Tuesday, 17 April 2018

REVIEW: Fragments of the Lost by Megan Miranda

Pages: 384
Format: ARC Paperback
Publisher: Crown Books
Topics: Mystery, Missing People
Release Date: January 16th 2018 (US)
Buy The Book: Book Depository - A Great Read

Jessa Whitworth knew she didn't belong in her ex-boyfriend Caleb's room. But she couldn't deny that she was everywhere: in his photos, his neatly folded T-shirts, even the butterfly necklace in his jeans pocket . . . the one she gave him for safe keeping on that day.

His mother asked her to pack up his things, even though she blames Jessa for his accident. How could she say no? And maybe, just maybe, it will help her work through the guilt she feels about their final moments together.

But as Jessa begins to box up the pieces of Caleb's life, they trigger memories that make Jessa realize their past relationship may not be exactly as she remembered. And she starts to question whether she really knew Caleb at all.

Each fragment of his life reveals a new clue that propels Jessa to search for the truth about Caleb's accident. What really happened on the storm-swept bridge?

Well, this was quite a rollercoaster of a story. With it's twists and turns leading me all over the place, I was never sure exactly which direction it was going to take, leaving me constantly growing suspicious and pointing fingers at almost every character.

Fragments of the Lost takes place after the disappearance of Caleb Evers, and follows his ex-girlfriend Jessa as she clears his room away for his family as they prepare to move. A lot of the story is set within Caleb's bedroom and told through memories that the two of them shared. But the more things Jessa discovers in his room, the more she starts analysing the parts of Caleb's life that she was allowed to see.

I'll be completely honest, at first I thought this book was going to be my cup of tea. Whilst I do love a good thriller, I don't read them too often, and this one didn't manage to draw me in straight away considering it was mostly Jessa's memories of their relationship for the first quarter of the book. But the more Jessa tore apart Caleb's room, the more hooked I became. Instead of getting answers, we're given more mysteries, and Jessa starts to realise that she only got to see a small part of Caleb's complex life.

Jessa was a character who I didn't feel too connected to at the start of the story, but I grew to like her more and more. She was just a normal girl who happened to get swept up into a very complicated world. I enjoyed seeing her interactions with those around her change as the story progressed.

There wasn't one character who I wasn't suspicious of at some point or another. In fact, for quite a big chunk of the story, I was absolutely convinced that a minor character had something to do with Caleb's disappearance, when it turned out they were actually just a perfectly innocent minor character. I really thought I was cleverly on to something, but I couldn't have been more further from the truth!

Whilst the overall story isn't scary, there were certain scenes in this that left me chilled. Especially as Jessa investigated parts of Caleb's past. There were moments when I really didn't know who to trust, so I had no idea whether any of the characters were potentially going to bring harm to Jessa, and it definitely had me on edge! That feeling of unease was what kept me turning the pages of this book, and it made for a brilliantly atmospheric read. 

Royal Rating:

Monday, 2 April 2018

EVENT RECAP: An Afternoon With Holly Black

Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the past few months, you'll probably have noticed a lot of people discussing Holly Black's latest novel, The Cruel Prince. I've been desperate, and I mean desperate, to get my hands on a copy, but my very broke self hasn't been able to purchase any new books lately. So when I saw that the wonderful Waterstones in Liverpool was hosting a competition for a free ticket to Holly's event, including a copy of the book, I hit that retweet button so fast. For once, luck was actually on my side and I WON.


Literally two hours before the event, I found out on Twitter that I was one of the two winners, so I had an hour to throw some clothes on and make myself look presentable because I WAS ABOUT TO MEET HOLLY BLACK. Somehow I still managed to get to the store super early, and bagged myself a seat at the very front. I always try to arrive early to get front row at these things because my short self would spend the whole time craning to see over not-short people the whole time otherwise.

On my way in, I was given this absolutely gorgeous goodie back containing a copy of the book (!!!!!!!!!) and some very exciting swag, which I had a nosey at whilst waiting for the talk to start. 

The goodie bag from the event!
Look at this beautiful character art!
Black heart lollipops. I'm always down for free food.
An adorable bookmark and a candle? This goodie bag is definitely for me. Also: HELLO SEQUEL TEASER.
A super cute fairyloot badge!
Holly kicked off the event in dramatic style with a reading of the prologue from The Cruel Prince. After that, she did a short interview with the host of the afternoon, the wonderful Simon from Savidge Reads, talking about all things Faerie. He questioned her about the story revolving around Jude instead of Vivi, whom the prologue seems to focus on more. Holly told us that whilst Vivi seemed to tick all of the right boxes for a classic YA protagonist, in her mind the story had always been about Jude. She wanted to tell a story about a human growing up in an 'other' world, like a reverse-changeling story.

