Book Review: Lights, Camera…by Carolyn Keene

Lights, Camera…is the fifth book in the Nancy Drew: Girl Detective series, by Carolyn Keene.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

Not as good as I remember, unfortunately, but worth a read just to see how the character and style has changed for a modern audience. 2.5 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

I’m a detective, not an actor, so who would think I’d be involved in a crime both offscreen and on? A producer has come to River Heights to film a re-enactment of the heist that gave our town it’s name, and he thinks I’m perfect for the part of Esther, the sister of the thieving Rackham boys. So I figure, why not give it a try?

But once the cameras start rolling, the trouble begins. Food poisoning. Broken generators. And worse! If I don’t sniff out some suspects soon, this might be my final act.

Favourite Quote

I was really fired up, because hanging out on a movie set was a far better escape from shoe shopping than I could have thought up.

(From Lights, Camera…by Carolyn Keene, page 5)


I used to read the Nancy Drew books when I was younger, and when I found a copy of Lights, Camera… in a bag of books given to me by a family member, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to return to a childhood favourite.

However, my fond memories of the books I grew up reading were not to be reinforced by my reading of this newer take on the series.  In fact, they ensured I saw what was lacking in this more modern story.  First, let me explain what I remember of the Nancy Drew books: there was a depth to the storytelling that drew a young reader in, you wanted to know about the characters as well as the plots. And the story felt believable.

This modern Nancy Drew felt very light; there was little depth to the characters and the story moved too quickly and without the necessary fluidity to pull the pace off, making it clunky.  There was plenty of action though, and I did read it to the end.  What I did find quite annoying was that almost every time an adult said to Nancy the filming has to stop because of (fill in the blank), Nancy would respond with, “but I have a friend who can do that” and save the day.  I couldn’t help but wonder if this is one of those books that works better if you’re part of the audience it is intended for…

So ultimately, I didn’t think this was as a good as I remembered, unfortunately, but it was worth a read just to see how the character and style has changed for a modern audience.  I don’t think I would be interested in reading any more, only revisiting the earlier series of the books.


2.5 / 5

Book Review: Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

Forever is the third book in The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

An enjoyable and fitting third book in the trilogy.  I love Maggie’s Stiefvater’s style of writing. 4 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

When Sam met Grace, he was a wolf and she was a girl. Eventually he found a way to become a boy, and their love moved from curious distance to the intense closeness of shared lives.

That should have been the end of their story. But Grace was not meant to stay human. Now she is the wolf. And the wolves of Mercy Falls are about to be killed in one final, spectacular hunt.

Sam would do anything for Grace. But can one boy and one love really change a hostile, predatory world? The past, the present, and the future are about to collide in one pure moment–a moment of death or life, farewell or forever.

Favourite Quote

Overhead, the stars were wheeling and infinite, a complicated mobile made by giants. They pulled me amongst them, into space and memories.

(From Forever by Maggie Stiefvater, page 85)


It had been a few years since I read and reviewed the first two books in The Wolves of Mercy Fall trilogy (you can read those reviews here: Shiver, and Linger), back in 2017.  So I thought it was about time I got around to complete reading the trilogy.

I like the way Maggie Stiefvater writes.  There is fluidity to passages and the imagery she paints with words is amazing (see Favourite Quote above).  There is just something very simple but full of impact in descriptions like that.

The setting for the story, by which I mean the natural spaces, is stunning.  I loved the descriptions of the woods, and as the story moved towards the final third / quarter, the pacing really picked up.

Grace and Sam were (of course) the stars of story.  Their romance and what it must survive and overcome is quite unlike anything else I’ve read, probably because the forces at work are so beyond either of their control.  Out of the two, Sam was my favourite: he’s got a lot going on but handles the pressure fantastically.  Grace, for all her intelligence, was more self-involved and seemed occupied with a fair few “I want to do / see…” thoughts, some of which didn’t really make sense to me, given the danger that was all around them.

