the way she includes food in her stories, from sweets to cupcakes to chocolate and, now, to bread! Who doesn't love a bit of bread? Apart from people who can't have glucose...

Perhaps it's my love for Daphne du Maurier, but for whatever reason I have a weakness for books set in Cornwall. I knew I wanted to read more of Colgan's work outside of the Rosie Hopkins series, and to be honest it was the Cornish setting that sold Little Beach Street Bakery to me. The setting was beautiful; Colgan really brought Cornwall to life, to the extent that the setting felt like a character in and of itself. Writing place is something Colgan does incredibly well.

At first it felt a little strange to be reading a Colgan book that wasn't about Rosie, but Polly soon grew on me; she's a really fun and honest protagonist to follow around, and I certainly empathised with the predicament that she found herself in at the beginning of the story. She makes mistakes, she learns from them, and she grows. What more could you want from a protagonist?

I also loved her trusty sidekick Neil the Puffin, even if he was a little unrealistic. Then again if I wanted realism I wouldn't read fiction!

However, while I enjoyed this book I didn't enjoy it quite as much as the Rosie Hopkins books. I felt no real chemistry between Polly and either of her love interests - though I did appreciate that Colgan gave her more than one relationship, unlike many other contemporary reads I've come across - and judging by a lot of the other reviews I've read I'm not alone here. In fact there were times when I felt as though the story would have been just as good, maybe even better, without any of the romantic elements at all. 

I did like her best friend, Kerensa, despite being a little unsure about her at first, but I thought the subplot involving her nearer the end of the book got a little too silly for my taste.

I will definitely read Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery, which I already own a copy of, as I'd like to return to Cornwall and see how these characters are doing. With any luck there'll be a little more chemistry there than I felt in this first book! I did enjoy it, though, it's just a shame Colgan spent so much of the book talking about chemistry that wasn't there.

Y is for Young | Blogging from A to Z

Blood Red Road
by Moira Young

Blood Red Road was one of those books I did not expect to like at all. Just pick up a copy and look at the way it's written and you may understand why I was a little hesitant to pick it up at first. I'd not long finished The Hunger Games when it was recommended to me, and I refused to believe anything could fill the void Katniss had left behind, but I kept seeing it everywhere and when I finally found a copy for only £1.99 I knew it was time to just get it over with and buy it.

I didn't read it for a little while after buying it until one night during the final term of my undergrad degree when I was struggling to sleep. I suffered a lot with insomnia during those months - final exams and a dissertation will do that to you! - and I thought I'd pick it up and read the first few pages until I fell asleep. The next thing I knew it was 4 in the morning and I'd read 2/3s of the book. If my eyelids hadn't been fighting to stay open I would have finished it there and then, but it turns out I did need sleep after all.

I ended up loving this book. I loved Saba and I loved the world and I loved Jack and I even found myself loving the way it was written. Saba has such a distinct voice, and reading this book was such a fun, gritty adventure. It was just what I'd needed.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Top Ten Tuesday | Characters Who Deserved Better

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week you compile a list of ten books which coincide with that week's theme. You can find everything you need to know about joining in here!

This week's theme is 'Top Ten Books With Characters Who ___'. I wasn't sure what I was going to do for this at first, but a previous TTT topic got me thinking about the characters out there who deserved so much better than what they got.

Some of these characters were the victims of their circumstances, and others were just treated terribly by their authors. Only one of the people on this list is a man.

Frankenstein's Monster from Frankenstein by Mary Shelley: A lot of the stuff this guy does is very bad indeed, but when you read this classic it's difficult not to empathise with him, even just a little.

Susan Pevensie from The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis: I will forever be unhappy with how Lewis treated Susan, with how he criticised her for wanting to grow away from Narnia. She is described as "no longer a friend of Narnia" who is "interested in nothing now-a-days except nylons and lipstick and invitations". Lewis himself said: "The books don't tell us what happened to Susan. She is left alive in this world at the end, having by then turned into a rather silly, conceited young woman. But there's plenty of time for her to mend and perhaps she will get to Aslan's country in the end." When we're younger it's easy for us to dislike Susan - why would anyone want the real world when you could live in the world with centaurs and queens and talking lions? - but when we grow older and we see the religious aspects to Narnia, this view on Susan becomes rather sinister. How dare she like lipstick when she could have Jesus!

