Book Events, Uncategorized

October Book Events

This month I have been to numerous book events and I really enjoyed attending all of them.

The first was an event called ‘The Brontes: Life at the Parsonage’, part of the Cheltenham Literature Festival. The event was chaired by Libby Purves and it featured Bronte biographer Juliet Barker and Lauren Livesey, who works at The Parsonage Museum. Their discussion gave a fascinating insight into the private and public lives of Branwell, Charlotte, Emily and Anne, and I enjoyed discovering little anecdotes about the famous siblings, such as the fact that Branwell could apparently write Latin with one hand and Greek with the other, while continuing a conversation in English!

I have read several of the Brontes’ novels, including Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, and Agnes Grey. This means that actually I only have three books left, and then I have read all of their novels. The ones I have left are Charlotte’s other three novels: The Professor, Villette, and Shirley. I’ve started reading The Professor on my Kindle and so far it is really good. I love the way that Charlotte immediately establishes the character of the protagonist William Crimsworth’s brother, Edward. I’m particularly intrigued to read Villette, as I’ve seen some newspaper reviews of it that claim that it is by far the best of Charlotte’s novels, better than the much more famous Jane Eyre and deserving of more fame than it has received. But actually, it is Shirley that I predict I will enjoy the most, Screen Shot 2016-10-28 at 12.08.09.pnghaving read a brief synopsis of it.

I read this synopsis in ‘The Brontes: their complete novels in one sitting’. This is one of a series of books that introduce a reader to all the works of a famous author – others include ones on Shakespeare, Hardy, Austen and Dickens. These are really useful little books, with a mini biography of the author, famous quotes from them and synopses for their books and stories. I definitely recommend collecting them!

Of course, once I finish reading the novels of the Bronte sisters there will still be plenty to enjoy, including all their poems and short stories. I recently saw one of Anne’s poems on Twitter and I think it’s beautiful and poignant. It’s called ‘The Captive Dove’ and the link is here:


The next three events I attended were all YA events. I went to the Bath stop of Sarah J. Maas’ ‘Empire of Storms’ tour, which was in the most beautiful venue with glittering chandeliers. It was chaired by Lucy Saxon and she asked great questions, and the event was hilarious and really enjoyable. It was the third time that I had met Sarah J. Maas, and meeting her never gets old. She was actually the first YA author I ever met.

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I then went to Laini Taylor’s event in Cheltenham. I have wanted to meet her for so long, so it was wonderful to be able to. She spoke about her upcoming novel, ‘Strange the Dreamer’, which publishes in March, as well as about her award-winning story collection, ‘Lips Touch’, and her mesmerising ‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone’ series. She also spoke about her experiences as a writer and her writing process, which left me feeling very inspired. I loved attending her event and I am really looking forward to her return to the UK next year.

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The most recent book event I attended was actually this past Tuesday. It was the Worlds Collide London event featuring Leigh Bardugo and Rainbow Rowell. The event was great fun: Leigh and Rainbow did a hilarious reading from each of their books, told us more about their characters and writing processes, and answered lots of questions from their fans. ‘Crooked Kingdom’ is one of the very best books I’ve read this year, so it was fascinating to find out more about it – especially the fact that Kaz Brekker’s name was originally supposed to be Baz!

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This year I have been able to meet almost all of my favourite authors, whether it’s been at large events like YALC or at specific tour stops. So many YA authors have come on tour this year to the UK from the US, including, aside from the ones listed above, Rachel Caine, Jennifer L. Armentrout, V. E. Schwab. It’s been so enthusing and inspiring to meet them all, and I’m so glad that they came to the UK! I hope they’ll be back again soon!




Reasons You Should Read..., Uncategorized

Five Reasons You Should Read…The Road to Ever After by Moira Young

Part Benjamin Button, part Harold and Maud, part Brian Selznick and part Neil Gaiman, this is a unique, magical story that will draw readers in and make them fall in love with both characters.

