Just Finished…If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay - CoverSeveral friends have recommended If I Stay, by Gayle Forman, to me and it has sat languishing in my bedside table for a while now – this cover is for the version of the book I have and so must have been bought around the time of the film release. I can’t remember now if I bought this copy or if it was given to me to read – I have a feeling it’s the latter, but definitely can’t think who it came from. My author buddy Tony Talbot read and reviewed this on the Aside from Writing blog ages ago, so you can check out his thoughts there (spoiler alert!) if you like (also, it’s evidence of the recommendation!)

My thoughts… 

Before you are 20 pages in to this book, you are shocked into experiencing the same trauma as Mia. There’s so little pre-amble to the crash that it is shocking, even though you know that is what the book centres on before you start. You just don’t want this kind of thing to happen to characters like them – you feel how unfair and sad it is, when this type of tragedy strikes.

I found the comments and interviews (from the film actors) with Gayle Forman really interesting at the end, putting the story into context with her own experience of grief. There are so many facets of grief considered through the story: parental love for a child/younger sibling; romantic loss and that of losing your parents. Mia – sitting outside herself – is a very human, emotive vehicle for considering all these things, whilst reflecting back on the life she has lived and the relationships that have been built around her at that point.

This is, as you would expect, a difficult read in places. I think Gayle does a great job of managing the hard emotional parts of the present, with the backstory of the past. It has the mix in the book, just as you do with grief itself, of being overwhelmed by emotion and loss in one instant, then reminiscing and feeling the warmth of love, family and friends the next. I teared up a few times whilst reading, especially in the sections on Teddy, which Mia felt almost with a parental love for her much younger brother.

I think this is a story that will linger with you for a long time, whether it’s because of shared experiences of grief and how poignantly this is told within the story, or because of the emotion you feel for Mia’s fictional family and those of anyone in real life you experiences these similar freak tragedies.

This is a relatively short book and without formal chapters, you tend to read on through the scenes. Whilst very sad, I enjoyed this book, in so much as it has lingered with me the last few days since finishing and I’d like to read more about the characters I met.


Just Finished…Anchor Leg by Jack Croxall

Anchor Led

The Blurb…

Stranded 750 million miles from Earth. Stranded with a saboteur, stranded with a killer.

Humanity has spilled out into the Solar System, into a succession of giant space stations known as the Relay. Seren Temples is a security apprentice running the Relay’s remote Anchor Leg. When sabotage strands her vessel near another damaged ship, Seren and her team are sent across to investigate. The second ship is a zero-G graveyard. Inside its vast hold, nothing but a single vial of frozen blood.



My Thoughts… This became part of my ‘clear the Kindle challenge’ after I’d downloaded a free copy (I think) ages ago on an Amazon giveaway day. We’ve previously review and featured author Jack Croxall on the blog A-G-E-S ago in 2013, and this is a very different style of book to the historical adventure that Tony read (you can check out our other posts HERE).

Anyway, what about Anchor Leg I (imagine) I hear you cry? Well, how fast did I get into this book? First page and I was transported into the middle of the interview taking place between two of our central characters… I was right there in the room with them, could picture everything and bonded with our lead character, Seren, immediately.

I found the story fast-paced with plenty of mystery and twists. I liked the attention to detail in the crew, apprentices and characters, that felt realistic and sci-if without being OTT, I feel non-sci fi fans (which I’m on the edge of) could read and enjoy this. This is a murder-mystery, conspiracy theory, adventure in space – with the younger characters adding a YA slant to your reading of this, whilst the logical, investigative approach of the lovely Seren makes it feel like a cop-drama in space.

There’s a nice touch of romance in this, that fits with the story as a whole without feeling that it was crow-barred in just to add that element. When you look at it this way, there are elements in this book to appeal to a wide range of readers, and it can neatly nudge you out of your comfort zone if crime, or sci-fi are not really your thing.

