Book Review: Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

Find it on Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.

Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline?

img_1374

There is always a sense of trepidation when knowing you will be reviewing an absolutely stellar books sequel. All too often the first book in a series is the most compelling to me. Unfortunately, that’s exactly how I feel about Thunderhead. It seems rare that I find the second book in a series more than just a “bridging novel.” Thunderhead didn’t give me the same gripping, intense love that Scythe did and I am finding it hard to pinpoint exactly why it feels that way. (Speaking of which, If you haven’t already, and would like to read my spoiler free review of Scythe, you can do so by clicking here.)

Thunderhead picks up a year after the events of Scythe. We are introduced to new characters from the get go, which felt a little bit like “starting fresh” rather than a continuation of the original plot. I understand that these characters, one in particular, will have a bigger role in future novels, however I just felt that Thunderhead was, for lack of a better word, a little boring for the majority of its pages. It took me at least 200-300 pages into a 500 page novel before I started to enjoy the book as much as I did with Scythe. I never felt that “drive” to keep reading like I do with so many other books.

The main characters from Scythe, particularly Rowan, didn’t get much airtime until later in the book which was upsetting because his chapters where the ones I found most compelling. And although we are specifically told that certain characters serve a bigger purpose in the corrupt world of the Scythes, it’s not really explored all that much in this novel and again, felt like a set up for the following book. There was however, a couple of great moments throughout the book. Times where I did find myself on the edge of my seat or being blown away at how well the author can turn us in circles before we know what’s really going on! But like I said they were few and far between or were towards the end of the novel.

The “Thunderhead” itself is described as being essentially like the “iCloud” of today but has advanced enough to become a conscious being, which acts as a virtual “mother” so to speak, to the Earth and its inhabitants. I did enjoy this books exploration into how drastically humanity relies on technology, a sentiment that resonates with us even in reality, and what happens when that technology can no longer sit idly by when the corrupt begin to disrupt the peace and order it has maintained.

I will pick up the next book, if only because the last two hundred-ish pages were action packed enough for me to want to see what happens to these characters. We are left with quite a cliffhanger and some really brilliant and tragic revelations. I just wish I could have felt that same intrigue for more than just the last half of this book. That is why I’ll be giving this book 3.5 stars.

Bookish Gift Guide For Readers

img_1944

Ringing in the new year means a whole host of birthdays once again coming our way. I have often found it hard to find the perfect gift for certain loved ones in my life, but when it comes to bookworms, I’ve got you covered! So if you have a book lover in your life, why not try to find them something they will really love! Below are just a few ideas of gifts that every bookworm will be ecstatic to receive!

img_1374

Bookmarks

Save your book lover from using a receipt, business card or tissue as a bookmark! There are plenty of beautiful bookmark companies out there! Ink and Wonder is just one of these many companies, but it is easily my favourite! They have created what they call a “woodmark” which is made of very thin, ethically sourced wood. They have a whole range of beautifully vibrant and incredibly designed products, not just bookmarks, including tote bags, enamel pins and stickers!

Game of Thrones Woodmark from Ink & Wonder

Book Sleeves 

Chances are your bookworm carries a book with them everywhere they go. This often means throwing said book into their bag or even onto the back seat of their car! Book sleeves keep their books safe when they are on the move! A quick google search will have you covered in this category! There are plenty of beautifully handmade book sleeves on Etsy! A couple of wonderful book sleeve companies  I enjoy are Bookbeau and Thumbelara!

img_1591
Bohemian Book Sleeve from Thumbelara

Bookish Candles

I know what you’re probably thinking! “Candles? Really? That’s what I buy my mother when I don’t know what else to get her!” But these candles are different! They are themed! Themes usually range from different books/series to things bibliophiles love (like bookstores, cafes or the great hall from Harry Potter)

If your book lover is also an avid instagrammer (or bookstagrammer) candles also make fantastic props! A few of my favourite candle companies include Flick the Wick, Spark and Sparrow, In The Wick Of Time and Alchemy and Ink!

The Raven Cycle Candle from In The Wick of Time (Owlcrate exclusive)

A Book Subscription Box

A book subscription box is a monthly subscription, delivered to your door, full of amazing bookish content, including a book! This is on the pricier side, especially if you choose to subscribe for longer periods of time! However, one off purchases are available and it’s essentially a “lucky dip” for book nerds! Owlcrate, Fairyloot and The YA Chronicles are just a few of these fun boxes!

