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2013 review

2013 has been a really busy year for me. I've been working on getting myself back up to full fitness after last year's leg break and work has been insanely busy. That said I still have managed to read loads (227 at time of writing this although I'm sure it'll go up over the last 8 days of the month) and get down to London for some events

This year I have taken my foot off the pedal a bit. I've been reading lots which I haven't bothered to review including some adult books and I must admit it has been nice. Scheduling ahead has worked brilliantly for me and my TBR pile has been all but annihilated meaning I've been able to read well ahead and do some work around 2014 releases both for Bookish Brits and for We Love This Book.

Thanks for all my lovely blogging friends including Sarah, Lyndsey, Carly, Raimy, Laura, Darren Andrew, Jesse, Sammee and Sophie. I'm glad we are all going strong blogwise and I don't know how I managed to keep sane without you …

December review

Another slowis month for me reading wise on the whole helped only by the Christmas holidays

213) Johnny be Good by Paige Toon (British Books Challenge)
214) Baby be Mine by Paige Toon (British Books Challenge)
215) Johnny's Girl by Paige Toon (British Books Challenge)
216) Cowgirl by Giancarlo Gemin (British Books Challenge)
217) The Longest Holiday by Paige Toon (British Books Challenge)
218) The Absolutist by John Boyne (British Books Challenge)
219) The Madness by Alison Rattle (British Books Challenge)
220) How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff (British Books Challenge)
221) Chasing Daisy by Paige Toon (British Books Challenge)
222) Lucy in the Sky by Paige Toon (British Books Challenge)
223) Pictures of Lily by Paige Toon (British Books Challenge)
224) One Perfect Summer by Paige Toon (British Books Challenge)
225) One Perfect Christmas by Paige Toon (British Books Challenge)
226) Salvage by Keren David (British Books Challenge)
227) Defy the Stars by Sophie McKenzie (Brit…

2014 recommended reads

Just wanted to let you know about a couple of things I have been involved in of late recommending books released in 2014.

The first was a blog post on We Love This Book where I recommend my top 10 UKYA reads for early 2014. All of them were books I have recently read and loved.

I've followed this up with a Bookish Brits vlog recommending some 2014 reads. Be warned I get far too excited in parts of this video




Best books of 2013

So with the end of 2013 almost upon us it is time for me to think about which of the numerous books I have read this year (total currently stands at 225 at time of writing this post) I loved the best. What follows, in no particular order are my best books of 2013. I deliberately am not going to include books with a 2014 release date as I'll deal with them in another blog post.

Follow Me Down by Tanya Byrne


I loved this book entirely and devoured it in one sitting. It's set at a boarding school, it's twisty and turny and once I'd done it spent a long time thinking about it afterwards. Just fab.

More Than This by Patrick Ness



Another thinker. I couldn't review at the time apart from saying "wow buy this" because I didn't have the words to do it justice. Just Brilliant YA fiction

Battlelines by Will Hill




I don't read much horror and barely anything supernatural but I do love this series. It is action packed and gory and keeps you on your edge of your s…

Review: Pawn by Aimee Carter

Are you more than the number on the back of your neck?

For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.

If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked—surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister’s niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.

There’s only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered. The same one that got her killed…and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that’s not her own, she must decide which path to choose—and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she’s only beginning to understand

My thoughts
I have mixed feelings about this book. I think I liked it but I must admit I…

Review: Crash into you by Katie McGarry

The girl with straight As, designer clothes and the perfect life-that's who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers...and she's just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker-a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can't get him out of her mind.

Isaiah has secrets, too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks-no matter how angelic she might look.

But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they'll go to save each other.

My thoughts ...

It…

Books I can't wait to read

Welcome to December's Books I can't wait to read post.

I have some real crackers this month. So many books I am just dying to read have had covers announced since I last did one of these posts. All links take you straight to goodreads so you can add them to your wishlists.

