Marie Lu is the Queen of world building! | The Young Elites book review

Spoiler free review!

Once again Marie Lu has created a magical world that I have fallen in love with and want to visit. (Yes, despite it being a little deadly.)

Kenettra is clearly based on renaissance era Italy and it is beautiful. The thing I love most about Lu’s world building is that it’s subtle. She doesn’t bombard you with descriptions and you slowly sink into the book and end up in awe of your surroundings.

I’m not going to waffle on this whole review about the world building in The Young Elites, but it is glorious.


In most books the main character is a good person. They might falter occasionally but to their core they’re a truly good person, but that isn’t the case with Adelina. She has had a hard life since she was marked by the blood fever and she’s aware that she would find it just as easy to be bad as she would to be good. It’s really interesting to watch that internal battle throughout the book.

The secondary characters are all interesting and they all seem to have complicated backgrounds. The character I’m most intrigued by is Raffaele. Like Adelina, he hasn’t had an easy life and I want to know more about him. I also want to give him a hug.



The Young Elites has a fairly complex plot and at times it is a bit overwhelming. I don’t know if that’s intentional or not but I think it’s quite clever because Adelina clearly feels out of her depth at times and the complexity of what’s going on helps the reader feel that.

You’re kept guessing throughout the book and there are a couple of surprises. The pacing is good throughout; it’s fast when it needs to be and slower when you need to take in more information and figure out what’s going on.

While I really enjoyed this book, there’s something about it that I can’t quite put my finger on which stopped it from becoming a favourite of mine. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s just not quite there. Don’t get me wrong it is a great book and is worth a read.

The Young Elites is the first installment in a series and on it’s own it works well. The last few pages begin to set up for the second book and I have no idea when that is coming out which makes me sad because I want to devour this series.

The Young Elites by Marie Lu, book rating

Have you read The Young Elites? 

The Young Elites Book Cover The Young Elites
The Young Elites
Marie Lu
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
October 7th 2014

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.


5 book series I want to marathon, but haven’t because I’m a bad book nerd

5 book series I want to marathon

Once upon a time, far, far away, I would sit and marathon an entire series. Now? That never happens. 

I very, very rarely buy an entire series of books and read them all in one go. I tend to buy the first book and then buy the rest one-by-one as I move through the series. I think the last time I marathoned a series was the Twilight series a couple of years back.

Here’s what normally happens when I read a book that’s part of a series: if I like it I will immediately take to Twitter to proclaim that I ‘must read the sequel, now,’ but I probably won’t have it on my shelf so I’ll pick up another book. If I like it I’ll take to Twitter and say ‘I need to read the sequel, now,’ but I won’t have it, so I’ll pick up another book.

You can see where this is going? I start a lot of series but don’t make much progress with them. I am a bad book nerd.

Here are five series that I would marathon if I wasn’t so easily distracted by other series. View Post


Captive – A. J. Grainger – spoiler free book review*

Title: Captive
Author: A. J. Grainger
Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK Children’s
Genre: young adult, mystery
Release date: January 29th 2015

Description from Goodreads: I open my eyes. The cell is flooded with sunlight; the window is a slice of pale blue. Dust particles dance in the sparkling light, pirouetting in a golden line from the window to the opposite wall of the cell, where they seem to converge into shapes. It is like looking into a kaleidoscope. 

Dad isn’t here. No one is, but me.
Robyn Knollys-Green is an A-list celebrity, famous for being the daughter of one of the world’s most powerful men. But not even the paparazzi can find her now.

Robyn begins to realise that she is trapped in a complicated web of global corruption and deceit – and that the strange, melancholy boy who has been tasked with guarding her might not be an enemy after all . . .

Feeling a connection to the main character is perhaps one of the most important things I look for in a book. Without it, even the most exciting plots don’t have the impact they would have done if you cared. 

The idea behind Captive is interesting but I didn’t feel it quite delivered because I couldn’t connect to Robyn. I felt like there was a barrier separating us the entire time. 

I had the same problem with the kidnappers, apart from one – he really intrigued me and was the only character I felt a connection to. Another of the kidnappers is supposed to be scary but I wasn’t convinced, which is again probably due to a lack of a connection to Robyn. 

The best part of the book was towards the end when the reasons behind Robyn’s kidnapping were revealed. I thought that part was brilliant and it fascinated me. And part of me thinks that it probably isn’t all that unrealistic either. 

Flashbacks from events that happened in the run-up to the kidnapping were a nice addition and it helped to move the plot along, give us with background information and keep it interesting. 

I want to stress that Captive is not a bad book. It has a lot of potential but I know that I would have enjoyed it a lot more had I felt more of a connection to Robyn. 

