Author Archives: Michelle

About Michelle

Owner of The Book Club Forum.

True Face by Siobhan Curham


Don’t show me your tweet-face

Or ur txt spk

Show me your True Face 

And let your heart speak.

Siobhan Curham has an important message for young people in her book – to work out who they are, and to be themselves. It’s backed up by a website and it’s obviously something she’s very passionate about.

The first part of the book encourages the reader to keep a journal, and Siobhan guides them through exercises to work out what they were like as children, and what they want to be right now, whilst turning the inner negative voice into a positive one.

After this, she looks at being yourself in various circumstances, such as dating, friendship, finding your style etc.

Whilst it’s aimed at young people, there are aspects within which any age group can make use of – although I would really like to see a version aimed at older readers, who may have very different types of negative aspects and experiences to overcome and turn around.

I’m not sure that many teenagers would fully engage in the journal aspect of the book, but it’s done in such as way that it’s not essential.. it’s quite possible to consider the aspects in your mind, although taking more time with it may help. Overall though, the messages within this book are so important, and I hope it makes its way into every school library – and I hope young people start to take notice!

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Starborn by Lucy Hounsom


Kyndra’s fate holds betrayal and salvation, but the journey starts in her small village. On the day she comes of age, she accidentally disrupts an ancient ceremony, ending centuries of tradition. So when an unnatural storm targets her superstitious community, Kyndra is blamed. She fears for her life until two strangers save her, by wielding powers not seen for an age – powers fuelled by the sun and the moon.

This is always going to be a difficult review to write, because Fantasy is not something I read regularly, so I therefore find it hard to make comparisons with other authors, books etc. I’m not really sure what regular fantasy readers feel makes a good fantasy book, so I may be way off. All I can say is that personally, I thought it was excellent, and I loved it. :)

As I said, fantasy is not something I read regularly, but after chatting to the author about another book we both loved, I decided to take the publisher up on their kind offer of a review copy. I enjoyed the writing style from the beginning, and I knew I was hooked once Bregenne and Nediah turned up, and especially once I started to learn more about their powers – what can be better than a power fuelled by the sun or the moon?!

I really enjoyed the world building from Lucy – I only get to read my books in short bursts, so it doesn’t take much for me to get confused, but not once did I feel lost in this world. From the powers I’ve already spoken about, to airships, to a hidden city, I was able to lose myself in it every time I picked it up.

Kyndra is a great main character, who goes through a lot during the book, but my favourites were Bregenne and Nediah, who are excellent characters both on their own, and also as a pair. They are coupled by their opposing powers, but there’s also their own personal relationship to explore.

I don’t want to go into any more details, but anyone who follows me on twitter will know how much I’ve enjoyed this one. There’s a wrapped up story within this book, but it’s nicely all set up for the next book, which I can’t wait to get my hands on!

Find out more at

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Early Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

uprooted (1)

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka lives a simple life in her village, along with her best friend Kasia, but they are constantly under the threat of the corrupted wood on their borders – sometimes the power of the wood will reach out, and cause harm and damage. The people in the village rely on a wizard, known as the Dragon, to protect them, and offer his magic against the wood’s effects.

In return for his help, he takes a young woman from their village every 10 years. They are returned, but will not speak of their time, and they leave the village as soon as they are able. Everyone expects Kasia to be chosen when the next 10 years comes around, but instead the Dragon takes Agnieszka.

I was sent a review copy of this book, but I had no idea what it was about, nor had I heard of the author before. As I often do with books I’m unsure of, I started to read the first few pages. I was immediately caught by the writing style, and the character of Agnieszka, and yes, the spell was cast!

Uprooted is a fantasy book, with Agnieszka discovering that she in fact has powers of her own, and also learning more about the mysterious Dragon. There are spells, magical creatures, and adventure. However, there was something a little different about this one, which really did captivate me. It reads like a beautifully told fairytale, which also has it’s dark side. Agnieszka’s growth is as touching as her loyalty, and the aspects of her relationship with the Dragon are also well done. I loved the way the magic was handled, from Agnieszka’s personal path, to the powerful war magic.

There are only certain fantasy books which catch my interest, and this is most certainly one of them. It’s hard to describe any further without wandering into spoiler territory, but if you like fantasy, fairytales, magic and adventure, told with a beautiful style, then you need to try this!

Published by Macmillan 21st May 2015

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The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson


This offering from Sanderson is aimed at the teenage market, but that is certainly not a bad thing. I loved the Mistborn series, but made the mistake of going from one book to the next, and by the middle of the 3rd it seemed to be dragging, and I gave up. This is not something which will happen with this book once you’re into it, so as long as you know what to expect, I think most adults would enjoy it too.

Joel is fascinated by the magic of the Rithmatists, which he sees studied at his college. Rithmatists use special geometric shapes and creatures which they draw in chalk, and bring magic to. Although Joel is skilled in the drawings, he has no magic, and so can not be a Rithmatist.

