Wednesday, 1 November 2017


TITLE: The Last Beginning
AUTHOR:  Lauren James
PUBLISHER:  Walker Books
RATING:  5/5
SOURCE: Sent by publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
RELEASE DATE: 6th October 2016.



The epic conclusion to Lauren James' debut The Next Together about love, destiny and time travel.

Sixteen years ago, after a scandal that rocked the world, teenagers Katherine and Matthew vanished without a trace. Now Clove Sutcliffe is determined to find her long lost relatives. But where do you start looking for a couple who seem to have been reincarnated at every key moment in history? Who were Kate and Matt? Why were they born again and again? And who is the mysterious Ella, who keeps appearing at every turn in Clove's investigation? 

For Clove, there is a mystery to solve in the past and a love to find in the future.

I loved “The Next Together” and knew in the back of my mind that Lauren James would certainly not dissapoint. With school work getting in the way, I wanted to wait to read “The Last Beginning”  and savour it. Finally, I read it a few weeks ago, and I am so glad that I did. Honestly, Lauren James is a fantastic and skilled writer, and I loved taking in every astounding paragraph. 

We follow Clove Sutcliffe- Matt and Kate’s daughter. However, we don’t know where Kate and Matt are, as Clove has been brought up by Matt’s brother, Tom, and his wife Jen. Tom and Jen are scientists and have just developed a time machine. Clove finds out who she really is, but what will she uncover with a new life changing technology, just at her fingertips?

Something that stuck out to me whilst reading this book is the fun use of documents, messages and timelines. It complimented the book nicely, without being overwhelming. In fact, considering the whole idea of the novel, James didn’t once leave me confused. I applaud her for crafting a brilliantly y paced and intricately woven plot. Even the different fonts for the timelines were perfect- it was so easy to be transported to the different worlds. I loved the presence of Tom and Jen in the novel, showing a positive representation of parental. Clove was a realistic, and eventually, a likeable character- I adored her relationship with Ella and how they went on adventures together. But I also appreciated how different this book was- romance wasn’t the central theme in this book, instead more heavily based science and coding, which was a nice when you think of the duology together, and how each book brings different things.

After finishing the second book in the duology, I have never felt desperate to go back and start the whole series again. I have also just finished James’ newer book “The Loneliest Girl”- she is on fire. If you haven’t already, get every single one of Lauren James’ books on your TBR pile, now. “The Last Beginning” is a splendid, time travelling adventure.


Wednesday, 11 October 2017


TITLE: Lobsters
AUTHOR:  Katherine Webber
PUBLISHER:  Walker Books
RATING:  4/5



Jandy Nelson meets Friday Night Lights: a sweeping story about love and family from an exceptional new voice in YA. With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing's speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants.

"Lobsters" is completely relatable- any teenager in the UK would understand the trials and tributions the characters go through. Hannah and Sam go to different schools, and have separate groups of friends. But they meet by accident at a house party, in the bathroom. They both don't forget how connected they were, but they keep meeting up and then losing touch. But are they each other's true lobster?

This book is raw, honest and utterly hilarious, and for multiple pages I was laughing out loud, which doesn't often happen to me when reading. I really liked the differing male to female perspectives, Hannah and Sam were loveable characters that a reader could draw parallels in them both: their individual personalities came alive through the page.

Tom and Lucy had the pace of the plot exactly right- it made me race through the book. Don't be fooled by the pastel coloured cover: it is mature, but is also so realistic to an 18 year old's life in their final year at school. Things are so hard- moving onto the next chapter of your life after leaving school weaved in with the insecurities that teens have from the media. I like how the book was centred around an accurate representation of sex and the myths surrounding it. Even the less liked characters like Stella are so relatable in a school situation. The authors capture the essence of the teenage voice
so perfectly. Admittedly, this book isn’t for everyone, but it is perfect and fun for any sixth former.

I enjoyed this book immensely: if you are looking for a refreshing and realistic read, then “Lobsters” is definitely one for you. It has made me put Tom and Lucy’s other books to the top of my TBR.


Wednesday, 27 September 2017


TITLE: Wing Jones
AUTHOR:  Katherine Webber
PUBLISHER:  Walker Books
RATING:  5/5
SOURCE: Sent by publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
RELEASE DATE: 5th January 2017.



