Book Review: The Princess Companion by Melanie Cellier


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36562225The Princess Companion by Melanie Cellier

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Fairy Tale Retelling

Publishing Info: 2016 by Luminant Publications (ebook)

Pages: 334

Star Rating: 3/5


Back Cover Summary:

One dark and stormy night, lost and alone, Alyssa finds herself knocking on the door of a castle.

After a lifetime spent in the deep forest, Alyssa has no idea what to expect on the other side.

What she finds is two unruly young princesses and one very handsome prince. When Alyssa accepts the job of Princess Companion she knows her life will change. What she doesn’t know is that the royal family is about to be swept up in unexpected danger and intrigue and that she just might be the only thing standing between her kingdom and destruction.

This retelling of the classic fairy tale, The Princess and the Pea, reimagines the risks and rewards that come when one royal family goes searching for a true princess.

Danger and romance await a woodcutter’s daughter in a royal palace.


I have to admit I wasn’t expecting to like this book. I thought it was probably just the sort of thing I’d be drawn to but inevitably be disappointed by. Therefore, I was very pleased that I enjoyed this read. The book is a retelling of The Princess and the Pea, and I liked that it drew elements of inspiration from that story but didn’t rely heavily on it. Cellier took the concept of the fairy tale and made her own story with it.

At first I wasn’t sure about the story, it did take me a few chapters to get into it. Alyssa’s character was one of the best parts. I found her very likeable and enjoyed reading her narrative. The royal family were all great characters too. Though I found the prince’s strange turns of mood towards Alyssa a little confusing. I guess he was perhaps going through some internal conflict over his feelings towards her since she is only a woodcutter’s daughter, but that didn’t come through as well as it could have. There were a lot of side characters, who were mostly well crafted and likeable. I felt Alyssa’s aunt and cousin, Harrison, were a bit neglected in the last third of the novel.

At the beginning of each section of the novel there are some odd chapters told from the point of view of another character. The switch to third person (from Alyssa’s first person perspective) was a little jarring, but not totally off putting. What was more irritating was that at the end of these third person chapters there would be a strange head hop for the last paragraph, where it switched to another point of view just for a few sentences. This was an odd decision for me. I could see why she included those third person chapters, but the strange and confusing head hopping at the end of them was a bit odd.

The last quarter of the book wasn’t as polished as the rest. Cellier is better at writing the slow paced scenes. A couple of the ‘action’ scenes were described a bit too mechanically, and didn’t have the tension and excitement I would want to experience while reading an escape scene for one example. The ending was also a bit rushed compared to the steady pace of the rest of the book.

Although I only gave it 3 stars, it was entertaining. It was simply a good, easy read, which sometimes is all you’re after from a book. I would consider reading more books by Cellier. The Princess Companion is the first in a series of connected books which feature the other princesses from The Princess Companion.


Book Review: I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore


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8807977I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Publishing Info: 2011 by Penguin (first published 2010)

Pages: 374

Star Rating: 4/5


Back Cover Summary:

Nine of us came here. We look like you. We talk like you. We live among you. But we are not you. We can do things you dream of doing. We have powers you dream of having. We are stronger and faster than anything you have ever seen. We are the superheroes you worship in movies and comic books–but we are real.

Our plan was to grow, and train, and become strong, and become one, and fight them. But they found us and started hunting us first. Now all of us are running. Spending our lives in shadows, in places where no one would look, blending in. we have lived among you without you knowing.

But “they” know. They caught Number One in Malaysia. Number Two in England. And Number Three in Kenya. They killed them all. I am Number Four. I am next.


This is one of those rare occasions where I actually watched the film before I read the book. The film came out a few years ago now and I’ve watched it many times. I heard it wasn’t as good as the book (what a surprise) but just really liked the characters. I was therefore hopeful about the book. Even so I put off reading it for a long time, even though it was on my shelf waiting, because the experience of reading a book after seeing a film adaptation just isn’t the same. You already have expectations of what’s going to happen. Nevertheless I did enjoy reading I Am Number Four, and am keen to read the rest of the series to find out where the story goes.