After the initial interview, the event was handed over to the audience to ask questions. When quizzed about writing a series, Holly's advice was to be careful not to close too many doors too early on in the story because they might be needed further down the line. She was also asked about how she knew a book would end when there is a sequel, and she confessed that The Cruel Prince had originally supposed to finish at another part.

One of the final questions of the night was about where she got her folklore when planning her stories set in Faerie. She told us that she read books that contained write-ups of people's encounters with faeries. Whether they're real or not, they contain some fascinating information!

Once the questions were all finished, we were allowed to queue up for the book signing. There was originally someone in front of me in the line, but they left to go and get something, and before I knew it, I was at Holly's table! Not expecting to be first up, I definitely had one of those good old Moments of Panic where I forgot every word that ever existed. My anxious self likes to go over what I'm saying approximately one million times in my head beforehand, so I felt exceptionally Unprepared. Luckily I composed myself enough to tell her that I was super excited to read the book and that I'd seen my fellow bloggers give it so much praise.


And that was my tale from a very unexpected book signing! This was actually the first book event I'd been to in almost two years, since my anxiety prevented me from going to the last signing that I planned to attend. I'm proud that I managed to make it this time and only mildly freaked out. I need to say a huge thank you to the team at Waterstones Liverpool for the fantastic opportunity, and to Holly for a wonderful afternoon. I'm beyond excited to finally read The Cruel Prince!

 

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

The Queen of Teen Fiction has a New Look!

Do you like what I've done with the place? I sure hope so because it's only taken me since the start of 2018 to redecorate. Since I last changed my blog design in 2015, I figured I'd stuck with the same look for long enough to have earned a change. So one of my goals for this year was to work on a new design, and this time I wanted to completely change things up. As you may have noticed, I've lost my little book queen, who has been on my blog for the best part of seven years. 

When I first started my blog back in 2011, everyone else seemed to have their own vector boy or girl in their header, and I wanted one too! Which is how my queen came to be. But after all these years, I think it's time to give her a rest. As much as I love her, I felt like it was finally time to go for a more simple and minimalist look.

It certainly hasn't been easy to get this design the way I wanted it. Back when I first started blogging, I had zero knowledge in design. And I mean literally nothing. I was a complete mess. I was also a very poor mess, which meant I couldn't afford to buy any sort of custom design (i still can't). So I had no choice but to try and learn things myself. Despite my hatred of HTML, I'm super proud of how far I've come in being able to handle my own blog design! As well as the new look, I've also decided to try changing up my reviews a little as well, so stay tuned for some new content in the future.

Whilst making this new design, I've made use of so many amazing free resources that I've come across online, so I'm hoping to create a masterlist of useful websites for a blog post on design. If any of you have websites you use to help with your own blogs, please feel free to share them in the comments and I'll include them. Hopefully it can make life a little easier for bloggers who want to create their own designs in the future!

There will probably be more than a few teething problems with the new design over the next few weeks. No matter how many times I check things over, something always manages to go wrong. So if you happen to notice anything acting a little strange on my blog, please do let me know so I can (try to) fix it!


Tuesday, 6 March 2018

REVIEW: Tender by Eve Ainsworth

Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Scholastic
Topics: Realistic Fiction, Illness, Mental Health
Release Date: March 1st 2018
Buy The Book: Book Depository - A Great Read

Touching on mental health, family, friendship and the pressures that teenage carers face, as author Cat Clarke says, TENDER is a compassionate, compelling and unflinching novel . Marty and Daisy spend their lives pretending. Marty pretends his mum's grip on reality isn't slipping by the day. Daisy pretends her parents aren't exhausting themselves while they look after her incurably ill brother. They both pretend they're fine. But the thing about pretending is, at some point, it has to stop. And then what?  


My Thoughts:
This story deals with two incredibly difficult living situations for teenagers, Daisy and Marty. Whilst one must deal with the physical battles her family has to face with her brother's muscle wasting disease, the other has to cope with the mental health issues his mother deals with every day. The two contrasting families fight very different things, but somehow Daisy and Marty manage to find common ground in the position their lives have put them both in.

