Friday, 23 September 2016

Carry On Read-Along!


This October 6th, or 8th for those of us in the UK, will officially mark one year since the release of Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. As you may or may not know, it's one of my fave books ever. (I know, I talk about it a lot, but it is the eight wonder of the world.) So to celebrate this special day in young Carry On's published life, I've decided to reread the book throughout the month! From October 1st I'll be using the hashtag #carryonreadalong whilst I delve back into the world of Simon and Baz once again, sharing some of my favourite quotes and moments. If you fancy rereading the book, want to read it for the first time, or you simply want to share some of your own fave moments, feel free to join in with the hashtag - I'd love to see what you adore most about Carry On!


Also, if you haven't heard already, RAINBOW ROWELL IS TOURING IN THE UK WITH LEIGH BARDUGO, THIS IS NOT A DRILL. At the end of October, both of these fabulous ladies will stop off at four places in the UK to chat about their awesome books. To check out dates and details, be sure to visit the website: http://worldscollidetour.com/

Thursday, 22 September 2016

REVIEW: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Pages: 405
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 22nd September 2016
Buy The Book: Book Depository

Three sisters. One crown. A fight to the death.

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn't solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it's not just a game of win or lose . . . it's life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown.
 

My Thoughts:
Three Dark Crowns is set in a world in which triplets are separated at the age of six and trained to be queens until they are sixteen. After that, the sisters then have a certain amount of time to try and, well, kill the others. The last remaining sister gets the crown and is allowed to rule until the next set of triplet queens are born. Each queen has one of three abilities that are common across the island; elemental, poisoner, and naturalist. Whichever sister wins the crown strengthens those with that specific ability during her rule. Since the poisoner queen has won the crown for several generations, poisoners throughout the island are stronger than ever.

The poisoner queen fighting for the crown this time is Katherine, but she is nowhere near as strong as those who have ruled before her, and the family training her are trying their best to hide it. The elemental queen is Mirabella, widely known by everyone as the strongest of the three sisters and the most likely to win. She is the strongest elemental in a long time, and their best chance of regaining the crown. The third and final queen is the naturalist, Arsinoe. So far she has not shown any of her ability and her sisters are aware that she is the weakest. Arsinoe's best friend Jules, however, is an exceptionally strong naturalist and is doing her best to help her friend find her ability.

Before I get into the plot of this story, let's talk about the three sisters in the heart of it and the people surrounding them. The first thing that made this book stand out to me was how focused it is on strong women. I found it refreshing that women were the ones holding power over the island. There are male characters in the story, but the intriguing ladies are definitely the main event. The sisters were all interesting in their own way. I liked Mirabella's attitude and her feelings over the situations she was being forced into as a queen. Although, there was a scene halfway through the book that made me question my opinion on her a little, along with another character who I haven't quite forgiven enough yet. Katherine was the queen I had the most sympathy for because as a poisoner, she faced a lot of pressure to do well, and was put through a lot of harsh training. My fave of the sisters, though, was Arsinoe. She was seen as the weakest when it came to abilities but she was strong in other ways. I adored the fierce friendship between her and Jules. Despite not being one of the three sisters, Jules was also a favourite character of mine. Although I enjoyed following all of the sisters, it was Arsinoe and Jules' journey that I was hooked on the most.

The plot was well paced and I enjoyed the time that was spent getting to know the characters. There are so many complex characters throughout this book, some of whom I feel we've only just scratched the surface of. The last quarter of the story was exciting and tense and I could not put it down for those final few chapters! There was also fantastic world-building that told enough to understand what was happening but definitely left the story open enough for questions. Oh boy, do I have a lot of questions about this island and what the bigger picture is. Also, the ending was incredible. Plot twists were thrown around all over the place before the big one right at the very end. I honestly just stared at the page open mouthed thinking I NEED THE NEXT BOOK IMMEDIATLEY. There are so many things I'm looking forward to in the next book after that ending, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for these characters. The world within Three Dark Crowns is utterly fascinating and it's one I'm eager to return to. 

