Meet The Team: Book Reviews at The Bandwagon

Say hello to the new reviewing team at The Bandwagon!

12524302_10208439212195057_1090666117922104989_nVikki Patis
Blog Owner at The Bandwagon, Book Reviewer & Feminist

“When I was about 4, my mum took me to a book fair at the local primary school. There I chose and bought a book myself for the first time. It was called something like What On Earth?!, and was a story about a girl with a wild imagination. She imagined the floor was lava, the cat was an alien, and that she was an explorer. Every page was a new adventure.

I’ve read hundreds of books since then, but I still feel like I’m going on an adventure every time. I’ve been to fantastical worlds and different planets, explored Victorian London and watched the Salem witch trials. I’ve hunted horcruxes, stood with the Mockingjay, and played the game of thrones. I’ve met historical figures, watched famous battles, and added my voice to righteous cries. I’ve done all this and more, from the comfort of my sofa (or other chosen reading spot), by jumping into the pages of a book. Reading is an immense pleasure, unlike any other. You not only get to explore the story being told, you get to add your own embellishments, connect with and feel the emotions on the pages, picture the characters and make them your own. You get to use your imagination.

It’s so difficult to choose a favourite book. There are so many that have stayed with me long after the last page. I particularly adore well-researched, gritty historical fiction, by authors such as Karen Maitland and Hannah Kent, and I particularly love reading about fierce women from different times and cultures. I love thrillers by the likes of Gillian Flynn and S.J. Watson, and being terrified by bastards like Stephen King and Joe Hill. Interesting, relatable characters are one of the most important things I look for in a novel. Make me care about your characters, make me befriend or dislike or empathise with them, and you’ll draw me in instantly.”

2014-03-22 11.20.22James McStravick
Book Reviewer and Blog Owner at Observant Raven

“When I was younger, I read mostly Goosebumps books, but as the years went on I delved into fantasy books such as Harry Potter, Aborsen Trilogy, and The Dark Materials Trilogy. As I grew older, my taste in books changed. I no longer wanted to read all fantasy, but instead wanted to read books in other genres such as thrillers, action and mystery. For many years I read books by Dan Brown and Andy McDermott.

But this changed again when I finally discovered the Game of Thrones books, but, as much as I liked them, I thought of them leaning more towards historical books than fantasy – which I believe is one of the true beauties about Game Of Thrones. Shortly after I finished reading Storm of Swords, my friend from Dublin visited, and he told me about an exciting and wonderful series called Mistborn. From then the rest is history, as off the back of that recommendation I have discovered (and still am) some truly great and beautiful fantasy books.
I couldn’t begin to choose what my favourite fantasy book is, but because of the impact he has had on my reading, my favourite author would definitely have to be Brandon Sanderson, although he is placed alongside many other authors I have come to call my favourite, such as Mark Lawrence, Peter V Brett, Kevin Hearne, and, most recently, Bradley P. Beaulieu.”

jane appleton photoJane Appleton
Book Reviewer
“My love for books started as a child when my mom made it a habit of reading to us daily. We took frequent trips to the local library, where I would spend hours roaming through row after row of books. I always managed to bring home stacks of books home, usually more than I could read. This is still the case anytime I enter a library or bookstore; I tend to collect books like other women collect shoes.

Today I’m still an avid reader and book collector, and I mainly read for pleasure. My preference is traditionally published genre fiction; particularly “chick-lit” and mystery novels by Jennifer Weiner, Janet Evanovich, Marian Keyes, and Charlaine Harris. I love exploring new authors that fall somewhere within or near those genres, especially when the female protagonist is smart, quirky and funny. I find novels set anywhere other than New York City interesting. Some of my favorite novels have been science thrillers like Sphere and Congo by Micheal Crichton, and science non-fiction like Spillover by David Quammen (primates, diseases, and hackers or technology being my favorite scientific themes).

I also loved The Hunger Games and Harry Potter and anything by Jim Butcher, Terry Pratchett, and Stardust and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.

Reading has always given me the ability to explore new worlds and ideas. I’m not just obsessed with a good story; I think author’s lives are also highly fascinating. The way they piece together stories has had a powerful effect on my life.”

IMG_0008Chris Douglas
Book Reviewer

“I can’t say I remember the first book that I read, but I do know that, at around seven years old, I hadn’t been doing too well at school when my teacher allowed me to choose any book, rather than one on my reading level. It changed my life; I had a library to choose from and nothing holding me back. I discovered people and worlds I hadn’t been allowed to explore. My life changed; I became engaged, and my creativity went wild. I’d always been that child who’d happily live in a fantasy world, and now I could do so with no restriction.

One of these books – I can’t remember the title – involved a character named Tommy, and he was a captain of a spaceship. He inspired my first story – an epic space adventure.  I would create stories with my friends while jumping off climbing frames or scrawling down squiggles on paper.

The books I choose to read are varied from when I want to escape to distant lands filled with magic or technology (sometimes both), becoming a detective trying to solve the case before the end of the book, to finding out something new about myself by witnessing the life of someone as they come of age.

Through reading, I have discovered more and more authors and styles while journeying along with them. Through the lives of people and places I otherwise would never have known. I’ll forever see this as a privilege.”

