Film Review: Captain America: Civil War



I am a huge Marvel fan. I’ve been watching the films since I was a kid, like the original Spiderman films with Tobey Maguire, to the X-Men films. I’ve seen both of those original trilogies numerous times, but when the new wave of Marvel films began, I didn’t actually pay them a lot of notice until Thor in 2011. I hadn’t been interested in the Iron Man films, but when Thor came out, followed by The Avengers a year later, I was undeniably hooked. I found the first two Iron Man films on Sky Movies and watched them, wondering why I had ignored them when they’d been released.

Upon the release of The Avengers, I was only familiar with Thor and Loki, and I hadn’t yet watched Captain America: The First Avenger. In fact, I always thought Captain America looked like a really corny superhero; I’m not American, so his inherent patriotism was foreign to me. But when I watched the first Captain America film, I really, really enjoyed it. For starters, it was set during the Second World War, so I found it interesting watching a ‘superhero’ in a setting that wasn’t the modern day. But also, Steve Rogers was just a small guy with a big heart, who got big to match that heart. He is in actuality very different to the other Avengers, not to mention the fact that all his loved ones have been and gone, believing him gone too. It’s hard to imagine the loneliness.

And then Captain America: Winter Soldier happened and Cap’s closest friend Bucky Barnes, who he believed dead, returned with no memories, a metal arm, and an order to kill Steve. The tension and emotion was too much. That’s when I knew the Captain America films were my favourite Marvel creations, along with the character of the ‘Winter Soldier’.


So, understandably, I was pretty hyped for Captain America: Civil War. In fact, I was more than hyped. After the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, I was looking forward to the new additions for the team (especially after Age of Ultron fell a bit flat).

Did it live up to my expectations? The answer is yes, and then some.

I’ve heard some critics say that Civil War is a little slow to get going, but I think that only ramps up the tension. Besides, we know that there’s going to be a divide in the Avengers team, we know that there’s going to be two sides: Team Iron Man and Team Captain America. So why not build the tension? All the pieces shown to us at the beginning wrap up at the end to weave a complex plot that keeps you guessing. I was really glad the Russo brothers were back to direct this installment because they did a superb job with Winter Soldier and there was no exception here. By the time I left the cinema, I had a slight headache from getting way too excited and tensed up. There’s also a big, big twist at the end that I did not see coming and it’s the clincher of the film. It definitely got my heart pumping.


What with the whole idea of the ‘teams’, there was the potential for this film to fall into a plethora of corny lines, but the Russo brothers were clearly expecting this. The jokes dotted throughout the film are really quite funny, especially during some of the fight scenes that have the potential to be taken too seriously. A lot of the good one-liners went to Paul Rudd as ‘Ant-Man’, but that was to be expected. However, one of the funniest things was the dynamic between Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson, ‘Winter Soldier’ and ‘Falcon’ respectively. It was unexpected and comedic, and I look forward to seeing more of their duo in later films.

However, the plot wouldn’t be possible without Bucky Barnes. Despite Steve Rogers’ and Tony Stark’s differences taking top bill, the arguments wouldn’t be there to begin with if it weren’t for Bucky. For fans of the first two Captain America films, it’s just as interesting as it is heart-breaking to see Bucky attempting to recover after his time working for HYDRA, as well Cap’s mission to protect him. Just like Winter Soldier, the human element, not the big battles, take precedence here (although there are a lot of fights and explosions, so don’t worry if that’s what you’re after). This was something Joss Whedon failed to do in the previous Avengers film.


The great thing is, you can also see the reasoning behind both teams. I was always going to be #TeamCap, but I did feel sorry for Tony the more and more frustrated he got; he really believed he was doing something for the greater good. And maybe he was, but I understood Steve’s actions more, especially after witnessing Steve and Bucky’s friendship in The First Avenger (and witnessing Bucky Barnes’ face, he’s prettier than most girls). But that was what made the film so likeable; there’s no right or wrong answer and because of that the tension is sky-high.

All in all, this film exceeded my expectations. Good pacing, great humour and a humanity that had been lost in the previous team-up. As soon as it finished, I wanted to go back and see it again, and I was so thankful it was over 2 hours long! Even if you’re not really into Marvel films, it’s a slick piece of film-work and feels more like a thriller than an action movie. Just read up on the backstory before you go.

