30 Jun 2013

REVIEW: Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

Title: Northern Lights (His Dark Materials #1)
Author: Philip Pullman
Publication Date: October 3rd 1998
Publisher: Scholastic Point
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4/5
When Lyra's friend Roger disappears, she and her dæmon, Pantalaimon, determine to find him.

The ensuing quest leads them to the bleak splendour of the North, where armoured bears rule the ice and witch-queens fly through the frozen skies - and where a team of scientists is conducting experiments too horrible to be spoken about.

Lyra overcomes these strange terrors, only to find something yet more perilous waiting for her - something with consequences which may even reach beyond the Northern Lights...
Review: For me, Northern Lights (or The Golden Compass as some of you may not it as) was one of those childhood books that I never really got around to reading. To be honest, I’d never really heard of it before seeing parts of the 2007 film at a friend’s house. For many years afterwards I never really thought of the book or film but upon finding a copy in a second-hand bookstore for about $4, I thought it was probably time that I got around to reading it.

Once again, I’m going to break this review into several parts. And as usual, I’m going to start with characters. I love Lyra. I was worried that I might have found her a bit annoying, but that wasn’t the case at all. I thought she was written really well- she was childish when she needed to be, mature when the situation called for it and brave the whole way through. I adored Pantalaimon, her dæmon- I loved how he could change form depending on the situation and how his form could reflect Lyra’s emotions. I totally wish that I could have my own dæmon! I enjoyed the smaller characters as well- I loved both Lord Asriel and Mrs Coutler, for different reasons of course (the ending had me feeling a little different, I admit). Iorek Byrnison was probably one of my absolute favourites- he was just so awesome!

The world was just brilliant. I loved the dæmons, the bears, the witches- they all were created so well and just fit in together amazingly. I don’t say this about books very often, but I almost wish that I could live in Lyra’s world, even just for a bit. (Chami, I know you are sitting there like ‘WHAT ABOUT SHATTER ME?’) But in all honesty, I just think that the world is different (but still close enough to ours) and so interesting that it would be wonderful to explore.

Now, onto the plot. I think a lot of the plot really revolved around the world-building- not that either element was more important than the other but in the sense that they related to each other. For examples, the introduction of the bears allowed for their part of the world to be built up. I have to say, I really loved how this was done. We got to see the world, the characters and the story all develop at once. I think one of the only things I didn’t like was the fact there wasn’t really much relationship between what the blurb said and what actually happened in the book- I was expecting a little bit more about Roger but I found that whole scenario just became part of the bigger picture, which is reasonable of course in the story, but I thought Lyra might have dwelled on the fact her friend was missing more than she did.

I’m completely 100% excited for the second and third books, which I’ve recently purchased, but I’m also looking forward to reading some more work of Philip Pullman’s which I already own. I’m also looking forward to the chance to be able to watch the film in full and then hopefully write up a book to movie comparison post, so look out for that if you’re interested.

28 Jun 2013

REVIEW: Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame

Title: Wentworth Hall
Author: Abby Grahame
Publication Date: January 1st 2013
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Format: Paperback
Pages: 288
Rating: 3/5
A must-read for Downton Abbey fans—a lush, historical novel about the secretive Darlingtons of Wentworth Hall.Can’t get enough of Downton Abbey? Visit Wentworth Hall. It’s one of England’s oldest estates, and the Darlingtons are among the elite class of British society. But under the wealth are secrets that must stay hidden.

It’s 1912, and eighteen-year-old Maggie and her mother have just returned from a year abroad where Lady Darlington has had a baby boy, James. But he is not the only addition to the house. They have also brought back Therese, their new French tutor, as well as welcomed the orphaned teenage twins, Teddy and Jessica, who have just lost their father aboard the Titanic. This adds to an already crowded house of Darlingtons and staff, all of whom have a penchant for gossiping about their employers.

As time passes, it becomes clear that Teddy and Jessica would rather be anywhere else and that Maggie is a different person from the one who left Wentworth. Her family’s financial future rests with her finding the best husband—and her parents are sure that is Teddy.

When scandalous satires start appearing in the newspaper with details that closely mirror the lives of the Darlingtons, the family is determined to find the culprit and keep their affairs under wraps. But at Wentworth Hall, nothing stays secret for long….
Review: I have a sort of rule with myself that I will not take reviews from Goodreads to mind before and during a book because some of my absolute favourite books have received books terrible reviews that they completely do not deserve (see Atonement, Shatter Me etc.) Therefore before reading this book, I tried to keep an open mind despite the low average rating of 2.83 and pages upon pages of reviews with one star saying that they ‘could barely finish’ the book and whatnot.

