Wednesday, 25 March 2015

REVIEW 'The Darkest Hour' by Barbara Erskine

'The Darkest Hour' by Barbara Erskine

Goodreads Synopsis:

"From the Sunday Times bestselling author comes an epic tale of love, passion and heartbreak.

Love is as uncertain and as untameable as war…

In the summer of 1940, most eyes are focused on the skies above the South of England. The battle for Britain has just begun. But young Evie Lucas has eyes for no-one but a dashing young pilot called Tony. Evie has a glittering career as an artist ahead of her but seems to be wasting her time sketching endless portraits of Tony. She wants his parents to have something to remember him by in case it all goes wrong in the war…

Seventy years later, and recently widowed art historian Lucy is trying to put the pieces of her life back together. And in order to do that, Lucy needs to uncover the mystery surrounding a painting in her home. But as she accidentally ends up stirring up a hornet’s nest of history which has been deliberately obliterated, Lucy finds herself in danger from people past and present who have no intention of letting an untold truth ever surface."


Hello Elementareaders!

'The Darkest Hour' by Barbara Erskine is an epic tale of love, loss and discovery set over two time periods.

Lucy Standish is an art historian and biographer researching Evelyn Lucas, a Sussex war artist. Lucy's late husband, Larry had recently bought a painting at auction that he believed to be one of Evelyn's, but before he could get it authenticated he was killed in a car crash. Three months on Lucy has almost given up on the idea of the biography when she receives a letter saying that she has been approved for a grant for the project.

Lucy sets to work trying to find out as much as she can about Evelyn and her family. She travels to Evie's cottage when she meets her grandson Michael Marston. Michael is hesitant at first but eventually allows Lucy access to Evie's studio and her paperwork. All the paintings and diaries are missing though as Evie's other grandson, Christopher, took everything of value (and he is a lot less welcoming).

Lucy's struggles to find out about the family is interspersed with scenes from the past and as a reader we get to live Evelyn's story. It is a tragic story of love and loss. Poor Evie goes through so much at such a young age.

Through reading Evie's diaries Lucy uncovers some family secrets that have been buried for years. But someone doesn't want the truth to come out. The ghost of Eddie Marston (Evie's husband) begins to haunt Lucy and tries to destroy the painting that she owns countless times. The ghost of Evie's brother Ralph who died in the war is also hanging around.

This book has a bit of everything; romance, loss, blackmail, mystery and ghosts. I loved how it was set over the two time periods. As a reader we got snippets of the story just before Lucy and it was fun to read how Lucy reacted to her discoveries. The characters were all so well written. I adored Evie and Tony, and I really wished that things could have worked out differently for them.

I thought this was a really great novel. It isn't normally the type of book I would read but I was drawn in by the blurb and I'm so glad I took a chance on it. I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway from Harper Collins publishers.

I would give this book 4 stars :)

Let me know your thoughts on this book in the comments!

Places to buy:

Follow Barbara Erskine on:

Places to find Harper Collins:

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

'Pop in a Box' March 2015 Review

Hello Elementareaders!

I recently received my third subscription box from 'Pop in a Box' for March 2015.

'Pop in a Box' is a great little subscription service where you are sent 1 or more mystery Funko Vinyl Pops a month. You'll never get sent one you already have and it's guaranteed to be one you want.

How it works:
After you have created an account on their website you can go through the entire catalogue of every Pop ever made and select either 'Thumbs Up', 'Thumbs Down' or 'I Have This Pop'. If you select thumbs down or you have it they will NEVER send you that Pop. You will always be sent one on your thumbs up list (if they have one in stock, if not you won't be charged for that month).

I get 1 mystery Pop a month, which costs £8.49 plus £3.50 delivery. There are also options to get 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 Pops a month.

This month I got 'V' from the movie 'V for Vendetta'. This was super exciting because I love this film and I've been wanting this Pop ever since I first saw it. His paint job was a little bit dodgy around the nose and moustache but I'm still really happy with him :)

The Pop was very well packaged in a good sized, sturdy cardboard box with bubble wrap. It arrived in perfect condition.

