My Name is Monster by Kate Hale, a review

My Name is Monster by Kate Hale came into my life from an unhaul from the lovely Olivia. Without this, I don’t know that I would’ve heard of this book. So thank you Olivia!

My Name is Monster by Katie Hale

Set mostly in the UK, with a small sojourn into the Nordic realms, this is a post-pandemic dystopian novel. One that isn’t suitable for some at this time, but that I thought handled the topic well and should be readable for almost all.

I went into this book reasonably blind, and I was surprised by some of the themes and content. There are heavy themes of motherhood (in both an adoptive and birth capacity) that as a child-free person by choice, were unexpected. I think anyone who has children may get more out of this aspect of the novel than I did.

I had actually expected this, from the synopsis, to be a fantastical read. For our MC to be some other species. It’s not, it’s definitely more in the “survival novel” bracket and is as realistic as possible for a scenario that isn’t occurring in real life.

I did really enjoy the world building within this book. How it sets up our main character to be realistically isolated from the general population and therefore to survive the pandemic. I also liked how Hale had our MC traverse and reach the north west of England, it shows her understanding and familiarity with the land and how one could eek out survival upon it.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 6, Atmosphere: 6, Writing: 5, Plot: 6, Intrigue: 5, Logic: 6 and Enjoyment: 6 with an average of 5.71 and a 3* rating.

Highlight here for content warnings: death, animal death, bullying, gore, medical content, grief, pregnancy, suicide, homophobia.

This is a decent wee book, but not a new favourite. It’s also one that I won’t be recommending to everyone, as I don’t feel like it has the widest appeal. But it is an interesting book and if it’s piqued your interest I do recommend picking it up!

Do you read reviews?

Book reviews are kind of the basis of everything that I do (bookish) online. But I’m wondering, do you actually read reviews before you pick a book up?

Do you go searching for reviews specifically before you buy a book, or before you read it? Or do you only use reviews as recommendations from certain reviewers rather than for something you already want to read?

I myself don’t go hunting for reviews before I read a book, as I don’t want to be spoiled for even the smallest thing! But once I’ve read a book I love hearing other people’s thoughts and using them to add to my thoughts on the book!

Let me know if you read or write reviews and how you use them!!

Dark Days, a review

We’re onto the second trilogy within the Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy! Dark Days is where the violence, the gore, and the death all start to ramp up


As per usual, this is a difficult series to talk about in a spoiler free review because there’s so much going on and I don’t want to accidentally mention something!

For what I can say, I like the development of Skulduggery and Valkyrie separately to each other. I think this is done really well with the circumstances and shows the events of the books well in terms of the mental impact on them. I also like how Val’s separation from her parents is handled more within this book and how it’s shown.

Of course, I adored the sharp wit, the stupid banter, and the fight scenes. As well as references to other nerdy things littered throughout!

I also like how the magic within the series is delved into more here. We learn more about the different uses if elemental magic, as well as the other branches and what advantages they hold. It fleshes out the world more and provides more depth for the other non-elemental characters actions (as Skulduggery and therefore Valkyrie have focused mainly on elemental magic).

On CAWPILE I rated this book:

Characters: 9

Atmosphere: 8

Writing: 9

Plot: 9

Intrigue: 8

Logic: 9

Enjoyment: 8

Which gives me an overall 8.57 rating which is a really good 4 stars! Is anyone really surprised at that??

Highlight here for trigger warnings: violence, death, bombing attempt and event, attempted murder, wrongful incarceration, torture, PTSD, lack of bodily autonomy, severe burn injuries

This is a series that I adore and it’s so much fun to be reading through them again! We’ve only got one book left to come in the series overall now so it’s nice that I’m “delaying” that ending by rereading through all of the books! Have you read any books in the Skulduggery Pleasant series? What do you think of it?!?!