A Coffee/Tea Mug

Give me the name of one book lover who doesn’t enjoy a cup of coffee or tea while they are reading?! I’ll wait!

Seriously though, you can’t go wrong here! Especially if you find out if they have a particular book or series they absolutely adore and you find a mug that coincides with that book! I received the below Harry Potter themed mug in an Owlcrate subscription box and have been in love with it ever since!

Harry Potter Mug (Owlcrate exclusive)

A Reading Journal

a reading journal is a fun way for bookworms to track and plan out their reading for the week, month or even year! There are a lot of beautifully designed journals and a quick google search will have you on your way! A journal is a far more intimate and personal way for your book lover to track their reads as opposed to sites like Goodreads.com (which I also love)!

So there you have it! If you have a book lover in your life and you have no idea what book to buy them next, why not skip buying them a book or voucher all together and get them some fun bookish merch!

5 Books Every Little Girl Should Have On Their Bookshelf

I am the mother of a fairly new human being. That human being happens to be a little girl and I feel a strong sense of responsibility to create an environment for her where she knows that girls can do and be anything they choose to if they work hard enough.

My daughter is currently only six months old, I know, I know! “She can’t even read yet!” You’re right, she can’t! But this book loving Mama has to prepare because an appreciation for books is in this little girls blood, I just know it!

Below are my top five books that I believe every little girl should have on their book shelves!

1. Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo

This beautiful book is easily my number one pick when it comes to books for my daughter! Each page has a quick, easy to read story about a famous woman throughout history! Such women include Michelle Obama, Frida Kahlo and Amelia Earhart! The illustrations are beautiful and the stories are perfect for a quick, before bed time adventure!

Age range: according to the Rebel Girls website this book is best for girls/woman between the ages of 4 and 101!

2. Harry Potter And The Philosophers Stone by JK Rowling (illustrated edition)

It wouldn’t be a Reading Sumpton list if I didn’t include Harry Potter! These books are full of amazing female characters! The likes of the phenomenal Hermione Granger, Luna Lovegood and Minerva McGonagall grace these pages! This is a story, at its very core, of love and friendship and I would hope that one day my daughter and I will be able to read these books together! I have only included the first book on my list, but all of them are fantastic.

Age range: technically the Harry Potter series is a categorised as a middle grade read (9-12 years) but for the sake of every human being my age who is still flicking through these pages, I’d say ages 9 and up!

3. My Name Is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can A Little Girl Dream by Jennifer Fosberry

This short, fun book is all about a little girls journey to self-identity through women’s history! Throughout the book Isabella imagines being different woman who changed the world, choosing different characteristics that she admires about each. Until one day she realises that being herself is actually pretty great too and that she already encompasses all those wonderful traits herself!

This is a sweet and beautifully illustrated book that teaches young girls that they are capable of doing whatever they set their minds to, just as women before them have done!

Age range: 4 to 8 years.

4. Matilda by Roald Dahl

So this one could just be because I am a nineties baby and grew up both reading Roald Dahl and watching the movie Matilda constantly. But this incredibly funny and inspiring book is one I would highly recommend having on your little girls shelves! Matilda is an incredibly smart, funny and quick witted little girl who overcomes the many struggles she faces in her life. She has a tenacious spirit and a flare for revenge against those who have wronged her! This is the kind of laugh out loud book that I will definitely be introducing my daughter to!

Age range: Ages 7 and up!

5. Strong Is The New Pretty: A Celebration Of Girls Being Themselves by Kate T. Parker

Now this one is a little different! Girls are fearless, smart, wild and powerful! This collection of photographs showcases real girls, being their authentic selves, in their element proving this! This inspiring work aims to show readers that girls aren’t just “pretty” but that they are so much more than that! This book is a “celebration of girls being themselves” and I think thats possibly one of the most important things we can teach our daughters!

Age range: Ages 4 and up.

That wraps up my top five books that every little girl should have on their bookshelf! Whether the women in these stories are fictional or not, I hope that they inspire more girls to reach for the stars and know that they can achieve whatever they set their minds to.