I also came with a little sachet of orange popping candy!

If you want to sign up for your very own Pop in a Box click here POP IN A BOX

This is a great service and I really recommend it if you like getting a little geeky surprise in the post every month.

Let me know in the comments if you collect Pops and what your favourites are. Any other fans of this amazing film? I'd love for them to make an Evey Pop :)

Saturday, 21 March 2015

REVIEW 'Frank Einstein and the Electro-Finger' by Jon Scieszka

'Frank Einstein and the Electro-Finger' by Jon Scieszka (Illustrated by Brian Biggs)

Goodreads Synopsis:

"In this second book in the series, Frank Einstein (kid-genius scientist and inventor) and his best friend, Watson, along with Klink (a self-assembled artificial-intelligence entity) and Klank (a mostly self-assembled artificialalmost intelligence entity), once again find themselves in competition with T. Edison, their classmate and archrival—this time in a quest to unlock the power behind the science of energy. Frank is working on a revamped version of one of Nikola Tesla’s inventions, the “Electro-Finger,” a device that can tap into energy anywhere and allow all of Midville to live off the grid, with free wireless and solar energy. But this puts Frank in direct contact with Edison’s quest to control all the power and light in Midville, monopolize its energy resources, and get “rich rich rich.” Time is running out, and only Frank, Watson, Klink, and Klank can stop Edison and his sentient ape, Mr. Chimp!"


Hello Elementareaders!

'Frank Einstein and the Electro-Finger' is the second in the Frank Einstein series by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Brian Biggs. This is a middle-grade series about a kid inventor, full of fun science facts and adventure. This is the second in the series but could be read as a stand-alone.

This book follows the adventures of Frank Einstein, his best friend Watson and his two artificially intelligent robots Klink and Klank. Frank is working on an invention to create wireless renewable energy using the ideas from one of the greatest inventors of the nineteenth and twentieth century, Nikola Tesla. Frank succeeds and creates what he names the 'Electro-Finger'. When the finger is directed at an electrical object, i.e. an unconnected lightbulb, it sends an electrical current and lights it up! Frank and his friends want to show off their invention to the town at the Midville movie night, but not all goes to plan.

Frank's arch-nemesis T. Edison and his sidekick Mr. Chimp are planning on causing their own stir at the movie night. They are hatching a plan to make sure that everyone in Midville has to buy energy from them so they become very rich, and will do anything to stop Frank from showing that wireless energy is possible! Can Frank and the gang stop Edison before it's too late?

I read the first book in this series last year and absolutely adored it. I'm a bit of a science geek and this book manages to perfectly balance a great fun storyline with informative science facts. I know this book is intended for kids but adults can learn from it too.

When I saw Nikola Tesla's name crop up on page 23 I smiled like crazy because he is my favourite inventor/scientist of all time. He's such an unappreciated scientist so it was great to see him getting some recognition in this book. There was some rivalry between Tesla and the real Edison back in the late 1800's so I found the whole Frank using Tesla's work to beat Edison thing quite amusing.

One thing that I love about these books is the labelled diagrams showing the science behind Frank's inventions. The diagrams a very simple and easy to understand. The book also has other illustrations of the characters which are really fun. I love how Klink's and Klank's dialogue is written in a different fonts, it makes it easy to read and differentiate between the two robots. The book also has a small section at the back with Frank's notes about the sciency bits which I thought was a really nice touch.

I thought this was a really great little story for both children and adults alike. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun quick read and I think this book would be great for children of about 8-12 who love science.

I would give this book 5 stars :)

Let me know in the comments if you want to read this! Any other Tesla fans out there? 

