Book Reviews





Halloween Book Tag

Happy Halloween! I've been tagged by Backy (@Becky_RanRan)to do the Halloween Book Tag! And, well... any excuse to use my little Halloween images again is a bonus hehe. Hope you enjoy!

As it's Halloween today, I wont be tagging anyone, but if you want to play along, do so!

1. The Vampire - A book that sucked out your feels and KILLED THEM. ;)

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Houssini. I was so wrapped up in the lives of Mariam and Laila... Their struggles and their relationships. And oh, the end. I was a sobbing mess. I don't think I could speak for a long time. Utterly heartbreaking.

2. The Witch - A book that cast a spell on you, that you were enchanted with.

The Harry Potter series dominated the lives of my brother and me for a good many years! In between book releases we would imagine all the different ways the plot could develop. I read new books in a 12-hour time limit so my brother didn't have to wait long or get any spoilers! Books of a generation, for sure.

3. The Skeleton - A book that was simple, but worked perfectly.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy. A father and son walk a wasteland. That's it. And I was gripped the whole way through! Dialogue is sparse, action is few and far between... but on so many levels this book was perfect. Mostly, it was the essence of the relationship between the two characters. Its quiet, unspoken beauty.

4. The Werewolf - A book that made you so angry you almost didn't recognize yourself.

Oh god, where do I start?! There are many cliches I could throw this way (Twilight, 50 Shades...) but I think I might have to go with Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. I couldn't - and still can't! - fathom the choices made by Katniss at the end of that book!

5. The Zombie - A book that had you reading throughout the night.

Another toughie! Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix was pretty hefty for a 12 hour time limit and probably ended up being a "through-the-night" read! But also parts of The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons were so enrapturing I couldn't put it down. I needed to know what happened to the characters!



The One with Llinos

Hello! Today I'd like to welcome Llinos to Mab is Mab! Llinos blogs at The Lilac Linnet and you can find her on Twitter @thelilaclinnet

Here are Llinos's picks for "The One"!

The One you always recommend:

I recently read 'The Earth Angel Training Academy' by Michelle Gordon and absolutely fell in love with it. I was looking to try visionary fiction and the reviews for this book were brilliant, so I gave it a try. I was not at all disappointed. It's the story of Velvet, who runs the academy which trains angels and fairies and other creatures to be born as humans on Earth. It's such a beautiful, vivid story, everyone should read it.

The One that was a gift:

I'm not often gifted books, but my mum gave me a copy of 'The Body of the Beach' by Simon Brett. I like a good murder mystery and this book is a great introduction to the Fethering Mysteries series. Since then I've read a few more books and I really enjoy my sleuthing antics with the crime-solvers, Carole and her friend Jude.

The One that got away:

I bought 'The Crown of Thistles' at the beginning of the year, but so far sitting down and actually reading it has eluded me. I love historical biographies, and the Tudor period in particular, so I am sure I will eventually enjoy this background to the rivalry between Mary, Queen of Scots, and Elizabeth I.

The One that makes you cry:

I very rarely cry at books; the only one I can remember making the tears roll down my cheeks is 'My Sister's Keeper' by Jodi Picoult. It's the story of a young girl with cancer whose sister is a genetic match for her and has had enough and wants the rights to her own body back. I had cancer as a child and so some of the scenes about Kate's leukaemia really affected me deeply.

The One that still haunts you:

I have to say Jodi Picoult again, this time 'Nineteen Minutes'. Gun culture and school shootings in the US are things that I can never get my head around, but this book was an intense and raw look at a shooting committed by a boy who is sick of being bullied and took revenge in the most violent way possible. I read it years ago, and it's still with me.

The One you always go back to: 

I discovered P.G. Wodehouse as a young teenager, and I have never looked back. Whenever I want to laugh, and disappear into a book and just roll around in its gloriousness, I turn to the Jeeves and Wooster novels. There is nothing better than curling up with Bertie and going on a rollicking ride through pointless but hilarious plots. They are simply divine.

Thanks Llinos! I love that you have some Jodi Picoult picks in there - if it wasn't Harry Potter for me, I'd totally be turning to her books again and again! :)


The Fall by Bethany Griffin - review

"Nothing here is just anything. This is not just a house. We have never been simply children. We are Ushers."

