Book Review: Orphan Monster Spy – Matt Killeen

Orphan Monster Spy - Matt Killeen

Sarah doesn’t look like the Jewish girl that the Nazi’s want people to hate. With her blonde hair and blue eyes, she could easily pass for part of the ‘superior race’ that Hitler has planned for 1940s Germany. After a chance meeting with Captain while on the run, Sarah is given the opportunity to make a difference for all those like her, to become a spy. Locating herself within a Nazi boarding school for daughters of the elite couldn’t be more dangerous. Her fair appearance and fierce intelligence and ambition are what can make her the ultimate weapon, but can she survive?

It has been a long time since I’ve read a historical fiction novel but I am so glad I did. This is a debut novel by Matt Kileen and I can tell you now that he is one to watch. This was an incredibly well thought out, thrilling read. I immediately fell into the world that Killeen had created and cared for Sarah, I wanted her to win. I also enjoyed the relationship between Sarah and Captain and its no-nonsense approach.

One of the things I was most impressed by was the research that was clearly undertaken here. Details of Nazi boarding schools, the ways in which a spy could operate within the time and personalities of the young women really stood out to me. This is not a novel about wallflowers, from Sarah to Captain to the school bullies each and every one was incredibly well detailed and that, to me, is the sign of an excellent writer.

Were there points when I thought, well this is a little convenient, yes there were. BUT that said, I’ve read accounts of the Second World War where it is unbelievable that people were clever or kind on the worst situations, so I can’t be too harsh about that. This novel was certainly a page turner and weeks after reading I’m still thinking about it.

I gave this novel 4.5 stars. It really was an excellent debut and I’m already eagerly awaiting the next novel. I would really recommend picking this up if you have a love for historical fiction, it’s been a long time since I’ve found one that I devoured and Killeen is one to watch!

 

Book Review: Moxie – Jennifer Mathieu

Book Review: Moxie - Jennifer Mathieu

 

Meet Viv, she’s a quiet 16-year-old who doesn’t break the rules. She works hard, hangs out with her friends and is the perfect daughter, the opposite of her mother as a teenager. Viv’s Mum was a Riot Grrl in the 1990s, all about Feminism and ‘zines, rebellion and riots. Nobody expects Viv to follow in her footsteps until she gets pushed a little too far.

Sick of the sexism in her high school, dress checks, disgusting football players and the expectation of women, Viv decides to start a quiet revolution. Taking a leaf from her Mum’s book Viv starts Moxie, a zine for the girls at her high school. As she anonymously writes and distributes the zine, things heat up. Can one ‘zine make any difference?

Well, this book. This book, what can I say? This is a rebellion in a couple of hundred pages. I finished this, created a playlist of kick-ass women and started planning the reboot of my Feminist Friday series. That’s the impact this book had.

I loved the fact that the author didn’t make the challenge easy either. She looks at the reputation feminism has, the feelings of being overwhelmed, having to try and convince people that Feminism is a good thing. She does it incredibly well and I loved all the Riot Grrl references and the fact that Bikini Kill was mentioned (listen to them here).

I will say, the only thing I didn’t enjoy about this novel and one of the reasons it didn’t get the full 5 stars was the romance. I just felt like it wasn’t needed and it made things a little too cutesy? Obviously, I know people did love it and it was good to see a male feminist but it just seemed a little too perfect timing to me.

Overall I gave this an amazing 4.5 stars! This was a breath of fresh air and while it took a little while to grow on me, once it did it was amazing. This is the kind of book that can inspire, that can make people realise that they have power in their voices. That feminism is still here, it’s still relevant and important. More than that it shows young women as saving themselves and that’s important.

Illumicrate Unboxing – June 2018

Illumicrate 2018 unboxing

It’s time for another illumicrate unboxing! I absolutely love getting these boxes by monthly, it’s like a little present for myself and it’s not my ONLY subscription box going! So this is the June 2018 box. As always this is an unboxing so there are going to be spoilers! If you don’t want to be spoilt then pop back when you’ve seen the box yourself!

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Light Years – Kass Morgan 

Our first book this month is set in space with some forbidden love and a space boarding school. Now, this isn’t something I would pick up for myself, but I’m going to give it a flick through and give it a try, you never know! The full blurb of this is here.

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A Thousand Perfect Notes –  C.G. Drews

Now, this is much more my kind of book. Again we have another book focused on love. This time following a guy who is forced to play the piano by his violent mother, who is within touching distance of love. I’m really interested in this because of the author C.G Drews – also known as PaperFury online. I’m really looking forward to reading this one.

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Box designed by Alice Oseman (Exclusive) 

So Alice Oseman isn’t just a fantastic writer, she’s also an artist? Is there anything the amazing lady can’t do! This little lunchbox (that’s what I’m going to use it for) is adorable and I am in love with the design.

