Friday, February 27, 2015

The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she's engaged to the prince, Twylla isn't exactly a member of the court. She's the executioner. 
As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she's taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla's fatal touch, avoids her company. But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he's able to look past Twylla's executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla's been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen. However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla's problems. 
The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?

I received this book from the publishers for an open and honest review.

Star Rating

This debut novel by Melinda Salisbury is masterfully written and brings a fresh twist to YA fantasy fiction. I had not read anything like this before and was completely compelled from beginning to end. Many of those who read stories do so in order to escape the realities of the real world. This is certainly one of those stories and Melinda Salisbury successfully transports the reader into the dark, yet compelling, world of her imagination. 

The Sin Eater's Daughter tells the story of Twylla, a girl who is led to believe she is a Goddess embodied and has the power to poison those in the Kingdom with one touch. Betrothed to the prince, she leaves her family behind to live in the royal castle alongside the Queen and her beloved son, Merek. The Queen is desperate to continue the royal bloodline and to strike down anyone who threatens her Kingdom, Lormere. In order to keep Twylla safe, the Queen hires a guard, Lief, from an opposing kingdom who's arrival changes everything! Soon, Twylla begins to fall in love with Lief and tries her best to fight it. Plunged into a frenzy of emotions, Twylla has some important decisions to make. What is she willing to do to save her kingdom? Who will she choose?

Twylla is an extremely likeable protagonist; her dilemmas became my dilemmas and I was desperate for this doomed young woman to be happy. The extent of the Queen's wickedness was revealed drip by drip throughout the story and led to one of the most shocking endings I have read in a while! The last few chapters of this magnificent story are filled with betrayal, heartbreak and treachery. The ending leads on brilliantly to a sequel and I cannot wait to read it.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Lennie Walker, seventeen, Wuthering Heights obsessed, clarinet player, band geek. Also hopeless romantic, prone to scattering poems all over town and as of four weeks ago, sisterless...

A heart-breaking, heart-lifting, utterly compelling and completely unforgettable novel about first love and first loss.

I received this book from the publishers for an open and honest review. 

Star Rating

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson is a beautifully written book which will particularly appeal to fans of John Green. It tells the story of Lennie Walker, a teenage girl, who struggles to deal with the recent death of her sister, Bailey. The reader is taken on a journey of love, loss and grief as Lennie battles with the emotions inside her. Jandy Nelson explores the complexities of loss through Lennie's relationships after Bailey's sudden death. She meets, and falls head over heels for a boy in her band class but how can she be feeling love when she is supposed to be grieving? This question weaves itself throughout many of Lennie's erratic actions and decisions. Although I didn't agree with many of Lennie's choices throughout the book, I completely understood them. 

One of the most compelling parts of this book are the poems Lennie leaves scattered around as she struggles to deal with the loss of her sister. The author, Jandy Nelson, has an extraordinary way with words and, before writing this book, had only ever written poetry. The poems appear on different surfaces (music note paper, trees, walls, paper cups) at the beginning of every chapter and are successful in connecting emotionally with the reader.

'Bailey grabs my hand and pulls me out the window into the sky, pulls music out of my pockets. "It's time you learned to fly," she says, and vanishes.' (Found on a lollipop wrapper on the trail to the Rain River.)

With Jandy Nelson's new book 'I'll Give You the Sun' now available to buy in stores, Walker books kindly asked me to take part in their Jandy Nelson promotion. I recently received not one but THIRTY-TWO copies of this amazing book to 'drop' around London. This is easier said than done as I learned this weekend. Yesterday I went for lunch in London with my sister and thought I would take six copies of The Sky Is Everywhere to drop around town. Fast forward three hours and I was STILL lugging them around in my handbag. Why? I hear you ask. Well, London folk can, at times, be too neighborly; particularly when they are chasing after you saying "Madam, you've forgotten your book!" I didn't have the heart to tell people I meant to leave them there so with a smile and a thank you, back into the handbag they went. However,  I did eventually manage to subtly leave five copies in and around central London. So if you find one of my books (notes tucked inside) please drop me a line on Twitter. I would love to know where they end up!  

'Years ago, I was crashed in Gram's garden and Big asked me what I was doing. I  told him I was looking up at the sky. He said, "That's a misconception, Lennie the sky is everywhere, it begins at your feet."

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Sunday, February 1, 2015

January Wrap Up

With one of my New Year's Resolutions being to make more time for reading/writing I have decided to post a monthly wrap up each month. Many other bloggers put me to shame by reading 20+ books each month but, being a full time teacher, I unfortunately do not have time for this. 