Bertha Rochester from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë: If someone told me to choose between Mr. Rochester and Heathcliff I'd choose Mr. Rochester in a heartbeat, because Heathcliff is a whole other kind of messed up. But Rochester's hardly a catch himself. Yes he's educated and wealthy and, let's face it, quite sassy, but when he asks Jane to marry him he fails to mention he's already married, and his mentally ill first wife is locked up in the attic. Real husband material. I suppose we can argue that it's something of a mercy that poor Bertha wasn't sent away to an asylum, but locking her up in the attic was hardly a good idea either.

Elinor Mompellion from Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks: Despite including her on this list, I can't say a lot about Elinor without giving too much away. All I will say is that something is revealed near the end of the book which infuriated me, but kudos to Brooks because I didn't see it coming!

Margaret Prior from Affinity by Sarah Waters: Yet another character who I can't talk about too much without spoiling the ending of Affinity. Let's just say that Affinity is probably Waters' gloomiest novel, and those of you who've read it will know why poor Margaret made this list.

Agnes Magnúsdóttir from Burial Rites by Hannah Kent: Here I'm talking about Agnes the character, because for all I know the real Agnes - the last woman to be executed in Iceland - really was a violent murderer. The Agnes that Kent writes, however, just breaks your heart.

Nancy from Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens: Nancy is one of the few decent people in Oliver Twist, and the person who gets dealt the worst hand. I had an illustrated version of this book when I was a little book and when I first read it, the scene where Nancy is murdered terrified me. Her death has haunted me ever since.

Sirius and Regulus Black from the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling: We could probably argue that pretty much every single one of the Marauders deserved better, but the Black brothers make my heart ache like no others. Poor Regulus's courage was practically forgotten, and Sirius, the most loyal friend anyone could ask for, had to spend thirteen years of his life imprisoned for something he didn't do, only to be confined in a house full of horrid childhood memories when he escaped until he was eventually killed. I just have a lot of feelings about these boys, and I'm never going to be over Sirius.

Tess Durbeyfield from Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy: Alec d'Urberville and Angel Clare are both awful human beings and I hate them both in equal measure. That is all.

Katniss and Primrose Everdeen from The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins: Don't mind me, I'll just be over in that corner. Weeping.

Who made your list?

Monday, 27 April 2015

Review | American Vampire, Vol.3 by Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque and Sean Murphy

by Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque and Sean Murphy

My Rating:

In the Pacific, Pearl's husband Henry joins a clandestine group on a secret mission to Japan to hunt a new breed of bloodsucker. Meanwhile, Skinner Sweet has plans of his own...

And in Europe, vampire hunters Felicia Book and Cash McCogan go behind enemy lines in Nazi-occupied Romania in search of a rumored vampire cure. 

I'm so glad I decided to carry on with this series because if I hadn't I wouldn't have read this, which has definitely been my favourite volume of the series so far.

I continue to be very fond of Pearl who, when faced with some difficult choices, still managed to do the right thing even when it was hard. What I love most about Pearl's story arc is that this is the story of an immortal woman and a human man in a relationship, rather than the other way around as it so often is. Even more so, she isn't overtly sexualised or treated like a no-good temptress; Pearl may be a vampire, but she's still a woman who loves her husband, and it was a nice change to see the man of the relationship struggle with the idea that his wife will stay young forever while he continues to age. 

This story included more Skinner Sweet, too, who is a favourite of mine; he's just such fun to follow even though he's basically a terrible person, and I loved the glimpse into his past we were given through his reunion with his old flame, Kitty.

What surprised me most about this volume, however, was how much I enjoyed the story involving Felicia and Cash, who we meet properly in Volume 2. (I say 'properly' because we get a glimpse of Felicia at the end of Volume 1). I enjoyed their story in Volume 2 but I didn't think it was particularly spectacular, this story I loved. Felicia is on her way to becoming one of my favourite characters - there's something about her that reminds me a little of Tanya Huff's Vicki Nelson or Suzanne Collins's Johanna Mason, both of whom I love - and her chemistry with Cash was wonderful. I'd happily watch a crime caper drama starring the two of them playing good cop/bad cop.