This is a great read and I would highly recommend the author based on my reading on Anchor Leg. 5

Just Finished…Scarlet by Marissa Meyer



Fab, fab…fab, fab, fab!


When I read Cinder last year, I really liked the way Meyer blended the sci-fi / futuristic elements of the story within a loose framework of the original fairy tale – rather than sticking too rigidly to it and writing a simplistic re-hash. Looking back now, I think I preferred the second half of Cinder to the first, which is perhaps why I liked book 2 better than the first overall.

I have to say that the cover didn’t grab me in the same way that Cinder did – the cyborg foot in the slipper was what drew me to reading Cinder in the first place – to be honest, if this had been book 1 I’d probably have skipped over this one, as it doesn’t have the same intriguing originality of the Cinder cover. That said – even after the first couple of chapters, I had a feeling this was actually going to be better!

Scarlet is a great character, and splitting the novel between her and Cinder provided a nice variation and created a good pace throughout – I found it difficult to put this down and was always wondering where it was going to go next. Scarlet’s story – once she meets Wolf, street fighter and ex-Wolf gang member – is intriguing; as a character she’s pretty feisty and stubborn, which makes for interesting reading and contrasts Cinder’s gentler personality.

The interplay between Scarlet and Wolf is good – always wondering how much you can trust him and how the ‘Red Riding Hood’ fairy tale piece would come into play. Just like Cinder, the fairytale elements are subtly done and when you pick them out, you may find yourself smiling at them like I did – I loved the chase through the wooden forest – visually you could see it making a great scene in a film of the book.

I think the wider story, beyond the fairytale, comes into play more in this book. A lot of the groundwork from Cinder is now developing into a very full and interesting world. The escalation of the situation with Luna and also the glimpses of their society you get now indicate a much wider piece that is sure to come into play next time..

So…why does it get a 5* review? Well, I struggled to put the book down every time I had to; I would have picked up book 3 as soon I finished this one if I could! And I’m still thinking about the characters now and wondering where everything is going to go next….I can’t believe we have to wait until 2014 to find out!

Just Finished…Angelfall

I thought Angelfall was a really original take on the ‘angels on earth’ theme – I’ve read a few so far (Hush Hush, Forgotten Self) and this definitely leads the pack.Set in a post-apoclyptic landscape, where angels have been the bringers of destruction – as you might expect from their biblical heritage, but which I’ve not seen used particularly in other angel books – Penryn is our feisty female protagonist, fighting to survive. I found her skills and behaviour plausible in the same way I did Katniss in The Hunger Games: her motivation is protecting her family; her skills come from having to survive a difficult environment, before she was plunged into the apocalypse. The relationship she develops with Raffe (an injured angel) is based on mutual need, and had good depth.

There’s plenty of action in the book, nicely tempered with the world building, so that you see how people have changed because of the apocolypse. Questions of humanity are raised throughout and examined well through secondary characters. There are also some pretty gruesome descriptions and troubling images – they fit with the plot and the events at the end of the world, although some readers might have wished for a more ‘fade to black’ approach…particularly in the big climax at the end.

One thing I especially liked was the presentation of the angels as just another species – so you can get agnostic angels!! – rather than fixing them into traditional biblical roles as you might expect. The angel culture and behaviours are also nicely examined and explained to fit with the author’s world.

Overall – this was a great read – it gets five stars because I struggled to put it down (when I had to) and went searching for the next book as soon as I finished (and was disappointed to find that there’s nothing out as yet!). I need to know what happens! Definitely recommended for fans of angel/demon books, as well as post-apocolyptic.

Emily Read…The Perks of Being a Wallflower

 Emily is our Goodreads pal and all-round lovely lady! 🙂 And, as you’ll know from our side-bar, her blog Confessions of a Bookaholic is one of our favourites. Now and again we feature her book reviews on Aside from Writing so you can get to know her too… ‘now’ is one of those days! 🙂 



Cover Rating: 4/5 Stars
Overall Rating: 5/5 Stars


I walk around the school hallways and look at the people. I look at the teachers and wonder why they’re here. Not in a mean way. In a curious way. It’s like looking at all the students and wondering who’s had their heart broken that day… or wondering who did the heart breaking and why.’
Charlie is a freshman. And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it. Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But Charlie can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.