* I received a free copy of this on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Simon and Schuster UK Children’s. 

Captive book rating


#WeWereLiars E.Lockhart event at Waterstones Birmingham

Last Friday I went to my first ever book event: E. Lockhart at Waterstones in Birmingham. 

Waterstones High Street, Birmingham, was Lockhart’s last stop on her UK tour, where she’s been talking about We Were Liars and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. 

We Were Liars is one of those books that you can’t really talk about without spoiling it. Instead of talking about the plot, Lockhart spoke about some of the themes explored in the book and her inspiration behind it. 

I found it really interesting and it’s made me think about certain things in a way that I hadn’t before. I also want to read Wuthering Heights now after hearing her say that the way Gat is treated is similar to Heathcliff. 

She spoke about The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks briefly, the themes behind it and read a small passage from it. I didn’t actually know what that book was about, I just picked it up a couple of weeks ago because I loved We Were Liars so much. 

The one time I pick up a book and know nothing about it, the author herself tells me all about it! Her enthusiasm and excitement about it was infectious and I started reading it on the train home. 

After talking about her books, there was a Q&A. There were a couple of really interesting points for me: 

  • Her writing tip was to start writing from an emotion. 
  • She shared a story of how a creative writing class at college really put her off writing for a while and was a pretty horrible experience. 
There was a signing afterwards and I got my two books signed (AND DIDN’T BUY ANYMORE! I went in a Waterstones and DIDN’T buy a book. Amazing.), stood awkwardly for a picture and got hand stamps of quotes from the book. HAND STAMPS! 

As well as getting to hear from E. Lockhart, I met up with the lovely Michelle from Tales of Yesterday and her husband. It was nice to get to get all excited about books with people in real life instead of just over the internet. 

Have you read anything by E. Lockhart? 

elf beauty haul + mystery festive bag

elf haul

It’s been a while since I’ve done a beauty post and to be honest that’s because I haven’t really bought anything recently. 

After being good and using things up, I succumbed to some Black Friday shopping and ended up on the elf website. I ordered some things for myself and some gifts (which aren’t pictured here obviously!) and they were doing a mystery festive bag offer, which I snatched up. 

Baked Eyeshadow in Toasted – £3.95
My go-to eyeshadow of choice is anything taupe coloured and as far as I’m concerned, you just can’t have enough taupe coloured eyeshadow. 

Dual Pencil Sharpener – £1.95
I’ve not been able to use my Illamasqua lip pencil for ages because I can’t find a single pencil sharpener in this house and I keep forgetting to buy one. 

This came with the dual pencil sharpener plus a ‘bonus’ pencil sharpener, I don’t know why but I’m not complaining and I’m going to put that in a safe place for when I inevitably lose my dual sharpener. 

Sidenote: they came with instructions on how to use them. If you need instructions on using a pencil sharpener, I don’t think you should be using one. 

Retractable Lip Brush – £3.95
This isn’t pictured because it broke! 

I wanted a lip brush because I bought LUSH’s Santa Baby when I was in Dublin, but it stains your fingers and you can’t wash it off easily so I thought a brush would be the answer. I have no idea though because I can’t actually get the brush out…

Studio Matte Lip Colour in Rich Red – £3.95
I ordered NARS’ Dragon Girl the same day (and it hasn’t even been dispatched yet! Not impressed considering standard delivery was £7!) and this looks to be a very similar shade and I’m curious about how the two stack-up.

I wore it yesterday and I love the shade, it’s really vibrant, and it’s long lasting. It seems to turn into more of a stain after a while which lasts through eating. 

Volumising Mascara – £2.50
The W7 mascara I’m currently using seems to be ever-lasting, which isn’t great considering mascara has a shelf life of a few months and I bought it about a year ago.

I’m not too fussy when it comes to mascara. I don’t like it to make my lashes look super long, really I just want them to look darker. 

I wore this yesterday and I really liked it; it gave good coverage and added volume. 

Mystery festive bag

elf festive mystery bag contents 2014

When I placed the order elf were giving away a free mystery festive bag on orders over £20, which truth be told did encourage me to order more than planned so good job there elf! 

elf told me the contents might vary a little but the value will always be the same, which is around £18.

@EatReadGlam Hi, there may be variations – but they will always be to the same value 😀
— e.l.f. Cosmetics UK (@ELFCosmeticsUK) December 4, 2014

Eyeliner & Shadow Stick in Midnight – £3.95
One end is an eyeliner and the other is a shadow so this looks like a great little combination for putting in your bag. Blue isn’t quite the colour for me but someone will be getting this in a stocking! 