The Bubblewrap Boy by Phil Earle


Charlie Han's troubles are way bigger than he is. At school, he's branded an outsider, a loser - the tiny kid from the Chinese Chippy. His only ally is Sinus Sedgely, the only lad in school with a worse reputation than Charlie himself. Life at home isn't much better. His dad is better with a wok than he is with words, and his mum is suffocating the life out of Charlie, wrapping him in enough cotton wool to fill a pharmacy. But when a new passion leads Charlie to the mother of all confrontations, he finds his mum's been hiding a massive secret. A secret that whilst shocking, might actually lead Charlie to feeling ten feet tall. The Bubble Wrap Boy is ab…

Review: Roomies by Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr

Goodreads Synopsis
It's time to meet your new roomie.

When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl's summer -- and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.

As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives . . . and each other. Even though they've never met.

My thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed Roomies mostly because I loved seeing a friendship develop via emails. The story is split narrative and tells the story of two girls who get in contact after they are assigned to be roommates f…

History Books I Rate: Victorian

Some of you might know I teach History at High School. I love finding good YA historical fiction which I can use in the classroom if only to recommend to my students as wider reading.

I do however find that I can be very critical of historical fiction and I do find myself having to give up on books others have raved about because I can't get over historical inaccuracies or stories where events are treated lightly.

This month I have a selection of books set in and around the Victorian period (some do slip into Edwardian too)

The Quietness by Alison Rattle

This book utterly fascinated me as a historian. It looks at Victorian baby farms and I was hooked right from the first page. As well as a fascinating story line the main characters were awesome and the ending is truly brilliant. I loved it.

Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman


I adore this series and possibly like it more than his Dark Material series. Sally Lockhart is an awesomely brilliantl female lead and I loved her coura…

We Love This Book: The best books of 2013

I just wanted to highlight for you the list of The best books of 2013 posted on We Love This Book today.

It is a list of 10 books picked by 10 UK bloggers picking out their favourite read of 2013 and I am featured on it talking about Heroic by Phil Earle. Check it out here

November review

A slow month for me reading wise. Work has been crazy not leaving a lot of time for reading

Books read
196) Witchfinder by Ruth Warburton (British Books Challenge)
197) All I Want for Christmas by Esme Taylor (British Books Challenge)
198) The Dark Inside by Rupert Wallis (British Books Challenge)
199) Dead Ends by Erin Lange
200) Tape by Steve Camden (British Books Challenge)
201) This song will save your life by Leila Sales
202) The Engagements by J Courtney Sullivan
203) Boys don't Knit by Tom Easton (British Books Challenge)
204) The Isobel Journal by Isobel Harrop
205) Leopold Blue by Rosie Rowell
206) A boy called Hope by Lara Williamson (British Books Challenge)
207) How to be a woman by Caitlin Moran (British Books Challenge)
208) Finding Jennifer Jones by Anne Cassidy (British Books Challenge)
209) When Mr Dog Bites by Brian Conaghan (British Books Challenge)
210) Running Girl by Simon Mason (British Books Challenge)
211) The Black Crow Conspiracy by Chris Edge (British B…

Review: Everyone a Stranger by Victor Watson

I thoroughly enjoyed everyone a stranger and it was the perfect book to finish a series I have adored from start to finish.

Everyone a stranger is set at the end of the Second World War and finishes off Molly, Adam and Abigail's story. I loved several things about it. I loved how the book really got across this sense of people looking forward to a brave new world. The way it discusses the way in which people were keen to vote for labour and tackle the five giants as set out by William Beveridge's report is brilliant. You really get the idea that people, having given up everything for the war effort, were now wanting better for the country and themselves in the future and were keen to vote for it even if that meant ousting the Great War leader Churchill to do so.

This book was more grown up and darker in its feel than previous books and you really get the sense that these characters whom you've followed over the previous books have grown up and are about to bec…

Review: Dark Satanic Mills by Marcus and Julian Sedgwick

Goodreads Synopsis
Set in a near-future Britain, Dark Satanic Mills tracks a young girl's journey from the flooded landmarks of London to the vast, scorched and abandoned hills of the north. Framed for a murder she did not commit, the innocent and beautiful Christie has no other choice but to run for her life. Both a cautionary tale and a rip-roaring road trip, Dark Satanic Mills is altogether an intelligent, captivating and thrilling ride - The Wizard of Oz for a new generation, told in exhilarating shades of light and dark.