I was surprised by how much I did enjoy their story because I've always been rather wary of stories that combine the supernatural with Nazi Germany. I don't know why I dislike that combination so much; I don't know whether it has something to do with implying the supernatural cheapens the horrifying events that actually happened during this period of our history. For whatever reason, though, it didn't bother me here at all - possibly because Hitler himself doesn't make an appearance, and Snyder has combined vampirism with history so flawlessly throughout the series that it doesn't feel like vampires have been thoughtlessly tacked on to Nazi Germany.

I really enjoyed this volume, and I'm looking forward to continuing the series!

W is for Wilson | Blogging from A to Z

Girls Under Pressure
by Jacqueline Wilson

If someone had asked me who my favourite author was when I was a little girl, my answer would have been Jacqueline Wilson immediately. I'm still surprised myself that I read and loved pretty much every one of her books during my childhood considering I feel most at home within the realms of speculative fiction, but whenever Wilson brought out a new book I had to get my hands on it. From The Illustrated Mum to Lola Rose to How to Survive Summer Camp, I just adored her stories, as many children still do, and I think one of the great things about Wilson's writing is that she doesn't talk down to anyone. She tackles some pretty sensitive subjects that aren't often seen in a lot of children's fiction, such as foster care and mental illness, and children appreciate that. There are so many stories out there about orphaned children who grow up to save the world; now and then it's nice to read a story about children who grow up and save themselves.

While I loved basically everything Wilson wrote - aside from Love Lessons, which was the last new release of Wilson's I ever read before I left her behind in my childhood - I have a particular fondness for her Girls series. Partly because of the CITV adaptation that was on when I was younger, which was a lot of fun, but mainly because Ellie was a heroine I really needed. As soon as I hit puberty I started gaining extra weight that I couldn't shift, not to mention I had these 'boob' things getting in the way whenever I wanted to run anywhere. I started developing real body confidence issues, issues I still struggle with now, when some of the other kids began to comment on the changes in my body and make fun of me for it.

It's very rare to come across a protagonist in children's and/or teen fiction who's overweight, so the fact that Ellie was meant a lot to me. She made me feel a little less alone, and made me realise that people come in all shapes and sizes and that's okay.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

V is for Vaughan | Blogging from A to Z

by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

I've gotten really into graphic novels this year - I've been reading a bunch of them - and I was super pleased when, at the start of this year, I was finally able to get my hands on Saga. Why? Because I started my job in December, and at the beginning of 2015 I got my first lot of wages - huzzah!

I ended up buying the first three volumes of Saga from Waterstone's in York while I was visiting my best friend for New Year's, and after I got home I read all three of them in one sitting. After that, I naturally ordered Volume 4 and read it pretty much as soon as I got my hands on it, and now apparently I have to wait for Volume 5 which, frankly, can't get here fast enough.

I'm not sure if Saga is my favourite graphic novel series - I also started Rat Queens this year, and unfortunately Rat Queens is very, very hard to compete with - but it definitely comes in at a close second. Vaughan's dialogue is witty and natural, and Staples's art is just beautiful; she has such a fantastic imagination for science fiction, so even if you don't think Saga would be your kind of thing you should pick up a copy just to see the way she's designed the characters.

Bring me Volume 5!

Friday, 24 April 2015

Mini Reviews | Aliens, Vampires and Fairy Tales

Sometimes I have enough to say about a book to warrant a full review, and other times I don't but I still want to share my thoughts somehow. I've been reading a lot of graphic novels recently, and while I've enjoyed the majority of them I haven't found much to say individually about all of the ones I've read. So today I'm going to do three mini-reviews for three graphic novels I've recently read!

Copperhead, Vol.1: A New Sheriff in Town by Jay Faerber, Scott Godlewski and Ron Riley

I knew absolutely nothing about this graphic novel until it was recommended to me on Amazon, described as a story about a single mother who moves her and her son to a new planet to work as a sheriff there and deal with everything from alien hillbillies to a local massacre. I really enjoyed it; it was a lot of fun, I liked the art style and I liked the world. If you're a fan of aliens and cowboys, or a fan of female-led sci-fi, then I'd recommend checking this one out. I'm hoping there'll be another volume out later this year!

My Rating: 

American Vampire, Vol.2 by Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque and Mateus Santolouco

I read American Vampire, Vol.1 last year after finding it in my local library. Check out my review here!