However, I am proud of my own personal achievement of reading five books this month. Who knows, maybe in February (with half term on the horizon) I can increase this to ten. I also attended Scholastic's YA and Children's Book Blogger Feasts this month and have, consequently, added even more amazing books to my TBR. 

What I Read This Month


Just In Case by Meg Rosoff - Review Here


Trouble by Non Pratt - Review Here

The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire - Review Here

 I received 'Jedi Academy' at the Scholastic Blogger Event and picked it up one evening for a quick, easy read. Having never seen any of the Star Wars films (shock horror) I was able to follow the plot with relative ease. 
Jedi Academy is the tale of Roan, a young boy who, more than anything, wishes to follow in his father's footsteps and earn a place at Pilot School. Unfortunately, this wish does not come true and Roan fears he is doomed to attend 'Plant School' until, one day, he receives a letter detailing his acceptance into Jedi Academy. At Jedi Academy, Roan learns how to use 'the force' and enters into a light saber tournament. 
This book has a quirky, cool layout involving comic strips, posters, emails, report cards and pages from Roan's exercise books. The pages include scribbles, drawings and crossings out which all help to make the reader feel that it is a young child directly telling his story. I read this book in one sitting and thoroughly enjoyed the ride through Star Wars heaven. 

February TBR

Having, thankfully, discovered Jeff Lemire this month I asked my sister (who is an avid comic fan) if she had any of his other work. One day later this arrived at my door and I couldn't be more excited to dive right in. 


My January into February read will continue to be 'The Bell Between Worlds' by Ian Johnstone. I am not really a lover of fantasy novels, however I am persevering with this one as it has been compared to the likes of J.K Rowling's Harry Potter. Comment below if you have started 'The Mirror Chronicles Series' and let me know your thoughts. 

I also MUST read 'The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury' this month as I am hearing great things and the cover is to die for! I was lucky enough to meet Melinda at a blogger event and enjoyed hearing the inspiration behind her novel (plus a recount of her 'Dino Snores' stay at The Natural History Museum).

There are a few books that have been on my TBR for a long time and, fingers crossed, February is the month to tick them off. These include...

The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire

As an underwater welder on an oilrig off the coast of Nova Scotia, Jack Jospeh is used to the immense pressures of deep-sea work. Nothing, however could prepare him for the pressures of impending fatherhood. As Jack dives deeper and deeper, he seems to pull further and further away from his young wife and their unborn son. Then one night, deep in the icy solitude of the ocean floor, something unexplainable happens. Jack has a mysterious and supernatural encounter that will change the course of his life forever.

Star Rating 

I have only recently gotten into graphic novels having thoroughly enjoyed 'Seconds' by Bryan Lee O'Malley and the infamous 'Saga' series. Last week I popped down to my favourite Geeks Emporium 'Forbidden Planet' on Shaftesbury Avenue and picked up this copy of 'The Underwater Welder' by Jeff Lemire. Being a newbie to graphic novels, I had not heard of this author (philistine I hear you say) and was, therefore, initially drawn in by the cover. The premise of this story sounded very interesting and I am definitely more of an indie comic lover than a superhero lover. 

In short, this graphic novel was everything I hoped for and more. The plot was mesmerising and will stay with me long after finishing. Jack, an underwater welder on an oilrig, lives with his 8 months pregnant wife, Suzie. At the beginning of the story we hear Suzie begging Jack to stay and not attend another two week work trip. Jack is obsessed with work (we later realise to fill his mind with activity so as not to dwell on the death of his father all those years ago). Whilst underwater, Jack starts to hear voices and whisperings linked to a pocket watch his father gave him before he died. It is from this moment onwards that Jack's state of mind starts to take a dip. Whose are the voices and what do they want with him? What really happened to his father that Halloween eve? As Jack falls deeper into despair, he, unwillingly, distances himself from his pregnant wife. Trapped in memories of the past, Jack sets out to discover the truth. 

Jeff Lemire's skill as an author/illustrator lies in his use of flashbacks between past and present. Towards the end of the story, Jack begins to visit scenes from his past and speaks to his former self to find out the truth behind his father's untimely death. This gives the novel a brilliant 'film-like' quality as the shocking past is revealed to the reader at the same time it is to Jack. 

The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire addresses some dark themes such as divorce, betrayal, alcoholism and death. Although the illustrations weren't the best I've seen, the scratchy, loose element really added to the haunting undertones of the story and fitted the characters well. Lemire included some amazing double page spreads that work so well in graphic novels as a reminder to the reader that stories can be told just as well without words. Along with the dark, poignant themes, Lemire has woven in moments of hope, longing and love and, as stated in the blurb, 'there is nothing more wondrous than the human heart.'

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