Review
Dark Satanic Mills is a grim, brooding story of an England, very different yet still recognisable as our own, that has suffered acute environmental disaster.This has been exploited by an opportunistic, fanatical religion known as The True Church who control the country through propaganda, fear and violence.It is not dissimilar from V for Vendetta or 1984 – although in both those cases it was the state who were the totalitarian authority as opp…

Review: Linked by Imogen Howson

For years, Elissa has suffered nightmarish visions and unexplained bruises. Finally, she's promised a cure, and an operation is scheduled. But on the eve of the procedure, Elissa discovers the truth: she's seeing the world through another girl's eyes. A world filled with wires, machines and pain. Elissa follows her visions, only to find a battered, broken girl. A girl who looks exactly like her. A twin she never knew existed. Elissa and her twin Lin go on the run, but even after changing their looks and clothes, they're barely a step ahead of the government agents who are ruthlessly tracking them down. For Lin and Elissa are too valuable to let go, and the dark truth at the heart of it all is too shocking to risk exposing..

My thoughts
Linked was an interesting read for me. I received it for review months ago and somehow never managed to get around to it until now.

Linked has bold ideas. The world it is set in is near future where a strict government impos…

Being bullied by your friends

This week gone was anti-bullying week and my lovely vlogging team have been working on a whole variety of videos around the theme of bullying (and will continue to do so over the next week). Mine went up Thursday and is about being bullied by your friends and highlights two of my favourite books that deal with this issue.

On a personal note Anti-bullying week is a special one for me. I had a rubbish time at high school as a result of friends who were slyly unpleasant to me without my realising which was not in the least fun at the time and continued to effect me a long time afterwards (even now it hits me from time to time).

From a work point of view Anti-bullying week has also been a busy one. I have been involved in running our school peer support team for a few years now which I was keen to take on when it was offered. The kids involved are amazing and over this week we have been super busy promoting anti-bullying messages across the school and further afield which was fab.


The Isobel Journal by Isobel Harrop

THE ISOBEL JOURNAL is no ordinary snapshot of a contemporary teenage life. A charming and vivid narrative scrapbook of the eighteen-year-old author's sketches, mini-graphic novels, photographs and captions, it captures her wit, her observations and her creative talent as she takes us through the three central themes in her life: 'Love', 'Friends, Art and Otters' and 'Me'.

Resonant of Laura Dockrill's MISTAKES IN THE BACKGROUND and with the powerful naïve illustrative style of cult Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara, this is a collector's gift for teenagers and all who have the teenage experience still in their hearts. Readers will emphasise with this witty and honest journal of a girl getting to grips with impending adulthood. A must-have for all hipster teenagers and anyone who appreciates the raw creativity of youth. Enchanting and poignant.

My review
It says my review above this. That isn't actually accurate as I'm not fully sure how…

Finding it by Cora Carmack

Kelsey Summers is looking for love in all the wrong places.

Spending a few months travelling around Europe - with no parents, no responsibilities and a no limit credit card - Kelsey's having the time of her life.

But when she completely embarrasses herself in front of the hottest guy she's ever seen, she soon realises there's more to life than the next party.

What she doesn't realise is that although she's on a journey to find herself, she will end up finding The One...

My thoughts
A really brief review for my favourite book of the series so far. I really liked the main characters and their relationship. I loved that it didn't have an American setting an it made want to go on an European trip to see all the things the characters saw. The chemistry was sizzling and there are certainly scenes with some smoking hot action going on. If you aren't sure about NA books and want a good place to start this is it.