The Stone of Destiny, a review

After seeing Caitlyn, Connor, and Eleanor raving about this (and after Caitlyn forcefully gifting me it, as she knows that’s the best way to get me to read anything) I picked up The Stone of Destiny by Caroline Logan and I’m so glad that I did!!

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This is a YA fantasy which utilise Scottish folk lore, with this first book focusing on Selkies. Mystical folk who can turn between seal and human at will. Our main character, however, is a 19 year old teen who acts like a grumpy old grandpa and it is my favourite thing.

I adored this book, so so much. Ailsa rescues two selkies, brother and sister, from an attack of bloodthirsty raiders. From then onwards a bond is formed between the trio, and she travels with them as a guard to the capital city where the Prince has a request of the selkies.

The characters in this book? They’re utterly fantastic. So so so so good. Our main character Ailsa is so grumpy and so lovable and so strong! And our selkies? They’re mystical and magical and ethereal, but also so down to earth and relatable!

And the plot? Of course I don’t want to tell you too much cause Spoilers but I was so invested in the travelling that the groups did across this fantastical Scottish landscape. We got to see so much of the worldbuilding by Caroline Logan which is done so beautifully and really plays into the beautiful, wet, reality that is Scotland.

For my CAWPILE rating I gave this book:

Characters: 9

Atmosphere: 8

Writing: 8

Plot: 8

Intrigue: 9

Logic: 9

Enjoyment: 9

Which gives an overall 8.57 which is a high 4 star rating!! If you can’t tell. I love this book. So so much. And I’m so excited to carry on in the series!

Highlight here for trigger warnings: child and baby death mentioned, violence resulting in injury and death, minor body horror

If you enjoy fantasy books I really do recommend picking this one up. It’s a YA book, aimed at teens, but it can definitely be enjoyed by an older audience looking for a less graphic fantasy than is prevalent in the adult sphere (don’t get me wrong, I love both!) and I’m looking forward to more of the same in book two!

Knife Edge, a review

The Noughts & Crosses series is one from my childhood that I’ve decided to reread. I read book one late last year, and finally continued on with Knife Edge this year.


This one didn’t break my heart quite as much as book one, which was a nice break! But don’t get me wrong it’s still not an easy read.

This series is in a world where white people are inferior, and in book one we follow Sephy and Callum, a Black girl and a white boy, who despite the world being against them are in love. That book tore my little heart right out of my chest. I was expecting the same from book two.

This book didn’t go quite so far, but I still very much… enjoyed(?) it. Is that the right word?? You know what I mean.

In this book we switch to a new perspective, right from the beginning, as well as continuing with a perspective we’d been following throughout book one. This new perspective offered a lot of insight into the harsh reality of life and how circumstances can drive people to commit certain acts. Whilst I don’t like this character, I really appreciate all of the development that Blackman does of them and how this adds so many layers. It really makes you realise the humanity in all of the acts they carry out. Even if you don’t agree with them.

I have pretty strong feelings about these books. I’ve heard people say they aren’t for kids. I’ve heard people say they’re unrealistically violent. But they are for children (older kids mind you, trigger warnings are rife in these) and the aren’t unrealistically violent. This is supposed to be a reversal of racism towards Black people and it really highlights this for a mainly white British population with the whites treated as inferior. It shows what their friends and colleagues are going through and I think Blackman should be commended not only for how well she portrays this, but also with how well her books have stood the test of time. Although I’m sure she would’ve rather had them seem radically out of date. And so would I.

For my CAWPILE rating for this book I gave:

Characters: 8

Atmosphere: 10

Writing: 9

Plot: 8

Intrigue: 9

Logic: 10

Enjoyment: 8

Which gives me an overall 8.86 rating which is a nice solid 4 star rating. I’m surprised that it didn’t get 5 stars but CAWPILE is a really tough system!

Highlight here for trigger warnings: violence, suicide, self-harm, depression, sexual references, racism, domestic abuse, hate crimes, mention of rape, abuse, infantile death suggested

These books are fantastic. They’ll rip your heart out of your chest and shove it down your throat, whilst you have tears pouring down your face and a million thoughts whirring through your head. They. Are. Amazing. Please do pick them up if you haven’t already. And if you have, tell me what you think about them in the comments!!

Reckoning – a review

This was my tbr jar pick for March (leave me and my massively behind reviews alone) and without that I don’t know if or when I would’ve finally picked this book up. I got it from The Works in about 2016 and it’s been languishing on my shelves ever since. A YA dystopian set in a UK where war has ravaged the lands and the King who stopped the war is revered. But of course things aren’t as they seem.


This book? It’s just fine unfortunately. It’s a perfectly fine YA dystopian. I didn’t dislike it, don’t get me wrong. I was interested in the story and where it was going. I wanted to know how they would discover the information and how they would escape. But it was also pretty predictable.

This is a very well fleshed out blueprint of a standard dystopian, and I do think that the actual target audience would enjoy it. The cheesiness that is present wouldn’t be quite so grating for them, and they would be able to relate to the characters. And I love that it’s in the UK rather than the US! So that’s a big bonus!

I have, however, since unhauled this book and the second one in the trilogy without reading it. The final nail in the coffin for me was a line in book 2’s synopsis “the girl with the silver streak in her hair”. I managed to mostly forget about that whilst reading, but our main character, called Silver, does indeed have a silver streak in her hair. It was what tipped me over the edge, just too cheesy and too young for me! So it’s gone now. Hopefully someone in the right age bracket will enjoy it!

On my CAWPILE spreadsheet I rated this book:

Characters: 6

Atmosphere: 6

Writing: 6

Plot: 6

Intrigue: 7

Logic: 7

Enjoyment: 7

Which gave me an average of 6.43 which is the higher end of the 3 star bracket. Not atrocious but not amazing, pretty much like this book.

Despite this being a “cheesy” YA dystopian book there are still trigger warnings. Not many, but I would recommend heeding them.

Highlight here for the trigger warnings: sexual assault (heavily implied), violence, abuse

Let me know if you’ve read this series and how you feel about reading YA as an adult (or MG as a teen if you’re not an adult yet!)

The Five Orange Pips and Other Cases – a review

When the Buzzwordathon prompt in February asked for a book with a colour in the title I had limited choices (looks like the books I pick up don’t match Kayla’s!) so this was my only option, but I wasn’t mad because I adore Sherlock Holmes and I knew I would fly through this!


I’m sure you know the Holmes stories by now, we follow our detective in the 1800s as he uses his powers of deduction and his knowledge of 243 different types of tobacco ash to solve mysteries of death, murder, and deception. Despite being Conan Doyle’s least favourite character to write, he captured the heart of a nation and we would not let him go!

I had read some of these stories not that long ago, when I read The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. So I decided to skip over those and pick the ones I hadn’t read this. There were actually one or two new to me in here which was lovely as I had been worried they would all be rereads.

This was exactly what I expected, a fun read, an enjoyable romp through the deductive mind of Holmes/Doyle and I will always enjoy these books!

Highlight here for trigger warnings: death, violence

For my CAWPILE ratings I gave:

Character: 9

Atmosphere: 8

Writing: 9

Plot: 8

Intrigue: 9

Logic: 9

Enjoyment: 9

With an overall score of 8.71 which gives me a 4 star rating! I think that’s pretty reflective of how I feel about these, never quite five star reads but always immensely enjoyable!

Borrowed Time – a review

The same as the last time I read a Doctor Who fiction book, I expected it to be just… eh… and I actually really enjoyed it!!

In Borrowed Time we not only follow the Pond trio, but also the lives of two bankers who want to out-compete each other to get that promotion. But they never seem to have quite enough time to get everything done.


Of course, capitalism has a solution for that! Buy time! The world will freeze around you as you sort out that powerpoint for the presentation tomorrow as well as do the boss’ work and spend time with your family. It’s all so simple! Until it isn’t.

I’m sure you can guess the repercussions of this, and that it’s not risk free. Well the Doctor, Amy and Rory happen to stumble upon a group of people using these devices and they attempt to save them.

This was such a fun book! I didn’t expect to be so absorbed and to enjoy it so much, I think I need higher expectations for these Doctor Who books! I only have one left from this 3 book box set so I’m looking forward to picking it up!

My CAWPILE ratings were:

  • Characters: 8
  • Atmosphere: 7
  • Writing: 6
  • Plot: 6
  • Intrigue: 7
  • Logic: 6
  • Enjoyment: 7

Totalling 6.71 for a nice 3 stars!

Highlight for trigger warnings: sudden onset of aging, mild violence

These books are definitely just for Doctor Who fans (or potential fans), but within that bracket they’re really enjoyable and I might have to pick up more in the future!

Waistcoats & Weaponry – a review

One perk about being so far behind on my reviews is that I get to tell you that this is the highest rated book I’ve read so far this year!

I use CAWPILE to rate my books, and it gives you a number between one and ten (using decimals) for the rating, and so far in 2021 this is my highest rated book!


The 3rd book in the Finishing School series, this book continued on the fun of the first two! I of course don’t want to spoil anything (and I’m trying to make my blog reviews less academic) so I won’t say too much about the book but I adored every aspect of it of course! And I was actually crying at the end! Hence the high rating! I was very concerned about a specific thing (spoilers) and I couldn’t hold it in!

My CAWPILE breakdown:

  • Characters: 10
  • Atmosphere: 9
  • Writing: 9
  • Plot: 9
  • Intrigue: 10
  • Logic: 10
  • Enjoyment: 10

Total: 9.57!

Highlight here for trigger warnings: violence, blood, gun violence, serious injury

Thank you so so much Kari (from Kari-ng for books) for gifting me both this and book 4, Manners & Mutiny, because these books are ridiculously fun, silly, and impactful all at the same time!!

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – a review

In light of my blog post about being more chill with my book blog, this is going to be my first post where I don’t sit and write an academic article about my thoughts on a book! Ironic that I’m doing this with a science based book but here we go, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

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This books is a biography written by a white woman, Rebecca Skloot. With this being about a Black woman who was exploited I was concerned about this going in, but she actually addresses this within the book itself. Of course as a white woman I can’t speak on this properly, but it did seem like she really cared for the wellbeing of the Lacks family and wanted to truly tell Henrietta’s story to the world. But I would look for own voices reviews of this to get a view on that part.

I liked that there was science mixed in with the personal, it wasn’t all just about her life and it wasn’t all just about the science, the two intertwined. It shows the impact that the HeLa cells have had on society, saving so many lives, as well as the impact the treatment of Henrietta had both on her and on her family around her. And that difference is pretty stark.

I like that Skloot chose to write about how she got in contact with the family. It shows the exploitation that they’ve been subject to before, as well as hopefully keeping her accountable for how she was getting in contact with them. Given that they’re able to pick this up and read it.

Overall I gave this 4*s. On my CAWPILE spreadsheet I rated it:

  • 10 for characters
  • 7 for atmosphere
  • 7 for writing
  • 8 for plot
  • 9 for intrigue
  • 8 for logic
  • 8 for enjoyment

The CAWPILE rating isn’t designed for non-fiction books so I’ve had to just make this fit for the book the best that I can. And my rating came out at 8.14, so a solid 4 stars!

Highlight for trigger warnings: mention of sexual abuse, cancer, racism, classism, medial procedures, death

Honestly I really recommend picking this one up. It’s a really interesting book that focuses primarily on the human impacts of the work carried out, both on Henrietta and on what the HeLa cells have been able to achieve and it’s really important to remember and honour the woman who’s cells were stolen, who has enabled so many scientific advancements.