Review: Unbecoming by Jenny Downham


ISBN: 9781910200643
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Source: Uncorrected proof copy from publisher

I was so excited to hear that Jenny Downham was bringing out a new book after fully enjoying her previous work and ‘Unbecoming’ is everything I hoped it would be.

‘Unbecoming’ follows the story of Mary, an old lady suffering from severe memory loss. Following the death of her husband Jack she ends up living with her reluctantly accommodating daughter Caroline and her two grandchildren Katie and Chris. For Mary, this is a confusing situation which draws to the forefront fragments of her past; For Katie, it is a chance to get to know the grandmother she never had the opportunity to know. This book follows the multigenerational story of a family with a complicated history of secrets and regret.

The narrative switches between the present day and flashbacks from Mary’s past, filtered through the lens of her failing memory. Downham also makes use of old letters to piece together the truth about this family’s tangled history.

This is not simply a story about family however; each character is complexly and sensitively written and each has their own personal struggles. Downham covers a range of issues and human experiences, from Katie’s discovery of her sexuality, to Mary’s grief for the loss of her husband, to Caroline’s resentment about her adoption and her role as a carer for everyone in her life. This is a complex and superbly well-written novel for teens and adults alike.


Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

all the bright places

Publisher: Penguin

ISBN: 9780141357034

Source: Uncorrected proof

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him. Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death. When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the ‘natural wonders’ of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself – a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. How far will Violet go to save the boy she has come to love? An intense, gripping novel, perfect for fans of John Green, Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, Gayle Forman and Jenny Downham.

I have to admit, a large part of me did not expect to like this book. I read the blurb and dismissed it as another troubled teen epic romance, which is not a genre I’m particularly fond of. However, I found a proof copy when I was at another Waterstones for training and, having heard so much about how great this book is, I decided to take a chance on it. I ended up really enjoying it although the ending is not a happy one.

The narrative is told in the first person, alternating between Finch and Violet’s points of view, so naturally there is some overlap of the narrative at times. I actually liked this as it allowed more insight into the lives of the two protagonists and did not slow the plot down. I did not find myself frustrated by the pace of the story as can sometimes happen when information is repeated.

Overall, I liked the two characters Violet and Finch, although I would have liked to have seen both of their situations explored in more depth. The emotions were touched upon and there was such a well thought out depth to both of their characters and their lives, but it did feel a little isolated at times. It would have been nice to have seen some of their interactions with other people rather than just each other; although these scenes were there – for example, scenes with family – they somehow felt less emotionally ‘full’ than the scenes with just the two of them. Whilst this reflects the idea of them trying to save each other through their relationship, these other scenes are equally as important and I would have liked more of them.

All the Bright Places deconstructs the notion that love can be a cure-all, an outlook which is refreshing to see and the lack of a happy ending only reinforces this point. Overall, this is a well-written and perfectly paced story about two young people struggling to find their way in life.

August Wrap-up

August has been a shockingly slow month for me reading-wise. I’ve found myself in a real slump with no motivation to read despite having so many great books on my TBR. I only managed to read four books this month:

1. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

all the bright placesThis is a book I’ve heard a lot about and it had been on my wishlist for a while despite me being unsure whether it was really my type of book. I’ll be posting a full review next Monday, but¬†I really enjoyed this.

2.¬†Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan

The third book in the Percy Jackson series. I read this as a ebook download from my local library service whilst staying with my grandma.

3. Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

The first in a new series based around the Norse Gods. I loved the narrative voice of the protagonist Magnus and can’t wait to enjoy more of his adventures. I read this as an uncorrected proof and the real thing will be out on the 6th October in the UK. I hope to write a full review before then!

4. Paper Towns by John Green

This was a reread because I’m starting up a YA book group at Waterstones ¬†in Bristol where I work and this is our first book for discussion. It’s been 18 months since I last read this so needed a refresher before next Saturday. I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I remember doing it the first time.

I’m still not really feeling like reading much and I’m sort of going to go with it for now. I’m hoping to start writing again this month so as long as I do one or the other I’ll be happy! I hope you all had more successful reading in August than I did.

Ten Characters I Just Didn’t Click With…


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is : Top Ten Characters You Just Didn’t Click With. I actually found this really difficult because I rarely dislike characters enough to remember them!

