March 2015 Reads – the text version.

Before I moved down to London I made sure I recorded my vlog for my March 2015 Reads. I knew I wouldn’t have time to edit and upload it, but as long as I had the data I could do that once I was moved. Unfortunately disaster struck that raw data, I managed to corrupt it beyond the point of retrieval so unfortunately there will be no March 2015 vlog. I didn’t want the 6 books I read in March to miss their time to shine however, so here’s a text based version of my thoughts on the books.

The Sleepover Club: Summer Secrets by Angie Bates.Harper Collins.
The first book I read in March was a really sweet middle grade read. I did a full review of it for Middle Grade Strikes Back, you can read that review here.

Elspeth Hart and the School for Show Offs by Sarah Forbes. Stripes Publishing.
This was another great middle grade read, it doesn’t come out until 4th May though so I’m not saying much about it. I’m going to be reviewing it in full for Middle Grade Strikes Back and hosting Sarah on her blog tour so there’s lots to come for this book!

Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein. Electric Monkey.
I was really keen to read this book, I really enjoyed the author’s debut novel Code Name Verity and thought the synopsis for this sounded great. It was a really interesting book, I think it’s a very good book but I found I didn’t love it. I’m not sure if this was to do with the really high expectations I had or whether it was something else. I didn’t connect entirely with the two main characters, again something that was very different when I read Code Name Verity.

What I did really like about this book was the historical setting, inter-war Ethiopia. I knew a little of this history as I studied it at school but I’d never seen it featured in a novel, and seeing Mussolini’s invasion through the eyes of teenagers was a bold, effective reading experience. Just as I’d expected Wein doesn’t shrink away from the horrors of this time, I actually found myself stepping away from the book a couple of times for a breather.

Overall as I say, a very good book.

A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale. Headline.
I again came to this book with high expectations having read a previous book by the author, Notes From An Exhibition. This book completely lived up to my expectations, I was quickly swept up in the story and found myself transported to its setting – both in terms of time and geography. Before reading this book I didn’t know anything about the way the British went to Canada and began farming its prairies, this book taught me a lot and left me with a lot to think about past actions. That’s only one element of the story though, the main character Harry is first introduced as an inpatient of a mental health institution and the book then skips between this time and Harry’s past as we begin to build a picture of this man and how life’s twists and turns have brought him to the point at which we meet him. This plotline is skillfully handled, the jumps in time are seamless and never jar. There are elements of this book I wasn’t expecting based on the blurb (though in hindsight they’re alluded to) and these added a real depth to the story.

I really enjoyed this book, I realise there are other books by this author that I haven’t read – I now feel encouraged to carry on working my way through his other works.

Jessica’s Ghost by Andrew Norris. David Fickling Books.
Francis has never had a friend like Jessica before. She’s the first person he’s ever met who can make him feel completely himself. Jessica has never had a friend like Francis before. Not just because he’s someone to laugh with every day – but because he’s the first person who has ever been able to see her…

This is a book about identity and belonging, about understanding your place in the world and the people around you. It deftly handles big issues; bullying, loneliness and isolation, mental health difficulties and suicide – it explores them with care, reassuring the reader all the way. I’m sure many young readers will identify with the things they read in this book, whether they affect them themselves or someone in their life.

The book has a real warmth to it, and a real sense of hope. It made me shed a tear or two as I read, when I put the book down having finished reading it I felt really glad I’d had the opportunity to do so.

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli.
This book is another contender for my end of year best books list, I loved it so much that when I finished reading I was tempted to go back to the start and read it all over again (an idea I must admit that had been put in my head by George Lester who actually did do it – you cans see his review here). This book is sweet and warm and funny and emotional and thought-provoking… it’s been nearly a month since I read it and I’m still thinking about it and still not really able to get down coherently why I loved it so much.

The two main characters, Simon and Blue have been emailing for some time but other than knowing they’re both at the same high school they don’t know who the other is – I must admit I did guess Blue’s identity but was so thrilled to keep reading and discover that I was right that I didn’t mind working it out at all. The slow burn of their relationship, and their own understanding of themselves is just wonderful and so well done.

In short this book is brilliant and everyone should read it!


So there we have it, quick thoughts about the books I read in March. I’m not entirely sure what’s going to happen about my April Reads round up. I’d like to get straight back to the vlogs but I have a few logistics to work out first. I shall do my very best though to have something up early in May.