I wasn't sure if I was going to carry on with the American Vampire series at first, until I realised the fact that it kept popping into my head despite having read the first volume back in October had to be a sign that it was time to track down Volume 2. Sadly Volume 1 was the only one my library had, so I used trusty old Abebooks and found a couple of secondhand copies of Volume 2 and Volume 3 in really good condition. I really enjoyed being back in the world of American Vampire; it's easy for me to get bored by vampires, but I think Scott Snyder's created something really different with this series, and that's special. I'm definitely going to be continuing with this one.

My Rating: 

Fables, Vol.1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham, Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha, Craig Hamilton and James Jean

Unfortunately I didn't like this very much, but considering the reviews I'd seen I didn't expect to, which was the main reason I found myself a secondhand copy rather than spending a bunch of money on a shiny new one. I just wanted to see what it was like for myself. I love Bigby Wolf - I have a big crush on him in The Wolf Among Us - but I didn't enjoy any of the characters in the graphic novel as much I did in the game. It almost felt as though Willingham was playing paint by numbers with fairy tale characters; he made sure they were all there, but he didn't really take the time to make any of them three-dimensional. I didn't hate it, but I didn't like it either. I just felt kind of 'meh' about the whole thing. Needless to say I won't be carrying on with this series, because judging by the reviews it only continues to get worse...

My Rating: 

Have you read any of these? What are your thoughts?

Thursday, 23 April 2015

T is for Takaya | Blogging from A to Z

Fruits Basket
by Natsuki Takaya

I was first introduced to Natsuki Takaya not through her manga, but through the anime adaptation of Fruits Basket, which is still one of my favourite animes of all time. Granted I don't watch much anime nowadays - if at all - so the ones I love I love a lot, but Fruits Basket and Inuyasha are tied for my all-time favourite spot.

Because I loved the anime so much, my best friend was kind enough to buy me the first three volumes of the manga for my birthday a few years ago, and since then I've managed to get my hands on the first eleven. I do still need to finish the series, though - in fact I'm tempted to buy the ones I still need and then just do a mass reread of the entire series.

Fruits Basket tells the story of orphan high school student Tohru Honda who finds herself living in a tent, only to discover that tent is on Sohma property. When they realise she can't afford a home of her own, the Sohmas - consisting of cousins Yuki, Shigure and Kyo - invite her to live with them, which she agrees to so long as she can earn her room by doing the cooking and cleaning for them. It's really quite Snow White-esque.

But the Sohmas have a secret. A pretty big one. Within each generation of their family, thirteen people are cursed so that when they are embraced by a member of the opposite sex they transform into one of the animals from the Chinese zodiac. It sounds bizarre, but this series is just so fun. It'll make you laugh just as much as it'll make you cry, and I highly recommend checking it out!

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

*insert bookish title here*

Thanks to Chrissi @ Chrissi Reads for introducing me to This Week In Books, a feature originally created by Lipsy @ Lipsyy Lost and Found which gives bloggers the opportunity to share what they've been reading recently. I thought I'd take part in Waiting On Wednesday, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, this week, too, because I've been on a real blogging high lately and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to talk about more books!

I recently started White Trash Zombie Apocalypse by Diana Rowland, the third book in her White Trash Zombie series, and though I've only read the first couple of chapters I'm enjoying it so far. This series is so much fun and I find the books really easy to read; I flew through the first two! On Sunday I read American Vampire, Vol.3 by Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque and Sean Murphy, which has been my favourite volume of the series so far and I'll be reviewing it soon, and then on Monday I received my signed copy of Mira Grant's Rolling in the Deep in the post! It's a little novella involving creepy mermaids, so I'm planning on devouring it some time this week.

by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch

Pub. Date: 19th May, 2015
Publisher: Image Comics
Genre: Graphic Novel; High Fantasy

This booze-soaked second volume of RAT QUEENS reveals a growing menace within the very walls of Palisade. And while Dee may have run from her past, the bloated, blood-feasting sky god N’rygoth never really lets his children stray too far.

I loved the first volume of Rat Queens (reviewed here!), it's by far the best graphic novel I've read so far and I'm besotted with this series. As soon as I could I pre-ordered the second volume, and I can't wait for it to finally get here so I can continue to follow Hannah, Violet, Dee and Betty on their adventures!