Places to buy:

Follow Jon Scieszka on:

Follow Brian Biggs on:

I was kindly sent a copy of this book by Abrams&Chronicle Books to review. You can find them on:

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

REVIEW 'Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor' by Jon Scieszka

'Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor' by Jon Scieszka (Illustrated by Brian Biggs)

Goodreads Synopsis:

"Frank Einstein loves figuring out how the world works by creating household contraptions that are part science, part imagination, and definitely unusual. After an uneventful experiment in his garage-lab, a lightning storm and flash of electricity bring Frank’s inventions—the robots Klink and Klank—to life! Not exactly the ideal lab partners, the wisecracking Klink and the overly expressive Klank nonetheless help Frank attempt to perfect his Antimatter Motor . . . until Frank’s archnemesis, T. Edison, steals Klink and Klank for his evil doomsday plan! Using real science, Jon Scieszka has created a unique world of adventure and science fiction—an irresistible chemical reaction for middle-grade readers."

Hi Elementareaders!

Last year I read ‘Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor’ by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Brian Biggs, the first book in the Frank Einstein series.

Frank, a young scientist and inventor is hoping to win the Midville Science Prize with one of his inventions. Whilst trying to make intelligent robots, a thunderstorm causes a power cut and Frank believes his experiment has not worked. However while Frank is sleeping a stray spark activates the robots brain and brings it to life... Now, Frank, with the help of his two robot friends is trying to make something even bigger and better for the science prize... an antimatter motor! But someone else is out to steal Frank’s ideas...

I thought this was a great book for kids and adults. There are a lot of sciencey bits so it's educational whilst still being a very fun read. Franks doodles and diagrams help children to learn alongside his explanations. The plot is fast-paced and easy to follow. Watson is a great character and sidekick for Frank. And of course every book needs a villain, bring on T. Edison the child evil genius! Overall I really enjoyed the plot, characters, illustrations and writing style and would recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun, quick read.

I would give this book 4 stars :) 

Places to buy:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
The Book Depository

Follow Jon Scieszka on:

Follow Brian Biggs on:

I was kindly sent this book by Abrams&Chronicle Books. You can find them on:

Thursday, 12 March 2015

REVIEW 'George's Grand Tour' by Caroline Vermalle

'George's Grand Tour' by Caroline Vermalle

Goodreads Synopsis:

"A sometimes poignant but optimistic tale, George's Grand Tour is a heartwarming read in the vein of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared that teaches us we're never too old to get out of our comfort zone and have an adventure.

At the age of eighty-three, retired butcher George Nicoleau is about to set off on the greatest adventure of his life. George and his neighbor Charles have long dreamt of a road trip, driving the 3,500 kilometres that make up the stages of the Tour de France. And now that George's over-protective daughter has gone to South America, it's time to seize the moment.

But just when he feels free of family ties, George's granddaughter Adèle starts calling him from London, and he finds himself promising to text her as he travels around France, although he doesn't even know how to use a mobile.

George is plagued by doubts, health worries, and an indifference to modern technology. And yet—might the journey still prove to be everything he had hoped for?"

Hi Elementareaders!

'George's Grand Tour' by Caroline Vermalle is a heart-warming tale about travel, family and friendship. I received an advance proof copy from Gallic Books to review.

Eighty-three year old George Nicoleau lives in Chanteloup, France. He has a number of health problems and is looked after by his overbearing daughter Françoise. He also has a twenty-two year old granddaughter, Adèle who he has barely seen in the past ten years.

Unexpectedly, Françoise decides to go on a two month trip to the Andes to take part in an endurance expedition and will not be able to contact George. George sees this as the perfect opportunity to embark on his own adventure with his neighbour Charles. They have been planning to do the Tour de France (by car of course!) and Françoise's departure is the perfect time to put this plan into action without being stopped. But then Adèle calls out of the blue to check up on him. Undeterred, he diverts all his calls to his mobile phone (which he has never used before) so Adèle thinks he is still at home. Not long into the trip however, Adèle works out what is happening and asks George to text her updates of his journey. George discovers that he loves it and manages to strike up a relationship with his granddaughter again through these texts. George and Charles make lots of new friends along the way and find out a lot more about themselves and each other.

