Friday 30 January 2015

The Darkest Part of the Forest, Holly Black

Pages: 323
Publisher: Indigo
Release Date: 5th February 2015
Edition: UK proof, review copy

Other Titles by this Author: The Spiderwick Chronicles, Beyond Spiderwick, Tithe, Valiant, Ironside, White Cat, Red Glove, Black Heart, Doll Bones, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfield where humans and faeries exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once. At the centre of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on its head and ears as pointy as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does... As the world turns upside down and a hero is needed to save them all, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight, but swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

The Darkest Part of the Forest is a story of faeries princes, bargains, deadly secrets and a wonderful brother/sister relationship. It’s my favourite book of the year so far.

I’ve read most of Holly Black’s books and, for me, she’s at her best when telling the tales of those who become entangled in the dangerous webs of the fey. She manages to effortlessly capture all of the terror, the wonder, the wonder and the beauty in faery and its myriad of strange inhabitants. I can’t help but fall in love with the worlds she creates and the characters she brings to life.

But like always in The Darkest Part of the Forest, Black throws in some unexpected, wonderfully unexpected, twists. Lots of urban fantasy novels focus largely on the romantic relationship of the heroine, but I actually felt that this novel depicted a strong and authentic brother/sister relationship. The connection between Ben and Hazel is one of the strongest elements of the novel – the lengths they would go to protect each other, the secrets they keep, the inevitable competition and the love between them. But Holly Black didn’t stop there; she turned the romantic tropes of the genre on their head and I loved what she did.

I adored this sinister, twisty and completely wonderful novel from the master of dark faeries tales and I didn’t want it to end. Easily my favourite book of the year so far.

Thanks to Indigo for the review copy.


Thursday 29 January 2015

Blog Tour: #bookishWISHES for The Darkest Part of the Forest

To celebrate the publication of the Holly Black’s amazing new novel, The Darkest Part of the Forest, Indigo have devised a genius way to share the love: #bookishWISHES.

So without further ado, here are my current #bookishWISHES:

- To fall in love with as many books as possible this year.

- To carry on sharing the bookish love!

- To get a job in books!

I want to know your #bookishWISHES – leave them in the comments or tweet them to me @sophie_waters.

With the power of #bookishWISHES comes the fairy godmother-like power of bestowing a copy of the gorgeous The Darkest Part of the Forest and I am choosing Kate. Kate is a friend of mine from university who has fallen in love with YA fairly recently and I’m loving sharing recommendations and bookish loves with her. You can find her at @KateMaudsley -  go say hello!

Make sure to check out the rest of the stops on the tour and find out the #bookishWISHES of some other lovely bloggers and have more chances to get your hands on a copy of this wonderful book.


Wednesday 28 January 2015

Blog Tour: Suzy P's Dance Party Playlist!

Have you read the Suzy P books yet? Me, Suzy P and Suzy P and the Trouble With Three are the first two in the trilogy and the third, Suzy P, Forever Me, has just been released – wahooo!

The books follow the misadventures of disaster-prone Suzy Puttock, a girl with an embarrassing name, embarrassing family and all-round embarrassing life! This time, she’s put her foot in it big-time, and managed to get herself caught up in organising two huge parties – a fundraiser for her school and an eighties bash for her dad – on the same day! Plus, she’s promised super-famous band The Drifting will be coming to her school to play, so how’s she going to get herself out of this mess?

Here’s Suzy’s ultimate party playlist, featuring the songs she likes to boogie along to most of all. You might want to keep out of the way while she’s dancing though… she’s quite disaster prone!

If you’re feeling mega lazy then we’ve collected them all together for you on Spotify.

And here they all are on YouTube.

Ready? DANCE!

