Thursday, 1 August 2013


Soaking up some of the unusually hot British sunshine with a few cracking songs...

1. Kodaline - Love like this
2. Rolling Stones - Ruby Tuesday
3. Hudson Taylor - Battles
4. Jake Bugg - Two Fingers
5. Tom Odell - Another Love
6. Half Moon Run - Call me in the Afternoon
7. Arctic Monkeys - Do I Wanna Know?
8. Brisa Roche - Whistle
9. Imagine Dragons - It's Time
10. Train - Drops of Jupiter

Tom Chesshyre - 'A Tourist in the Arab Spring'

In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, war reporters rushed to publish accounts of the uprising. Tom Chesshyre took a different approach - he jumped on a plane and became the first to return to the region as a tourist. The result is the fascinating, street-level tale of a journey through lands fresh from revolution – Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. Chesshyre heads for tourist sites that few have seen in recent years, as well as new 'attractions' like Gaddafi's bombed-out bunker in Tripoli. In a book both touching and humorous, he describes being abducted in Libya, listening to the sound of Kalashnikovs at night and talking to ordinary people struggling to get by.  On the second anniversary of the Arab Spring, this is the ideal time for this book. - Summary from

Tom Chesshyre's adventure is one both captivating politically, and creatively. His writing style is so easy to immerse yourself in; informative, yet descriptive. His journey is, in its own right, something to envy. Yet Chesshyre successfully takes a region of the world that we became familiar with largely through constant news and social media coverage of political uprisings and military revolution, and he makes it more human, and more 'real'. Tempting as it may be to hold an image of a constant war zone full of revolutionary fruit-sellers and minute-to-minute political movements, it soon becomes apparent throughout Chesshyre's journey that this region is, by and large, very quiet. Ghosts of society and bustling civility still cling to places, but the majority of people are evidently struggling to get by daily and - perhaps in stark contrast to our own perceptions - most people in these countries have long-since come to terms with the fact that those explosive months of uprising really did very little for the majority. What may seem like an abstract week, month or year of revolution or recovery to us is an hour-by-hour existence and livelihood for the people of these countries that Chesshyre visited - Tunisia, Libya and Egypt.

The writing comes to life through discussions and impromptu acquaintances with locals - smugglers, soldiers, shop owners - who overcome the obvious bewilderment of seeing a white man in a KIA travelling their towns and villages, and open up to talk about life.
Chesshyre writes an honest and absorbing account which tries, mostly successfully, to avoid any political bias. Instead, he explains what he sees, hears, smells, eats and says - leaving us with a clear and realistic image of these countries that we must place in the absence of our own first-hand experience.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Rick Yancey - 'The 5th Wave'

A fter the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

The 5th Wave. This book blew me away entirely. Other's criticism of the book largely focuses on the small-scale (really?!?!) of the Invasion and the lack of true first-contact. I could not disagree more, I think Yancey absolutely mastered the show-don't-tell rule. As a teenager on the run, doing everything possible to learn and survive but not be seen, I think this book was realistic to an eerie and disconcerting extent. I didn't sleep entirely peacefully after reading this book - the mark of a true success, I can tell you.
Yancey's characters were real and dynamic but not angsty. Emotions were real and logical and carried the faint aroma of detachment which would undoubtedly exist in such a situation; trivial matters are still at the forefront of the protagonists mind because, well, they would be. As her survival mission goes, there is a fair amount of hiding and down-time for her, and her mind logically strays back to memories. These memories form a focal part of the narration and shape the book and the depth of Cassie's psyche. They are essential to understanding what she has been through to get to this point and what her future holds.
The dystopian-esque future masterfully combines some of the more brutal aspects of history and some of the wildest speculations of a science-fiction future. The crucial message that came across for me, however, was not merely the fear and loathing that would accompany an invasion like that in the book, but how inextricably these evils and this colonisation was linked to human history. Colonial history. Totalitarian history. Genocide.
This book can by no means be accused of being two-dimensional. Everything screamed depth and involvement to me and I, for one, am counting down the seconds until Yancey gives us the second instalment of Cassie, Ben and Evan's story. Let's just hope the aliens don't arrive and take over before next May...