This really was a truly heart-warming story and I thoroughly enjoyed taking every step of this journey with George and Charles. These two characters are just so loveable, and this book made me wish that my Grandpa was still around (I lost him when I was quite young and didn't really know him all that well).

This book really made me think about the importance of family. I know its cliché, but life is short and if you don’t make the time for your grandparents, you may never get the chance to have a relationship with them. I was so glad that George and Adèle got that chance in this book. Although they had barely spoken for 10 years they managed to reconnect again through travel and texting.

Adèle was a very interesting character, and a very relatable one too. She's about the same age as me as I read this book and I saw a lot of myself in her (although I'd never be brave enough to move to another country on my own!). She is a runner on a television set, working long hours for no pay and feeling unappreciated. It’s obvious that her texts from George really lightened her mood and I loved the seemingly impossible texts on her birthdays.

I adored George and Charles' relationship too, and it was great seeing how these characters went from neighbours to the best of friends over those few short weeks.

The little maps showing the next leg of the journey at the top of the chapters was a really nice touch too. Although I have to admit that I could not pronounce any of the French place names!

All in all this was a really beautiful and emotional novel and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a light read who doesn't mind blubbing a bit at the end.

I would give this book 5 stars :)

Places to buy:

Follow Caroline Vermalle on:

Find Gallic Books on:

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

'Loot Crate' February 2015 - Unboxing & Review

Hey there Elementareaders!

I'm a little late with this, but here's what I got in my February 'Play' Loot Crate!

What is Loot Crate?
Loot Crate is a monthly subscription service where you receive a box of awesome geek and gaming items. It is based in America but they ship to many countries including the UK. For someone in the UK the box costs $29.95 a month which usually works out at around £20 (it varies slightly depending on the current exchange rate). Shipping is included in this cost. The items you receive add up to $40+ retail value, and each box usually has some exclusive items that you can only get in a Loot Crate. By subscribing you are also entered into a draw each month for a chance to win the Mega Crate which usually has a $ value in the thousands. Each month's box has a theme. This month's theme was 'Play'. The crates are usually posted around the 20th of each month.

The goodies come in a sturdy black box with 'Loot Crate' on the top. Unfortunately due to the assortment of objects of different sizes in the crate there are always gaps and the objects rattle around. It would be nice if they padded it out a bit as I have had damaged items before, but luckily nothing was damaged in this one.

This crate was a little heavier that normal (you'll see why below!)

The first thing I saw was this Mini Munny figure. This is a little vinyl figure that is blank for you to design your own character. It comes with 3 wipe-off markers in blue, red and black.

This particular Munny is a Loot Crate Exclusive 4" figure with 3 markers. The standard ones that you can buy on their website are 7", come with 6 markers and cost $19.99.

Loot Crate are doing a a competition with this item with prizes including Loot Crate subscriptions, gift vouchers and more Munnys! I'm not very artistic, so I don't think I'll be entering though.

Next I saw this cute little HEXBUG.

.I got the 'Original HEXBUG: Echo' which retails at £10.99.

Here's a little description of what the bug does from their website: "HEXBUG feels its way around sensing objects in its path and avoiding them. And it can even hear! You can control where it scurries through a hand clap, loud noise or table slap. The robotic bug will travel forward until it hits an obstacle or hears a loud noise. It will then backup in a half circle and then move forward in a different direction. HEXBUG comes in five distinct shapes and colors."

Pretty cool!

Next was this Loot Crate Exclusive deck of SUPERFIGHT cards.

I've never played this games so wasn't all that excited about this item, but I'll be looking into it.

Next I saw this little black pouch with contained these Rock, Paper, Scissors dice. I can't really see the point of these to be honest but I guess some people will like them.

This was my favourite item in the whole crate... A BOOK! (this was why the crate was heavier)

'Ready Player One' by Ernest Cline is a futuristic novel about a game that becomes dangerous. Goodreads synopsis below!

"It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. 