Davy David is a thirteen-year-old orphan, who lives in the bushes in a town ruled by a strict minister, Reverend Fall. A talented artist, Davy loves to draw pictures of angels in the dirt, in the early hours of the morning before the townspeople are awake. He spends his days on his own, except for a small dog, who has attached himself to Davy, often going to the library to find inspiration for his pictures of angels. One day, after chasing after a ball for some of the town’s boys, he finds himself in the yard of the old boarded-up museum, now rumoured to be the home of a witch. The witch is Miss Elizabeth Flint, an elderly woman who has a proposition for Davy: drive her to her childhood home, where, it turns out, she has made the decision to die.Screen Shot 2016-10-19 at 22.28.05.png

‘The Road to Ever After’ by Moira Young publishes in the UK tomorrow, and I highly recommend that you pick it up. Here are five reasons why!


‘The Road to Ever After’ is beautifully written. It’s captivating from start to finish, and it’s full of moving and memorable sections of narration and of dialogue. It’s very different from Moira Young’s previous novels – the Dustlands trilogy, which is a fast-paced, action-packed YA series with Western and dystopian themes – but it’s equally gripping. I am always in awe of authors like Moira Young who can write equally strong novels in a range of genres.


All the characters in the novel are vivid and distinctive, from the mean and corrupt Parson Falls (who reminds me of the mayor in Joanne Harris’ ‘Chocolat’) and the brash van driver Mr Webb, to the kind and generous Mr Timm and the sweet Miss Shasta. I could visualise each of them wholly.

Davy is a fantastic main character. I immediately sympathised with him and felt an attachment to him, which meant that I was very emotionally involved in the story. I loved his friendship with Miss Flint, especially the way she could be quite sharp but she gradually softened towards him. Miss Flint reminded me of Maggie Smith’s character in the recent film, The Lady in the Van. 


‘The Road to Ever After’ is classified as a middle-grade novel. However, it has a universal, timeless quality that makes it appeal to a much wider audience. The story has many layers to it. Additionally, one of the main characters is young, while the other is old. It truly is a story for everyone to read and enjoy.


‘The Road to Ever After’ really touched me. The ending brought tears to my eyes because I was so involved and invested in the story and the characters. There is such warmth and poignancy to the story of Davy David and Miss Flint’s unexpected but deep and affectionate friendship. It’s a wonderfully moving novel that will warm your heart as the cold winter days approach.


The novel is set during the winter season and finishes after Christmas day, so it’s the perfect read as days begin to grow colder, nights begin to grow longer, and stores begin to fill with Christmas products. It’s a magical, unique and unforgettable book which truly captures the spirit of Christmas, not least in the scene in which Davy spends the little money he has on gifts for others. It actually made me feel very nostalgic for stories and picture books I remember reading at Christmas when I was much younger. I think ‘The Road to Ever After’ deserves to become a seasonal classic. It has a beautiful cover and is just as beautiful inside.




October 2016 Reads, Uncategorized

The Graces by Laure Eve

  • The Graces by Laure Eve

Rating: * * * (3/5)

Series: #1 The Graces

Publisher: Faber and Faber

Publication Date: September 2016

Everyone said the Graces were witches.

They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.
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They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.

All I had to do was show them that person was me.

Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?

This beautifully-written thriller will grip you from its very first page.

I gave ‘The Graces’ a neutral rating because I am in two minds about it: I thought the second half was much stronger than the first half.

I thought that in the first half of the novel the pace needed to pick up, and I found myself skim-reading certain sections to develop a faster pace. The first part was not as exciting or magical as the blurb made it seem, and indeed it was not as exciting as many other books that I have read this year. Additionally, none of the characters really stood out for me – not even the alluring, glamorous Graces. (Also – the name Thalia Grace kept making me think of Percy Jackson!)  I didn’t particularly like nor feel particularly attached to any of the characters in the novel, which made the reading experience less enjoyable than I was expecting.

However, despite this, there was something in the first half that made me want to keep reading. The writing style had a really mysterious and creepy quality to it, and this did make me want to read on and find out what would ultimately happen.