Friday, 12 April 2013

J.A.Redmerski - 'The Edge of Never'

Twenty-year-old Camryn Bennett thought she knew exactly where her life was going. But after a wild night at the hottest club in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, she shocks everyone-including herself-when she decides to leave the only life she's ever known and set out on her own. Grabbing her purse and her cell phone, Camryn boards a Greyhound bus ready to find herself. Instead, she finds Andrew Parrish.

Sexy and exciting, Andrew lives life like there is no tomorrow. He persuades Camryn to do things she never thought she would and shows her how to give in to her deepest, most forbidden desires. Soon he becomes the center of her daring new life, pulling love and lust and emotion out of her in ways she never imagined possible. But there is more to Andrew than Camryn realizes. Will his secret push them inseparably together-or destroy them forever?

This book just won’t leave me alone! I finished ‘Edge of Never’ a few days ago, and I just keep wanting to go back to re-read it all again. Maybe it’s just a case of exactly the right story at exactly the right time for me, but I really think there is something special about this book.
Stylistically, I really enjoyed the writing. It wasn’t cocky or too punny, but still funny and really enjoyable. Perhaps it’s because I wasn’t looking for it, but I didn’t foresee how the book was going to end at all. Fuelled by my surprise for the turn the story took, I can only summarise this book to have been ‘life affirming’ in many ways.
The characters were really likeable; I got completely sucked into Camryn and Andrew’s journey and felt like I was taking it with them. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to get on a long-haul bus journey against without feeling sorely disappointed now without some hunk with loud music sitting behind me.
The reader gets to know Camryn and Andrew in turn as they get to know each other; little trickles of memories and information are filtered throughout their conversations and memories, contributing to the eventual bigger picture. The book definitely got more fast-paced as I read on, but I actually really loved the pacing throughout. The slightly more monotonous tone of Cam’s life at the beginning and the first day or two of the bus journey was a really important element to understanding how her life picked up its own pace when she met Andrew – it made the whole experience feel so much more real, in my opinion.
The pacing was supported by a steady introduction of each of the new places they stop along the way, which are vividly portrayed (take me back to New Orleans!), and you could really feel their road trip right from the tension, to the excitement, the heat, the scenery and even down to the music playing. The depth of Andrew and Cam’s relationship was further supported by the dual-perspective writing. I’m not always the biggest fan of multiple narrators, but this worked perfectly. Andrew’s first narration came in late enough for me to feel like I’d got to know Cam and was ready to see whether Andrew felt the same. The two characters worked SO well together, it wasn’t one of those gorgeous-guy-awkward-girl type scenarios; I could completely understand why they were falling for each other. Plus their journey and their relationship is not only romantic and sweet, but also FUN. It’s sometimes kind of tricky to get that balance.
This is the new adult genre at its absolute best, and I can’t say more than to highly, highly recommend this read – you will feel just as uplifted and liberated as I do right now.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Colleen Hoover - 'Hopeless'

Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…

That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.

Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever.
Hopeless was anything but. I’ve read quite a lot of the damaged-but-surviving type YA novels lately, so was a bit dubious about starting another. But I’d heard such wonderful things about Colleen Hoover and this book, that I couldn’t resist. So, so glad I didn’t resist. The story really stuck with me and the characters are still lingering around in my head. My only criticism of the characters is that, whilst I loved Six and thought she was a really interesting character, I didn’t really get the point of her – I kept expecting her to re-enter the story somehow, but she never did... (could this perhaps indicate a sequel? Oh I hope so.)
Nonetheless, Holder was totally delicious and Sky had real depth to her thoroughly likable character. This was not your black-and-white romance novel. The twist in the plot line – which, of course, I won’t reveal! – really gripped me. I was up reading into the early hours of the morning and kind of got the creeps as the real story started to become apparent. But it took a long time before it became entirely revealed – a great credit to Colleen Hoover. I’m not even ashamed to admit I gasped out loud at a couple of points....
The suspense kept us guessing and discovering the truth about Sky, and indeed about Holder, as Sky discovered it herself. Not having any benefit of foresight or any ulterior voices in the book made it so much easier to identify with Sky and really feel what she was going through. This, in itself, made me really fall for this book.
On top of that, Holder is just gorgeous – he’s up and he’s down, he’s argumentative, rude and overly familiar at times, but as he mellows, he becomes lovable and pretty much the ideal book boyfriend. Sky can also be difficult, she’s stubborn and strong-willed, but she’s also really strong and feisty and in many ways very easy to identify with. She’s pretty much a bulls-eye for a literary heroine.

