The Gift – a review

I did it! I finally re-read my favourite book! The Gift, by Alison Croggon, was my most read book when I was younger. I’ve re-read it at least 50 times, with the pages completely falling out of the book and the binding ruined. I’ve been absorbed in its pages so often. Somehow, I hadn’t re-read it since I started my Bookternet life though, and I finally rectified this! So, let’s get into it!


The Gift, known as The Naming in the US, follows Maerad (my-rad), a young slave girl in dire circumstances. She’s saved from slavery by Cadvan, a passing traveller whom no-one else can see, and is introduced to a life of Bards and schooling. Despite this new world of learning, her life isn’t set to be an easy one, with Maerad and Cadvan set on a perilous journey in order to battle the dark which has sunk its teeth into Annar.

This book. Damn. I’m so so happy that I still love it! This was 100% a five star read for me! There’s always the worry when you go back to a childhood favourite that you’re not going to love it as much. Tastes change, and especially when you go back in age range it can lend a different viewpoint that leads you to not enjoy the book so much. Thankfully, I adore this book just as much as I always have done!

I adore how Maerad has been written as a 16 year old. She felt realistic to me when I was younger than her and at the same age, and she still feels realistic to me now! She’s very nervous being dumped into these new situations and there are definitely times when she feels like she knows everything and then learns the hard way that she doesn’t. With Maerad coming from such a place of ignorance, we get to learn about her powers along with her. Every revelation is a surprise to all parties involved and seeing how everyone reacts to these as the book (and the series) progresses is one of my favourite parts of the book!

Cadvan, Maerad’s rescuer, teacher, friend, companion and so much more. I adore how he is so desperate to atone himself for his past actions. How he’s so truly towards the light. How he isn’t perfect. He can get impatient and harsh but he always apologises when needed. That’s another aspect of characterisation Croggon does incredibly, is making her characters real. They make mistakes, and not always just huge ones but the simple everyday ones we all make.

There is a lot of lore related to this book. I remember when I first read it as a kid I was convinced it was a fictionalisation of real world events. That just shows #1 how much historical fiction I was reading (and how accurate it was!) and #2 how well and in depth Croggon has written this world. Every aspect and facet that could reasonably be known from the “limited translations” is there and she has put so much thought into this world. As a child I wished that I could live there and learn in one of the Schools of Annar and as an adult I found myself wishing the same thing!

I read this for one of the Booktube Rereadathon prompts and I’m so glad that I’m going to be able to fit the other 3 books into the next 3 prompts because I 100% need to re-read this series now! I can’t wait to fully submerse myself in this world again and to see how much I adore the other books upon an “adult” re-read!

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab | A Review after a re-read

ADSOM was my choice for the August prompt of “a book that surprised you” for the Booktube Rereadathon. What surprised me about this book was that I couldn’t remember any of it! I first read it in the beginning of 2018 and I honestly could barely remember what happened, and what I thought I had remembered turned out to be completely wrong, so it’s definitely good that I re-read this one! And I enjoyed it! We follow Kell, he is one of the last of the magicians called Antari, and he belongs to the Royal family. He can travel between the different parallel Londons, Red, Grey, and White. Despite knowing the risk, Kell is an unofficial smuggler, but when one smuggle goes wrong it leads to disastrous consequences across all three London’s.

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First up that review from the Guardian is the most British thing ever: “A rather brilliant novel!” – okay, moving on. This book has a little bit of everything with knife happy main characters who will kill for those they love without a moments thought, as well as magic, villains, and morally grey issues. It’s all there!!

I really enjoyed the concept of the parallel London’s. It’s one I’ve seen before but never in this way and never with this specific way of travelling through. The connections that used to be there between the worlds also allows for a lot of additional world building to be done which gets us invested in the world(s) and it’s goings on quickly.

Kell himself is a fun character to read from, he has a staunch moral code, but it bends and flexes with his will. In contrast Lila’s moral code is strong and unbending, but she herself doesn’t know it’s full extent. The worlds that these two live within couldn’t be any more different, but their immediate ability to relate to one another, in an incredibly well written and realistic way, really makes the book shine.

Schwab’s writing is absolutely beautiful, she’s able to evoke the feelings from all three London’s with scary ease. She takes the typical fantasy tropes and manipulates them into something completely new and unique. I can see each of the London’s in my minds eye, they’re all very distinct to me. They almost seem to have a personality of their own.

The only reason that this book got 4 instead of 5 stars is that it didn’t have that spark. I know, I know. It’s stupid. But it didn’t and I don’t know why. Technically this should be a 5 star read for me, but for now it isn’t. However, I definitely still do want to read the sequel and find out more about these worlds and these characters! I can’t wait to see where Lila and Kell end up next!

Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman

A classic of British YA literature, I first read Noughts & Crosses when I was 10 years old from my school library. I’m a little surprised that it was in my school’s library because this covers some incredibly heavy topics but I’m grateful that I was able to read it. I reread it for both the BookTube ReReadaThon prompt for July which was a book that had taught me something, and also the fuck white supremacy prompt for the Fuckathon.


This book took a long time for me to get through. I hadn’t been expecting that, because rereads are usually quick reads for me. It was too tough for me to get through. My depression was pretty bad whilst reading this and the dark topics just really triggered it and made it a hard read. I’m still glad that I read it again though, as there were a lot of things I didn’t remember or hadn’t quite gotten the nuance of when I was younger.

I’ve heard some criticisms of this book in that it’s “just a reversal” of real life and that it doesn’t capture the nuances of what really would have occurred if Black people had taken on the role of the white oppressor. I, however, think that this is silly. This is a book intended for children, for the YA audience. It’s a heavy topic and Blackman would have known that most of the children reading this would be white British kids, they had never experienced racism and had probably never been taught about it in school. Changing up too much, making it too unrecognisable for those children, would’ve lessened the impact that was had on them. They wouldn’t have been able to see the parallels between this book and real life. That was the important part of this book.

Nowadays this topic is more common, on social media and sometimes even in schools. And of course the series made its way across the Atlantic where racial differences are a hot button topic every day, week and year. You can write more nuanced books for kids nowadays, for American kids back then. But for white British kids in 2001? This was exactly right to open their eyes.

I’m really glad that I re-read this book and I’m definitely going to be carrying on with the other three books in the series. I’ll be waiting a little until I know my mental health can handle it though.

I did it!! I read the beast!


I can’t believe I’ve actually finished Othello!! This Shakespeare work was really not the one for me, I’ve enjoyed other plays before (Macbeth and The Comedy of Errors) but when I first tried to read Othello through I just couldn’t finish it. I was bored, confused and annoyed by this play.

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I was picking this book back up, after a very angry DNF a couple years ago, for the May prompt for the BooktubeRereadathon which was a second chance book. What else fit the bill here for me but Othello?

What finally got me through this book was the SparkNotes webpage. I had Googled about the first Act to try and understand what the f*ck was going on and came across their page. You hear people in the US in schools rave about them so I thought it’d be worth a shot.

Friends. It was very much worth it. I ended up reading the entire book through their webpages, actually fully understanding what was going on! For some reason this was just a really problematic text for me but I’m glad I was able to at least comprehend what was happening thanks to SparkNotes. It meant that I got to finish my re-read and now I can actually form viewpoints on this text.

In the end I gave it 2*. It was an interesting story and it would obviously play out better on the stage, but still just not one for me.

Bad timing, Abi

The prompt for April for the Booktube Rereadathon was to re-read a book from a genre you don’t go for anymore. I thought I’d hit exactly what I needed when I spied my Animal Ark books in their box set on top of my shelves, and picked book number one: Kittens in the Kitchen. It wasn’t exactly the right choice to have made. Immediately after starting this book my own beautiful cat Tigger had to be put down. It made this simple kids book a lot harder to read. Thankfully, however, I do have the memories of reading it many times as a child and so I can still give it a decent review for you guys!


The whole Animal Ark series, written by various UK authors under the pseudonym Lucy Daniels, are wonderful books following Mandy Hope. An adopted girl who lives at her parents veterinary practice and who loves to help animals she finds in and around her rural village in the UK. Kittens in the Kitchen is the first book in this series and follows newborn kittens who’s mother made their home in the school caretakers laundry basket. He doesn’t want them there so Mandy and her best friend James have to take care of the kittens and find them new homes.

The two, in the short span of less than 200 pages, have to overcome prejudice against older and grumpy members of their village as well as learning to look after these newborns. It’s a lovely little book and I remember absolutely adoring learning about all the animals when I first read these books many years ago. It’s such a sweet series and despite the bittersweetness I’m glad that I returned to them once again to remember Mandy’s exploits and all the animals she helped.

March’s Re-Read! An Arthurian re-telling!


My third book in the Booktube ReReadathon this year and I’m loving taking part in this challenge! I’m getting to rediscover old favourites and with the book below I had completely forgot the majority of it!

The prompt for March was to read a book published or set before the year you were born. I’m a 1996 baby, so this book is definitely set before my time! Set around a young lad who is given a stone through which he can see into the past, by Merlin no less, we follow both him and the previous storyline as his life seems to match up with that of the old King Arthur.

The Seeing Stone by Kevin Crossley-Holland

I had forgotten much about this book, the unique chapter layout of very small chapters and even the stone which allowed Arthur to see into the past (it’s in the title for Pete’s sake!), so having an excuse to re-read this book was great! It’s a YA book which I feel teeters on the younger side of YA, and I love finding those books as they’re definitely less hyped online than those aimed at the older YA audience.

