Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott, Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Laconis (Review)

Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott, Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Laconis

Blurb

Can you love someone you can never touch?

Stella Grant likes to be in control—even though her totally out of control lungs have sent her in and out of the hospital most of her life. At this point, what Stella needs to control most is keeping herself away from anyone or anything that might pass along an infection and jeopardise the possibility of a lung transplant. Six feet apart. No exceptions.

The only thing Will Newman wants to be in control of is getting out of this hospital. He couldn’t care less about his treatments, or a fancy new clinical drug trial. Soon, he’ll turn eighteen and then he’ll be able to unplug all these machines and actually go see the world, not just its hospitals.

Will’s exactly what Stella needs to stay away from. If he so much as breathes on Stella she could lose her spot on the transplant list. Either one of them could die. The only way to stay alive is to stay apart. But suddenly six feet doesn’t feel like safety. It feels like punishment.

What if they could steal back just a little bit of the space their broken lungs have stolen from them? Would five feet apart really be so dangerous if it stops their hearts from breaking too?

Review

I watched the film of this in 2019 on a plane on the way back from my holiday and I cried my eyes out. I was so worried an air steward would come over to see what the matter was with me. As soon as I got home I ordered the book but didn’t get around to reading it until now. I will be honest the book made me even more emotional than the film did. 

Stella and Will both have cystic fibrosis and both find themselves in hospital but they are both very different characters. Stella is a control freak who lives her life following lists and making sure she takes all her medications at the right time so she can stay healthy for everyone around her. Will however is fed up with treatments and hospitals and wants freedom to see the world and couldn’t care less about taking his medications. 

However, Stella and Will find themselves drawn to each other but there is a problem: they can’t be nearer to each other than six feet in case Will infects Stella with B cepacia which would mean she could not get a lung transplant if one became available. Stella decides that they can still be together but will be five feet apart instead of the recommended six. 

The other character that I loved in this book is Poe. Poe is another CF patient at the hospital and has known Stella since they were children and they are best friends. Poe has a wonderful sense of humour and is a kind and good friend to Stella and Will and whenever he is around you can’t help but smile. 

Although this story is mainly set in the hospital it is still fascinating and lovely to see how Stella and Will’s relationship develops and how Poe helps it all to work. I really didn’t notice at times that it was a hospital that the book was set in. I learned a lot from this book about cystic fibrosis and I really loved how even though there is sadness there is also so much joy and happy memories to celebrate. This book made me smile, it made cry, and it made me laugh, I really could not put it down. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons. 

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Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling, illustrated by Jim Kay (Review)

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

Blurb

When a letter arrives for unhappy but ordinary Harry Potter, a decade-old secret is revealed to him that apparently he’s the last to know. His parents were wizards, killed by a Dark Lord’s curse when Harry was just a baby, and which he somehow survived. Leaving his unsympathetic aunt and uncle for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry stumbles upon a sinister mystery when he finds a three-headed dog guarding a room on the third floor. Then he hears of a missing stone with astonishing powers, which could be valuable, dangerous — or both. An incredible adventure is about to begin!

Review

I love the Harry Potter books and I have read them many times over but what I have always wanted to own and read is the illustrated editions by Jim Kay and finally I own the first one after my best friend bought it me for my birthday. I saved it for my December reading as I always associate the Philosopher’s Stone with Christmas for some reason.

It has been a few years since I read the first books in the series but I will be honest that it was wonderful to be back in the wizarding world again with some of my favourite literary characters that I have grown up with. It was so good to meet Dumbledore again as he is by far superior in the book to the films and he is such a funny and eccentric character in the book.

So, as you can tell I love the book and I bet most people are familiar with the Harry Potter books so I will just say reading it with the illustrations is fantastic and the only way I want to read the Harry Potter books from now on. The illustrations are stunning in this book and so well-chosen for the story, they really add to the story. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons and highly recommend it to all Potter fans.

