Thursday, 27 February 2014

Half Bad - Sally Green

Publication Details

Published globally 3rd March 2014 by Penguin
Book 1 in the Half Life trilogy
416 pages

(Please note that this book was sent to me for review by Bloomsbury, however, this does not in any way affect my final opinion or rating on the book. Everything mentioned in this review is completely of my own opinion.)

*Spoiler Free Review*


In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and fifteen-year-old Nathan, who is both. Nathan’s father is the world’s most powerful and cruel Black witch, and his mother is dead. He is hunted from all sides. Trapped in a cage, beaten and handcuffed, Nathan must escape before his sixteenth birthday, at which point he will receive three gifts from his father and come into his own as a witch—or else he will die. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust—not even family, not even the girl he loves?


I first heard of this novel through watching a fellow book-tuber's video. As soon as I seen the cover and heard the plot I knew I had to get my hands on it so I managed to hunt down an email for a publicist at Penguin and she said she'd send me a review copy - to say I squealed is an understatement.

Half Bad was fantastic. The novel follows Nathan - a young witch, the only existent offspring of a White Witch mother and a Black Witch father, the good and the bad respectively - who is pretty much entirely hated by the world because of the lack of knowledge around his mixed race. The only people who actually care for him are his Gran and all but one of his siblings.We follow Nathan on his journey through his young life, including snippets of his school life and his life at home and how he deals with the hatred people show towards him. When Nathan comes of age, like any other witch, he must receive 3 gifts - preferably from his father, whose location is unknown - in order to come into his own as a full fledged Witch.

Nathan was an incredible character. He was impressive and inspiring in the sense that know matter how tough life got, he knew he had to push through and rise above all of the hatred and insecurity people felt towards him. Whether this was the author's intention or not I definitely felt like this was great symbolism for bullying, it shows that no matter how people treat you, if you're brave and push through, you'll come out the much better person for it - this is a message that needs to be heard a lot more often and this book and Nathan's character do a great job of sharing this experience with the reader. One of my favorite aspects of this book was that we got to witness Nathan growing from a child to a young adult, it really allowed me as a reader to connect with his character and really understand why he had the opinions he had and how he dealt with the constant negativity the world seemed to force upon him. When the world threw its worst and most devastating cards on the table, Nathan knew exactly how to pick himself up and move on with life and his journey.

Randomly throughout this book - as a part of the story - Nathan and his family receives "Notifications" (pretty much the equivalent to a law) from the Council (pretty much the equivalent to a government). Each Notification is a statement advising the population of new rules/laws that are being released and each one we read during the course of this novel is targeted directly at the only Black&White Witch in existence - Nathan. They are typically announcing how people must treat Nathan and how people should avoid him and make as little interaction with him as possible etc. I definitely feel like this played a colossal part in the book, with each Notification that was released it really felt like the world was closing in and becoming smaller and smaller on Nathan and he had less and less freedom as time went on. However, along with that I also felt like each Notification almost signified the Council's fear of Nathan and how they were afraid of how little they knew about what he may or may not be able to do when/if he becomes a full Witch. This was another aspect of the novel that really shone and stood out for me and I found myself looking forward to discovering what Notifications they were going to release against Nathan next.

Sally Green is an outstanding author. Half Bad is her debut novel and it's not enough to say that I adored her writing and I know that even when this trilogy ends I will be eagerly anticipating Sally's new ventures and works. Something about Sally's writing just had me consistently intrigued and excited and I never knew where she was going to go with the story, she kept everything so well hidden and yet she managed to reveal just enough to make you want to continue and enjoy the novel. A couple of times in the book Sally even writes in 2nd person, which really blew me away. She only done this for a few pages at a time but it was really fascinating and definitely a new experience for me - one that proved to be extremely entertaining, it really made me feel like I was involved in the story, like I was there, right where a character in the book should be.

I'd absolutely love to talk all day about this book but I'm worried that if I were to continue I may end up spoiling something. In my opinion, a large part of this novel is reading it and discovering everything for the first time as you read it and realising just how difficult it is for Nathan to do something as simple as existing and leading a life. If I were to spoil that experience for a single person, I would regret this review immensely.

Overall, it's not enough to say that I adored Half Bad. As one of my most anticipated reads of the year it has not let itself down in the slightest. I'm looking forward to continuing this trilogy in the future and can't wait to uncover more of what Nathan's future holds. A fantastic novel set in a world much like our own that explores varying topics and creates a character and story that we want to hold close to our hearts long after we turn the final page.

