Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Saenz

RATING: ★★.5

Most of the books I read follow a female protagonist - usually a white, straight, living in California and extremely pretty one. So it's so nice to find a book that's completely different. 

Aristotle is a boy, Mexican and there's no emphasis on his beauty either way (hello gender roles anyone?). He meets Dante and they develop a friendship that slowly blossoms into something that confuses Aristotle. This book had all the potential in the world, but it just didn't really deliver for me.


So the basic plot is pretty straight forward - Aristotle is a typical teenager : confused, unhappy and lost. He lives with his parents and is really close to his mother, but struggles to really connect to his father. He has an older brother who is in jail for something that no one wants to talk about and doesn't really have many friends.

Aristotle meets Dante, who is an old soul stuck in a teenage boy's body. Dante is confident, secure and knows exactly who he is and what he wants. As usual, opposites attract each other. 

Aristotle is (nonsuprisingly) an overthinker.

We all know - kind of at least - what the original Aristotle was known for. He liked to think and analyse everything, and this new Aristotle definitely follows his path. And that's exactly why he didn't work for me. He seemed very mature for a teenager and seemed to overanalyse everything - he could never just let life happen to him. Everything was a big deal. While I understand that some people are that way, I just couldn't relate to it. Have some fun Aristotle, you don't have to be intelligent all the time.

Dante on the other hand read like he was 12 instead of an older teenager. His impulses didn't make any sense and he always followed his heart. Again, it just was too extreme for me to really relate to him. I like characters that are a bit like Aristotle and Dante together. A combination of both would have allowed to relate more. As the book is now, I just couldn't identify with anyone.

Short sentences - quick read

The book is narrated by Aristotle who is, as mentioned before, very intelligent. However, the sentences used by writer Benjamin are all very short. If Aristotle is so smart and such a thinker, wouldn't he have longer, more rambling sentences? It just didn't make sense to me.

But, it does mean the book is an easy and quick read - I finished it in one day. The bonus of that is that you really get sucked into the story. It's a completely different world and there are many plot twists that keep you interested as a reader. I also thoroughly enjoyed the exploration of the relationship between two boys , which was very original. If only all these things happened to other characters....


There's not a whole lot to say about this book. I just didn't like the main characters at all, so it was very hard to enjoy it. I have to give the writer credit for the plot and the way the explored the relationship between Dante and Aristotle. However, I was annoyed by them throughout the book, so it's two and a half out of five for me.

Spider from the Well - Tim Reed

RATING: ★★.5☆☆☆

Find the book online:


Amazon UK


A man and his wife go on holiday in the New Forest, where they find old ruins and among it, a tattered diary. Intrigued, they begin to read, and are drawn into the tale of a bereaving man from the 19th Century, who has visions of a green sun and creatures clambering from the well outside his house. Slowly, as madness takes him, these cosmic visions intensify and he finds himself under siege; his daughter, pet cat and his independence are under dire threat, leaving him alone, afraid, and at the mercy of horrific, otherworldly invaders. He witnesses alternate histories of the world, grim futures, and at the end of all, a dreadful predator patiently broods – hoping to sate its hunger. 

What fate awaits the Victorian man? Will the diary reveal secrets best left in dust? And what is the ultimate purpose of the green sun, looming over the Earth like an emerald?



I’ve been on a high of romantic young adult books, the mind-blowing ending of the Divergent series (seriously, what happened in that last book?), and moving to London so I can buy stacks and stacks of books. 

So to read a horror story was a major leap and now I'm wondering if it was a good idea.

I was approached by the author of Spider from the Well, Tim Reed, to see if I was interested in reviewing his story and I want to say first off: I’m not a horror expert. I don’t have a canon of books to compare it to nor do I usually look at that section in the store. This could very well influence my review.

The story itself was very creative. A couple finds a diary that tells the story of an old Victorian man, who very clearly, was a little bit (read: totally) crazy.  

Characters that read out loud all day.

However, the characters didn’t really draw me in. The man of the contemporary couple didn’t seem realistic to me - he came across as very arrogant, but then had an eery feeling about the dairy. I guess I’m not superstitious enough, because it’s just a book. No need to have a bad feeling. And he also reads the whole diary, a good 30 pages, out loud to his wife? Not sure that would ever happen.

The Victorian era man immediately sounded like a wacko to me, so I took everything he said with a grain of salt. I think that if a reader would be able to relate to the man, the story would have been so much better, because there would be tension and drama in there. I would have liked some diary entries where the man is still sane. Let me hear about his normal life with his daughter and let him slowly demise into craziness - right now it was too much, too quick. 

