GO ASK ALICE by Anonymous

Go Ask Alice is a fiction book in the style of a diary which follows a young girl and her experiences with drugs.

Upon looking further into this book after reading, although it said to be written by ‘anonymous’ and to be an excerpt from a real diary it is now beleived to have been written by Beatrice Sparks. It is a popular book and as of it remained continuoslly in print, over 4 decades since its release in 1971.

When reading this book, I felt as though this could have been written by a young girl struggling with drug addiction who runs away from home and experiences things she shouldn’t. Some of the things recorded in this book are hard to read and an extreme and although many feel it is unrealistic I am not sure I agree. It is less about the specifics and the book as a whole for me. Its about the journey the young girl is on and how she copes with this journey.

I liked the diary structure of the book as it felt realistic and with each excerpt being fairly short, it made me want to read on (just one more section!) I was graphic at times which can be hard to read but I think that made the message of the book stronger and there are extremes to the world of drug addiction at a young age.

This book has mixed reviews with many claiming it as anti-drug propaganda and unbelievable with others praising the awareness, and messages throughout the book. I felt it was realistic enough and brought attention to the consequences of drugs. Strange things happen everyday so who is so to say that the events in this book would never happen. Even if they didn’t I would say I am not sure that it really matters as the message would be the same, there are dangers and consequences to drug abuse.

I liked this book and would recommend, whether you look at it as fictional or not. It is a very impactful read and with a message that should be heard.

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS feel free to comment and like!)

Author Q&A: Elen Caldecott

Elen Caldecott is a childrens and YA author who wrote The Short Knife, a book I previously wrote a review on.

I got in contact with Elen and asked if I could possibly ask some questions on her career as a writer and on her book ‘The Short Knife’. Not only did she respond quickly, she also said yes! I appreciate when anyone takes the time to answer some of my questions and I can’t thank Elen enough!.

1. What made you become a writer and primarily with children’s books?

I’ve written since school. It was always a hobby and a passion. I had a fantastic teacher who encouraged me early on. Books for young people are pacy, challenging and fun. When I started writing them, it felt like home.


2. What gave you the inspiration to move on from children’s books to writing a YA  novel? 3. Was there a reason you decided to set the ‘The Short Knife’ in the past and would you write more historical fiction?

I started writing it with language as the main inspiration. I wanted to write a book that was in English, but inspired by Welsh. I didn’t have a plot in mind, I had a voice in mind. I decided the most interesting time to write about, given that I wanted to write about Welsh meeting English, was when English first arrived in the British Isles. That meant it had to be a historical novel, and, given the complex nature of that meeting, it had to be a book for slightly older readers.

4. Were you particularly influence by any other authors or novels to begin your career or specifically to write ‘The Short Knife’?

I love to read – I always have. So, I rely on other writers to fuel my reading. I learn so much from other writers. In the case of TSK, Catherine Johnson’s ‘The Curious Tale of the Lady Caribou’ was influential, in the way that she gave herself permission to imagine the lives of people who are quite shadowy in the historical record.


5. What process and research did you have to follow and conduct in order to write ‘The Short Knife’?

I did a lot of research on the language. I retranslated a dictionary of Welsh idioms and played with Welsh grammar. I also researched the time period, with visits to experiemental archaeology sites like West Stow Anglo-Saxon village.


6. Regarding your book, ‘The Short Knife’, was it a conscious decision to make the main protagonist a female with a strong, resilient personality?

I always wanted to tell women’s stories, yes. Not just Mai’s, but the female community she is surrounded by.


7. We see the story flip between two different times in Mai’s life before they catch up to each other, what made you write it with the two timelines rather than just one?

The plot of the book is based on an old legend of Hengist and Vortigern. That legend ends with a massacre. So, I knew that the finale of the book would have to happen with that dramatic event. However, I didn’t want Mai’s story to finish in that spot. So, by mixing up the timelines, I was able to give her a much longer epilogue than is usual.


8. To me, this book spoke about identity and language and this was one way I felt many people could relate to, was it originally going to feature those themes or did they happen naturally during the writing process?

It always was about language. I wanted to experiment with languages, more than anything. But identity is so often tied up with language so that ended up become an important theme organically.


9. Do you plan to write any more YA novels?

I might. I don’t know. That’s not what I’m working on right now, but who knows after that.


10. Do you have any advice for an aspiring author or writer?

Be curious. Experiment. Play. Words are a tool, in just the way that clay, or paint, or musical notes are the tools of other artists. Don’t be afraid to mess about with words – sometimes what you do will be awful, but sometimes you’ll make magic.