Although it was interesting to see what was going on from Cole and Isabel’s perspective, and they do have their own storylines and parts to play in the overall story, which I appreciated, I sometimes felt they were a little too distracting.  However, that wasn’t the case each and every time the POV switched to them, but on occasion it felt like the story was moving further away from Grace and Sam.  What I learned as I was writing this review, and thinking that their story would have made a great spin-off, is that there is another book in this series, Sinner, that focuses on Cole and Isabel! Woohoo!  Another book added to the ever-growing TBR list…

One of the highlights of the series is how being part-human part-wolf is portrayed.  There are no “werewolves”.  There is no magic.  It’s not even paranormal, at least not in the way we often expect the paranormal to be.  It just is.  It’s more science and biology than anything else, and I think that really sets this story apart from other YA paranormal books that I’ve read.

One thing I didn’t really like about Forever was the ending, by which I mean the final chapter.  Although it completed the narrative of the trilogy, I felt it was left a little too open for it to feel satisfying.  It left me with more questions that I wanted answers to, but, overall, I enjoyed the story and was glad I finished the trilogy. Now I’m looking forward to reading Sinner


Book Review: Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth

Quick Review (read on for full review)

A great addition to the Divergent trilogy. I enjoyed each of these short stories and it was interesting to see Four grow into the man Tris meets. 5 / 5

Summary (from inside front cover)

Two years before Beatrice Prior makes her choice, the sixteen-year-old son of Abnegation’s faction leader does the same. Tobias’s transfer to Dauntless is his chance to begin again. Newly renamed ‘Four” he discovers that initiation is only the beginning…

Four must claim his place in the Dauntless hierarchy. And his decisions will affect future initiates as well as uncover secrets that could threaten his own future – and the future of the entire faction system.

Two years later, Four is poised to act but the course is still unclear. The first new initiate who jumps into the net might change all that. With her, the way to righting their world might become clear. With her it might become possible to be Tobias once again.

From No. ! New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth comes a companion volume to the worldwide bestselling DIVERGENT series, told from the perspective of the immensely popular character Tobias. The four pieces included here – THE TRANSFER, THE INITIATE, THE SON and THE TRAITOR – plus three additional exclusive scenes, give readers an electrifying glimpse into the history and heart of Tobias, and set the stage for the epic saga of the DIVERGENT trilogy.

Favourite Quote

“You’re the one who has to live with your choice,” she says. “Everyone else will get over it, move on, no matter what you decide.  But you never will.”

(From Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth, page 5)


It was back in 2017 when I read and reviewed the three books of the Divergent series.  At the time, I was surprised by many things about the series.  I hadn’t expected them to be as good as they were.  I hadn’t expected to enjoy them as much as I did.  I hadn’t expected to connect with the characters as much as I did.  All-in-all, I was amazed by the trilogy, as the final paragraph of my review of Allegiant (you can read that here) clearly shows:

I loved this series. 
It was definitely one of the best YA series I have read, 
and also one of the best dystopian series I have read. 
And as such, I can’t recommend the Divergent trilogy highly enough.

Since reading those books, I had been meaning to get around to reading this collection of four short stories, told from the perspective of Tobias / Four. It took me just over two and half years to get to it, which, given the impossible size of my TBR list, isn’t that bad.  Really.

Naturally, my expectations for this collection were very high.  And, it’s very easy with a book like this to simply re-hash what happened in the three books of the Divergent trilogy by swapping the POV and not including anything new bar a little commentary from this different character’s perspective on what is unfolding.  If this had been the case, I would have been very disappointed.  But, lucky me, it wasn’t and I wasn’t.

As I read, I felt each story added something to the storyline. It was interesting to see the young man Tobias was before he became ‘Four’ and watch him grow into the man Tris first meets on Choosing Day. We get to see the struggle of a young person trying to become the person they want to be, whilst at the same time realising how dangerous it is for them to be different.  Each story was clever crafted so that it wove around details we had already come across from the other books.

If you haven’t read the trilogy, I’m not sure how much you would enjoy this set of stories.  The extra scenes at the end will certainly be of limited value to you.  But, if you have read the trilogy, and you happened to enjoy it, I recommend you give this collection a read.


Book Review: True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole by Sue Townsend

True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole is third book in the Adrian Mole series by Sue Townsend.

