Skulduggery Pleasant: Bedlam (and all the others) Review

Skulduggery Pleasant: Bedlam by Derek Landy Review. Also a vague review of the second series overall, which assumes you have knowledge of the first series as well. If you don’t, this is going to be quite confusing. For example, Skulduggery is a skeleton and this is a world with magic. If you haven’t read the first series, they are excellent and I highly recommend you go and read them then come back!

I LOVE the Skulduggery Pleasant series. I read the first series and was completely obsessed with them, seeing Valkyrie grow up and realise her destiny with Skulduggery Pleasant always by her side with an army of suits and sassy comebacks. The books had a colourful cast of characters who you couldn’t help but like, hate, or both! They were always so easy to read and slip into, full of plot twists and unexpected events that never felt forced while still paying attention to the normal like Valkyrie was neglecting due to her wild adventures and how she tried to balance them. If you haven’t read them, do it. You don’t need to be a kid or a teenager to enjoy the ride.

When I saw Derek Landy was bringing back the Skulduggery Pleasant series I was excited, especially since they would continue to follow Valkyrie and Skulduggery as well as introducing some new characters. Bedlam is the third book in the resurrection of the series, and for me the best thing is Valkyrie. Yes, she is still a badass main character who travels around solving (and causing) problems with Skulduggery, but she has grown. She is in her early twenties and behaves accordingly, and Landy includes Valkyrie trying to cope with the massive trauma of the events of the previous series and the effect it has had on her adult life. Her dynamic with Skulduggery has evolved with the series and I’m so glad, because it shows the reality of relationships changing as you get older. SPOILER ALERT FOR BEDLAM ALTHOUGH IT IS FOUND OUT IN THE FIRST CHAPTER: Valkyrie has a girlfriend! It made me very, very happy. And leads to a funny scene with Fletcher.

Because this series is introducing new plots, where Valkyrie is not the main recipient of the prophecies, there are more characters and plot lines to follow. It can feel a little chaotic at times, flicking between perspectives. One of the main ones is Omen Darkly, the younger brother of the chosen one. I like Omen, he is quite obviously meant to be the useless younger brother but he’s great and quite relatable at times. Both Fletcher and Tanith make appearances in Bedlam, characters I am thrilled to see again because nostalgia. Derek Landy continues to write 3-dimensional villains and characters who aren’t good or bad, just living their life and I like the lack of distinction, the blurring of the line which separates good from evil.

The world we are plunged into is a world familiar but changed, since as with Valkyrie, Landy shows the aftereffects of the previous wars and the way this would be reflected in the world. For me, this made the book really interesting as it deepened my understanding of the world while continuing to throw in delightful details. With his characteristic humour, Landy kept me grinning throughout the whole book while getting me emotionally invested in a plot with far too much happening at once, although there are a few moments of normality amongst the chaos which provide a welcome break.

In conclusion: Valkyrie is hot, Omen is hilarious and Skulduggery is Skulduggery. Not much more I could ask for really, and I will definitely be reading the next one. Since the first series both Valkyrie and I have realised we like girls, a lovely parallel which randomly occurred to me while I was writing this. If you’ve got this far and haven’t read the series yet, do it. A well-built world with plenty happening and buckets of fun. Some books you read and a month later have forgotten what happened. I can still remember loads of the first Skulduggery Pleasant series and I read them years ago. Just go for it.

I hope you’re all well, and enjoying your summer! I’m now on my summer holidays, although I have quite a bit of revision to do for my exams in September. It’s strange because holidays don’t feel that different to school anymore; it’s all at home. Anyone else experiencing this, or does your life have more distinct lines between work and home? Let me know.

June 2020 Roundup

Here we are again, another monthly roundup! I have literally just written the May 2020 Roundup, so it feels a little strange to be writing June’s directly after. However, I’m on a blog post writing roll and have a scheduled post for the first time in a couple of months so I’m just going for it. I didn’t have many choices for favourites in June, mainly because I haven’t read much. I’ve only read 9 books, although in my defence I did a lot of writing so I could get my current project finished before the July camp NaNoWriMo began.

