Friday, 29 August 2014

Kendal's Column: If I Stay- Gayle Forman

If I Stay (If I Stay, #1)
It all ends with a choice. The only choice.

Just listen, Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.

I open my eyes wide now.
I sit up as much as I can.
And I listen.
Stay, he says.
Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?
Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it's the only one that matters.
If I Stay is a heartachingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make.

Rating: Thursday
 With the movie out in cinemas, i decided to give the book a read and see for myself if it was deserving of the hype around it. 
I have read books of a similar plot before like Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver which as about a girl who is involved in a car crash but finds herself reliving the day of the crash over and over again and it made me really think about life and how everything anyone does affects others but, if i'm being honest, If I stay didn't do that for me. 

Everyone i've heard talking about this book either says it's so heartbreakingly emotional that it made them question life choices and have a breakdown at almost every comma or they said that it was over-hyped and didn't grip them or captivate them at all and that they couldn't understand why people got so hung up over it. 
I, naturally, am on the fence.

I loved the characters. 
Well actually I loved Mia's parents. They were really vibrant characters and i don't think i've ever read characters like them. Mia was also rather unique as i've never read about a 17 year old who is into classical music and that was really refreshing because, stereotypically,  it's the parents who are into the classics and the teenager tries to rebel by starting a punk band or entering a battle of the bands instead of going to a orchestral audition (...i'm getting off topic). 
Mia does have that cliche 'odd one out in the family' thaaang going on but, as i've said, she's unlike any other misfit i've read about before.

However, some books have fire in them and this just didn't, for me. When i read a book about a devastating car crash which kills family members i want to FEEL devastated and i just didn't. It could have been because the crash was very early on in the novel so maybe i wasn't so connected to the characters at that point but, trust me, it's a graphic enough scene to cause me to outwardly gasp at the description but the novel just lacked the fire to make me feel 'heartbroken'.
Also, there is a scene in this book which actually made me want to put the book down and laugh or cry or throw it out of a window because it would simply never happen (i know its ironic seen as though the book is kind of supernatural anyway but this was a non-supernatural event in the book). I wont tell you the exact thing because i dont want to spoil anyone but it was to do with mia and her boyfriend, Adam, and their music and musical instruments.

Saying all that, i did enjoy reading this book. I felt like Mia and Adam actually had a connection and they weren't thrown together in a day like in some fictional couples. I loved how Mia's character was so original and unique to anything else i've read.

I honestly don't know if i would recommend this book because i think this is a book you either love with a passion or is just 'MEH'. It's a short book so why not?

If I Stay is in cinemas now and the sequel, Where She Went is also out now

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Life isn't perfect

I have realised that life is never going to be anyone's version of perfect. Recently, there has been a lot of stuff going on in my life which has led me to make this post. A couple of weeks ago my beautiful  cat died at just seven years old, after being hit by an idiot in a car. I still haven't quite got over this, as she was like my best friend who stayed with me all night if I was scared of the dark and knew when I was upset and would give me cuddles to make me feel better. It's a sad world without a cat, and now I feel a strange anger towards my fish who just never seem to die. In the same week that my cat died, I also got pretty awful AS Level results, and I'm having to resit an exam in two subjects if I want an amazing grade by the end of next year. 

I also have some good things happening in my life, like my part time job that I've just started and I love, as it allows me to have fun at work and earn my own money for the first time ever. I also have tickets to a Miranda Sings show with Kendal in November, and I just know it's going to be one of the funniest nights of my life. My parents are putting in extra effort to help me through the sadness I've been through even though it's been so tough on them as well, and I'm grateful. But the point is, the good things don't always balance out the bad things.

I'm usually a very positive person and I love learning, but lately it's been hard to find a reason for looking after myself. My AS results just broke me, and I've had a few hysterical sobbing sessions shouting at my mother and telling her how much I don't want to go back to school in September. I even had two exams remarked and they came back with the same grade as before, which has put me in an especially bad mood. I still kind of feel like the outsider in my job and I'm feeling quite lonely, and as a result of this I've been seeping back into a very sad phase, and I've constantly been stressed out. Sometimes people have to remember that just because there are positive things in someone's life, it doesn't mean that person is taking any notice of them. Sometimes all you can see is the bad things and your mind blanks out the good things because you think you don't deserve them, or that they don't matter. This is what I feel like right now.