I loved all of these answers and I felt it gave me further insight into being a writer, the process of writing and of the novel itself. The link to Elen’s website is: http://www.elencaldecott.com/

if you havent read this book yet I recommend you do! Not only is it a great book, it was written by a gret author!

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please feel free to like comment or share)

The Short Knife by Elen Caldecott

The Short Knife by Elen Caldecott is an adventure/ historical fiction novel that is set in 454AD, as the Roman Empire has withdrawn from Britain.

This historic novel follows the main female protagonist names Mai and we follow her journey through the dark ages and facing Saxon Warriors. It is full of the mysticism of early Britain and we get to delve into the world of Mai.

We start the book with Mai, Haf (sister) and her Tad at their farm when Saxon warrors arrive and the family must flee. we follow their journey to the british camp on the hills and are given an insight into how Mai is feeluing and how she copes with the change. We see her struggle wwith her new situation and wants to leave. She continues in the British camp until she finds herself in trouble and ends up in a dangerous Saxon Camp. in a world where speaking your mother tongue is deadly she must learn Saxon words in porder to survive. but will this be enough?

I also liked the character of Mai in this book. As the protagonist we follow her journey through her experience with the dark ages and Saxon warriors as she become a strong independent woman. We also get to see her relationships with others including her sister Haf and how this effects her and the outcome of her life which I felt added another dimension to the character. She is only young yet we see her go through so much which adds strength to her character. We see her become strong and resilient in a world that doesn’t appreciate who she is.

This book was also a lot about Identify and language and we see how Mai’s is affected as she is forced to speak a language that isn’t her own. She loses part of herself when she can no longer speak her mother tongue and throughout the book we see how this effects her. How much she misses to be able to speak her own language. At one point she tears up after having heard her mother tongue spoken freely which shows the importance of her language is to her.

Generally, I don’t enjoy books that are set far in the past and I can’t say I would have picked this up if I hadn’t received this in July’s Book Box Club subscription box. Saying that, I enjoyed this book and was fully engaged from the beginning. Throughout the book I noticed saying to my self ‘just one more page’ a lot, which to me is a good sign!

Overall, I would recommend this book (even if you are not usually a fan of historic fiction like myslef). It is full of adventure and with a strong female lead you constantly want to read on. even though it features a complex character it is easy to read and enjoy and is almost poetic in its writing.

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please feel free to like and comment 🙂 )

Book Box Club July Subscription Box

Book Box Club is a book subscription service where you can choose from different packages: Book box club subscription, purely books and Tales by Mail.

I received the original book box club subscription box where you receive a gift wrapped, new YA novel, access to the online book club and a selection of themed goodies. Purely Books is the monthly subscription where you receive the featured book and access to the online book club. Tales by Mail is the bi-monthly book subscription and podcast for ages 8-12 year olds)

The theme for July was Magical Talents.

The featured book this month was Splinters of Scarlet by Emily Bain Murphy. This novel is a historical fantasy novel set in 19th century Denmark where magic is a deadly gift. When Marit’s best friend Eve is adopted by a famous dancer, Marit draws upon her powers to get a job with the wealthy family in order to watch over her. But Marit has a secret motivation: her father died while working in the family’s mine, and she has reason to believe he was murdered. She begins t investigate her fathers death but as she goes further to the truth more danger arises. Magic may be the only thing that can save her – if it doesn’t kill her first.

After receiving this book, I was first drawn to the book cover and illustration as it I quite simplistic in its elements yet detailed. I read this synopsis and to me it sounds like its going to be a good book and I can’t wait to read it. Let me know in the comments if you have read this book!

Alongside this featured book you received some themed goodies. These were a Splinters of Scarlet adjustable ring by Lisa Angel, a magic bottle water flask with artwork by Girl and Type as well as a Joanna magnetic bookmark by TJ Lubrando. You also received golden alethiometer lip balm by Mad about Nature and Magical Studies Notebooks by Book Box club.

All these goodies are related to the theme and are of great quality. The are all curated and chosen for the box and regularly use small businesses and artwork from small artists which I think is great. An ideal way to promote small businesses!

You also receive an invite to the online book clubhouse to take part in a discussion alongside the author of the featured book. This is a unique feature and one I think is great. You get the chance to read and maybe discover an author then have the opportunity to meet the author, ask your questions and make new friends with the exclusive invite to the book box clubhouse!

I really love this subscription box and would highly recommend. I have written previous blog posts on the subscription box if your curious to what was in some of the previous boxes. The link to the book box club website is: https://www.bookboxclub.com

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please feel free to comment, like and share this post)

SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES by Caitlin Doughty

Smoke gets in your eyes: and other stories from the crematorium by Caitlin Doughty is a non-fiction work which looks at life working at a crematorium.