At first I found it hard to read. I couldn’t get into the style of writing. There were a lot of clipped, short sentences and it read a little odd, almost like it hadn’t been edited yet. In the end though I decided it was deliberately written that way, because the style was consistent. I did eventually get used to it though.

The plot isn’t really anything new, unfortunately. Aliens arrive on Earth and guess what, the bad aliens want to (insert bad thing here) take over/destroy the planet. I liked the idea that Number Four and the others had to be killed in order because of the charm protecting them. There wasn’t much unique or new about the plot though.

One thing I did like about the book compared to the film is that there was a lot more information about Lorien, the planet John and Henri came from. I felt like I cared more about their mission when reading the book because I got to see what Lorien was like and the invasion of the Mogadorians. Along with some other back story and detail.

The characters were the best part of this book for me. I really liked John as the narrator but there is also a great cast of characters alongside him. For some reason the animal is always one of the best characters. I loved the dog, Bernie Kosar.

I think I would have disliked the romance if I hadn’t seen the film. Having seen it many times the idea of John and Sarah being together was quite ingrained in my brain. When you read the book though there is some insta-love vibes going on which I usually hate.

A lot of the end fight sequence was hard to follow, especially one part where John was facing off a particular Mogadorian. I just couldn’t follow what was happening very easily which took all the tension and suspense out of the scene. It was too messy. The whole end ‘battle’ scene was a bit too chaotic.

Overall I liked it, but there are some problems with it. It’s hard to imagine what I would have thought about this book if I hadn’t seen the film. I have a feeling I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much. Whereas having seen the film I was already invested in the characters and their story. I will probably pick the next book up out of curiosity.

Film Review: Star Wars The Last Jedi


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HO00005086Film Review: Star Wars – The Last Jedi

Release date: 14th December 2017

Director: Rian Johnson

Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Mark Hamill, Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson

Runtime: 152 minutes

Genre: Science-Fiction

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 4/5 stars


Fans have been divided over this film, but I have to say I loved it. No, it wasn’t what I was expecting. It was a little different from other Star Wars films. Yes, that is a good thing from my point of view! I’ve liked (to varying degrees) all of the films. I thoroughly enjoyed The Force Awakens, but it did recycle major plot elements from the original trilogy too much. It didn’t stand on its own two feet. This film did.

It was rather long. It did feel a little episodic, almost like a TV series squished into a film. However, that didn’t really bother me. I just enjoyed the story. There were a lot of twists and turns and although some parts were a little predictable, there were parts that I didn’t see coming and broke from the mould, which I really liked about this film.

Visually and musically it’s stunning yet again. The soundtrack of John Williams is part of what really makes these movies great for me. Some interesting new worlds were explored in this film which made for some new captivating visuals and designs.

In terms of characters, I really liked all of them. Snoke has been very underdeveloped, so I’m hoping we’ll hear more about him in the next film. Rey and Finn are once again great characters. I’m not such a fan of Poe, but I don’t dislike his character. Some new faces joined as well, such as Rose and Holdo, and they fitted in well with the story. A lot of people complained that Kylo Ren was too whiny and teenager-like in The Force Awakens, but I think that actually means that we can clearly see a character arc in him. He has changed since the last film which is so good to see, and this film explored the conflict inside him more.

I thought the main returning characters – Leia, Luke etc – were handled well. I’ve seen a lot of people expressing views that they wished they’d just left them alone. I’m glad they’ve been included in this trilogy because I like how it continues the story. It was interesting to see an older Luke, how he has changed over the years and his own internal conflict.

Many questions are still left unanswered. Who is Supreme Leader Snoke? Really we know little more about him after this film. Rey’s past is also still shrouded in mystery. The Knights of Ren have been mentioned in both films but we still don’t know much about them. I hope they won’t forget to wrap up all the subplots and unanswered questions in the last film.