S is for Shelley | Blogging from A to Z

by Mary Shelley

There are three books which I consider to be my favourite classics; Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I read all of these classics while I was at university, and while Romanticism is not a literary movement I find all that interesting (I'm much more of a Victorian girl) I am glad my Romanticism module gave me the opportunity to read Frankenstein, which has to be one of the most brilliant books I've ever read.

That Mary Shelley began writing this when she was 18 astounds me; the ideas she tackles in this story are so thought-provoking, from the conflicts between science and morality to the consequences of creating a life and what it really means to play God. There's a reason this classic is so many people's favourite, it really is a masterpiece.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Top Ten Tuesday | Favourite Authors

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week you compile a list of ten books which coincide with that week's theme. You can find everything you need to know about joining in here!

This week's theme is 'Top Ten ALL TIME Favourite Authors'. This was a tricky topic for me, not because I had too many authors to choose from but because I'm not entirely sure if I have favourite authors to begin with. For example, I love Harry Potter, but having not read any of J. K. Rowling's work other than that series I don't know if I could class her as a favourite author because I might not love everything she's written. Does that make sense?

So rather than choose authors who happen to have written a book or a series that I love, I'm trying to pick authors whose work in general I enjoy, meaning I love them as an author and not just the one book or series they might have written.

Neil Gaiman


This guy is a genius. Pretty much everything he writes is exquisite, and his imagination just never stops. As a writer myself I'm incredibly envious of the way he crafts his fiction, and I think just the amount of adaptations his work has received shows how popular he is: Stardust and Coraline have both been adapted into films, Neverwhere and Good Omens have both been adapted for the radio, and Bryan Fuller, the genius behind Hannibal, is going to produce a TV adaptation of American Gods. My favourite book of his would have to be The Graveyard Book, though American Gods is a very close second.

Roald Dahl


I think almost every British child was raised on Roald Dahl's stories. He's probably one of the best children's author ever. Like Gaiman his imagination was unending, and he wrote plenty for adults, too. I devoured his books as a child - I loved everything from Fantastic Mr. Fox to The Witches to Matilda to The BFG to James and the Giant Peach - and I think my childhood would have been incomplete without them. My favourites of his have always been Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Magic Finger, though it's so difficult to pick a favourite.

Jacqueline Wilson


Another of my favourite children's authors. When I was a little older, I read pretty much everything Wilson wrote, I just loved her stories. She never speaks down to children, and she's never afraid to tackle issues that many people think are 'unacceptable' for children's fiction, such as cancer, divorce, sex, death, eating disorders and bullying. I loved her Girls series, and I also loved Lola Rose, The Diamond Girls and How to Survive Summer Camp. My favourite, however, was always The Illustrated Mum.

Daphne du Maurier


I don't know why I didn't get around to reading anything by Daphne du Maurier until last year, because I knew I was going to love her. I'm trying to read as many of her books as possible now. Her writing style is so beautiful, and she certainly wrote plenty while she was alive. My favourite book of hers so far has to be Frenchman's Creek - it's just so much fun!

Celia Rees


Celia Rees is another favourite author from my childhood/early teens, the lady who first got me into historical fiction when I stumbled across a copy of Pirates! in my local library. After that I read Witch Child, and I still love them both dearly now.

Frances Hodgson Burnett


I didn't actually read any of Frances Hodgson Burnett's books until I was in my 20s, when I finally got around to reading A Little Princess and The Secret Garden, but as I grew up with the film adaptations from the '90s I've always loved those two stories in particular. Out of the books I think The Secret Garden might be my favourite, but only just!

Shirley Jackson


Shirley Jackson is another author I only discovered recently, in the past year or so, but I've loved everything of hers I've read. So far I've read The Haunting of Hill House, The Lottery and We Have Always Lived in the Castle. I don't know how she does it, but there's something about her writing style that leaves me constantly uneasy. Her skill isn't in what she says, but what she doesn't say. If you're a fan of horror, be sure to check her out!

Terry Deary


What can I say? I basically grew up on the Horrible Histories books. I'm always going to have respect for the way in which Terry Deary made history fun for children, whether they're children who already love history or children who've always found it intimidating until they open one of his books. If I ever have children they're definitely going to have these books on their shelves.

