Thursday, 11 July 2019

ARC Review | The Stranger's Guide To Talliston by John Tarrow

Title: The Stranger's Guide To Talliston
Author: John Tarrow
Publication Date: 11th July 2019 by Unbound
Format: ARC via Netgalley
Target Audience: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Science-Fiction
Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones


Abandoned and alone, thirteen-year-old Joe's world is shattered when he enters a deserted council house and becomes trapped within a labyrinth protecting the last magical places on earth. There, Joe discovers a book charting this immense no-man's land, without time or place, its thirteen doors each leading to a different realm. Hunted by sinister foes, the boy is forced ever deeper into both the maze and the mystery of his missing parents. What will he find at the labyrinth's centre, and can it reunite him with the family he so desperately needs? 

My Rating  

My Thoughts

"That's how he felt being here- that he was standing between worlds. As if he had fallen down and got lost in the cracks in reality."

There were so many elements to this story that I enjoyed and the premise had me interested straight away, I'm always intrigued by anything that contains time-travel and magical elements. It's a classic fantasy story in many ways with a very reluctant hero at it's core that is simply trying to find his way home to his family and accidentally gets caught up in this magical adventure. 

This story takes you from Norway in 1986 to a futuristic Japan and I loved being able to explore these different points of time with Joe. You can tell a lot of research and care went into the descriptions of each new section of the labyrinth and it was fun to see how each part overlapped and connected with each other. I never knew when or where we'd be exploring next or what new questions would be asked. 

There were a few plot twists thrown in that I definitely wasn't expecting and I really enjoyed how the story came full circle towards the end. I will admit, I thought that some sections of the book felt more rushed then others and I got incredibly confused on more then a couple of occasions. It did jump around a lot between the different sections and I found I had to bookmark the beginning of each chapter which tells you where you are in the labyrinth as well as the date and the country you're in. I kept having to flick back and forth to remind myself of what had already happened to understand what was happening now. I think that did take some of the enjoyment out of the experience for me as things got very complex and a little hard to follow as we progressed further into the labyrinth.

"It means history does not change, you change. It means do not seek to change the world, change your world. There is no good. Nor evil. There is only right and wrong. You are your only guide, so seek within. And do what you believe."

Overall, whilst at times I struggled with following the plots timeline, this is still an incredibly fun book which I think YA readers will really enjoy. It's got really great fantastical elements with a weaving storyline that keeps you on your toes and is just a fun time-travel adventure for all ages. 

I received an ARC copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes included in this review are subject to change. Thank you to Netgalley and Unbound for providing me with a copy.  

Friday, 5 July 2019

Book Review | The Life and Death Parade by Eliza Wass

Title: The Life and Death Parade
Author: Eliza Wass
Publication Date: 12th July 2018 by Quercus
Format: Paperback
Target Audience: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal
Goodreads | Amazon


One year ago, Kitty's boyfriend Nikki Bramley visited a psychic who told him he had no future. Now, he's dead.

With the Bramley family grieving in separate corners of their home, Kitty sets out to find the psychic who read Nikki his fate. Instead she finds Roan, an enigmatic boy posing as a medium who belongs to the Life and Death Parade--a group of supposed charlatans that explore, and exploit, the thin veil between this world and the next. A group whose members include the psychic... and Kitty's late mother.

Desperate to learn more about the group and their connection to Nikki, Kitty convinces Roan to return to the Bramley house with her and secures a position for him within the household. Roan quickly ingratiates himself with the Bramleys, and soon enough it seems like everyone is ready to move on. Kitty, however, increasingly suspects Roan knows more about Nikki than he's letting on. And when they finally locate the Life and Death Parade, and the psychic who made that fateful prophecy to Nikki, Kitty uncovers a secret about Roan that changes everything.


My Thoughts

"There is no right and wrong. There's only life and death."

I picked this book up in my local library as I thought the cover was interesting, I liked that it had supernatural elements away from the usual vampires and fae, and it was also super short so I thought it would do for a quick read. Unfortunately, this book was incredibly underwhelming and a slog to get through. I did think about DNF'ing it about halfway in, but I decided to keep reading on to see if it improved.

This book follows Kitty who is living with the Bramley's, a very wealthy family who live in some kind of old English mansion and are those snobbish aristocrat types, and her relationship with their son, Nikki, who after being told by a psychic that he has no future commits suicide. Kitty then starts going to great lengths to discover the reasons behind Nikki's death and recruits Roan who specialises in resurrections to help her.

