Monday, 14 August 2017

BLOG TOUR: Guest Post from Chloe Seager and Review of Editing Emma!

Hello my fellow booknerds! Today is my stop on the blog tour for Editing Emma. I'm super excited to share this hilarious guest post from Chloe Seager, and my thoughts on her new novel!

Embarrassing Teen Moments

Growing up, I had so many embarrassing moments that sometimes, when people ask me, it’s hard to think of just one. My teenage life was basically just one huge blur of embarrassment. But after having a skim through my diaries, I’ve got what is hopefully a cringeworthy enough selection for you to laugh at, and for me to relive the pain.

1) The Pen That Wasn’t
I’ve already spoken about this in public, so, might as well immortalise it on the internet. I’d been partnered with the boy I fancied for a project, and I was So. Excited. Having an excuse to actually meet up with him after school and be within three feet of him was pretty much all I could think about for days. Finally, the moment came… After school one day, we got together. Just me and him, alone, in a dark, dingy classroom. I was convinced this was going to be the moment. He was finally going to see me in a different light, and the exciting, secret after-school kissing sessions were bound to commence immediately. I got my pen and pad out, ready to dazzle with my intellect, wit and thoughtful insights on the project.

But after about ten minutes or so, I started to get the feeling we weren’t going to be kissing any time soon. He seemed a bit awkward for one thing, and wouldn’t look me in the eye. Not so uncommon with teenage boys in general, but this guy was usually quite confident and friendly. I started to think, what is it? What’s wrong? Do I have something on my face? And then I clocked it, the ‘pen’ that I’d got out of my bag was not a pen at all.

It was a tampon.

I bet I looked super intellectual, witty and ready to dazzle with thoughtful insights, poised with that in my hand. I went a deep shade of red and put it away IMMEDIATELY, and he pretended not to see. We both never mentioned it and, quelle surprise, whether it was because of the tampon or not, we never ended up having exciting, secret after-school kissing sessions.

2) Photogate
NB - I’d forgotten about this story, and it’s definitely going in Book 2…

My friend and I were bored one Saturday and so started taking photos, posing in our underwear (as you do). We uploaded them to the computer and had lots of fun editing them, being generally narcissistic and not yet realising how stupid we looked etc etc. The next day, my Mum was having a big printer meltdown - she’d accidentally printed out tons of stuff hanging about on our computer, and was screeching about paper wastage. I, of course, superior and bored with her technical issues, said to just turn everything around and put it back in the printer the other way, if she was so worried.

I also had to print out an essay that day. (Do you see where this story is going…?)

Three days later, my (male) teacher handed me back my essay, blushing and not looking me in the eye. My friend was like, ‘Why is he being so weird?’ Then from across the room, another boy in class shouted, ‘Chloe, what’s that on the back of your essay?’

It was, obviously, a picture of me in my underwear. FML.

3) House Music Spotlight
Each year, our school had a ‘house music’ competition, and I somehow got persuaded by my friends that it would be really fun to get involved. God knows how, because I can’t sing, dance or even really move without falling over. That, combined with my apathy towards rehearsals, made it a pretty big disaster. The night of the show rolled up and I remember thinking, can I back out now? But my friends, once again, convinced me that no one would even pay attention to me… I was only part of the chorus, standing at the back, basically in darkness. So I went through with it, and it went fine (or so I thought). Sure, I made lots of mistakes and didn’t know what I was doing AT ALL, but my friends were right… I was at the back, and theoretically should have been in total darkness.

Theoretically.

But for some bizarre, unknown reason, people in the audience later told me that there was a strange spotlight, shining on one spot at the back… Juuuuust where I was standing. People kept coming over later and congratulating me on my ‘comedic performance,’ and I was all, ‘what???! What are you talking about?’ And they’d be all, ‘oh, weren’t you meant to be lit up, doing it wrong?’ It turns out that EVERYONE could see me, really, really clearly, in my strange little spotlight of humiliation.

Here is a picture so you can see what I mean… That is me, at the back there. (Facing the wrong way, obviously).


