Features | Reading Slumps

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Reading slumps are a common occurrence with most readers. At times, you won't want to read your books, and even though they're piling up you'll put them off because you're just not in the mood to read. Possibly one of the worst feelings as a reader is when you know that a slump is coming, but you've got plenty of books to be reading.

It's YALC this weekend, and I'm only just coming out of a, relatively small, reading slump. Whilst it was only a small one, because of YALC it was the time where it really wasn't welcome, less welcome than it usually is!

As I said, most readers probably have a reading slump and perhaps far too often too. I've learnt a few things about reading slumps, so I thought for today's post I would give you a few things I've learnt with regards to reading slumps, and possibly even how to get through one.


  1. Take a break. Don't force yourself to read a book, because you're probably just going to end up hating the book, even if the book is actually really, really good. Put the book down, or push the books aside, and do something different for a while. Even if it isn't for a particularly long time, just give yourself a break from the books. 
  2. Find a book that you know you're going to enjoy or you're excited about reading. There might be one book on your TBR pile that you're slightly more excited to read than the other one. Once you've taken a break from the books, why not try reading this one first? That way, you'll be reading a book you're really enjoying. This helps me a lot; I've read a few books this week that I've been particularly excited about!
  3. Remember, reading shouldn't be a chore. A lot of people now have blogs or places they review books for. This is all really great, but at the same time books are intended for your own enjoyment. If at any point they begin to feel like a chore, refer to tip 1!
  4. Reading slumps pass, but don't be discouraged. If you're like me, your TBR pile is pretty high. If you're in a reading slump, it's easy to feel slightly overwhelmed by the prospect of all these books. Usually the slumps pass, and although it's difficult to say how long it will take for the slump to pass, don't feel discouraged or down on yourself for not reading your books. They'll be there waiting for you once the slump has passed.
I hope if you are at YALC this weekend (today is the final day!) you are having a good time and thanks for reading! 

The Memory Book | Lara Avery | Review

Friday, 29 July 2016

Received from Hachette Publishing NZ 

They tell me that my memory will never be the same, 
that I'll start forgetting things. 
At first just a little, and then a lot. 
So I'm writing to remember.

All Sammie wants to do is graduate at the top of her class and get out of her small town, and go to College. With all the determination needed to do just that, nothing is going to get in her way – not even an illness that will start taking away her memories and eventually her health. To combat her Niemann–Pick Type C (NPC) disease, Sammie creates the Memory Book. She records her days, her schooling, her conversations, her super crush on Stuart Shah, her worries, her determination, her achievements, her neighbor and childhood friend Cooper.

Sammie continues working hard to be her class’s valedictorian, making sure she’s getting to class, she’s doing her work, she’s striving to achieve her goals. She even starts going out with Stuart, who previously was only ever her heart-throb from a distance. While her relationship with her good friend Maddie is, at times, strained, Sammie enjoys life, and recognizes the moments that she forgets things.

It’s in one of those times for forgetting that she finds herself lost, or rather, misplaced, on her way to a party. Thankfully, she knows to call Cooper, who comes and picks her up. It’s this time that is really the beginning of the memory loss becoming more frequent, and not only that but of her renewed friendship with Coop.

As the weeks and months go by, her memory book starts to fill up, and while there are more memories on paper (or screen, as it were) there are less in her mind. As Sammie begins to forget things more frequently, the pages are shorter, the accounts less detailed, the strain in her writing more apparent. As she and those around her – her family, her friends – struggle with the memory loss, the story follows in parts as Sammie’s health deteriorates.

This was a beautiful book. I wanted to just keep reading and keep reading. It was a ‘just one more chapter’ kind of book, which really got away on me actually, as sometimes the ‘chapters’ were just 1 page long. Or even one sentence.

Every so often, there would be a section written by a family member or Cooper, especially nearer the end when Sammie couldn't write as much. Because Sammie was the narrator of her own life for the majority of the book, you literally only knew what was happening around her when she wrote it down. Sometimes other character's notes helped in the back-filling of an event or situation that Sammie either didn't know about previously, or just simply didn't remember.

I really liked Sammie as a character, and I think that, because you were reading what she the character had wrote, it was like you wanted to her be good and fine, and you wanted her to achieve and be happy, even more so than if it were just a story about a sick girl written in first person. I don’t know if that makes sense, but hopefully you know what I mean. She was funny and quick witted, and I found myself laughing at loud out some parts, and wanting to cry at others.