My Rating: 5/5


Which Team are you on? Have you seen the film; what did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Caitlin (1)




Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

throne_of_glass_ukThrone of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Publisher: Bloomsbury

My Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake. She got caught.

Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament – fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?

Page Break

My Review

(Spoiler-free, just in case, but I know how popular this book is in the blogosphere!)

I’m going to be honest here. The reason I’d put off reading this much talked-about series was because I didn’t like the covers. And I know as a book nerd I’m not supposed to judge a book by a cover, but the covers for the Throne of Glass series always seemed corny and a little kiddy to me.

However, I can now put my hands up and admit that I judged too harshly. Because I really, really, really enjoyed this book.

Maas has created a world that is rich with intrigue and hidden magic, but it is never revealed to us in overwhelming, boring info-dumps. Whilst there are similarities in this series to the infamous Game of Thrones, the world is unique and the characters fleshed-out. In fact, Celaena annoyed me a little at first. She was cocky and self-obsessed, but this made for excellent character development as she actually became more likeable. Her arrogance becomes confidence; her self-obsession is knocked down a few notches; but her wit remains. She’s an excellent heroine, kind but deadly. Whilst I think some of her cheesy lines could be got rid of, I did grow to really like her.

As for writing style, Maas crafts mostly excellent dialogue (it can sometimes be a little corny) but there is no speech that is simply thrown in for the sake of it. The plot moves along at a steady pace and the synopsis of the book doesn’t reveal to you just how many sub-plots are weaved into the story.

More of these sub-plots are revealed to us to pique our interest and they culminate for a satisfying (and not rushed) ending. Aspects of the novel are actually quite dark; it’s not a frilly young-adult fantasy. The protagonist herself is a renowned assassin, having killed numerous times, and the novel is filled with gruesome murders by an unknown beast. However, I felt who/what was behind the murders was a little too obvious; Maas’ red-herring didn’t work on me. But the sense of unease she created was still palpable.

In terms of the love-triangle, I actually enjoyed it because it wasn’t cliche. In fact, it wasn’t really even a love-triangle. There weren’t any cringe-worthy fights between the Crown Prince Dorian and Captain of the Guard Chaol for Celaena’s heart, and I actually enjoyed the fact that Celaena isn’t wholly ruled by the men in her life. Yes, she swoons a bit, but it wouldn’t be YA without a bit of swooning. However, her decisions at the end of the book in regards to the love-triangle were refreshing and I gained further respect for her. Yet if there’s someone I want her to end up with at the climax of this series, I prefer Chaol. Whilst Dorian is witty, Chaol’s somewhat shy and sensitive centre beneath his gruff exterior is all the more interesting. If I was Celaena, I’d definitely choose Chaol.

So, there you have it, I fully admit that I judged this series and now regret that. However, I now have four more books to enjoy (when I have the money to buy them) and I’m really looking forward to seeing more of the world and characters Maas has created.

Page Break

Have you read the rest of the series? What did you think? (No spoilers please!) And is Maas’ new fantasy series, A Court of Thorns and Roses, worth a read? Let me know in the comments below!

Caitlin (1)



Waiting On Wednesday : True Born by L.E. Sterling


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Breaking the Spine where you showcase which books you’re looking forward to being released.

Page Break

This week I’m excited for L.E. Sterling’s first novel in a new YA trilogy called True Born.


UK Release date: June 13th 2016

Synopsis: Plague has taken half the population, and the remaining Lasters wait without hope for their genes to self-destruct. Only the elite Upper Circle can afford potentially life-prolonging Splicer treatments. For seventeen-year old identical twins Lucy and Margot Fox, though, the tests never end – yet no one seems to be ready to reveal what they are. When Margot disappears, a desperate Lucy has no choice but to put her faith in the Plague-resistant True Borns, led by the charismatic Nolan Storm and the beautiful but deadly Jared Price. As Lucy and the True Borns set out to rescue her sister, they stumble upon a vast conspiracy stretching from Dominion’s street preachers to shady Russian tycoons. But why target the Fox sisters? As they say in Dominion, it’s in the blood.

Page Break

Clearly a dystopian/post-apocalyptic novel, I’m hoping that this debut steers clear of the dystopian tropes that a lot of YA novels have fallen into recently after the success of series like The Hunger Games and Divergent. Because of the mad scramble to get something published in this genre, I’ve been turning to Adult dystopian novels to get my fix because they have the maturity and originality that I think a lot of their YA counterparts have been lacking.