1. Thomas from The Maze Runner Series by James Dashner

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image from

I don’t know if this is because I didn’t enjoy the series, or if I didn’t enjoy it partly because of Thomas’ character. I just found him to be completely unrelatable. He never questioned his role as leader despite being the new kid, he refused to listen to anyone else throughout the series, and his lack of meaningful relationships with other characters meant that I struggled to figure him out as a character.

2. Tally from the Uglies Series by Scott Westerfeld

I just found her really irritating and it was difficult to understand her obsession with becoming ‘pretty’ (which I guess was the point). I actually like this series, but more for its ideas than for Tally as a protagonist.

3. Toby from the Geek Girl Series by Holly Smale

His obsession with Harriet and the way he follows her around all the time and knows all this weird detailed facts about her life is just plain creepy…

4. Clary from The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare

image from

image from

Admittedly, I have only read the first book and half of the second, but I just don’t get on with her as a protagonist. There’s just nothing there to grab my attention.

5. Rose from The Catalyst by Helena Coggan

She’s a very typical ‘spunky heroine’ type and I didn’t connect with her on an individual level.

6. Seraphina from Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

As I’ve mentioned before, I struggled to get to know her as a character. She’s secretive in a way which makes the reader feel isolated and out of the loop which I didn’t enjoy.

7. Dan from Crow Moon by Anna McKerrow

I didn’t enjoy his narrative voice; he’s arrogant, selfish, and takes a lot of things for granted.

That’s it for this week. I really can’t think of any more characters I didn’t like enough to remember them for it. I’m sure when I start reading other people’s lists I’ll remember a few more!

Which characters did you struggle to make a connection with? Let me know in the comments or feel free to add a link to your own TTT post and I’ll give it a read!

Review: Asking for It by Louise O’Neill

asking for it

Publication date: 3rd September 2015

Publisher: Quercus Publishing

ISBN: 9781784295868

Source: uncorrected proof

It’s the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O’Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there’s a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma. The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can’t remember what happened, she doesn’t know how she got there. She doesn’t know why she’s in pain. But everyone else does. Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don’t want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town’s heroes …

A few months ago I read the fantastic, hard-hitting debut¬†Only Ever Yours and was so excited to have discovered the refreshingly honest voice of Louise O’Neill. I couldn’t wait to see what she would do next, hoping it would live up to the standard set by her first novel.¬†I couldn’t have hoped for more than we have been gifted with¬†Asking For It, an astonishingly poignant story about rape and how we react to perpetrators and victims within our society.

Emma is not a character we would usually sympathise with. She is selfish and mean and shallow, traits encouraged by the pressure put upon her by her mother, and the expectations of her peers. This all changes when she is raped and filmed at a party and suddenly everyone she knows, and a great number of people she doesn’t know, is passing judgement on her behaviour despite the fact that she doesn’t remember anything from that night.¬†For me, it is so¬†important that Emma is not a loveable character; by making her into a¬†stereotypical mean girl, O’Neill forces us to confront our assumptions about the type of person she is and whether she deserves everything that happens to her.

This book is not a comfortable read. Both the descriptions of the events of Emma’s rape and the attitudes of family and friends afterwards sickened me. I desperately wanted Emma to have a happy ending, if only for my own peace of mind, but if a quick-fix solution is what you’re expecting from this book you’re going to be disappointed. I appreciate O’Neill’s decision not to sugar-coat the situation and its effects as this makes the impact of the whole book and its message so much more forceful.

Put simply, Asking For It is heartbreaking in its unflinching honesty; it is a truly extraordinary book and one everyone should read. It is books like this which can help make a positive difference in the world.


Blogger Recognition Award


Something a little different today! I was nominated by The Book Goddess¬†for the Blogger Recognition Award – thank you! So, without further ado, I’ll get right to it.

The Rules:

  • Select 15 other blogs you want to give the award to.¬†Do some digging if you must! Find those blogs. You cannot nominate yourself or the person who has nominated you.
  • Write a post to show off your award!¬†Give a brief story of how your blog got started, and give a piece or two of advice to new bloggers.¬†Thank whoever nominated you, and provide a link to their blog. List who you’ve nominated in the post.
  • Make sure to also attach the award itself! (You can do this by right-clicking, saving, and uploading the image above).
  • Comment on each blog¬†and let them know you’ve nominated them. Provide a link to the award post you created.
  • Provide a link to the original post on Edge of Night.¬†That way, anyone can find the original guidelines and post if needed (here).