I picked up this book for what you may think is a strange reason. I was looking at a list of banned books online and it annoyed me so much that I picked one at random to read. It happened to be this one and I must say, I’m glad! I adored this book, I really did. It exceeded my expectations. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower is told entirely in letters to an unknown source. There are many speculations about who the letters are to but personally I like not knowing, it adds to the point of the book. In these letters the main character documents a year or so of his life and we get to come along for the ride. Truthfully this book had me on the edge of tears a good many times.

There are not many characters that I disliked in this book because even the annoying ones had such real personalities that it was difficult to hate. The main character, Charlie, I absolutely loved. His voice was so individual and unlike any narration I have read. At the start I thought Charlie’s childish nature was a bit strange for his age but as the book went on I got my suspicions as to why he was like that. He had two close friends though I always got the impression that Charlie was more of a tagalong than a proper friend. Patrick and Sam were his best friends. I really liked them because they were so lifelike as was his sister. The author is gifted with the ability of making believable characters.

Overall, I absolutely loved this book and am considering going back to that banned books list to get more recommendations and be a bit of a rebel. I would recommend this book to everyone even if they’re just reading it because it was banned like I was originally. Charlie’s world was one that I would love to visit again but as this is a standalone I will have to make do with the one book. Although there is a film coming out this year and trust me, I will be first in line to see it.

My favorite quotes:
“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”

“…we accept the love we think we deserve.”  


Want to know more? Check out the links!

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My blog: http://emily-confessionsofabookaholic.blogspot.com/

Emily Read…City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

 Emily is our Goodreads pal and all-round lovely lady! 🙂 And, as you’ll know from our side-bar, her blog Confessions of a Bookaholic is one of our favourites. Throughout August and September, we will be featuring some of her book reviews on Aside from Writing so you can get to know her too!



Cover Rating: 3/5 Stars
Overall Rating: 5/5 Stars

Synopsis: The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She’s training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And – most importantly of all – she can finally call Jace her boyfriend. But nothing comes without a price. Someone is murdering Shadowhunters who used to be in Valentine’s Circle, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second bloody war.When Jace begins to pull away from Clary without explaining why, she is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: She herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace.
Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. The stakes are higher than ever…

Alright I think I can safely say that Cassandra Clare is one of the most amazing authors ever to have walked this Earth – and no I’m not exaggerating. Every one of her books is sheer perfection. Okay I didn’t love the last one all that much but I think that has more to do with the fact I was in a slump than anything else. My only problem is with the synopsis “the stakes are higher than ever”, the saying is so overused. Someone has to be original one day and just say “the stakes are as high as they’re going to get” or “the stakes are as high as in the previous book”. I suppose they’re not as catchy. City Of Fallen Angels I think was so much better than City Of Glass. It is set after the events of the war and everything is slowly going back to normalcy. Until a chain of murders begin to arouse suspicion and Jace begins to separate himself from Clary for no reason. Simon is also having problems of his own, I mean having two girlfriends can be SO annoying sometimes.

Clary isn’t a particularly exciting character but I don’t hate her. She’s normal, which I like even if she can be irritating at times. Jace, I do love him but his self-loathing complex is getting on my nerves. He doesn’t believe he deserves anything including Clary even when he can be with her. I liked Jace originally because he was funny and totally arrogant but he seems to have lost it. I started off hating Simon. He seeing two girls at the same time! But later he did grow on me and about time too! I loved Alec and Magnus as normal though they weren’t in the book all that much. Alec showed his jealous side too which seemed strangely sweet to me. I was very disappointed we didn’t see much of those two; I just love them both.