I like the premise of the story and the idea of the mixing dreams with reality. There was real potential in that creativeness, but I just couldn’t relate to any of the characters. I’m going to be a repetitive drag, but plot and characterisation together make my kind of stories. I really missed the characterisation here.

What I did enjoy was the writing style. The dreams were very descriptive, but not too descriptive, and Tim Reed was able to create a distinctive 19th century voice, which I can only assume requires a lot of research and effort. Thankfully, it really paid off.


This book will get a 2.5 out 5 stars. There was so much potential in there, and I really think Tim Reed is an author to look out for, but this book just didn’t really hit the mark for me.

The Geography of You and Me - Jennifer E. Smith

RATING: ★★★☆☆

I’ve been having a drought. I’m a single, young girl reading books and looking for nice, attractive guys in those books. I like to think about them - about how I’ll find my own Gus someday. Or Henry from The Time Traveler’s Wife. Just a great guy and not a guy like all the boys walking around here that I would never date in my life.

Unfortunately for me, I’ve hit a cute guy drought in my books. Let’s Get Lost featured the most annoying guy I’ve read about in a while and the books before that didn’t even feature any guys.

This cover might be in my top 10 favourite covers of all time. It's gorgeous.

This cover might be in my top 10 favourite covers of all time. It's gorgeous.

So I was super excited to pick up The Geography of You And Me by Jennifer E. Smith, which is boasted as a “magic, magic book. It will take you to a place where we all want to live, where true love overcomes any distance”.

You know what that sounds like? Like a Disney World advertisement and I love everything Disney.


The Geography of You and Me is the story of Lucy and Owen. They both live in NYC when suddenly all the power in the city goes out. Lucy, rich penthouse girl, is stuck in the elevator with Owen, the son of the caretaker of the building. The two have noticed each other before, but never really talked - until this night filled with darkness.

After that night, Owen makes a road trip all over America with his dad while Lucy moves to Europe with her parents. How do you keep in touch when the world is literally in between you?

Boy Drought

Owen was a nice enough male lead. The chapters alternated between the point of view of Lucy and Owen, so it’s nice to really get insight into the boy’s thoughts and feelings. However, I think Owen still believed he lived in a 1950s Disney movie. 

After moving away from NYC, he decides to send postcards to Lucy. Owen believes e-mails are too direct. Great, very romantic Owen, but postcards take forever to get delivered and you can’t really write personal things on postcard. A+ for effort, F for practicality. 

However, Lucy is charmed enough by the idea and replies to his postcards with e-mails, like every normal person living in this century would do. I liked that Lucy was critical of Owen and his intentions. She definitely liked him, but also played the field when living in Europe. It made the book more realistic than if it was a “I saw him and I want to marry him” kind of story. Yet, I couldn’t really relate to Lucy. I’m not sure if she didn’t have enough depth or that she just wasn’t my kind of person - something just didn’t click.

But I could relate to Owen even less. It was the postcards, it was the way he thought about certain things (turns out, he never keeps in touch with anyone), it was his constant lack of spontaneity and then suddenly, and unexplained, an impromptu trip somewhere.

I know plenty of Owens, so he’s realistic enough. But I don’t want to read about all the guys I already know.

Life is more than boys

A book is not all about the male lead. It’s about the storyline and the setting and the characterisation,…. In this case, the description was great. I’ve been to both NYC and London and I can guarantee you that the author wrote the places exactly like they were. Jennifer E. Smith describes the smells, sights and feel you get from a city in a perfect way. This made the book enjoyable to read, especially since I recognised most things she wrote about.

But Lucy and Owen were still only so-so. They weren’t awful, but they also weren’t amazing. I like to relate to at least one character in the book, to really feel what they are feeling. And I feel like the alternated narrated chapters would have been perfect to connect with both of them - it just didn’t work out for me that way. I can’t pinpoint it, but then reading is always really personal, so who knows exactly what it was? All I know is that the setting didn't make up for it.


I don’t want to break this book down, because the building blocks were all there: there was characterisation, setting, tension, a good plot,…. It just didn’t come together for me. Maybe if I hadn’t read it in the middle of my boy-book-drought I would have liked it better. 

3 and a half stars for the book at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Guardian of the Underworld - Rachel Tetley

RATING: ★★★★☆


No, this is not a review about a new Marvel movie or the latest Percy Jackson book. This is a review of the first book of a new fantasy series by Rachel Tetley. According to Goodreads, this book is for a YA audience - I say screw that: this book is good and everyone should read it.