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune -- and remarkable power -- to whoever can unlock them. 

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved -- that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig. 

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle. 

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt -- among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life -- and love -- in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape. 

A world at stake. 
A quest for the ultimate prize. 
Are you ready?"

This book sounds really great and I'm looking forward to reading it!

Next was this Pac-Man poster. I'm not much of a gamer so this didn't really excite me, but I guess it's pretty cool.

The crate also contained a code to redeem a premium ship in the new Firefly Online game. As I said before, I'm not much of a gamer but I'm a huge Firefly fan so I'll be looking into this one!

You can find out more about the game HERE.

The final items in the box were the magazine containing information about all the items, pictures of looters with their items from previous crates, articles about gaming and info about the mega crate...

...and a badge with the theme 'Play' on it,

The box itself this month is a board game made exclusively for Loot Crate.

Overall I thought this months crate was pretty good. As always, some of the items I have no interest in but others were pretty cool. My favourite was definitely the book!

If you want to sign up to get your own Loot Crate you can do HERE

Let me know in the comments if you get Loot Crate, and what your favourite item this month was :)

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

REVIEW 'The Great Zoo of China' by Matthew Reilly

'The Great Zoo of China' by Matthew Reilly

Goodreads Synopsis:


A high-concept, action-packed thriller from the bestselling author of SCARECROW AND THE ARMY OF THIEVES.

It is a secret the Chinese government has been keeping for 40 years. They have found a species of animal no one believed even existed. It will amaze the world.

Now the Chinese are ready to unveil their astonishing discovery within the greatest zoo ever constructed. A small group of VIPs and journalists has been brought to the zoo deep within China to see its fabulous creatures for the first time. Among them is Dr Cassandra Jane 'CJ' Cameron, a writer for NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC and an expert on reptiles.

The visitors are assured by their Chinese hosts that they will be struck with wonder at these beasts, that they are perfectly safe, and that nothing can go wrong... "

Hi Elementareaders!

'The Great Zoo of China' by Matthew Reilly is an action-packed survival thriller set in zoo in China. Oh yes… and it has dragons!

The book follows Dr CJ Cameron, vet and writer for the National Geographic and a group of other visitors including her photographer brother Hamish, a reporter for the New York Times and the US Ambassador to China and his assistant as they are taken on a tour of the top secret zoo. The dragons roam free with no bars or cages, but the guests are assured that they are safe. Each guest is given a watch which emits an ultrasonic field around them. If a dragon gets close to this field it hears an ear-splitting noise and stays away. There are also two domes surrounding the zoo made from electromagnetic fields which will knock the dragons unconscious if they come into contact with them, thus making it impossible for them to escape.

China is finally ready for the world to find out about the zoo that they have been working on for the past few decades, but the captive dragons are much more intelligent than the Chinese have bargained for. Little do the unsuspecting tour group know, but the dragons have been plotting to cause utter mayhem and destruction, escape the domes and fly into the outside world. One moment the group are travelling safely in a cable car, the next they are torn out of the sky and are thrust into a race for survival. CJ takes the lead and tries to keep herself, and everyone else alive. But CJ and the gang don't just have the dragons to worry about; the Chinese are not going to let the news of this disaster get out and don’t want to leave any witnesses.

What can I say other than… holy crap this book was freaking amazing!! In the first 100 pages the scene was set perfectly, giving the reader all the information they need to understand the situation, then BAM! The action starts and it just doesn't stop!

CJ is such an awesome female lead. She's not your conventional action hero. A vet with some field training with crocodiles and a large scar down the side of her face from a previous encounter with a particularly nasty croc. But she takes up the mantle when the others start to panic and does a pretty good job at keeping herself and (some of) the others alive (there are flesh-eating dragons, of course there are going to be some casualties!) CJ has to think on her feet whilst running from the dragons and the Chinese and also has to figure out a way to stop the larger and potentially world-ending plot that she uncovers along the way.

