How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather | A Review

So I haven’t actually finished How To Hang A Witch entirely, but from the first turn of the page I knew it was going to be right up my street. Sam Mather is such a relatable character – witty, sarcastic and socially awkward, I feel like many young adults can find elements of themselves in her on some level. She is the epitome of a modern-day heroine; she knows where she stands and what she wants in the world, and I think that her fiery persona could become the ultimate role model to young middle-grade teenage girls out there.Yet at the same time, the bewitching, murky tale of events that run at an incredible pace throughout the novel distances the audience from the situation in order to fully appreciate the language and developed characters.

I love the ‘cliquey’ type of style to describe the Descendants, the group of teenage girls and guys who are direct ancestors to those involved in the Salem Witch Trials hundreds of years before. When the reader comes to realise that all of the strangely suspicious actions that are happening in Salem are linked to Sam in some way, they instantly begin to question – are Sam and the Descendants cursed? Will there forever be a shadow cast over Salem and all the people who live in it? This was such an easy yet enjoyable read, where I learnt more about the Salem Witch Trials of the 1600’s than I ever could have done from history textbooks. Anyone with a love for Mean Girls/ V for Vendetta should defo give this book a go. It’s typically aimed at the middle-grade area but as a young adult myself, How To Hang A Witch was a very relaxed and pleasant read.

This copy was reviewed for Love Reading, a fantastic site for browsing any type of book of any genre. Link can be found on the right hand side of the page! x

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The Murderer’s Ape by Jakob Wegelius | A Review

A charming book, I knew ‘The Murderer’s Ape’ was going to be a thrilling read as soon as I turned the cover and saw the beautiful map outlining the journey the reader will follow. From the beginning, it was certain that Sally Jones was not a usual narrator – the fact that the gorilla lives among humans, completely understanding but does not speak any of their language makes for an interesting perspective on the story line. Her human qualities, like being able to help sail the ship and use a typewriter, is intriguing, and as soon as I read the first chapter I wanted to know more about how the Chief and Jones ended up unemployed and looking for day-to-day work. I love when books begin in the future because it leaves a framework for the story to follow, and it means that I am able to restrain myself to not flick to the last page straight away! It’s not often that I read adventure books because sometimes they tend to become quite hard to follow, but this novel seemed to flow with ease and I found myself turning the pages, eager to find out the next piece in the puzzle. A joy for anyone who loves Philip Pullman, I’m sure.

The Dollmaker of Krakow by R. M. Romero – A Review

Krakow, Poland, 1939. A small doll named Karolina is brought to life at the will of a doll maker’s fingertips. War is approaching Poland, and Karolina must choose whether to help her kind friend or to return to The Land of The Dolls. Neither choice is easy, but she must make a decision soon before her little heart flutters to a stop.

Written seamlessly, The Dollmaker of Krakow is a truly magical book, one that will leave you breathless every time you fold the page. I found myself devouring the chapters, admiring the beautiful designs on each page which just add to the intricacy of Romero’s storytelling. A truly unique idea that effectively stops time for the reader, and welcomes the belief that dolls are real, and have the potential o be real. I can only imagine what little girls and boys must feel like when reading this, big smiles touching their ears when their parents finish the chapter. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Rena and the Dollmaker, and especially Karolina, so I do think young adults will love this too.

It puts across such an important message that is still relevant to our society despite being set over 50 years ago; that everyone is equal, and no one has the right invade someone else’s privacy. However, through the Dollmaker’s magic and Karolina’s continuous positivity, Romero implies that hope can always be found even in the darkest of times. A fairy tale for men and women, girls and boys alike, this stunning novel is the perfect autumn read at home. I would recommend this novel to all who believe magic exists in the world (in other words, 10+) and who enjoyed The Boy in Striped Pyjamas.

Thank you to Walker Books for allowing me to review this gorgeous book! It will be published on October 5 2017.

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin | A Review

Hey everyone! So currently I am reading Daisy Goodwin’s Victoria, in light of the ITV television series that follows the young Queen and her companions. All I can say is that I absolutely LOVED series one that aired last year, and I am LOVING reading the book at the moment! Goodwin encapsulates the characters that lived so long ago, and brought them to life with her electric language. Her ability as a historian and a writer allows her to grip the reader and remain accurate to the events. 

The plot itself, and what Goodwin chooses to focus on is also amazing and so lovely to read about – I feel like I’ve learnt more about Victoria and her early stages on the throne from this book than I ever had done before. Her vivacious personality and her stubborn nature to not let men bring her down is inspiring, and I enjoyed reading her self confidence grow as both a Queen, and a woman. I have completely fallen in love with Lord Melbourne, and Goodwin’s portrayal of a humble, genorous man. The relationship between Victoria and Lord M is so complex and layered, and it puts into perspective how our views on men and woman have changed in society.

The book covers the first half of series one on Victoria, so I do hope another book is coming out soon! You can catch the first episode of Series Two of Victoria on ITV iPlayer, and other episodes air on ITV every Sunday! Xx

My GCSE Results 2017!

Hi everyone! Now as a lot of you may know, yesterday was GCSE Results Day, where undreds upon thousands of nerve-stricken 16 year olds across the country opened their results.