Over here in the UK, there are three gorgeous covers to collect, one for each queen! My personal favourite is the poisoner cover because snakes are my thing. Which one is your fave??


Royal Rating:

 

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

REVIEW: Harry Potter and The Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne

Pages: 343
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Little Brown
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure
Release Date: July 31st 2016
Buy The Book: Book Depository

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

My Thoughts:
WARNING: There will be spoilers because, let's face it, I literally can't discuss this script without discussing EVERYTHING. 

Where do I even start? First of all, let me make it clear that Harry Potter is my LIFE. I can say with confidence that I wouldn’t be the person I am today without this series. So you can safely assume that I lost all chill when it was revealed that the script of the play would be published for everyone to read. You see, the announcement of the play didn’t exactly leave me jumping for joy because I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford to see it (like, ever, because travelling to and staying in London is an eeeek for me). This was a continuation of Harry Potter and I WOULDN’T BE ABLE TO WITNESS IS. So the announcement of the script book made me want to cry many happy tears. 

So let’s discuss this script, shall we? I went into it fully understanding that this wasn’t going to be like a typical Harry Potter story. Obviously, it’s a play, so it’s written with the intent to be viewed, not read. I also figured that the characters may seem a little off at times with them not being written solely by our actual Queen, J.K. Rowling. Going in without unrealistically high expectations was the right decision for me because I ended up completely enjoying this script. I saw lots of different and sometimes harshly critical opinions from others when I started reading it with regards to plot holes and things being a little messed up sometimes, so I figured it was going to be quite a wild plot. What I decided to do when reading it was to not take it too seriously. Yes, there were plot holes, yes there were things that really didn’t add up, especially when compared to the original books, but I tried pushing all of that aside and just had fun catching up with these characters and meeting some amazing new ones. 

The script begins exactly where Deathly Hallows left off, nineteen years after Harry defeated Lord Voldermort. Whilst he's walking his son Albus to the Hogwarts Express, we get part of the conversation between them from the final book. I liked that the script kicked things off from that part! When Albus gets on the train, he ends up meeting Scorpius Malfoy and decides to sit with him for the journey. When both of the boys are sorted into Slytherin, they become fast friends, encouraged by the fact that they are outcast by their classmates. Albus is laughed at for being the Potter who ended up in Slytherin, and Scorpius is subject to cruel rumours about him actually being the son of Voldermort. One of the best things about this script was the bond that formed between Albus and Scorpius. The son of Harry Potter and the son of Draco Malfoy both being Slytherin and becoming best friends? That was pretty much everything I could have wanted. 

Along with getting to know this future generation of characters, let's talk about the originals. The Harry, Ron, and Hermione in Cursed Child are different but still the same, if that makes sense? They're older and have important jobs to be doing, but their dialogue and the friendship is just as brilliant as it always was. I'm thrilled that Hermione is Minister for Magic! Her and Ron's relationship as adults is still adorable, and their characters were great throughout the script. The plot focuses mostly on Harry's relationship with Albus. Things are tense between them because of the pressure on Albus, and I loved how the story dealt with that. Although I will admit that Harry's way of dealing with things angered me at times. (TELLING YOUR SON YOU WISH HE'D NEVER BE BORN ISN'T HOW YOU DO PARENTING, HARRY.)

I need to talk about Draco Malfoy. I AM SO HAPPY WITH HOW THIS SCRIPT PORTRAYED HIM. I particularly loved the scenes between him and Harry during which they got a proper chance to talk instead of butt heads. We finally get to learn a little about how Draco was feeling throughout the original story when he admits to Harry that he envied his friendship with Ron and Hermione. I also loved how he reacted to Scorpius being best friends with Albus, in a complete contrast to how Harry dealt with it. Draco scolding Harry for keeping them apart was EVERYTHING. 