I've had a ton of homework to do over the summer and I still haven't finished, so you can safely say my summer holiday hasn't been relaxing in the slightest. I'm still working on the bad stuff, so if you can excuse the blog not being consistent just for a little bit longer, I would really appreciate it.

I'm looking forward to Miranda in November, though. 

I still have lots to put on the blog - many book hauls, reviews and such. 

I hope you're all doing well. If you ever need to talk about stuff, let's talk about it together. I feel alone but I know I'm not, and I suppose that's all that is keeping me going right now. 

Monday, 18 August 2014

Review: Acid by Emma Pass

Title: Acid
Author: Emma Pass
Cover Artist: Larry Rostant
Publisher: Corgi
Release Date: 25th April 2013
Genre: Dystopian YA Fiction
Page Count: 448
Original Language: English
Format Read: Paperback
Other books in series: N/A
Movie Adaptation: No

Where you can buy it: Amazon, The Book Depository, Waterstones, Ebay, Barnes and Noble

Add to Goodreads

I bought this book thinking nothing of it. "Oh, just another book to read" I thought. I wasn't even really interested in it, but I'd never seen it before or heard of it, and that's quite rare for me so naturally I bought it. Never did I actually think that it would be so good.


ACID - the most brutal police force in history. They rule with an iron fist. They see everything. They know everything. They locked me away for life. 

My crime? They say I murdered my parents. I was fifteen years old. 

My name is Jenna Strong.

First page:

*This review is spoiler free - it doesn't assume you have read the book*

I fell in love with this book! Oh gosh, I absolutely adored it from page one. Jenna Strong is named perfectly for who she is - she is an incredible and believable female lead that didn't pine (much) over boys and there wasn't some stupid love triangle as in other dystopia-style novels. The familiar dystopian shell that every other book I've read fits comfortably in to was absolutely SMASHED in this book. 

It was like one of those rollercoasters in theme parks that you are scared to go on because you are expecting to throw up with the familiar uncomfortable journey it takes you on, but then you go on it and its an unexpected thrill. That's what this book was like. It was full of surprising plot twists that threw you about a bit but you don't mind the ride because its something brilliantly new. 

Another thing I found with this book is that it is cosy as well as thrilling. You will sit down and literally cuddle up with it, because despite all of the terrible things that happen within it, you are so engrossed that you actually want to be a part of it, and you feel acquainted enough with the characters of Jenna and Max that you just know that they're going to be okay, so you may as well settle down and enjoy their journey. I put the book down after I'd finished feeling quite sorry for myself because I felt as if I had got to know Jenna and Max and the rest of the crew so well that I didn't want to leave them. I felt as if I was leaving behind old friends. I especially loved Elyn, and if you read the book you'll know exactly why.

It is truthful to the core - this future world is completely possible, with ACID, the corrupt government. The idea of everyone being assigned life partners, homosexual relations being illegal all over again, the advanced technology in the book... I could really see it happening. It wasn't unrealistic, not a single bit. That's a first for any dystopian novel I've read.

It may seem like I'm overselling this book, but trust me - if there was a fault I would have sniffed it out. I'm cautious of this genre because of the copycats in the business, but this was truly a beautifully original concept. Its so underrated, I'm telling you. 

I gave this book 5/5 cups of tea, because without a doubt it is one of the best books I've read all year. If anyone is stuck for reading material over the holidays, I would suggest buying this book to take away with you, because I couldn't find anything that I didn't like. Its an absolute treasure!

About the author:

Emma Pass grew up at an environmental studies centre in South East England. When she was 13, she decided to write her first ever novel in maths lessons with her notebook hidden under her work, and as a result, she still has to count on her fingers if anyone asks her to add anything up. She studied art at university but she never stopped thinking about she stories, and after she graduated, she decided to pursue writing as a career. Now, she lives in the North East Midlands with her husband. She also works at a library, where she supports two writing groups and helps out at as many reader and author events as she can. 

Where you can find Emma Pass: Website, Blog, TwitterTumblr, Goodreads

Monday, 11 August 2014

Review: The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

Title: The Shock of the Fall
Author: Nathan Filer
Cover Artist: Charlotte Farmer
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: May 9th 2013
Genre: Contemporary YA Fiction
Page Count: 320
Original Language: English
Format Read: Paperback
Other books in series: N/A
Movie Adaptation: No

Where you can buy it: Amazon, The Book Depository, Waterstones, Ebay, Barnes and Noble

Add to Goodreads

I bought this book one day whilst I was with Kendal and I had bought Eleanor and Park at the same time. I was itching to read it because I had previously heard about it and heard some praise after it won the 2013 Costa Book of the Year. I got around to reading it a couple of months ago and here is my review.