While the ending was what you would expect, it still came quickly and was still as tear-worthy had it been drawn out. It was beautifully and wonderfully written, and I definitely want to read Lara Avery’s other books.


Have you read The Memory Book? Is it on your TBR list? 

Red Rising | Pierce Brown | Guest Review

Wednesday, 27 July 2016


'Red Rising' takes us to a future reality where the Earth is dying, and people have started to colonise the Moon and other planets. On Mars, our main character Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of the planet. The Reds' job is to extract enough precious elements to one day terraform Mars and allow humans to live on the surface - Reds are the "last hope".

One day Darrow discovers that this is a lie told to the Reds to keep them compliant. In fact, Mars has huge cities on the surface inhabited for generations by Golds - a higher class of people who see Reds as slave labour. A mysterious group of rebels helps Darrow disguise himself as a Gold to infiltrate the command school in order to take down the Golds from the inside. The command school is a dangerous place, with all the Gold students fighting each other for the chance at the best start to their career.

It's quite difficult to introduce this book without spoilers! I went into it not knowing what it was about, only that it was set on Mars. I like going in "blind", as it means I am more open-minded about what's inside!

I enjoyed this book immensely. Darrow is believable, and I cared about what he cares about - his attachments to loved ones feel genuine and part of who he is. I really like Pierce Brown's characterisation. I liked the way he includes various different personalities within Reds and within Golds, showing that the "Colors" are not just a stereotype, despite the initial characteristics from their breeding. We also learn about other Colors briefly, but I have a feeling that these groups will be fleshed out in the next books in the trilogy - also I don't want to give those away for you! They're just very clever factions of society that make sense as a whole. Of course, it's limiting that one's parents, siblings, spouse, children and so on are all the same Color and therefore only ever capable of that one role in society, but that's what the book illustrates is wrong with humanity - that's why Darrow wants to overthrow the leaders.

I am always a little wary when I see reviews saying that books are amazing or on the contrary, did not "live up to the hype". I don't take any notice of hype, especially when it comes to Young Adult novels. In this case I trusted my own judgement from the summary which I read when I first bought it, and I knew I'd probably like it!

Even if you think you don't like Young Adult books, I still recommend this novel for anyone with a cursory interest in different societies and world views, as well as any fascination with terraforming other planets or with Roman gods/archetypes which are used a lot in Gold society. I'm certainly looking forward to book 2.

★★★★★

This review was submitted by guest blogger Jemma.  

Lolcatz, Santa, and Death by Dog | Andrew Masterson | Review

Monday, 25 July 2016

*Image and book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

A non-fiction collection of unusual scientific studies. Many of these studies challenge a lot of what we take for granted, especially with regards to our eating habits and understanding of online culture.

Review:

Yes, this is a non-fiction book, but don't take that to mean that it is boring. This book is a wonderful combination of informative and humorous. Admittedly, some of the stories do not lend themselves to humor, but they are well balanced with those that are. 

There was a relatively diverse array of types of research, but I found that the majority were about diet. Why do popular foods come in and out fashion? What is the logic behind the SLOW food movement? Are GMO free foods possible? I was very happy to find that research supports my addiction choice to drink coffee. 

I also appreciate Masterson's tone throughout the book. It really felt like you were having a fun discussion over dinner or drinks. I consider the vast majority of these stories to be good topics for discussion if you're like me and need to practice things to say or talk about. Really the only thing I didn't like was that the book had no bibliography. Fortunately each segment provides enough information that, should you wish to verify the stories, you can find them.

If you're in the market for an informative read about several topics, would like your own opinions/logic questioned or confirmed, or would just like to find out how Lolcatz can bring down a government, I highly recommend this book. You will find something to interest you and others.


Group Collaboration | Favourite YA Novels

Saturday, 23 July 2016

This month in celebration of YALC hitting London again this year we want to delve into our most popular genre here on Blogger's Bookshelf, Young Adult novels! 

We got our bloggers to give us a tonne of Young Adult recommendations, both old and new, for you to peruse through. Check them out!
 
YA Post - Anjali
YA Post - Ria YA Post - Rachel YA Post - Joshua YA Post - Erin


Thank you to this month's contributors: Ria, Joshua, Rachel, Erin, and Anjali

Next month we're asking all about the books you wish had sequels. If you'd like to get involved just email bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com or drop us a tweet @blog_bookshelf!

