Book Reviews





Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween to all my lovely readers! 

Here are some wonderful Halloween-y book quotes, alongside even wonderful-er buffy pics! (yay!)

Also, don't forget to check out my guest post from the lovely Claireabellemakes - Spider Web Bookends for some Halloween craft inspo!

Hope you all have a spooktastic day :D


“Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make!” 

“I am all in a sea of wonders. I doubt; I fear; I think strange things, which I dare not confess to my own soul. God keep me, if only for the sake of those dear to me!”  


“I wish every day could be Halloween. We could all wear masks all the time. Then we could walk around and get to know each other before we got to see what we looked like under the masks.” 


“Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing,—
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.” 


“Whatever was about, whoever I had seen, and heard rocking, and who had passed me by just now, whoever had opened the locked door was not 'real'. No. But what was 'real'? At that moment I began to doubt my own reality.” 


What are you doing for Halloween? Got any special posts to share?

If you've been inspired by this post, why not read one of these Mab-reviewed spooky novels:

The Seance
The Small Hand
The Man in the Picture
Rosemary's Baby
The Thirteenth Tale
Bellman and Black

Allegiant - review

“Can I be forgiven for all I've done to get here?
I want to be.
I can.
I believe it.”

Title: Allegiant
Author: Veronica Roth

Publisher: Harper Collins
Source: Purchased from Kindle Store
Buy it: Here  


In the final installment of the Divergent trilogy, Tris and Four discover the answers they have longed for since Edith Prior's announcement; that divergence is a signal that the Factions must move on to bigger things. As a power struggle in a factionless society ensues, Tris and Four discover what lies beyond the fence, what divergence truly means, and above all, what is worth fighting for.


If there is one thing I can say of Allegiant, it's that it wasn't the book I expected it to be. Littered with surprises (both good and bad, in my opinion) the reader is drawn through the narrative in directions they probably never anticipated.

One of the most obvious surprises is that the narrative is now split between Tris and Four's POV. Initially I was excited by this development - Four's great! Or, should I say, was great. I very soon came to realise that Four's voice was Tris' voice. But, y'know,  not.
There was no personality difference to Four's chapters. No idiosyncrasies. No... uniqueness. He even saw Tris in the same way she saw him. ZZZZZZZZZZZ. Which is lovely and all, but c'mon.
I was even more shocked to find any "Tris-ness" had been wiped out of her own chapters! Where are the hot cheeks? The grabbing the hem of her shirt? The sweating palms? These are small habits she had for two books previous, that don't make a single appearance in Allegiant. It was sad to see. I love these characters, but I feel I was a little bit deprived of them here, whereas the new format should have allowed for more access!

Another thing I wasn't expecting was the truth of what lay beyond the fence.
Genetic purity is not a topic approached with ease. By it's very nature there are social, political and moral implications, none of which I feel were covered with any real satisfaction in the almighty info dump that made the first quarter of Allegiant feel like dragging feet through mud. In previous books, Veronica Roth built up the world she created through characters, through cause and effect and through informed observations. Here, her characters are told a lot. And I mean a LOT. Like, try cramming the whole 1940's Germany situation in 20 pages, but err, set it in an alternate world and describe it to people who don't even know Germany exists. You can probably imagine... I felt the big "outer world" reveal was messy and far too technical. But hey, it is what it is. I can look past it...

Because there were some great things to come. One of the nicest surprises was the development of Peter. We see him desperate to find a way to reconcile his guilt with himself - a theme present in many of the characters in this book. Learning the world is a much bigger place than he thought has Peter believing his actions pale in significance to it's massiveness - that he is just a tiny, tiny dot is the great spectrum of the universe - but soon he faces the reality within himself that his world is the one he interacts with, not the one he simply stands on, and he makes an extreme, unforeseen and - dare I say it - brave(!) choice.

Similarly - and perhaps most controversially, if you have read many reviews yet already! - I found the ending of Allegiant shocking yet fitting. I will not spoil it, but shall say that I felt the characters involved in the events were almost destined to do what they did. I think that each of the characters got their own selfish ending, which, when they have been fighting for others for so long, separated them from their beginnings and made them... more. I really enjoyed the choices Veronica Roth made for the ending, and I cant wait to talk about it with others, who I know will have differing opinions!

I could honestly make this review go on forever, because I think Allegiant left readers with a lot of things to talk about! And for me, that's one sign of a good story. It raises debate, not everyone sees things the same way, and we can all get together and be a big, chattering community about it! However, I will end it here and find the rest of my enjoyment in Fandom :) Thanks, Veronica Roth, for providing us with a book to talk about for a long time to come!