I'll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name's Simon. I think you're going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he'll be dead. And he was never the same after that. 

First Page:

*This review is spoiler free - it doesn't assume you have read the book*

I found this book very touching, even though I didn't feel as much sympathy for the main character, Matt, as I perhaps should have done. For everything that he's going through, there are answers and ways to help make most of it better, but it seemed as though he wanted things to get worse at times, which isn't a good impression to have of a schizophrenic. I understood that some things could not be helped, and I felt so bad that he ended up with the condition, but everyone was telling him that it wasn't his fault that his brother died, and... well... it was. 

I did feel more sympathy for Nanny Noo (who was my favourite character by far and just the cutest person ever and an absolute star for putting up with everything she did) but I absolutely hated Matt's mother. She was probably the reason why he couldn't get any better quicker. 

Despite all of this, it really did feel like you were getting into the head of a schizophrenic. It was really realistic and shocked me all the way through, which was the effect that the book was most likely hoping to do. There were lots of hard topics covered in the novel, not just schizophrenia, and I really appreciated that. 

I'll be honest, it wasn't perfect. But I think that's a positive thing in this case, because no one in the book was perfect, and it isn't pretending to be something its not. The whole book is unconventional and a little bit brilliant.

One thing I did love was the writer's voice, because it was strong and reassured us that Matt was a person, despite his mental illness. 

In the end I gave it 4/5 cups of tea, because it was captivating to read and I couldn't put it down whilst I was on holiday. It was a new experience to read and I am appreciative that it is a book, as it explained fully that people with mental illnesses are not crazy... They're human. And I think people needed to know that.

About the author:
Nathan Filer is an award winning British novelist. He attended the Ridings High School in the village of Winterbourne in South Gloucestershire. Filer trained as a psychiatric nurse gaining a degree in Mental Health Nursing from the University of the West of England and has worked as a researcher at the University of Bristol. He is now a lecturer in creative writing at Bath Spa University. 
Where to find Nathan Filer: Website, Twitter, Goodreads 

Friday, 8 August 2014

Kendal's Column: The Adventurer Returns

hey gang, i'm back from...erm showering? that takes four months, right?

okay i wasn't showering for four months, i was GCSE-ing it up but i'm done with high school forever (lets not talk about results day) and now it's summer! i've had a couple of months off already and i've got another month of summer to go and the happiness is definitely real. 

Whilst i've been away i have been thinking up column ideas and i *should* be able to schedule posts instead of columns going up at 11:59:59pm on a friday night (i get paranoid over grammar checking, okay) and i've also bought too many a lot of books to add to my shelves so they're are hopefully gonna be a lot of reviews coming this way soon. There are also many movies being released this summer that i want to see and hopefully review (from a fan's point of view ofc, i know NOTHING of cinematography). 

It was also the blogs second birthday on the 24th June and i just kind of need a moment to process that it's been TWO YEARS because, wow, that went really quick. HAPPY BLOG BIRTHDAY- it's been an amazing two years and I'm so happy i sent that first tweet that led to blog posts, train trips and concerts and i just

Happy Friday!

Monday, 4 August 2014

Review: Blue is the Warmest Colour by Julie Maroh

Title: Blue is the Warmest Colour/Bleu est une couleur chaude/Blue Angel
Author: Julie Maroh
Cover Artist: Julie Maroh
Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press
Release Date: 2010 in France, 2013 in England
Genre: LGBT Graphic Novel
Page Count: 160
Original Language: French
Format Read: Paperback
Other books in series: N/A
Movie Adaptation: Blue is the Warmest Colour, adapted by Abdelatif Kechiche, 2013

Where you can buy it: Amazon, The Book Depository, Waterstones, Ebay, Barnes and Noble

Add to Goodreads

I bought this book with two other graphic novels at the beginning of the year, and I just couldn't wait to read it. I had heard many great things about it and the movie, and so I was really excited. This graphic novel contains a lot of explicit sex scenes, so if you are under 17 or don't like that sort of thing, I wouldn't recommend it. However, considering I am one of those people who 'don't like that sort of thing' I found it absolutely fine to quickly skip over the more explicit bits and still completely understand the story.