When some of the students go missing, and the college is attacked, Joel has to work together with Melody, a Rithmatist apprentice, to try to stop the killer.

Personally, I loved the idea behind the magic, which is basically drawing protective, magical shapes and creatures, to avoid being attacked. This is helped in the book by the illustrations from Ben McSweeney, which include the special shapes used, some of the creatures, and the chapter headings.

The story itself is fast paced, and I would recommend it as an introduction to fantasy for anyone, teen or older, or as a shorter, snappier read for those used to more epic fantasy. There are themes of family and friendship throughout, with a credible world and magic system.

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A Robot in the Garden by Deborah Install (Early review)


Set in a near future, where androids are used for various tasks, Ben wakes one day to find a robot in his garden. Compared with the human-like androids, this is an old fashioned, broken robot, and Ben has no idea where it’s come from – and his wife Amy wants him to take it to the tip.

Instead, Ben finds himself intrigued by this little robot, who calls himself Tang, and when Amy leaves him, he decides to track down his maker, to try to fix the broken cylinder inside him.

It’s impossible not to like Tang, with his childlike charm and innocence, and I completely fell in love with him. Yet there’s so much more to this book, as Tang is the not the only one who needs to be mended.

I don’t want to talk too much about the journey taken, and the unfolding story, but I will say that this is a book with both heart and humour. It’s hard to believe that such a book can be a début for the author, and I will be advising everyone to read it when it’s published in April 2015. #JoinTheTangGang

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Alice and the Fly by James Rice


Miss Hayes has a new theory. She thinks my condition’s caused by some traumatic incident from my past I keep deep-rooted in my mind. As soon as I come clean I’ll flood out all these tears and it’ll all be ok and I won’t be scared of Them anymore. The truth is I can’t think of any single traumatic childhood incident to tell her. I mean, there are plenty of bad memories – Herb’s death, or the time I bit the hole in my tongue, or Finners Island, out on the boat with Sarah – but none of these are what caused the phobia. I’ve always had it. It’s Them. I’m just scared of Them. It’s that simple.

The story in this debut by James Rice is told by Greg, as he writes to Alice, a girl he likes, in his journal. Greg comes across as an awkward, shy boy with a phobia of ‘Them’ (which turn out to be spiders) but as the book goes on, it’s obvious there is more to be told. In fact, the story is interspersed with extracts of interviews of various characters with the police, which hint of much deeper issues.

Alice and the Fly is a book which gradually takes hold, as we find out more about Greg, his family, and his mental health problems. Telling the story from Greg’s point of view allows you to experience how he sees his world, and yet there is enough information to allow you to see what’s really going on, all the way to the heartbreaking conclusion.

My first book of 2015, and highly recommended – published by Hodder on Jan 15th.
Alice and the Fly at

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Endgame: The Calling by James Frey

Endgame: The Calling is part of something much bigger. It’s not something I know much about, so I will simply link to this article for those who wish to learn more. As for the book, I almost bought it in Waterstones, but decided against, as I wasn’t sure about the format. I then managed to get a kindle edition to review – this gave me the oppertunity to try the story, but I do feel that something was missing in this format, and I’m sure I’ll eventually buy the book.

So, to the story – it’s written in the present tense, and is written with sharp, snappy sentences. It jumps between characters, someof whom work alone, some who join up – so it gives different viewpoints and insights.

The basis of the story is that there are 12 main lines, each of which is represented by one young person. These twelve are trained all their lives, and at the age of 20 they ‘retire’ and pass on the responsibility to someone new.

The twelve are brought together after twelve meteors strike the earth, and they are informed that they will now battle each other to find 3 keys, and they are fighting for their line, as everyone else will die. The keys belong to ancient people from space, so there is a slight SF aspect to it.. maybe one which will be expanded on in the next two books.

Each of the twelve ‘players’ have their own backgrounds, feelings and styles, and there were a few I wanted to do well. It’s a harsh book, with violence and deaths, but it all seems acceptable and relevant to the story, so it’s not shocking.

It’s style may not be for everyone, but I found it’s pace quite addictive. I enjoyed it, and quite intrigued to see where the second book goes, but I have a feeling that some of the finer points passed me by.  I’m a little confused as to whether I enjoyed it, and whether I would recommend it – but there definitely is something intriguing, and I would certainly recommend anyone interested to check out a sample to see what they think.

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My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga


I’m getting higher and higher and I feel the swing set creak.

‘Be careful,’ he says.

‘Why?’ I’m not thinking about being careful. I’m thinking about one last push, of letting go, of flying, and of falling.

‘You aren’t allowed to die without me,’ he whispers.