For me, Allegiant was a very slow starter that wasn't helped by a newly introduced and indifferent split POV. However, once the action got going I was eager to race to the end, and enjoyed the controversial and unexpected ending.



The Shining Girls - review

“There are only so many plots in the world. It's how they unfold that makes them interesting.”  

Title: The Shining Girls
Author: Lauren Beukes

Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Purchased from Foyles
Buy it: Here  


Kirby is the accidental survivor of an horrific and brutal attempted murder at the hands of a vicious serial killer. However, while she interns with the retired cop who worked on her case, trying to convince the world of the serial nature of his crimes proves difficult as dates and artifacts present an impossible circumstance: A time-travelling murderer, killing women with shining potential.


The Shining Girls takes a bit of a leap of faith. This is crime-sci-fi and everything about it shouldn't work, but once you release yourself to it, and just go with it, it is a brilliantly rewarding read.

The best thing about The Shining Girls are the shining women themselves. We meet many of them as the killer tracks them, lures them and eventually murders them.They are amazing women who shine because of their potential - political, artistic, knowledgeable and pioneering - the shining girls fight for their beliefs and fight for others. I particularly enjoyed Alice's character, and I kind of wished to read more of her before she died. Perhaps she could have a novella spin-off all of her own?!

The time-travel element of the book takes a bit of getting used to. The dates jump all over the place. Thank goodness I bought this book in paperback and not digitally, as I was flipping back every two seconds to remember what year it was! However, if you are willing to put a bit of work in to keep up with it all, it's a brilliant addition that turns The Shining Girls from a traditional crime genre book into something appealing and new to more than one reader-group. Yes it's supernatural, but it's woven so brilliantly into the action, it won't feel like it. I hope it wouldn't put crime fans off.

Lovers of crime fiction will find familiarity amongst the sci-fi, though, in Harper, the girls' predator; the uncompromising brutality of his life, destructive since childhood and darker than the shadows in the night. I thought he was a brilliantly hate-able criminal. I read in the Q&A with the author at the back of the book that she delighted in hurting him for what he did at every opportunity and I can see this is true. Harper doesn't walk away from the women he hunts unscathed and I liked that their strength is not always entirely extinguished by their killer. They leave their mark, regardless.

Some parts of this novel were quite graphic reading. There are some descriptions of violence - especially towards animals - that may upset unwarned readers. I think that considering the character they relate to, these instances were relevant and therefore not gratuitous, or there simply to shock, but some may find one or two sections a little too much. 


I really enjoyed The Shining Girls for it's dark plot, despicable killer and bold direction. I didn't think mixing sci-fi with crime would work but I was pleasantly surprised. The array of potential in the characterised Shining Girls made this book a celebration of life and an inspiration to make the most of it's fleeting nature, despite the death across the pages. Recommended for all crime lovers, and I think it would please fans of dark fiction too.



The perfect reading partner

For me, the perfect reading partner is TEA!

I'm British. I love tea. I don't go a day without it. Breakfast tea, fruit tea, spiced tea - you name it, I drink it. (There's even a place in Bristol that does tea infused cocktails - YUM)

So my weird post for this month is going to be some tea/book matches. Think of it like a highly sophisticated wine flight ;)  What book would you match with your favourite cuppa?

The Other Boleyn Girl >> Lady Grey
All the talk of ladies and titles, it was an easy choice!

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children >> Licorice and Peppermint
A weird combination that just works!

The Bronze Horseman >> Nettle
Delicate and not as horrible as you think it would be (ha!)

Sherlock Holmes >> Traditional English Breakfast
Quintessentially British

Harry Potter >> Amaranth
Watching this dried flower come to life bloom in hot water is magical!


HALLOWEEN GIVEAWAY! (international)

Hi everyone! Halloween is my favourite time of year, and although the UK may not celebrate it as much as the US, I like to indulge in some spooky fun!

This year, I'm having a giveaway! It's my first international one, so I'm very excited. I hope you like the items!

Here's what you can win:

A copy of Florence and Giles by John Harding. This has got to be one of my favourite ghost stories and I would love you to find out why! It isn't a "classic" (yet!) but it has all the traditional gothic stuff: governesses, creepy kids, big empty houses... You can find my review here: I think it's the perfect Halloween read, and so it's part of the prize bundle :D You can also find out why I love ghost stories here!

You can also win this Halloween themed charm bracelet! You may know already that when I'm not blogging, I'm a designer. I have recently started making these bracelets and plan to open my first online store in the new year! You can be one of the first to own a piece of Mab Jewellery ;)

Lastly, in the spirit of Trick Or Treating, I will be adding some surprise treats to the package!

So what are you waiting for?! Enter away! The entries close on Thursday October 24th - GOOD LUCK!