This book is pretty emotionally-loaded, but I defy someone to pick this book up and find it within themselves to put it back down before finishing it.
I live this book. ;)

Wednesday, 6 March 2013


After a long absence, back with the playlist and a review or two that I simply could not wait any longer to post...

1. Bastille - Pompeii
2. Sister Hazel - Firefly
3. Florence and the Machine - My boy builds coffins
4. Laura Mvula - Green Garden
5. Taylor Swift - 22 (I know, i know - sorry!)
6. Gabrielle Aplin - Please don't say you love me
7. Matt Corby - Brother
8. Ron Pope - One grain of Sand
9. Fleetwood Mac - Golddust woman
10. Alt-J - Something good

Thursday, 28 February 2013

J. Lynn - 'Wait for You'

Some things are worth waiting for…Traveling thousands of miles from home to enter college is the only way nineteen-year-old Avery Morgansten can escape what happened at the Halloween party five years ago—an event that forever changed her life. All she needs to do is make it to her classes on time, make sure the bracelet on her left wrist stays in place, not draw any attention to herself, and maybe—please God—make a few friends, because surely that would be a nice change of pace. The one thing she didn’t need and never planned on was capturing the attention of the one guy who could shatter the precarious future she’s building for herself.
Some things are worth experiencing…Cameron Hamilton is six feet and three inches of swoon-worthy hotness, complete with a pair of striking blue eyes and a remarkable ability to make her want things she believed were irrevocably stolen from her. She knows she needs to stay away from him, but Cam is freaking everywhere, with his charm, his witty banter, and that damn dimple that’s just so… so lickable. Getting involved with him is dangerous, but when ignoring the simmering tension that sparks whenever they are around each other becomes impossible, he brings out a side of her she never knew existed.

Some things should never be kept quiet…But when Avery starts receiving threatening emails and phone calls forcing her to face a past she wants silenced, she has no other choice but to acknowledge that someone is refusing to allow her to let go of that night when everything changed. When the devastating truth comes out, will she resurface this time with one less scar? And can Cam be there to help her or will he be dragged down with her?

And some things are worth fighting for…


I’m a big fan of J. Lynn’s (a.k.a. Jennifer Armentrout). Big, big love for the Lux and Covenant series. I was slightly dubious whether I’d enjoy ‘Wait for You' quite as much with the absence of the kick-ass action and the yummy supernatural man-candy. I am thrilled to say I fell just as head-over-heels in love – if not even more - with Avery and Cam in ‘Wait for You’. I sometimes measure how good a book is by how much of a book-hangover I get (that’s to say, when I end up reading into the wee hours of the morning, and skip meals and showers to finish it) – ‘Wait for You’ gave me one hell of a book hangover.  Like a week-long-bender-in-Vegas type hangover. I could not put it down! Cam is just about the most adorable and engaging leading male I’ve come across, I think. Avery is real and flawed and awkward but still cool and totally deserving of Cam, who proved entirely worthy of her. They both had pasts, but the whole book fell into a real sense of hope and optimism for both characters who were, together, creating a new and exciting present for themselves; absorbing and learning from their pasts and moving on together. I completely lost myself in Avery’s apartment, classes, campus, friends – was really able to feel everything she felt. That proved particularly powerful at points due to the nature of Avery’s past – J. Lynn does not shy away from dealing with an uncomfortable subject matter, which made the book so much more genuine. Fortunately for us, she also doesn’t shy away from the one-on-one action between Cam and Avery...
On top of the thoroughly engrossing plot lines and characters (I LOVED the friendships, but Raphael stole the show for me), J. Lynn’s writing is so enjoyable. So genuinely amusing, with such a real voice, it was truly such a pleasure to read. I can’t work out whether this is open to a sequel or not – perhaps exploring the implications of Blaine’s fate? But the door is definitely not closed to an, err, ‘Still Waiting for You’ sequel? (OK, I’ll leave the titling up to J. Lynn...)