While I'm talking about the friendship between Albus and Scorpius, I can't really ignore that there has been some, um, drama with regards to how they appeared to seem a little more than just friends at times. I'm not going to go off on a rant because I've already spoken about it in my discussion video, and there have been countless articles about it since the script was published, but I will say that in my own opinion it did feel like it was, well, baiting slightly. But aside from that, I absolutely adored the scenes between them. Albus was daring and more reckless whilst Scorpius was wary and logical. His reactions to everything were hilarious and I could easily list my favourite quotes from him, but we'd be here all day. I never expected that Scorpius would end up being my favourite character, but he was by far the best thing this script had to offer. 

The plot of the script itself was a little wild. A secret child of Voldermort and Bellatrix going back through time to save her father? It definitely seemed a little fan-fiction-y but we need to remember that this is a play and it's purpose is to entertain and shock those watching it, which I'm pretty sure that plot would have done! The ending of Part One was incredible. Poor Scorpius returning to the future to find the whole world different and Umbridge as Hogwarts' headmaster, it was genius. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed the time-travel plot. Going back through time was a great way to catch up with characters no longer with us (yes, I’m talking about Snape), and it was also important for the moving on of the characters, for example when Harry and Albus had to be at Godric's Hollow on the night James and Lily were murdered. That aspect of the story allowed for some touching scenes. 

I could be here all day chatting about this script and what I loved about it. I fully enjoyed the chance to immerse myself in the Wizarding World once more, catching up with old favourites and meeting some new ones. I had a few issues here and there, but they didn't ruin my overall reading experience. What I will say is that I found this script to be quite safe. There was nothing ground-breaking or extraordinary about it, if I'm being truly honest. Of course there's nothing wrong with that, but I just felt like if anything had the opportunity to break a few boundaries, it was this script. However I'm grateful that we were given a continuation of Harry Potter, and if I could get to London and see the play, I wouldn't hesitate to do so.

Royal Rating:



Sunday, 11 September 2016

SUPER AWKWARD BLOG TOUR: Q&A with Beth Garrod

Today is the final stop on the blog tour for Super Awkward, the hilarious new novel by Beth Garrod! I'm please to share with you all this Q&A with the lady herself.

1. Hi Beth, welcome to The Queen of Teen Fiction! Can you tell us a little bit about your novel, Super Awkward?
Of course! Thanks for asking me. Ok, Super Awkward. It’s about a fifteen year old girl, called Bella Fisher (Fishy Balls, to her ex) and her quest to have just one day pass by without doing something so mortifying she Googles, ‘how much food would I need to buy to officially become a hermit’. It’s a book that’s about friendships, boys – specifically the hottest boy in the world, NO BIG DEAL – and worrying that everyone else has it all figured out. Oh, and there are a lot of crisps in it. And Dairy Milk with Daim.

2. What was it that inspired you to write the story?
I guess I wasn’t inspired as such, it was just getting the chance to write similar sort of stuff as a job (AKA THE DREAM JOB) when I started off at the BBC in Science, and realised I could swap writing about planets, for popstars and periods. Sometimes even popstars having periods. And once I started, I fell in love, and as my job changed it was the thing I carried on doing as a hobby. I have also spoken to some many young people who feel as if they’re the only ones who feel like they don’t fit in, or are worrying about weird stuff – so if just one person feels a bit happier at the end of a day, or realises that, like Bella, it’s totally normal to not have stuff figured out, I will die happy (ARGH, I’M PROBABLY NOT MEANT TO WRITE ABOUT DEATH WHEN TALKING ABOUT A BOOK ABOUT SNOGGING, I’M REALLY SORRY).

