Children’s Book Review: The School for Good and Evil

SchoolforGood crop

The School for Good and Evil

With an unlikely heroine and a seemingly twisted beginning, this story, set in a fairy-tale land you’ve never seen before, will take you on a roller coaster ride like no other. You’ll have no choice but to hold on until you are flung off at the end, gasping for more!

Amazing read, it is no surprise that the book is in popular demand in our school library.4 Star

Recommended age: 11+

School Good & EvilTitle: The School of Good and Evil
Series: The School of Good and Evil – Book 1
Author: Soman Chainani
Publication Date: 14 May 2013
Publisher: Harper Collins
Source: Purchased
Purchase this book: Amazon US, Amazon UK or Kalahari
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“The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.”

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains….

-  Extract from

YA Book Review: Paper Towns

Paper Towns crop

A disappointing story. I loved The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska, so was expecting to love this story too. I just didn’t feel connected to the characters despite laughing out loud at some of the humour, which is probably what saves this book from a measly two star rating.3 Star

Recommended age: 13+

Title: Paper TownsPaper Towns
John Green
Publication Date: 16 October 2008
Publisher: Speak
Source: Purchased
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 or Kalahari
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Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows.

After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew.     

— Extract from


YA Book Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door

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This is a fun, light, feel-good story that has one of the nicest book boyfriends I come across – Go Team Cricket!

A perfect summer holiday read.4 Star

Recommended age: 13+

Title:  Lola and the Boy Next DoorLola and the Boy Next Door reduced
Series:  Anna and the French Kiss –Book 2        
Author:  Stephanie Perkins
Publication Date: 9 July 2013 (1st published 1 Sept 2011)
Publisher: Speak
Source: Purchased
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Lola Nolan is a budding costume designer, and for her, the more outrageous, sparkly, and fun the outfit, the better. And everything is pretty perfect in her life (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighbourhood. When Cricket, a gifted inventor, steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

— Extract from




YA Book Review: Under the Never Sky

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This book was hard to get into initially, but once I did I thoroughly enjoyed it. Although this is a storyline that has been done many times before, the characters were believable and the story well told. I was totally engrossed, unable to put the book down until the end.4 Star

Recommended age: 12 +

Under the Never SkyUnder the Never Sky
Series: Under the Never Sky – book 1
Author: Veronica Rossi
Publication Date: 3January 2012 (first published 1 December 2011)

Publisher: HarperCollins
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Since she’d been on the outside, she’d survived an Aether storm, she’d had a knife held to her throat, and she’d seen men murdered.

This was worse.

Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland — known as The Death Shop — are slim. If the cannibals don’t get her, the violent energy storms will. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He’s wild — a savage — and her only hope of staying alive.

A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile—everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria’s help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must come together to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.
 — Extract from


Book Review: The Trouble with Flying

The Trouble with Flying 3

Perfect for the summer holidays, The Trouble with Flying is a sweet, romantic, feel-good story. I loved the witty dialogue between the characters, who I wished were my BBF’s.  The end of their story came too quickly – I wasn’t ready to say goodbye!

I love that that the story is set in Kwa-Zulu Natal, my corner of South Africa. Thank you Rachel for making our beautiful country come alive in the pages of your book. I am counting the days until the release of the next book in the series: The Trouble with Flirting.

Although marketed as NA (New Adult), this story would be suitable for YA (Young Adults) and I know it will be a big hit in our school library.4 Star

Recommended age: 13+

The Trouble with Flying 1Title:  The Trouble with Flying
Series:  The Trouble Series – Book 1        
Author:  Rachel Morgan
Publication Date: 26 June 2014
Publisher: Rachel Morgan
Source: Free copy from author in exchange for honest review
Purchase this book: Amazon US or Amazon UK
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When nineteen-year-old introvert Sarah boards a plane to fly home after an overseas holiday, the last thing she expects is Aiden, the guy sitting next to her who’s never flown anywhere before and refuses to shut up.

Hours of random conversation later, they part ways. Sarah can’t stop thinking about Aiden, though, and wondering if she made a terrible mistake letting him go. Should she abandon her safe, predictable life and go in search of him, or would she be chasing a happily ever after that could never exist in real life?
 — Extract from

The fact that I received this copy of this book from the author does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

See my review of Rachel Morgan‘s novella  Forgiven, the prequel to The Trouble Series and The Faerie Guardian, the 1st book in The Creepy Hollow Series.


YA Book Review: Pivot Point

Pivot Point crop

This was a brilliant, unique story which I loved. It reads almost like a story-within-a-story as each chapter alternates between the two possible outcomes of the choice Addison faces. It could have been confusing, but I knew which story I was reading by the very clever ‘clue’, a dictionary extract at the head of each chapter.

I loved the characters and felt I really got to know them during the story/stories. I hope we get to see a lot more of Trevor in the sequel…4 Star

Recommended age: 13 +

Title: Pivot Point Pivot Point   
Pivot Point– Book 1
Author: Kasie West
Publication Date: 12 February
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Purchased
Purchase this book:
Amazon US, Amazon UK 
 or Kalahari
Add to your shelf:
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Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier . . .

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s no

— Extract from


My favourite fictional heroines: Guest post by YA author, Louise Nicks

Welcome Louise Nicks, YA author of Soren: The Angel & The Prize Fighter. Thank you for being here.