5 out of 5 stars

*Side Note: Just a little something I took out of the review above and still really wanted to mention; don't go into this book solely on the idea that it's got Witches and magic, because this book is much more than that. In fact, although the novel touches on the subject, I feel like the Witches and magic aspect of this novel plays a small part in the overall greatness of the story. However I definitely think that the Witchery and magic will come to be a much larger part of the story in the second and third books in the trilogy.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Through the Zombie Glass - Gena Showalter

Publication Details

Will be published 24th September 2013 by Harlequin TEEN
468 pages
29 chapters

(Please note that this book was sent to me for review by Bloomsbury, however, this does not in any way affect my final opinion or rating on the book. Everything mentioned in this review is completely of my own opinion.)

This book is the SEQUEL to Alice in Zombieland, however I will be making this review SPOILER FREE.


Inspired by the childhood classic Alice in Wonderland, this harrowing and romantic story features teen zombie slayer Alice Bell who has lost so much—family, friends, her home. After a strange new zombie attack, Alice fears she may be losing her mind as well. A terrible darkness blooms inside her, urging her to do wicked things. The whispers of the dead assault her ears and mirrors seem to come frighteningly to life. She’s never needed her team of zombie slayers more—including her boyfriend, Cole—than she does now. But as Cole strangely withdraws and the zombies gain new strength, Ali knows one false step may doom them all.


Let's start off with the fact that this book is the sequel to one of my favourite books of 2012 - Alice in Zombieland. I absolutely loved Alice in Zombieland and so I naturally was very anxiously awaiting the opportunity to read its sequel Through the Zombie Glass and this book was more than worth it!

This series follows Alice Bell, who's in her late teens and has a somewhat strong connection to zombies. Since this is the sequel and I don't want to give away too much, that's all I'm going to say about the series as a whole so far. Now back to Through the Zombie Glass.

The plot of this book is one of the most clever and thought out plots that I've ever read. This book is one of those sequels that you expect to be good but not as good as the first in the series, but then it turns out to be 10 times better. The start of the book is basically continuing from Alice in Zombieland and we continue following Alice around in her weird daily life. But then the main plot hits and I seriously never thought that this would have been something that would happen to Alice. Obviously as this is the sequel and I don't want to reveal anything major I won't say what the actual main plot is but trust me when I say it's amazing. It's creepy, it's weird and it's just all round phenomenal.

Gena Showalter is an amazing author. Her writing is so easy to read and everything she writes is detailed in a very simplistic but entirely understandable way that makes for easy reading. Gena also manages to create some very creepy scenes in this series, especially in Through the Zombie Glass. Although Gena is amazing at writing creepy and dark scenes, her humor shines through so perfectly in her books - Kat (mentioned below) is one of those few characters that I can read and almost all of her scenes make me laugh out loud, and for that, I am entirely grateful. Any time an author makes me laugh out loud, that's how I know they're a good author. Gena is not good, she's mind-blowingly phenomenal. If you haven't read any of Gena's work, you're missing out on so much and when you read her work, you'll be so angry that you were previously so oblivious to her writing. Trust me, read some Gena Showalter, you will not regret it.

Alice Bell is one of my favourite main characters, I just love her personality and how she can be so protective of her friends and family and when she's at her weakest she'll be the strongest she can be to protect the people she cares about. That's the kind of character that I love. I feel like even though Alice has been through some of the most horrific things that could happen to someone so young she manages to stay strong and even though everything keeps hitting her like a bullet through the chest she manages to take it all in her stride and find a way to remedy absolutely anything that comes her way from her friends' broken relationships to zombie-infested buildings. Alice is amazing, Alice is badass, Alice is just wow.

The only other character that I feel really stands out enough for me to mention in this review is Katherine "Kat" Parker - Alice's best friend. I can't describe with words how much I love Kat as a character. If someone offered me the opportunity to put all things I love in a person and mould them together to create a friend for myself, Kat would probably be the outcome. Kat is loveable, she's kinda weird and best of all she's hilarious. She just doesn't seem to care about much in life and she takes each day as it comes and she doesn't worry or stress about the implications of her actions or what the future will bring - she lives in the here and now and I love her for everything she is.

Although I could talk about this book for hours on end without running out of things to talk about, I can't continue this review without spoilers so I'll have to stop here. I just love this book so much, I love this series so much, these characters and the weird world they live in, it's all amazing. One more thing I would like to mention before I end this review is to those people who haven't yet read Alice in Zombieland - please don't go into this book expecting it to be an exact zombie-infested retelling of Alice in Wonderland because that's not what this series is. This series wouldn't be as incredible as it is if it was just an exact replica of Alice in Wonderland with a few zombies here and there, it's much, much better than that and deserves a whole lot more praise than it's already getting. So please, if you haven't yet read Alice in Zombieland and plan to, go into the book with a fresh mind, don't expect Alice to fall down a hole, don't expect a weird tea party or a mad Queen. Expect an Alice you've never known, a badass Alice that slays zombies on an almost-daily basis. 