Jandy Nelson meets Friday Night Lights: a sweeping story about love and family from an exceptional new voice in YA. With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing's speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants.

"Wing Jones" is the exact contemporary pick-up that I needed. It stands out immensely amongst other young adult books, with an exciting protagonist and a vivid but fast paced plot. 

Set in the 90's in Atlanta, Wing is caught between two worlds. She feels like she just doesn't fit in and is overshadowed by her brother Marcus, meaning she struggles with her identity. However, when a family tragedy hits whilst she is finding her true talent, can it help to save herself and her loved ones?

Katherine Webber's words were absolutely stunning; I have never been to America myself, but I felt as if I was running along the beautiful beach with Wing and watching her on the running track. Her beautiful writing style would make me elated to read anything of her's again. Webber catches the feeling of freedom when Wing runs perfectly, which is great. The figurative imagery was phenomenal; everything from the characters to the setting was jumping out of the pages. 

 I adored Wing as a character, I built up a connection easily with her. Also, I adored the secondary characters, especially Wing's Grandmas. It's refreshing to see a family plan such a large role in a novel.  Books that are just so good that force you to read them, no matter whether you can or can't. But I can easily say that I wasn't complaining, as I was escaping into Wing's world. 

"Wing Jones" summed up in one word is stunning- the book is an essential for your TBR pile. Katherine Webber is an exciting voice in YA, and I can't wait to hear what she has in store next.


Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Saturday, 5 August 2017


Siobhan Curham is an award-winning author, and motivational speaker. Her books for young adults are: Dear Dylan (winner of the Young Minds Book Award), Finding Cherokee Brown, Shipwrecked, Dark of the Moon, True Face, The Moonlight Dreamers and Tell It to the Moon.

Siobhan has written for many newspapers, magazines and websites, including The Guardian, Cosmopolitan and the Writers’ Forum She has also been a guest on various radio and TV shows, including Woman’s Hour, BBC News, GMTV and BBC Breakfast.

Siobhan has spoken at schools, universities and literary festivals around the world, including Hay, Cheltenham, Bath, Ilkley, YALC, YA Shot, London Book Fair and Sharjah Reading Festival.

In celebration of Siobhan's latest book release, 'Tell It to the Moon', (the sequel of 'The Moonlight Dreamers'), we have a Q&A with this lovely author, where she answers my questions about these wonderful books.

1. I adored all of the Moonlight Dreamer's differing but strong personalities throughout both of the books. What inspired you to create each character?

Thank you! I started with Amber, as I wanted to create a teen girl who was a bit different from the ‘norm’ but fiercely proud of being so. It occurred to me that I’d never read a book about someone with gay parents before, so I added that into the mix – but it was very important to me that this shouldn’t be a big deal. It’s only a big deal in the narrow minds of the school bullies. I also liked the idea of Amber loving all things vintage – including clothes – and so her look, dressing in vintage men’s clothes was born. Then, once I could picture her in her pinstriped suit and pocket watch, it seemed only natural to me that Oscar Wilde would be her hero.

Sky came next and she’s probably the most like me, in that she has an Irish dad and she’s a bit of a hippy. At the time I created the Moonlight Dreamers, I was living near a canal and had become intrigued by the people who lived in boats there. It seemed like such a blissful, peaceful life, surrounded by so much nature. So I decided to make Sky and her dad Liam live on a boat and her being home-schooled then seemed like a natural fit. I used to co-host a night at the Poetry CafĂ© in Covent Garden, so I drew upon a lot of real-life experiences with spoken word poets when creating that side of her character.

Rose came next because I wanted to give Sky a step-sister and make it the most unlikely and dramatic clash of worlds and personalities. For a long time I’ve wondered what it must be like to be the child of famous parents and how hard it must be to get through the challenges of young adulthood in the celebrity spotlight – especially when you haven’t chosen to be there. Rose was a lot of fun for me to write. I enjoyed trying to burst a few preconceptions about fame and beauty through her character. And I loved the argument scenes with Sky – which is why I could resist making them fall out again in Tell it to the Moon! I wish I could be a bit more feisty like Rose.

