Thursday, 18 August 2016

REVIEW: Ren - The Monster Inside The Monster by Sarah Noffke

Pages: 199
Format: eBook
Publisher: One-Twenty-Six Press
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Release Date: July 15th 2016
Buy The Book: Amazon UK


Ren Lewis, who has faced every danger known to man, is about to meet a challenge he’s convinced has the power to undo him. When he discovers that his daughter, Adelaide, has been hiding a pregnancy he goes into hiding himself. Having a daughter was one catastrophe he struggled with. But now, being expected to welcome her baby into his home is not something Ren knows how to assimilate into his life. With a new ferocity he throws himself into his work in order to avoid family responsibility. And there’s enough work to keep him occupied with Vivian Bishop trying to infiltrate American homes, intent on controlling and manipulating their residents. Ren soon realizes that Vivian is his perfect enemy. She’s strategic, brilliant and stunningly beautiful. 

In this third and final installment, the monster in Ren will have to do the unspeakable. He will have to evolve. Nothing in his life can be approached employing any of the strategies he’s used before. The evolution of Ren might be his undoing, but it might also be the one thing that brings him real happiness.
 

WARNING: As this is the last book in the series, there will be spoilers for the previous two books. If you don’t wish to know what happens, please don’t read on! 

My Thoughts:
Ren Lewis is back for one final time in the last book in his trilogy. We pick up immediately where the previous book left off. Ren has just discovered that his daughter Adelaide is pregnant, meaning just as he’s learning to accept the fact that he is a father, he’s going to become a grandfather as well. On top of that, he has to deal with the troublesome and mysterious Vivian who has big plans and is determined that she and Ren are made for each other.   

I love Ren. I always have done from the first time we met him in The Lucidites Series, and as much as I’m sad we have to say goodbye to him, I’m so glad he got his own trilogy and we got to see his story progress. He’s not a nice character 99.9% of the time, he really isn’t. Insulting people is practically a hobby for him. But I love him anyway. That’s what has made him such an endearing character, he’s completely unapologetic for the way he is. However, in this final book we are treated to a different side of him, a side of Ren that only surfaces when he’s faced with a family, with people he’s genuinely come to care about. Seeing him come to an understanding with his daughter, and seeing him encourage her to be a better parent than he was able to be was such an enjoyable part of this story. 

This third book let us finally get to know Vivian, the woman behind the events in the previous book but who we only got to meet briefly. Vivian was a chilling antagonist because she genuinely believed that what she was doing was good and right. Ren’s ways of dealing with her definitely threw some unexpected twists at story, ones that left me not knowing whether I wanted to shake some sense into him or laugh at how far he’s willing to go sometimes. 

One of the best things about this final book is that his work in stopping Vivian leads Ren back to the Lucidite institute, and we get to catch up with characters from that first series. Not only did we get a few scenes with Aidan and Roya again, but we also got see Joseph and Trent, which I was thrilled about! It was great to see Ren back in that environment, and to finally move on from it by the end of the story as well. 

With a perfectly satisfying conclusion, it was bittersweet to reach the end of this final book. I have adored reading all about Ren, and I will definitely miss not only his character, but the people around him as well. It’s been a wild journey and I’m so glad I had the chance to be part of it!

Royal Rating:

 

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

REVIEW: This Raging Light by Estelle Laure

Pages: 312
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Orchard Books
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic
Release Date: January 14th 2016
Buy The Book: Book Depository
Can you fall in love when everything is falling apart? Estelle Laure is a major new talent to rival John Green and Rainbow Rowell. Her debut novel, This Raging Light, is a heartbreakingly beautiful book that you'll devour in one sitting, but remember forever. How is it that you suddenly notice a person? How is it that one day Digby was my best friend's admittedly cute twin brother, and then the next he stole air, gave jitters, twisted my insides up? Lucille has bigger problems than falling for her best friend's unavailable brother. Her mom has gone, leaving her to look after her sister, Wren. With bills mounting up and appearances to keep, Lucille is raging against her life but holding it together - just.
 