How my blog started:

I’ve been blogging on and off for a few years now, and this blog originally started out as a bit of a mixed bag. I posted anything that came into my head and focused more on topical posts than book-related posts. I found it very difficult to keep to a regular schedule and during my university years this blog was neglected for months at a time. I briefly moved to tumblr (thinking, I don’t know why, that it was a better platform for the type of blog I wanted to run…) but quickly returned here. In December 2014, I started posting about books more seriously and in January 2015 I took part in my first readathon which gave me the kick I needed to start posting more frequently and more regularly. I became a book blogger.

Advice for new bloggers:

Try to post a few times a week, but don’t¬†feel pressured if you’re not feeling up to it. I still struggle with my blogging schedule sometimes; I work full time with long travel hours and sometimes lack the time and motivation for blogging. I’m trying to be kinder to myself about it – it’s not the end of the world, after all. This is supposed to be fun!

On a similar note, scheduling posts is your new best friend. I usually write a bunch of posts at once and then schedule them for the correct days which takes the pressure off when I’m tired or not feeling it.

I nominate: 

  1. The Galaxial Word
  2. The Wild Bookworms
  3. Caffeinated Bibliophile
  4. Life is Sweet in Books
  5. Chells and Books
  6. Books, Tea and a Onesie
  7. ItIsTrish
  8. Mrs Red’s Reviews
  9. Macarons and Paperbacks
  10. Lipsyy Lost and Found
  11. The Bookish Universe
  12. It’s All About Books
  13. Books Baking and Blogging
  14. Wrapped up in Books
  15. Bridget’s Bookish Blog

Author Spotlight: Sarah J. Maas

author spotlight maasSarah J. Maas is an author I only recently discovered. I had, of course, heard a lot about her and the Throne of Glass series, but had never actually read anything by her until earlier this year when I picked up the first book in her new series, A Court of Thorns and Roses, and promptly fell in love with her writing.

The Books:

The Throne of Glass Series

throne of glass

Celaena Sardothian is an eighteen year-old assassin who bargains her services in exchange for her freedom from imprisonment which would eventually kill her. She finds herself in the service of the crown prince of Adarlan and the history she begins to discover changes her life forever.

  • Throne of Glass
  • Crown of Midnight
  • Heir of Fire
  • Queen of Shadows (out next week, September 1st)
  • The Assassin’s Blade (collection of novella, originally published as ebooks)

It has been announced that there will be a total of six books in the series, excluding the novellas.

A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy


Feyre is a huntress upon whom the survival of her entire family depends. However, when she accidentally kills a Faerie she is is thrust into a new world of magic and politics. Based loosely on the classic fairytale, The Beauty and the Beast, this is a wonderful new series with plenty of magic, danger and romance.

  • A Court of Thorns and Roses
  • Untitled 2 (expected Spring 2016)

Books I’ve Read:

  • Throne of Glass
  • Crown of Midnight
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses

Why I love Sarah J. Maas:

When I was a child I used to read a LOT of fantasy series and would choose fantasy over any other genre if forced to pick. As I got older and started having to read books for school and college and, later, university, I slowed down my reading for pleasure until I was barely reading at all outside of my studies. Since graduating a year ago, I have slowly been rediscovering reading and have rekindled my love for the fantasy genre. I picked up¬†A Court of Thorns and Roses on a whim, unsure if I would like it because it appeared to be very romance-focused which is not something I usually go for. However, I was quickly drawn into the wonderfully complex plot and richly imagined world of the book and couldn’t put it down.

Unable to wait for the second book to be released, I decided to read the Throne of Glass series and checked the first two books out of the local library the next time I was there. Again, I was captivated by the complexity and rich details as well as the depth with which the characters are portrayed.

I love the fact that Maas writes ‘strong’ female protagonists so well in her books. By ‘strong’ I do not just mean kick-ass (although both Celaena and Feyre are certainly that!) but well-written. They are not perfect; they make mistakes, have unlikeable character traits, can be selfish and unkind and reckless and a hundred other things. That is what I love about the way Maas writes her characters; they are truly three-dimensional with motives and uncertainties and real emotions. It’s such a difficult thing to do well, but she does so.

Despite her drawing on fairytales as the inspiration for her books – something I’m usually a little wary of as I find fairytale retellings tedious at best – she uses these as mere foundations and builds layer upon layer on top creating new worlds and characters. The fairytale is there, visible in the background if you know what to look for, but the story is very much her own, and that’s the way it should be done.

Twitter: @SJMaas


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