Overall Cassandra Clare hasn’t tarnished her flawless reputation with this book. It was fast paced and left me yearning for the next book. As always I recommend this book for everyone who has the ability to read. You’d be mad not to try it. The City Of Bones movie is coming out soon so I hope more people will read these books in anticipation for it. I am excited for it but I think they’ve made some questionable casting choices. My hope is that they will grow on me during the film but at the present time I’m not really glad about any of them.

My Favorite Quotes:
“You’re just worried they’ll hire a male instructor and he’ll be hotter than you.”Jace’s eyebrows went up. 
“Hotter than me?”
“It could happen,” Clary said, “You know, theoretically.”
“Theoretically the planet could suddenly crack in half, leaving me on one side and you on the other, forever and tragically parted, but I’m not worried about that either. Some things,” Jace said, with his customary crooked smile, “are just too unlikely to dwell upon.”

“So what was that all about?”
“I think,” Jace said, “that she asked if she could touch my mango.”
“She said that?”
Jace shrugged. “Yeah, then she gave me her number.”

“Hey,” said Jace. who was sitting on an overturned speaker, looking at his cellphone, “do you want to see a photo of Alec and Magnus in Berlin?”
“Not really,” said Simon.
“Magnus is wearing lederhosen.”
“And yet, still no.”


Want to know more? Check out the links!

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My blog: http://emily-confessionsofabookaholic.blogspot.com/

Emily Read…Ill Wind by Rachel Caine

 Emily is our Goodreads pal and all-round lovely lady! 🙂 And, as you’ll know from our side-bar, her blog Confessions of a Bookaholic is one of our favourites. Throughout August and September, we will be featuring some of her book reviews on Aside from Writing so you can get to know her too!


Overall Rating: 4/5

I’ve read two books in one day, I think that may be a record! Anyway on with the review. I picked up Ill Wind thinking it was a Young Adult book because the author wrote my beloved Morganville series. I was mistaken. I really need to start checking books out, I think this has been the third I’ve picked up and found it was adult. I didn’t mind too much though.
Ill wind is about Jo Baldwin, she’s a Weather Warden… on the run. A Weather Warden’s job is to keep people by delivering the world of dangerous weather but that’s easier said than done. Joanne is searching for Lewis, the only person she knows that can help her avoid the certain death that is approaching. One problem, he’s also on the run after having stolen three Djinn’s. So not only is he on the run but he is the most wanted man in the world – things couldn’t get much better for Joanna – but if she’s going to survive then she has to find Lewis. And fast.

“Joanne Baldwin is a Weather Warden. Usually, all it takes is a wave of her hand to tame the most violent weather. But now, she’s trying to outrun another kind of storm: accusations of corruption and murder. So, she’s resorting to the very human tactic of running for her life…  Her only hope is Lewis, the most powerful warden known. Unfortunately, he’s stolen not one but three bottles of Djinn-making him the most wanted man on earth. Still, she’s racing hard to find him-before the bad weather closes in fast…”

I enjoyed this book mostly because I love Rachel Caine’s writing style, I don’t know what it is but I always love anything written by her. This was a good book, not as good as Morganville, but good. As it’s the first book I didn’t really get to know any of the characters well but I quite liked Jo and David. Lewis, to say he’s the main part of the book, is hardly in it so I don’t know how I feel about him just yet. Some parts of Ill Wind confused me slightly but by the end I got it. I am really looking forward to book two. I wouldn’t reccomend this to younger readers but its a good read. I would give it 4/5 stars.

My Favorite Quote
“People talk about nature as a mother, but to me she’s always been Medea, ready and willing to slaughter her children.”  


Want to know more? Check out the links!

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My blog: http://emily-confessionsofabookaholic.blogspot.com/

Emily Read…Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

 Emily is our Goodreads pal and all-round lovely lady! 🙂 And, as you’ll know from our side-bar, her blog Confessions of a Bookaholic is one of our favourites. Throughout August and September, we will be featuring some of her book reviews on Aside from Writing so you can get to know her too!


