Murder Most Unladylike – Book Review

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Title: Murder Most Unladylike
Author: Robin Stevens
Paperback: 316 pages
Published: 2014 by Corgi Books
My Rating: 3/5 stars

Summary (from back of book):When Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong set up a secret detective agency at Deepdean School for Girls, they can’t find a truly exciting mystery to investigate. (Unless you count The Case of Lavinia’s Missing Tie. Which they don’t.)

Then Hazel discovers the body of the Science Mistress, Miss Bell – but when she and Daisy returns 5 minutes later, the body has disappeared. Now the girls have to solve a murder and prove a murder happened in the first place.

But will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test?

Reading this book made me realise just how much I miss Malory Towers. This book is reminiscent of Enid Blyton’s boarding school stories, blended with The Famous Five, which made up a significant part of my childhood library.

Mysteries are one of my favourite genres – I love them. Set in a boarding school full of Posh English Girls? Sign me up!

Unfortunately, we only actually got two girls who were somewhat developed as characters – Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells, the main characters are given plenty of screen time. Their peers? Not so much. That’s what was missing for me, the banter between all the girls and the arguments that usually ensue.

Hazel, as a protagonist, is a sympathetic character. I liked her, I could relate to her (and also, she’s a POC, which would’ve been pretty rare). She was bright, hated PE (same) and is a wonderfully loyal friend.

Daisy, however, I wanted to slap in the face with a copy of Les Miserables. She’s self-centred for the first half of the book, then is only slightly redeemed by remembering that Hazel actually exists. She’s so smart that she has no common sense and it’s infuriating to read.

If the other girls are under developed though, it’s because the thought went into the teachers, who are all given motives and backstories. There is one scene in particular at the end, where they are all around a table (with the girls peeping in) whilst an Inspector talks to them, that is highly charged with tension. In my opinion, it’s the best part of the book.

The mystery itself unfolds slowly over the course of the book, and the plot is quite basic. There are a couple of red herrings, but it’s honestly not that difficult to figure out once things get into the swing of it. That being said, the book is targeted at 8-12 year olds, so fair play.

It’s a relatively short book, I got through the majority of it in one day, so if you’re looking for a light-hearted mystery, then go ahead!

(Also, I loved that the Inspector’s name was Inspector Priestley. An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley, anyone?)

In all, the plot was simplistic, but engaging. As far as mysteries go, it wasn’t my favourite – that title still belongs to Enid Blyton’s Five Find Outers (and a dog) series.

I may read the rest of this series, but for the moment one is enough.

What’s your favourite mystery?

Holly xx

 

Peter Darling – Book Review

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Title: Peter Darling
Author: Austin Chant
Ebook: 18 Chapters
Published: February 2017 by Less Than Three Press
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Ten years ago, Peter Pan left Neverland to grow up, leaving behind his adolescent dreams of boyhood and resigning himself to life as Wendy Darling. Growing up, however, has only made him realize how inescapable his identity as a man is.

But when he returns to Neverland, everything has changed: the Lost Boys have become men, and the war games they once played are now real and deadly. Even more shocking is the attraction Peter never knew he could feel for his old rival, Captain Hook—and the realization that he no longer knows which of them is the real villain.

This was an interesting book for me.

On one hand, I really enjoyed it.

On the other hand, I had a few issues with it.

Starting with positives:
– I finished it in one sitting, which I haven’t done in AGES. It takes quite the book to keep me hooked like that.
– REPRESENTATION
– Seriously, transgender Peter Pan
– Never thought I’d see the day…but this was awesome.
– Also gay representation too, the main love story is a same sex couple
– The humour was on point. I knew I loved the book when I read this sentence on the second page:

“Samuel was walking ahead, where Hook could admire his arse.”

The shock factor made me grin more than anything, in that case.

I did however have a few negatives…

I just didn’t like how the Lost Boys were portrayed. I understand that is all part of the plot, fair enough. I just…they are some of my favourite characters in literature and they were basically stripped of any individuality and character that they had (which isn’t much to start with).

There were some nice touches, and I did feel for Peter, especially when he went back to his parents (whom I have never wanted to slap so hard in any adaptation of this novel.) I also liked Ernest, although we never scratched the surface of his character either.