However, True Born has a promising premise and a really gorgeous cover. I’m hoping this novel lives up to my expectations and doesn’t fall into the typical trope of: teenage girl joins a rebellion to overthrow corrupt government.

Page Break

What books are you waiting on to be released? Are there any YA dystopian novels that you think successfully avoid the tropes and cliches? Let me know in the comments!

Caitlin (1)

A Novel Round-Up: 5 Lesser-Known Classics Every Bookworm Should Read

Top 5 (1)

I used to avoid the ‘classics’ like the plague. I was stuck in the realm of YA and whilst of course there are some great YA books, an aspiring English graduate and author has to read widely.

So, when I got to university and was suddenly bombarded with books that were written anywhere between the 1000s and the 2000s, I was dreading it. But three years later I can now look back and safely say that some of the books I’ve enjoyed the most were written centuries before I was born.

I’ve picked out 5 of my favourite classics that aren’t as well known as the staples like Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice. From romance to crime to horror, there’s a bit of everything here for all kinds of readers, so get stuck in!

Page Break



Roxana by Daniel Defoe

Published: 1724

Synopsis: Defoe’s last and darkest novel, is the autobiography of a woman who has traded her virtue, at first for survival, and then for fame and fortune. Its narrator tells the story of her own ‘wicked’ life as the mistress of rich and powerful men. A resourceful adventuress, she is also an unforgiving analyst of her own susceptibilities, who tells us of the price she pays for her successes. Endowed with many seductive skills, she is herself seduced: by money, by dreams of rank, and by the illusion that she can escape her own past. Unlike Defoe’s other penitent anti-heroes, however, she fails to triumph over these weaknesses.

The novel’s drama lies not only in the heroine’s `vast variety of fortunes’, but in her attempts to understand the sometimes bitter lessons of her life as a `Fortunate Mistress’.

Why I loved it: Roxana isn’t always the nicest of characters, but she’s definitely ahead of her times. She’s determined to make something of her life and to better herself, and her headstrong personality is captivating. An early feminist narrative, the plot is gripping, and although Defoe attempts to undercut the inherent feminism he has weaved into Roxana (be prepared to read the word ‘wicked’ often), it’s a really interesting read.

Page Break


The Monk by Matthew Lewis

Published: 1796

Synopsis: Ambrosio, a pious, well-respected monk in Spain, is lustfully tempted by his pupil, Matilda, a woman who has disguised herself as a monk. Having satisfied himself with her, he is overcome with carnal desire for the innocent Antonia. With the help of Matilda, who is actually Satan in disguise, Ambrosio seduces Antonia, a seduction that would ultimately lead to his downfall. Recognized as one of the first novels of the gothic genre, “The Monk” is a classic tale of the tragic ruin that may befall one tempted by desire.

Why I loved it: This book is just all kinds of deranged. I’m pretty sure I read most of it with a look of shock on my face, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a really enjoyable novel. You have murderous monks, Satan and ghost stories; what more could you want? Don’t expect to be bored.

Page Break


Armadale by Wilkie Collins

Published: 1866

Synopsis: When the elderly Allan Armadale makes a terrible confession on his death-bed, he has little idea of the repercussions to come, for the secret he reveals involves the mysterious Lydia Gwilt: flame-haired temptress, bigamist, laudanum addict and husband-poisoner. Her malicious intrigues fuel the plot of this gripping melodrama: a tale of confused identities, inherited curses, romantic rivalries, espionage, money – and murder. The character of Lydia Gwilt horrified contemporary critics, with one reviewer describing her as ‘One of the most hardened female villains whose devices and desires have ever blackened fiction’. She remains among the most enigmatic and fascinating women in nineteenth-century literature and the dark heart of this most sensational of Victorian ‘sensation novels’.

Why I loved it: Another headstrong female, love or hate Lydia you can’t deny that she’s an excellent character and powerful in her own right. Though the narrative is slow at the beginning, it soon picks up with the arrival of Lydia and turns from a plain old mystery to an exciting thriller.

Page Break


The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad

Published: 1907

Synopsis: Mr Verloc, the secret agent, keeps a shop in London’s Soho where he lives with his wife Winnie, her infirm mother, and her idiot brother, Stevie. When Verloc is reluctantly involved in an anarchist plot to blow up the Greenwich Observatory things go disastrously wrong, and what appears to be ‘A Simple Tale’ proves to involve politicians, policemen, foreign diplomats and London’s fashionable society in the darkest and most surprising interrelations.