This series has been fantastic so far, Gena's mind-blowing writing, the fantastic characters and incredible plots all make for a mind-blowing series about the Alice you thought you knew and one you'll never forget.

5 out of 5 stars

*Side note: READ THIS SERIES* That is all.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Teacher's Pest - Charles Gilman

Publication Details

Published by Quirk Books on May 7th 2013
170 pages
20 chapters

(Please note that this book was sent to me for review by Quirk, however, this does not in any way affect my final opinion or rating on the book. Everything mentioned in this review is completely of my own opinion)

This is the third book in the Lovecraft Middle School series. The synopsis below *may* contain spoilers, however my personal review will be entirely spoiler free!


DON'T BE FOOLED by his friendly smile, his perfect manners, or his shiny red apple. Student council president Howard Mergler is actually a sinister bug-monster in disguise—and he's summoning swarms of roaches, wasps, fleas, and head lice into the corridors of Lovecraft Middle School!  Twelve-year-old Robert Arthur is the only student who can stop him--but he'll need help from his best friends: the school bully, the school ghost, and an extremely courageous two-headed rat.
This third novel in the Lovecraft Middle School series begins right where Professor Gargoyle and The Slither Sisters ended—with more action, more adventure, and more outrageous monsters!


I loved this book just as much as I loved the first two in this series, possibly even a little more! I still love Robert and Glenn and Karina as main characters, I think they're fun, exciting, lovable and just all round fantastically well-written characters. I feel like these three characters are the perfect fit for a middle grade series such as this one; as main characters, Robert, Glenn and Karina are interesting and brave and care for each other - all of these are characteristics and personality traits that I feel could be really inspirational to readers of a similar age and it could be a really good influence on readers as opposed to characters that would be mean, cruel and rude.

One of my favourite things about this series so far is that each of these books has a different story line and situation for each book to focus on, however all of the books have the one same villain and predominant back story that the individual book plots revolve around. I feel like this makes for a really interesting series overall so far and it should help younger readers get much more invested in each book much easier than if each of the books were based around something entirely different to its predeccesor.

One more thing that I love about this series is that, even if you haven't read the first book, it is entirely possible to read the series out of order. Each book manages to fluently blend in information from previous books regarding characters and minor plot points without giving the reader a huge information dump at the beginning of the book. Information regarding the previous books is carefully slipped in throughout the entirety of each book so that the reader has a decent idea of the characters, character relationships and previous plots and situations. 

Overall, I loved this book and I love this series overall! These books are quick, fun, fast paced, imaginative and action packed reads that you'll read from cover to cover in no more than a few sittings, and you'll love every minute of it! I know I certainly loved every bit of each of the first two books in this series and this book was undoubtedly no exception! I can't wait to continue this series and find out what mishaps and sticky situations these children can wind themselves up in next!

5 out of 5 stars!

PS: If you would like to read my review for the first two books in the Lovecraft Middle School series, a link will be provided below to my written review where you will also be able to find a link to my video review of both Professor Gargoyle and The Slither Sisters!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Disneystrology (What Your Birthday Character Says About You) - Lisa Finander

Publication Details

Published on October 1st 2010 by Quirk Publishing
384 pages

(Please note that this book was sent to me for review by Quirk, however, this does not in any way affect my final opinion or rating on the book. Everything mentioned in this review is completely of my own opinion)


Who’s Your Birthday Character?
Disneystrology combines astrology, numerology, and the magic of movies to help readers understand their own personalities. Within this beautifully illustrated volume, astrologer Lisa Finander has identified 366 unique Disney character types—everyone from Snow White to WALL•E—and paired these characters to corresponding birth dates.
If you were born on November 9, for example, you’re likely to be exuberant, friendly, and youthful—traits best exemplified by Pinocchio. Readers born on February 22 are often powerful, principled, and determined—the perfect words to describe King Mufasa of The Lion King. Open these pages to reveal your birthday character!
You’ll also discover character profiles, keys to personal success, and much, much more. Illustrated with hundreds of stills from more than 90 years of classic animation, Disneystrology is an entertaining tribute to the most delightful characters in movie history.