I soon learnt, much like many of the other reviewers, that this was not a book to judge of the beauty of the cover (I’m a sucker for covers with girls in proper dress for the era) or the comparison to Downton Abbey in the blurb. I was expecting a book filled with mystery and romance with the obvious historical element to it, and of course, I was hoping for a little bit of a Downton Abbey feel to it. Immediately, I was hoping that Maggie would become a sort of Lady Mary-like character- a cold exterior at the beginning that would eventually make way for a good heart. For a few chapters, I held onto this hope but it was soon forgotten- Maggie became a sort of secondary character who was only really bought up when she was needed, I felt like she didn’t get the chance to really develop as a character at all. Furthermore, I feel like there wasn’t really any character that got the chance to develop, sure we learnt about their dreams and their pasts and whatnot but they never really grew into anything. I don’t think there is a single character that I could genuinely say that I liked or even felt sorry for at all, except maybe the baby because the poor thing would have to grow up in that.

The ‘secrets’ of the Darlingtons and the other characters weren’t really secrets, if you paid enough attention to things then you could easily see them coming. I had been expecting some real mystery surrounding the secrets but there wasn’t any- I felt quite let down by this. I think probably one of the only things I enjoyed were the satires that were included. They were meant to be absolutely ridiculous but they were actually much more enjoyable than most of the book, which is a shame really as I had been so excited to read this book before it was released.

Though I didn’t overwhelming enjoy this book, it was a very quick read which was nice and it didn’t really require much of my attention, other than an eye roll now and again.

27 Jun 2013

REVIEW: Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson

Title: Scarlett Fever (Scarlett #2)
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publication Date: Febuary 1st 2011
Publisher: Point
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 332
Rating: 4/5
From top-selling author Maureen Johnson comes the second book in the trilogy about a girl and her hotel.

Ever since Mrs. Amberson, the former-aspiring-actress-turned-agent, entered Scarlett Martin's life, nothing has been the same.

She's still in charge of the Empire Suite in her family's hotel, but she's now also Mrs. Amberson's assistant, running around town for her star client, Chelsea - a Broadway star Scarlett's age with a knack for making her feel insignificant.

Scarlett's also trying to juggle sophomore year classes, her lab partner who is being just a little TOO nice, and getting over the boy who broke her heart.
Review: Maureen Johnson is a goddess. No, really- she is like the goddess of funny contemporary young adult novels or something. She is just brilliant. Needless to say, I was really excited about getting the chance to read Scarlett Fever. I’d been looking for this book ever since I finished the first one- I literally checked every single library and bookshop that I could find until I finally managed to find this one. The first book in this trilogy, Suite Scarlett, was amazing and perhaps one of my absolute favourite contemporaries ever so you can just imagine how exciting a sequel would be.

Unfortunately, I was a little bit disappointed by this book. I still loved the majority of the returning characters- Spencer still remains as one of my favourites and I also really liked the addition of some of the news characters, mainly Max and Chelsea- I found both of them to be interesting in different ways and I’m looking forward to seeing where they go in the third book. I still enjoyed the plot of the book, I still find Scarlett ridiculously funny and I genuinely enjoy reading about everything that is happening to her. However, what bought this book down for me were a couple of things. One, I feel like the hotel and all the problems included with that from the first book were sort of put on the backburner a bit. While I didn’t want the entire book to be about those problems and nothing else, I felt like it deserved to be mentioned a few more times than it was- just to add to pressures put on the Martin family. Two, Eric. In the first book, I was all for Eric but by this one, I’ve become a bit sick of him. It actually annoyed me that Scarlett was so hung up about him when I would have been quite happy for him to fade out of Scarlett’s life for a little bit longer than he did. I know that Eric is an important character as it shows Scarlett’s growth as a character, but in a way I feel protective of Scarlett and I can only hope that she doesn’t end up with him in the next book!

Originally, I had rated this book as three out of five but as I wrote this review, I realised how much I actually enjoyed this book which made me bump it up to a four star review. Now, all I can do is sit around and wait for the third and final book to be released, something tells me that it is going to be amazing.

24 Jun 2013


I don’t know if this happens to you, but it definitely happens to me. Your reading a book that is just amazing...until you finish it and wait about a week or so, and you begin to rethink the situation. Like reading the book stole you up in it’s glory and you couldn’t look at the big picture until you finally stepped away. That happens to me a lot. If it happens to you leave a comment down below telling us what books made you feel that way. So here’s a list of books I thought were a let down after the reading period. There is a high chance that if you find a review for any of these books it will be in the higher section of the scale, and then you’ll realise how wrong I felt afterwards.
The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices’ Series:
You may be thinking, ‘You’re Nuts Chams,’ but I can’t deny what is right in front of me. Let me just state that I have nothing against the fabulous author that I’ve been very lucky to meet. But I just can’t love these books. They are great in the moment of reading, but now that I’ve stepped away there is just something that makes me mad about them. I can’t make a justified judgement on them, but I just have that feeling. Anyone with me?