3. Tell us about your main character, Bella! What do you think readers will love about her?
Bella. Hmmm. Well, what I hope readers will love about her, is that she’s constantly trying to get stuff right, which only makes her get it all more wrong. And, in life, I know I much prefer people with good intentions that those with good life skills. I also hope they also love her dog, as she was based on my very own dog when I was a teenager (RIP Mumbles) (ARRRRGHHHHH, I’M TALKING ABOUT DEATH AGAIN).

4. What was the most challenging part of the writing process for you?
Not writing about death all the time cos I’m clearly obsessed with it.
NO. Obvs that was a joke.
I’m really disorganised, and don’t plan anything, so for me the hardest parts were trying to make things happen in the right place.
I also cringe at writing kissing stuff (lucky Bella isn’t exactly a snogging lothario, or I’d be in trouble), and I don’t enjoy the bits where stuff isn’t working out. SPOILER – THINGS DON’T ALWAYS WORK OUT. (But mainly they do). (But sometimes they don’t).

5. Do you have a favourite writing place?
No – I’m so lazy, that wherever I’m sitting down is my favourite place. And you mainly have to be sitting down to write, as it’s a real trip hazard if you’re trying to walk and type on a laptop. Although, it is extra lovely to be able to see nice things out of the window, and one weekend by the sea in a little village in Cornwall was probably my absolute favourite. Don’t know how much writing I got done though, as I was too busy trying to look intelligent, and literary, while gazing out of the window.

6. What made you want to write for a YA audience?
Guess that comes back to question two. Because it’s the audience that I think is funniest, and most interesting. And YA books are my favourite. You’ve got to write something that you’d want to read, as you’re going to read it more than anything else in your whole life (other than adverts on the tube).

7. What were your own favourite books to read as a teenager?
Anything by Judy Blume. Anything with a horse in it. If Judy Blume had written about horses falling in love, I would have been in heaven. I also got really into my parents’ murder mystery books (BACK ON THE DEATH THING AGAIN). And Diana Wynne Jones was incredible. I think variety is an amazing thing.

8. Finally, what have been your own super awkward moments?
How long have you got?
I’m also really happy you haven’t added ‘as a teenager’ as I’m still racking them up now. Obvs I’m going to pretend the ones in the book are totally fictional, and I definitely didn’t text a boy a liked with a message meant for my friend, describing said boy as ‘world’s fittest man’. (If he’s reading this now, I would like to claim in my defence, that it was just extra early research for my book, not actually a mortifying mistake). A couple of weeks ago I stayed in a posh hotel – after a mini-camping trip. While one of the staff was giving me side-eye, I tried to wiggle something out of my suitcase, but accidently flicked a slug on the wall. It must have been wanting to swap campsite life, for a turndown service. Or there’s the time I knocked myself out walking into a wall (I got two weeks off school – actually quite a result). Or had someone (an actual stranger) on a packed tube point out I’d got my top on inside out. Or the time I accidentally threw three tampons out of my bag and into the lap of an old man. The list is too endless. Which is why it’s never fun taking life too seriously. As you’re only ever a second away from choking on a Pringle.

Huge thank you to Beth for the awesome answers! Super Awkward is available to buy now, and you can read my thoughts here. If you've missed any of the stops of the tour, but sure to check out the blogs that have taken part!

Sunday, 4 September 2016

REVIEW: Super Awkward by Beth Garrod

Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: Contemporary, Humour,
Release Date: September 1st 2016
Buy The Book: Book Depository

I, Bella Fisher, am absolutely WINNING at FAILING at life.
1. I once got my tongue stuck to a box of Calippos in a supermarket.
2. I accidentally called my geography teacher Mum. Twice. He wasn't impressed.
3. I'm a geek. And not in a geek-chic kind of way, but in a secretly-caring-about-failing-maths-and-science way.
4. I always fail maths and science.

So it figures that when I meet the FITTEST BOY IN THE WORLD, Zac, I'm doing solo star jumps. While dressed as a cereal box.
(NOTE TO SELF, fancy dress = HE-WILL-NEVER-EVER-FANCY-ME dress.)

