Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Book Review: The Declaration Series

Dystopian fiction has recently become much more popular. The rise of books like the Hunger Games has pushed forward fiction that first bought about the themes of a dystopian society.

A dystopian society is the opposite of utopian. A utopian society is perfect, flawless and ideal whereas dystopian is a degraded, oppressed and cruelly treated. It can be very difficult to create a believable dystopian world and many people do not enjoy reading a story where the world created is so oppressive.

I personally do. Although I was disappointed with the conclusion of The Hunger Games I decided to explore a few more dystopian series. One of which I have recently finished is The Declaration series by Gemma Malley.  The first of this series was published the year before the first Hunger Games.

The secret to eternal life has been discovered. The elusive formula has been created into a simple pill that will help you live forever. However, there are consequences. With nobody dying the world has become overcrowded as a result the powers that be created The Declaration. When you sign this you sign away your right to have children.

Would you sacrifice having children to be able to live forever? What would you do if you had to make that decision at 16. This is the society Anna has been born into. Her parents signed The Declaration, they signed it too young and in doing so when they chose to have Anna they broke the law. As a result Anna is deemed a Surplus. In Grange Hall she must work as hard as she can to prove she is valuable to make up for the crimes of her parents. Anna however, doesn't know the whole truth, she doesn't really understand what has happened until Peter. He brings a new revelation that changes Anna's whole life.

This cleverly devised story takes a while to build but once the momentum gets going it's very difficult to put down.  As with many dystopian stories the background context is pivotal. The civilization Malley has created is easy to understand and contains plausibility that you rarely find in dystopian fiction. The two main characters are well developed throughout the series. Unlike many other series this one does not fall flat at the end. A surprisingly satisfying read. A great young adult book and one I would recommend to those interested in reading beyond The Hunger Games!

A good series worth a read 

Wednesday, 24 April 2013


I have a slight addiction to Pinterest which I imagine anyone who has it completely understands. One of the best things about the site is the easy access to some amazing craft ideas. I have recently been pinning madly a wide variety of chalkboard painted objects! I finally decided to stop the pinning on Saturday and actually start a chalkboard project. I wanted to make a Menu Plan and a To Do list board as they would be really handy and save me a lot of paper. I knew I didn't want to spend a small fortune on chalkboard paint as for me that defeats the object. I picked up a small tin of paint from Wilkos for the very little price of £3.50 and I am nowhere near finishing the lot!

I then sourced out things to paint. One of the best things about where I live is the vast array of charity shops so finding things to up-cycle was easy. I spent in total £4.50 on 5 placemats, 2 metal boards and a little jewellery box. All these looked like exciting things to adapt. 

Painting was relatively simply. Applying a good coat the paint will be touch dry in 30 minutes (especially when put in a boiling hot conservatory) Once dry I touched up an areas that appeared to lack paint. I then left everything to dry thoroughly for about 2 hours. I made the error of trying to write with chalk on one of the placemats before it was properly dry and I had to touch this up again.

 Once they were completely dry I got to work making them look the part. The two metal boards became the Menu Planner and the To Do list board. I am a big Scrabble fan and by happy coincidence I own two sets of scrabble fridge magnets (people know me so well). Using these magnets allowed me to give lovely headings to my boards.
The metal boards have little hooks on the back to allow you to hang them up so I used some ribbon to create a way to hang these up in my kitchen.

The biggest of the projects I undertook was a jewellery box. To paint this was possibly the most awkward. Getting the inside lid painted without damaging the mirror proved quite challenging and resulted in me being completely covered in paint myself. This also took a long time to dry in comparison to the other projects. Once dry I had lots of fun deciding what to write on the draws and inside. I really like the fact I can change this as and when I like. 
I would recommend the paint to all keen crafters if you would like to transform something. When we have our own house I would quite like a whole wall covered in chalkboard paint! Below is all the other things I chalkboard painted yesterday. I think my next project will be a coffee table, I love the idea of playing scrabble and keeping score by the side of the game!

Currently Reading: Darke by Angie Sage

Friday, 19 April 2013

Yummy Cookies

My sister Natasha makes possibly the best cookies I have ever tasted.  My husband is pretty much in love with them so I wanted to be able to make them.

My darling sister sent me a link to this recipe which is the one to follow if you want fat chewy cookies. The main adaptation is to add either Rolo’s or Smarties. Firstly for those worried that cookies are too difficult or too time consuming to bake they are possibly the quickest and easiest thing I have ever baked.  My oven was the main cause of my problems as it never seems to be at the right temperature.

I find you can actually throw all the ingredients into a bowl and mix together until you get a mixture that looks quite gooey. You then need to spoon 1 tablespoon of mixture onto a greaseproof paper covered tray. DO NOT pat the cookies down and try to resist to the temptation to add more than a table spoon as if you do they go massive (obviously do this if you want cookies as big as your head).

Now you have the cookie blobs on a tray add 3-4 Rolo’s per cookie depending on the level of caramel you want in the cookie. Below Is an example of my what happens if you pat the cookies they came out VERY large as you can see from the next picture!
Ready to Bake

 After you have squashed the Rolo’s into the cookies place them in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. Depending on your oven you may choose to keep them in longer. But they need to be out of the oven feeling gooey to the touch not runny.
Very Large Rolo Cookies

Next Leave the cookies on the try for no longer then 3-5 minutes. If you do leave them on longer you will produce rock hard cookies. This is because the heat from the tray continues to cook the cookies whilst they remain on it.  After no more then 5 mins tip your tray over on a wire rack and leave to cool. If transporting the cookies do not cover with a lid if they are still hot as again this will make them go hard (this was my sisters tip)

Smarties Cookies
Sit back and enjoy the complements you get for your delicious cookies!

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Book Review: Midwinterblood

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder and I think that might be the case with my blog. I am back and eager to start making this blog what I want it to be. In keeping with this today I am posting a long overdue book review!

Tomorrow in the library we begin shadowing the Carnegie Award with a group of eager students. So that I can participate in the discussion and encourage the kids to read the books I am attempting to read the 8 books shortlisted for the award. So far I am half way through. I do keep getting distracted by other books on my to read list!
The first of the 8 that I desperately wanted to read was Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick. Of all the books nominated this books seemed most up my street. A combination of fantasy, thriller and horror this book fitted perfectly into my reading niche. In my opinion this book definitely deserved its nomination and so far of the 4 I have read I am rooting for it to win.

I have always, even before working in a school library, read teenage or young adult fiction. I prefer to pick up this type of book if I am after a quick and enjoyable read. Having read so much young adult fiction I often spot similar characters, themes and plots throughout different books. However, when it came to Midwinterblood I had not encountered this type of story before. The style is one that some might find not to their tastes. I myself loved the interlinked stories and found them riveting in their own right as well as when connected. The story centres around a young man named Eric. He arrives on the Island of the Blessed as a reported researching the truth into the rumours that the islands inhabitants live forever. However, Eric has been to this island before, many times in past lives. Each past life of Eric is retold in backward chronological order as the story enfolds. The story focuses on a theme of love and sacrifice revolving around the character Eric and the elusive Merle. What enfolds is an interwoven reincarnation story that depicts the lengths people will go to be with those they love. The characters are well developed and the plots is most intriguing.

 I found myself quite tearful at the end of this story and  was thoroughly pleased with how Sedgwick finished the beautiful tale. Those looking to read a brilliant young adult story should look no further than this excellently written book that flows off the page.

 Enthralling tale not to be missed