Why I loved it: This is actually quite a sad and harrowing novel of oppression and deceit, but it’s masterfully written. It’s full of dark humour and with intriguing characters, but don’t expect to feel very happy by the end of it…

Page Break


The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall

Published: 1928

Synopsis: Stephen is an ideal child of aristocratic parents – a fencer, a horse rider and a keen scholar. Stephen grows to be a war hero, a bestselling writer and a loyal, protective lover. But Stephen is a woman, and her lovers are women. As her ambitions drive her, and society confines her, Stephen is forced into desperate actions. The Well of Loneliness was banned for obscenity when published in 1928. It became an international bestseller, and for decades was the single most famous lesbian novel. It has influenced how love between women is understood, for the twentieth century and beyond.

Why I loved it: At times this novel could be a little boring, but you can’t deny the guts Hall must have had to write and publish such a book when homosexuality was still deeply frowned upon. With bleak, beautiful prose, you really do feel sorry for the hardships that Stephen (and Hall) have had to face. Though it may be a little tough to get through, it’s worth a read when you compare it with the contemporary debates of gay and transgender rights.

Page Break

And that concludes another ‘A Novel Round-Up’. Have you read any of them? What did you think? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Caitlin (1)


Review: Dark Tides by Chris Ewan

51wtkgftbrlDark Tides by Chris Ewan

Genre: Crime Thriller

Publisher: Faber & Faber

My Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis: When Claire Cooper was eight, her mother disappeared during Hop-tu-naa, the Manx Halloween.

When Claire was eighteen, she and her friends took part in a Hop-tu-naa dare that went terribly wrong.

Now in her early twenties and a police officer, what happened that Hop-tu-naa night has come back to haunt them all, and Claire must confront her deepest fears in order to stop a killer from striking again.

Page Break

My Review

I really wanted to love this. Ewan writes excellent prose and he’s good at suspense, but there’s just something about it that didn’t sit right with me.

I think the main thing is the murderer. I knew who it was pretty early on. I was never 100% sure (Ewan is careful not to give away too many details), but when I thought logically about the story I deduced who was the likeliest suspect. And I was right. But instead of that big feeling of elation when you guess the killer during a TV murder mystery and you turn to your family all smug, I just felt a bit deflated. It was that moment of ‘knew it, now let’s get to the bit where the protagonist defeats the murderer’.

The red herring also didn’t work on me. Actually, I lie, I fell for it a little, but if it had turned out to be the truth I would have been even more unsatisfied.

However, like I said, Ewan is an excellent writer. His prose is sharp and cinematic, his characters fleshed out, and his descriptive language is brilliant; no detail is too small. The setting of the Isle of Man is definitely an excellent choice in terms of a claustrophobic yet rural atmosphere. You get the sense that there aren’t many places for the characters to hide on a small island, juxtaposed with the seemingly empty rural open spaces. My heart was definitely pumping a little faster at the climax of the novel (even if it wasn’t a surprise to me) simply because of Ewan’s effortless writing. There was also one twist that I didn’t see coming that surprised me when it was revealed, so I was pleased with that, but it didn’t matter quite as much when the BIG reveal was so disappointing.

Nevertheless, I haven’t been put off reading any of Ewan’s future work. Just because one crime novel fell a little flat doesn’t mean the others will, especially with his writing style; crime is a difficult and fickle genre. Despite my apparently low rating, I would recommend this book because you might not have a clue who the murderer is and be really surprised by the reveal. However, I wouldn’t entirely bet on it.

Page Break

Have you read Dark Tides or any of Chris Ewan’s other novels? Have you read any crime novels where the killer has been obvious from the start? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Caitlin (1)

Monday Musts #2

Monday Musts

Monday Musts is a meme hosted by Lovin’ Los Libros where you showcase your Must Read’s, your Must Listen’s and your Must See’s.

Must Read

I read Lauren DeStefano’s The Chemical Garden trilogy a few years ago after my high school English teacher introduced me to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. 

The trilogy has a lot of similarities to Atwood’s classic, such as women being used as baby-making machines, and the forbidden romance. But just because it draws inspiration from The Handmaid’s Tale doesn’t mean it’s not unique and harrowing in its own right. I adored this trilogy, the bleak world DeStefano had created, and the protagonist of Rhine. Headstrong and passionate, you couldn’t ask for a lot more from her. Also, the book covers are really captivating, with items from the plot appearing there just to tease you.