Now we just have to wait another two years for the concluding chapter in the trilogy…

Top 5 Wednesday: 2018 Reading Resolutions


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The first T5W of 2018 is about our reading goals for the next year. I don’t usually do this kind of thing, but it was actually interesting to sit and think about where I want my reading to take me over the next 12 months. T5W is a group hosted on Goodreads, if you’d like to participate check it out here.


1) Read more. In 2017 I read 38 books, but a lot of these were from my degree, when I had to sit and read them really quickly. When I don’t have that kind of deadline, it usually takes me 2-4 weeks to read a book. I want to spend more of my spare time reading, as I’ve not been spending as much time doing it as I used to.


2) Read some classics. After spending 3 years slogging through classics (most of which I wouldn’t have chosen myself) I got kind of fed up of them and haven’t touched them since I finished my degree in June 2017. Months later, I finally feel like reading them of my own free will! So I want to get back into some classics of my own choosing this year.

3) Time for some contemporary. I read a lot of fantasy and sci-fi, and would like to read a few more contemporary/general fiction books.

4) Review the books I read. I don’t get round to reviewing a lot of the books I read. This year I want to blog reviews of as many of them as I can. I enjoy thinking about what I’ve read and sharing my thoughts, so really I ought to do it more.

5) Take a chance on me. With the Mamma Mia Here We Go Again trailer coming out, this song just popped into my head. I want to take a chance on books more this year. I want to not just keep reading safe books by authors or in genres I know I love. I want to step out of my comfort zone and read some books I’m not sure whether I’ll like, because I might just find a gem I might not have looked at otherwise.

Books I Want to Read in 2018


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I don’t usually plan what I’m going to read. I like to see what takes my fancy. But these are some of the books I am desperate to read in 2018.

Series I want to continue


Ringer by Lauren Oliver: The concept of this series – having the two stories in one – really caught my attention, but it’s also the story and characters that make me want to read the next book.

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare: After finally getting round to reading the first book in Clare’s Infernal Devices series at the end of 2017, I am excited to read the second in the series!

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo: I enjoyed the first and second books in this trilogy, so am eager to read the final instalment. I hope it makes a good ending.


Series I want to start

collageread 2018

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin: As soon as I read the blurb for this book, I wanted to read it. It’s been sat on my kindle for a few months but I just haven’t got round to it yet. I will definitely be reading it in 2018 though!

Throne of Glass by Sarah J Mass: Another one that has been sat on my kindle for a while. I’ve heard so much about this series and there are quite a few books in it now. I really should get around to reading it.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer: I have wanted to read this book since it first came out, and have finally got a copy. I haven’t read many fairy tale retellings, but this one caught my eye. Combining a fairy tale retelling with sci-fi just sounds like something I would love. I hope it doesn’t disappoint.


Classics I want to read

After reading so many classics during my degree, I had really had enough of them by the time I’d finished. Now I have reached the point where I feel ready to get back into reading some classics in 2018.


The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins: Having enjoyed the TV adaptation of The Moonstone, I am interested in reading one of Wilkie Collins’ works.

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen: Eventually I will read all of Austen’s novels. So far, I have ticked off Northanger Abbey and Sense and Sensibility. I’m planning to read Mansfield Park next.

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy: I read Tess of the D’Urbervilles a few years ago and loved it. I was totally enchanted by Hardy’s style of writing.


What are you looking forward to reading in 2018?

Top 5 Wednesday: Top 5 Books of 2017


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2017 has been an odd year for books for me. I haven’t actually read many I’ve loved. During my degree I spent so much time reading the literature on the course that I haven’t had much opportunity in the last three years to read books of my choosing. Saying that, a couple of the books on this list I read as part of research for my degree, so it did bring me to some books I’ve loved. These are my favourite books from this year. T5W is a group hosted on Goodreads, if you’d like to participate check it out here.


1) Replica by Lauren Oliver

This was the first book I read in 2017 and has remained one of my favourites. The format of it, with the two stories in one, was a really interesting way to tell the story but also so much more than just a gimmick. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book – Ringer – which came out a couple of months ago.


2) Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

This book was a really important read for me. As much as I love a good fantasy adventure, I also like reading a book that makes me think. The writing in this just totally drew me in, the metaphors working so well with the subject being conveyed. It didn’t shy away from its tough subject matter, and I have a lot of respect for this book.


3) Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Having finished reading the Mortal Instruments series last year, I was eager to get started on another of Cassandra Clare’s series – the Infernal Devices. Reading this book just reminded me why Clare is one of my favourite authors. I was once again instantly absorbed and captivated by her writing, world and story.


4) Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

I know I know. But there is a reason for this book making my list. When I was a child, my mum read the books to me. My dad worked in London and when he would get home from work she would sit and read the Harry Potter books to us – even the last couple when I had grown a bit older! It was a traditional thing that begun with the first book. Reading the series as a family is a very fond memory, however it meant that they were read to me, and I never read them myself. This year I decided to change that and have read the first three books in the series for myself! It was so wonderful to return to the wizarding world.


5) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I’ve had a bit of a year of re-reading books. Earlier this year I re-read the whole Hunger Games series and fell in love with it even more (which I didn’t think was possible). I don’t often re-read books. There are so many out there, I want to read new ones! Even though I knew what would happen, I was still totally gripped by these books. How can a story I know so well still be unputdownable? That just emphasises why this is one of my favourite series.


What are the best books you’ve read this year?

Top 5 Wednesday: Books You’re Thankful For


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This topic is pretty open for interpretation, and my list incorporates a variety of reasons to be thankful for. There are so many books that could be included on this list, but I’ve listed the ones that came to me first, that were my instinctive choices. T5W is a group hosted on Goodreads, if you’d like to participate check it out here.


The Dragonlance Chronicles: Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

This book series really increased my love of fantasy even more, and provided one of the biggest inspirations and fuels for my forays into fantasy writing. I loved the world and the characters (and of course – dragons). I just fell in love with the story and characters. It’s been a while since they read them actually so I really ought to re-read them and remind myself why I love fantasy so much.


Ombria in Shadow by Patricia McKillip

Ombria in Shadow was so different to other fantasy books I had read; it really opened my eyes to what fantasy could be. That it could be lyrical and mysterious, not just epic. This was the first book by McKillip I read and I fell in love with her writing style immediately. It was instantly my favourite book. She’s also one of my favourite authors and I’ve loved other books by her as well.


The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I know, such an obvious choice, but I really can’t imagine life without the Hunger Games books. I could read them again and again because they’re so thought provoking but also totally engaging. Each one in the trilogy is brilliant and hard-hitting for different reasons. I’ve chosen the first book for this list, as this is where it all started, and the rest of the series wouldn’t have existed without it.


Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Some books just stick with you and this is one of them. A real eye-opener. I found listening to Hannah’s tapes through Clay an interesting narrative choice and one which really worked for the story Asher was telling. It was haunting to read. There’s some important messaged in this book.


The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

This was a hard book for me. I struggled to get through it. It was painful to read. But it was the most amazing book. An element of it hit really close to home, and I found it quite upsetting to read, but I feel like I came out stronger on the other side.

Book Review: Changeling by Philippa Gregory


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71qbw-gazclChangeling by Philippa Gregory

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction

Publishing Info: 2013 by Simon and Schuster (first published 2012)

Pages: 272

Star Rating: 2/5


Back Cover Summary:

In 1453, seventeen-year-old Luca Vero, accused of heresy and expelled from his monastery, is recruited to help investigate evil across Europe but frees his first subject, Isolde, from captivity in a nunnery, and together they seek the one who defends the boundaries of Christendom and holds the secrets of the Order of Darkness.


Philippa Gregory is such a well known name in the book world, and especially in historical fiction. This was my first time reading one of her works and unfortunately it was a poor introduction. It really wouldn’t encourage me to read any of her other books, but I would have hoped some of her other novels are far better than this. It was quite shocking to read such a bad book by a bestselling and well-known author.

