I always love Shusterman…

A book about water running dry, and you’re giving it to an often dehydrated chronic migraine sufferer with a degree in Geography? Yes please!

God this book was realistic. Creepily so. This is so close to what could actually happen if the taps ran dry, and California is an incredibly likely place for this to happen with its weather and the population density being so high.

This is a ya book, and our protagonists reflect that. We have a variety of view points, from around 13 to somewhere in the late teens (as a Brit I don’t know the US grade system so I can only approximate their ages without doing more research than I can be bothered to!) and this allows Neal and Jarrod to bounce around to different people’s priorities and how various personalities would react in this scenario.

Usually with Neal Shusterman’s writing I just fall into it and everything he writes gets 5* from me. I don’t know if it’s because he was writing with his son or if it’s just this book, but this “only” got a 4* from me. I found the middle to be a bit of a slog, and too much time was spent faffing around with “solutions” which we either already knew they were aiming for or knew they wouldn’t do. However, I still did enjoy the character development within these pages and also loved the beginning and the end of the story.

I’ve heard, on the grapevine, that this has been snapped up to be made as a movie, and I think it could do really well in this format. The slower stuff almost always has to be cut for a filmed adaptation so this should hopefully remove those parts that I was struggling through and focus on the drama and the action. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out on this one!

All in all this was actually a bit of a disappointment. Yes a 4* read was a disappointment. Because I know Neal Shusterman can make me fall in love with a world much more than he did here, and I went in expecting a 5* book and came out with an enjoyable story. But not with a new favourite.

I don’t know. I’ve not had this happen to me before so it’s a rather odd feeling. Have you ever had this experience? Let me know.

Worldwide Crime Syndicate + Poirot = A Damn Good Book

A worldwide crime syndicate which wants Poirot out of its way, as he keeps foiling their plans. Such a classic plot point and I loved it!

This was such a fun read, with so many intense moments and interesting twists and turns. I always feel like my reviews of Christie are too short, but there isn’t all that much to say. Most people know Poirot, they know Christie and they know these classic mysteries. I don’t need to try and sell them as they sell themselves!

So instead, I guess I’ll ask you guys. Do you read any Agatha Christie books? Do you enjoy these sorts of mystery stories? Let me know in the comments!

The First Poirot Short Story Collection!

Book three in the Poirot series, and the first collection of short stories. These tales don’t have any linking between them other than Poirot being the great detective to solve them all!

I love reading Agatha Christie, I speed through the books so fast and struggle to put them down. I really enjoy short story collections as well, and read through those super fast, so this mixture of the two was bound to be a success for me.

The Short Stories:

1. The Adventure of The Western Star
2. The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor
3. The Adventure of The Cheap Flat
4. The Mystery of Hunter’s Lodge
5. The Million Dollar Bond Robbery
6. The Adventure of The Egyptian Tomb
7. The Jewel Robbery at The Grand Metropolitan
8. The Kidnapped Prime Minister
9. The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim
10. The Adventure of The Italian Nobleman
11. The Case of The Missing Will

I enjoyed all 11 of these and absolutely sped through this book, if you like a traditional mystery then this is an obvious pick up. Although to be fair I don’t need to recommend Christie. I hopefully will be able to read all of her books and complete my collection one day, as I really love her works.

Classic Western Fairy Tales

You’ve probably heard some of these tales before, but likely, they were a little sweeter. The Brother’s Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen are known for their gory, not-for-kids, fairy tales, so when I saw this book compiling the both of them I knew I had to pick it up.

What I didn’t know when I purchased this book is that all of the authors changed the intensity of their stories over time. They started out writing for adults, and then when they received letters from parents complaining about the goriness they realised their stories were being told to children. It’s at this point that they started to tone down their tales. This does impact some of the stories, I was expecting horrific endings and some of the tales lived up to this, but many of them did not. So just be aware when you pick this up that they aren’t as bad as people make them out to be!

I did really enjoy seeing the base stories for many fairy tales and Disney stories which I’ve seen for years, and I also found it interesting that many of them don’t have any sort of moral attached to them. As this is a common feature of fairy tales when aimed at children.

This was a quick read, and one that I think you should go for if you’re even vaguely interested. These are the foundations of so many tales and stories in Western society and I personally think it’s really interesting to see their origin. I’d really like to pick up more origins of tales from a variety of cultures.

Comment down below any fairy tale stories you enjoy and whether you’ve read tales from the Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen!

Life isn’t all Sunshine

Sunshine by Melissa Lee-Houghton is the second poetry book I picked up secondhand from my local charity shop, purely because I wanted to read some more poetry.

Abuse, addiction and mental health are all topics present in this book, so be warned if those things are triggering to you. The poems can be quite dark at moments, but there are also many pieces which focus on brighter sides of life. Essentially, this collection encompasses the human life and the roller coaster which we all travel on.

This collection may be a little dark for some, but personally it was really nice to indulge in those darker thoughts and allow them to surface for a time and wade in them, as they are normally shoved down deep. This is something I think is good for many, to evaluate all thoughts which you have.