My Favourite Fictional Heroines

The way JK Rowling wrote females cemented my love of the Harry Potter series. In all of their guises, from wallflower to know-it-all to mother hen to loveable oddball to grade-a villain, each female shared the same characteristic: strength. Whether that was a quiet, unassuming strength or a power that could raise the roof, snap wands, and thwart killing curses, the females in Harry Potter held their own. Strength is a quality I hanker for in all fictional heroines, and it’s the backbone of each featured below. From girls who fight a silent battle to save their loved ones, to those who slay dragons because they know it’s their destiny to do so even when everyone else says “No”, these heroines are strong enough to never give up on their dreams. That’s a worthy lesson because if we did give up, what magic would be left?

Aerin ‘Dragon Killer’

The quiet rebel, Aerin from The Hero and The Crown (Robin McKinley) will always have a special place in my heart. Demonstrating remarkable levels of self-belief, courage and endurance, Aerin manifested her destiny in an extraordinary way to become a dragon slayer. Finally becoming what she could always feel burning bright inside, even when her family and those at court (her dad is the king) didn’t believe in her, was such a powerful book moment. Aerin taught me that it doesn’t matter how big your dream, or how unattainable your destiny seems, we each have the power to get what we want – to become the person we are meant to be – if only we believe.

 Lyra ‘Silvertongue’ Belacqua

Unruly, stubborn, deceitful and reckless, Lyra isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but admiration is due for the perilous journey she undertakes to fulfil her destiny in His Dark Materials (Philip Pullman). Lyra is a superb example of how a character grows throughout a series yet still holds on to those fiery sparks that were her calling cards to begin with. For all of her more prickly traits, she is also resourceful, quick-witted and fearless. Her scowl is legend and I love how she kept pushing herself to the max throughout her journey, making difficult choices to reach that bittersweet ending.

 Jo March

Many of the female characters in Little Women (Louisa May Alcott) were strong in their own ways, especially gentle, selfless Beth. Jo stood out the most for me because of how she flew in the face of what women were supposed to act, think and dress like at the time. Intelligent and talented, though incredibly hot-headed, Jo was a breath of fresh air amongst all the flouncy dresses and white glove fanning. A writer who took the gargantuan step of moving out of her beloved family home to pursue a career in New York City, Jo was gutsy and learned from her mistakes to build the future she wanted.

 Cammie Morgan

The main character in Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls series, Cammie ‘the chameleon’ is another heroine was makes mistakes then recognises the lessons learned. Attending a prestigious spy school run by her accomplished mother, Cammie has a lot to deal with: living up to her mother’s respected spy reputation, juggling intense studies with friends and a secret boyfriend, and figuring out who she is independent of all that. In the beginning Cammie practises the art of blending in to become almost invisible (figuratively speaking). Her character develops over time so that not only is Cammie unafraid to be seen, she also has the understanding to attain her dreams and make herself proud.

Beau Tolson

The great thing about writing my own book is that I can create female characters who I would love to read about. My favourite from Soren is Beau. A tough teen who has encountered much heartbreak in her life, she turns to illegal prize fighting to raise money to buy the only drug that can keep her terminally ill mother alive. Beau is hot-headed, like Jo March, and is also learning how to control her anger. Courageous and compassionate yet often vulnerable and confused, it’s joyful to write a character who has issues coupled with bags of inner strength and an innate drive to overcome.

Soren cover_normalLouise Nicks is the author of Soren: The Angel & The Prize Fighter, to be released as an ebook on June 16, 2014, via Amazon, Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo and other platforms.

Where to buy Soren: The Angel & The Prize Fighter:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Author bio

Louise NicksLouise Nicks is a UK based debut author writing paranormal fantasy romance with a strong adventure twist. Her debut novel, Soren: The Angel & The Prize Fighter (to be released June 16, 2014), is book one in a planned series. Louise is also a short story writer and is currently working on a collection of teen paranormal stories called The Crypt (a tie-in with Soren), which will be released this autumn. When not writing YA fiction, Louise works (under a different name) as a freelance music journalist, features writer and online editor. Since starting her own music fanzine in her teens, she has been lucky enough to interview artists such as Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, Slash, Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath), Newton Faulkner, Biffy Clyro and many more. Aside from hopefully one day being able to make a living full time from books, Louise’s dream is to interview her favourite band AC/DC. An ardent charity supporter, Louise has taken part in many petitions and campaigns for human rights, animal welfare, and the preservation of the natural world, and continues to do so.

Links to Louise Nicks

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Goodreads –

Soren: The Angel & The Prize Fighter synopsis

‘The world has never been an easy place for impoverished teen Beau Tolson, but from the moment her sick mother is given months to live, Beau’s life takes an extraordinary turn. In order to buy the only drug that can now keep her beloved mother alive, 16 year old martial arts champion Beau resorts to illegal prize fighting at East London’s most notorious underworld lair. But that’s only the beginning of her troubles. When some of her closest friends start acting weird, and a mystifying new boy turns up outside the school gates, Beau is told a life-changing secret…That not only are some of her friends angels, but that she is going to become an angel too. It isn’t long before she finds herself torn between the divine and this world; between her responsibilities and the colossal destiny that awaits. Little do any of them know that a sect of ex-angels have also come to Earth, planning on kidnapping Beau for the very same reasons the angels want her: to fulfill a prophecy that involves this world and theirs, and who will rule it all until the end of time.’

Odd ramblings of an obsessed reader


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