It is almost like a collection of non-fiction short stories surrounding Doughty work within the crematorium, all of which were interesting and curious. I have never really thought about what happened at a place like that and who would want to work there but this provides a great insight. It makes you think about the events of a funeral/cremation and how they have evolved and changed over time and between cultures.

Although this book has a lot to do with death it doesn’t really fell a heavy book to read and is an interesting read, this is likely due to Doughty humour throughout as well as her engaging writing style. It is full of facts about what happens in a crematorium and what has changed (and what Doughty feels should change) as well as practices in some other cultures surrounding the dead.

It is the mix between the facts and Doughty personal experience as a crematorium worker which was made this a great book, in my opinion. It made it feel more understandable and intriguing. I liked the fact the book was split up into different chapters or stories as it felt easier to read and more engaging.

This book is entertaining, morbid and factual allowing you to learn about something new while you read! I would recommend!

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS feel free to comment or like)

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Mystery/Thriller Book Box

I bought a ‘pamper box’, surprise gift box’ from Second Chapter Books on Etsty, and this is what I received and thought of it.

Box includes: surprise book, quote print, face mask, love hears, border biscuits, tea, bookmark

First of all, I thought this was a great purchase! I got to buy a surprise book (pre-loved) and receive some goodies all whilst supporting a small business.

When I first ordered this I wasn’t really looking for it but it popped up on my Etsy and it looked like something I would be interested in. I went to buy it and I saw that this seller has a bunch of different box options, from book only to multiple books plus surprises.

I chose the pamper self care box as I saw it included a face mask and that is something I appreciate. It was only £12 so i feel like its good value for money but there is other options that are even cheaper! When I nought this you got the option to choose the genre your book will be. (the options are romance, young adult, nonfiction, mystery/thriller and surprise me!) I think this is a great addition as if you like a specific genre you wont be diccspointed.

Personally I am a fan of mystery/thriller books so that is the genre I chose. The book I recieved (was beautifully wrapped, first off) was I Found You by Lisa Jewell. I read the back and immediatly thought this is the klind of book I would have picked and I am excited to read it.

from the blurb, the book looks as if it centres around the theme of memory loss and what happens when Lily new husband disapears, and Alice finds a man on the beach outside her home who has no memory at all. This book intruigues me and I can’t wait to delve into it.

I would highly recommend this seller on etsy and I will leave a link to it so you can look into it aswell!

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/SecondChapterBooks

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please feel free to like and comment!)

A Minute to Midnight by David Baldacci

A Minute to Midnight by David Baldacci is the second book that features FBI agent Atlee Pine. This novel follows Agent Pine as she tried to find out what happened one fateful night when she was 6 years old and her twin sister Mercy was taken and Pine herself was left for dead. When she oversteps her mark on an arrest she is given a leave of absence which she uses as a perfect opportunity to try to figure out what actually happened all those years ago.

A Minute to Midnight

I picked this book up when I was browsing one day and it caught my eye immediately, I love investigative books and this one seemed to be one that I would like. Upon reading my initial thoughts were correct.

I feel that as soon as I began reading I was gripped on the story and wanted to find out what happened to Pine and her sister. In the beginning of the book we find out Pine is visiting a criminal in a Colorado maximum security prison who she beleives knows something about what happens and he plays mind games with her which proves to be frustrating to Pine. I thought this was an interesting way to begin. As Pine already believes she has found someone who knows something the book takes off from there and with Pine being given leave of absence brings an opportunity for us to follow her journey to the truth.

As she delves back into her past her memory of that night are hazy but she meets up with people who knew her parents and family or lived in the area at the time. She uncovers shocking surprises and secrets which makes her question her parents and her own past. What did she really know about her family?

As all of this goes on a string of murders begin to occur in her hometown which as an FBI agent she helps out with. It makes you as the reader think about whether the current crimes were connected to those of the past.

Atlee Pine is a strong female FBI Agent who I found was a character I wanted to stay with and was likeable. You want to help her find the truth and seeing the main lead of the book as a female FBI agent was great! as Pine reflects on her memories of the event that lead to her sister being taken you want to help her to find the truth. The book shows how she has never really gotten over what happened that night and not knowing what happened to her twin sister was affecting her. This book allows insight into why Pine is the agent she is today!