I much preferred the second half of the novel to the first. Part Two was much more exciting and much darker, and it was where the book really came into its own. There were lots of twists and revelations. I did see part of the main twist coming, but certainly not the whole of it, and it did still shock me. I thought that the twist was very clever and skilful. It did explain some of the aspects of Part One that I was not sure about, too. It certainly made the novel very memorable.

Overall, I didn’t love ‘The Graces’ but I did think it was cleverly written and the ending has made me intrigued to find out what will happen next. It was thrilling in a quiet, slowly mysterious way (until the very end when it really picked up), rather than a fast-paced, constantly exciting way.


#VICTOBER, October 2016 Reads, Uncategorized

This Week’s Reading and #Victober!

Here are some updates on what I have been reading recently and what I am planning on reading next!

  • This week I started reading ‘How I Found You’ by Gabriella Lepore. A couple of weeks ago I purchased this novel for just 99p on Kindle because it was the publisher Of Tomes’ first birthday – Happy Anniversary Of Tomes! Unfortunately I started reading ‘How I Found You’ and the writing style just did not gel with me so I stopped at about 25%. The first few chapters were essentially about a teenage girl moving to live with relatives and these two secretive and apparently magical guys turning up. The storyline felt very generic to me – it seemed like lots of books that came out a few years ago, such as ‘Fallen’. To be fair, it might have become more original as it went on but I did not feel intrigued or invested in the story enough to read on and find out. The style of writing was just too cheesy and simplistic for me: there was ‘instalove’ and both the main female character and the main male character irritated and frustrated me continually. I’ve read many books recently with wonderful characters but this one did not continue the trend for me. I try very hard to finish books but I had to ‘Did Not Finish’ this one. I had so many other books on my TBR pile that I would prefer to read.


  • On a more positive note, I was delighted to find out today on Twitter that I have won a copy of ‘RoseBlood’ by A. G. Howard from Maximum Pop! I am so excited to read this novel, having recently read ‘The Architect of Song’ by A. G. Howard and absolutely loved it! I think she has a beautiful and addictive writing style and I love The Phantom of the Opera so I cannot wait to read this retelling. I’ve posted the synopsis below:


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In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.
At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

A. G. Howard brings the romantic storytelling that Splintered fans adore to France—and an entirely new world filled with lavish romance and intrigue—in a retelling inspired by a story that has captivated generations. Fans of both the Phantom of the Opera musical and novel, as well as YA retellings such as Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, will devour RoseBlood.



This month I am joining in with the #Victober readathon, which is essentially a challenge to read as many novels written in the Victorian period as you can in a month. I am very excited about this challenge! There are so many wonderful novels to choose from and it is really easy and cheap to take part: most Victorian ‘classic’ novels are free on Kindle, and libraries are always well-stocked in the ‘classics’, as are charity shops.

I’ve read quite a few Victorian novels in the past few years and really enjoyed them, including ‘The Trumpet Major’, ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ and ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’ – all of which are by Thomas Hardy – ‘Jane Eyre’, ‘Wuthering Heights’, ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ and ‘Great Expectations’. Because I’ve read several Hardy novels in the past, I’ve decided not to read any more of his for this challenge, as I would like some of my #Victober books to be written by authors whose books I have never read before.

I’ve just finished reading my first #Victober read, which was Anne Bronte’s ‘Agnes Grey’. I really enjoyed her other novel, ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’, but I think ‘Agnes Grey’ surpassed it for me. The eponymous protagonist was exceptionally relatable – probably because the novel is largely autobiographical – and I felt very attached to her and very moved by her story. The novel provides a fascinating insight into the lives of Victorian governesses and the way that they are treated by some as though they are invisible and irrelevant. I would definitely recommend Anne Bronte’s novels to anyone else partaking in #Victober and would even go so far as to say that she is my favourite Bronte sister!

These are the other books I plan to read for #Victober:

  • Middlemarch by George Eliot 

Screen Shot 2016-10-03 at 19.28.49.pngI’ve never read one of George Eliot’s (Mary Ann Evans’) novels and #Victober seems like a great opportunity to read one! I’ve chosen ‘Middlemarch’ because the synopsis sounds very intriguing, and Hermione Lee’s quote about it in this synopsis is very persuasive.