Maali was the last of the girls I came up with. I thought it would be too neat to have them all be the same age, so I decided to make her a year younger and kind of like a loveable kid sister. Initially, her main characteristic was her Hindu faith – religion is an area that I think gets a bit neglected in YA fiction – but she was coming across as a little too earnest. So I asked myself how I could make her character more fun and the idea for her being a hopeless (literally) romantic was born. I had so much fun writing her scenes with Ash. To be honest, it was a little like therapy as I’m similarly useless when it comes to talking to a guy that I like.

2. Why did you decide to use Oscar Wilde as an overarching theme throughout both novels?

Oscar Wilde was such an intrinsic part in the forming of the group – the inspiration behind the name and the ethos – there was no way I could drop him as a theme. Amber would never have let me! It’s been great fun introducing Oscar Wilde and his writing to a new generation of readers and, when I was writing Tell it to the Moon, I felt like his life story again had certain parallels with the girls’. Especially when Amber uses him as inspiration to stand up to her bullies.

3. Did you encounter any challenges when writing 'Tell It to the Moon', considering the success of 'The Moonlight Dreamers?' If so, how did you overcome them?

The main challenge – and maybe this is true for any sequel – is trying to keep the characters and the storyline as fresh as the first. When I first sketched out a rough plot for Tell it to the Moon, it felt like something was missing. And that something was the fire in my belly I felt for the first book. So, I revisited my ideas for the plot, this time asking myself the questions: What do I REALLY want to write about? What ideas would really fire me up? And I realised that I really wanted to write about how I think the school system is failing so many young people. I also realised that, with Sky starting high school after a life-time of home-schooling, I had a great opportunity to look at the education system through the fresh eyes of someone who’s never experienced it before – and can see all of the flaws. I ought to stress here that I don’t think teachers are failing young people – every teacher I know hates the changes that have been made to the education system in recent years and is finding their job increasingly hard to do. By making Sky become an activist – and be the change she wants to see in the world – I was also tapping into the anger I feel at so much of what is happening in the world at the moment. And my desire for young people to be inspired to take action. Over the past few years, I’ve given talks to students from all over the world and I always come away feeling so inspired by their compassion and desire for equality, justice and peace. Once the activism storyline was added to Tell it to the Moon, I felt the same burning desire to write that I’d experienced with The Moonlight Dreamers – it was like the missing piece of the jigsaw had slotted into place.

4. What is the best experience you have had that has originated from the publishing of 'The Moonlight Dreamers' series?

Without a shadow of a doubt it has been receiving messages from readers all around the world, telling me that the books have encouraged them to pursue their own dreams. I love thinking of Oscar Wilde’s words drifting down through time, inspiring the characters and in turn the readers, to dream boldly.

5. What are your top three writing tips for future novelists?
1) Write about the things you feel most passionately about. Not only will it make the writing process a whole lot more enjoyable, but it will make the reading of your work a lot more enjoyable too. The reader will feel the energy burning behind your words.

2) Don’t be put off by criticism – learn from it. Writing can be a very vulnerable experience – or at least, showing other people your writing can. But no-one is capable of writing a perfect first draft, everyone needs a fresh perspective. That’s why published authors have editors. When you’re starting out, don’t be afraid to show other people your work and be open and willing to learn from their feedback. It will make you a much better writer. I’ve learned so much from my editors.

3) Having said all of that, sometimes you will encounter people who criticise your work because they have their own agenda. Maybe they always dreamed of being a writer but didn’t have the courage to pursue that dream, maybe they’re just unhappy for some other reason and seeing you pursue your writing dream makes them feel resentful or insecure. If someone is mean about your work, in a way that isn’t constructive at all, remind yourself that it isn’t personal – even though it can feel extremely personal! Know that it is far better to be pursuing a dream and doing something that makes you happy, than bitching at others from the sidelines and wallowing in self pity.

6. What are your future writing plans?
I’ve just finished the first draft of a YA novel which is due to out next April, about a teen footballer from Syria and a budding musician from Britain. It alternates between the girl and boy’s point of view as their friendship forms. It’s great getting the chance to write from the point of view of a boy for once, and to write about the refugee crisis, something I feel really strongly about. It’s set in and around Brighton, which is always a really fun and colourful setting. At the moment it has the working title, Friends Like Us, but I think that may well change.

Thanks to Siobhan for answering my questions! Check out my reviews for both of 'The Moonlight Dreamers' books below, and you can visit the website here.

'The Moonlight Dreamers' Series Reviews:
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