Title: The Fall
Author: Bethany Griffin

Publisher: Orion
Source: Review copy from publisher
Available: Now
Buy it: Here


Ushers are cursed. They go mad and die young, living a life of hyper-sensory fits and constant medical study. Madeline Usher and her twin, Roderick, have just come into their "inheritance" of the family's malady as the headaches set in and the voice of the House of Usher binds them to the grounds. Madeline is determined to escape the curse - but can she persuade her brother that the house is sentient, manipulative and dangerous?


If you are already familiar with the The Fall's base material, The Fall Of The House Of Usher, do not pass this book by! What you will find within The Fall's pages is a retelling that expands, enriches and gives depth to Edgar Allen Poe's original short story.

Switching the viewpoint from the original (Rodericks school friend) to Madeline's narrative gives The Fall a fresh sense of perspective, and also some back story to the Usher curse. I found Madeline a great character to read. Though greatly affected by her family's afflictions, she was strong, purposeful and intelligent. It was intriguing to see her swing between madness and clarity - the frequency of which escalates throughout the book.

Not only did I enjoy Madleine's character, but I was enraptured by the presence of three very sinister doctors! Their activities piqued my curiosity often, and I don't think we ever got enough answers (if at all!) I would usually find this extremely frustrating, but in the grand scheme of this book, it seemed like it was right...

The Fall also delivers an excellent gothic atmosphere of which I always want to experience when a book claims the genre. It harks back to the creeping feeling of many classics, including Poe himself; one that evokes the need for dark corners, rain against the window and reading by the glow of candlelight!


I absolutely adore this book! Bethany Griffin has crafted a work that tips it's hat respectfully in the way of the original, and builds so much more upon it. Every page is rich, gothic deliciousness. Love it, love it, love it!


Decorating the Bookshelf - Box Frame DIY

I have had some frames lying round the house for a while, and when Claire at Claireabellemakes launched her upcycling competition I thought it would be the perfect excuse to use the frames to make something for my bookshelf as my entry!

Now, I know a few of you decorate your shelves with little bits and pieces - I love adding flowers, lights and Funko Pop figures! - but have you ever thought about framing them? In this tutorial, I'm going to show you how to make a pretty Box Frame out of household items.


A cereal box
A large sheet of patterned paper
A photo frame
Scissors / Craft knife
A ruler
A Pencil
Strong tape
Adhesive strips
Tin foil


Step 1: Flatten out the cereal box and using the inside edge of the frame as a template, draw a rectangle in the centre of one of the large sides.

Step 2: Cut out the rectangle to create a window.

Step 3: Lay your paper over the opposite large side, and mark with a ruler where the folds will be. Use your scissors or craft knife to lightly score the paper where it should fold.

Step 4: Flip the box over and attached the paper to the cardboard with a very small amount of glue in each corner.

Step 5: Rebuild the box, inside out! Use tape to secure the joins and edges.

Step 6: Press a small amount of tin foil into the bottom of your box. This is especially handy if you will be displaying flowers/plants which can get messy over time, as you can just whip out the bottom and replace it!

Step 7: Attach adhesive strips to areas where the back of the frame will come into contact with the box. 

Step 8: Press the frame onto the strips.

Step 9: Decorate! I rolled some craft paper around a small glass to create a vase for some flowers, but you can experiment! Why not create a little Funko Pop diorama?! (Yes this is just an excuse to get Sam and Dean on the blog hehe)

I think it looks great on the bookshelf, but you could attach it to a wall, add it to a mantelpiece or even pop it on your desk for a quirky way to display office plants and succulents!

I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial. What do you think would look good on a bookshelf?

 This is a competition entry to the Able Skills upcycling competition.

The One with Becky

Hello! Today I'd like to welcome Becky to Mab is Mab! Kelly blogs at Becky's Babble and you can find her on Twitter @Becky_RanRan

Here are Becky's picks for "The One"!

The One you always recommend:

The shock of the fall by Nathan Filer, It's definitely an amazing book and I feel not many people have read this one! It has a bit of a twist at the end (who doesn't love a good twist!) and it focuses on mental illness, but it is a mental illness that is not often explored in books that don't involve some kind of mass murderer. I'm not going to say anything else because I think that it makes the book so much better knowing nothing about it!

 The One that was a gift:

Butter by Erin Lange, this book is so completely underrated! It's about a boy known as butter who suffers from obesity and he decides that he's had enough of his life and is going to eat himself to death on a livestream over the internet. This book keeps you guessing the whole way through, there is a lot of will he/won't he moments and the premise is nothing like I have ever read before!