Thankfully, age twenty-five, I now realise that none of these things were actually a massive deal. So I can’t dance and everyone saw, so what? And if a tampon actually bothered that guy, then would I have wanted to date him anyway? (Categorically no.) But at the time I was convinced these moments were the worst things that could have ever happened. I think that’s what I hoped Emma would give some other teenage readers - knowledge that they’re not alone in their awkwardness, and the message that ultimately, these things really aren’t worth losing sleep over.

Huge thank you to Chloe for the fabulous guest post! Be sure to check out the other blogs taking part in the tour this week, and scroll down for my thoughts on Editing Emma!


Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Contemporary, Humour
Release Date: August 10th 2017
Buy The Book: Book Depository - A Great Read

When sixteen-year-old Emma Nash is ‘ghosted’ by the love of her life Leon Naylor, she does what any normal teenage girl would do…

Emma spends the summer lurking in her bedroom, avoiding all human contact (and the shower), surrounded by the collection of chewit wrappers she saved from packs Leon gave her, back when he actually acknowledged her existence…

But seeing Leon suddenly ‘In a relationship’ on Facebook with the perfect Anna, spurs Emma into action and she embarks on a mission to make positive changes to her life (or ‘edits,’ if you will) and vows to use the internet for more than obsessively stalking Leon’s activities! Instead, she will use it for good and noble causes like finding someone who will actually be nice to her, and recording her findings for the rest of the world to see (i.e. BFF Steph and her mum) on her new Editing Emma blog.

But Emma soon discovers her ‘habit’ is harder to break than she first thought – turns out she’s not the only one ‘editing’ herself online (thank you Tinder for finding her mum’s profile, age 35, really?) and that life through an Instagram filter isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. But it could be worse, she could have outed her best friend, accidentally chatted up a 12 year old boy and revealed to the world why Leon Naylor is worth no girl’s time or virginity… oh no wait, that’s exactly what happened…

My Thoughts:
Emma really can't catch a break. This story follows her after Leon, her former unconfirmed boyfriend, decides to start completely ignoring her, and then enters a Facebook official relationship with another girl at their school. To stop the constant thoughts of Leon, Emma decides to use her private blog and the online world to recreate herself. She wants to become the ideal Emma. What follows is a whirlwind of dating disasters and wonderfully cringe-worthy moments.

The reason why I really connected with this book is because it reminded me so much of the stories I used to devour throughout my school years. I adored anything written in a chatty, diary-style way with funny and relatable characters. As I've gotten older, I seem to have discovered less stories like this. Instead I seem to constantly be reading either fantasy or more serious stories. Not that books that deal with serious issues aren't super important because they are, but sometimes you really need a good, funny story in your life. A charming bit of escapism. And that's exactly what Editing Emma is. But it's also a little more grown up that some of the former books written in this sort of style. It's on top of the game when it comes to modern issues and situations that teens go through.

For me, Emma is just one of those characters that you can't help but love. She's a little more than questionable at times, but everything that she does just adds to her overall charm. The story starts with her explaining her relationship with Leon and the heartbreak she's currently suffering because of him. I'll admit, with her moping about after losing Leon, especially when I didn't like his attitude from what we learn about him, I didn't take to her straight away. But this story had me in fits of giggles in no time. Honestly, I had one of those rare moments where I almost laughed on a train. In public. In front of actual people. During the early morning rush hour. This book is dangerous.

Emma has a group of friends, Steph, Faith, and Gracie, and we get to know more about them as the story unfolds. Their conversations and the moments between them are brilliant. We even get their tweets and texts included, which add another interesting element to the story and it breaks up the blog writing. Whilst the story is told by Emma, I enjoyed getting to learn about her friends through her, especially Faith who, among all of the witty moments, had some important and heartfelt moments that I'm so glad were included.