Plot: worlds collide, but really shouldn't

Jake Summers is your average kid who lives in a small town with a close-knit community and family. As many young boys, he adores his grandfather and playing in the woods. Little does he know that his grandfather is living both in this world and a supernatural underworld. He was the guardian of that world and had to guarantee that earth (is that what we call our world?) and the underworld can exist together. His last goal? To prepare Jake for the job he'll have to do when his grandfather passes away. However, his grandfather mysteriously dies before he has the chance to tell Jake anything. How do you figure out that you are in charge of keeping the earth and underworld at peace? I know I couldn't, but Jake someone manages - with the help of a creepy old lady that lives next door and somehow knows everything (Seriously, I would love to see it explained in the next book HOW she knows everything?!). 

Description is a skill

Every author and reader knows that it's difficult to describe a realistic new world. We all know earth and will forgive a writer for small inconsistencies. But when there is a new world in a book, we, or at least I, suddenly get way more critical and want 1. all our questions answered and 2. everything to make sense and to be coherent. There are a handful of authors who can actually write a good new world: J.K. Rowling, Lewis Carroll, J.M. Barrie,... And now Rachel Tetley. I'm not one for the fantasy genre - I don't really believe that there ever could be a good new world out there (like the wardrobe in Narnia, come on). But Rachel had me buying into it. I didn't believe there's actually an underworld that you can dive into through a river, which is what Jake does, but I did believe the world she described and lost all of my criticism so that I could thoroughly enjoy the story. 

The underworld is like our world, but just different enough for it to be enjoyable. If I should compare it to any other world, I would pick Wonderland. It's not quite as crazy, but it seems like everything is just a tad differently than our world. And you can't eat anything in the Underworld, nor is there an evil queen... But there are talking animals, so it sort of works.

Jake has to fulfil Five Challenges to become the new guardian (the reason why exactly is a major spoiler, so I'll stay quiet on that)  and those Five Challenges include dragons, an intense sea/ocean journey and aggressive floors. Not anything we could find on earth, but described in a way that made it believable. The challenges were very reminiscent of Harry Potter and his huge chess game, catching a key amidst hundreds of flying keys,... .You get the idea - it's exciting and thrilling to read.

Jake and Arianna

Jake of course doesn't go on his adventure alone (when does any character?), but he goes with Arianna - his classmate/crush/friend. Jake is the main character and he is the typical "I'm a hero now and don't know what to do - someone help me" at the beginning of the book. And there's Arianna, the Hermione of The Guardian of the Underworld. Arianna is a lot smarter, braver and more realistic than Jake. She thinks of things to bring, she thinks of things to be careful of, she thinks of trusting the right people in the underworld. And then they get to the underworld and she kinda falls flat.

I understand that the Five Challenges are Jake's time to shine and really shrug off the surprise of being the guardian and show that he can handle being a hero. But I loved Arianna, she was such a good role model and I wish she didn't give Jake the time to shine - she could have been a lot better in the challenges than him. But I guess it was a bound to happen, because Jake is the main character. But I loved Arianna's sense of humour and wittiness and I hope she'll remain a major part of this story.

Challenge completed - wait, already?

Besides the thing with Arianna, which I think must be a preference more than a criticism, I must say that I struggled with the length of the Five Challenges. All the challenges happen at the end of the book and it almost feels like they were rushed. The concept is so amazing, the ideas of the challenges are so amazing, but the writing? Some challenges only take a few pages, while I really feel like it could have been more. The story never dragged on at any point, so I don't see why it couldn't have been a longer book. I hope in the next book, Rachel will focus more on the action - and Arianna!


Simply for the fact that Arianna was in this book, I have to give it a good rating. However, as you might have noticed, Jake didn't really do anything for me. He was a decent main character, he wasn't annoying to read, but he also didn't really make me root for him. I would have cried if Arianna died, but Jake? I guess I would have been sad, but no tears for me. 

So I can't give it 5 stars, but I'll give it 4. Because it is the first book of a series and I really hope Jake will develop more and gain a place in my heart. And also because that was the only real flaw I found in the novel.

I definitely have high hopes for book number two, Rachel!

Oh and on a small slightly underrated note, even though I read a pdf document of the book, I loved the design of it. The cover is GORGEOUS, the chapter numbers are, the lettering,... Everything. This book is a beauty from cover until end.