1. Happy – Pharrell Williams

2. Roar – Katy Perry

3. Red – Taylor Swift

4. You Got The Love - Candi Staton

5. What Makes You Beautiful – One Direction

6. Bounce – Calvin Harris

7. Take on Me – Aha

8. Flashlight – Ellie Goulding

9. Staying Alive – Bee Gees

10. Somebody to You feat. Demi Lovato

11. She Looks So Perfect – 5 Seconds of Summer

12. Salute - Little Mix

Suzy P, Forever Me; Suzy P and the Trouble With Three and Me, Suzy P by Karen Saunders are available to buy online and from all good bookshops. If you’d like to find out more about the books or the author, do visit Karen online at, ‘like’ her on Facebook at or follow Karen on Twitter @writingkaren. Suzy tweets too, @suzyputtock, so don’t forget to follow her, too!


Tuesday 27 January 2015

Blast From the Past: Mansfield Park

Originally published in 1814 by Thomas Egerton

My edition: the beautiful Penguin Clothbound Classics hardback. I love this collection so much.

What’s it about?
Fanny Price is taken from her full-to-bursting house in Portsmouth to live with her rich cousins in Mansfield Park, but still not a part of their class and her sole ally being her cousin Edmund. During her uncle’s time away in Antigua, the Crawfords come to town and bring with them the glamour of London life and a taste of flirtation, theatre and the promise of love.  

Why now?
Well, I actually started this back in November as it was the last of Austen’s books I hadn’t read and one of my resolutions for 2014 was the read those of hers that I hadn’t. As you can see, that didn’t quite pan out, but hey ho!

The verdict:
I’m a huge fan of Jane Austen. I love her prose, her humour, her style and how every page screams Jane Austen. But I struggled with Mansfield Park.

There is a lot of satire and judgement on the English class system is thrown into this novel. Lady Bertram is the vacant, superficial lady of the house whose days pass her by with ease; Mrs Norris is the controlling, money-obsessed manipulator; the Crawfords are rich, spoilt and mostly unaware of their entitlement and Fanny is the poor girl living in the rich house, forever unequal to her family. It’s emphasised by Sir Thomas, Mrs Norris and everyone bar Edmund from the start that though Fanny lives at Mansfield, she will never be equal to the Miss Bertram’s in any way.

But I loved that over the course of the novel people slowly realised that maybe, even with her background, she could be better than those of a higher class. It was her that the rich and respectable Mr Crawford decided he wanted to marry, and that she would learn to love him even though she didn’t approve of his morals and character. Even though it would have been a match one of the Bertrams’ would have celebrated, she stuck to her guns. She put her happiness and dedication to marrying for love above raising her station and securing a life of luxury.

Mostly, however, Fanny’s conviction against not marrying Henry is her love for Edmund. He is the only person to respect her mind, her kindness and her loyalty and she naively worships him. I could see it in every word and action and facial expression of Fanny’s when Edmund was around or even talked about. I have to admit that I was waiting for Edmund to come and whisk Fanny away from Henry and the eyes of Mrs Norris for the entire novel.

There was so little that suggested Edmund could have romantic feelings for Fanny that if I hadn’t known that was endgame, there’s no way I would have guessed. I mean, he always respected what a good person she was, a good listener and a sound judge of character, but nothing more. This made the last chapter of the novel where Austen tied up all the loose ends and told us where we would leave all of the characters a little full-on and added-on, maybe? Dmund suddenly realised he loved Fanny in the absence of Mary and his sisters and the newfound respect of Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram and I just didn’t feel it. The proposal and marriage were skated over, which is a terrible shame as Austen writes wonderful proposals, and they were suddenly just a happy married couple. Although I didn’t love the way it was handled, I still felt satisfied with the ending – I knew the characters so well by that point that everything made sense.

Though Mansfield Park wasn’t my favourite of Austen’s novels, I did end up really enjoying it. I loved seeing Austen’s style work an underdog heroine and bring her to her rightful place at the top.

Still not convinced?
- Fanny is the anomaly in Austen’s heroines and she seriously splits opinion. Which side do you fall on?
- It’s Austen.