Quick Review (read on for the full review)

This short book came across as a bit disjointed but I still found it to be funny and engaging in places. 3 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

Adrian Mole has grown up. At least that’s what it says on his passport. But living at home, clinging to his threadbare cuddly rabbit ‘Pinky’, working as a paper pusher for the DoE and pining for the love of his life Pandora has proved to him that adulthood isn’t quite what he hoped it would be. Still, intellectual poets can’t always have things their own way …

Included here are two other less well-known diarists: Sue Townsend and Margaret Hilda Roberts, a rather ambitious grocer’s daughter from Grantham.

Favourite Quote

He offered me Turkish coffee.  I accepted, not wanting to appear provincial.  When it came I regretted my inferiority complex.


The format of this book is different to the previous two in the series, which were single author diaries spanning the course of a year.  Subsequently the events they recounted flowed seamlessly with other concurrent happenings.  In True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole we have snippets from three different diarists: Adrian Mole, who is granted two-thirds of the book, with the remaining third being split between the author Sue Townsend and Margaret Hilda Roberts (Margaret Thatcher).

This book felt a bit disjointed, which made it difficult to read in a few places.  This is not a very long book – only 160 or so pages in length – so to have three diaries written in very different voices and styles and focusing on very different subject matters, interrupted the flow.

However, there were still plenty of gems about teenage / young adult life that made me laugh as well as the social / economic / political commentary of the late 1980’s that really didn’t.  As with the first two diaries (The Diary of Adrian Mole 13 3/4 and The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole), these two spheres are cleverly woven together to build a picture of what it was like to grow up in this period whilst still feeling relevant today.  The Mole / Mancini Letters and The Mole / Kent Letters, along with Adrian’s quest to reconnect with Pandora and his slip-up at the library involving Jane Austen’s novels, were great.  Some of the quips Margaret Hilda Roberts made were funny, but I guess if you are a Margaret Thatcher fan or were a fan of her politics you would not find the satire in her teenage fictional diary amusing.


Book Review: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

The Bone Season is the first book in the series of the same name by Samantha Shannon.

Summary (from Goodreads)

The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.

Favourite Quote

Nothing’s worse than a story without an end.


Hmm.  I really really wanted to like this book. The truth is I didn’t like the first half but enjoyed the second, and that makes it quite hard to review.  When reading the first half, I struggled to pick the book up, but, for the second half of the book I struggled to put it down.

What didn’t I like about the first half?  There was too much information about the world the story was set it, and that made it clunky to read and slow going.  At times I felt like I was wading through detail, description and definitions to get to the story.

What did I like about the second half?  I’m not sure that the second half of book was any easier to read or any lighter on detail, but the storyline did pick up and that helped both the flow of the plot and its pace.  The characters really came into their own (I especially liked Nick, Liss and Julian), there was a lot of action, and the ending was good and worth the effort of working through the slower passages.

If the world-building information had been lighter and perhaps more subtly incorporated into the story, I think this book would have been fantastic.  I understand that as the first book set in this world enough information has to be offered to the reader so they can understand what is going on but it felt unnecessarily complicated.

There is, however, no arguing with the fact that the author possesses a great imagination.  The parts I enjoyed, I really enjoyed.

Will I read the second book in the series, The Mime Order?  Yes, I think I would.

There is a lot to get to grips with in The Bone Season; the cast of characters is vast and there is a lot of terminology that is used throughout (there is a glossary to accompany the story).  If you like to become completely immersed in a fantasy / future world, then you will enjoy the level of detail in this book.


As for the rating, I would have given the first half no more than 2 /5, and the second half 4/5, so 3/5 seems like a pretty fair score.


Book Review: Poison Study by Maria V Snyder

Poison Study is the first book in the Poison Study trilogy by Maria V Snyder.

Summary (from Goodreads)


On the eve of her execution for murder, Yelena is reprieved, but her relief is short-lived. She is to be the Commander of Ixia’s food taster. Can Yelena learn all she needs to know about poisons before an assassin succeeds?

Her troubles have only just begun, however… Valek, her captor, has a uniquely cruel method to stop her escaping; General Brazell, father of the man she killed, still wants her dead; and someone is plotting against the Commander.