Book 1: Islander by Patrick Barkham

Genre: nonfiction, travel writing

What I liked: the islands chosen, the unique mixture of personal experience on the islands and history/ culture of the islands, the nature and setting descriptions

What I didn’t like: I would have loved a sequel, or more islands included because I absolutely loved the style of writing

Who I would recommend it to: Anyone interested in learning more about the islands of Britain, or anyone who just likes hearing about cool, isolated places

Book 2: May Day by Josie Jaffrey

Genre: vampires, fantasy, contemporary

What I liked: the humour, all the characters especially the bisexual, badass main character, the setting of Oxford

What I didn’t like: that there’s no sequel yet. I devoured this book in one sitting and I was 100% primed for another one.

Who I would recommend it to: fans of urban fantasy, vampires and awesome, humorous writing

Book 3: The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

Genre: sci-fi

What I liked: Really cool, fresh concept and the world-building was good. I liked the main character and the plot twists. Also: amazing ending.

What I didn’t like: I would have enjoyed more emotional depth to the story. I felt like I was missing a connection.

Who I would recommend it to: science fiction fans, people looking to try something new

Book 4: The Peace of Wild Things and Other Poems by Wendell Berry

Genre: poetry

What I liked: there are not enough words to describe how much I adored this poetry collection. Its writing is so evocative and peaceful, I just want to move to the countryside and live in a cottage and tend to my orchard

What I didn’t like: Nothing.

Who I would recommend it to: poetry-lovers, people who don’t like poetry, anyone who asks me for a poetry recommendation, people who love nature and want to reconnect with it

Book 5: The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones

Genre: middle grade, fantasy

What I liked: the magic, the seemingly unconnected plot strands which pulled together, the richly developed characters

What I didn’t like: I don’t really have any complaints. This is not a book written for adults but I really enjoyed it.

Who I would recommend it to: People who want a good book which is a bit easier to read, kids, people who want a book to read with their family

I might not have read many books this month, but I am happy to say I have definitely read quality books. I loved every single book on this list, and I took the time to really engage with each book so maybe reading 9 books in a month isn’t so bad. There’s also the fact I keep starting books and not finishing them, which means despite reading my total books doesn’t actually go up because I don’t finish them before starting something new! Do you stick to one book at a time or have bookmarks here, there and everywhere? I’d love to hear, so comment down below or click on one of the links to check out my social media!

A Booktiful Love Review

Rating: 2 out of 5.

A Booktiful Love is a collection of poems by Tolu’ A. Akinyemi. It is described as ‘a collection of poems that deal with the entirety of human experience in its various forms.’ I received an ebook in return for an honest review, so rest assured that all the opinions expressed here are my own.

What really struck me about this book was the writer’s biography at the end- he is VERY qualified! He is: a business analyst, financial crime consultant, a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist, a personal development and career coach, a writer with 10 years experience, a mentor at several schools, a trained economist, has a Masters’ Degree, and has featured in several poetry festivals. Like… wow!

A Booktiful Love is split into several different sections with a wide variety of topics, quite random at times. For example, it starts with a poem about loo-roll scarcity, which made it very clear that this poem had been written since the start of lockdown! The poems are definitely accessible with simple and direct language.

I don’t have any particularly strong feelings about this collection of poems. The poem has some nice ideas, quite typical at times, some more interesting poems towards the end of the collection. The language can be vivid, the simplicity and directness effective for some topics. I found the more personal poems more engaging, for example when the author talked about his mother and his view on politics. Occasionally there was some rhyming, and I do love some rhyming.

The title poem, in my opinion, was not anything extraordinary although I do like the title. I do prefer more figurative and elaborate language in poetry, but that’s just personal preference and I do like that the poems say what they mean and are direct. The only poems I actively dislike where a few consecutive ones in the middle with were all named ‘Beauty and …”. They were clearly about a woman he loves, but they made me uncomfortable, particularly lines like ‘she is my prize’.