The plot felt very simplistic too…I mean, I was engaged, sure. But I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the story and the ending. It felt more like a fanfiction than a novel (which is something I get a lot with retellings of Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland.) The story felt rushed, like action scene after action scene, with no time to get to know the characters.

One thing that I adore is the front cover (I’m sorry!!!). But seriously, look at this majesty:

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Ahem.
Anyway.

All round, it’s a solid book – it’s enjoyable, it contains representation and the humour is on point.

(One quick warning, if you’re planning on reading this one; there is a somewhat explicit scene in the novel, so you may want to skip a few pages if that makes you uncomfortable)

See you guys later with another post! (And sorry it took me sooo long to update this one!!)

Holly xx

Geekerella – Book Review

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Title: Geekerella
Author: Ashley Poston
Paperback: 319 pages
Published: April 4th 2017 by QUIRK BOOKS
My Rating: 5/5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Anything can happen once upon a con…

When geek girl Elle Wittimer sees a cosplay contest sponsored by the producers of Starfield, she has to enter. First prize is an invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. Elle’s been scraping together tips from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck behind her stepmother’s back, and winning this contest could be her ticket out once and for all—not to mention a fangirl’s dream come true.

Teen actor Darien Freeman is less than thrilled about this year’s ExcelsiCon. He used to live for conventions, but now they’re nothing but jaw-aching photo sessions and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Federation Prince Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the diehard Starfield fandom has already dismissed him as just another heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, closet nerd Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

GUYS.

GUYS THIS WAS SO CUTE.

Oh, I loved this book so much. I finished it in a day.

I actually couldn’t care less about some of my smaller gripes about characterization; the plot and lead characters were so good they make up for it.

The plot does follow our very basic Cinderella story – Elle goes to the ball in a ‘coach’, with her punk fairy godmother and has to leave at 9 o’clock to get home, leaving her slipper on the steps.
She was relatable, a complete nerd with a Tragic Backstory – and I just, she appealed to me. I got SO angry on her behalf at her Evil Stepmother and one of her step-sisters. Elle is just one of those protagonists that I can’t help empathising with.
(Also, Elle is short for Danielle, which I found new!)

Her handsome prince? A teen actor by the name of Darien Freeman, who can’t seem to catch a break from the press, the poor sod. He also has a bit of a Tragic Backstory, and definitely parental issues. I could also relate to him; maybe not as strongly as I could to Elle, but I also got SO ANGRY on his behalf at THE WORLD.

The cast of supporting characters is stellar – my absolute favourite is Sage. She is Elle’s workmate and throughout the novel their relationship develops into friendship and I adore her crazy personality.
She fills the role of fairy godmother and I wish more books had characters like her in them – punk girls with piercings and hearts of gold.
I also loved Calliope, Elle’s other stepsister, who does a complete 180 throughout the book and ends up supporting her. (She also gets together with Sage, but their relationship is so downplayed and normalised, I love it.)

Gail is memorable, but I feel like she didn’t get enough screen-time (page-time? who knows) and deserves more credit. She has a crazy life, trying to keep Darien in check and on time, bless her. I would’ve liked to see their relationship developed a little more.
Same goes for Lonny, who is like a huge teddy bear. He made me laugh multiple times whilst reading and he’s like the big bro that every character needs.

Onto the main subject of the book: Geekery.

Fandoms. Cons. Nerd culture.

This is my CALLING.

This book is very much a “love letter to nerd culture” – there were so many references that made my heart sing. (My favourite was “On your left!”).
The fandom of this book is Starfield, a fictional TV programme that I believe is a bit like Star Trek with the special effects of Red Dwarf. If it was real, I can assure you that I would be watching it.

Reading about people’s love for fandoms and books is like wrapping up in a warm blanket and sipping hot chocolate; it feels like home. I have spent countless hours on Pinterest and Tumblr, read (and written) fanfiction for so many different series. This book manages to encapsulate all of that.

It’s also made me determined to attend ComiCon, at least once.

Also to cosplay. Any suggestions for a girl who’s 5’2?

Anyway, I ADORED this book and it warmed my heart. Highly recommended!