If you haven’t read The Chemical Garden trilogy and need some well-written YA dystopian, definitely check the books out.

Must Listen

From Gold by Novo Amor is an atmospheric song I’m really liking at the moment. The rest of their stuff is pretty good and chilled out so give them a listen.

Must See

I watched In the Heart of the Sea on the plane back from New York. I didn’t have mega high expectations but it looked like some good escapism; plus I wanted to save films like The Revenant and Hateful Eight (I worship Quentin Tarantino) for a proper television screen.

But, I was pleasantly surprised! Based on the classic Moby Dick, it was really gripping and quite traumatic. The acting was brilliant, but then how could it not be with actors like Cillian Murphy and Ben Whishaw? Chris Hemsworth was good as always, but if you’re planning on ogling his muscles, think again; he’s not looking too brilliant after the inevitable whale attack…

I’ve never read Moby Dick and I know it’s supposed to be a bit of a difficult read, but after watching this film and it getting recommended by my ‘Great American Novella’ course seminar leader, I might give it a go.

Page Break

And that’s my Monday Musts for this week! Have you read The Chemical Garden? Or, better yet, have you read Moby Dick? Let me know what you thought in the comments!

Caitlin (1)

The Sunday Post #1


The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted at The Caffeinated Book Reviewer in which book bloggers recap their week and look at what’s to come.

My Weekly Recap

I only posted once this week, which was a little list I compiled of my favourite things to do in New York. I didn’t even find time to do any reading while I was across the pond, I was so busy (let alone any of my essays).

At the moment, I’m halfway through Dark Tides by Chris Ewan. It’s an interesting crime thriller, but maybe not as gripping as I’d have hoped. However, it got good reviews overall, so I’m persevering.

I’m also writing one of my final third year essays and it’s allowed me to revisit one of my favourite novels of the past year, Carson McCullers’ The Member of the Wedding. 51ddsq2bzrnl-_sx325_bo1204203200_ If you’re looking for a new classic to read, I really recommend this novel. Witty and a little unsettling, it tells the story of a twelve-year old girl named Frankie Addams, who’s having a bit of an identity crisis. Yet when she learns of her brother’s upcoming wedding, she becomes infatuated with joining them, and over a few days McCullers lets us into the life of this complex, fragile tomboy.

Coming Up

I’m hoping to get started on another YA book, but I’m torn between Throne of Glass, Rot and Ruin, and Our Endless Numbered Days.IMG_0433

Have a suggestion about which I should read first? Let me know in the comments!

And Finally

If you need some music to help you focus on creative writing or essays, this playlist has been a big help to me:

Happy Sunday and enjoy!

Caitlin (1)

Top 10 Things to do in New York City, from an NYC Newbie

Top 10

So yesterday I got back from the Big Apple, which is why I haven’t posted in a few days. I had an amazing time, cramming so much into 5 days, so while I get on with catching up on my TBR, here’s a post of my top 10 (in no particular order) things to do, see, and eat in New York City, from an NYC newbie.

(Disclaimer: All images are my own except number 3).

1. Empire State at NightIMG_0316

If you’re heading New York and planning on going up the Empire State (like any regular tourist), do it at night. For starters, there is a much shorter queue, so you won’t be waiting in line for hours. Secondly, the views of the city lights are spectacular. Your photos might not come out as good but who cares? There’s something much more magical about seeing New York at night time.

2. Chelsea Market


The Chelsea Market is situated in an old biscuit factory, creating a rather kitsch, vintage vibe. The building is crammed full of cute shops, including book shops and the beloved chain Anthropologie, as well as unique restaurants and cafes. I could have spent all of my money in Anthropologie, mostly on the myriad of candles, but I settled on a floral headband and a makeup highlighter.

However, seeing as I mentioned book shops, I thought I should say that one thing I noticed about books in America is their extortionate prices. It’s not just New York, I found this in California too when I visited before. The cheapest book I could find was $9.99 and that was a travel-sized novel in the airport. Be prepared to pay double digits for paperbacks and hardbacks alike that are probably only single figures at home, especially if you’re from the UK.

3. Don Antonio Pizza


The pizza at Don Antonio is simply amazing. All freshly prepared, the chefs churn out these pizzas like there’s no tomorrow, but you don’t feel as though your food has been rushed. The tomato sauce is heavenly and so is the mozzarella.