In conclusion this is an accessible collection of poems with a with a wide range of subjects and a simple, direct style, so if that is how you like your poetry or you are just getting into poetry I suggest you give it a go!

I can’t believe it’s July already! Half the year is gone which is absolutely crazy, and I’m coming to the end of my penultimate year at school. It doesn’t feel like that much time has passed because of all the time we’ve spent under lockdown, like we’re living in an alternate universe or something. Going back to school in September is definitely going to be very strange. What does the end of June mean to you? Let me know in the comments or on one of my social platforms linked below!

May 2020 Roundup

‘Bee, why am I reading a May Roundup in July?’ I hear you ask. Well, funny story that’s not actually that funny. I consistently forgot about this post all the way through June and my perfectionism hates the idea of missing a month, so we’re about to take a look at the top 5 books I read in May. Don’t worry though- you’ll get my June favourites next week (hopefully)! Without further ado let’s get into the post, since it’s already a month late.

Book 1: Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson

Genre: young adult, crime, contemporary, mystery, thriller

What I liked: I absolutely loved this book, and when I write my full-length review it will be GLOWING. Holly Jackson does an incredible job of building suspense, creating vivid and loveable characters and dropping tiny clues throughout leading to the final revelation.

What I didn’t like: There isn’t another one yet

I’d recommend it to: fans of true crime, fans of young adult books, people who like a really good, suspenseful crime investigation

Book 2: Leonard and Hungry Paul by Ronan Hession

Genre: I don’t really know how to describe it. Contemporary fiction, but not like I’ve ever read before.

What I liked: This story doesn’t really have any conflict. At all. It is a celebration of the everyday, with gentle, elegant writing and human characters you grow an affection for.

What I didn’t like: There isn’t really anything I disliked, although I can see how some people who like lots of action might find it a bit boring

I’d recommend it to: anyone who wants to look at the ordinary world with new eyes, anyone looking for a book that’s easy to read and a little different.

Book 3: Hope is the Thing with Feathers by Emily Dickinson

Genre: poetry

What I liked: Everything. I adore Emily Dickinson’s poetry, I think it’s stunning. For a longer review, check out one I wrote earlier

What I didn’t like: Nothing. I would have loved to know her.

I’d recommend it to: fans of poetry. Anyone who can appreciate brilliant writing.

Book 4: The Madness Vase by Andrea Gibson

Genre: poetry

What I liked: the long poems, a series of different topics all flowing into one another seamlessly. The vivid language, frequent and precise use of metaphors and similes and personification. Gibson isn’t afraid to talk about big topics such as politics, the patriarchy and gender norms. My favourite poem was ‘I Sing the Body Electric, Especially When My Power’s Out’.

What I didn’t like: Poetry books are too short. I need more poems!

I’d recommend it to: fans of poetry that addresses a wide variety of topics including gender, sexuality, politics, the patriarchy, capitalism and much more.

Book 5: Gemsigns by Stephanie Saulter

Genre: fantasy, fiction, science fiction

What I liked: I loved the political element of this novel, and the way Saulter takes a look at issues such as race, class and religion in a futuristic society, while examining moral issues and creating a cast of fascinating characters and an intriguing world.

What I didn’t like: I found this book a little hard to connect with at times, but overall I really enjoyed reading it. The start is maybe a bit slow?

I’d recommend it to: fans of fantasy and futuristic society, those interested in genetic modifications and the social implications of the issue.

So, that brings us to the end of my top 5 books of May! I definitely had to take a look at the notes I made while reading these books, because they’re not as fresh in my mind as they should have been if I had written this a month ago. I’ve just found lockdown, even several months in, has completely thrown my sense of routine and organisation. My room is a mess! Has lockdown made you more or less organised? Let me know down below in the comments or on one of my social platforms- I love hearing from you. 🙂

Sunshine and Whiskey by Lauren White Review

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Sunshine and Whiskey is a collection of poems by Lauren White. I was very kindly gifted an ebook of this book in return for an honest review, so all opinions expressed here are my own. As you might already know from previous posts, I have been reading a lot of poetry recently so I have lots of poetry books to review!