I found this book an easy read in the sense that the book made me want to turn the pages. I wanted to find out what happened on the next page and chapter! It was a thriller full of great twists and turns which proved to be a compulsive read. The first in the Atlee Pine books, Long Road to Mercy, is for sure on my to read list after reading this! (although I would say I didn’t find I was missing anything huge without reading in the correct order but I would recommend doing so!)

I found Baldacci writing to be engaging and easy to comprehend. With a book about discovering something that happened in the past it can sometimes become a confusing read with different timelines and tenses but this book never had that problem! I like that the chapters were not too big and allowed me to see progress clearly.

I would recommend this book for sure, especially to those who like a book with twists, turns, investigations and crime!

Many thanks, Caitlin x

Lincoln Rhyme Series by Jeffrey Deaver

The Lincoln Rhyme series by Jeffrey Deaver conisists of 16 novels, which were the basis for a TV series that was realeased in January 2020.

Lincoln Rhyme #9 and #11

I am not going to lie and say I have read all 16 (but I will one day be able to say that). I have read two of the series that I was fortunate to have won in a competition. The two I have read, The Burning Wire and The Skin Collector, I loved and has made me add the other 14 books to my TBR list. (the list just got a whole lot longer:))

Lincoln Rhyme is a former NYPD homicide detective, forensic anaylist and crimanalist who after being injured during an investigation becomes a quadriplegic. He is now a forensic consultant who works from a state of the art lab in his own home. He works alongside Amelia Sachs who acts as his eyes as she walks through crime scenes and helps to solve the crimes they are faced with.

The Burning Wire was the fist one I read which also happened to be the 9th in the series. For this reason I was skeptical about how much I would understand or engage with the characters having missed out on the previous 8 books. I would say the main story of the killers whose weapon was electricity was one I found unique and made me want to read on but there was a sub-plot based around the Watchmaker, one of the few criminals to get away from Lincoln Rhyme which I felt a bit of background knowledge could have been useful. Saying that, I still enjoyed the book a lot and it didn’t really affect my reading enjoyment.

I found this book a page turner which is the best kind of book in my opinion. In this novel there is a killer whose unique weapon is electricity. I found this quite a different weapon of choice compared to others in different books which I liked and it felt new to me. Reading how something most of us take for granted can be turned into a weapon and seeing how Rhyme and his team tackled finding this killer was really engaging.

I have to admit I am not sure how much I loved the little bits of input about the watchmaker story line. I get that it is more of a bigger picture moment but I felt it kind of stunted the flow of the book. This could have just been due to the fact I hadn’t read previous books but I felt it took away a bit from the investigation ongoing.

I liked how we got to read this book from different points of view, I personally find this more engaging as we see differences within the characters and there perception of what is happening around them.

I was a fan on the character of Lincoln Rhyme and how even though he was a quadriplegic he is still one of the best in his field of work. How he utilises help from people and equipment was fascinating to read. I felt that this book showed some vulnerability in Lincoln which was nice to see that he wasn’t just a crime solving machine.

The second book was The Skin Collector, this is the 11th installment in the series.

This installment I also found to be a real page turner and I loved getting to read about Rhyme taking on another criminal. In this book the weapon of choice was poison, which was administered via an unvoluntary tattoo by the criminal. I also found this quite a unique way to poison someone and I hadn’t really read of that before which was intriguing. The killer leaves messages with these tattoos and we are able to read as Rhyme and his team try to find the killer and what these messages mean.

I was a fan of this book as well, and I think it gave more of an insight into Rhyme as a Character and more about how he works with his team to find out who is responsible for these crimes. This installment has links back to The Bone Collector which was the very first book in the series which I liked, even though I haven’t read the first one. I liked how even though it was the 11th in a series it is still connected to the book 10 books prior.

I felt this book gave more of an insight into Amelia Sachs as we see her connection with 19 year old Pam whom Sachs has taken under her wing. This relationship does make referals to previous books however I didn’t feel as though I couldn’t understand the relationship and I still enjoyed it!

There is also a TV series, Lincoln Rhyme Hunt for the Bone Collector, which was released in January 2020 which I haven’t watched yet but I do intend to! Comment below if you have seen it !

I feel that book books were skillfully told, with twist and turns to keep your pages turning with them. I would recommend to read these, especially to those who enjoy mystery, thriller crime books!

Many Thanks, Caitlin x

(PS feel free to leave a comment or like !)