Goodreads Synopsis:

‘People are almost always better than their neighbours think they are’

George Eliot’s most ambitious novel is a masterly evocation of diverse lives and changing fortunes in a provincial community. Peopling its landscape are Dorothea Brooke, a young idealist whose search for intellectual fulfilment leads her into a disastrous marriage to the pedantic scholar Casaubon; the charming but tactless Dr Lydgate, whose pioneering medical methods, combined with an imprudent marriage to the spendthrift beauty Rosamond, threaten to undermine his career; and the religious hypocrite Bulstode, hiding scandalous crimes from his past. As their stories entwine, George Eliot creates a richly nuanced and moving drama, hailed by Virginia Woolf as ‘one of the few English novels written for grown-up people’.

This edition uses the text of the second edition of 1874. In her introduction, Rosemary Ashton, biographer of George Eliot, discusses themes of change in Middlemarch, and examines the novel as an imaginative embodiment of Eliot’s humanist beliefs.

‘The most profound, wise and absorbing of English novels…and, above all, truthful and forgiving about human behaviour’ HERMIONE LEE

  • Screen Shot 2016-10-03 at 19.34.52.pngA Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle 

I remember reading ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ some years ago and thinking that it was fantastic, so this month I would really like to read another Sherlock Holmes novel. ‘A Study in Scarlet’ is the first one. I don’t read many mystery novels but I have chosen a couple to read this month and I am very excited to start them.

In the debut of literature’s most famous sleuth, a dead man is discovered in a bloodstained room in Brixton. The only clues are a wedding ring, a gold watch, a pocket edition of Boccaccio’s Decameron, and a word scrawled in blood on the wall. With this investigation begin
s the partnership of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Their search for the murderer uncovers a story of love and revenge-and heralds a franchise of detective mysteries starring the formidable Holmes.

  • The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

This is the second of the mystery novels I am planning on reading for #Victober. Someone recommended ‘The Moonstone’ to me a few weeks ago, so I immediately put it on my #Victober list. It’s one of the first ever mystery/detective novels (in fact I think it is hailed as the first) and apparently it is very unpredictable. I can’t wait to start it!

‘When you looked down into the stone, you looked into a yellow deep thatScreen Shot 2016-10-03 at 19.42.24.png drew your eyes into it so that they saw nothing else’

The Moonstone, a yellow diamond looted from an Indian temple and believed to bring bad luck to its owner, is bequeathed to Rachel Verinder on her eighteenth birthday. That very night the priceless stone is stolen again and when Sergeant Cuff is brought in to investigate the crime, he soon realizes that no one in Rachel’s household is above suspicion. Hailed by T. S. Eliot as ‘the first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels’, The Moonstone is a marvellously taut and intricate tale of mystery, in which facts and memory can prove treacherous and not everyone is as they first appear

  • Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray 

Thackeray is an author whom I have heard a lot about but whose books I have never read but always wanted to. I’m particularly intrigued by ‘Vanity Fair”s subtitle which is ‘A novel without a hero’; I’m interested to see just what the main characters are like and to judge them for myself. Screen Shot 2016-10-03 at 20.00.20.png

Vanity Fair: A Novel without a Hero is a novel by William Makepeace Thackeray, first published in 1847–48, satirizing society in early 19th-century Britain. The book’s title comes from John Bunyan’s allegorical story The Pilgrim’s Progress, first published in 1678 and still widely read at the time of Thackeray’s novel. Vanity fair refers to a stop along the pilgrim’s progress: a never-ending fair held in a town called Vanity, which is meant to represent man’s sinful attachment to worldly things. The novel is now considered a classic, and has inspired several film adaptations.


Hopefully I will have time this month to read all of these Victorian novels and maybe I will have time to read a few more! However it does sometimes take me a lot longer to read a ‘classic’ than it would take me to read a YA novel. On top of these novels, I have lots of YA novels to read this month – my shelves are bursting – as well as some MG ones. I’ve still got lots of proof copies from YALC which I really need to read!