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Purchase Links

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(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Joanne Rowling born 31 July 1965, is a British writer and philanthropist. She is best known for writing the Harry Potter series. Rowling also writes crime fiction under the pen name Robert Galbraith.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (Review)

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

About the author

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Suzanne Collins (born August 10, 1962) is an American television writer and author. She is known as the author of The Underland Chronicles and The Hunger Games trilogy.

Blurb

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to out charm, outwit, and out manoeuvre his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined — every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favour or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute . . . and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.

Review

I was so excited when I saw this book was being released as I love The Hunger Games trilogy so I immediately preordered the book and started reading it as soon as it arrived on my doorstep. I will be honest I did not read it as quickly as I wanted but my course reading delayed things slightly, otherwise this book would have been finished in a very short period of time as I could not put it down.

It was so wonderful to revisit the world of The Hunger Games again and I was not disappointed. I know a lot of people have not been happy with this book but I think it is because they weren’t expecting it to be about a young President Snow and how he came to be. I also liked how different this book was from The Hunger Games, it was a lot more philosophical and thought provoking than the trilogy. It really made me think about the human condition and what a human can be capable of in the right conditions.

Seeing an early version of the Hunger Games before all the glamour and showbiz that appears in the trilogy was really interesting. The arena was a plain old beaten up sports arena and nothing fancy, it was a very different perspective. The tributes were also treated very differently and I felt really sorry for them, especially Lucy Gray.

Lucy Gray was an interesting character who I couldn’t help but feel sorry for. This poor girl  who loves music and is very gifted has the roughest ride possible. She also sings the song that we know so well from The Hunger Games. I really liked Lucy Gray and the Covey, they were interesting characters and I would have loved to have learned more about them.

Seeing Snow as an 18 year old boy and learning about how he lived through the war was also an eye opener that you do not see in the trilogy. The war was brutal for everyone and the things that people resorted to to survive were extreme and not something usually seen when the world is normal.

This story is primarily the development of the tyrant President Snow and how he came to be how he is. You can see how this 18 year old will make choices in his life to get where he wants to be. He won’t care who gets in his way or who gets hurt, the only thing that matters is that he gets to the top.

Overall, I loved this book and highly recommend it but I know some Hunger Games fans will not agree as it is rather different. I give this book a big 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett (Review)

The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett

About the author

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Sir Terence David John Pratchett OBE (28 April 1948 – 12 March 2015) was an English humorist, satirist, and author of fantasy novels, especially comical works. He is best known for his Discworld series of 41 novels.

Blurb

In the beginning, there was nothing but endless flatness. Then came the Carpet…

That’s the old story everyone knows and loves (even if they don’t really believe it). But now the Carpet is home to many different tribes and peoples and there’s a new story in the making. The story of Fray, sweeping a trail of destruction across the Carpet. The story of power-hungry mouls – and of two Munrung brothers, who set out on an adventure to end all adventures when their village is flattened.

It’s a story that will come to a terrible end – if someone doesn’t do something about it. If everyone doesn’t do something about it…

Review

It was so good to read a Pratchett book again as it has been way too long. During the lockdown to read a book by one of my favourite authors was like a warm comfort blanket wrapped around me. The Carpet People was written by a 17 year old Pratchett but this edition is the one that he republished after going through and making a few changes.

I really enjoyed reading this book as it was full of the typical humour of Pratchett and although it was not as refined as his Discworld novels it was still a joy to read. I loved how this book made my imagination run wild, it reminded me of the Borrowers, a race of people that live in the carpet.

The fascinating world of the carpet is brilliant with all the different tribes, kingdoms and an empire. I loved how the individuality of the people came through. I also loved how the women decided to do battle and fight for women’s rights at the end.

I have seen some pretty bad reviews about this book and it really surprises me as I know this book has a few flaws with characters randomly disappearing but since this was one of Pratchett’s first books it is bound to have some flaws as Pratchett was starting to find his feet as an author. Obviously if you compare it to the Discworld books it is lacking slightly but it is still a highly enjoyable story to read which will give you a good giggle.

I highly recommend this book to all fantasy and comedy lovers, it is a quick read that will make you laugh. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons. 