Features | Readathons

Friday, 22 July 2016


If you had asked me what a readathon was three years ago, well I probably could have figured it out, but I definitely would have been guessing. Now they're everywhere, taking place on blogs and vlogs all over the Internet all the time. This week, in fact, it's the annual BookTube-A-Thon, the very first readathon that I took part in last year. (Are you doing the BookTube-A-Thon this year? How's it going? I hope you're doing better than I am!)

For any of you out there who, like me a few years ago, have no idea what I'm even talking about, a readathon is an event, usually organised by someone with a blog or youtube channel, during which the people taking part try to read as much as possible. Sometimes there are challenges for the sort of books that should be read but the idea is usually just to read as many books as you can over a specific period of time.

So what is the appeal of readathons? Well, if you're like me, and you have a tendency to buy books faster than you can read them, it's a great opportunity to get through some of that TBR. If you're someone who loves to read but doesn't always make the time for it, it's a good excuse to push yourself to try and find extra reading time wherever you can. If you're just the kind of person who really loves to find a challenge in everything you do then readathons are absolutely the perfect chance to bring that competitive spirit to your reading too!

For me though, the best part of readathons, especially big ones like the BookTube-A-Thon, is the communal aspect. Knowing that you are taking part in this challenge with people from all over the world. Watching daily update videos, searching through the hashtags on Twitter and Instagram. Sharing a week of reading with people you've never even met or spoken to before. That's my favourite thing about readathons.

What's your favourite thing about readathons? Or your least favourite thing if you're of the anti-readathon persuasion. Let me know in the comments!

I Am Not Esther | Fleur Beale | Review

Wednesday, 20 July 2016


Imagine that your mother tells you she's going away. She is going to leave you with relatives you've never heard of - and they are members of a strict religious cult. Your name is changed, and you are forced to follow the severe set of social standards set by the cult. There is no television, no radio, no newspaper. No mirrors. You must wear long, modest clothes. You don't know where your mother is, and you are beginning to question your own identity.

— — — 

Actually about a young girl called Kirby Greenland, I Am Not Esther follows her story as she’s left by her mother to go live with her estranged brother and his family, who are all members of closed of Amish-esque religious community. Much to Kirby’s dismay and despite her understandable anger, she’s quickly inducted into the cult, forced to cut ties with everything she’s known and loved, including her own name. She’s branded as Esther and is expected to live her life serving God and the golden rules of her strict new family and their church 'The Children Of The Faith'.

Normally female protagonists in such situations like this would lay low for a while before pushing for rebellion, but Kirby is a fighter, both emotionally and physically, even when she starts feeling sympathy and love towards her new family she still manages to stand her ground as she grapples with her old identity and new way of life. She’s conflicted at times, often feeling intense anger towards the mother who left her behind but her resilient nature means she’s built to weather the storm.

As expected the book rests heavily on themes about religion and obligation, and it was really interesting seeing this portrayed through Kirby’s eyes. It would been easy for Beale to easily paint Kirby’s new family and the book itself as ‘anti-Christian’, but I was surprised to see how the emphasis was more pinned on the issues surrounding how people are influenced into a certain way of life.

Overall, a really great book - and one of the first I’ve read set in New Zealand! - definitely one for younger YA fans but could prove a great introduction for them to start diving into serious societal issues.

*image via GoodReads

Sidenote! I was sent this book as part of fellow BB Team Member Anjali's Travelling Novel project. If you're interested in me passing the book onto you, ping me a tweet @RCagz


Features | Top 4 Summery Reads

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Slowly but surely, summer is coming. Beaches, heat, pools and, if you're like me, books. Lots of books. This year there are plenty of books that are perfect for summer, and I thought I'd put together some of the books I think should be on your TBR piles for this summer!