The various dating disasters that Emma has to face are hilarious. She has some serious guts to go ahead with some of the things that she does, I'll give her that! I don't want to say anything about how it turned out in the end, obviously, but I will say that I was so proud of the final blog post that Emma writes in this book. With such an interesting bunch of characters and so many laugh-out-loud moments, Editing Emma is perfect when you need a story to make you smile

Royal Rating:
 





Thursday, 3 August 2017

REVIEW: Release by Patrick Ness

Pages: 287
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Walker Books
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: May 4th 2017
Buy The Book: Book Depository - A Great Read
Inspired by Mrs Dalloway and Judy Blume's Forever, Release is one day in the life of Adam Thorn, 17. It's a big day. Things go wrong. It's intense, and all the while, weirdness approaches...

Adam Thorn is having what will turn out to be the most unsettling, difficult day of his life, with relationships fracturing, a harrowing incident at work, and a showdown between this gay teen and his preacher father that changes everything. It's a day of confrontation, running, sex, love, heartbreak, and maybe, just maybe, hope. He won't come out of it unchanged. And all the while, lurking at the edges of the story, something extraordinary and unsettling is on a collision course.

My Thoughts:
From the moment this book was announced, I was looking forward to it. A modern retelling of Mrs Dalloway? With elements of Forever by Judy Blume? Sign me up. So it's safe to say I was pathetically excited when the proof arrived at my doorstep from the wonderful people at Walker Books. It was one of my most anticipated reads of 2017, and it really didn't disappoint.

This story follows Adam over the course of a day. Adam is a gay teenager who has grown up in a strictly Christian household, a harsh reality that is true for many young people. Adam's journey over the course of this one day is incredible. Rooting for him to realise certain things, I felt a sense of pride when he started to decide to take control of certain situations in his life. This story sees him hit a breaking point after holding a lot of emotions in for a long time, and the pay-off is perfect.

Adam is currently in a relationship with Linus, but on the day the story is set, he is preparing to attend the goodbye party of Enzo, a guy he used to think he was in a relationship with, despite Enzo not wanting anyone to know about the two of them. Whilst Adam loves Linus, he is still torn over Enzo and the lack of conclusion from their relationship. Seeing Adam learn about himself and his feelings over the course of the story made for many brilliant moments. I was more than happy with the way things were left by the end of it.

The friendship between Adam and his best friend Angela was everything. So many of the stories I read throw drama between friends to create tension, but even though something threatens to shake up Adam and Angela's relationship, they have nothing but mutual support and understanding for each other instead. There's nothing I love more than reading about friends who are there for one another no matter what happens.

The connections to Mrs Dalloway were super clever, having the book start with Adam in a flower shop, and having him prepare for a big party that evening. There was also the story of Katherine van Leuwen, who was the Septimus of this story. Her ghost has a story told between the chapters, and it adds an interesting fantasy element to the story. Ness did a fantastic job of doing a modern twist on a much loved classic tale. I'm thrilled that one of my most anticipated reads of the year delivered in the best way possible, and Adam is a character I certainly won't be forgetting any time soon. 

Royal Rating:





Sunday, 16 July 2017

REVIEW: The Circus by Olivia Levez

Pages: 288
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Rock The Boat
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Release Date: June 13th 2017
Buy The Book: Book Depository
Willow has everything: a rich daddy, a pony and a place at a prestigious boarding school. Everything except the one thing she really wants—a father who cares enough to find her when she runs away from home.

On the eve of her father’s wedding, Willow runs again into the unknown. Her mother was a circus performer and Willow longs to follow in her footsteps. But when all of her money is stolen and her only friend, a street performer called Suz, betrays her, Willow is left penniless and alone. So begins a journey. Will Willow ever make it to the big top and find a place she can truly call home?

My Thoughts:
The Island was one of my favourite books of 2016, and was the story that made me fall utterly in love with the writing style of Olivia Levez. So it's safe to say that I was super excited to read her second book, The Circus.