Books I can't wait to read

I always have a wishlist of future titles I am desperate to read and I thought from time to time I'd share the books I am most looking forward to. All links go to goodreads so you can add them to your wishlist

Banished by Liz De Jager





Sworn to protect, honour and slay. Because chaos won’t banish itself…

Kit is proud to be a Blackhart, now she’s encountered her unorthodox cousins and their strange lives. And her home-schooling now includes spells, fighting enemy fae and using ancient weapons. But it’s not until she rescues a rather handsome fae prince, fighting for his life on the edge of Blackhart Manor, that her training really kicks in. With her family away on various missions, Kit must protect Prince Thorn, rely on new friends and use her own unfamiliar magic to stay ahead of Thorn’s enemies. As things go from bad to apocalyptic, fae battle fae in a war that threatens to spill into the human world. Then Kit pits herself against the Elder Gods themselves – it’s that or …

Review: Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

No one really knows who Andrew Winston Winters is. Least of all himself. He is part Win, a lonely teenager exiled to a remote boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts the whole world out, no matter the cost, because his darkest fear is of himself ...of the wolfish predator within. But he's also part Drew, the angry boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who, one fateful summer, was part of something so terrible it came close to destroying him. A deftly woven, elegant, unnerving psychological thriller about a boy at war with himself. Charm and Strange is a masterful exploration of one of the greatest taboos

My thoughts
I'm not sure I have the words to review this so this review will be brief.

This book thoroughly messed with my brain and I think I need a few days to get my head around it all. It's very clever and says a lot about mental health and the perceptions of people with mental illness within society. It is told in a r…

History Books I rate: Tudors

Some of you might know I teach History at High School. I love finding good YA historical fiction which I can use in the classroom if only to recommend to my students as wider reading.

I do however find that I can be very critical of historical fiction and I do find myself having to give up on books others have raved about because I can't get over historical inaccuracies or stories where events are treated lightly.

This month I have a selection of books set in and around the Tudor Period

YA Titles


Gilt by Katherine Longshore
I really enjoyed this book and its companion Tarnish. I loved how it looked at the story of Henry VIII in a slightly different way from the way the story is usually told.



Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb
I have a bit of a love hate relationship with this book. I love its potential to engage teenage girls who are into paranormal romance into historical fiction. However I hate the role of Elizabeth I in it and it really bothers the historian in me.


VIII by HM C…

Review: Dare to You by Katie McGarry

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does....

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won'…

Reading for myself update

You may remember at the start of September I posted saying I had gone through a stage of reading a lot of books I had bought myself and not reviewed them to take a bit of pressure off. I have continued to do this over the next two months and just wanted to update on here everything I have read of late and not reviewed.

So what have I been reading for myself of late

Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
not my favourite Sarah Dessen unfortunately
Pivot Point by Kasie West
Liked the ideas but wasn't blown away
All these things I've done by Gabrielle Zevin (reread)
I love this series. I reread this so I could read the second book in the series I also loved


Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
This is as good as everyone says. I thoroughly enjoyed it.


Where the stars still shine by Trish Doller
I also loved this book. Really thoughtful and made me think.

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
Not for me as it was fantasy but never mind
The Offering by Kim Derting
I must admit I was a little bit disappoi…

October Review

Another month down. 2013 is going fast

Books read
175) Linked by Imogen Howson (British Books Challenge)
176) Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn
177) Dare to you by Katie McGarry
178) Pawn by Aimee Carter
179) Finding it by Cora Carmack
180) Crash into you by Katie McGarry
181) Panic by Lauren Oliver
182) Roomies by Sara Zarr
183) The Offering by Kim Derting
184) The Booby Trap by Dawn O'Porter (British Books Challenge)
185) Diamonds and Deceit by Lelia Rasheed (British Books Challenge)
186) Fireweed by Jill Paton Walsh (British Books Challenge)
187) Hold your Breath by Caroline Green (British Books Challenge)
188) Trouble by Non Pratt (British Books Challenge)
189) Divergent by Veronica Roth
190) Insurgent by Veronica Roth
191) Allegiant by Veronica Roth
192) Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles
193) Everyone a Stranger by Victor Watson (British Books Challenge)
194) The day Donkey dropped Dead by Sam Hare (British Books Challenge)
195) As delightful as a carrot by Keris Stainton (B…

Review: Frost Hollow Hall by Emma Carroll

The gates to Frost Hollow Hall loomed before us. They were great tall things, the ironwork all twisted leaves and queer-looking flowers. And they were very definitely shut.