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Black Panther Inspired Book Sleeve (Exclusive)

Ok, time for a confession…I haven’t watched Black Panther. I know, I know I’m so late to the party. That said I like this, I’ve really wanted a book sleeve because I like my books being pristine. So I’m just going to have to watch it so that I can use this!

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Camp Half-Blood Pin (Exclusive), I Was Born For This Pin and Elements Page Markers (Exclusive) 

So, it seems to be a month for ‘things Chloe has never experienced’ Percy Jackson isn’t something I’ve read, it was around when I was younger but I never picked it up. That said it is a wonderfully made Pin and I love the detail. Next up a badge to promote Alice Oseman’s latest book I Was Born For This which is currently on my TBR pile and I’m really looking forward to. And then on to the Elements page markers

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How Do You Like Me Now Sample and Grey Sister Bookmark

Next up some paper goodies, a sample of Holly Bourne’s new adult novel which I actually received an early release of so I can think of someone who might like this snippet. We also had a dagger-shaped bookmark to celebrate the release of Grey Sister, a follow up to Red Sister which was a novel we received last year.

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Bookish Postcards

We also had our bookish postcards, as seen. I really likes the From Twinkle, With Love postcard, it is such a sweet quote and is making me more interested in picking up the novel when it’s released.

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Infernal Devices Cards (Exclusive) – designed by @anotherstudio_

Well, you’ve guessed it, I haven’t read the Infernal Devices series! I have no idea what’s going on this month I feel like I’m so behind with my YA reading! That said I really like these cards, they are beautifully designed and I like the artwork style.

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Overall

Well, this was a packed box indeed! Another box full of great quality items. Every two months when this box arrives I’m so pleased because it is always worth the money, which is important because I’ve ordered so many boxes that turned out to be tat. I will say I would have loved to have seen something Pride month related in this box with all the amazing YA out there but that’s just me!

Is there anything that has caught your eye? Or maybe you got our own Illumicrate box! Let me know in the comments below.

What I Read in May!

Another reading month been and gone! This month I managed to read a total of 8 books, which isn’t bad but is slightly less than I’ve read in previous months. Still, two a week is great and I had some cracking 5 star reads! So why not just jump right in and see what I’ve been reading this month!

I started the month by finishing an audiobook or Unbroken by Martine Wright. Martine lost both her legs in the 7/7 bombings, despite thing she went on to be one of the London 2012 Paralympians. This was such a tough but worthwhile read that got 5 stars from me and there will be a full review soon! Following this, I got my hands on the new ACOTAR novella by Sarah J Maas and it was just a nice warm story to bridge the gap towards the original trilogy and new books coming up, which I am SO excited for, this also got 5 stars a strong start.

Next up I continued my Saga journey with volume 3, so far this is my least favourite volume but it still got 4 stars because I could see why but read on for my volume 4 thoughts. I then read Orphan Monster Spy a historical fiction novel and I absolutely LOVED it. It’s about a teenage Jewish girl infiltrating a Nazi boarding school, standard. This also got a 5 star rating from me!

Next up was Light Filters In by Caroline Kaufman which I was kindly sent by the publisher. I hadn’t come across Kaufman before and liked the idea of the collection and what it had done and it was a good first collection, but not entirely to my taste so I gave it 3 stars. Next up Saga volume 4 and I loved it, it’s taken the series in a different direction that I didn’t see coming. I can’t wait to get to volume 5!

Next up I finally finished the final few chapters of With The End in Mind which is just so emotional, hence me finally reading the last few chapters this month. I loved it and gave it 5 stars, you can see what all the fuss is about here. And last but not least I got my hands on the stunning new novel by Louise O’Neill, The Surface Breaks. This is a feminist retelling of the Little Mermaid and I think I’m going to give it 4 stars because the ending was so great, there will be a full review to come!

What did you read in May? Have you read any of the books I have? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

 

Book Review: Everywoman – Jess Phillips

Everywoman Jess Phillips

 

A lot of people scoff at the thought of going into politics. Even more so if you’re from a less wealthy background because it’s not what someone ‘like us’ does is it? Be prepared to completely change your mind and want to start a revolution of diversity and equality and it’s all thanks to Jess Phillips.

I picked this up after watching an interview with Jess online, I finally saw someone who I could identify with who works in our government. This book is much more than politics, this is about women, empowerment and just giving things a go! Previously, Jess worked for Women’s Aid, an incredibly important charity supporting women who need help most. Some of the stories were harrowing but show the fire behind Jess’s speeches in parliament, such as those about domestic violence.

From Mum guilt to just about getting through university Jess talks about anything and everything. That said, she also touches on some heartbreaking topics. There were many moments in this book that touched me but it was the parts talking about Jo Cox that really got me. Jo Cox was an MP in the UK, a rising star in the Labour Party, Jo was murdered for doing her job and being a compassionate human. Jess was a friend of Jo’s and I can’t imagine how hard it was going through such a horrific loss.