Resourceful and wily, Yelena gains friends, survival skills – and more than a few enemies. In a desperate race against time, the Commander’s life, the future of Ixia and the secrets of her own past will be in her hands…

Favourite Quote

“Trusting is hard. Knowing who to trust, even harder.”


When I first picked up this book, I found it extremely difficult to get into so put it back down pretty quickly.  And there it stayed for months.  And yet, the second time I tried to read it, I found it engaging and addictive.  I guess I wasn’t in the right mood to read it that first time, which was a shame because there is so much to like about it.

The storyline was engaging and the world building detailed.  Ixia is an interesting and sometimes scary place.

I liked Yelena; it’s hard not to empathise with her after all she’s been through and what she must face every day as the Commander’s food taster.  And yet she grows and becomes stronger.  I also like Varek.  There is so much more to his character than you realise when we first meet him as the cold, calculated man offering Yelena the choice of being executed for murder or becoming a student and taster of poisons.  The other supporting characters were also good: Rand, Ari, Janco, Dilana, especially.

This is one of the better YA books that I have come across and I can’t wait to read the second book in the trilogy, Magic Study.



Book Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

(This review may contain spoilers)

Allegiant is the third and final book in the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth.

Summary (from back cover)

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered – fractured by violence and power-struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal.  So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready.  Perhaps beyond the fence she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated ties, tangled loyalties and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind.  Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless.  Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves.  And once again Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature – and of herself – while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice and love.

Favourite Quote

I wonder if fears ever really go away, or if they just lose their power over us.


I suppose a fire that burns that bright is not meant to last.


So, I really enjoyed Divergent and Insurgent, and my expectations of the final book in the trilogy were, of course, high, higher than they had been at any other point in the series.  And I wasn’t disappointed.

Allegiant is quite different from the first two books.  We are now outside of the fence; in effect, in the real world, if one far into the future.  But here the world is divided too, along different lines, but the results are the same.

Tris is such a strong and clever young woman.  It’s hard to read how someone so young has lost so much, suffered so much, witnessed so much, but it’s a testament to her character that she doesn’t give in.  But it is still heart-breaking, all the same.  Tris and Four’s relationship is also hard to watch; it’s almost constantly put to the test because of what they have to endure and live through, but there are also times where it is sweet and easy and terribly moving.

I both did and didn’t expect the ending to this book and thus the series.  I know that doesn’t make too much sense, but there it is.  The question is, am I happy about it?  No.  I’m not.  Why?  Because I’m human and emotional.  And yet, I’m not sure how else it could have ended.  The ending needed to big and bold to create an impact after all that had gone before, and the author certainly achieved that.

I loved this series.  It was definitely one of the best YA series I have read, and also one of the best dystopian series I have read.  And as such, I can’t recommend the Divergent trilogy highly enough.


Book Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Insurgent is the second book in the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth.

Summary (from back of book)

One choice can transform you – or destroy you.  Tris Prior’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration: instead it ended with unspeakable horrors.  Now unrest surges in the factions around her as conflict between their ideologies grows.

In times of war sides must be chosen and secrets will emerge.  Tris has already paid a terrible price for survival and is wracked by haunting guilt.  But radical new discoveries and shifting relationships mean that she must fully embrace her Divergence – even though she stands to lose everything.

Favourite Quote

Like a wild animal, the truth is too powerful to remain caged.


Do remember, though, that sometimes the people you oppress become mightier than you would like.


I read Divergent in a couple of days and thoroughly enjoyed it. I couldn’t wait to get stuck into book two in the series, but I did wonder if Insurgent could live up to my sky-high expectations.  I needn’t have worried.  It did, without question.

Whereas with book one, we get to see up close two of the five factions (Abnegation and Dauntless), in book two we are given not only a closer look at the remaining three (Amity, Candor and Erudite), but also the factionless; those who have been forced to live outside and on the edges of society.  The divide between those within the faction system and those discarded by is great, and so naturally, the tension that exists between them is also great.

What I also liked about this book was that it wasn’t only a vehicle to get you from the amazing first book in the series to the amazing last book in the series.  It served it’s own function in the trilogy, building on book one and guiding the reader to book three via its own storyline.  It was packed full of information and detail about the world Tris, Four and the others live in, and the pace and action level of Divergent was maintained.