The two main characters are so interesting to read about. Though it's difficult to see them bury their thoughts and feelings away, I'm glad that as readers, we get to see them finally able to share their worries with each other, and eventually open up to those around them as well. So many younger people like Daisy and Marty are facing situations where they have to give up large parts of their lives to care for those around them.

This story, although aimed at teenagers, is also an important tool for showing everyone what young carers have to go through. Both Daisy and Marty feel as though they have to hide their own difficulties because they don't want to make a fuss or cause more problems. I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like for people genuinely facing situations like this. I'm so glad that this story was able to show the characters realising that it's okay to think about themselves as well.

Daisy and Marty find comfort in each other throughout the story and the small amount of romance between them is sweet and refreshing. Ainsworth manages to perfectly capture the butterfly-filled feelings that spark between them. I also adored the scenes that took place in the group for young carers. If there had been more time within the story, I'd have loved to have gotten to know the characters within the group a little more.

Despite the difficult situations that Tender revolves around, it leaves readers with positive messages that everyone should think about. As the characters learn, we definitely need to start living for the right now because we never know what's going to happen tomorrow. I'm always pleased whenever books include useful information links at the back relating to the subjects covered within the story, which this one did. It's a simple way to provide support and comfort for the readers who might pick up the book whilst struggling with similar situations. 

Royal Rating:

 

Friday, 9 February 2018

REVIEW: Rookie on Love edited by Tavi Gevinson

Pages: 288
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Razorbill
Genre: Non-fiction, Anthology
Release Date: January 2nd 2018
Buy The Book: Book Depository


A single-subject anthology about the heart's most powerful emotion, edited by Tavi Gevinson. Featuring exclusive, never-before-seen essays, poems, comics, and interviews from contributors like Jenny Zhang, Emma Straub, Hilton Als, Janet Mock, John Green, Rainbow Rowell, Gabourey Sidibe, Mitski, Alessia Cara, Etgar Keret, Margo Jefferson, Sarah Manguso, Durga Chew-Bose, and many more!


My Thoughts:
This is a book that really does have something to offer to everyone. A collection of works from various writers and artists, Rookie on Love is packed with a variety of recollections, observations, poems, and even comics, regarding the topic of love. Considering I focus so much on reading fiction, it was refreshing to pick this one up and enjoy something different.

Despite the book revolving around love, it's not just focused on romantic love. Whilst there are stories of heartbreak and love gone wrong, it also explores family dynamics, our relationships with our friends, and even the love we have for our pets. With relatable writing throughout, there's bound to be something within these pages that you can relate to a little.

This gorgeously designed book has adorable illustrations throughout, which make it even more special. The comic strip pages were an unexpected surprise that I adored! Especially, OMG, Yay! which focused on small, positive parts of an average day that can make us happy. It's such a cute idea that me smile.

I won't lie, my favourite work within Rookie on Love is Willis, a devotional to dogs. It's only a few pages long, but it really makes you think about the love our pets have for us, and how much their lives revolve around our decisions. It made my emotional, dog-loving self go and give my own dog the biggest of cuddles.

Do Sisters Actually Love Each Other? is an interesting piece about sibling relationships and how they evolve. The fact that it's told via text was interesting and made it even more fun to read. I also loved Binary Planets, in which twins Ogechi and Ugochi discuss their experiences growing up. It was fascinating to take this sort of look into the lives of others.


Another one of my favourites is the conversation between Rainbow Rowell and John Green about writing teen love. It was great to read their thoughts about why they write their love stories the way that they do. Other highlights include a poem by Florence Welch and a piece by Alessia Cara on learning how to love herself first and foremost.

With such an interesting bunch of pieces from a wonderfully diverse set of contributors, Rookie on Love is the uplifting read that I needed. It's one that can be picked up and delved into anytime, and one with works I'll be sure to go back to and read over again in the future.

Royal Rating:


Saturday, 20 January 2018

7 Books From 2017

Finally we've put 2017 behind us and have begun a new year! I'm very much looking forward to the reading year ahead, especially with the new sense of determination I have after my not-so-great 2017. But I always like to take the time to reflect on the wonderful books I discovered over the previous year. I did make a video to fully discuss my favourite books from 2017, but for those of you who prefer the good old written word, I've listed them in a blog post, too. So here are my top 7 from 2017!

 

What books were you loving in 2017? And what books are you looking forward to in the coming year? Let me know!



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