A bit about the author: Lauren White grew up in Maryland, and she is an engineer. She earned her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from University of Maryland, College Park and her M.S. in Systems Engineering from Naval Postgraduate School. In her free time she likes trying new whiskies, writing poetry and Star Trek.

I have mixed opinions about Sunshine and Whiskey, which is split into several sections such as Summer, Lauren and Broken. That is not to say any of the poetry is bad; in fact most of the poems were simple and well-written. I really enjoyed the rhyming White used in her poems and the mood she evoked in some of the poems was wonderful, with little details that really immersed me in the scene. There were some cliche lines, but these were accompanied by some cool original imagery.

The poems were predominantly long and free form, made up of short lines. They often had really obscure words as titles which I loved, because I am obsessed with finding out new words so I really enjoyed looking up what these meant. I was less a fan of the random pop culture references such as X-men, as I tend to prefer timeless poetry, but the self confidence shown in some of the poems was very inspiring.

As for the subjects of the poems, there was a variety. My favourites were the ones White wrote about herself, so it was rather disappointing that the majority of the collection were about relationships. The poems about heartbreak just seemed to go on forever and became a bit repetitive, definitely for more mature readers because lots of them focused on someone leaving her and her lying in bed remembering them having sex and touching. None of the poems were graphic in that sense, but it just got boring when every poem was slightly different ways of describing the same thing.

In conclusion I would recommend this collection if you are interested in reading lots of poems about love, heartbreak and missing someone. The ones White writes about herself and any other topic are more engaging, however they are sadly dwarfed by the sheer volume of poems focused on unnamed partner(s).

I hope you’re all well and staying safe! I know my reviewing has been patchy recently, but I am trying to get back into the rhythm of posting regularly and I have recently got back into fiction books again which is adds a bit of variety to my reading schedule. I say schedule, I mean randomly picking up books when I walk past them and reading a few pages. Does you have a set time you read in, or do you just read randomly like me? Let me know down below using one of my platforms or comment down below 🙂

Emily Dickinson Poetry Review

Looking for poetry to read, I was surfing my library’s elibrary when Emily Dickinson’s name caught my eye. I was looking for more modern poetry, but I thought I’d give it a try and I’m so glad I did, because I have since bought a copy of ‘Hope is the Thing with Feathers’, the complete poems of Emily Dickinson.

This review is going to be less poetry analysis and more just me gushing about Emily Dickinson’s poetry, because I love it. She is now one of my favourite poets, and I read pretty much the entire collection over two days. I’ll start with some quick info on Emily Dickinson herself, then we’ll get into her poetry.

Emily Dickinson was an American poet born in Massachusetts in 1830. She enjoyed school, particularly botany and her love of nature is evident in her poetry. After leaving school her letters in the early 1950s show she didn’t like domestic work, and she disliked having lots of visitors. She wrote many letters over the course of her life, sending friends poetry and trying out different narrative voices. She died in 1886, and her firs poetry collection was released in 1890. If you want a VERY in-depth life story, check out this link.

The book itself is split into 3 series, and within each series are four sections: life, love, nature, time & eternity. Some of the poems are titled, some are not, and they vary in length. Her stanzas within a poem remain the same length and all her poems have a wonderful rhythm to them which makes them a joy to read. I loved the all the rhyming she used and the antiquated language which expresses truths relatable to the modern reader. Emily Dickinson did not write with an audience in mine, her poems were personal, and I think there’s a gorgeous vulnerability about them.  Emily makes frequent use of metaphors and similes and personification in order to create vivid and evocative imagery within her poems, with a mixture of light-hearted and deep topics covered. I think her writing is so beautiful and imaginative and I could read it over and over again. And I will be.