Overall, I am immensely pleased with my grades – I’m not one to pass exams without putting the effort in beforehand, and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into all 21 of the exams. I thought I would share with you all how I did – feel free to comment just under this post your results if you wish, I’d love to know!

My GCSE Results are as follows: 

Maths – 7

English Literature – 9

English Language – 9

Art & Design – A

French – A*

History – A

Religious Studies – A*

Spanish – A*

Biology – A

Chemistry – A

Physics – B

I was so surprised and shocked at a number of my results, and the day flew by in a haze. My friends all did amazingly well and I am so proud of all of us for supporting each other and pulling through.

Maths was one of the most shocking for me – I was predicted a 5 just before I took my exams (which is the equivalent of a C) which frustrated me and made me work even harder to prove my teachers wrong. Maths was definitely my worst subject, and I could never grasp the topics, especially as the new GCSE incorporates topics from the A-Level Maths syllabus. A 7 (the equivalent of an A) was beyond what I hoped for!

The 9 in English Literature and the 9 in English Language BLEW ME AWAY. I honestly thought a 9 (equivalent of an A**) was out of the question and I just kept on saying ‘oh my god oh my god’. I worked SO hard for English, learnt so many quotes and context, and just generally pushed myself to the best of my ability. 

Languages are one of my strengths, and I am so proud to receive an A* for both French and Spanish. I achieved full UMS for both of the reading part of the exams which is mad, and straight a*s for all parts of my French GCSE. Spanish got the better of me toward the end of 2016, and I remember getting a D for my mock exam. If I can jump four whole grades in five months, this just goes to show that with motivation and determination, you can truly do anything.

I am a little disappointed with my sciences, especially Physics. I got a B for both Physics exams and an A* in the coursework, which makes me wonder why the grade wasn’t raised to an A, but there’s nothing I can do now. I am happy with an A for both Biology and Chemistry, as I got a C in Biology and a B in Chemistry in my December mock exams. Sciences were another of my weaker subjects, so overall I am fine with 2 As and 1 B!

Receiving an A* for Religious Studies is just overwhelming, as only months before the exam my grades for RS were not budging from straight Bs in every test. The grade boundaries this year were super high, but my revision paid off and I ended up getting 86/100 UMS for the first exam and 96/100 UMS for the second exam.

I am a little disappointed with an A in History, as I was hoping for an A*, but I personally found the exams particularly hard. However I got an a* in my coursework, and an a* in one of the exams so I don’t mind too much that the overall grade was lowered! I also achieved an A in Art, which I am happy with but was also hoping for an A*. I worked my absolute a** off for art which is why I really wanted an a* but I was only 7 marks off overall.

I applaud you if you read all that rambles – it was more for me to remember, and nosy people like me who enjoy seeing what other people got. All in all, I’m over the moon and even though they may not be the best, I am happy with them! 

Xx

My Sixth Year WordPress Anniversary?!

Hello everyone!

So, you might have noticed little changes that have been made to my website. Oh who am I kidding – quite a lot of BIG changes have been made in light of my WordPress Anniversary! Six years ago I created this blog, not knowing that I would be continuing it over five years down the line. Gosh, I don’t think I could have even pictured myself six years in the future, so to think that this little blog has travelled so much is crazy. So many different countries have viewed my various posts, and over 4000 of you lovely people have clicked on my website to find out more. 4000?! I am, and always will be, eternally grateful.

Two exclusive blog posts are up for you all to enjoy – they can be checked out on either the blog roll or on the home page where special posts will now be featured – but on any other week posts will be up on Sunday at 5pm.

Xx

The very last LoveReading review? Editing Emma

After using The Sweet Review for a few years and learning to understand the various mechanisms and my particular style for writing reviews, Love Reading contacted me to ask if I wanted to write reports just for them, in return for BOOKS. I mean, who wouldn’t say yes to that offer? So for about four years now, alongside my brother who also reviewed books, I have worked with Love Reading and enjoyed what I was doing thoroughly. Through their fantastic site, I was able to indulge in genres I wouldn’t normally pick up from a bookstore, as well as having the opportunity to put across my opinions to a wider audience.

However, as they say, all good things must come to an end, and unfortunately this will be my last EVER review for their website. It has been a wonderful few years, and I am very glad to be reviewing this particular book to send off.

Editing Emma is a charming novel quite similar to Zoella’s Girl Online. It’s a great read to pick up at this point in the year as the book begins by following Emma’s, somewhat destructive, path to freedom during the summer holidays. The book covers numerous topics that will be relatable to any teenager, including love, the consequences held after break-ups, friendships and the toxicity that sometimes does occur, particularly in many girl groups at this day and age. But I think what Editing Emma tackles most effectively is many people’s life online, and how this can be very different to real life. We see Emma run headfirst into unsuccessful dates, leaked blog posts and unfortunate Facebook status’, and I definitely laughed at a lot of events that occurred due to Emma’s naivety.