Now I've got to somehow persuade Zac to come to prom with me while avoiding my evil ex and dealing with a secret so mega-awks I want to Ctrl-Z my brain... What could go wrong?
Oh yeah, that's right. Absolutely everything.

My Thoughts:
Super Awkward starts with fifteen-year-old Bella going on a holiday to Wales with her mum and older sister Jo. Whilst she’s there (having the Worst time ever) she meets Zac. When he says that he is seventeen, Bella tells a little white lie about her own age. As Zac and her lies catch up with her after she’s back at home, she tries to navigate the mess that is her life. 

This book made me feel sixteen again and it spoke to my own super awkward heart. Everyone will be able to relate in some way to at least one of the teen dramas that occur in Bella’s journey through Year 10. It’s been a while since I’ve read a story that so accurately depicts the life of a fifteen-year-old in a typical British high school. Everything from the dialogue and the characters to the wild situations they find themselves in is funny, heart-warming, and believable.  

Bella herself is a hilarious character and her awkwardness kept me entertained throughout the book. I also loved her friendship with Rachel and Tegan. The three of them, though they do have their rough patches, provide some great moments and even when their friendship is tested, they’re always there to support each other in the end. Her relationship with her sister was also up and down but I loved their bond and the way the two of them worked through their problems together in the final few chapters. Also, Bella’s mum is brilliant. As cringey as it must have been for Bella, I completely loved her hippy ways. 

Romance drama comes in several shapes throughout this book, mostly in the form of Zac and Luke. Whilst Bella is coming to terms that her relationship with Zac isn’t the love story she hoped for, her ex-boyfriend Luke is causing her even more trouble. Luke isn’t a likeable character and I spent most of the book rooting for Bella to get her own back on him in the best possible way. Also, whilst we’re on the topic of romance, can I just say how pleased I was that there was no tension-filled love triangle in this book? Even though there is more than one love interest, the absence of Bella being torn over having to choose between two boys made Super Awkward a way more realistic and relatable read. 

This is a wonderfully current story with plenty of pop culture references to giggle at. Though this focuses on young teens in the highly drama filled world that is high school, the humour can appeal to a wide range of ages. It’s that timeless type of funny that even when older, you can remember your own life at that age and laugh. If you’re looking for a cute UKYA read with loveable characters, then Super Awkward is the perfect choice.
 
The tour for Super Awkward starts tomorrow, so make sure to check out the all the awesome blogs taking part, and drop by here on the 11th for an interview with Beth!

Royal Rating:



Wednesday, 31 August 2016

The Brain Behind The Blog #4: Rachel's Really Random Reviews


Hello, bookworms! It's time for me to present to you August's featured blogger. This month we have my very own bestie and fellow piece of trash, Rachel from Rachel's Really Random Reviews!

You and Your Blog
How long have you been blogging, and what was it that inspired you to get started?
I created my blog in January 2012, but I didn't really start using it properly until around June of the same year. I initially set it up as somewhere to write a little about my life, along with various other things such as book and movie reviews, but as university was keeping me extremely busy I didn't really use it until the summer break. Right before the break, I decided to check out a few books from the very limited YA section of my university library. As I had no idea Goodreads existed back then, I decided to use my blog to keep track of the books I had read over the summer. I had finally found a purpose for my blog, and although I only meant to keep it for the summer, I enjoyed writing down my thoughts so much that I decided to continue with it after summer was over!

What is the best part about blogging for you?
I love getting emails from self published authors asking me to review their books! There are so many amazing books that are not published in the traditional way, and without my blog I wouldn't have the opportunity to discover so many.


Have you had any blogging disasters?
Nothing too drastic, but I am constantly making spelling mistakes! I'm also pretty lazy when it comes to HTML, so I do a lot of copy and pasting from previous posts to get the formatting the same for each post, and on a couple of occasions I've forgot to delete something I've pasted in from a previous post, which I haven't realised until a reader has pointed it out in the comments!