I did not like any of the characters in this book whatsoever. I have no idea if it was intentional or not to really drive home the fact that most of the characters are very wealthy and arrogant but I just did not care about them at all. Kitty was just infuriating as a MC, most of what she did was stupid and reckless and she didn't really think about how her actions were going to affect other people. I couldn't get past how protentious the Bramley's were, some of them (cough, the little sister) were just incredibly annoying.

The writing also didn't do anything for me. I think I read the entire book with a frown on my face cause I just didn't get it, it was rushed but at the same time nothing was happening. Coming up to the last third of the book and I was just bored by this point, the plot was all over the place and the characters were getting on my nerves and yet somehow I still managed to finish it. The ending had a lot of potential and it did pique my interest but the aftermath and last couple of pages fell flat and overall this book just wasn't the gothic, atmospheric book that I wanted it to be.     

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Book Tag | Who Am I?

So, again I was doing a little blog hopping and going through some of my favourite blogs archives and I found this tag on Howling Libraries, which is one of my favourite blogs to browse through. This seemed like such a fun tag as I love all those personality tests and it's also a great way to get to know the person behind the blog in a different way.

What is the meaning behind my name?

  • My full name is Roberta which apparently is a name of English origin meaning "bright fame". My nickname is Bobby which is what I tend to be called and it similarly means  Famed, bright; shining.
  • My blog name is Books and Babble and I chose it because I initially wanted my blog to be a mixture of book posts and posts geared towards lifestyle and my university experience and just more personal posts. My blog now primarily talks about books but I do post the occasional 'babble' post as well.  

What is my Myer-Briggs Personality Type?

  • I am an INFJ which is the Advocate personality type. INFJ's have very strong morals and ideals and are always looking to help people although we need plenty of time to ourselves to regenerate. 

What is my zodiac sign?

  • I am a libra and I do feel like I fit those traits well although there are associations with the sign that I don't feel fit my personality. I am very indecisive, I avoid confrontation, I can be pretty fair-minded and I hate violence and injustice. People tend to associate Libra's with being materialistic though and someone who likes expensive and dramatic things and I'm definitely not like that.  

What is my Hogwarts House?

  • I am such a proud Hufflepuff. I always get very defensive when people make fun of my house but obviously us hufflepuffs are loyal to the end. I love knowing that I'm in the house that values kindness and hard-work. 


    What are my learning styles?

  • Visual 3
  • Aural 2
  • Read/Write 6
  • Kinesthetic 5
  • I have a Multimodal learning strategy which means I don't learn best in one particular way but can adapt my way of learning to the situation I'm in or to who I'm working with but I do prefer to learn through either reading the information or by a hands on approach.

Am I right or left brain dominant?

  • I apparently use both sides of my brain equally! 47% for the left side (logic and rules) and 53% for the right (creativity and curiosity).

What is my blood type?

  • Ok, so I have no idea about this one as I've never actually found out my blood type. I don't even know my parents blood types so I should probably go and get it tested to find out.

    What career am I meant to have?

    • I am actually quite happy about this. It probably wouldn't be my first choice for a career (I'm currently training to be a teacher) but this is a good backup plan!

Which Divergent faction do you belong to?

  • Again, I feel like this fits me pretty well but I know that this is also considered the weakest faction so...

What does my birth order say about me?

The Middle Child

Stereotype: Social butterfly, peacekeeper, fairness-obsessed.
Why it’s true: “Middle-borns don’t have the rights of the oldest or the privileges of the youngest,” says Catherine Salmon, Ph.D., a coauthor of The Secret Power of Middle Children. As a result, they become experts at negotiation and compromise. They also tend to lean on their friends, as their parents’ attention is often focused on the oldest or youngest child.
When it’s not: If the oldest doesn’t act the part, “it creates a job vacancy,” says Salmon. “Donald Trump is a middle with a firstborn brother who didn’t fit the role. Donald usurped it.” And what if there are several middle children? “There’s a principle that each child is trying to be different from the one immediately older,” says Salmon. “So if you had three middles, the first and third would likely be a bit more similar to each other than to the very middle child.”

  • I feel like there shoud've been more options then just the oldest, the middle child and the baby. I'm the second youngest of 5 children so I'm not quite the baby of the family but I'm also not slap bang in the middle. 

If anyone else does this tag, feel free to link it down below for me to check out!



Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Top Ten Tuesday | Favourite Childhood Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature that highlights ten books that all relate to a certain topic and is  hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This Weeks Topic Is... 

Favourite Childhood Books and this was such a trip down memory lane. I loved looking up all those books I loved when I was younger, so much nostalgia rediscovering books I loved but had forgotten about. I can't wait to read some of these to my neice when she's a bit older and hopefully they'll become some of her childhood favourites as well.

The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton

I absolutely adored this children's series but I think this was my favourite out of all of them. I just loved discovering all of the lands hidden within the tree and the creatures living there and it was so magical and there are so many happy memories attached to this book. I'm actually quite sad that I have no idea what happened to my copy of this, I moved house so much during my childhood I guess it just got lost somewhere. I can't wait to read this to my children in the future and hope they love it as much as I did. 

The Tiger Who Came To Tea by Judith Kerr 

This is just such a brilliant picture book and I'm so happy it's been passed from generation to generation and that it's still as popular now as it was when I was a kid. Judith Kerr was a gem of an author and I was so saddened to hear of her passing but all of her children's books will stand the test of time.

Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling

Would this list even be complete without mentioning Harry Potter? I don't think so and I will grab any opportunity to shout about how much these books mean to me. I can't put into words how much I love these books and they will remain one of the biggest (if not the biggest) parts of my childhood.


Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

I remember my Mum introducing me to these books as were some of her favourites when she was growing up and they just ignited a love of dance for me. I can remember begging my mum to let me take ballet lessons and then prancing around the house for hours. It really is special to be able to share love for books with your parents.

Clarice Bean Series by Lauren Child

I can't even remember how I initially came across these books, I guess my mum must of bought them for me but I loved them so much. They were so wacky and I found them absolutely hilarious. They've also got some great illustrations to accompany the story.

Matilda by Roald Dahl 

Roald Dahl books were a huge part of my childhood and I devoured every single thing he wrote from George's Marvellous Medicine to hs autobiography Boy but Matilda was by far my favourite. I loved being able to read about this little girl who loved reading and books just as much as I did. The book, and the film as well, remain some of favourites to this day.

Ally's World Series by Karen McCombie

The next couple of books were some of my favourites as I entered into my pre-teens so when I was around 11/12. The Ally's World books were a series I discovered just browsing through my local library and I immediately found myself encaptured by the characters and they were just so much fun and completely mad. I ended up begging for the entire series for my birthday and I still own my copies cause I can't bare to give them away!

Back Home by Michelle Magorian

I must have read and re-read this book about twenty times within the space of a year or two. I went through a period where I read every historical children's book I could get my hands on and I especially loved books set within or just after World War 2. This is another that I can't remember what happened to my copy but from compiling this list I really want to re-read it now so might have to go out and buy another copy. 

Anything written by Jacqueline Wilson

Were you even a teenage girl in the UK if you weren't obsessed with Jacqueline Wilson's books? There was just something about all of her books that I just devoured and I was always so excited to learn when she had a new book coming out. I'm so happy that she's still writing books and I hope she continues for a long time. Some of my favourites included My Sister Jodie, The Lottie Project and The Diamond Girls.

Journey To The River Sea by Eva Ibbotson

I was so enchanted by the descriptions of the Amazon Rainforest in this book, the setting felt so real and it was one of my first introductions to foreign settings in children's books. This is another one that I've been meaning to re-read for a while now although my copy is a bit battered now!

Have you read any of the books on my list this week? What books do you want to read this summer? Leave a comment or link your own Top Ten Tuesday's for me to check out!

Monday, 1 July 2019

June 2019 Reading Wrap Up

I managed to read a total of 10 books in June which isn't bad, it's only a couple less then what I read in May, and yet for some reason I'm quite disappointed in myself. I think it's mostly down to the fact that I didn't manage to read all of the books on my June TBR post and therefore didn't reach my monthly goal. I've had a couple of slow weeks so I've only felt like reading a few chapters here and there rather then picking up a book and reading half of it in one sitting. I suppose it brings up the question of whether we should be setting ourselves reading goals and whether or not that applies too much pressure on us as bloggers. We should just be reading what we want when we want and reading simply for pleasure instead. Anyway, here's all the books I read in June and a little of what I thought about them...