‘Hands Up’ by Stephen Clark

Hands Up’ by Stephen Clark is a crime/police procedural novel that deals with domestic storylines. It is a book that focuses on the death of a young, unarmed black male who was killed by a white police officer. When I was sent this book by the author to read and share my opinion I was very happy as this sounded like the very type of book I would like to read. All of these opinions are my own!
This is a serious topic that many people can feel effected by. This book is emotive, powerful and gripping. From the moment I was sent it I couldn’t stop reading. I had to know more and find out the conclusions to the storylines.
I found the writing itself engaging as it used language that matched the story and it was not filled with complex words. Occasionally authors will use big complex words to seem more professor but it effects the impact of Thier sorry if you have to read the same thing multiple times to be able to understand it. I did not have that issue with this book and I was able to engage and be fully present with the story.

I liked the fact it dealt with a thought provoking issue and didn’t shy away from the realities. It is not only about unlawful brutality by police but faces issues such as racial divide, police corruption, self harm, drug use and gang culture. Due to this the book can be intense but that isn’t a negative, these are serious topics that need to have a platform and if that is in a fictional book then so be it. I felt it was authentic and could be a real event.
It sharesa story, although fictional, that is similar to those we have all heard of on the news. It was structured in a way that we heard from three main viewpoints throughout the event, the aftermath and the conclusion. We hear from Jade (the sister of the young male (Tyrell) killed), Ryan (the cop who killed him) and Kelly (the parent of Tyrell and jade who has come back after leaving his family years ago).
I liked this as you saw the views from very different views which helped to build reasoning to your own thoughts as you read. It was also nice to hear from Ryan’s pint of view and not just the victim family as it shows that he didn’t just kill. There was a reason and influence by others and we also get the chance to see how he is coping with the events and that it didn’t just happen and that’s that.

The main characters whose viewpoints we hear are strong characters. They all provide different aspects of the event and I really like the way in which Clark has written this book. I think the characters are well developed and realistic. Jade I liked. She was a sister hurt by her brothers death and I felt that anger and upset through Clarks words. Although not necessarily to me I feel that she could be relatable to a large amount of people. She dealt with huge loss. I feel like saying that Ryan is likeable is wrong as he is the culprit in this book, but I did think he was. He was a man that, yes commited a horrible crime that cannot be condoned, was influenced by his corrupt partner and from the outset knew and took responsibilities for his accent. Kelly is a character is did not particularly like. I however do not think this is a bad thing. You need to have character you don’t connect with to add the tension to the book. He had previously left his family after being involved in gangs and when he comes back he claimed he had changed but had he really?. The other characters in the book are all vital parts who we get to meet through these three and although their views are not used as a voice for the story they are just as important to convey the realistic and thought provoking aspect of the book.

One thing I would say is that I’m not sure how I felt about the way thing went in part two between certain characters (you will know once you read it). I mean it’s not a negative thing and maybe it’s just because I wasn’t expecting it but still I felt it lessened the impact of the story just a little. There are other benefits to it however with it bringing the two ”sides” together but I still not 100% how I felt. I’m not sure if it was a real connection or if it was all part of a scheme and that could be completely what the author intended for the reader to feel. So they can make thier own mind up.

Overall ,I would rate this book highly and would recommend that you read this! Even if you don’t like police procedural books this is one that isn’t solely about that. I don’t think you can easily categorise this and there is almost something for everyone!
Again thanks again to Stephen Clark for sending me the book for this honest review. Again everything in this review is my honest opinion.

Codename Villanelle

Codename Villanelle by Luke Jennings

The first installment of Luke Jennings Killing Eve series introduces us to one of the world’s most skilled assassin’s, Villanelle. Villanelle is a codename for the assassin who lives a luxurious life thanks to her special skills murdering the worlds richest and most powerful. Eve Polastri is a former MI6 operative who is hired to track and find the assassin responsible for the murder of an influential Russian politition. Eve lives a quiet and fairly unextraordinary life accepts the job and her life changes forever as a game of cat and mouse plays out between Villanelle and Eve.

This book is the basis of the hit TV series of the same name; Killing Eve. If I’m being honest I feel as though the TV series was actually better than the book and this surprised me. Don’t get me wrong I liked the book but it didn’t seem to provide the same sort of tension or excitement as the TV series and I usually find it the opposite.

I didn’t feel as though I was on the edge of my seat the same as other novels I have read and maybe it was because I have already seen the TV show (definitely did it in the wrong order) I felt as though I had no input on the characters.

I like the characters of the book and feel they are really interesting however I do feel they have some flaws. Villanelle is described as someone who cares for no-one and only mimics feelings yet she has a companian throughout.

The end of the book I found frustrating and that’s only because I don’t particularly like big cliffhangers which this book definitely has. That is completely a personal opinion and some people really like the tension of a cliffhanger but I just get annoyed.

Overall, I think that the book was good but I did prefer the TV series.

Many thanks, Caitlin X