Tilly's heart sinks. Will's at the door of their cottage, daring her to come ice-skating up at Frost Hollow Hall. No one goes near the place these days. Rumour has it that the house is haunted . . . Ten years ago the young heir, Kit Barrington, drowned there in the lake. But Tilly never turns down a dare.

Then it goes horribly wrong. The ice breaks, Tilly falls through and almost drowns. At the point of death, a beautiful angel appears in the water and saves her. Kit Barrington's ghost.

Kit needs Tilly to solve the mystery of his death, so that his spirit can rest in peace. In order to discover all she can, Tilly gets work as a maid at Frost Hollow Hall. But the place makes her flesh crawl. It's all about the dead here, she's told, and in the heart of the house she soon discovers all …

Review: Model Misfit by Holly Smale

“My name is Harriet Manners, and I am still a geek.”

Harriet knows that modelling won’t transform you. She knows that being as uniquely odd as a polar bear isn’t necessarily a bad thing (even in a rainforest). And that the average person eats a ton of food a year, though her pregnant stepmother is doing her best to beat this.

What Harriet doesn’t know is where she’s going to fit in once the new baby arrives.

With summer plans ruined, modelling in Japan seems the perfect chance to get as far away from home as possible. But nothing can prepare Harriet for the craziness of Tokyo, her competitive model flatmates and her errant grandmother’s ‘chaperoning’. Or seeing gorgeous Nick everywhere she goes.

Because, this time, Harriet knows what a broken heart feels like.

Can geek girl find her place on the other side of the world or is Harriet lost for good?

My Thoughts
Funny and very readable. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Harriet a second time and finding out more of her story.

Model …

Review: She is not invisible by Marcus Sedgwick

Laureth Peak's father is a writer. For years he's been trying, and failing, to write a novel about coincidence. His wife thinks he's obsessed, Laureth thinks he's on the verge of a breakdown.He's supposed to be doing research in Austria, so when his notebook shows up in New York, Laureth knows something is wrong.

On impulse she steals her mother's credit card and heads for the States, taking her strange little brother Benjamin with her. Reunited with the notebook, they begin to follow clues inside, trying to find their wayward father. Ahead lie challenges and threats, all of which are that much tougher for Laureth than they would be for any other 16-year old. Because Laureth Peak is blind.

My thoughts
She is not invisible is a really thoughtful read and I think is my new favourite Marcus Sedgwick.

She is not invisible utterly fascinated me as a reader for several reasons. Firstly I loved the mystery behind the story and the whys and wherefores behind …

Bookish Brits

A week or so ago I was invited by my lovely blogging friend Clover to join a group of equally awesome bloggers to set up a collaborative youtube channel about books. I've been thinking about vlogging for a while as something to add to what I already do on this blog but was reluctant to do so as I use the youtube account linked to my blogger account to post random youtube videos of me and colleague to help kids revise for exams and I didn't really want to mix the two so for me this is a perfect set up.

Today my first video was posted (with a highly flattering face being pulled but never mind). Please do check out the channel and videos by the other girlies on the project.

No Books allowed October

Can you believe October is almost over? Here's what I've been up to this month.


Work has been mega busy, lots of late night and lots of marking now the kids coming to the end of the first half term. This has meant I have been chained to my laptop or pile of marking and not done much else. However I do have two exciting things I have been up to.

Firstly I got to attend the wedding reception of my lovely friends Lyndsey and John. Some of you know Lyndsey from page after page reviews so check out the picture below. For the event I helped out with the catering and impressed even myself in managing to produce 50 mini cheesecakes and 50 mini key lime pies and transport them to venue without ruining them (without ruining them was the more impressive feat) with the add of my happy helper Lauren.


The other exciting thing I did this month was attend the grand opening of the Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum opening. I have been working with a small group of students and a colleague (check …

Review: Tiger Lily by Jodie Lynn Anderson

Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . .

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn't believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she's ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland's inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she's always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it's the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who's everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the…