Seanan McGuire


Also known as Mira Grant, Seanan McGuire is the author of the October Daye series, an urban fantasy series featuring faeries, and also the author of the Newsflesh trilogy which you all know I love by now. I just love her, and I'm making it my mission to read everything she writes. So far my favourite book of hers is most definitely Feed. Not that any of you will be shocked.

Tanya Huff


Another SFF writer who I love and discovered during university. She's well-known for her female-led SFF and her knack for completely subverting gender stereotypes. Her stories are so much fun, and I love her Blood Books in particular!

Who made your list?

R is for Rees | Blogging from A to Z

by Celia Rees

When it comes to the genres we love, I think most of us can name one particular book that really whet our appetite for them. For me that book was Pirates! 

Celia Rees is a British author who's pretty well known for her historical fiction aimed at children and teens; she's probably best known for Witch Child, another book that got me into historical fiction when I was young before I really recognised historical fiction as its own genre. I think I was around 11 or 12 when I first found Pirates! in my local library, and I just couldn't resist a story about two girls running away to become pirates.

I know it probably sounds strange me saying that I didn't really recognise historical fiction as a genre, but I've been into history for as long as I can remember so it never really occurred to me that a book set in the past needed its own genre; I thought everyone would pick up historical fiction as willingly as they'd pick up contemporary because I thought history was cool and, hey, you're still just reading a story about people, right?

It wasn't until I got a little older that the realisation dawned on me that not everyone finds history as interesting as I do - which is fine! I didn't start becoming interested in science fiction until the past year or so - and there certainly is some terrible historical fiction out there, but I'm glad I had writers like Celia Rees and Eva Ibbotson who made sure, from a very young age, that I would never find the genre intimidating!

Monday, 20 April 2015

Review | Ms. Marvel, Vol.2: Generation Why by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona and Jacob Wyatt

by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona and Jacob Wyatt

My Rating: 

Who is the Inventor, and what does he want with the all-new Ms. Marvel and all her friends? Maybe Wolverine can help! Kamala may be fan-girling out when her favorite (okay maybe Top Five) super hero shows up, but that won't stop her from protecting her hometown. Then, Kamala crosses paths with Inhumanity for the first time - by meeting the royal dog, Lockjaw! Every girl wants a puppy, but this one may be too much of a handful, even for a super hero with embiggening powers. But why is Lockjaw really with Kamala? As Ms. Marvel discovers more about her past, the Inventor continues to threaten her future.

You can find my review of Ms. Marvel, Vol.1: No Normal here!

In Volume 2 of Ms. Marvel we're met with a young superhero who's growing in both confidence and awesome factor. This volume was much more action-packed than the first, including Kamala's showdown with The Inventor and her chance meeting with one of her top five favourite superheroes, Wolverine. Kamala even has a literal out of this world experience when she meets Inhuman royalty.

Basically, this volume was a lot of fun.

The main criticism I had of the first volume was that, while I adored Kamala, the plot felt a little all over the place. Thankfully, I found this volume much more succinct. There was more of a sense that Kamala is slowly but surely becoming more comfortable with her new role in life, though I was pleased to see none of her problems had been resolved overnight; while this volume focused less on her home life it was still made clear to us that Kamala continues to struggle between balancing the person she wants to be with the person she's expected to be. Something all of us face, I think, particularly during our teens.

It was teenagers who made this volume in particular really special. Kamala gives a brilliant speech about the modern generation, how they're judged and how they're made to feel about themselves and their role in society, and I found it incredibly powerful. It was one of my favourite parts of this volume, my other favourite part being Wolverine. Naturally.

I loved that Wolverine was included in this volume. Out of all of Marvel's superheroes, he really is one of the best role models and teachers out there; he has a real talent for taking young people (particularly young ladies - just look at Rogue) under his wing and helping them realise their own potential, which is just what Kamala needed. Their scenes together were so much fun.

I really enjoyed this volume, I love where this series is going, and I can't wait for the next one!

Sunday, 19 April 2015

ORIGINAL | The Brontë Tag!

Hi everyone! Today I'm here with something pretty exciting: my very own tag! I've always wanted to create a tag, but I'd never been able to think of one. Until now!