This story starts with teenager Willow running away from home on the day of her father's wedding to a much younger woman. We quickly learn that it's not the first time she's fled from her old life, but this time she gets further than she's ever done before. With only one picture of her mother, who left her as a child, dressed as a circus performer, she decides to follow in her mother's footsteps and join the circus. Willow makes it to Hastings and reinvents herself as Frog, a circus performer ready to start her new life, but things go from bad to worse for her.

What I love about Olivia's characters is that they're always so real. There's nothing sugar-coated about the problems that they face and the world around them. They're not perfect, they're not always nice, but that's what makes them so believable. Frog's flaws make for a much more interesting story, and it made me root for her to get the things she wanted in life, even when she didn't fully realise what that was.

Whilst trying to navigate the streets of Hastings alone, Frog ends up becoming friends with Suz, a homeless girl who starts to teach her how to perform fire ticks, despite the two of them not getting off to a great start. Their relationship was one of the most interesting aspects of this story for me because as a reader, I never knew where I stood. I didn't know what would become of them from one chapter to the next. Even though they needed each other to get by, there was a tension between them that could break at any time.

The circus that we eventually get to see in the story was fascinating and I loved the mix of characters who were performers. I only wish we'd had more time with them and gotten to know more about their daily life at the circus.

One thing that really stood out to me about this book was that as a reader, I never felt safe. Frog's life was so uncertain from chapter to chapter that I never knew how her day was going to end, and I appreciated that level of tension because it made for an exciting but nerve-wracking read. The ending was written beautifully and as with The Island, there are still things left for the reader to wonder about. The Circus was such a thrilling and raw read, and it's only made me even more excited for whatever Olivia Levez works on next! 

Royal Rating:

 
 

Friday, 7 July 2017

REVIEW: Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

Series: The Dark Artifices
Pages: 720
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: May 23rd 2017
Buy The Book: A Great Read - Book Depository

Sunny Los Angeles can be a dark place indeed in Cassandra Clare’s Lord of Shadows, the sequel to the #1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling Lady Midnight. Lord of Shadows is a Shadowhunters novel.

Emma Carstairs has finally avenged her parents. She thought she’d be at peace. But she is anything but calm. Torn between her desire for her parabatai Julian and her desire to protect him from the brutal consequences of parabatai relationships, she has begun dating his brother, Mark. But Mark has spent the past five years trapped in Faerie; can he ever truly be a Shadowhunter again?

And the faerie courts are not silent. The Unseelie King is tired of the Cold Peace, and will no longer concede to the Shadowhunters’ demands. Caught between the demands of faerie and the laws of the Clave, Emma, Julian, and Mark must find a way to come together to defend everything they hold dear—before it’s too late.

My Thoughts:
*trying to write coherent review through my stream of tears*

Actual footage of me after this book
Every book by Cassandra Clare, every single book, ruins me emotionally. And Lord of Shadows is no exception. So as difficult as it might be, I'm going to keep this review spoiler free, but I will have a video on my channel at some point to discuss everything in-depth because OH BOY THERE'S A LOT TO DISCUSS. For now though, no spoilers.

Lord of Shadows picks up shortly after the events in Lady Midnight. The Blackthorns are trying to come to terms with everything that has happened with Malcolm, and his death hasn't solved their problems. A high number of sea demons are appearing and the Shadowhunters have to work alongside the Centurions to find out what's causing them to show. Along with the growing threat, the characters each have their own personal demons to battle.

Emma and Julian continue to struggle with their forbidden feelings throughout this book. Emma is trying her best to make her parabatai fall out of love with her, as much as it pains her to do so. These poor characters, honestly. I felt for them so much. What I love about The Dark Artifices is how it's exploring a love story between parabatai. It's new territory for readers, so it's interesting to discover new facts we didn't previously know about the Shadow world. With Emma and Julian, I appreciate the history between them. I enjoyed having the main romance be between two people who've known each other since childhood, so instead of focusing on building their relationship, we're witnessing how it's changing.