Here are a couple of poems I enjoyed, to possibly tempt you into reading Emily Dickinson’s work, and the book I have is here if you want to buy it too!

Sunset
A sloop of amber slips away
      Upon an ether sea,
And wrecks in peace a purple tar,
      The son of ecstasy.
Power
You cannot put a fire out;
       A thing that can ignite
Can go, itself, without a fan
      Upon the slowest night.

You cannot fold a flood
      And put it in a drawer, -
Because the winds would find it out,
      And tell your cedar floor.
Disenchantment
It dropped so low in my regard
      I heard it hit the ground,
And go to pieces on the stones
      At bottom of my mind;

Yet blamed the fate that fractured, less
      Than I reviled myself
For entertaining plated wares
      Upon my silver shelf.
A Book
There is no frigate like a book
      To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
      Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
      Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
      That bears a human soul!
A Syllable
Could mortal lip divine
      The undeveloped freight
Of a delivered syllable,
      'T would crumble with the weight

Others I loved include ‘The forgotten grave’, ‘The snow’, ‘A thunder-storm’, ‘The sea’ and many more! I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and maybe found some new poetry to read. Before you go please remember to keep signing petitions and educating yourself on racism, we need to keep going even when it’s not on the news! Stay safe and I hope you’re all well.

At the Last Minute Review

At the Last Minute by Estha Weiner

Hello everyone!

I know it’s shocking, but I have finally started writing reviews again. I’m as surprised as you are, yet here we are. I have been reading A LOT of poetry recently. I don’t know why, but I was hit by a sudden craving for poetry and in the last month it’s pretty much all I’ve read. I’ve also decided to do a school project on poetry, because not only have I been reading a lot of poetry, but I also write a lot of it. All in all, there has been quite a bit of poetry.

I was very kindly sent an ebook of At the Last Minute by Estha Weiner in exchange for an honest review, so you can be assured all opinions expressed here are my own (as usual). I was sent the book in April, but due to circumstances I have only just got back into writing reviews so I thought better late than never and jumped right in!

At the Last Minute is a collection of poems published by Salmon Poetry. It is Estha Weiner’s fourth collection of poetry, and was first published in 2019. There’s about 50 poems, and they tend to be about 10-20 lines long, although there are some longer and some shorter. This combined with the uncomplicated language used makes the collection of poetry accessible to anyone who may be interested in reading some poetry. The topics covered seem quite random (am I missing something?), including love/relationships, plays and several based off or inspired by quotes.

I enjoyed the shortness of the poems, which meant that the meaning or story being told did not get lost between endless metaphors and similes. While the enjambment used throughout Weiner’s poetry is effective, I sometimes found it harder to focus on the sentiment she was trying to put across because of it. The poems were more narrative than emotional, so I didn’t particularly connect with them and I preferred the poems that were more vulnerable, for I found them more engaging. My favourite poem was ‘At 5:45 pm in The Conservatory Garden’. It was short and sweet, and the simple imagery evocative.

Overall, At the Last Minute is a nicely written collection of poetry with a couple of lovely poems, but not one of my favourites. Upon reading it a second time I didn’t find myself any more interested, but it might be more attractive to an American audience (Weiner mentions American locations several times) or perhaps someone older than myself with more life experience. I hope you’re all as well as possible, and keep signing petitions and educating yourself about racism because while the news cycles will inevitably move on, the fight is far from over. Stay safe and feel free to contact me because I love hearing from you!

10 Popular YA books I haven’t read (yet)

Hello and welcome (back) to beebliophile! I’m currently trying to post once a week, and after a week of looking at the task in my bullet journal I have finally pulled myself together and I’m writing a post!

The Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer

This one has recently come to my attention due to the announcement that Stephenie Meyer is releasing another book, Midnight Sun. In case you haven’t heard, it’s Twilight but from Edward’s perspective. While I have considered reading these books many times, the lack of LGBTQ+ characters and the whole Bella deciding between 2 frankly creepy boys put me off a bit. I’m thinking of reading them, just to see what’s up before Midnight Sun is released. I’ve seen the movies though, so I already have a rough idea of the plot.