  1. The Square Root Of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood. Published earlier this year, this book focuses on a girl called Gottie, whose life fell apart last summer when her grandfather Grey did and Jason, the boy who she gave her heart too, wouldn't hold her hand at the funeral. So this summer, she's still trying to deal with two heartbreaks and surrounding herself in equations. Until, after he's been away for five years, Thomas comes home. This book has plenty of amazing reviews and a lot of support behind it. Definitely worth a read this summer.
  2. Girl Out Of Water by Nat Luurtsema. This book is billed as the perfect poolside read, and I couldn't agree more. It focuses on Lou Brown, whose best friend made it through Olympic swimming time trials but Lou did not. Lou is looking for something to do, when she stumbles upon three boys with stars in their eyes, and that takes her life in a surprising, weird and very new direction. I've read it and I think it's great. It's very funny, it's great to read and really should be one of your poolside reads for this summer.
  3. Remix by Non Pratt. This particular book came out last year, but if you haven't read it yet, I think you should. It's set at a music festival called Remix, where two friends Kaz and Ruby are going. Ruby is bored about hearing about Kaz breaking up with the love her life. "Three days. Two best mates. One music festival. Zero chance of everything working out," as the blurb suggests. It really is another great read, Non Pratt is a fantastic writer and if you haven't already had the pleasure of reading this, I suggest you do this summer! 
  4. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson. Taylor's family aren't close, but they then receive the news that they're going to spend one last summer together at their old lake house. However, she's still running from the past that she ran away from. Her old summer friend lives across the lake and is still as angry with Taylor as she was five years ago, plus her first boyfriend has moved in next door to her, but Taylor has different feelings for him now. "Can one summer be enough time to get a second chance?" Another one of those summery reads that you should give a read this summer!
But, there are so many different types of books out for summer, and there are so many amazing reads. Whatever you're reading this summer, I hope you enjoy it! 

The City of Mirrors | Justin Cronin | Review

Friday, 15 July 2016




“All stories end when they have returned to their beginnings.” 

It's okay if you haven't read The Passage or The Twelve - there are no spoilers. 

The Story

Where to start, where to start. Phoar what a book. What a long, character-filled, in the end pretty good book. The City of Mirrors takes this huge jump into the future for the majority of the book, and suddenly all the main characters have these long lives of days gone by, and they're getting on with life. Peter is the President, Sara and Hollis are happy together doing their Doctor-Librarian thing respectively, the next generation even has children. Caleb is grown up, married, and that generation even has children.

But along with the future jump, we are taken back to Year Zero, and Zero's story, and how it all came into being, how the virals happened in the first place. For over half the book, it's this mix of the future story lines and this jump back to Zero. It took me so long to really get into this book. It wasn't until about the last third that I really actually wanted to pick up the book. This is probably one of the reasons it took me nearly a month to read it. Unlike The Passage, I felt The City of Mirrors was incredibly slow going at the beginning. I did like reading about the new generation, but again, there were characters I just didn't care about and story lines I didn't enjoy reading. It did pick up towards the end of the book, thankfully, and I was able to power through.

In The Twelve (book two) Amy magically becomes older over night - something which I'm very glad is definitely not the way things work in real life - which meant she and Peter were finally actually a similar age. In The Passage and in The Twelve for the most part, they had this sort of odd relationship. They were very close, and were good friends, and I remember thinking 'if only Amy wasn't a child'. And then boom. She's not. Happy days. Or is it? I won't say.

My Thoughts

The writing is excellent, but the paragraphs are long. Like, really long. Cronin writes fantastically, and it always draws you into in the story more (even if it took a while in this book's case), but I found that sometimes my eyes glazed skimmed a page-long paragraph in order to get to the dialogue or the shorter paragraphs. But that's just me. You can decide what you think if you read it.

One of the things that I don't like about The Passage series is the amount of characters in them. I always find when new characters are introduced that I couldn't care less about them. They don't really interest me that much, and I'd much rather just follow Amy and Peter the entire time. I'm far more interested in the main characters than all the chapters about some guy in some place who saw something one time. Sure, those details might be important to the story on a whole, but they're just not that great or entertaining to read.

The ending was pretty good, and I think I was fine with it. It was a nice way to end a great series, though I do think that the last chapter could have been a lot shorter. It was sort of - without giving anything away - in the future, after the main events and happenings, but it was a bit long winded for my liking.

Seriously, guys, though, this is a big book. Big, but overall pretty good.

If you're unsure about diving into this series, then do give it a go. I've found that I definitely enjoyed The Passage more than the other two, but perhaps that's because of the sheer size of the journey you're taken on. I'm glad I read it, but I don't think I'll bother reading it again. To be completely honest, I'm really excited to read something other than this story.

Have you read The City of Mirrors? Or The Passage? The Twelve? 
What did you think? Without giving away too many spoilers for others, did you think it ended well? 

I received this book for free from Hachette Publishing NZ in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this post.
Image from GoodReads

Bookish Links #20

Wednesday, 13 July 2016


It's that tie again! Grab your beverage of choice and settle in for another list of awesome bookish links from around the web. Here's some of the articles we've been reading and loving lately...


1. Adaptations Coming Soon! - we're kicking off this month with a list of ten popular books set to hit the big screen. Have you read any of the titles on the list?