Purchase Links

Book Depository

Waterstones

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The House with a Clock in its Walls by John Bellairs (Review)

The House with a Clock in its Walls by John Bellairs

9781848127715

About the author

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John Belliars (1938-1991) was an award-winning American author of many gothic mystery novels for children and young adults.

Blurb

When orphaned Lewis Barnavelt comes to live with his Uncle Jonathan, he is amazed to find out there is a wizard in his family.

Lewis experiments with Uncle Jonathan’s spells and uncovers the mystery behind the ticking that he can hear throughout the house, sometimes loud, sometimes quiet, sometimes fast, sometimes slow. It’s an evil clock and it could destroy humankind.

It is up to the Barnavelt’s to find where the clock is hidden in the walls – and stop it.

Review

I bought this book ages ago and it has just been sat in a pile gathering dust but I spotted it the other day and thought that looks like a fun quick read and thankfully I was correct. As I have mentioned previously I do enjoy reading children’s books and especially enjoy reading them when I’m very busy or stressed. I can truthfully say I loved this book and could not put it down.

The three main characters Lewis, Uncle Jonathan and Mrs Zimmermann were fantastic. I especially loved the character of Mrs Zimmermann who isn’t afraid of anything and speaks her mind and has an unhealthy obsession with the colour purple. She just seems to be the ultimate cool aunt figure.

Uncle Jonathan is the ultimate cool uncle, teaching Lewis to play poker and letting him stay up late and basically doing what he likes within reason. Lewis is the typical child who doesn’t quite fit in at school but has found his happy place living with his Uncle because as the story develops you can see that Uncle and nephew are rather alike.

Overall I loved the storyline and it kept me hooked from the start, the idea of magic being in a house and its walls was fantastic and in places it was rather spooky although that part was rather rushed through but that was probably because it is a children’s book. The only issue I had with the story was the lack of story about the actual clock, considering the book is about the clock in the walls it hardly features and it just feels like a very rushed ending.

I give this book 4 out of 5 dragons because of the lack of clock in the story. I highly recommend it to children and adults alike. A really good read that keeps you hooked from beginning to end.

Purchase links

Waterstones

Book Depository

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Captain Marvel: Higher, Further, Faster by Liza Palmer (Review)

Captain Marvel: Higher, Further, Faster by Liza Palmer

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About the author

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Liza Palmer is an internationally bestselling author of Conversations with a Fat Girl and six other novels. She is an Emmy-nominated and lives in Los Angeles.

Blurb

NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE FROM MARVEL STUDIOS!

Carol Danvers kicks off her U.S. Air Force career with her first year at flight school, where she’ll be tested in ways she never thought possible-and make a lifelong friend, Maria Rambeau, in the process-in this atmospheric and exciting prelude to the upcoming Marvel Studios’ film, Captain Marvel! Focusing on Carol Danvers and Maria Rambeau as they wend their way through a space that was still very much a “boys’ club” in the 80s, the important social-cultural themes explored in this novel are sure to draw in not only fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but readers of social issue-focused YA who gravitate toward relatable protagonists learning to navigate the world around them, and to succeed in the face of seemingly insurmountable adversity.

Review

Who doesn’t love a free book? Yes, I got this book for free when I bought the Captain Marvel DVD from Sainsbury’s. I do love the Marvel films but I was not keen to see Captain Marvel, however when stuck on a plane for 8 hours and feeling at a loose end I decided to watch the film and to be honest rather enjoyed it, although it was probably because I rather liked the cat Goose.

Anyway, back to the book review. The book focuses on Carol Danvers who as we know becomes Captain Marvel and after a slow start I really began to enjoy this book. To start with I was not sure I would carry on reading the book as I found it rather slow and not my cup of tea but I’m so pleased I persevered as I really enjoyed it and because of reading it I appreciated the character of Carol Danvers in the film more.

The characters in the book were brilliant and I loved how the friendships developed especially between Carol and Maria. It really showed how a character can grow more as a person through friendship. The way Carol developed through the book, or grew up really linked in well with the film and you can see she has always thought that she has something to prove.