So basically this book contains 366 Disney characters, 1 assigned to each day of the year. Each Disney character has been assigned to the day of the year so that whoever's birthday falls on a specific day, the character assigned to that day will be used to describe the person's personality etc. With each character comes a personality description, "Magical Gifts" (describing what 'gifts' that specific character bestows upon the person who's birthday falls on that date) as well as "Keys to your Success". 

I love this little book, I think it's extremely creative and fun to find your birthday, discover which Disney character you've been matched with and read how that describes you as a person. It is evident that Lisa put a lot of work and thought into this book in order to get the best possible matches between Disney characters and birthdays in terms of astrology. 

As I said before, I found this book to be really fun and interesting to flick through. It combines two very exciting things; Disney and Astrology. Fun, quick and interesting, I really recommend you pick this up if you're intrigued about which character matches your birthday and what that says about your personality and you as a person.

5 out of 5 stars

Jokes Every Man Should Know - (Edited by) Don Steinberg

Publication Details

Published on April 1st 2008 by Quirk Publishing
143 pages

(Please note that this book was sent to me for review by Quirk, however, this does not in any way affect my final opinion or rating on the book. Everything mentioned in this review is completely of my own opinion)


The Only Joke Book You’ll Ever Need
     •  Nine Jokes about Heaven and Hell
     •  Eight Jokes Just for Kids
     •  Nineteen Jokes Definitely Not for Kids
     •  Six Jokes about Lightbulbs
     •  Seven Jokes about Bars
     •  The World’s Only Funny Knock-Knock Joke
Plus alternate versions, roasts and toasts, historical footnotes, tips on telling jokes, and much, much more.


As you can probably tell by the title, cover and synopsis of this book, Jokes Every Man Should Know is a simple, small, pocket-sized book full of jokes that are pretty much appropriate for almost any occasion!

I can't really review this as I would normally review books, considering it's merely a joke book and not a full novel. But what I can say about this book is that it's pretty darn hilarious! I read through this in a couple of hours and had some of the best laughs I've had in a long time! There are over 100 jokes packed into this small little book, and 9 out of 10 of the jokes had me laughing out loud. There are also little sections included in random places throughout the book such as; "How to Tell a Joke: Eight Tips Every Man Should Know", "Ten Jokes for Roasts and Toasts" and "Where Do Jokes Come From?" as well as a number of others. These sections were nicely placed throughout the book so that they separated the jokes up nicely and you wouldn't get sick of reading tonnes of jokes at a time because they were split up with these little informative sections.

Also, after a majority of the jokes, there were small boxes that contained additional information about the previous joke including an alternative version of the joke, optional toppers to jokes and bonus jokes!

I found this little book of jokes to be extremely funny and entertaining. I feel like this would be that kind of gift that would work perfectly in a situation where you don't know what to buy someone for a birthday or it could also be used as a great stocking filler at Christmas!

5 out of 5 stars

PS: I understand that it seems like this joke book is targeted mainly towards men, considering the title, however, for any women that would like something like this, there is an alternative version of this book entitled Jokes Every Woman Should Know by Jennifer Worick

Monday, 29 April 2013

Book Jars!

Book Jars are totally going to be the new thing for readers with a significantly large to-be-read pile, which, admittedly, is probably everyone reading this. 

What is a book jar?

Basically, a book jar is pretty much when you find a jar, write/print all of your unread book titles onto some paper, cut the paper into slips with the titles on them and then put them into the jar.

Why have a Book Jar? What is the point?!

Like I said above this is probably going to come in most useful for those of us that have an embarrassingly huge to-be-read pile among our collection of books. So, the point of a book jar: when you inevitably get to a point of reading where you are unsure which book you would like to read next, you can just open your book jar, pull out a book and you read the book you picked from the jar!

What do I need to make a Book Jar?

To make a Book Jar, the only things you need is an empty jar, lots of paper (more paper for the more books you need to write down), either a pen or a printer to write or print the book titles onto the paper and some scissors. That's all you need to make your Book Jar!

How do I make a Book Jar?

Making a Book Jar is super easy, here's some pictures depicting the process I went through to make mine!

First off you'll need an empty jar.
I just used this empty used up Nutella jar.

You'll probably want to get the label ripped off the jar. 
You can do this at any point, before or after you have all the book titles ready to go in the jar, it's not a huge deal. 

I decided to type up and print out the book titles as opposed to writing them because I genuinely don't think my hand could have coped with writing them all down!

I cut up all of the book titles into little individual slips that would go into the jar. I also decided to mark all of my review books with a green sharpie, just so I'd have a pre-warning of whether it is or isn't a review book when I pull a book from the jar.

I folded each of the individual slips in half twice and then put them all into the jar for choosing at a later date!