4. New York Public Library


My Mum and I were discussing how for her the New York Public Library means the Ghostbusters film, but to me it means The Day After Tomorrow. You know the one with Jake Gyllenhaal and the huge storm? Nonetheless, the library was still pretty breathtaking, it’s just a shame that the famous Reading Room is closed for repairs until late 2016-early 2017!

5. Statue of Liberty


If you want views of Manhattan from a different perspective, head to Liberty Island. This was another place that reminded me of a film (X-Men anyone?). We only went as far as the pedestal, not the crown, but the views from there and from the edge of the island itself are spectacular.

6. 9/11 Memorial and Museum


I remember seeing the events of 9/11 unfolding on the news before school. I was in Year 1 back then, so I’d have been about 4 years old, but I can see the TV screen that day clearly in my mind. The memorials of cascading water, where the towers stood, are beautiful, but the museum is the most harrowing. I hadn’t realised how much they’d kept from the disaster, like ruined fire trucks and sections of the buildings themselves; even personal belongings such as mangled glasses and dust-caked wallets. The museum is tasteful and emotional, but also divulges many facts you probably wouldn’t have known yourself.

7. Rosa Mexicano, near the Lincoln Centre

rosa mexicano

My boyfriend hates guacamole, but he couldn’t keep his hands off the stuff at this Mexican restaurant. Its prepared fresh right in front of your table and it tastes amazing. Hands down the best guacamole I’ve ever had, and the rest of the food is pretty hard to beat. Also, if you like cocktails, go for the Mojito with Pineapple puree.

8. Shopping, duh


Prices are pretty steep in New York, but that’s standard of any major city. Sephora is the best place for makeup, especially cruelty-free brands like Tarte and Anastasia Beverly Hills. Victoria’s Secret bras are the best fitting ones I’ve ever bought and their staff know what they’re doing. Like I said before, Anthropologie is amazing and has a few shops dotted about the city, but once again it’s not cheap. Then there’s the iconic Macy’s that takes up a whole block, but expect to be accosted by staff with perfume bottles.

9. Ellen’s Stardust Diner


Prepare to cringe beyond belief but also really enjoy yourself. The waiters and waitresses at this diner are all aspiring Broadway singers and throughout your meal you’ll be serenaded with songs from musicals, pop and country. The four-man rendition of Les Miserables’ ‘One Day More’ was my favourite; some of them really can belt out a tune.

10. Greenwich Village


If you need to move away from the hustle and bustle of places like 6th Avenue in Midtown, Greenwich Village is your place. Here you’ll find lots of bars and restaurants, as well as little art galleries and the classic brownstone houses.

Page Break

So, there you have it, my pretty cliché list, but all essential. What’s your favourite place in New York? Add to the list in the comments below!

Review of Dark Tides coming soon.

Caitlin (1)


Review: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

61gbgcxdeslRebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Faber & Faber

My Rating: 5/5

Synopsis: “Tell me that’s how you want your story to go and we’ll write it straight across the sand.”

Dustwalk is an unforgiving, dead-end town. It’s not the place to be poor or orphaned or female. And yet Amani Al’Hiza must call it ‘home’.

Amani wants to escape and see the world she’s heard about in campfire stories.

Then a foreigner with no name turns up, and with him she has the chance to run.

But the desert plains are full of dangerous magic. The Sultan’s army is on the rise and Amani is soon caught at the heart of a fearless rebellion…

Page Break

My Review

I devoured this book in a couple of days, I simply couldn’t put it down. (Although the typeset is pretty big, so that helped). Hamilton weaves a unique story which draws heavily on Middle Eastern/Arabian and Indian mythology, but also includes more modern technology such as guns and trains. I loved that the mythology was an important part of the novel, interlinking with the semi-modern, but it never felt unbelievable or too stagnant for the pacing.

And the pacing certainly is feverish. The plot is full of action, with well-placed, softer moments, and twists and turns that you don’t see coming. You wouldn’t quite believe this is Hamilton’s first novel. The plotting is slick, the language poetic, the characters well-rounded. The idea of a girl inadvertently joining a rebellion is a little cliché in YA, but Hamilton has crafted a whirlwind story with a strong (but not obnoxious) heroine. Once it gets going, it certainly doesn’t feel like a cliché YA novel.