The One that got away:

Oh my gosh where to begin! I have so many books sat on my shelf that I am DYING to read but have never gotten round to it. I'm going to go with The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris. I have read the first book in the Hannibal series, Red Dragon, but haven't continued on with this series and I have no idea why! I love the films, I love Hannibal as a character and I love Harris' writing!

The One that makes you cry:

To be honest, I've never cried at a book, so I will have to just go with a book that made me quite sad and that is Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. There are a lot of mixed reviews on this book, but oh my gosh the ending absolutely destroyed me, I just wanted more and I just wanted it to be a happy ending, but my god it wasn't!

The One that still haunts you:

Easy. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, I'm sure if you've read this book you'll know exactly why this book haunts me. The ending was so unexpected and so saddening, but at the same time everything seemed to make sense, the things that you didn't notice or didn't see as anything, come to light and you wonder how you could've missed it! Going into this book, I knew there was a huge twist but I still wasn't expecting it.

The One you always go back to: 

Thirteen Reasons why by Jay Asher, just because I have now read this book three times! It's one of my all time favourite books and my copy is quite battered which takes a lot because I treasure my books like they are my own children. This book is about a girl who commits suicide then sends 13 tapes out with reasons on each as to why she committed suicide, if you receive the tapes, you are on the tapes and you have to pass them on to the next person. It just explores suicide and the idea of depression in a very unique way.

Thanks Becky! So glad to see someone else championing We Were Liars - such an amazing book! I can't believe you have never cried at a book though (The Shock Of The Fall had me sobbing!) :)


The 100 society by Carla Spradbery - review

"Believed to have originated at the prestigious Clifton Manor School, The 100 Society was founded more than twenty years ago by the notorious graffiti artist known only as 'A'. While the anonymous artist's work now sells for millions, he has created a legacy of copycats, each hoping to 'tag' the same hundred locations."

Title: The 100 Society
Author: Carla Spradbery

Publisher: Hachette
Source: ARC from Netgalley
Available: Now
Buy it: Here


Grace and a group of friends from her art class are on a mission - they want to join the prestigious 100 Society, and join the ranks of people who have tagged 100 locations around their city with a letter. Achieving it is almost an unspoken free pass into art college, but as they get closer to 100, things start to get very dangerous... Some one is watching them.


I really enjoyed The 100 Society. It's a quick, fast paced thriller with some shocking moments and a greatly climatic end. The similarities drawn to "I Know What You Did Last Summer meets Point Horror" are very accurate!

I loved the unusual themes of the story - graffiti and boarding schools. They're not two things you would necessarily naturally group together, but I felt they blended really well, thanks to some rebellious characters in the friendship group at the centre of the story. Without Trick anchoring everything that was going on, I don't think the match would have been so well made!

That said, I do think the characters themselves lacked a bit of depth. There were things hinted at that weren't really explored (Grace's relationship with her dad and brother, how Trick got his scholarship...) and I think going further into the characters pasts would have helped make the events of novel even more affecting - especially where Faith and Chelsea were concerned.

I think The 100 Society would be a great book to read on a journey - you could easily finish it in one sitting, and it keeps you entertained the whole way through!


The 100 Society was a quick and exciting read with very dark parts. I really enjoyed the fast pace and am always a fan of British boarding school novels! I did feel, though, that The 100 Society lacked a bit of depth that could have made it a complete winner.



Your Ultimate Halloween Bookshelf

My favourite time of year is here! If you want something suitably creepy to read as you burn your autumn candles and sip a Pumpkin Spiced Latte look no further. I've pulled together your ultimate Halloween bookshelf. So dive in, pull close the cushions, and prepare for a scare!


The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
The Man in the Painting by Susan Hill
Say Her Name by James Dawson
The Moment Collector by Jodi Lynn Anderson


The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell
The Girl With All The Gifts by A M Carey
World War Z by Max Brooks
This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers
Cell by Stephen King

Witches/Warlocks and Magic

The Dark Inside by Rupert Wallis
Half Bad by Sally Green
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaimon
Deathless by Catherynne M Valente


Dracula by Bram Stoker
The Quick by Lauren Oliver
Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
The Moth Diaries by Rachel Klein
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova


The Troop by Nick Cutter
Hannibal by Thomas Harris
Underneath by Kealan Patrick Burke
Pet Sematary by Stephen King
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Delicious, darkness

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
The Never List by Koethi Zan
The Three by Sarah Lotz
Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield
The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Creepy children

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
Florence and Giles by John Harding
Theo, A Novella by Paul Torday
Angela and Diabola by Lynne Reid Banks
The Shining by Stephen King

What will you be reading this Halloween?!