Holly xx

 

 

A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Book Review

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Title: A Quiet Kind of Thunder
Author: Sarah Barnard
Paperback: 307 pages
Published: January 12th 2017 by Macmillan Children’s Books
My Rating: 4/5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Steffi doesn’t talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can’t hear, but he can listen.
Their love isn’t a lightning strike, it’s the rumbling roll of thunder.

Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life – she’s been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He’s deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she’s assigned to look after him. To Rhys, it doesn’t matter that Steffi doesn’t talk, and as they find ways to communicate, Steffi finds that she does have a voice, and that she’s falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it.

Whilst I loved this book, I’ve found myself knocking off a star for unresolved subplots and minor characters who only appear once.

Rhys’s friends, for example; they appear once, and are then never spoken of again. Also Meg. She seemed pretty cool and I wanted to see more of her.

Sadly, we didn’t get that.

What we did get though, was some brilliant character development through Steffi. Before reading this book, I only had a basic idea of what selective mutism is. It was interesting from that perspective; mutism isn’t a widely spoken of disability, and this book did a great job of explaining it.

She starts out shy and ends up still being shy and having social anxiety – however, she has found her voice. She can use her voice when she needs to. And that’s the main plot.

Also, I loved the relationship between Steffi and Rhys. Not gonna lie, it did feel a little bit like insta-love, but it was adorable and I felt that they genuinely loved each other. The love also started out as friendship, which earns bonus points!

At points, I did feel like the book revolved around the relationship – it felt like Steffi and Rhys were only interested in one another, and all of the other characters faded into the background. I get that in the early stages of a relationship, the couple do tend to focus on one another; this one felt like it was going a little overboard, but that’s just my personal feelings.

Steffi has a best friend, Tem (short for September), who feels a little bit like a token character and makes up the racial diversity of the novel. Actually, she does have a boyfriend, Karam, for a bit and he’s Asian, which is a little bit more diversity, but honestly, there wasn’t a whole load.

Steffi and Tem speak about things other than boys, I think – I don’t remember very well, it’s been a couple of weeks since I read the book! The conversations that I remember were about Rhys and Karam, however they did talk about other things – they pass the Bechdel Test!

Plenty of themes are explored in this book – I just think that maybe too many were taken on. Disability, racism, broken families, death, sex; a lot was covered in what is a relatively short book. It does all link together quite well, but I felt rushed when reading the novel.

In all, I did really enjoy this book – it just didn’t tie up enough loose ends for me. I will admit, I cried in the final scene at the graveyard, and smiled at parts and laughed out loud at parts. It just isn’t quite up there on my all-time favourites list (But it’s probably in my Top 30).

Any other thoughts on this one?

Holly xx

Favourite Book Covers

Although we’ve been told ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ countless times, we all do it anyway. Why would you buy an old, battered book in the place of one with a shiny, appealing cover? (Unless, of course, you were looking for that old battered title in particular.)

Here are some of my favourites! (In no particular order)

Tiger Lily – Jodi Lynn Anderson

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I just love this one, the picture, the font, everything about it. Also the caption at the top really makes this book for me!

Briar Rose – Jana Oliver

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Okay, so I mainly love this one for the beautiful font. and the forest background. The sleeping girl freaks me out a bit to be totally honest.

 Ash – Malinda Lo

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Again, the font, but also the whole forest thing. I seem to have a type here, don’t I?

The Novice/The Inquisition – Taran Matharu

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At first I actually thought this was something to do with the Throne of Glass series, but apparently not. How many weapons does this guy need? (The books are fantastic btw – or at least the first one is, I haven’t actually got around to reading the second yet!)

I’ll Give You The Sun – Jandy Nelson

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Not my usual type, I’ll admit, but it certainly brightens up my shelf. Also the inside has the sketchy look of a art book, which is one of my favourite things.

Rebel of the Sands – Alwyn Hamilton

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Just look at this beauty. The colours, the mystery. All gorgeous.

The Raven King – Maggie Stiefvater

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It reminds me of Harry Potter’s patronus. Also, I don’t remember a stag in the book, but it looks majestic enough, so I’ll leave it here.

 Ballet Shoes – Noel Streatfield

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One of my favourite books of all time. I can’t actually pick a favourite cover, and yes, that is a real ribbon around the first one.

So, there’s a little look around some of the pretty books on my shelf! Let me know in the comments what your favourite is!

Holly xx