What I love about the Cassandra Clare's books is that no matter how many stories she writes that are set in Shadow World, there is always something new to learn about, or a new area to focus on, so it doesn't feel repetitive. In Lord of Shadows, we got to explore a little more about the attitudes that Shadowhunters have towards mental health and mundane treatment, which is something we've barely touched upon in previous stories but it's something I've been interested in. Can I also take a moment to talk about Ty and his autism because I'm so happy that this is a fantasy series that has an autistic boy as one of the main characters. I loved the way Kit thought about Ty's autism in the story, and how showing his reactions to Ty reminded us just how little the Shadowhunters understand about these things. THESE CHARACTERS ARE JUST SO GREAT.

I need to take a moment to talk about the romantic relationships in this book because OH BOY. I'm always complaining about love triangles and how they aren't necessary, but I almost missed the simplicity of them whilst reading this book because it completely throws triangles out of the window. THERE ARE SO MANY CHARACTERS WITH SO MANY FEELINGS FOR OTHER CHARACTERS AND I'M EMOTIONALLY RUINED. I don't want to say too much or I'll risk running into Spoiler Zone, but I don't envy Cristina's situation in this book and I honestly have no idea where her love life is going to go.

Okay, so the ending. Haha. I never want to read an ending like that ever again. It's been weeks and I'm still traumatised. The writing throughout the final couple of chapters is incredible at building the tension and showing emotions. Also the action scenes, as always, are vividly described. I honestly can't believe I have to wait (I don't know how long) to find out what happens next!

Royal Rating:

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

#ReadWithPride Mini Reviews!


Throughout June, Scholastic have been running a #ReadwithPride campaign to celebrate three of their diverse reads in honour Pride Month. If you haven't been able to check out any of these books yet, I've written some mini-reviews to help you decide if you want to give them a try...

Noah Can't Even by Simon James Green
  • I love this book.
  • Like, a lot.
  • So Noah believes he's totally Straight™ and thinks that dating the cute, unique girl at his school, Sophie, will help him ditch his nerdy/loser image.
  • But then his best friend, Harry, kisses him at a party and obviously that wasn't part of Noah's perfect little plan.
  • So everything goes to hell.
  • He doesn't realise how much he actually likes Harry and still thinks he can romantically pursue Sophie. Bless him.
  • This story is so funny. Honestly, I'm glad I was reading it at home and not on public transport because I would have received so many side-eyes from my fellow commuters.
  • It's beautifully British.
  • Noah is a precious, adorable little bean and his journey to coming to terms with his sexuality is cute, honest, and relatable.
  • His commentary on everything is A+.
  • Harry and Sophie are both brilliant characters and also Noah's mum, who takes a little while to get used to but is desperately funny. She's a Beyonce tribute act, naturally.
  • Did I mention I love this book?

George by Alex Gino
  • *throws this books at you*
  • So everyone needs to read this book.
  • E V E R Y O N E
  • If books had a middle name, Important would belong to this one.
  • A story with a transgender kid as the main character, learning how to embrace herself for who she is.
  • Do I need to say more?
  • Adorable friendships, wonderfully written characters, heart-warming moments, as well as some darker issues being addressed.
  • This books is informative as well as being fun, so it's perfect for anyone of any age.
  • It also deals with bullying, showing what kids who are different have to face.
  • It's just wonderful storytelling.
  • And I appreciate it a lot.

Girl Hearts Girl by Lucy Sutcliffe
  • So this one is a memoir.
  • And I'm so happy that Lucy decided to write about her life.
  • Because this book shows us a real young woman's journey to accepting her sexuality.
  • It shows her turning herself from someone who is shy and feels isolated, to someone who is open and proud and encourages others to be the same.
  • It discusses coming out to friends and family, and other people you cross paths with in your daily life.
  • It also explores first love and long distance relationships.
  • Uplifting is the perfect word to describe this book.
  • Lucy's love for Hermione is everything.
  • Lucy's love for her friends is also everything.
  • Her friends will immediately become your Squad Goals.
  • Seriously, where can I make friends like this??
  • This is a quick and cute read, and will leave you with a goofy little smile on your face because LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE IS ENOUGH TO MAKE ANYONE SMILE.