The premise is interesting and had potential, but it fell a long long way from that. My main issue with this book is the plot – or lack of it. It reads like its split in two halves. The first half of the book is readable but unremarkable. Luca is investigating witchcraft at the nunnery where Isolde has recently been made Lady Abbess. I found the mystery intriguing and didn’t guess the ‘solution’ to the investigation. It wasn’t a great mystery, but it was okay. There was just about enough to keep me reading.

It went quite downhill after that point. The second half of the book is a rambling mess with no direction. Coincidence after coincidence follow one after another. They happen to stumble upon another unusual happening to investigate totally by chance and decide to get involved, but it’s totally unconnected from the first half of the book. I couldn’t get into the second half at all because I could not see the point of it. The ‘solution’ to this investigation was highly predictable. I guessed it almost instantly so there was nothing to keep me engaged. There was no end goal, no point. There wasn’t even a point in all the characters being there except Gregory wanted them to all be there, so she found a lame excuse to shoehorn them all together. The plot (if you can call it that) is poorly planned out and it just seems to be a random jumble of events.

A book with a questionable plot can be carried by good characters. That was not the case here. All of the characters, including the two protagonists, were totally bland. Luca and Isolde had absolutely no personality. I didn’t feel invested in them at all because they were so flat and uninteresting. I don’t think I have read another book that had quite such bad characters. Usually at least one has a flicker of a personality, even if the others are weak. Not in this case. None of the characters were interesting or likeable and none of them developed. The characters have vague goals but Gregory steers them away from those goals to suit her plot and hopes the reader won’t notice. I noticed.

The one thing I did like about the book, and which salvaged it a star, is the setting. It’s clear Gregory did her research. I felt transported to 15th Century Italy and the details really made it come to life. This is clearly where her strength lies, but it couldn’t make up for the total mess of the rest of this train wreck.

This is the first book in the series and I wouldn’t choose to keep reading. However, I bought the next two books a while ago so I will attempt to get through them and see if I hate them just as much.

Book Review: More Than This by Patrick Ness


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61l75lvsm2bl-_sx322_bo1204203200_More Than This by Patrick Ness  

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, LGBT

Publishing Info: 2015 by Walker Books (first published 2013)

Pages: 480

Star Rating: 4/5


Back Cover Summary:

From two-time Carnegie Medal winner Patrick Ness comes an enthralling and provocative new novel chronicling the life — or perhaps afterlife — of a teen trapped in a crumbling, abandoned world.

A boy named Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighborhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust, and completely abandoned. What’s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonizing memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this. . . .


The intriguing back cover description of this book caught my attention. The first half, however, didn’t. I started this book in February and got half way through it before I had to put it down due to heavy university workload. It has taken me a long time to pick it back up again, even though I finished uni in July and have had plenty of free time. At first, I felt really engaged. The book threw up so many questions, I wanted to keep reading and find out the answers to them. However, it didn’t go anywhere. The first half is so slow and the plot so stagnant I started to lose interest.

When I picked it back up again a couple of weeks ago, it wasn’t hard to orientate myself again even though it was so long since I last read it, because so little happened. From the midpoint of the novel things start picking up and the plot moves forward instead of just stagnating. It is quite a heavy read though.

The one thing I did like about the slow first half is that it reflected the main character’s isolation and the length of time he was alone for. That was very effective, and I found it so at the time I was reading, but that first half just dragged on for a bit too long. The same effect would have been created if that section had been a bit shorter.

The characters are good. I liked Regine and Thomasz because they weren’t perfect characters. They were well rounded with flaws and depth to them. I also liked how the book played on reader expectations. The main character often thinks of what would happen if he were in a story, which is clever as the book refers to its own form.

The ending is quite ambiguous, which really works for this novel. It leads the reader to ask questions, to question the reality of what they’ve just read, and to think about the issues brought up in the book.

This book treats young adults as intelligent. A lot of YA, not all, follow cookie cutter formulas and don’t really push young readers or make them think. There’s nothing wrong with this kind of book. I do like a good easy read. But it is good that a book like this is out there too, because it’s the sort that really does make you think, and that’s a great thing to have in YA publishing.