The other element I enjoyed was the fight Carol and Maria have in a male orientated world.  They have their dreams but know that in the U. S. Air Force men are the ones who get all the top flying jobs. However, in their own way and their constant pushing they make things work for them.

This was a really quick read and should have taken me no time at all to read but I was reading two other books at the same time so I was slightly distracted. It was an excellent YA book and deals with a lot of issues with growing up. I gave this book 4 out of 5 Dragons because the beginning was a bit slow.

Book Details

Page count: 249

Format: paperback

Published: 2019

Purchase Links

Waterstones

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Review 15: Dark Tracks by Philippa Gregory

Dark Tracks: Order of Darkness Volume IV by Philippa Gregory

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About the author

Philippa Gregory was born in 1954 in Nairobi, Republic of Kenya. When she was two years old her family moved back to England. She studied English literature at the University of Sussex, where she later switched to the history course. Gregory earned her doctorate in 18th century literature at the University of Edinburgh and has taught at the University of Durham, University of Teeside and the Open University and was made a Fellow of Kingston University in 1994. Gregory’s first work was published in 1987 and she has been writing ever since, one of her most famous works The Other Boleyn Girl has won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award and has been made into two separate films.

Blurb

Luca Vero is a member of the secret Order of Darkness, tasked by his master to uncover the truth behind strange happenings. Although Lady Isolde, her friend and Ishraq, Luca’s manservant Freize, and Brother Peter, Luca travels miles across medieval Europe – seeking out the signs of the end of days, judging the supernatural and testing the new science.

Trapped in a village possessed by dancing madness, the group fights to keep their own sanity. When Isolde dances away in red shoes and Ishraq takes dramatic revenge on their covert assassin, the young people discover that the greatest risk is in the men who have come to their rescue. These are the truly dangerous madmen of Europe who carry a dark hatred that will last for centuries.

Review

I waited for ages for this book to be released and just recently I finally got around to buying it. I have read all the previous books in the series and really enjoyed them, I loved them so much I bought the first two as a present for my niece to read. So as you can imagine I was quite excited to read this book. Sadly the book did not live up to my enthusiasm and I doubt I will be recommending it to my niece.

The story continues with the same five characters from the series, Luca, Brother Peter, Freize, Isolde, and Ishraq. Luca is a novice not yet a full monk who works for the Order of Darkness a secret order that is monitoring things for the signs of the end of days. Brother Peter is a full monk who is following Luca writing down everything that they see and writing the reports for the secret order. He is also the oldest member of the five and makes sure that Luca remains faithful to his training to one day be a monk. Freize is Luca’s manservant who is extremely loyal and unfailing in his service. Isolde is a noblewoman who is trying to fight for her lands and castle with her friend Ishraq who she grew up with.

Luca, Brother Peter and Freize have been sent off to follow and study the people affected by the dancing sickness or madness, people in groups have decided to go off and dance leaving everything they know behind them. As their road is the same as Isolde’s and Ishraq’s they carry on travelling together.

The dancing sickness or madness was a phenomenon that was recorded in medieval times and times after that and there have been many theories as to the cause, however it has never been confirmed as to what it is. I always enjoy Gregory’s books because of the historical references within them and I was intrigued by the dancing sickness when reading about it in the blurb, however the book did not reveal as much as I would like to have learnt about it and the final result the characters came up with regarding it was a huge disappointment, it was like Gregory just wanted the book to finish within a certain word count and so gave up.

The other issue she discussed in the book was the treatment of Jews in the medieval times and this I did find interesting and was horrified about what I learnt from it. The scene at the end of the book was also very interesting. This issue is basically why the book did not get just one star.

In this book I found the two females sadly lacking, in the previous books they had been so strong and not the typical weak female of the time. However, this time Isolde fell in love with a pair of shoes and Ishraq some earrings when they knew they were meant to be on their guard. They came across as very vain and uninteresting. Ishraq did show her fighting skills and that was good to read but Isolde just came across as a protected spoiled brat and the more I read regarding her the less I liked her.