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I don’t have a good reason for not reading this. I want to read it and it’s meant to be excellent, I’ve just never got round to it and I’m not a huge reader of contemporary. As soon as I get my hands on a copy, I’m gonna read it.


The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

As I just said, I’m not a huge reader of contemporary YA. I’ve watched this movie, it was sad I guess. I’ve read a couple of John Green’s other books and I wasn’t gripped so I probably won’t end up reading this. Plus for personal reasons I don’t want to read about people with cancer at the moment.


The Perks of being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

This is starting to be a bit of a theme, I’ve seen the movie but I haven’t read the book. I promise I usually read the book first, it’s just I’m a huge fan of contemporary YA films and not so much the books. I’m on the fence about this one- maybe I’ll read it, maybe I won’t.


The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

Once again, you know it, I’ve seen the movie and haven’t read the book. This book I would like to read however, because I really enjoyed the movie and I’d love to know the writer’s style in telling the story. Why I haven’t read it? Just never got my hands on a copy.


All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Surprisingly I haven’t seen the movie for this one. Shocking, I know, but it didn’t really grab me. That’s the reason I haven’t read the book or watched the movie. And it’s a good enough reason for me.


The Sun is also a Star by Nicola Yoon

This one also has a Netflix movie which I haven’t watched. Contemporary YA, not my thing, didn’t grab me. Nothing more to say really.


Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott

I actually recently watched the movie based on this book and it was very emotional. Still, probably won’t read it. Now I’ve seen the movie I know what happens and my lack of enthusiasm for contemporary YA means I likely won’t read it.


His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

Let me say I have strong intentions to read these books, I really do. I even have The Book of Dust from the prequel series on my bookshelf. Yeah, I really don’t have a reason for not reading these except I haven’t got round to it.


13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

I haven’t watched the TV series and I haven’t read the book and I don’t really intend to consume either. I’ve seen a lot of bad reviews of both and I’m put off. Just not for me.


So those are 10 popular YA books I haven’t read yet. Now you may be thinking- ‘Bee, why are there so many contemporary YA there when you don’t really like them a lot?’ You make a good point. The problem is when I looked for more popular YA books I haven’t read there aren’t many, because I have read a lot of popular YA fantasy. Like, A LOT. That’s why there’s so much contemporary YA on here. If you want to check out which books I have read, pop over to my goodreads!

Have I missed your favourite YA books? Do you think I should read the ones above? Comment below or feel free to contact me using this page, instagram or twitter!

Books I’ve read for school (and what I think of them)

I am currently in my first year of A-Level English Language and literature. For those of you unfamiliar with the British schooling system, A Levels are two year courses with exams at the end in the last two years of school. You generally turn 17 in the first year (Y12) and 18 in the second year (Y13) before going onto university.

Needless to say, I have read quite a few books in english over the years, as well as some for classical civilisation A Level which I am also currently doing. I do not remember every book I have done in class since I was 4 years old, and instead of looking things up or reminding myself what these books are about, I’m just going to state as many as I can remember and give a sentence or two on what I can remember. This post does contain spoilers, but not for any books released recently. In fact I don’t think there’s anything after the year 2000, which is kind of crazy. Without further ado, let’s begin.

A Level Texts

The Whitmore Weddings by Philip Larkin

The Whitmore Weddings by Philip Larkin are a collection of poems with themes such as disillusionment, looking back on your youth and bleakness. While I enjoy studying poetry and I appreciate the poetic devices Larkin employs, I often find the subjects of his poems quite tedious or repetitive.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby is a story about a guy called Nick and the various rich and poor people he meets over a summer in New York in about the 1920s. There’s lots of rich people behaving badly and a mystery around who Gatsby actually is. I had a love-hate relationship with Nick, I liked his insights at some point and he isn’t a bad guy but I often found him hypocritical, passive or plain irritating.