From about 100 pages in I could literally just not put this book down. The action was so fast-paced and so well written that as soon as I finished a chapter I just wanted more, and before I knew it I'd read the whole book. I loved the characters, especially CJ and Johnson, and a little part of me died along with some of the rest of the group's gory demises.

I loved the little maps and diagrams inserted throughout the chapters. They were a really useful visual aid for the reader to see the layout of the zoo and where the dragons were grouping. The images were a little small and grainy which made the writing difficult to read, but that may just be because mine was a proof copy, so they may be clearer in the finished book.

When they make a film of this (which they have to do because it’s so brilliant!) I wanna get to audition for CJ because she's a seriously badass action chick, and who doesn't want to be in a film with dragons?! So if you’re reading this Mr Reilly, please make that happen for me ;)

Seriously though, this was such a great read and I'd truly recommend it to anyone looking for a good action thriller with a bit of a prehistoric twist. Maybe stay away if you’re not too keen on gore though.

I would give this book 5 stars :)

Let me know in the comments if you have or are planning to read this! Also, what do you love about dragons, and why do you think so many writers love to tell stories about these fascinating mythical beasts?

Places to buy:

Follow Matthew Reilly on:

Monday, 9 March 2015

'Pop in a Box' February 2015 Review

Hey there Elementaeaders!

I got my second mystery Funko Pop Vinyl figure from 'Pop in a Box' at the end of last month and wanted to write a little review.

'Pop in a Box' is a great little subscription service where you are sent 1 or more mystery Pops a month. You'll never get sent one you already have and it's guaranteed to be one you want.

How it works:
After you have created an account on their website you can go through the entire catalogue of every Pop ever made and select either 'Thumbs Up', 'Thumbs Down' or 'I Have This Pop'. If you select thumbs down or you have it they will NEVER send you that Pop. You will always be sent one on your thumbs up list (if they have one in stock, if not you won't be charged for that month).

I get 1 mystery Pop a month, which costs £8.49 plus £3.50 delivery. There are also options to get 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 Pops a month.

Last month I got Star Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy. This is super exiting because I love this film! This is my first Marvel Pop and I adore him :)

The Pop was very well packaged in a good sized, sturdy cardboard box with bubble wrap. It arrived in perfect condition.

I also came with a little sachet of popping candy!

If you want to sign up for your very own Pop in a Box click HERE

This is a great service and I really recommend it if you like getting a little geeky surprise in the post every month.

Let me know in the comments if you collect Pops and what your favourites are :)

Sunday, 8 March 2015

REVIEW 'Extras' by Scott Westerfeld

'Extras' by Scott Westerfeld (Uglies Quartet #4)

Goodreads Synopsis:

"It's a few years after rebel Tally Youngblood took down the uglies/pretties/specials regime. Without those strict roles and rules, the world is in a complete cultural renaissance. "Tech-heads" flaunt their latest gadgets, "kickers" spread gossip and trends, and "surge monkeys" are hooked on extreme plastic surgery. And it's all monitored on a bazillion different cameras. The world is like a gigantic game of "American Idol." Whoever is getting the most buzz gets the most votes. Popularity rules.

As if being fifteen doesn't suck enough, Aya Fuse's rank of 451,369 is so low, she's a total nobody. An extra. But Aya doesn't care; she just wants to lie low with her drone, Moggle. And maybe kick a good story for herself.

Then Aya meets a clique of girls who pull crazy tricks, yet are deeply secretive of it. Aya wants desperately to kick their story, to show everyone how intensely cool the Sly Girls are. But doing so would propel her out of extra-land and into the world of fame, celebrity...and extreme danger. A world she's not prepared for."


You can find my reviews for 'Uglies' HERE, 'Pretties' HERE and 'Specials' HERE

Hey there Elementareaders!

'Extras' is the fourth and final book in the Uglies Quartet by Scott Westerfeld. This book is set three years after the end of the previous one and is told from the point of view of a new character in a new city.