Winners will be picked at random via Rafflecopter and the winner will be sent their copy of Florence and Giles via The Book Depository. This is an international giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My Fat, Mad Teenage Diary - review

“I want to be loved. Oh, it's SO CORNY, isn't it?! But I just want to be loved by a bloke that loves ME! I want to feel special, you know. I almost feel guilty for feeling it.”

Title: My Fat, Mad Teenage Diary
Author: Rae Earl

Publisher: Hodder
Source: Purchased from Kindle Store
Buy it: Here  


Rae is 17 years old in 1989. In 1988, she spent time in a mental illness hospital following a nervous breakdown. Now, she spills her thoughts and emotions into the pages of her diary as she struggles with her weight, her self image, her mum, and her ever evasive quest to find someone to love. Not to mention recording the who's-who of music on the cusp of the 90's.


I think that we should first get this out of the way: Yes, this is the book behind the E4 TV series. No, I haven't seen it. However, I might change that after reading reports of it's brilliance ;)

Right, so, onto the review!

I was excited to read this book. I kept a diary as a teenager and I would NEVER have the guts to publish it(!) so I wondered what would lie in wait within the pages of My Fat Mad Teenage Diary with quiet eagerness. I expected no-holds-barred bitching, epic self indulgence, boys, boys and more boys. To be honest, I only got one of those. Rae is 110% focused on loving someone, and being wanted sexually by that person in return. Specifically sexually, because Rae has many people that love her, but who don't want a physical relationship with her. She perceives this to be because she has "a 38 inch waist".

Weight - as the title suggests - is a huge theme of the diary. Rae eats to support herself emotionally, due to having a mother who can't show her affection (although, admittedly, she has her moments) and a troubled past - which is insinuated but never fully divulged. She also has a malicious "friend" who uses her to find guys, knowing Rae is an attractive personality, but not a "threat" because of her weight. This "friend" also makes jokes at Rae's expense, exploit's Rae's insecurities and thinks nothing of stealing Rae's love interests for herself, just because she can. I found these moments particularly uncomfortable to read. However, we all know it happens and there are people out there who make those conscious decisions. If they had insight into the other side of the coin (this diary, perhaps?) I hope they would stop. Rae is completely aware of the way she is treated and it is heartbreaking to see her rationalising and justifying the actions of her so-called friend to herself.

Despite these hard-to-read moments, the diary offers many happy entries. Rae is a brilliant voice with stark and witty expressions. I genuinely felt happy when a horrible situation rectified itself, and the joy in Rae was evident through her writing. Like any teenage diary, the events can vary from end-of-the-world-awfulness to elated exuberance in the space of a few hours.

To be honest, I feel to pass any real opinion on this book would be out of line. This is the author's actual life, written in her actual diary. I can't be the judge of a 17 year olds writings, when she wrote them thinking they would never be seen! I will however say that although the insight into Rae's life was an interesting rollercoaster ride of emotion, it lacked direction. I felt it would all build up to a momentous final entry, but, it didn't... I think some, er, embellishment of the entries to give a narrative would have perhaps made for a greater read.


My Mad Fat Teenage Diary is a relate-able depiction of teenage years which has moments of brilliance, great humour and heartbreaking honesty. However, I found the lack of plot, due to the nature of the source, ultimately lead to quite a repetitive and eventually unrewarding read.



The Explorer - review

I couldn’t stand to relive this trip through my own eyes, I don’t think.”

Title: The Explorer
Author: James Smythe

Publisher: Harper Voyager
Source: Purchased from Kindle Store
Buy it: Here  


Cormac Easton is a journalist in space, documenting the travels of a small crew of explorers, on a mission to simply go further than anyone else has ever been before. However, very shortly, all of his crew are dead and he is left staring into the black abyss before him, contemplating his life, his choices and his fate. However, he is not as alone as he thinks he is.


I have been intrigued by this book for so long, it's almost a travesty that I haven't read it sooner. The Explorer starts with what you would expect to be the end of a story - the deaths of all the crew of a space mission - and then continues to grip you in it's vice of suspense until the end.

Be warned, though, the suspense is not one of impending action. The Explorer is a psychological thriller in every sense. If you break down the component parts of the narrative, there are not enough events to flesh out much of a story. The book, you may think, could have been 3 times shorter. But what you will find is a character study. A man, a changing man, given the gift of hindsight and becoming something "else" - not even something better, not something more, but something just other than what he was. It is, ultimately, a very human book documenting the state of human being when it is stripped bare and alone, away from anything but the darkness, and left with nothing but it's own actions and past to keep it company.