There is so much to explore within this book, with the well know and well trodden storyline of King Arthur given a revamp and a heavy twist. I loved the relationships between characters and how this develops, as well as watching Arthur himself understand more of this weird world around him.

Although I couldn’t remember much about this book before I re-read it, I knew I wanted to carry on with the series. I can 100% confirm this now! It’s definitely a series I intend to carry on with and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for Arthur!

Booktube Rereadathon February Edition!

The Princess Plot by Kirsten Boie was a core book of my tweenage years, I loved this book so much with its contemporary disguise masking a deeper and more poignant story so I was happy to pick this book for the “last read at least 10 years ago” prompt for February.


This book follows Jenna who sneakily auditions for a role in a movie despite her strict mother not wanting her to go. She gets the part! And she’s flown off to Scandia to meet the director of the film. But everything is not as it seems. This is such a fun book and I honestly didn’t expect so much from it.

What I mean by that is that I remembered the plot, but I didn’t expect Boie to so clearly make points about politics, classism, racism and to explain terrorist groups so well. She points out things which are present in our own societies (Boie is German but as a Brit, everything registered too) and utilises the made up country of Scandia to demonstrate the issues here without angering any one country.

That’s another point too, I had never known that this was a translated work! A surprising number of my childhood reads were translated from other languages and I love it!

Back to the review 😂

This is the first book in a duology, however, it stands on its own really well too. I think it’s a great book to give a tween/teen and a fun read as an adult too! Of course the nostalgia makes me biased, but I also genuinely believe that this is a great MG/YA book (it’s one of those rare books that targeted at the younger end of YA).

Have you read this book before? Did you know it was translated? Let me know!


Mentally Visiting the Swiss Mountains

I’ve read this story many times before, but not in a long while. I re-read it this January as part of the Booktube ReReadathon (as I mentioned here) ran by Alex Black Reads and Abi Mack Reads. The prompt for this month was a translated work, and Heidi was originally published in German by a Swiss author, Johanna Spyri.

I loved this when I first read it as a child, it really resonated with the kind of child that I was who loved being outdoors in nature and didn’t fit in with “well behaved” society. Re-reading it again as an adult I found it incredibly sweet, and I’m glad that I first read it as a child. Despite it being from the 1880s it has, in my opinion, aged very well and I loved the feeling of being free within the Swiss countryside and in the mountains.

I can’t find faults with the aim of this book, it’s a simple read which just aims to get children to appreciate the outdoors whilst not vilifying those who stay indoors for various reasons. I will definitely encourage children in my future to pick this book up and hopefully nurture a love of the outdoors within them.

Have you read Heidi? Do/did you read classic children’s books? Honestly, I still read kids classics and regular kids books and I love them!

Do YOU ReRead??

I did! And then I didn’t… and now I do again! Okay let me explain haha

When I was a kid I’d re-read books all the time, I didn’t have access to the shops without my parents (or the money to buy books anyways) so once I had finished what was on my shelves I had no other option than to read what I’d already read until the next time I got any books or got to go to the library. Now don’t get me wrong, my parents bought me so many books and we’d visit the library fairly often, I just read like a mad child and got through a ridiculous number of books!

Theeeeeen education happened. I live in the UK but I’m sure this is something that you guys from all around the world can relate to. I also had my various chronic illnesses kick in at this point, including migraines, and I just didn’t have the time or the energy to pick up books and read for pleasure with everything else I had to do. I still loved books though, which I showed by taking books with me to Uni, despite not having read in 3 years.

And then I did it, I picked up a book. I had to force my way through it. It wasn’t as easy as it used to be when I was a kid, it didn’t flow as naturally. But I did it. And that was it. That year I started reading and never stopped! I found this community and a couple years later I joined in as an active participant! But I wasn’t picking up my old books, I wasn’t re-reading at all. Now that I wasn’t living at home and I had some savings/birthday money I could bring books home without any issue and having found the Bookternet I had too many books that I now wanted to read to be able to justify the time spent on re-reading old books. It felt like it would be a “waste of time”. Which is sad.

That’s why I decided to do Alex and Abi’s Booktube ReReadaThon. To give myself accountability and to “justify” spending my time on it! I actually intended to do this in 2019, but that really just did not happen for a massive variety of reasons and so I abandoned it. But this year is my year! I have already read my re-read for January, the challenge was to reread a translated work so I went with Heidi, a book I hadn’t read since childhood!

I’ll be putting up a full review soon, but suffice to say that I really enjoyed it. It’s a lovely, simple and inspiring story that I really enjoyed diving back into and it reminded me that I really do love re-reading books. Which is why so many of the books on my shelves have cracked spines from reading them again and again and again as a child!

I’m really excited to carry on with this re-reading throughout the year! I’ve linked the challenges here and also Alex’s video and Abi’s video announcing the challenge for the year so that you guys can go and check it out!

Do you like re-reading books? Let me know down below and explain why!!