I feel like I've been posting a lot of tags lately, so I apologise to any of you who are sick of the sight of them - and to my blogging friends who I so regularly tag, hopefully you guys don't mind...

So without further ado, here's the Brontë tag!

A Book/Series with a Twist You Didn't See Coming

Which book took you completely by surprise and left you reeling?

Will I ever be over Feed? Who can say? Probably not. It's so hard to talk about how much I love this book because there's so much I can't say without spoiling the book for people who haven't read it yet and want to. You'll be sick of me saying this by now, but just read it.

A Book/Series with More Than One Protagonist

This could be anything from a book with a dual narrative to a companion series!

I love The Lunar Chronicles for many reasons, and one of them is for the fantastic selection of heroines the series offers. There's a heroine for everyone, and none of them are pitted against one another. We need more books - especially in YA - with positive friendships between women.

A Book/Series Set at School

This can be boarding school, normal school or even college/university, and the main character doesn't have to be a student, either. Maybe there's a book about a teacher or professor you'd like to talk about.

I'm cheating a little here because I haven't actually read Gail Carriger's Finishing School series yet, but they're on my TBR. I just had to mention them because these covers are so gorgeous - not to mention they're set in the 19th century, so they felt rather fitting for the Brontë tag. I'm hoping to finally cross Etiquette & Espionage off my TBR soon!

A Book/Series You Didn't Like by an Author You Love

We all have our favourite authors, but did any of yours ever release a book that ended up disappointing you?

I didn't dislike Stardust entirely, but I didn't like it anywhere near as much as I was hoping to. I think I'm in the minority, though, because I know a lot of people who love this one!

A Book/Series with a Positive Female Friendship

Spread the womance! What's your favourite all female friendship in a book/series?

I love this series so darn much. If you haven't read Rat Queens yet - regardless of your view on graphic novels - I can't recommend it enough, it's just brilliant. As I'm sure you know by now I love positive relationships between women in books, particularly friendships, because so often women are pitted against one another or the main character feels the need to distance herself from other women by claiming she's 'not like other girls'. Breaking News: all women are different, and this series illustrates that beautifully.

A Book/Series with a Protagonist Who is a Parent

So often the books we read feature relatively young protagonists who still rely on their parents a lot, and it's a lot rarer for us to read books which feature a protagonist with a child of their own - particularly if you primarily read YA. You can use books such as Harry Potter and The Hunger Games if you really can't think of any other books, but I'd love to see some books with main characters who are parents at the beginning of their story!

For this I decided to go with Saga, because the whole storyline so far has primarily revolved around this couple who are trying to keep their child safe from both sides of an intergalactic war. Plus these two are perfect examples that a person's life doesn't end when they have children; these two are still Alana and Marko, not just Mum and Dad.

A Book/Series with a Problematic Love Interest

I hate to say it, but YA in particular is a genre brimming with love interests that make my insides squirm, whether they're being possessive, abusive or hiding behind their daddy issues to excuse their rubbish behaviour. Which love interest - YA or not! - do you hate most?

I feel like I'm going to get a lot of hate for this, but I don't like Peeta Mellark. The epilogue of Mockingjay left me with a bad taste in my mouth, and to be honest it's not entirely Peeta's fault. I don't hate Peeta entirely, but he is bordering on a "nice guy". He makes Katniss feel guilty about her lack of feelings for him just as much as Gale does in Catching Fire, and poor Katniss, who is struggling with PTSD, the fact that she accidentally started a rebellion and the knowledge that Snow will kill her family if she doesn't do something to stop it, is constantly getting told how much she doesn't deserve someone as nice as Peeta. It drives me up the bloody wall.

A Book/Series that Reminds You of Your Childhood

This can be a book from your childhood, or a book you've read since becoming an adult that's made you feel nostalgic.

I didn't get around to reading The Secret Garden until I was in university, but the 1993 film adaptation was a favourite of mine during my childhood. When I did finally read the book it filled me with nostalgia, especially as I grew up in the Yorkshire countryside myself.

I hope you like this tag, and whether you're tagged or not feel free to do it and tag other people! Though if you do I'd really appreciate it if you linked back to this original post. Happy tagging!

(I'm gonna tag quite a few people in the hopes of spreading this tag around a little - I hope you like it!)

I tag: