Friday, 11 December 2015

Bye Bye, Blogger

My new blog is up and running!

Discovering myself on this little site has been one of the most humbling and wonderful experiences of my life. It provided me with a space to explore my interests and find hope in my future. I will miss it dearly, but the time has come for me to start afresh.

Bye, Blogger. It was nice knowing you. 

Thursday, 26 November 2015

The Wait Is (Almost) Over!

This is a lightning-fast update because I have a hair appointment in like eight minutes, and after that my day kind of spirals into a mess of irrelevant and mundane things that still require organisation and attention. Every free second I have will be dedicated to bawling my eyes out because I just finished Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon and I can't deal. So I figured I'd better post this now, when I'm still dazed and sleepy and half-dressed.

Dumbest idea ever, but it has to be done.

I've just finished school forever. It's such a crazy and exciting thought that every time it pops into my head I kind of make this weird squealing noise and jump up and down (there are some forms of excitement that can only be expressed through bizarre movements and noises. I have no shame). Technically, that should mean that I now have endless time to write and read and blog and pretty much just have an awesome time doing what I love, right? Right?

Yeah, not so much. The next week and a half is going to be crazy. I'm going to the beach for a week with my friends, which may or may not be a totally beautiful and memorable disaster, so I won't be doing much (or any) blogging from now until the 5th of December. After that, I'm doing a writing course for four days (and every time I think about it I do said happy dance all over again).

All this to say, I've been staring at my planner for about six hours now, and I finally found the perfect date to do my new blog launch, but it's going to be a bit later than I'd initially planned. Sorry.

Save the date: 11 December is the day I move to Wordpress!

I'll post a link here, but I'll also be tweeting about it, so watch this space.

Love you all. Stay safe.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

The End Is Nigh

I’m supposed to be studying for my Maths final, but I figured I’d try squeeze in a quick blog because it’s been ages and I miss it and there’s so much I want to say... but I have like half an hour, so this is going to be short and crappy. Bear with me.

Thankfully, I’m nearing the end of the Ultimate Year Of Doom – I have five exams left, and two-and-a-half weeks until I’m finally free from high school. The constant sad violin music floating around my head is starting to be replaced with Christmas carols and Adele (she’s everywhere these days), which is way more terrifying than it sounds because it all kind of blends together and makes me confused as to whether I should be dancing or dying. 

The worst part about this stage of finals is that I can almost taste that massive chocolate milkshake I’m going to drink as soon as I finish my last exam, but it still feels like the end is so far away. There’s only so much studying my little brain can take before it curls up and begins hyperventilating, whimpering about how it needs more coffee and a nap and maybe an episode of American Horror Story or seven... (At this point, all I can watch is horror movies and series because it feels like I’m in one.)

Moving right along.

My other, better news is that I’ve made the decision to move my blog to Wordpress at the end of the year, which is something that honestly should have happened long ago. Blogger and I are just not compatible. The obsessive-compulsive side of me needs more control over my site, the way it looks, and the way people interact with it. My more creative side is also desperate for a change, so I’ve been spending the last two months or so (when I was supposed to be studying – my procrastination game is through the roof these days) designing a brand new webpage. I’m super excited for you guys to see it, and I’m also really looking forward to a fresh start.

The new blog should be up and running in early December, but I’ll be posting regular updates here and on my latest Twitter account as soon as I finish finals, so stay posted!

After that it’s going to be kind of crazy for a while, because I have around seventeen books reviews to post and like a million blogs that I’ve been mentally drafting ever since I started this self-imposed blogging hiatus. Also, Christmas candy makes me all excitable and creative.

Anyway... I'll see you guys on the other side. Stay safe. 

Saturday, 31 October 2015

'Exodus in Confluence' by Bryant A. Loney

Book details

Genre: YA
Publisher: Verona Booksellers
ISBN: 978-0-692-24564-4



Exodus in Confluence is a glimpse at what can happen to people when they are put under truly adverse circumstances -- struggling to hold onto their moral values in the face of almost certain death. It's a blend of narrative and commentary on the human condition. It's about people struggling to be human beings.

Five months into the zombie apocalypse, seventeen-year-old Stephen Hart lived in a society where rules and humanity had left him for dead. The remaining survivors clung feverishly to whatever hope remained -- maybe it was a family member, or a religion, or a destination. But in less than one week, everything changed. (And so the cycle repeats.)

A year later, his ramshackle settlement has been compromised, as evidenced by the hordes of the undead swarming inside the gates... and Stephen is to blame. Instead of running, he takes to the airwaves, using the transmission in the now-abandoned radio station to broadcast his story via speakers to his fleeing citizens. This way, maybe he won't look like such a total monster.

With the clock running out, venture into Stephen's post-apocalyptic world, where circumstances can make us become something other than ourselves.


When I initially sat down to read Bryant A. Loney’s novella, I have to admit that I was a little hesitant.  Generally, novellas aren’t really my thing (I like my books big and complex – anything under two hundred pages leaves me feeling unfulfilled and grumpy), but I was also concerned that my expectations of the author had skyrocketed after I read his novel To Hear The Ocean Sigh. Long story short, I didn’t want to be disappointed.

I needn’t have worried.

Loney’s novella is dark, haunting, and thought provoking. As in To Hear The Ocean Sigh, I was in awe of the author’s incredible writing style – his ability to weave such wonderfully gripping stories without sacrificing eloquence and elegance is quite frankly astounding, especially considering that he only wrote Exodus in Confluence at sixteen. Plot-wise, Loney is a genius, but that’s all I’ll say for fear of ruining the adrenaline rush that will leave readers reeling.

But these elements were not even the best part about Loney’s novella. Lurking beneath his story is a highly insightful commentary on modern society’s departure from its own humanity, and it’s enough to send shockwaves through any reader’s system. I loved it, especially because it serves both as an observation of the futile violence that is obliterating our world, and as a warning of what is to come if we don’t prevent it.

This is a phenomenal story that everybody needs to read.

~Thank you to Wes Florentine from Verona Booksellers for providing me with the opportunity to review this novella.~

(Not really, but you get the idea.)

Rating: 5/5
Recommended to: Anybody and everybody.

The Last Word

If all that wasn’t enough to convince you that you should read this novella, I have three more reasons:

1.   It’s amazing.

2.   It will only take you 90 minutes to read.

3.  Zombies.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

'The Raven Boys' by Maggie Stiefvater

Book details

Series: The Raven Cycle, #1
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Scholastic Press
ISBN: 9780545424929


“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.


This is the first time I’ve ever dared to delve into Maggie Steifvater’s world, and I have to say I’m struggling a little to keep my emotions in check. I have a headache. It feels like all my thoughts about this book are spilling out of my ears because my brain is hyperventilating and throwing around furniture.

What a marvelous story. Stiefvater’s writing is magical. There’s really no other way to describe it. Right from the opening line, Stiefvater began weaving this intricate and electrifying spell that made me dizzy. It may have started off slowly, drawing on more and more of my energy as the story built itself up, but ten pages in I was already entranced. By the time I reached the halfway mark, the world around me felt like it was buzzing with electricity, but for the life of me I couldn’t draw my eyes away from the pages. The final few chapters were an explosion – Blue’s world and my own seemed to shatter into a billion pieces, and then it just… ended.

Note to the author: That is not okay. You broke me. You can’t just drop a bomb like that with such nonchalance, and then skip happily on to the acknowledgements.

The only negative point I have to mention about The Raven Boys is with regards to the characters. While charismatic Gansey and eccentric Blue seemed so enchanting and otherworldly in the beginning, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed in them by the end. They seemed to become increasingly two-dimensional as the novel progressed, whereas Adam, Noah and Ronan did the exact opposite. It was a strange scenario, but I’m sure Stiefvater will rectify it in The Dream Thieves.

Overall, though, this was an incredible novel. I love Maggie Stiefvater’s writing style, and I can’t wait to read more of her work.

Rating: 4/5
Recommended to: Everybody. Everybody. Everybody.

The Last Word

The Noah twist:

Well played, Stiefvater.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Why I dislike John Green

Let’s face it – famous people have a hard life. Nobody’s really indifferent towards them (myself included), meaning that they either receive e-mail proposals (rings and all, apparently) or blood-soaked hate mail on a daily basis. But there are celebrity problems and then there are bestselling author problems.

John Green has bestselling author problems. Half the time he’s in the spotlight as one of the best YA authors of the decade, and then he spends the other half watching teenagers hurl abuse at him for making racist comments, misrepresenting their generation or just being "downright rude". The poor man can barely carry on with his job… or, various jobs: hanging around the movie sets for adaptions of his latest novels, filming YouTube videos with his brother, and writing, obviously. He’s either seen as the all-holy leader of misfit teens, or a problematic middle-aged misogynist who must be stopped.

But you’ve seen the heading of this post, so you already know where I’m going with this. I’ll get on with it, then.

I dislike John Green. Not “hate”. Dislike.

I see you making this face right now, but let me explain,
okay? Okay. (Maybe okay will be our always.)

Don’t get me wrong – I really, really want to love John Green. I adored The Fault In Our Stars. I thought it was one of the most beautiful novels I’d ever read at the time. At fifteen, I just wanted to soak up all the goodness I saw in that book and radiate it onto other people.

But then I grew up, just a teeny tiny bit, and read some more of his stuff. And cringed.

I’m one of those people who strongly believe in speaking out against the things that make us uncomfortable. It’s one of the ways in which we develop strong opinions on topical issues and alert others of the problems of which we have become aware. But that said, I’m hesitant to use the word “hate” against somebody like John Green, who really isn’t trying to destroy anyone’s life for his own personal gain, contrary to popular belief.

I’ve read three of Green’s five novels (I’m still debating whether I should delve into Will Grayson, Will Grayson and An Abundance of Katherines) and his short story in Let It Snow. All that to say I’m not exactly an expert on all things Green. But a few things about him have made me ever so slightly uncomfortable, which is why I want to address them here.

Firstly, I struggle to understand how such an influential man in the YA world isn’t making more of an effort to redefine the genre. The Fault In Our Stars was a breakthrough novel, managing to expand Green’s audience past the teens who read consistently to those who wouldn’t have dared to pick up the book if it hadn’t been for the success of the film. And Green does write very well – his prose is simple and accessible, always allowing his story to take center stage but with a bit of added flair that a lot of other authors don’t get right. But his novels conform to rather than rebel against the restrictions of contemporary YA fiction, such as the constant presence of romance, attractive characters and a quirky protagonist. He could redefine YA as we know it with one novella! Why isn’t he trying?

I also found myself muttering, “Why isn’t John Green embracing diversity in his novels?” whenever I picked up Looking For Alaska or Paper Towns. YA is supposed to be something that you can lose yourself in, regardless of your age, gender, size, smell, race, religion, hair colour, relationship status, what have you. For somebody who claims to be an advocate for teenagers wanting to be different, his representation of characters in novels is extremely limited. Nerdy teenage boy (usually the protagonist), extremely hot teenage girl (love interest), comic relief (boy’s best friend)… Most of his characters are attractive, white, heterosexual, middle-class teenagers. What does this say about everyone else? Where’s the diversity?

Additionally, there’s the way he accidentally (?) misrepresents things. Key example: feminism in Looking For Alaska. Green attempted to represent a badass feminist character, but unfortunately he failed miserably. Alaska talks a lot about equality and women’s rights, but somebody who was that desperate for constant male attention is not exactly the poster-child for girl-power. At times, I also got the distinct feeling he was mocking feminism through Alaska’s eccentricity, but I hope to every star in the heavens that I’m just being pedantic, otherwise I might have to introduce the book to my high-powered shredder, and its remains to a jug of gasoline and a lighter.

And then there’s his point about nerdy girls being a romantic resource and literary device rather than… um… people…

…which made me a little bit nauseous, because now there are at least a million teenage girls out there thinking it’s admirable to become a literary device, to turn themselves into somebody like Alaska or Margo, neither of whom are healthy human beings.

Green also toes the line between accurately representing teenage characters that smoke and drink and are generally “broken souls” as he defines them, and encouraging such behavior through his novels. This is an extremely dangerous way to go, especially considering his huge audience of younger readers.

All that to say, John Green has a lot of potential to become a super awesome human being and possibly change the world (or at least the teen reading world). I wanna see him do it. I do not want to see predictable characters and formulaic storylines in his upcoming novels – I want him to push the boundaries, I want him to pull another The Fault In Our Stars, but with diverse characters and a new twist on contemporary YA.

Oooooorrr maybe I'm just crazy. What do you guys think? Do you love John Green, but also want to see him push the boundaries a little? Or are you among those who just can't stand him, despite all his good intentions?

Saturday, 12 September 2015

‘To Hear The Ocean Sigh’ by Bryant A. Loney

Book details

Genre: YA
Publisher: Verona Booksellers
ISBN: 9780692415528

Available via  Amazon (& Kindle), Barnes & Noble (& Nook), IndieBoundKoboGoogle Play.


Jay Murchison believes he is a nobody at his high school in Oklahoma. Coming from a conservative family of affordable luxury, Jay has an overwhelming desire to become something great. After a mysterious girl named Saphnie in North Carolina mistakenly texts him, an unlikely relationship develops that affects Jay’s self-perception and influences the rest of his sophomore year. This correspondence leads him to a group of thrill-seekers who provide a grand departure from the quiet life Jay is familiar with and eye-opening experiences to witness first-hand the truth behind the loose morals his fellow classmates have come to know.

In a story filled with injustice, hope, hatred, love, grief, and understanding, readers will ask themselves what it truly means to hear the ocean sigh and learn of the dire consequences that come with its responsibilities.


I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way influenced my opinion on the novel or its author.

I was a little bit hesitant to pick up a coming-of-age novel in my final months of high school. To me, coming-of-age has always seemed a little too realistic to be enjoyable, if that makes any sense. When I was fourteen, I didn’t want to read about pimples and popularity paranoia because I was living it. These days, I’m far happier to pretend those dark times never happened – I don’t need a book to stir up all those dark memories I’ve shoved into a bottomless pit in the recesses of my mind.

Nonetheless, I am so glad I decided to read this novel.

Like all coming-of-age novels, To Hear The Ocean Sigh deals with real issues that real teens face. Unlike most coming-of-age novels, it’s genuine. Heartfelt. Loney isn’t necessarily using his novel to uplift teens or warp their struggles into a cringe-worthy comedy – he’s sharing a story that most teens have either witnessed or experienced firsthand, and he does so without romanticizing or undermining his characters’ problems.

I loved most things about this book. It’s an almost perfect representation of real life in high school, from the difficulties of identifying personality disorders, depression and broken backgrounds underneath picture-perfect facades, to the struggle of trying to fit in when you don’t even know who you’re supposed to be, let alone how you should get people to like you. The characters were extremely well developed, and their tendency to irritate the hell out of me was really just a result of them being so similar to actual sixteen-year-olds. Nobody really likes you when you’re sixteen – you’re annoying and whiny and care too much about what other people think about your hair, or whatever. But you’re just beginning to develop your own opinions, which brings about such delicious confusion and conflict that it drives everybody crazy. Jay, Lily, Ethan and Saphne were exactly that: they were real and they were diverse and they were interesting and they were beautiful in their brokenness. And that was perfect.

Loney’s writing style was also stunning. He managed to find the ideal balance between simplicity, accessibility and delicate detail – perfect for a coming-of-age novel.  Although I got a bit restless in the last fifty or so pages on account of the pace slowing down significantly, the ending completely made up for it. The last few pages were heartbreaking, and all of a sudden Loney’s style transformed into this fragile and bittersweet masterpiece. I don’t think I breathed from page 258 until I turned the final page.

A wonderful story as moving as it is unique.

Rating: 4/5
Recommended to: Pretty much all teens in their awkward phase.

The Last Word

Please can more teenagers write coming-of-age novels like this one? I needed more of this when I was drowning in angst at fifteen, not endlessly condescending “these are the best years of your life” novels written by those who've forgotten how confusing it is to be stuck in the in-between phase of old-child. Teens don’t have the benefit of hindsight (or foresight), so it’s helpful to have a novel written from the perspective of somebody who still remembers what it feels like to doubt that life even carries on, let alone gets better. 

~Thank you to Wes Florentine from Verona Booksellers for providing me with the opportunity to review this book.~