Reading The Explorer felt like watching a film, in quite a few ways. Not least the fact that the narrator, Cormac himself, alludes to his story being made into a movie at various parts of the script. The great use of  language aligns us directly with Cormac and we see everything the way he sees it; like his eyes are the camera. The sentences build up at you and erupt suddenly in small bursts of action that are larger than without their prelude. At a number of times I felt like I was reading the accompaniment to a Woody Allen film, such are the descriptions of loneliness, introspection, self-loathing and boredom!

It is with that in mind that I would admit the book would not be for everyone. I have seen more than a few people calling The Explorer dull. I think at the end of the day it is down to personal taste, as it cannot be said that this book is badly written. I wholly enjoyed the slow build-up and the atmospheric feel of the dark and moody prose. I didn't "like" Cormac, and I think that was perfect. The finale left me wondering what happened next, but satisfied of a "right" ending.


The Explorer is not a rip-roaring romp of a Sci-Fi. It is not action packed and it isn't even very science-y. However, I found it built great, tense atmosphere, had wonderful language and was one of those introspective kind of books that you either love or hate. I loved it, and I can't wait to read more by James Smythe!



National Poetry Day '13

It's National Poetry Day! And while I'm tempted to give you an entire blog post in verse, I don't think I could quite pull it off. I do however, have some poetry delights to share with you!

When I was little I read LOADS of poetry books. My favourites being Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes (Snow White, in particular) and The Spot On My Bum. Because, hey, kids books do love a good laugh at the teenage years to come! I also had a selection of older poetry books passed down to me, including one that I seem to remember above all of the rest: 5's, 6's and 7's.

It is Snow White, though, that I want to share with you today. I loved it so much I learnt it all by heart, and could still recite you most of it today(!) On a trip down a Youtube black hole one day, I found an animated/illustrated version of the poem. So, in the spirit of National Poetry Day, sit back and enjoy a wonderful rhyme - albeit terribly British - and maybe show it to your kids/brothers/sisters/nieces/nephews etc etc... :) Enjoy!

What were/are your favourite poems?

Insurgent - review

“People, I have discovered, are layers and layers of secrets. You believe you know them, that you understand them, but their motives are always hidden from you, buried in their own hearts. You will never know them, but sometimes you decide to trust them.”

Title: Insurgent
Author: Veronica Roth

Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
Source: Purchased from Kindle Store
Buy it: Here  


Carrying on directly from the last scene in Divergent, Insurgent continues the path of discovery Tris and Four have begun as they look to uncover why Erudite leaders wanted so badly to wage war on Abnegation. As more secrets and allegiances are unveiled, the secrets the characters keep from each other mount in an impenetrable divide - as Tris struggles to cope with killing one of her best friends, and Four reconciles with childhood memories.


Sorry guys, this is going to be a bit of a short review for Insurgent, as to talk about it in any great detail would be to give away the plot points and spoilers that heavily dominate the storyline! Needless to say, the effect of this is that I was greatly impressed by this sequel. As a bridge book, it packs in loads of action and emotion without feeling like it's simply paving the way for the final installment, something I think it's so hard to find in the growing trend for sequels these days!

Without spoilers, here is what I can say:

The relationship between Tris and Four was really enjoyable.I loved them in the first book sand now I think I love them even more! It was refreshing to see a relationship in YA fiction where it wasn't perfect all the time - even most of the time, now I think about it! They argued, they went against their promises to each other, they kept things from one another... and I think that took a lot of guts for the author to do. It could have so easily been a typical unconditional teenage lust, but I think the fact that Tris and Four have problems makes it feel much more real. Of course, ultimately, the reader feels they should be together and nothing will ever truly part them. And that's the greatness of it.

I also loved getting to see more of the factions, especially the Amity headquarters. Every time a new faction was introduced I felt like I could sense their way of life and their beliefs from the pages, they were characterised so well. The Factionless were also very interesting, and perhaps portrayed the most familiar personality traits, to me at least; communal yet independent, fighting for equality. I cant wait to read more about them and where their loyalties lie!

Despite the action being fast paced and exciting, I did often feel lost in the deluge of bullets that fly across the pages. It was a bit hard to keep track of who was shooting who, and who was hit, and who had and hadn't got a gun(!) and this could sometimes make the action feel sluggish as I had to re-read sections just to keep up. A bit of an oxymoron there, but I think true... it is probably the only negative I could hold against the book.

The big expose in final chapter definitely has me excitedly awaiting the release of the final installment, Allegiant, this October. This series is, in fact, the first series I have stuck with to the end since The Hunger Games, and perhaps that is review enough in itself?!


Insurgent is a fast paced and thrilling sequel, just as good as it's predecessor. I highly recommend continuing the series to those who have read Divergent - and I'll meet you in line for Allegiant in a couple of weeks!