Not only is Jess a kick-ass MP for Labour, she’s a friend, a proud Feminist, a Mum, a Wife and, by the sounds of this book, the kind of person I’d want to have as a friend. This book fell into my hands when I needed it most. I was feeling like I was struggling as a woman, I was feeling a little beaten down by the world. Then I realised I can do this because there is so much to do! It really gave me the pick me up I needed.

I’ve recommended this to almost every one of my friends because it’s the kind of book that can and will start a revolution. Of course, I gave this 5 stars, I could not stop listening to the audiobook at every opportunity I had. I’m pretty sure I’ll not only be buying this as a gift for a few people but I’ll also be listening again very soon!

What Mean Girls Taught Me

What Mean Girls Taught Me

Recently I saw one of the songs that will be in the Mean Girls musical which, should it ever come to London, I will be going to. You see Mean Girls was a huge part of growing up for me. Before Netflix (gasp) I would go to Car Boot sales and buy any and all movies that were deemed as ‘chick flicks’ and it all started off with Cady Heron.

I was in Portsmouth with my parents at the tender age of 11 when I saw this film, the cover looked cool. My Dad gave me the money, having no idea what it was about, and said to go pay. I was half terrified that they wouldn’t sell it to me because I was 11 and it was a 12. Ah, sweet, sweet innocence. But what did I learn from it…

The ‘freaks’ are the coolest people you will ever meet

I can speak as someone who used to hang out with the music/art/nerds. A lot of the time the creative people are the most welcoming and accepting, that’s what I’ve found. Just like Damien and Janice.

Stereotypes don’t have to be a thing.

Cady wasn’t one stereotype or the other. She could rock a short dress but also had a brilliant brain. She wasn’t above petty school politics, she fell right into them just like all of us did; if you say you didn’t you’re lying. People in this film made mistakes.

Changing yourself to fit in is never a good idea

Do I need to explain this one…

Don’t believe rumours

Ok, ok, we know that Coach Karr is an exception to this. The film made me realise people gossip and rumours go around. You can’t stop that. The teenage years are full of this shit so it’s best to try and ignore it. Fun fact waiting to go into my General Studies (read luck of the draw) exam I was informed that someone had been told I was pregnant with twins…news to me.

Everyone has their own shit going on

Do I think Regina George was evil? No, probably not. From Caddy’s worries that she was a ‘homeschooled jungle freak’, Janice’s tough girl attitude masking her being rejected, to Gretchen wanting to stab Ceaser. Every person in that film has their own issues, just like in real life.

I still quote Mean Girls on a regular basis even if it has been years since I’ve sat down and watched the film myself. There is just something in that film that I think anyone who has been a teenager just gets. That being a teenager isn’t sunshine and rainbows, people are shitty and school is shitty too. Oh and teenage girls can be awful to each other, truly awful.

What did Mean Girls Teach you? Let me know in the comments below and you go Glen Coco!

 

Self-Care Slip!

Ok guys, I have to make a confession. I haven’t been looking after myself. I’m not talking about a slip for a few days or a week, I’m talking about months. There’s a reason I’m telling you this because no matter how much I want everyone to take care of themselves and the fact I’ve been making sure my friends are but not doing it for myself.

It’s been a thing for a while and I’ve tried to have an ‘I’m fine, everything’s fine I don’t care’ kind of attitude, but that’s not entirely truthful. I slipped into a cloud of Anxiety, Depression and a bit of neglect. I stopped going to the gym, I worked every single hour I could on some kind of project I was involved in and my eating habits weren’t great either. The problem is I’m too stubborn to have let anyone help until I wanted them to.

So, what am I going to do about it?

I need to get back on track and I need to have a plan to do, so here it goes.

I’m going back to the gym 

I put it off, partly because I was waiting to see a specialist but also because I didn’t have the motivation. I didn’t want to go and work out because I didn’t see the point in working on my own body. But! I’ve got plans with my sister and my best friend to slowly get back into it.

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Where possible I’m not taking work home with me 

I’m the worst for this. I don’t stop thinking about work, ideas, concerns etc and I know it’s not good for me. It’s not possible every day to leave work at work but I have to think about myself and realise that I’m a person outside my job. That I need to spend time relaxing or doing things I enjoy because stressing 24/7 about small things won’t make me any better at what I do.

I need to think more about what I’m eating in a healthy way 

Sooo, yep my eating habits haven’t been great. I haven’t been planning it’s been a grab and go when I have a chance situation. Which just screams not healthy. In the past, I’ve forgotten to eat until really late and that’s just a bad idea.

I need to actually sleep 

I push myself to stay awake even when I’m super tired because I want to get things done. Even though I know I’ll feel worse for it in a few days. See I told you I was stubborn. So I’m trying to set time for myself and sleep and also have one weekend day where I have nothing planned and no alarms set where possible!

Have you got any tips or things that you need to work on yourself? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!