Now You See Me by Emma Haughton - review

"I never meant to be here.
I hadn’t planned to be standing by the boating lake, shivering in the October breeze, watching seven men look for traces of my lost best friend."

Title: Now You See Me
Author: Emma haughton

Publisher: Usborne Publishing Ltd
Source: Purchased from Kindle Store
Available: Now
Buy it: Here


When Danny goes missing at the age of thirteen, he leaves his family devastated and his once-best-friend, Hannah, questioning what went wrong. Finding Danny becomes an obsession for his mother, and the constant nagging in the back of Hannah's mind. Until one day, the call comes; Danny is found. Everyone is over the moon, so why isn't Hannah?


Now You See Me is a great novel of mystery and obsession - of the will to believe triumphing over the facts in front of you.

I was gripped to the dark elements of Now You See Me - the unexplained disappearance, the volatile mood swings of Danny's fraught mother, the obvious tension between Hannah's family and Danny's... They all mounted into a tense and thrilling novel - with a very creepy reveal! (apparently Now You See Me is based n a true story?!)

I did find the story took a while to fully get into - I found the first chapter didn't quite match the feel of the rest of the book, in that it when it introduced Hannah I thought she was much younger than she turned out to be! I also felt some parts of the novel were rushed and a tiny bit contrived, though this had no effect on my enjoyment as they happen very late on and I was engrossed by that point!

I think Now You See Me is a worthy YA equivalent to something like Gone Girl. Creepy and well portrayed.


Now You See Me is a great YA thriller with a dark and unexpected twist. I loved that the ending left just enough open to interpretation but still wrapped everything up succinctly. Mostly I liked the mounting sense of unease and that something "isn't quite right".



The One with Kelly

Hello! Today I'd like to welcome Kelly to Mab is Mab! Kelly blogs at Dorristheloris and you can find her on Twitter @dorristheloris

Here are Kelly's picks for "The One"!

The One you always recommend:

Daggerspell by Katharine Kerr.

I can remember nabbing this from my Dad's bookcase pretty soon after I made the leap from kids to adult books. I'd always been a bit of a tomboy so enjoyed sword and sorcery novels, but this was the first time I'd come across the idea that a girl could be the main character. And not just a main character, but a warrior, up in the line of battle with the men.

Jill, the main character is such a great role model, especially for young female readers. She very matter of factly gets on with things and doesn't give a stuff for convention. I love how she isn't afraid to forge her own path and it's entirely possible that she may have inspired my slightly stubborn nature!

 The One that was a gift:

Grimm Tales: For Young and Old by Philip Pullman

I love this book, not only because I think Philip Pullman did a great job of retelling and slightly modernising the original texts for a more contemporary audience, but because I think it signifies the moment when my mum finally realised that I wasn't ever going to grow up and lose my taste for fairytales. I got it for Christmas two years ago, so she did hold out for quite a while!

The One that got away:

The Oathbreaker's Shadow by Amy McCullough

I want to read this. I really do. I even bought a copy at YALC. But every time I go to open it, something happens! I get distracted, forget what I was doing or find myself thinking "Hmm maybe later." I just need to set myself an appointment to sit down and read the bloomin' thing!

The One that makes you cry:


I don't even know what to say about this. I read it back to back with Catching Fire. I nearly missed my train in Birmingham because the platforms changed and I was too absorbed reading this to notice. Then when it got to *that* part, I had to scurry off to the loos for tissue and hoped nobody would hear me sobbing to myself in the quiet carriage!

The One that still haunts you:

The Owl Service by Alan Garner

This story about modern day teenagers being drawn into acting out an ancient Welsh mythic tragedy has haunted me ever since I first read it at university. The idea of being locked into destructive cycles and making the same mistakes over and over is pretty scary. I don't know how well the narrative, set in the 60s or 70s, I think, translates into a modern age where everyone has smart phones and gps, but that feeling of being trapped was something that definitely resonated.

The One you always go back to: 

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

This is probably what's referred to as middle grade now, but for me it's such a perfect book to sum up the transition from childhood to adulthood. The awkward in-between phase where you lurch from rushing towards independence to craving the security of the familiar is so well expressed. And there's something comforting about seeing how Will, the main character, makes mistakes but learns and grows from them rather than letting them destroy him. Plus, it's so atmospheric, this book is just Christmas on paper for me.

Thanks Kelly! The Owl Service sounds really interesting, I'd never heard of it before! I'm sure you're not the oonly one who shed a tear at Mockingjay :)