Insurgent is a fast, emotional, action-fuelled story that kept me entertained and ensured my attention never wavered.  The characters are not perfect; they are flawed and they are human, and it was interesting (and moving) to see how they each responded to the terrible events that unfolded around them.

As of writing this review, I’ve now finished reading the final book in the Divergent series, Allegiant, and will be posting the review of it soon.


Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent is the first book in the Divergent series by Veronica Roth.

Summary (from back of book)

Beatrice Prior is on the brink of a decision that will change her life.  In a society divided into factions all are forced to choose where they belong.  And the choice Tris makes shocks everyone, including herself.

Once decisions are made, the new members are forced to undergo extreme initiation tests with devastating consequences.  As their experience transforms them, Tris must determine who her friends are – and if the man who both threatens and protects her is really on her side.

Because Tris has a deadly secret.  And as growing conflict threatens to unravel their seemingly perfect society, this secret might save those Tris loves…or it might destroy her.

Favourite Quote

“Becoming fearless isn’t the point.  That’s impossible.  It’s learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it.”


“…there is power in self-sacrifice.”


I’m surprised at how quickly I was pulled into this story, so much so that I really struggled to put it down.  I hadn’t seen the film before reading the book (which is how I prefer it), though a little serendipity, the film was on TV the day I finished it.  And I’m aware that it took me quite a long time to get around to reading it.  However, I do have a tendency to keep away from “popular” books at least while everyone is still talking about them.  (I still haven’t read The Hunger Games series yet!)  It helps to form my own judgement of the book, and to consider whether I think the hype surrounding it was justified in my opinion.

So, in a nutshell, I loved pretty much everything about this book.  I don’t often tend to read dystopian fiction, so Divergent was a pleasant surprise.

The faction system was really interesting, and I did spend a little while after reading it (and some time whilst I was reading it) wondering which of the five factions I would choose.  To think such a major decision has to be made by every sixteen year old is crazy.  I’m not sure I would have trusted my sixteen year old self to make a decision like this, and not one that would have had a major effect over the rest of my life.

Roth is very good capturing her characters personalities.  Tris is a fantastic main character; possibly one of my favourite YA leads.  Four is also great.  The book is well-written, and the storyline clear.  The pace was fast enough to keep me hooked and actively engaged in what was happening but not too fast that things passed me by in a blur and left me confused.

All-in-all, a great first book in a series, a great YA read, and one you can completely immerse yourself in for a few hours.

As soon as I finished this book, I started the second, Insurgent, the review for which I will be posting soon.


Book Review: Torment by Lauren Kate

Torment is the second book in the Fallen series by Lauren Kate.

Summary (blurb taken from back cover)

Love never dies…

It took Lucinda an eternity to find her beloved angel, Daniel.  But he waited for her.  Now they are forced apart again, to protect Luce from the Outcasts – immortals who want her dead.  During their separation, Luce learns about her mysterious past lives.  But the more she discovers, the more she suspects that Daniel is hiding something.

What if Daniel’s version of the past isn’t true?  Is it really their destiny to be together?  Or is Luce actually meant to be with somebody else?

Favourite Quote

Sometimes beautiful things come into our lives out of nowhere.  We can’t always understand them, but we have to trust in them.  I know you want to question everything, but sometimes it pays to just have a little faith.


After struggling to enjoy reading the first book in the series, I don’t know if I would have read the second, Torment, only I had already bought it when I purchased Fallen.  The covers pulled me in and persuaded me to buy them.  And I’m sort-of glad they did, because I enjoyed Torment more than the previous instalment and I wouldn’t have known that.

I’m still not a big fan of Luce – I think her attitude is all wrong and she just comes across as a really selfish person on occasion.  Again, it is her friend who I am more interested in as a character.  In the last book it was Penn.  This time round it is Luce’s hippy roommate Shelby.

Parts of the book were still slow-going in places, and still there is stuff going on which is alluded to but never explained.  It doesn’t make it mysterious, only confusing.  However, it was certainly more enjoyable than Fallen to read, and the end really set up the third book in the series nicely.  So much so, that I’m intrigued to find out what happens next, something which I couldn’t envision myself thinking at the end of book one.


3.5 / 5