And that's it! I understand that my Book Jar looks pretty plain and dull, but you can decorate the outside of the jar however you like to make it more pretty and fun! 

I'd just like to add that this idea is not my own. I got this idea from a video that was made by Sarah on her YouTube channel "MOTHEREFFINGBOOKS" (!

Also, keep in mind that if you don't fancy the idea of making a Book Jar for all of the unread books in your collection, you can do this for other things like maybe you want to read specific books during the Summer holidays but don't know what order to read them in, you could use this idea to help you choose!

I hope you enjoy this idea as much as I did and remember if you end up making a Book Jar of your own, let me know in the comments below! Tell me how you decorated it, what are you using it for? So that's it for this post, thought I would just share this awesome idea with everyone, I think this is going to really catch on!

Friday, 26 April 2013

Professor Gargoyle & The Slither Sisters - Charles Gilman

Professor Gargoyle (with holographic changing cover)

The Slither Sisters (with holographic changing cover)

Publication Details

Release Dates
Professor Gargoyle - September 25th 2012
The Slither Sisters - January 15th 2013

Page/Chapter Numbers
Professor Gargoyle - 168 pages, 18 chapters
The Slither Sisters - 172 pages, 19 chapters

Both books have been published by Quirk Books

Age Group - Middle Grade/Children's

(Please note that both of these books were sent to me from Quirk Books for free in return for an honest review. This does not in any way affect my final opinions or ratings for these books. Everything mentioned in this review is entirely of my own opinion and has not been influenced whatsoever)

Professor Gargoyle Synopsis

Strange things are happening at Lovecraft Middle School. Rats are leaping from lockers. Students are disappearing. The school library is a labyrinth of secret corridors. And the science teacher is acting very, very peculiar. Robert Arthur knew that seventh grade was going to be weird, but this is ridiculous!

With the help of some unlikely new friends, Robert discovers there's more to Lovecraft Middle School than meets the eye. Can he uncover the secrets of the school before it's too late?


(I will not be talking about anything specific in this review. I will be discussing both books in a single review and will review overall aspects of the books; writing, characters etc. This review will be spoiler free)

Let's start this review on a positive note - I loved these books. Both of these books were fun, exciting, unique, action packed and even funny here and there. The writing in these books is simplistic as the series is aimed predominantly towards younger readers, however it is not so simplistic that it becomes frustrating to read after a while. The writing is descriptive and runs smoothly throughout the entirety of the books. When necessary, the writing becomes fast paced and managed to create a vivid image of characters and creatures in my head which allowed me to enjoy these books so much more. Overall, the writing is extremely suitable for younger readers but also allows for an exciting and fun time for readers of all ages.

The main character in these books is a little boy named Robert Arthur. Robert is starting at a new school - Lovecraft Middle school - and so he has no friends, doesn't know his way around the school and is confused and lost about what he should be doing and how he should be acting in his first year at middle school. I highly enjoyed reading about Robert, I thought he was a relatable character for most younger people that will be reading these books as he defines, in a way, the typical young boy that is worried about starting a new school, making new friends and the like. Robert was a strong, brave, caring and protective character that never failed to stand up for his friends in times of need, and I feel like this could be inspirational to younger readers. 

The actual plots of these books are fantastic. Lovecraft Middle school is no ordinary school, it's one with monsters as teachers and mutated creatures in its walls. Everything in these stories is incredibly creative and imaginative and combined with Gilman's writing, I found myself highly enjoying the school and its creatures and mysteries. Considering these books are less than 200 pages each, Gilman manages to squeeze in so much adventure and creativity that it makes for an extremely fun and addictive journey for the reader and one that is shockingly difficult to step away from as soon as you begin the books. 

Overall I feel like these books were fantastically executed and were both a fresh breath of air and creativity in regards to what books are circulating recently. These stories are unique, imaginative, exciting, fun and action packed - everything you could want in a book and more! Something else I felt was extremely well done about these books is that the books could be read out of order and they would still be as enjoyable as ever - if you do decide to read these books out of order the only real problem you may have is losing out on character development and also, The Slither Sisters may have a number of references to Professor Gargoyle which may be difficult to understand if you read the books out of order. 

Like I said above, I absolutely loved these books and I absolutely cannot wait to continue this series with the next book, Teacher's Pest! I highly recommend that you pick up this series as soon as you can - these are quick, fun and thrilling reads you don't want to miss out on!

Professor Gargoyle - 5 out of 5 stars
The Slither Sisters - 5 out of 5 stars

(3rd book in the Lovecraft Middle School series - Teacher's Pest - coming May 7th 2013!)

Watch my video review of Professor Gargoyle and The Slither Sisters!