How To Gain Followers On Bookstagram

I am sorta new to Bookstagram. If only because most of the time I have had a Bookstagram I was also pregnant with my daughter and had a heck of a lot to think about, which means instagram went by the wayside for a little while. But! If you are completely new to Bookstagram (hi, lets be friends!) Bookstagram is an Instagram account dedicated to, you guessed it, books! My account grew from 0 followers to 600+ within the first month I started. I am in no way an expert and there are accounts with tens of thousands of people following them that probably know a lot more than I do. Below are just a few tips I picked up along the way. Had I been more consistent in my first year I would probably have had more growth than I do now. However, below I will discuss my first few months on Bookstagram and things I learned when I got started.

Choose A Theme By Letting It Come Naturally

When I started my Bookstagram or even my personal account (years ago) I never really decided on a set theme which made it hard for me to dive right in and decide what I wanted my Bookstagram to look like. However, I encourage you to take a look at your personal account, if you have one. What colours do you favour? Do you use a particular filter to make all your photos look similar? I went into Bookstagram with an aim of creating photos I enjoyed the look of. For me that means a lot of neutral tones, natural light and a little bit of what feels like ‘home’ when I look at them! For others, it can mean the total opposite. But I encourage you to let your theme develop naturally. You don’t want to be half way through posting and realise you aren’t enjoying your content at all because it isn’t really “you” in any way! Your style may slowly change over time, but as long as you are focusing on what you like and not trying to determine what other people want you to create, you’ll do just fine!

img_1337
Your theme will change and develop over time. (@readingsumpton)

Interact With Fellow Bookstagrammers

This one’s easy and in my opinion, the most important! Talk! Comment, message, like people’s content, but above all, be sincere. Don’t just comment “great pic :)” on every picture you see. Be engaging! This platform is as much for making friends as it is for getting your content out there and seen! I know I have made some wonderful friends on Bookstagram and you can too!

Don’t Ask For Shoutouts, But DO Ask For Advice

Don’t go to big accounts asking for a shoutout, they won’t like it. These people have worked damn hard to get that many followers. But if you have a question for them, whether it be “How did you manage to expand your follower base? Do you have any tips for someone starting out?” or “I love your photos, just wondering if you could let me know what camera you use?” most people won’t mind this at all and it builds relationships with more successful bookstagrammers! I have been lucky enough to have some of my more successful friends give me shoutouts and its honestly, the most wonderful thing in the world when it comes naturally and they are not feeling forced into it!

Camera Or Iphone, It Doesn’t Matter

I know a lot of people use DSLR’s to capture their Bookstagram content. You want to know what I use? Well it’s your lucky day because Imma tell you! I use an iPhone 7 Plus. Yep, I use an iPhone! I have even had people ask me what camera I use for my photographs before! So don’t be hesitant to start your gram purely because you feel your camera isn’t good enough! I would however, get accustomed to using the iPhone camera settings! Make sure you learn how to control the exposure and focus of your iPhone camera (its as easy as a tap on the screen, but get friendly with it and learn how to capture the best photo you possibly can)! I started my Bookstagram with the intent of it being fun and easy, this meant, pointing and shooting with my iPhone!

Make Good Use Of Hashtags

If you look at any number of accounts with a higher follower count, you will notice that nearly all of them use hashtags to ensure their content has a wider reach. Below are just a few of the tags I have seen and used! By using hashtags you are expanding the amount of people who can see your content from just the people who follow you, to people who browse and follow certain hashtags!

#bookstagram, #bookstagrammer, #bookish, #igreads, #yareads, #reader, #bibliophile, #booklover, #booktography, #instabooks

You can find the more popular hashtags by checking out the accounts of Bookstagrammers you follow and seeing what they are tagging their pictures with. This really helps expand your reach.

Host A Giveaway (Optional & Not Necessary)

When I got to 500 follows, I decided to host a giveaway! This is totally optional, but it is a huge part of why my follower base climbed from 500 – 800 in about 2 weeks! I will organise another post on how to run a giveaway later, but if you plan to do one, I encourage you to research as much information as you can before you decide to open a giveaway! Look into other peoples giveaways and check out some bookish blog posts about it. It can be tricky to strike a balance as you don’t want people outside the Bookstagram community entering, only to unfollow you when the giveaway is over! So as I said, I highly recommend doing your research before you host a giveaway!

Most Importantly, Just Have Fun

So those are my tips for anyone looking to join the Bookstagram community! My follower count is still steadily growing, but above all I am having fun. Bookstragam should be a way to get to know more people who enjoy the same things as you. Don’t obsess over the number of followers you gain or lose. Just focus on creating content you are proud of and make some friends! If you are interested in following my account, I am @readingsumpton.

See ya round friends!