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It all starts here.

I moved to London on Saturday. I started a new job today. The last five weeks have been spent getting everything ready for both of these things to happen (hence the minimal blogging activity) and if I’m being entirely honest I’m only just started to take on board the fact that all this is really happening.

I’d been trying to find work and move to London for ages. No matter how many application forms I sent off I still felt like I was making no progress, and whilst I remained as positive as I could to anyone who asked how things were going deep down I increasingly began to believe it was never going to happen. There was something different about this application though, the minute I hit submit something felt different and it all went from there.

In the five weeks between being offered the job and starting it I’ve had to find somewhere to live (the hardest part of this entire process in the end) and pack up at least the essential parts of my life. The excitement of all of it has been balanced by nerves and apprehension, I’m still at that stage of cycling between thinking this is finally my time and wondering what on earth I’ve done.

It was only this evening as I emailed a friend that I realised that only 3 days ago I was living at home in all its familiarity. It’s okay that everything feels big and new and sometimes scary – it is. Bit by bit though the unfamiliar is going to be familiar, newness will make way for routine, and I’m going to find my own path. When I think about it that way the excitement takes over again, and so it should!

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February 2015 Reads.

Apologies for the tardiness of this, but yesterday I finally filmed my February 2015 Reads vlog. I explain in it that the beginning of March was incredibly busy for me (by the 10th March I’d slept at least one night in 4 different towns and cities) and then my household was hit by an attack of germs that would have meant me trying to vlog with barely any voice.

Better late than never, here’s my run down of the books I read in February:

The books, in order of reading, are:

  • No True Echo by Gareth P. Jones. Hot Key Books.
  • Captive by A.J. Grainger. Simon & Schuster UK.
  • Marly’s Ghost by David Levithan. Electric Monkey.
  • All Balls and Glitter: My Life by Craig Revel Horwood. Michael O’Mara Books.
  • Worry Magic by Dawn McNiff. Hot Key Books.
  • Three Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell. Headline.
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. Titan Books.

There are still lots of things I want to improve on in these videos, I am pleased however that I managed to discuss 7 books in less time than it took me to introduce myself and talk about 3 books in my last effort! Just.

My copies of No True Echo, Captive, Marly’s Ghost, Worry Magic, Three Amazing Things About You and A Darker Shade of Magic were provided by the publisher for review consideration. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Middle Grade Strikes Back review.

Quick post to say that my next review for Middle Grade Strikes Back is live today, you can find it here.


It’s a charming contemporary story about Courtney, a girl who worries all of the time. Why not head over to find out what I thought about it?

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A Reprint and a Blog Award.

After my review of No True Echo went live on Middle Grade Strikes Back I received an email from the editor-in-chief of Middle Shelf Magazine, a bimonthly digital magazine that celebrates Middle Grade books. She asked permission to reprint my review in the March / April magazine which I’ve granted. They reprint 2 blog reviews in each issue, these blogs along with a handful of others are awarded their Middle Grade Best of the Blogs award, so both Juniper’s Jungle and Middle Grade Strikes Back are recipients.

Best Blogs Badge 2015 (1)

My badge is now displayed across in the sidebar – it’s the first time I’ve had anything like this to display!

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Richard Armitage Narrates Love Poems.

I had an email this morning from Felicity at Audible to tell me about their free download for Valentine’s Day. As soon as I started to read the email I knew I had to blog about it – I could instantly think of people who were going to be very interested in it.

The download in question is a collection of love poems narrated by Richard Armitage.

The collection includes poems written by William Shakespeare, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Edgar Allen Poe amongst others. I personally love Richard Armitage’s voice so the idea of him reading aloud these beautiful poems is a welcome one!

This video features the man himself talking about the collection and sharing some of his own feelings about poetry – it’s well worth the 3 minutes of your time it’ll take to watch!

If this has persuaded you to give this collection a listen you can download it here.




This post is not sponsored, I simply love the sound of this and want to spread the love!

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First Middle Grade Strikes Back Post.

Today I have written my first post for Middle Grade Strikes Back – a review of No True Echo by Gareth P. Jones. I’d love it if you popped over there and had a read, while you’re there why not have a look at some of the other excellent posts that have already been written?

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