Cover Rating: 3/5   Overall Rating: 5/5

Synopsis: “Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate and crush – who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.
Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and learns the truth about himself-a truth he never wanted to face. Thirteen Reasons Why is the gripping, addictive international bestseller that has changed lives the
world over. It’s an unrelenting modern classic.”

The Review

WOW! I have no idea why I picked this up, I saw the synopsis and thought that looks really depressing. My next thought? I have to read it! I wasn’t expecting to like it I just had the urge to read it. Well I started it at 12 am thinking that I would just read a few pages. I couldn’t stop though until I had finished it. At 4am. Even after that I was kept up thinking about it. The whole book was so
real. At first I was thinking why did they keep passing on the tapes knowing all their secrets were being revealed to the other twelve people but then I realized they were doing it out of fear. They knew what would happen if they didn’t. I really liked Clay and personally I don’t think he deserved to be on the tapes.

I got very annoyed with myself halfway through because I couldn’t help hating Hannah. No this time it’s not just for the sake of it. Hannah making these tapes be passed around was cruel, she was blaming her death on these people who would have to live with it for the rest of their lives. Some of them may have deserved it but not all of them. Some of the people on the tapes had been trying to help her but she had taken the help the wrong way. Those kind people are given this guilt to carry. I hated myself for it but I began to think Hannah was being very selfish in what she did but if you think about it she needed her story told and this was the only way she could think of to do it. Apparently there is going to be a film of this book staring Selena Gomez, personally I probably wont go to see it – I don’t like seeing books I love Disney-fied.  I would recommend this book to people who like a serious book that will play on their minds long after being read. I would give this book 5/5 stars.

My Favorite Quote
“You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life
but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not
messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and
selective. When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with
their entire life. Everything. . . affects everything.” 


Want to know more? Check out the links!

Read Emily’s interview with us here!

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My blog: http://emily-confessionsofabookaholic.blogspot.com/

The Hunger Games…Bonnie’s Review

Rating: 5*

What to say about The Hunger Games that’s not already been said…well obviously from my rating I loved this book: I couldn’t really put it down, got into the characters and story; it ticked a lot of boxes for me. Now I see what all the fuss is about!

Since finishing this I’ve been trying to think of anything I don’t like…and there’s nothing. Some characters might have done things I didn’t want them to do – but the actions fit with their personalities and so I have to accept maybe I’m just more of a romantic than I thought. Plus it meant I needed to read the other books – like now! 🙂

The plot, action, character development were all great – I guessed some twists but still wanted to read them happen which tells me this is a good book. I liked the parallel drawn with modern obsessions with reality tv with no real consideration given to young people being put before cameras and being ripped apart (figuratively) by judges. The society of haves and have-nots and the great chasms between them.

The first chapter or so it took a little getting used to the first person, present tense narration, but once over that it really started to flow.

(On the wider series): Throughout the trilogy I liked the references/comparisons (obvious and subtle) to the Roman Empire…you pick these up in the first book easily: arenas, tributes, bloodthirsty games to keep districts in line, fighting with tridents and nets… It’s also reflected in the description of the Panem world: each district supplies a particular product or commodity similar to the provinces of the Roman empire, for example, where Egypt was the “breadbasket of Rome”. As the books progress you see elements of the excesses of Roman society in the Capitol inhabitants, such as the feasting/vomiting piece. (According to Seneca, the Romans vomited so they could eat and they ate so they could vomit – who said food issues are a new problem!) I think Collins does a good job of blending these aspects of the Roman empire into The Hunger Games and for me it was a nice basis for the ‘world building’ of Panem – which she acknowledges in Mockingjay with the “Panem et Circenses” quote, which was originally said about Rome and referred to a government who appeased discontent in their citizens through simple, gratuitous recreation and entertainments…wonder what parallels there are to see in that for people in 2012? 🙂

So…overall a really good quality YA book – I didn’t want to put it down. I don’t do 5 star ratings often, but this definitely gets it.