The Bacchae by Euripides (English Translation)

I think The Bacchae is great. I’m quite biased, since I adore Ancient Greece and Greek mythology but it’s pretty awesome. The play follows Dionysus as he comes to the birthplace of his mother and punishes his family, particularly his cousin Pentheus, for not believing that he is a god. It is tragic but it’s also just really cool. I do love a good Bacchic ritual.

Oedipus the King by Sophocles (English Translation)

Oedipus the King is a play follows the story of Oedipus as he sets out to save his city from a plague by finding the murderer of the previous King. This story was a whole lot of wild, and I found Creon’s character in this play quite difficult to reconcile with the Creon I knew from Antigone. The ending is quite gruesome and mildly horrifying, but the story is never boring. I liked Oedipus and his wife’s marriage before… you know.

Frogs by Aristophanes (English Translation)

Frogs is an Ancient Greek comedy play and it’s not only quite funny but also incredibly random and very interesting, especially with all the references to contemporary events of the time. I’m not a fan of scatological humour like the Ancient Greeks (look it up) but Frogs is still great fun.

The Odyssey by Homer (English Translation)

The Odyssey is my favourite text I have studied so far in Classics. It’s pretty famous, but if you don’t know it follows the story of a hero called Odysseus as he attempts to return home after the war at Troy. I adore all the greek mythology contained in it, I love the story it tells and the refrains and the characters. Homer is truly an epic poet.

GCSE Texts

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

The Woman in Black was my favourite of my GCSE texts, even after 3 years of studying it I still really enjoy it. It follows the story of Arthur Kipps as he recounts the events that traumatised him in his youth when he goes out to an isolated house in order to sort the accounts. It’s such a good traditional ghost story and even though I normally hate horror, the actual story is excellent.

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Macbeth is another famous one. The play follows the story of Macbeth, who becomes the king of Scotland. There’s lots of questionable decisions and questionable morals. I really liked Lady Macbeth, who just does whatever she wants really and is very ambitious. Also the witches are great, just randomly appearing and messing things up. Considering the themes in Macbeth actually makes it better, especially the question of fate vs free will.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre. Not a fan of this one, I’m afraid. I know lots of people do like it, and the setting descriptions and plot are interesting, but once Rochester got involved I just went nope. Rochester is fifty shades of creepy and I wish Jane had ditched him. I liked all the different settings, especially Lowood, but I found Jane too passive as a narrator at times and as I said before, Rochester and Jane together makes me shudder.

Y7- Y9 Texts

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

At this point the texts are more distant in my memory, so these reviews are about to get vague. From what I can remember, this is a story about a horse and this boy. I think it’s the horse we follow but I honestly cannot remember. I’m pretty sure it was a good book though, despite my dislike of war. What I can remember is our school trip to see War Horse in the theatre. That was incredible, I highly recommend it.

Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

I don’t really remember much about studying this play, but I know the basic plot. There’s a storm and a ship is wrecked. Twins called Viola and Sebastian (I think) get washed up separately. Viola pretends to be her brother in order to get by. Viola ends up working for a lovesick Duke, and the lady he is in love with falls in love with Viola disguised as a boy. Not sure what Sebastian is doing all this time, but then he turns up and the lady thinks Sebastian is Viola and they end up together and Viola and the Duke end up together. It’s a cool story, and I like the movie based on it called She’s the Man.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

This play has several plots. The one of four lovers who are in a tangle. An argument between the fairy king and queen. A bunch of actors preparing for a play. The all end up bumping into each other at various points. It’s a good story and quite fun to act out. I think at one point in class we had to rewrite parts into modern settings and someone did a gangster version. That was funny.