Amani is a master with a gun and has a smart mouth. At first, she is desperate to scrape money together and leave town for the capital, Izman, escaping the clutches of her creepy uncle and violent aunt. She’s a little selfish in this regard, leaving behind her crippled friend to escape on horseback with a stranger hunted by the Sultan’s army, but she clearly has her reasons. However, this leaves a lot of room for Amani to grow. She soon realises that there is more to life than stories, and her ferocious determination changes from selfish to selfless. She begrudges the world its views on women and I actually think this is a great feminist narrative. Amani’s world may think women inferior, but the women in the book, like Shazad and Hala, certainly carry their own weight. They’re confident, wild and certainly not helpless. Amani’s own mother even stands up to her oppressor, but the act inevitably leads to her execution.

The stranger that Amani flees with is, of course, the love-interest Jin. Thankfully, it isn’t insta-love and we’re given the experience of watching the two grow closer, relying on each other to stay alive in the unforgiving desert. Jin is witty and determined, much like Amani, and the two complement each other. Their growing fondness is believable and fragile and I felt it tugging at my heart strings. However, the romance doesn’t overshadow the main story, which happens much too often in YA. Also, there’s no ridiculous love-triangle.

My only (very small) gripe is the slightly rushed conclusion; everything seems to happen at once and suddenly it’s the end of the book. I would’ve liked a slightly longer climax to the story, but it’s not as if this is a stand-alone book, so there’ll be a lot more answers and action to come.

I’m excited to see what happens next and, if you haven’t picked up a copy, definitely do so.

Page Break

Have you read Rebel of the Sands? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Caitlin (1)

Review: The Silence by Tim Lebbon

61chy3sarilThe Silence by Tim Lebbon

Genre: Horror / Apocalyptic

Publisher: Titan Books

My Rating: 3/5

Synopsis: In the darkness of a underground cave, blind creatures hunt by sound. Then there is light, voices, and they feed… Swarming from their prison, the creatures thrive; to whisper is to summon death. As the hordes lay waste to Europe, a girl watches to see if they will cross the sea. Deaf for years, she knows how to live in silence; now, it is her family’s only chance of survival. To leave their home, to shun others. But what kind of world will be left?


Page Break

My Review

I reeeeally wanted to like this book. The back cover is peppered with quotes from other authors who enjoyed the book and I usually love anything apocalyptic.

Sadly, I didn’t love it.

Lebbon has written a fair few horror novels. He obviously knows what he’s doing, but this novel kind of just fell flat for me. I was never really scared. Maybe a little apprehensive at times as the Vesps (the name of the blind, bat-like creatures that lay waste to Europe; not a very scary name) make their way towards the UK. But I wasn’t on the edge of my seat by any means.

I didn’t care much whether the characters lived or died. At the end I think I did care for them a bit but if all of them had been killed off it would have been a moment of “oh, that’s a shame” and then I’d have got on with my day. In all honesty, it was the dog that I cared about the most.

Lebbon’s writing is perfectly fine – like I said, he’s obviously experienced – but I found the plotting to be a little off. Things seemed too conveniently placed. And as for the Vesps, they didn’t really scare me. I was expecting big, humanoid, freaky creatures, like the wendigo’s from PS4 horror game Until Dawn but with wings:


In reality, the Vesps were little bat-like creatures with no eyes and a lot of teeth. The teeth are the scariest thing about them. In fact, Lebbon’s descriptions of the creatures roosting in trees, snuggled up against the trunk, or gently swaying, actually sounded kind of cute. I’m not sure if there’s something inherently wrong with me but those descriptions just made the Vesps sound like sweet, but extremely hungry, bats. Some people might find them really scary, but for me the horror just wasn’t there.

However, it was interesting that the family were all able to sign what with the daughter, Ally, being deaf. This made life a lot easier for them, but it also attracted some unwanted attention from a crazed Reverend. I actually found the Reverend more unsettling than the Vesps. However, I won’t spoil any plot points around him in case you plan on giving the book a go.

Overall, not the scariest horror book I’ve ever read, nor the most engaging characters, but it wasn’t a wholly bad read. It was interesting to have a UK apocalyptic setting for once, and some people will surely love this book, but for me it just wasn’t scary enough. If you want to be really scared, check out my post of my favourite horror novels.

Page Break

Have you read The Silence? What did you think? Or do you have any other horror books to recommend? Let me know in the comments!

Caitlin (1)