Aya Fuse is a fifteen year old ugly living in a city in Japan. It has been three years since the mind-rain cured all the bubbleheads and everyone is thinking clearly and rebuilding their cities. Aya's city has a system called 'face rank' which determines how famous the one million residents are. The more people talk about you, the higher your rank. People with the highest face ranks have the biggest houses and can get basically anything they want. This city also uses a system called 'merits' which are like a currency that you can earn and use to buy things as the hole-in-the-wall doesn't just make anything for anyone any more.

Aya is what is known as a Kicker.  Kickers look for the biggest stories in the cities and write reports to put on their feeds. This biggest Kickers can become as famous as the stars themselves and Aya is desperate to kick a big story and boost her current face rank of 451, 396. Aya thinks she's hit the jackpot when she comes across a clique known as the Sly Girls, who many believe to be nothing more than a myth. She follows the girls with her hovercam Moggle, and is offered a chance to join them if she gets rid of the cam and quits being a kicker. Aya agrees but films the girls in secret anyway. But whilst riding a mag-lev train, the girls uncover a secret that could potentially wipe out the city if kept to themselves. Will Aya betray the girls and kick her story?

But this story is much bigger than just one city and could affect the whole world. That's when Tally Youngblood turns up and Aya is swept up into the biggest adventure of her life!

I was quite glad when I saw that this book was set in a new location with a new character. I thought the Tally storyline had kind of run its course (there's only so many times you can have your brain messed with right?). Aya is a breath of fresh air, and her, her friend Frizz, her brother Hiro, his friend Ren and hovercam Moggle are great new characters. It was great to see a different city, and how this city handled rebuilding itself after the mind-rain.

I think this was possibly my favourite book of the whole series. The storyline was fast-paced, the characters were believable and once I started reading I couldn't stop. And obviously it was great to have Tally, Shay, Fausto and David back for the end third of the book. I thought the ending felt a little rushed though and maybe would have liked the conclusion to have been drawn out a little longer.

Overall though, a really great end to a wonderful series, and I'll definitely be reading more of Scott's books in the future!

I would give this book 4.5 stars :)

Let me know what you thought of this series in the comments!

Places to buy:

Follow Scott Westerfeld on:

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Charity Shop Book Haul - 5th March 2015

Hello Elementareaders!

A few days ago I went to a few of my local charity shop and unsurprisingly came back with armfuls of books. I love buying books in charity shops for a number of reasons:

  1. They're cheap.
  2. The money I spend is going to a good cause.
  3. You never know what you might find!

I only spent £1 or less on each of these books (apart from a couple that were £2) and got some absolute bargains! I though I'd write this little post to share my purchases with you :)

'The Making of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' - I adore this film so just had to buy this book when I saw it!

'A Tolkien Bestiary' by David Day - A have a couple of other Tolkien encyclopaedias by this author and they are absolutely stunning! Loving this book :) 

'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time' by Mark Haddon - A friend recommended this to me a while ago so I had to buy it when I saw it.

'Ptolemy's Gate' by Jonathan Stroud - I've had the first two books in this trilogy for a while and was super glad to find the third & when I got it home I discovered that it was signed by the author! Bonus!

'The Sorcerer's Companion: A Guide to the Magical World of Harry Potter' by Allan Zola and Elizabeth Kronzek - Harry Potter is basically my life so when I saw this in the shop window I had to snap it up!

'I, Jedi' by Michael A. Stackpole - I'm a big Star Wars fan and was super happy to find this novel that wasn't already in my collection.

'Wild Cards: Aces High' and 'Wild Cards: Joker's Wild' edited by George R. R. Martin - I bought the first Wild Cards book a few months ago because it looked interesting. Looking forward to reading these!

'Blue Noon' by Scott Westerfeld - I've just finished reading the Uglies Quartet by this author and loved it. This book is the third in a series (I have a habit of buying later books in a series then looking for the previous ones!) so hopefully I'll find books one and two somewhere.