What has been your favourite blogging memory?
Although I adore getting requests from self published authors, it was a pretty big moment for me when I got approached by Orion publishing asking me if I wanted to review Charlaine Harris' new series. I used to be a huge True Blood nerd, so being asked to review a book by such a well known author felt like a huge step.

What do you hope to achieve with your blog in the future?
Discovering even more amazing books! I would also love to try to be a little more active in the blogging community, as I tend to just quietly do my own thing and not interact with others much.

You and Books
What appeals to you when searching for new books to read?
I feel as if Goodreads is a good tool for finding books that are similar to ones I've enjoyed. I also love it when people recommend their favourite books to me. I try to find a balance between reading what's popular and reading self published books.

Are there any genres that you avoid?
I tend to read mostly YA, although I do also review one of the classics every other month. I don't read adult books too often, but ones that I definitely would never read are adult romance and erotica. Inside of YA however, there isn't really anything that I actively avoid.

What book would you say has had the biggest impact on your life?
I really don't want to be a cliché and say Harry Potter, but I have to say Harry Potter. It has been my all time favourite series since I was eight years old, and I don't think I'll ever find a series that will be able to beat it. When I was a child, I was very much like Hermione. I was one of the smartest kids in my class, I loved reading and I didn't have many friends. Having Hermione in my life really helped me to see that I wasn't alone, and that there were other kids like me. She made me realise that being smart and enjoying books wasn't a bad thing, and she honestly ended up being my role model.

What book are you currently anticipating?
I was going to say Lord of Shadows but that's not coming out for ages! I honestly think I'm going to die of old age before Cassandra Clare stops writing Shadowhunters books. I also really want to read Juno Dawson's new book, Margot and Me. The fact that it's set partly in the 1940's sounds really interesting and I can't wait to read it!

Tell us who your favourite fictional characters are!
I have so many I'd be here all year trying to name them all so here's a few that randomly pop into my head:
* Draco Malfoy
* Scorpius Malfoy
* Hermione Granger
* Luna Lovegood
* Adam Parrish
* Ronan Lynch
* Magnus Bane
* Alec Lightwood
* Will Herondale
* Jem Carstairs
* Baz Pitch
* Cath Avery 

All About You
What are your hobbies? (Besides books and blogging, of course.)
I'm obsessed with way too many movies and tv shows. I also love playing video games and could easily spend a whole day on my Wii. I'm also addicted to listening to showtunes! I attempt to write my own stories occasionally, but I don't think i'm very good at it!

Rachel lurking in her natural habitat, the bookshop
What are three goals you’d like to achieve in the next few years?
Actually get a paying job, write a book that I'm happy with, get said book published.

Most embarrassing moment?
My whole life.

What animal represents you the most?
Probably a koala I too am fat, sleep lots and eat.

If you could travel back in time to chat to any person in history, who would it be and why?
Maybe J.R.R Tolkein just because I am obsessed with Middle Earth! I would love to know how on earth he came up with the inspiration, and how he managed to create a new language.

This or That
Coffee or Tea?
TEA!! I am a typical British person 
Library or Bookshop?
Bookshop even though I will probably end in me crying over not being able to buy anything
Summer or Winter?
Winter
Sunrise or Sunset?
Sunset
Cats or Dogs? 
Dogs
Facebook or Twitter?
Twitter

Where can readers find you?
You can find me regularly shit posting on Twitter: https://twitter.com/RacheyRagdoll
If you'd rather see what book is currently ruining my life then follow me on Goodreads! https://www.goodreads.com/racheyragdoll

Huge thank you to Rachel for stopping by the blog! Here's one of many beautiful pictures of us as a thanks for your time ;)


BOOK BLOGGERS: I am currently looking for a blogger to be September's featured interview! If you're interested in taking part, send me an email and let me know: queenofteenfiction@hotmail.co.uk 
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