Eve of Man by Giovanna and Tom Fletcher

So I actually started of the month with a bit of a disappointment. I was really looking forward to this as I love watching Tom and Giovanna's youtube videos and I've read some of Giovanna's books before so I was interested to see how they would come together for a YA book. This is a dystopian about a girl called Eve who is the first girl born in fifty years and is therefore humanity's last chance at survival and she teams up with a boy and they work to overthrow the people controlling them. I just thought some of the ideas seemed a little recycled, there was very little world-building going on and I wasn't overly invested in the characters. It was ok but I don't know if I'll be picking up the next in the series when it's out.

Cogheart Adventures Series by Peter Bunzl

I really enjoyed reading this middle grade fantasy series. It was a lot of fun with plenty of action and loveable characters. I especially liked that it was set in an alternate Victorian London where there's a lot of steampunk elements such as mechanical people and animals and people travelling by airships. The third book didn't excite me as much as the first two but I gave the overall series a solid four stars. You can find my full series review here.

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

This was my favourite read of the month by far. I love a good mystery novel, although YA mysteries can be a bit hit or miss, but this was so cleverly told and and I loved how everything unfolded. As much as I enjoyed it, I did feel like nothing was really resolved rather it asked more questions and set up the plot for the next book. I knew that this was the first book in a series but I was not expecting such an abrupt ending either so I'm very excited to get my hands on The Vanishing Stair.

Beau and Bett by Kathryn Berla

And we also have my least favourite read of the month. This just didn't do anything for me at all. I thought it was boring and rushed whilst at the same time having nothing happen plot-wise. I disliked both of the main characters and essentially wished I hadn't wasted my time on this. The highlight was that it was a super quick read and I read it within an hour or two. You can read my full scathing review here.

The Life and Death Parade by Eliza Wass

Unfortunately, I ended up reading two disappointing books in a row. This was a library book that I picked up because it was short and I liked the idea of a YA gothic, haunting novel but this was nothing like what I was expecting and not in a good way. I thought the majority of the characters were obnoxious and frustrating and the writing style was so incredibly slow that I almost gave up. The only thing that saved this book was the reveal towards the end but that was the only moment of excitement in the entire book in my opinion. My full review will be up in the next couple of days.

Stolen by Lucy Christopher

This was actually a re-read for me although I first read nearly ten years ago so I was interested to see if my positive opinion still stood. I did really like this book,  it's written as one long letter so it's difficult to get into the pacing of it but I think the author does a great job showing us the effects of Stockholm Syndrome. Nothing felt cringy or contrived, it was written very realistically. This is a really solid YA contemporary with amazing descriptions of the Australian outback, I felt like I was right there in the desert with Gemma and Ty.

The Fates Divide by Veronica Roth

This ended up being a pretty average YA fantasy series in my opinion. I'm not a massive fan of fantasy so it takes a lot for me to be impressed and this just fell flat in places. I read the first book in the duology a year ago so I was a little fuzzy with some of the details and what had already happened. I liked the characters of Cyra and Akos but I feel like there was just too much going on in this sequel. There was too many characters and places to remember and the switching POV's just made everything even more confusing. I still want to read Roth's Divergent series though as I think i'll probably enjoy that one a little more.

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

What an interesting read! I've never read a book written backwards before and it was really compelling reading how the events unfolded to bring us back to what happened in the opening chapter. I really loved the writing style and I even really liked the main character, the only thing that let this down was that it was a bit predictable unfortunately but still a really great concept.

Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts on them? What did you read in June? Link your own wrap ups in the comments for me to read! 


Saturday, 29 June 2019

July 2019 TBR + The Book Junkie Trials

How is it nearly July already?? We're now nearly 7 months into the year and I just don't know where the time is going, I feel like it was Christmas only a couple of weeks ago. Anyway, a new month means a new TBR. I didn't quite manage to read all of the books on my June TBR, you can find that post here, as I had a bit of a slow reading week near the beginning of the month so I didn't manage to read my classic or my non-fiction book of the month, as well as one of the books from my TBR box and an ebook. I've decided that whatever I don't manage to read from my TBR posts will just get put straight into the next months TBR and will be prioritised.

Library Books

Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture by Jon Savage
All The Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

Owned Books

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Sisters Red by Jackson Pierce


100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Emmons
What She Found In The Woods by Josephine Angelini
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green   

The Book Junkie Trials  

Also this month I'm going to be participating in my first readathon! Over on booktube Rachael Marie has created The Bookie Trials, which is a month long readathon/event where you're sorted into teams and you essentially go on a quest. You have to read a book based on the prompt for each section of the map your team visits. Each team also has a strength and a weakness that have to be applied to what you're reading as well as participating in micro challenges that will be set throughout the month! I'm going to be participating on Team Bard and I'm super excited for it to start. If you want to join there's still a few days until the cut off, you can find the announcement video here with all the information you need. You can find my TBR for The Book Junkie Trials below along with all the challenges I'll be completing and the map.