In her debut YA book, Jasmine tackles a very difficult subject, teenage suicide. Aysel is the daughter of murderer, and the effects this may have on her in the future scare her so much she decides she no longer wants to live. Roman is dealing with a terrible event in his life, and he’s looking for a suicide partner.. and it’s this which brings them together.

First to my reservations about the book – the opening section is quite bleak, mainly because Jasmine writes so well about how these young people are feeling. As a parent, it terrified me to think that young people could feel this bad, and not realise that there’s help out there. To feel that suicide is the only answer, and then to seek someone out so they can encourage and help each other.. well, it was hard to read. I also had reservations about young people with depression reading the book.

However, as the book progresses, you can see a change in Aysel, as she begins to face up to the way she feels, and her future. She also starts to feel a strong connection with Roman, but not because of the reasons they joined up. Things change for Aysel, but she now needs to make them change for Roman too.

This book proved hard to put down – both characters had my heart aching for them, wanting them to see that trying to struggle alone was not the answer, and that things could get better. The feelings of depression, worthlessness and guilt are so well written – but so also is the recovery. It isn’t a case of Aysel simply falling in love and realising the world is all sunny, it’s a case of discovering the power of relationships, and of talking and sharing.

This will be published by Hodder in February 2015, and I highly recommend you add it to your wishlist.

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No One Gets Out Alive by Adam Nevill (Early Review)

Cash-strapped, working for agencies and living in shared accommodation, Stephanie Booth feels she can fall no further. So when she takes a new room at the right price, she believes her luck has finally turned. But 82 Edgware Road is not what it appears to be.

It’s not only the eerie atmosphere of the vast, neglected house, or the disturbing attitude of her new landlord, Knacker McGuire, that makes her uneasy – it’s the whispers behind the fireplace, the scratching beneath floors, the footsteps in the dark, and the young women weeping in neighbouring rooms. And when Knacker’s cousin Fergal arrives, the danger goes vertical.

But this is merely a beginning, a gateway to horrors beyond Stephanie’s worst nightmares. And in a house where no one listens to the screams, will she ever get out alive?

Once again we have a dark and disturbing tale from the pen of Adam Nevill, and it’s one which took me on a roller coaster ride. It’s a difficult book to review without giving any of the plot away, especially at this early stage before publication, so for now I’ll be brief.

It starts with a rather traditional, chilling ghost story, as Stephanie spends her first night in her new room, and starts to experience sounds in her own room, and weeping in other rooms, which she’s sure are unoccupied.

The horror then becomes very real, as her landlord and his cousin show their true, terrifying, violent sides.

Throughout these experiences, Adam does something he did very well in Apartment 16.. he shows the absolute despair and depression felt as Stephanie’s world spirals out of her control, and she feels the full impact of having no-one, and nothing.

I’ll admit, as someone who’s read a LOT of horror in my time, I liked the creepy start much more than the violent aspect, but it was a necessary part of the story, and it didn’t overwhelm the scares.

The last third of the book was my absolute favourite though – I didn’t know where the book was going at this part, but for me it was the scariest part – I almost had to leave the light on a couple of times!

I’ve read Banquet for the Damned, Apartment 16, and The Ritual previously, and to me, Adam managed to bring all the best aspects of these books together in this one. There’s something inside for all sorts of horror readers, along with a critical view of parts of society.

It’s the best I’ve read so far, and I will highly recommend you get hold of it on the 23rd, and read as you approach Halloween! I’d love to chat to some of you about it. :)

Published by PanMacmillan 23/10/14

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The Reviver by Seth Patrick


Jonah is a Reviver – someone who can revive the dead for a short period of time. In Jonah’s case, he works for a forensic team, so he revives in order to let the victim testify about the events of their death. It’s a well controlled experience, and is used as evidence in courts.

However, during one revival, Jonah experiences something which makes him question exactly what they’re doing.. another presence, which he can’t explain. He’s told it’s just an hallucination, brought about by stress, but Jonah isn’t convinced, and starts to dig deeper. He ends up involved in something much bigger than he expected.

For the majority of the book, this feels like a crime / thriller, with this very interesting twist. The whole issue of Revival is explored, including it’s uses and problems, and it’s this aspect which lifts it well above average. Some reviewers have found the book too slow, but I disagree – there’s a lot of information to give, and aspects of reviving to explore, and I enjoyed this.

Throughout there’s an uneasiness, a suggestion of a supernatural element, and towards the end this becomes more apparent, and there’s a definite switch in the book. I have to admit, this did worry me for a while, because I’ve seen similar books which started to feel.. well, silly. In my opinion though, Seth keeps a realistic tone, and it soon settles into a good ending.

Whilst it would have been possible to keep simply to the idea of forensic revival, I’m not sure how far it could have been taken in the future. I would imagine that the supernatural aspect will feature quite strongly in the next book, and I look forward to finding out where we’re taken next.

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