The Tempest by William Shakespeare

My memories of this play are very, very vague. There’s a magician who lives on an island with his daughter, a sprite and a green guy? Some people get washed up and the daughter falls in love with someone? No idea what the actual plot is. Obviously I wasn’t impressed, though, or I would probably have more of an idea about this one.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein is about a scientist who puts together a corpse out of random body parts then animates it with lightning. The creature then harasses him, and the scientist is very morally questionable. Some people might or might not die. This is quite a dark tale, as well as being quite sad. Sympathy is definitely for the monster, not Frankenstein himself.

Primary School Texts

Coming to England by Floella Benjamin

It’s definitely been a while and these are the only two texts I remember reading at primary school. I know we read others as a class, but I can’t for the life of me remember what they are. Coming to England has stuck in my memory, and even now I can remember scenes from the book clearly. The joy of Floella’s life in Trinidad, and the horrible racism she experienced in England as her parents worked their hardest to give Floella and her siblings a good life. It’s a really good book, and I recommend reading it whatever your age is.

The Wreck of Zanzibar by Michael Morpurgo

I honestly have no idea what happens in this book or what I thought of it. I just remembered the word Zanzibar.

And that concludes my mini review of all the books I’ve read at school and can remember! What books did you read at school? What did you think of them? Comment below or tell me on twitter, I think it’s fascinating how everyone studies different things.

The Girl the Sea Gave Back Review

The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young.

I’ll start off by saying I absolutely adored the cover for this book, it was what first attracted me to it. A girl in Viking-esque style stepping out of a choppy sea? Amazing. As usual I did no research on this book before reading it, and therefore had no idea this was the second in a series. Thankfully it doesn’t directly follow on from the previous book, because that would have been very confusing. Instead the main character from the previous book appears as a very minor relation to one of the main characters in this book, Halvard. This review is a bit messy, but so were my thoughts about this book so it couldn’t be helped. The synopsis:

For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse.

For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.

Now, if you’ve read the first book, I’m assuming you went into this book knowing about the history between all the clans and who the Svell are. I didn’t, and if you are going to read this book, I highly recommend reading The Sky in the Deep first. You can read this one and understand it, but it takes some detective work to have any idea what’s going on.

Some basic details I picked up were that Tova comes from a territory not connected to the mainland, from a people called the Kyrr. They’re mysterious and no one messes with them. On the mainland there are the Svell, who Tova lives with, and the Nadhir, who are made up of two joined clans, the Aska and the Riki. Some people called the Herja attacked the Nadhir a while ago. While this book is described as a standalone, I think I would have got less distracted by random details if I had read the first one.

The book is written in first person from two perspectives, Tova and Halvard. Tova is a Truthtongue, which means she can read the runes. The Svell hate her and think she is an insult to their god, so want to kill her while their Tala (holy person) keeps her alive for his own uses. Tova is uniquely in tune with the spinners, who control the destiny of gods and men. She can sense the web the spinners weave, and occasionally hears things. I did a bit of research and while the spinners are called the Norns in Norse mythology, they are roughly equal to the fates in Greek mythology. This book definitely felt more historical fiction than fantasy. Halvard is the heir to the Nadhir chieftain and the link to the previous book.

The writing of this book was the best bit about it. There were some stereotypical features such as memory flashbacks to provide background to Halvard and Tova and some outsiders who save the day, but the plot got better as the book went one, with the mysterious Kyrr who Halvard knows and the brief encounters between Tova and Halvard before they meet properly. I really enjoyed the simple, evocative descriptions of setting and the vivid writing of action, the mixture of fate and free will, inevitability and brutality.

The ending was my favourite part of The Girl the Sea Gave Back. That sounds like an insult, but I don’t mean it as one, it’s just the book took me a while to get into and everything pulls together very dramatically near the end. It had the contrast between Tova and Halvard tentatively trusting one another, Tova finally not feeling like an outcast and a great final battle. There was a bit of romance if you like that kind of thing, although I slightly thought Tova and Halvard should be left as friends. Overall I would recommend this book, but only after reading the first one. Would I survive? Maybe not, I’m not a particularly violent person.