2. The Gender Games - we were very excited to hear the news that one of our favourite authors Juno Dawson will be releasing a memoir next year, definitely one to add to your TBR list!

3. House Pride - how beautiful are these new house-themed Harry Potter sets? We're dreaming about how amazing they would look adorning our bookshelves. Which house do you belong to? Let us know in the comments!

4. The Travelling Novel! - as some of you may already know, our very own Anjali has started a new bookish project over on her own blog titled The Travelling Novel. If you're interested in taking part let her know!

5. Reading Rediscovered - we loved reading Cherry's recent post on rekindling her love of reading thanks to The Girl On The Train. Do you have a similar story? Let us know in the comments!

6. Sweet Scents - if you're a fan of the Lunar Chronicles series you'll love these handmade soy candles inspired by the main characters. Shop NovellyYours also has designs inspired by other fandoms too!

7. Boost Your Blog - in need of some book blog planning tips? Check out Beth's post on how she plans out her content for the month in only thirty minutes! How do you plan your content?

8. Best Of Bookstagram - looking for bookish instagram recommendations? Jamie has you covered with this great post showcasing some of her favourite accounts.

9. Cover Art - we loved Sanne's informative Q&A session with Matt Jones who is a book cover designer at Penguin. Which cover designs are your favourites?

10. A Graphic Novel Gem - continuing on from our recent graphic novels group collaboration post, we really enjoyed Heather's review of A Graphic Cosmogony which looks like a truly stunning book!

11. Nancy Drew - we couldn't resist including this adorable little Nancy Drew inspired coin purse from Etsy seller pipdesigns. We think it would make a lovely gift for a fan of the series!

12. Share The Love - we're rounding today with a post from The Bibliolater which links to 100 awesome book blogs for you to head on over and read!

If you've read or written an interesting bookish article you think our readers would enjoy please let us know - it may be featured in a future post!  

Kojiki | Keith Yatsuhashi | Review

Monday, 11 July 2016

*Image and book provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

This book follows Keiko, an 18-year-old Japanese American whose father has recently died, leaving her with a one-way ticket to Japan, a camera and a note. In this note, her father tells her that her camera will guide her to where she needs to go. When Keiko finally sees something, it gives her a glimpse into another world with a dangerous kami trying to escape. She is rescued from one of the spirit's guardian dragons by Yui, her tour guide, who ends up actually being another spirit, the daughter of the Kami of Light and Spirit. Together the two search for a way to save the world from being destroyed by the dangerous kami that Keiko saw.

Review:

I cannot say this enough, I love when a book doesn't go how I think it will go. I've read a lot of stories and many times I just hope for interesting characters that keep the familiar plot going. With Kojiki, however, I got interesting characters AND an unpredictable story. It doesn't hurt that, as I was reading and trying to figure out what was going on, so were the characters. 

I really like how Yatsuhashi handled the exposition, too. It wasn't just someone telling us all that had happened, we got to go into their memories and experience what happened. This is a great technique that kept me informed without being a boring exposition dump. It also helped to show how the characters have developed over the centuries and created empathy for several of them. Also, getting to experience the story from multiple narrators really helped to keep me informed about the motives for a character's actions. 

Yatsuhashi cites anime as a source of inspiration for him and you can definitely see it in this book, in a good way. Many of the spells and techniques he writes about are easier for me to visualize thanks to my own anime watching experiences. Nothing Dragon Ball Z style, though, don't worry about that. It's a lot more realistic...for being a book about elemental kami...and their guardians...and magic. 

I also really appreciated Yatsuhashi talking about the kami learning to use each others' elements via focusing on their own to the molecular level. That made Vissyus (the Kami of Fire) so much more dangerous. And the idea of trying to combine incompatible elements as a cause of a mind break was really interesting. 

The book isn't all action/adventure. There is a lot in this about daughters trying to get their fathers' approval. There is a love triangle between three of the kami. There is even a revenge subplot with the followers of one of the weaker kami. However, it is kept interesting by the fact that it keeps you wondering, as the author states, "...who is Kojiki's real hero?"

In case you can't tell, I had a great time reading this book. If you have an interest in anime style fights and/or plots, Japanese mythology, or fantasy elements in a contemporary world, I highly recommend Kojiki. This was a fun read that had me wishing I could create my own elemental shield or have my own guardian. 