This certain type of book is definitely an acquired taste, and I did find myself struggling to get into it at times. This is perhaps because the story is told through blog posts that Emma posts online, which is keeping to the modern aspects of the 21st century, but also prevents the novel from having a fast pace. Nevertheless, I enjoyed Editing Emma for its vivacious nature and larger than life characters that successfully put a smile on my face whatever the weather.

Xx

Summer 2017 #TBR List

Summer is here finally! And hence, the annual summer #TBR list is back and better than ever. The only difference is; I actually have been given a reading list of some sorts from school to prepare for English Literature A-Level next year. Therefore, the standard ‘The Sweet Review’ list has been shaken up to include a mix of YA novels as well as some classics and Shakespearean plays that I haven’t read as of yet, but without doubt will be getting to know much closer over the upcoming years. Please join me on my plan to read as many books as possible before September, especially since I’ve thrown in some texts on the A-Level syllabus now!

But without further ado, let’s get into my Summer 2017 #TBR List.

Historical novels
⊂ Victoria by Daisy Goodwin
* After having watched the briliant new ITV series following young Queen Victoria              and Prince Albert , I couldn’t help but pick up this book for a more in-depth read                about Queen Victoria and her striking personality. *

French novels
⊂ Tracks by Robert Davidson
* I have decided to study French next year and, as a way of prepping myself for the              upcoming torture that is studying languages, I chose to practise a bit of translating.            Here we have two books, Tracks being more advanced than La pouilleuse, that I’m sure    I will be poring over in the next few weeks. *
⊂ La pouilleuse by Clémentine Beauvais

Plays
⊂ Hamlet by William Shakespeare
⊂ Richard ||| by William Shakespeare
⊂ The History Boys by Alan Bennett
*
Not specifically one on my English reading list, but I love Alan Bennett and since this        play is said to be one of his finest, I had to give it a try! *

A-Level English prep
⊂ The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
* I am VERY excited at the prospect of studying this next year – the whole aspect of The        American Dream intrigues me and (having read a few passages beforehand) I love the      unique way Fitzgerald depicts his characters. *
⊂ The Blood Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter
⊂ The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
I am half way through this so far and, since it is a relatively easy read, I chose to read it    first before Gatsby and The Bloody Chamber to ease my way into the A-Level syllabus.      Loving it so far! *

General
⊂ Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh
* Decline and Fall is one of my all time fave TV shows and I was thrilled when I received      this as one of my birthday presents in June. Now exams are out of the way I can finally    read about my beloved characters from the show! *
⊂ The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
⊂ The Next Together by Lauren James
⊂ It by Stephen King
* This horror novel is coming out as a film in September and, judging from the trailer,          looks AMAZING! So, of course I have to read the book first because isn’t that a rule most    bibliophiles live by? *
⊂ Room by Emma Donoghue
This was also brought out as a film in 2015, and having watched it, I was really                    intrigued as to how this concept would be portrayed as a novel. Very excited to read          this! *

What a lovely selection of books! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a collection so diverse, and I cannot wait to read them all. Return to this page over the course of the summer to see me making my way through this mass of novels, plays, and non-fiction. And do suggest any novels that you found particularly enjoyable to read, or any from your Summer 2017 #TBR list that you think I will like.

Xx

Countless by Karen Gregory ~ A Review

‘Love means holding tight
Love means letting go’

Countless is a moving and emotional novel that follows the story of Hedda, a girl very much controlled by her mind. She struggles with her eating disorder on a day to day basis, and until she takes a pregnancy test, her life has quietened down. She knows deep down that she cannot give up this baby, but she is also terrified of the weeks that will follow.

Countless is raw, and treats mental health the way any teenager would who has been fighting one as long as she can remember. It felt uncomfortable at times reading parts of the novel, but I understand that it is an important issue to tackle today in society. Gregory uses this novel as an allegory to show that many other girls are facing similar problems which they find themselves struggling alone. Countless reminds the reader that we are not alone and things will get better.

I loved the characters and Hedda in particular – I feel like her character was already developed from the start which added to the plot and gave the reader a reason to carry on. Why has her life ended up like this? Will she be able to cope with the bump and her eating disorder at the same time? At first, I had my doubts about Robin, the boy next door. He sounded very cliche to me but as the novel progressed he reader learns more about his character that sets him apart from other characters.

All in all, I didn’t enjoy Countless as much as I thought I would, but it is an acquired genre and I felt myself likening to Hedda as I read more. A sensitive topic that Gregory captures successfully through Hedda’s fight story.

Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

A simple concept that not many people take the time to think about: what would you do if you won the lottery? And I’m not talking about the standard lottery winnings- I’m thinking of the jackpot. Millions upon millions of pounds are won across the world by few lucky individuals. But what many don’t consider is if it is luck or if it’s something else entirely? Smith explores this in her new book, Windfall, when Alice buys a lottery ticket as a one-off for her best friend’s birthday. The events that unravel are so spectacular that I found myself thinking that fate isn’t such a weird idea any more. I read this book (bearing in mind it was over 400 pages) in less than a day- it was so easy to read but funny and engaging at the same time. I recommend any young adult to pick it up as it’s the type of book you could leave on the side and would still be loved months later. I found myself laughing out loud and pining for the characters as if they were my friends. Loved it!

*this review was for lovereading (link on the side)*