Eyelid Primer in Champagne – £1.95
Truth be told I’ve never found an eyelid primer that has made a difference, but I’m always willing to try a free one! 

Luscious Liquid Lipstick in Brownie Points – £1.95
I’m intrigued by this and want to see if it looks like lipstick when it’s on. I’m not a fan of lip gloss at all, but ‘liquid lipstick’ suggests it should be more like lipstick. 

Jumbo Lip Gloss Stick in Movie Star – £2.95
Now, I know I just said that I don’t like lipgloss but this intrigues me. I don’t like lipgloss because it’s wet and sticky but as this is solid, surely it can’t be that sticky or wet? 

Mineral Eyeshadow in Glamorous – £3.00
I’ve heard a few good things about elf’s mineral eyeshadow and I know someone who will absolutely love this shade. 

Glitter Nail Polish in Fairy Dust – £2.50
You can never have enough sparkly nail polish and this is perfect for party season. I say that, but I don’t go to Christmas parties at all. But I can sit in and show my cat. He will be impressed by my sparkly nails I’m sure. 

Nail Polish in Dark Navy – £2.50
This is a beautiful shade of blue with a little bit of sparkle in it. I’m wearing it today and I love it. It’s the same shade as a pair of patent boots I had a kid. 

I’m really happy with that mystery bag and there were a couple of things in there that I won’t use because of the shade, but I know people who will wear them, so they’ll make some good little gifts. 

Have you tried anything from elf? 

November roundup and December to be read

I read a fair few books again in November and my video ended up being just over 14 minutes long, so grab a cuppa and get comfy. 

If you haven’t got time to watch it, then here’s what I read during November. 

Books read in November: 

  • Divergent Collectors’ Edition – Veronica Roth
  • Shatter Me – Tahereh Mafi 
  • Raised by Raptors – Oliver Skyes & Ben-Ashton Bell
  • Not That Kind of Girl – Lena Dunham 
  • How the In-Laws Wrecked Christmas – Fiona Gibson
  • Pandemonium – Lauren Oliver
  • Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins 
  • The Young Elites – Marie Lu 
  • Lola and the Boy Next Door – Stephanie Perkins 
  • Captive – A. J. Grainger
To read in December:
  • Isla and the Happily Ever After – Stephanie Perkins
  • Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse – Rick Riordan 
What did you read in November and what are you planning to read in December? 

Game of Thrones Northern Ireland tour photos

It’s taken me too long to sort out my photos from Ireland but I’ve finally got my act together! 

Before we went to Dublin, Tom found a company who run tours to Game of Thrones filming locations in Northern Ireland from Belfast and Dublin. Somehow we managed to pick the worst day of our trip in terms of the weather for the tour but it was still a great day out and it was the highlight of our holiday. 

Our guide was great and really knowledgeable about Game of Thrones and the history behind the stops on the tour. 

I can’t remember the name of the first place we stopped but in Game of Thrones it’s where Robb and Catelyn Stark hear that Ned is dead. Robb hacks at a tree and then he is titled King of the North. 

Our second stop was ‘Winterfell’ on the shores of Strangford Lough. This was where I really understood how much green screen Game of Thrones uses. I wasn’t under any illusion that the majority of it was real but I didn’t think so much CGI was used. 

In the photo above you can see part of the yard at Winterfell, which is possibly the only part of the yard you might recognise from the TV show. 

Here you could hire cloaks with fake fur on to walk to the next location and of course we hired cloaks. 

Becloaked, we walked along the shores of Strangford Lough, battling the wind and the rain, to a tower house (above) which was used one of Walder Frey’s Twins and Robb Stark’s camp.  

Lunch was a nice warming soup, which was definitely needed with the wind and the rain, in a lovely ivy-clad barn. 

After lunch we went to Tollymore Forest Park which was stunning, even in the rain. In fact, I would happily go back to Northern Ireland to visit this place again because it was huge and there was so much of it we didn’t see. 

The park was used for a few scenes in season one, including the first scene in the very first episode which takes place north of the wall. As you can see from the picture below, it does look quite eerie and I was checking my peripheral vision for Whitewalkers. 

The park also played host to the scene in season one where they stumble across the Direwolf pups, which you can see in the below image on the bank. 

I have no idea how this location was found because as you can see, it’s hidden down the side of a bridge. 

We both loved the tour and although GOT uses a lot of CGI, the locations themselves were fascinating and it was interesting to hear about how scenes were films. 

If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones and are in Belfast or Dublin and you can spare a day, I cannot recommend this tour enough. If you want more info you can find it on their website here

On the way back to Dublin our guide told us that they were planning a two-day tour and when that happens, we’ll both be all over that. 

Have you ever been to filming locations for a TV show or film?