Category: Young Adult (page 2 of 2)

Book Review: Pure

Pure by Julianna Baggott was recommended to me by my brother ages ago – finally got round to reading it. A YA Dystopian novel that is definitely unique. The story takes place after a nuclear detonation and features a world where some survivors are living in a Dome, shielded from the detonations, whilst the others are victims living outside and bear the marks of the detonations.

It is this grizzly world on the outside that is captured so well that captivates: people have become fused with objects (one of the main characters, Pressia has a doll head fused over her hand). This new world becomes more horrific with people fused to animals, to the earth and to one another. It’s the fantastic world-building that keeps you reading and is its greatest strength.

On the downside, I found that telling the story from so many viewpoints weakened the story and I wanted to get back to the MCs Pressia and Partridge. Another issue was that I felt that there was a lot of backstory interjected about how the world used to be, which slowed down the pace and to my mind was unnecessary at certain times. Okay, last annoyance I’m going to mention is that the threat/antagonist (I’m not going to ruin it by saying what it is) becomes all too knowing and far-reaching. I felt the antagonist cheapened itself and the whole story because of this.

I want to say lastly that I found the way Pressia was schooled by her grandfather in how it was in the past very touching. There’s a lovely poignancy built up in some of the contrasts to the present with what used to be. For instance OSR, who control and govern the people outside the dome take part in death sprees now and then, killing those they hunt down. The sound of this deadly game conjures up this thought in Pressia:

“Her grandfather refers to the different chants as bird calls, each one supposedly distinctive.”

A good read on account of the unique and fascinating world building.

(Image from


Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: Book Review

This has been on my list to read for a while. With the film coming out this year, I knew I had to get on it. There’s no doubt about my having to see the movie when it’s released. (Eva Green is one of my favourite actresses so I just have to! Incidentally, I’m loving getting my weekly Eva Green fix once more in the new series of Penny Dreadful.)

However – this is the book review! The first thing to strike you is of course, the stunningly atmospheric and creepy photographs throughout the book.


(Case in point.)

The fact that the author’s woven a strange and fast-paced narrative between the photos makes it a unique read. It takes you back to being a kid. There really is something to exploring a story with immersive and darkly-fantastical visuals to match. It reminded me as well of the trend writers have nowadays to make character, setting and other boards to help plan their stories in pinterest, which I myself have started doing sometimes as a nice way of getting into the world-building process.

The dank and yet luscious Welsh countryside with its spooky, abandoned house was a great backdrop. And it was great fun to read about the peculiar children and step into their world, fittingly balanced by the revolting monsters that hunted them.

I think more than anything though, this is a great book to show the creative, powerful effect images can have. It makes you want to get imagining your own stories and create different worlds from the everyday things you see around you. If like me you’re a little late reading this one, I hope you enjoy this immersive, thrilling tale!



Crow Moon by Anna McKerrow: Book Review

Crow Moon is a wonderful invention of a world and story where the shortage of fuel has divided the world. We start off in the Green World, in Dorset and Cornwall where they have formed their own community, which is self-sufficient, living simply off the land…and has witches to protect the villages from the threat of the outside world; the Red World.

Any laughing we might want to do about this witch business is taken care of, in the disinterested and slightly derisive voice of our protagonist, teenage boy, Danny. We learn about the witchcraft and protective wards on the villages and what’s at stake gradually as our unwilling hero is swept up into this world.

This unapologetically cheeky and flirty YA novel is full of intrigue, action and adventure and magic. A lovely world full of the ancient mystery of standing-stones, cruel cliff-tops and savage seas. A world where visualisations, curses and conjuring can happen at the drop of a hat, but which our reluctant hero will not be able to come back from unchanged.

(My image of Stonehenge, Wiltshire, 2013)

Deep Water, Lu Hersey: Book Review

A lovely Middle Grade Fantasy story set in Cornwall. If you like the sea and folklore – you’ll love this read. In Scotland I grew up reading lots of myths about the Selkie, which inspires Lu’s story – so I really enjoyed this one!

The protagonist, Danni is a teenage girl who is thrust into mysteries concerning her family when her mum disappears. We are led on a journey with Danni, which incorporates Cornish folklore, strange cults and religions – and which Danni, with the help of her friends and family must uncover the truth about if she is to save her mum.

A little of some of the beautiful description with which Lu brings the myth and the story to life:

“…we swim for what must be miles around rocks and gullies offshore, chasing fish through the seaweed and over stretches of tide-rippled sand.