The Elven Guard are suprised by your visit and are immediately on the offensive: Read a book with war, military or political themes to learn how to calm the situation. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

On The Hallow Isle, lurk incorporeal monsters and the ghosts of your past: Read an atmospheric or horror book to pass this test of nerve. Carrie by Stephen King.
Empty Barrel Inn, every bard deserves a swig or two, some say it even aids warming up those vocal cords: Enjoy an indulgent read.The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton.
Giant Squid, a fearsome fellow: Read a book that intimidates you and this foe shall be a doddle.The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.
The Bookie Grail, here you find a lost manuscript, delivered on this forgotten island by a fallen star: Read the group book.Stardust by Neil Gaiman. 

What are you planning on reading in June? Have you read any on my TBR? Leave a comment or link your own June TBR's for me to check out!  

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Series Review | The Cogheart Adventures by Peter Bunzl


Title: Cogheart Adventures series (Books 1,2 & 3) 
Author: Peter Bunzl
Publisher: Usborne
Format: Ebooks via Scribd
Target Audience: Middle Grade


Cogheart -

Lily's life is in mortal peril. Her father is missing and now silver-eyed men stalk her through the shadows. What could they want from her? With her friends - Robert, the clockmaker's son, and Malkin, her mechanical fox - Lily is plunged into a murky and menacing world. Too soon Lily realizes that those she holds dear may be the very ones to break her heart...

Moonlocket - 

Storm clouds gather over Lily and Robert's summer when criminal mastermind the Jack of Diamonds appears. For Jack is searching for the mysterious Moonlocket - but that's not the only thing he wants.

Skycircus - 

When a travelling skycircus arrives in Brackenbridge, Lily and Robert can't wait to step aboard... But there's something sinister about the hybrid children who appear as part of the act. And before Lily and Robert can do anything, they're captured by shadowy figures and whisked off in the mysterious flying circus to somewhere far, far away...

Overall Rating


Wednesday, 26 June 2019

WWW Wednesday | 26/06/2019

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words that highlights three questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What did you recently finish reading?

I finished The Fates Divide by Veronica Roth, the second book in the Carve The Mark Duology. I ended up giving this book 3 stars, the same rating as the first book, as I thought it was just ok but nothing that really wowed me. The writing style was probably what I enjoyed the most and I did like Cyra and Akos's characters for the most part. I was just really confused throughout most of this book. There are so many POV's and character names and places and the names all looked really similar and eventually my brain was hurting from trying to figure out who was who.

What are you currently reading?

I'm currently reading Genuine Fraud by E. Lockheart and whilst it's slightly confusing and I haven't quite worked out what's happening plot-wise, it's also incredibly gripping. I'm enjoying reading a novel written backwards and seeing all the events unfold that led up to the opening chapter.

I've also just started The Strangers Guide To Talliston by John Tarrow which is an eARC I received through Netgalley and have heard absolutely nothing about. It's actually only got one rating on Goodreads so far. The premise sounds interesting though as it follows a boy who enters a house with thirteen doors which each lead to a different realm and you have to work out a puzzle to unlock the next door. I'm only a couple of pages in but I'm very excited to read on.

What do you think you'll read next?

I have a feeling I won't be able to read all the books on my June TBR post so right now I'm focusing on my library books and trying to get them read before they're due back. I'm going to read The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury next which reading the synopsis actually sounds quite similar to Carve the Mark so we will see how my opinions differ between books once I've read it.

Sixteen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she's engaged to the prince, no one speaks to her. No one even looks at her. Because Twylla isn't a member of the court. She's the executioner. As the goddess-embodied, Twylla kills with a single touch. So each week, she's taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love her. Who could care for a girl with murder in her veins? Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to her touch, avoids her.

But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose playful smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he's able to look past Twylla's executioner robes and see the girl, not the goddess. Yet a treasonous romance is the least of Twylla's problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies-a plan that requires an unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?

Have you read any of these? What were your thoughts? What are you currently reading and hoping to pick up next? Leave a comment or link your own WWW Wednesdays below for me to check out! 
© Books & Babble | UK Book Blog. All rights reserved.