Features | Books I Need To Re-Read

Friday, 8 July 2016

I've written before on this blog about my love of re-reading and today I'm sharing the top five books that are currently on my re-reading TBR.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Have you ever read a book with a character who reminded you so much of yourself that it almost hurt when you were reading it? Fangirl is that book for me. My heart ached the first time I read it because I saw so much of myself in Cath, in the good and the bad. It's not often that a book feels like it has nestled into your soul and it's definitely something I want to experience again.

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants by Ann Brashares

I loved this series of books when I first read them in my early teens but when I read the first book again a few years later, for some reason I felt completely differently. The story was exactly as I remembered it but I just didn't enjoy it that time around. I would love to have another go now that I'm a few years older again and see how I feel this time.

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

A Series of Unfortunate Events was one of my favourite series growing up. Every time my mum presented me with a new book I would spend an entire day reading, staying up into the night, ignoring everything else. It has been a long time since I read that last book though and with Netflix making a new series, I think now might be a good time to reacquaint myself with the Baudelaires.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Esperanza Rising is one of those books that I remember loving. I remember the feeling of reading it. I remember insisting that a friend of mine read it because I knew she would love it too. But I don't actually remember anything about the story. I know it was one of my favourite books for a long time but it has been so long since I read it that I don't really remember why. That's something I should fix.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Of all the books on this list, I read The Night Circus the most recently. I enjoyed it but the whole time I was reading it I felt as though I was missing something. I just think that if I read it again, while I do still remember enough about it, then I would probably be able to pick up on whatever it is I missed the first time around. Like how I catch new jokes every time I re-watch Arrested Development. That works for books too, right?

What books are on your re-reading TBR?

The Martian | Andy Weir | Guest Review

Wednesday, 6 July 2016


I had heard that this novel was a good read from several friends/reviewers, but I was not in any hurry to read it as I have so many other books. However, then the movie was released and had great reviews! My fiancé wanted to watch it, so I had to step up my game and read the book before we could watch the movie together.

I suppose I went into the book open-minded, but expecting something enjoyable. I had no idea I would have such a good time reading a science fiction novel!

Mark Watney is stuck on Mars after a mission went wrong. His team believe him dead, so they left Mars to travel back to Earth without him. The novel follows Mark’s trials to stay alive and make it back to Earth with only the items he is left with. Occasionally the narrative switches from his first-person narration to third-person when we take a look at the NASA employees/Houston back on Earth, trying to figure out what to do next. I didn’t mind this narrative switching; it felt natural, and emphasised the importance of hearing Watney’s story directly from him.

There was quite a lot of science and technology described in the novel - procedures Watney needs to follow or equipment he needs to use - but I never felt like this was overwhelming or that it made me feel stupid. Each step Watney takes is explained well and the reader can see the reasoning behind his actions, even if they cannot specifically imagine exactly what is happening.

I really got absorbed in the story and kind of felt like I was along for the ride with Watney. For example, when he has to figure out when he can be rescued and how long he has to survive, and on what food, I felt sympathy with him the whole way through.

The best thing about this novel is the excellent sense of humour Watney retains, the whole time he is on Mars. He doesn’t give into the isolation and go crazy, and he doesn’t give up. He is positive and humorous throughout, which kept me rooting for him to get back to Earth.

I think Weir writes people perceptively well. The conversations between the NASA employees, the frame of mind of the crew who left Watney behind, and Watney’s survival motivation are all portrayed wonderfully through realistic dialogue.

I would recommend this book to anyone - seriously, even if you don’t think you like science fiction or space or survival stories, please try this one out because it’s a pleasant surprise! Weir has created a wonderful, interesting adventure.

★★★★★

This review was submitted by guest blogger Jemma.  

Dear Amy | Helen Callaghan | Review

Monday, 4 July 2016

dear amy
Dear Amy, 

I don't know where I am. I've been kidnapped and am being held prisoner by a strange man. I'm afraid he'll kill me. 

Please help me soon, 
Bethan Avery

*Review copy & cover image c/o Netgalley 


Dear Amy is a thriller with a truly interesting concept. When teacher and Agony Aunt Margot receives the above letter from someone who has supposedly been missing for years she thinks it's all a hoax... until more letters arrive, each with details that were never made public. When one of her students also goes missing, Margot decides she must try and solve the mystery, putting herself in danger in the process.

Whilst I found the concept intriguing and there were parts of the story I liked, I did struggle to feel a connection to any of the characters and this made the overall read a little less enjoyable for me. I also was slightly disappointed by the twist in the tale, which I do believe many readers will see coming before the reveal.

Despite the fact I didn't personally fall in love with the story, I do think the book will do well and am interested to see what this author comes up with next!