My Thoughts:
This story follows Lucille as she becomes the sole carer of her younger sister Wren when their mother decides to leave them in order to clear her head. After trouble with their father, their mother finds it difficult to cope. So Lucille is left to pay the bills and keep the house functioning, as well as making sure no one discovers their secret. The only people who know what Lucille and Wren are facing is Lu’s best friend Eden, and her twin brother Digby, who Lucille has feelings for despite him having a girlfriend. 

This Raging Light is a book I’m quite torn over because whilst there were aspects of it that I enjoyed, there were also parts I found quite predictable. It lacked that unique touch for me. What worked especially well was Lucille’s struggle to keep on top of things by herself. Also the bond between her and Wren was wonderfully done, and Wren herself was a fantastic character. 

The writing itself was beautiful and quite poetic at times, and Lucille’s emotions were described well, making everything feel raw and real. Whilst she was a believable character with a strong head, I didn’t connect to her as much as I wanted to. It felt like there wasn’t really much about her that stood out from other YA protagonists in similar situations. Her friendship with Eden was something I enjoyed, though. Eden was a fun and quirky character, and I particularly liked a certain plot twist that happened towards the end of the story which definitely packed a punch. 

Lucille’s relationship with Digby didn’t have much appeal to me. In my opinion, they lacked the chemistry that they were clearly meant to have lots of. They have years of history, with the twins living right next door to Lucille as children, but I didn’t feel any of that history between them. I’d have preferred it if more flashback scenes had been included, and if the two of them had had more conversations throughout the course of the story. It didn’t exactly feel rushed because they’d known each other for so long, but I just felt like we were denied the chance to have seen their bond grow, and for that reason I didn’t have much emotional investment in their relationship. I also felt as though there could have been more scenes with Digby’s girlfriend, Elaine. There wasn’t a chance to get to know her and I think the story could have been a bit more dramatic if there had been more attachment to her character. 

The element of mystery with regards to Lucille’s dysfunctional family throughout the book kept me hooked. I was eager to find out what happened to get them to the situation they’re in now. However, the ending left me a little frustrated because there were still questions I wanted answers to. But I believe there is a follow up book that will follow Eden? So I’m assuming the story will be explored further. As much as I want more of a conclusion to Lucille’s story, I don’t know if this book got me interested enough to continue with a second helping. 

Royal Rating:

 

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

EVENT RECAP: An Evening With Maggie Stiefvater

Anyone who knows me will know how much I adore The Raven Cycle series. Those books have consumed a part of my soul. I attempt and most of the time successfully convince people to read them. I basically live and breathe that series. So when I found out that Maggie Stiefvater was coming to Manchester for an event, I just had to go!
 
I live a fairly long train journey away from Manchester and I don’t get to visit the city very often, so I saw this as my chance to go early, make a day of it, and go exploring. But the rain had other plans. So I spent most of my day in Manchester Central Library, where the event was being held. However, that did mean that as soon as I was allowed into the performance area, I was able to grab a seat at the front! How did I spend that hour and a half wait, you ask? I caught Pokémon, obviously. 

A Poliwhirl lurks close to the stage
Just after 6:30 Maggie was finally introduced to the stage and the event got underway. Let me tell you, Maggie Stiefvater is hilarious. She spent some time talking about her career before she became a writer, and her stories about her portrait painting had everyone laughing. She also told us how her typical working day as a writer varies and we learned that writing on planes is not something she’s fond of! We were also treated to a delightful story about the time John Green invited her to go racing and he ended up on fire. Twice.


Later on people in the audience got the chance to ask Maggie some questions. One of the most stand out ones was when someone asked how she plans her novels. She told us that she thinks of them like a road trip; she knows where she’s starting from, where she’s going, and why she’s going there, but she does various fun things along the way in different places. 

Maggie telling us about the time her research trip to Scotland didn't exactly go to plan...

The last question of the night was about Maggie moving on from The Raven Cycle. She told us that she’d had a six-month book hangover after she finished writing it, during which she found herself wanting to go back to the magic system that she’d spent so long creating. To help herself get out of it she reminded herself that after writing four books in this series with readers wanting certain things to happen before the end, she was now free from expectation and could work on something totally new.