Considering this is the fourth book in the series the characters are not growing and to be honest have grown stale. I want to see their characters develop and to see them grow intellectually and emotionally and to be honest they almost went backwards in this book. Brother Peter and Freize were the only two who made the book bearable.

Overall the book showed what we already know, nobility in medieval times were horrible, self centred and cared nothing for their people. The treatment of Jews was a surprise for me and the dancing sickness was interesting to read about. However I could read about the Jews’ history and the dancing sickness in a history book and probably find it a great deal more interesting. The characters were severely lacking and quite frankly dull. I doubt I will bother to read the next in the series which is a great shame as the previous three were excellent. My rating was a 2 stars out of 5.

Lady Book Dragon

Review 11: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

About the Author

Neil Gaiman is an English author who writes comics, books, graphic novels, short stories, film and theatre and has won many awards for his work. He was a great reader from an early age and states that JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy was a major influence to him and he read it a great deal as a child. Gaiman started his career as a journalist and his first book was a Duran Duran biography. Gaiman now lives in the United States.

Blurb

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a perfectly normal boy. Apart from the fact that he lives in a graveyard and is being raised and educated by the ghosts, and his guardian belongs to neither the world of the living nor the dead.

There are dangers and adventures for Bod in the graveyard: the strange and terrible menace of the Sleer; a gravestone entrance to a desert that leads to the city of should; friendship with a witch; and so much more.

But it is in the land of the living that the real dangers lurk, for it is there that the man Jack lives and he has already killed Bod’s family.

Review

I was so excited to read this book after reading the short story in Coraline and Other Stories which is the fourth chapter in this book. So on my next bookshop visit I managed to buy a copy of the book. Sadly though I was rather disappointed with the book as a whole.

The book is about the life of Nobody Owens as a child and teenager and the struggles he goes through. Nobody or Bod for short escaped the same fate that his family went through and was protected by the ghosts of the Graveyard he wandered into and his guardian, Silas who is neither in the land of the living or the dead. 

Bod is a typical boy growing up, he is full of wonder and the drive to learn however he lacks the fear and trepidation that most people feel because he has seen death is not all that bad. His best friends are ghosts, death holds no fear for him. He has also sampled the powers that the dead have and that the living do not and knows that they are very advantageous. 

The first chapter shows how Bod came to the graveyard and I must admit I almost shed a tear when Mrs Owens finds him. The chapter was full of emotion and you can not help but desperately root for Bod, but also wonder how the ghosts of the graveyard will look after the child. 

The subsequent chapters show snippets into Bod’s life at about yearly intervals. These chapters I must admit frustrated me as it left me wanting more and the things that were in the chapters were quite often never touched on again or even mentioned. I also wanted to know more about Silas and Miss Lupescu but that was not to be and the reader is left guessing. The character Jack and his kind are only lightly touched upon and this was another disappointment, all the time I wanted to know more details. My favourite chapter still remains The Witch’s Headstone.

The concept of Sleer was brilliant, I really liked the idea of a creature who is unbelievably ancient that nobody even remembers its reason for existence or even that it does exist. Sleer still remembers its purpose though but at the same time is desperate for somebody to become its master again. In a way it is like Bod, Bod wants answers and adventures and Sleer just wants a master a reason for it to still keep protecting.

There were moments in the story that really pulled on my heart strings and almost brought tears to my eyes and I absolutely loved the character of Bod and Mr and Mrs Owens. However I also found myself losing interest in places and that is one of the main reasons for the lower rating. I think reading the fourth chapter first as a short story was a mistake because the rest of the book just did not live up to my expectations.

The edition of the book I read had some beautiful illustrations in by Dave McKean which really added to the story and worked brilliantly in setting the dark mysterious scene of the graveyard. Here is one of my favourites.

A good read for adults and children and I think it would make an excellent film one day. 

Just 3 stars out of 5 from me.

Lady Book Dragon