Shiver Series by Maggie Steifvater
Again, I’ve had the luck of meeting this fabulous author, but her books just don’t do it for me. I think Ely is with me on this one (I’m not sure but she is a babe) because she did give a high score for The Scorpio Races but when I asked her whether to read it or not, she said that it wasn’t that good now that she thought about it. The main character is just so frustrating and Sam, in his point of view, just seems like he is perving on other girls. I wouldn’t go back to reading that series if it was my choice, and for the record, I dislike werewolves, but not enough to despise a book on it.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth
I wasn’t happy with this book. Divergent is my second favourite book (previously first but replaced by the Shatter Me series) and to read this was just such a clutter of disappointment.  I reread the Divergent book before reading Insurgent to clear up on information, but that still didn’t make me feel better on how confusing and jam packed of things I couldn’t care for. Why was Amity the symbol of the book? They barely spent that much time there. One choice can enrage me, my friends.

So what does everyone think? Have any books that you've mistaken for five stars when they were actually two? Or just that nasty feeling that has got you saying the "no no no's."  

21 Jun 2013


Once again, I'm disappearing off the blogsphere, this time for six days while I go on a little holiday
with my wonderful parents (no seriously, they are wonderful enough to take me away for a break before I begin to hit the craziness which will be the next couple of months that lead up to my final exams). In previous situations I've still been checking here now and again and replying to e-mails, but this time around I will have absolutely no internet connection and so I leave you in the mildly able hands of the adorable, but totally insane, Chami.

I haven't scheduled anything for this time, but with any hope, I will return from my holidays with some reviews to put up and possibly even some new books to show you all.

I hope you all have a wonderful week and that Chami doesn't drive you too crazy. See you soon!

17 Jun 2013

Book Appreciation Post

Hello BookLovers!

It's Chami here back with an update and inside a random post to convey my love of books. Now that i'm back again, i've decided to bestow you with the display of "What books make you feel," and some other random things.  

Xx Chami

REVIEW: Chase and the Fallen Angel by R.J. Castro

Title: Chase and the Fallen Angel
Author: R.J. Castro
Publication Date: January 4th 2013
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services Inc.
Format: E-book
Pages: 510
Rating: 5/5
Chase, an uninspired twenty-three year old, trudges through his uneventful life taking for granted the everyday privileges of his human existence. He does not realize how great life is until he is killed in a tragic, freak accident and unwillingly transformed into a guardian angel. Ripped away from his life and loved ones, he now finds himself living in an unfamiliar world where fantasy becomes a reality. He must carry the heavy responsibilities of protecting his Delicate (mortal) from dangers unseen to the human eye. With the help of his two new guardian angel friends, Trevor and Rachel, Chase is taking his first steps on the long journey to eternal peace by becoming a dedicated guardian angel. But the road to eternal happiness is far from easy when Chase has to find his inner strength and courage to battle malicious demons, a deranged priest and a merciless fallen angel.
Review: Recently, I’ve noticed a bit of an influx in the amount of books I read with angels in and due to this, I’ve noticed a lot of similarities between them and so when we were presented with the chance to read this book, I had a few expectations of what this would be like. They were all very wrong, in a very good way.

For one, as suggested by the blurb, this book follows the story of a twenty-three year old guy named Chase. While for the first part of the book he and his uninspired personality got on my nerves a bit, by the time the story got under way I absolutely loved him despite how he could sometimes be a little clueless and stubborn. This was also one of the biggest differences between this book and other angel books- I absolutely loved seeing this from a slightly older guy’s perspective in comparison to a teenage girl’s. The minor characters was amazing as well- Rachel and Alex were probably my absolute favourites, but I loved every single characters story. I also really liked the similarities and differences shown between the angels and the humans and how they still managed to interact.

Another difference was the lack of romance in this book. Usually I enjoy a bit of romance (as long as it’s mixed with an actual plot) but I actually really liked the fact that there wasn’t really any romance between Chase and anyone else. This being said, there was still some romance surrounding the main character, which by the way was absolutely adorable (Kyle/Claire forever!!) This was definitely a nice breath of fresh air for me.

The plot itself is amazing. At first I didn’t really know where it was going go (except for the whole angel thing) so I was a little worried but everything developed so nicely that I couldn’t help but enjoy it. The book is really long- a total of 510 pages to be exact, but I found that it just went so quickly and by the end I was desperately wishing there was another 500 pages to read (okay, maybe not that long). Given more solid blocks of time to read this in, I think I probably would have been able to finish it in a couple of days.

Finally, I’d like to talk about the cover. While it’s really quite basic, it definitely drew me into the book even more. I know the severed rabbit head seems a little weird at first, but once you’ve read the story I promise you it’ll make perfect sense. If somehow the blurb or my review doesn’t manage to draw you into the story, you should read it just to find out what that cover is all about. I promise that you won’t be disappointed.

Thank you to R.J. Castro who sent us a copy of his book to read and review.