Am I finally getting too old for YA? The (fantastic) Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy – Laini Taylor

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, Recommended, teen book reviews, Uncategorized, Writing


Stunning, secretive Karou has lived a strange life in different cities, never putting down roots or having a real family. But that’s because she lives at least half of her life elsewhere – in another world, where a strange monster who is the closest thing she has to a parent sends her on missions to collect teeth. But when angels, and one particular, very handsome angel, crash into her world and a supernatural, inter-universal war that has continued through centuries…

Obviously I can’t really summarise three action and emotion packed books above, but that gives the kind of basic setting. This is a huge, ambitious, far-reaching and cataclysmic trilogy with exceptionally strong world-building, well established foundations and sympathetic characters who weave their way compellingly through gripping circumstances. It’s got gorgeous young adults who fall passionately in love, it’s got supernatural powers, friendship, betrayal, crazy monsters… just all you could possibly need from a YA fantasy series. And in many ways, I loved it. But in the end I think I’m left feeling I’m just a bit too old.

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This book was like going to Narnia – The Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, Recommended, teen book reviews, Uncategorized


Amani is sick of the small town life she seems destined to live, and the family determined to marry her off. Using her unusual sharpshooting skills she escapes into the desert – and into even more danger. Here she meets magic, a mysterious stranger and the rebel force, and finds herself drawn into what she never knew would be a destiny.

My VERY FAVOURITE THING about this book is that it reminds me so thoroughly of The Horse and His Boy by CS Lewis. It’s probably not that similar, but from the very start I was transported to my mental landscape where that book takes place, and I like it there. Hooray! Otherwise, this was a pacy and exciting book without too many original ideas but a thoroughly good mix up of old ones that take you on an exciting adventure.

My four former fictional best friends

Book Thoughts, teen book reviews, Uncategorized


I had so so many imaginary friends. I’d say ‘growing up’ but I can’t really bear to think of them ceasing to exist so I haven’t culled them. They’ve probably just moved to a different country… mostly.

But fictional friends are different. These four are the ones I did important parts of life with, shared the journey with. I’ve probably moved on now (to real friends, phew!) but these have still got a special place in my heart.

Ferocious and fast paced but a bit claustrophobic – Golden Son by Pierce Brown

Book Reviews, teen book reviews, Uncategorized


Darrow, once a Red destined for a life mining Mars now transformed by rebels Sons of Ares into a ruling gold beat the training school in the last book, and is now in the middle of Gold society. But plots and factions stir constantly, and Darrow soon finds himself losing – until he wrests power and influence through unconventional methods. With enemies, schemes, greed and jealousy on every side Darrow feels he can trust no one and continues his campaign of violence, facing the monarch and everyone in his lonely quest for justice.

Oh my goodness! I’ve been waiting to read this ever since I finished Red Rising (my teenage sister read it too – here’s her review). And what a whirlwind it was! I can’t believe how much action and drama was packed into just one book! Though this is very much the same as the first instalment, I felt a bit that the reflection and character development was tacked onto the very full plot, which basically had a LOT of ground to cover. I came out at the end feeling as though I’d been on a really intense rollercoaster and needed a bit of time to settle. But it’s exciting, compelling and a worthy next step along the road for our hero.

Realia – more teen magic, adventure and friendship in Noni’s second instalment

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, teen book reviews, Writing, Writing Thoughts


Alexandra Jennings is back for her second year at Akarnae Academy in the magical world of Medora that she stumbled into by mistake last year. The enemies are still out to get her, the professors to teach her lessons she never thought she’d need to learn, and her friends to support and surprise her along the way. We explore the world more, and understand a bit better what’s going on.

Here we jump straight back into the world and into adventure, with Alexandra once again in danger, in deep with her friends and fighting for what she believes is right. So much so that it hardly seemed like a separate book to the first one (and I’m having a little trouble separating them in my mind) and so, like the first, is basically just tremendous fun.

Distance turned this story into a myth – Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie Holmberg

Book Reviews, children's books, teen book reviews


Maire is happy in her small village, baking treats infused with emotion, strength and other qualities that she’s not quite sure how they got in there. But when her village is captured by marauders and she is captured by the sinister, cruel and strangely infantile and familiar Allemas, she is forced to confront the provenance of her gift and what it means about her past. As she completes challenging jobs for Allemas and survives his violence, a strange ethereal being called Fyel appears and gradually the story comes out…

After reading The Paper Magician series I was really keen to read more by Charlie Holmberg. This was totally different and I didn’t enjoy it as much as the other, but in itself it was a worthwhile read. I think because there wasn’t that much described setting, and because Maire herself didn’t really know what was going it, it read a bit more like a fable than a normal story, but it was enjoyable for all that.

More fun teen Egyptian melodrama in Recreated by Colleen Houck

children's books, teen book reviews, Uncategorized, Writing Thoughts


Lily has been trying to adjust to normal life after her gorgeous supernatural, ancient Egyptian boyfriend Amon disappeared to save the world from chaos, but it’s just not working. It comes as a slight relief when the god Anubis turns up at her grandmother’s house to say they need her help again – Amon is trapped in the Netherworld and Lily is the only one who can save him. But it’s not an easy process, and involves becoming a sphinx, a huge change that will affect Lily forever…

I knew exactly what to expect from this book having read and enjoyed the first book. A  action packed teen adventure packed with drama and spirit, plus a load of gorgeous gods and a plucky heroine. It didn’t disappoint, and I think I actually enjoyed this one more. It felt more confident, and focussed more on Lily as a character rather than Amon, which I really enjoyed.

Jostein Gaarder’s last book: The World According to Anna

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Anna is passionate about the environment, and as she approaches her 16th birthday she begins to have strange dreams of a future world where her granddaughter lives. Here nature is ravaged, and the human race scrabbling to survive on the few remaining resources. But Anna has a chance: a magical ring that could change everything. 

Jostein Gaardner is one of my favourites. His blend of philosophy, weirdness and excellent stories created some of the most intriguing books that I’ve ever read. But when I realised this, his last novel published posthumously, was about climate change, I was worried. Can anyone make such a guilt-ridden topic enjoyably readable?? Happily, he did.

Four lesser known awesome literary Mothers

Book Thoughts, children's books, teen book reviews, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Thoughts

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I recently realised how few Mothers with great characters could be found in literature. Two of my fellow English Literature graduates and I compiled a list of eight awesome Mothers which was about all we could think of, and I posted about four of them last week.

These next four are not as well known. Have you heard of them?

Where are the Mums in books? Like seriously.

Book Thoughts, children's books, literary london, teen book reviews, Writing, Writing Thoughts


I had a baby! Almost eight months ago now. I’m still pretty proud of myself. And totally overcome still by how wonderful Kezia is. But when I come to connect my new parental status with my life in literature I am suddenly hit with a problem. It seems that mothers are hugely absent from books – in almost all stories they are either dead or completely useless.