Clementine is a junior in high school who seems "normal" enough: she has friends, family, and even a boyfriend. But she can't reciprocate his feelings toward her, so she breaks up with him. When her openly gay best friend takes her to a gay bar, she becomes captivated by Emma, a punkish, confident girl with blue hair, an event that leads Clementine to discover new aspects of herself, both passionate and tragic. 

Blue is the Warmest Colour is a tender, bittersweet, full-colour graphic novel about the elusive, reckless magic of love: a lesbian love story for the ages that bristles with the energy of youth, rebellion, and the eternal light of desire.

First Page:

*This review doesn't contain any spoilers, as it doesn't assume you have read the book*

I suppose I better tell you the story of how I can across this particular book. I was in an independent cinema last November watching the 50th anniversary edition of Doctor Who, and since I study French in school I was conscious of the poster for Blue is the Warmest Colour on the wall. It looked really enticing (here is the poster to prove it):

So anyway, when I came out of the cinema I decided to find out a bit more about the film and since it was in French it could help me with my speaking skills for my exam, so I went on a website explaining it and it turns out it is an 18+, but by that time I was so captured by the storyline I knew I had to see it in some form. When I found the graphic novel I was so happy, and ordered it pretty much straight away, not realising the novel was also pretty explicit. But by that time I already had it, and I didn't mind because I loved the story so much it wasn't exactly the end of the world. Let's just say buying an explicit graphic novel is the most rebellious thing I've ever done, and it sits happily on my bookshelf with the rest of books, like part of the family. 

But I'm 17 so I wouldn't recommend anybody any younger than that buying it, especially since its a graphic novel. One of my friends has watched the three hour long movie and says I have to watch it because its really good, so when I'm 18 (in about 6 months time) I shall have to give it a go. 

The cover itself is really beautiful, and I especially love that the whole novel is in colour and centered around the colour blue. It is by far the most beautiful graphic novel I own, and the connotations of the colour deepen the storyline. You can feel and see the calmness, youth and depression in every page. The characters of Emma and Clementine are so beautifully thought out, and you can believe the story as it is told to you. Clementine experiences homophobia within her family whilst Emma's mother just wants her to be happy, and so you have the clashing of cultures there. 

The sex scenes really didn't bother me in enjoying the book. I'm not really a big fan of explicit stuff so I was able to just read the words on the more explicit pages and skip over the pictures. They do add to the realistic feel of the novel though, so if you're different to me please go ahead and look at it all. Its not distasteful, but everyone has their limits to sexual themes, and I tend to draw the line quite the bit earlier than many others.

The book left me filling up with tears at the end and I couldn't put it down. I absolutely devoured it in one sitting - it took me about an hour or so to read it, maybe less. It doesn't take much time to read but it is so worth it, so if you are wondering whether you have time to read a graphic novel, please give this one a read. It is so worth that hour. 

The story takes over you, controls you, and then just leaves you for dead on the last page. No book has ever really given me that feeling before and so it is particularly special to me. The daily struggle of the LGBT community becomes real to those who do not have to go through it when you read this book. 

It stunned me. It is a stunning graphic novel. And for that reason I gave it 5/5 cups of British tea.

About the author:
Julie Maroh is a French graphic novel writer, who originates from Northern France. After having obtained an applied arts baccalaur√©at at E.S.A.A.T in Roubaix, Julie Maroh continued her studies in Brussels. She now lives in Angoul√™me.She started writing Blue is the Warmest Color when she was 19 and it took her five years to complete it.

Where to find Julie Maroh: Website

Friday, 1 August 2014

New Schedule!

Hi everyone, just a quick update on the new schedule we're going to have. Me and Kendal had a long chat about the blog recently and we decided its time for BIG CHANGES. By that, I mean we're still going to be the same type of blog, but pretty much everything about us is changing. To start off the changes, here is the schedule we have decided:

MONDAY - book reviews
TUESDAY - author interview/anything I want
WEDNESDAY - waiting on wednesday/book tours
THURSDAY - fangirl focus/anything I want
FRIDAY - Kendal's column
SATURDAY - book hauls/what you've missed/anything I want
SUNDAY - day off

If there is anything else you want to see on the blog, then suggestions are welcomed!  We can always change the schedule again if there is something you are desperate for us to talk about.

Have a great day!