'Tek Power' by William Shatner - Who doesn't love Captain Kirk? This sci-fi novel by the great man himself looks really good :)

'Trust in Me' by Sophie McKenzie - I'm a little ashamed to admit that I haven't read anything my Sophie McKenzie yet, but I've heard great things about her books!

'The Brightonomicon' by Robert Rankin - I've met Robert at a couple of conventions but so far have only read his short illustrated books. Looking forward to reading this as I hear he is a really funny writer.

'That's Another Life' by Julie Walters - I adore Julie Walters and her autobiography is bound to be a great laugh!

'A Long Way Down' by Nick Hornby - Again, I haven't read anything by this author but I've heard great things about his books.

'Bone Quill' by John and Carole E. Barrowman - This is the second book in the Hollow Earth series. I have the first but haven't read it yet! This series looks really great though :)

'The Keys to the Kingdom' series by Garth Nix - Unfortunately the shop had the whole series apart from book 3! Looking forward to reading these.

And finally, this gorgeous little box set of poetry books 'Faber and Faber Poetry Essentials' by Simon Armitage, W. H. Auden, Wendy Cope, T. S. Eliot, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin and Sylvia Plath - This box set was missing 1 book (The War Poems by Siegfried Sassoon) buy I guess that's the curse of buying used books. This is still a really lovely set though and I'm so glad I found it. 

So there you go, that's my *not so little* haul. I really need to stop buying so many books! (Never gonna happen :p) Let me know in the comments if you've read any of these books and what you thought of them :)

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

REVIEW 'Specials' by Scott Westerfeld

'Specials' by Scott Westerfeld (Uglies Quartet #3)

Goodreads Synopsis:

"The Specials used to be a sinister rumor - frightening beautiful, dangerously strong, breathtakingly fast.

Now Tally's become one of them: a superamped fighting machine, engineered to keep Uglies down and Pretties stupid. The strength, the speed and the clarity of her new powers feel amazing... most of the time. One tiny corner of Tally's heart still remembers something different.

When she's offered the chance to stamp out the rebels of the New Smoke, she is forced to make one last choice: carry out the mission, or listen to that faint yet persistent heartbeat telling her that something's wrong..."


You can find my review for 'Uglies' HERE and my review for 'Pretties' HERE

Hi Elementareaders!

As mentioned above, this is the third book in a series so this review contains spoilers for the previous two books.

‘Specials’ is the third book in the 'Uglies Quartet' by Scott Westerfeld. At the end of the previous book Tally and Zane are captured by Special Circumstances. They also discover that Shay has been turned into a Special. This book picks up about 2 months after the last one left off. Tally has been transformed into a Special and is part of a group known as the Cutters along with Shay and Fausto. The Cutters keep themselves 'icy' (like 'bubbly' for a pretty but with much more clarity) by cutting their skin.

At the beginning of this book the Cutters are crashing an Ugly party to try to find and capture the Smokies who are smuggling nano's into the city and curing the Pretties brain lesions. They discover a Smokey and whilst pursuing her are drawn into an ambush. But from this, Tally finds out that Zane is out of hospital and has been turned into a bubblehead again. Tally makes it her mission to help Zane become bubbly and prove to Dr Cable that he is worthy of being turned into a Cutter so they can be together. It's not that simple however, as Tally faces many obstacles along the way and struggles with overcoming the Special re-wiring in her brain.

I didn't enjoy this book quite as much as the first two. I think it got a little silly how much Tally kept getting her brain and appearance altered and having to find herself again. This book started pretty slowly for me, and I didn't really feel that it picked up until about a quarter of the way through when Tally and Shay break into the Armoury and follow Zane out into the wild. The revelation of the New Smoke was a great twist and it made the whole rebellion feel much bigger. It seemed to be very much the Specials against the rest of the world by the end and almost resulted in a war, the very thing the Specials were trying to protect the world from. I thought this book came to a very satisfying conclusion and am eager to see how this new world pans out in the next one.

I would give this book 3.5 stars :)

Let me know your thoughts on this series in the comments!

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