5109_108973486024_5273658_nLiza Lockwood
Book Reviewer
“My favourite book in the world is The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. I read it in 2006, and nothing I’ve read before or since has been as good. If I had to choose one book to read for the rest of my life, this would be it. I don’t have enough words to say how much I love it.

I read lots of genres, and I read a lot. I read fast so I need a constant supply. Thirteen years as a bookseller has given me so much more, increased my love of reading, and, obviously, filled my house with books. I love the Outlander series (Diana Gabaldon), Dick Francis, Lee Child, the Iron Druid Chronicles, the Sandman Slim stories. I read YA, Bill Bryson, stories with angels, stories with demons. But I’m not a fan of touchy-feely love stories or gruesome horror. I want a hero I can fall in love with, and plenty of action. I couldn’t get on with Game of Thrones, but I adore Joe Abercrombie. I recommend books to anyone and everyone. My favourite book of 2015 was The Martian, which was absolutely brilliant – I read it 3 times in a row (the only other book I’ve ever done that with is Locke Lamora).

I would rather be reading than watching TV (or anything else). To be there, in someone else’s world, is the best feeling, and I can see it, smell it, feel it, fall in love with it.”

David SpellDavid Spell
Book Reviewer & Blog Owner at The Scary Reviews

“Honestly, as a kid I didn’t enjoy reading that much. I actually wasn’t a very good reader; I was slow and would often mix up or skip words. It wasn’t until I was a teenager and discovered The Lord of The Rings that I really started to enjoy reading. I guess I hadn’t found my genre before then. I spent many years loving the fantasy genre, until I discovered my love for horror, and most of its sub-genres.

As far as my favorite book goes… Well, that’s a hard question. I’ve read so many great books over the years, almost 400, so it’s too hard to pick just one. But I have two favorite series: LOTR & The Dark Tower by Stephen King. I would say Stephen King is my favorite author, no question. I love both of these series because they are epic in length and have so many great characters. I love to see them develop through out the series, and see their relationships develop within their story arc. Both series and authors led me to so many more authors in each genre. If I hadn’t discovered Stephen King as a teen and spent all these years reading every book he’s written, I would never have made my blog. It really was his work that set me up to love reading. Now, I’m an avid reader and will probably read 50 or more books this year. I love to disappear in a good book and escape for how ever long the story lasts, and when the book is done, I miss the characters and hate to say goodbye.”

11143536_10152812377533067_3407556469870167986_nGeorgia May Goodall
Book Reviewer

“I don’t remember how or when I fell in love with reading, because it was at such a young age that it feels like it’s always been a part of my life. I do remember that my local library used to have a rule where you could only take out 12 books every 2 weeks, and every 2 weeks my mum would take me back with my 12 finished books to get another dozen.

Fantasy has always been my favourite genre – there is, to me, a depth of character that you don’t get in other genres. A depth of feeling and emotion, and you’re pulled into this whole new world where you meet people you care about and think of as friends, and then suddenly they’re gone and you miss them; but it’s worth it every time.

My favourite book can’t be summed down to one book because it is every book that relates to Fitzchivalry Farseer – basically any book by Robin Hobb. I didn’t even know books could be so good and make me feel so, so many things, until I found these books on my Mum’s bookshelf. I recently went to a booksigning and met Robin/Megan/Margaret, and the inscription that she wrote in my book was “Welcome back to the Six Duchies”. This sums it up perfectly to me; books are like being welcomed into a new world, a new home, and meeting new friends.

Since discovering Robin Hobb’s books I’ve realised my love of epic, high fantasy – trilogies, quartets, series as long as I can get them! I’ve fallen in love with writing by George RR Martin, Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, Anne McCaffrey, and many more.

I can’t wait to read and review the next big thing that could mean as much to someone as these books mean to me.”

Ryan Collins
Book Reviewer

“The first book that I can remember really falling in love with was The Hobbit. I was about ten years old when I read it for the first time (and there have been many times since then), and was so enchanted by Tolkien’s world of magic and dragons and wizards that the second I finished the last page I remember flipping right back to the beginning and starting again. That, followed shortly thereafter by Harry Potter, was my introduction into fantasy, and it’s been my genre of choice ever since. I’m also a big fan of science fiction, particularly some of the more philosophical stuff than can raise questions about the human condition and where we’re heading as a species, that fantasy isn’t really capable of.

Needless to say, I’ve always been a big fan of what you might call “nerd literature,” but really I can read any genre. I enjoy horror, mystery, thriller, historical fiction, non fiction, etc. Tying back in to what I found so charming about Tolkien, reading a good book is the closest thing we have to real magic. A really great novel can both take you away somewhere, and teach you something new about yourself in the process.

I don’t think I can pick a favorite book or writer. It honestly changes from year to year. I enjoy fantasy by George R.R. Martin, Steven Erikson and Robin Hobb, the scifi of Frank Herbert and Bob Heinlein, and the horror of Stephen King and Richard Matheson, mystery thrillers by Gyllian Flynn as well. There are really too many to name.”

Want to submit a book directly to one of our team? Send an email to, with the name of your chosen reviewer in the subject line.

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