Make sure to check the #readwithpride tag on Twitter for more of the posts that have been shared this month!

Friday, 23 June 2017

8 Pride Inspired Reads

Has Pride gotten you in the mood to read some diverse books? I'm always looking for diverse reads, and nothing gets me wanting to find more LGBTQ+ characters like Pride Month. Here's a list of some awesome stories you might want to check out if you haven't already!


George by Alex Gino



I can't praise this book enough, I really can't. George is a story with a young transgender main character in the fourth grade. The fact that this book can be read by both children and adults alike means it has the chance to not only provide a relatable character for other transgender kids, but it can also be an important tool in educating parents about what their child might be going through. It's a book that I think needs to be easily available in every school.

Noah Can't Even by Simon James Green



I've already listed this as one of my favourite reads from 2017 because this book was just so much fun. This story follows Noah as his relationship with his best friend begins to change. If you're looking for a more light-hearted story about a teenage boy coming to terms with his sexuality, then this is the perfect book. I dare you not to adore Noah! 

You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan



This is a book that truly embraces the spirit of Pride! A collaboration between two fantastic authors, this story follows characters Kate and Mark as their lives collide during Pride events in San Francisco. The two of them quickly build a strong friendship and we get to see how the two of them support each other during their romantic woes. With adorable and witty characters, and an ending that truly made my heart smile, I'd definitely suggest this one for a feel-good read!

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson


I honestly can't talk about my love for this book enough. It's one of my favourites. This story follows two transgender characters, one in the middle of transitioning, and one who is only just coming to terms with being trans, and learning to open up about it. The characters in this story are just so rich and full of life, they're impossible not to like. The Art of Being Normal is informative, believable, and also hilarious at times. If you haven't had a chance to pick this one up yet, then now is the perfect time!

Girl Hearts Girl by Lucy Sutcliffe



I've literally just finished reading this one, so it's fresh it my mind! This is a memoir from Lucy about her life so far, coming to terms with her sexuality and telling the story of how she fell in love. Lucy is wonderfully open and honest about what was going through her mind during her confusing teen years. Young people who are discovering their sexuality will be able to relate to the situations Lucy finds herself in, and the questions that run through her mind.

A Boy Like Me by Jennie Wood



I first read this eBook just over two years ago and it reminded me exactly why I'm still a huge reader of indie stories. It's a touching story that follows the journey of a transgender boy trying to win the heart of the girl he loves. It's gives us an informative look into the feelings of someone coming to terms with the fact that they were born in the wrong body, and the issues that transgender people face in everyday life. A Boy Like Me is such a wonderful hidden gem.

Maurice by E.M.Forster



I had to include my fave classic in this list! Maurice was written in the early 1900's, but due to the story being based around homosexuality, it wasn't released until 1971, after Forster's death. A story way ahead of it's time, Maurice gives an insightful look into being gay in Edwardian England. And despite most stories that included gay characters at the time ending in tragedy, Forster was determined to give this one a happier ending.

I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson



This book follows twins Jude and Noah, jumping between the past and the present, leading up to the death of their mother and the what happened after. Noah is in love with the boy next door, and whilst the book doesn't solely focus on their story, it does demonstrate how self-destructive a person can be whilst trying to deny or hide their sexuality. Noah's journey in this book has a lot of low moments, but he was such a fantastic character to read about. 

!BONUS FANTASY READ!
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell


I've discovered more and more awesome fantasy stories with LGBTQ+ characters in recent years, and I could spend ages writing a list of the ones I like to throw at everyone, but I'll stick with recommending my absolute favourite. PLEASE, IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THIS BOOK YET, JUST GIVE IT A LITTLE TRY.

There's so many more awesome LGBTQ+ reads out there to discover, this is just a list of some of my personal faves. Feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments! (I'm on the hunt for books with asexual characters if anyone can recommend one.) Also, be sure to check out the #ReadwithPride Twitter tag set up by Scholastic to find some awesome posts and reviews that are being published throughout June.

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