Lobsters raise their claws menacingly from rocky crevices as we dart past. Shoals of sand-speckled flatfish flutter across the seabed when we get too close. Out in the open water, we circle a swarm of ghostly jellyfish with cauliflower-like tentacles that have somehow survived the winter, drifting along on some invisible current. I swim through the darkening water, somersaulting round and round…”

A thoroughly enjoyable, well-paced read with likeable characters and bits that make you chuckle. And most of all – a thrilling take that infuses new life into a well-loved myth!

And with that I want to go diving again!

(Diving in Lundy -fishy pup. Photograph by Ben Illis as my camera flooded that trip!)


When Mr Dog Bites: Book Review

mr dog

The Ben Illis Agency (The Literary Men In Black)

The Ben Illis Agency (The Literary Men In Black)

I recently got this YA novel, When Mr Dog Bites from a friend who is representing it through his Literary Agency, the BIA. It’s not the usual kind of book I’d read (not being supernatural or leaning towards the other slant my reading takes – artsy fartsy, I suppose), but I have been trying to branch out a bit more of late.  What it did make me think more about was of that mysterious attribute all us aspiring authors wonder about, whether its there, whether we’ve got it sufficiently and that we’re all hoping we’ve nailed. Yep, you’ve got it: voice.

This is what this book has through and through – a unique and distinctive voice. Written by Brian Conaghan who gets inside the head of the MC, Dylan Mint, a sixteen year old who has Tourettes. We are side by side Dylan as he deals with bullying, hanging out with his ‘best bud’ Amir and coming to terms with his broken home-life.  It is his heart-breaking naivety that causes Dylan to misunderstand events around him and leads him to believe he is going to die. In Dylan Mint style he treats this information with stoicism and comes up with a list of ‘things to do before I cack it’. These consist of: have sex, get a new friend for ‘best bud’ and get dad home. Once again his tender naivety creates humour as he tries to tackle the list and by the end of the novel gradually learns that not everything is as it seems.

A light-hearted, up-lifting read 🙂

Book Review: Smoke and Bone – The Grisha Series

Finished the first book in The Grisha series – Smoke and Bone. Although not a particular fan of the MC, Alina, who was too whiny and self-pitying for my liking (Think Fanny Price type from Mansfield Park), the world of Ravka was easy to sink into.

The Kingdom of Ravka was split in two when the shadow fold was created, a terrible swathe of blackness where deadly creatures lurk, killing those who cross its boundaries. We learn quickly about the two types of citizens to Ravka: the ordinary foot-soldiers and the Grisha.

Alina finds herself transported from the ordinary into the Grisha world and attempts to master her newly discovered powers. As well as this, she struggles to leave behind her feelings for her childhood friend, Mal and understand her new feelings for the Darkling, the leader of the Grisha.

In truth, it is the Darkling who steals the show. It is his complex, conflicted and disturbingly seductive character that you will find yourself falling for.

Cinder: YA Book Review

Wanted to start sharing some reviews about the YA fantasy novels I’ve been reading lately.  I’ll start with the most recent first, Cinder by Marissa Meyers. It is the first book in the Lunar Chronicles. Starting out, I wasn’t sure how much would be original or unique, but Meyer crafts the futuristic world of New Bejing as an exciting and different setting for our heroine, Cinder. Cinder is very quickly revealed to be a complex character, battling with her own shame and isolation due to being part cyborg.

“Cinder searched for her voice. Her pulse was throbbing, white spots flickering across her vision. A red warning flickered in the corner of her eye – a recommendation that she calm down. “I didn’t ask to be made like this!”

Cinder’s human emotions and her individuality vie throughout the novel with her mechanical parts and make for a conflicted character. Her perception of herself and the stigma society has for her kind add a darker hue to the story too.

Cinder meets Prince Kai in the very first chapter, and immediately the reader feels for Cinder and her situation.

The novel’s pace is excellent – obstacles such as the plague, Cinder’s troubled relationships with her step-family and the gradual discovery about her own background develop the story well. The sub-plot of Prince Kai and royal relations with the Lunar race, with their queen and the prospect of War become intertwined with the main plot. Cinder faces difficult choices throughout, whether to do what’s best for her, or Prince Kai or the country and planet at large.

Great read and looking forward to devouring the next in the series. If you’re a Cinder fan drop me a comment and we can chat about the cool, kick-ass, mechanic or the easy-going,charismatic prince Kai.

Newer posts

© 2018 Rae Else

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