I’m glad that I picked this one up, and if I spot any more from this author I’ll pick it up in the future.

The Doll Factory review

1850s London, a young girl with a spinal deformity and a love of art, an up and coming artist, and a taxidermist. What could go wrong…
The concept of this book is so interesting! I have only one complain (and will address this first), and that is that once the *event* has occured, the book becomes a little slow. The writing really slowed down for me and I struggled to get to the event and then read through it. I didn’t have this issue leading up to the event and afterwards so that was a real pity. I also wished that there had been more time within the book after the event rather than it just stopping.
However, this is a lovely historical fiction that delves into the darker truth of humanity whilst retaining some of the purer and more loving aspects of humanity.
I give this book 3.5 out of 5. I enjoyed it, but it was pulled down by the slower ending. I’d definitely keep an eye out for anything else Elizabeth Macneal releases in the future.

The perfect woman? A poetic analysis

Who Is Mary Sue? by Sophie Collins looks at the archetype of the perfect female often portrayed in media and how unrealistic this woman is within the real world. Another interpretation of a Mary Sue is when a woman writes out a character whom certain readers believe to be them simply trying to reinvent themselves within this fictional world. I picked this book up from my local British Heart Foundation charity shop as they’ve finally started selling poetry books!!

I liked the concept of this collection, however, I didn’t really connect with any of the individual poetry pieces which was a real shame. The poems all seemed very impersonal and non-connective with no real links making me feel like I can feel the authors emotions.

However, it is a very quick read and for this reason I suggest picking it up if the concept calls to you. Poetry is such a subjective art and can be interpreted so differently by the most similar of people, so I always feel that if the subject matter is of interest the poetry should be experienced first hand.

Let me know if you’ve read this collection or if you feel the same way about poetry being so personal and subjective!

A father’s story

I knew that my University library held this book, but it had always been out when I searched for it so when I finally managed to grab it I was very happy. This is a non-fiction graphic novel which shows the authors attempts to get his father to tell him about his life during WWII and the hardships he suffered in Auschwitz. The individuals are animalised, with different groups being different animals (mice, pigs, cats), but they all show real-life events.

I actually enjoyed that Spiegelman’s father is quite unlikeable, he’s very determined and set in his ways and Spiegelman keeps trying to justify it through the Holocaust but fails as other survivors don’t behave in the same way. It shows that people don’t come out from an event perfectly reformed as a human, these individuals still have flaws and issues, but that just makes them more human.

As always, these WWII books are tough topics, and this book is no different. However, for me, I focused more on Spiegelman’s father post-WWII and his life now. I found it to be a really interesting aspect I hadn’t come across in this way before.

I’m very glad that I’ve read this book and I’ll be interested in more from Art Spiegelman in the future, WWII based or not.

It’s most important to be you

If you watch booktube videos, you’ve probably watched Kala from Booksandlala and you’ve probably seen her talk about Stargirl. Before she read Dress Codes for Small Towns it was her favourite book, and I had never heard of it. I ended up grabbing it on my kindle to read for the Magical Readathon for Astronomy as I didn’t have any books I wanted to read that had “star” in the title.

I sat and read this on the train from Newcastle to London and I enjoyed the experience. We follow not from Stargirl’s perspective, but from Leo’s point of view, he’s a student at Mica High. Stargirl stands out, which is not normal at Mica High where everyone fits in with the status quo. She isn’t afraid to be loud and weird and just completely herself with no regard for how others perceive her.

This really is a great book for tweens/teens to show them that being themselves is the most important thing that they can do. At an age when you just want to blend in with the crowd, it’s important to remind people that standing out and being true to who they are is important too! I think that if I’d read this book when I was 12/13 I would’ve added it to my favourites and really enjoyed the message it portrayed, however, seeing as I’m not the target audience for this work anymore it’s not quite as much of a favourite. But I did still enjoy it and I’m glad that I can add this to the list of books I’ve read.

An aptly titled novel!

This book was a complete cover buy, I won’t lie. I bought it and The Universe Versus Alex Woods because of their beautiful covers (check out my review of VS here), however, I ended up really loving VS so I was excited for this one!

We follow a man who has been diagnosed with a brain tumour, and it’s located in the part of his brain that impacts emotions. Gabriel works in finance, he has loads of money and anything he could ever want, all because he doesn’t care about people. At all. He’s not spoken to his dad in years and the closest he’s gotten to a woman is when he hires a prostitute for a night. This tumour changes all of that.

I really enjoyed reading through Gabriel’s eyes and seeing how his mindset slowly altered about different people and scenarios. He’s not necessarily a likable character but that doesn’t mean that you don’t understand where he’s coming from and the reasons behind his actions.

Oddly enough, Extence manages to make you empathise with Gabriel and really understand how scary and confusing this time must be what with his body and mind changing from the tumour and its treatment. I didn’t love this book quite as much as VS but I really did enjoy it and I think it’s a great book.