After the talk, we were then allowed to get our books signed so I joined the exceptionally long queue! It was a sold out event and definitely the biggest turn out for a signing that I’ve been to in a long time, and the organisers did a great job of helping everyone. We were also offered a choice of super cute badges to take home! 


I was able to meet Maggie and have my copies of The Raven King and The Dream Thieves signed, my two favourite books in the series. I also told her just how much her books had ruined me in the best possible way. I'm generally rather nervous and mostly awkward at book signings, but Maggie was super lovely! 



 

It was such a fantastic event with a great atmosphere, and if you ever have the chance to see Maggie in person – do it. She is one of the funniest and most engaging authors I’ve had the chance to see! Thank you to Waterstones Deansgate and Scholastic for such a fab night. 



Sunday, 31 July 2016

The Brain Behind The Blog #3: Drinking Books


Hello, fellow bookworms! Today I'm excited to welcome the wonderful Jemima from Drinking Books as July's featured blogger! Jemima formed The Book Club last month, which I happen to be a member of (and you should check out because we're totally awesome). 
 
You and Your Blog








How long have you been blogging, and what was it that inspired you to get started? 
I’ve been blogging for around 2 years (not including my tumblr blog, doing that would mean like 5 years). The first year however was a mess of me occasionally blogging and expressing my thoughts. But my current blog has only been active for a year. I joined the book blogging world in March 2015 and haven’t looked back. Initially I began book blogging because I wanted to express the books that I loved and loathed to see if others felt the same as me. Also because I watched Little Book Owl on BookTube religiously I wanted my own way to talk about books.

Little Book Owl

What is the best part about blogging for you?
Talking to new people who love books as much as me! Through blogging I’ve met so many lovely new people that I would never have met had I not talked so much about books!

Have you had any blogging disasters? 
Oh god so many!!! I try and fail at posting my reviews in once place and end up with no links. I’ve posted a post and realised that the images I’d included hadn’t actually included themselves- and I was super proud of them too!

What has been your favourite blogging memory?
Probably interviewing Caroline Lawrence. Growing up she was the nudge that got me into loving Ancient Rome. I had the pleasure of interviewing her for an anthology she was part of and I was such a fangirl! I love her books they are so well-written that you can be easily transported to her worlds!
You can read that interview here

What do you hope to achieve with your blog in the future?
Getting more people out there reading the books that are amazing and yet so underhyped! Also meeting more people who love books!

You and Books
What appeals to you when searching for new books to read?
If it’s a book that has been said to be like my favourite book it’s a book that instantly goes onto my TBR. But also I like to try out new authors and give them a chance. Sometimes though, it’s the cover that can appeal to me. That sounds so bad- judging a book on the cover; but sometimes the best books have the most beautiful covers!

Are there any genres that you avoid?
Not so much avoid but I read less of two genres. Classic and Non-fiction. I do read a bit of them however, but I tend to dive for Fantasy and YA more than them. Not sure why because I do love learning about people and the past, as well as reading the books that have withheld the test of time and are still here now.

What book would you say has had the biggest impact on your life?
There are a few books that have impacted me so much that they have stayed with me. I can’t name a single book that had the most impact because a lot of books give me their own unique impact, but I can name 3 for their own reasons.
 - Clean Break by Jacqueline Wilson; this book got me into reading. Like I was always a reader but this book opened me up to reading at the rate I do.
 - Don’t Want To Miss A Thing by Jill Mansell; this book opened me to reading chick-lit. I used to think I’d never read something so cheesy. But I read this book in a weekend and came out of it needing lots more chick-lit!
 - Wonder by RJ Palacio; this book. Just… oh god this book is one of those that makes you think. You know the kind of think where you are left emotionally raw and you just wanna sob because of the injustices you recognise in your own world? The kind where you start to see the world and change your thought processes. If could make a book a mandatory read in schools, it would be this one.

What book are you currently anticipating?
Currently I am anticipating the finale to Claudia Gray’s Firebird series; A Million Worlds With You. Although I’ve not read the first two I am planning on marathon reading the series when I get the final book. I am so excited for it though!!

Tell us who your favourite fictional characters are!
  • Hermione Granger (of course) 
  • Cath 
  • Draco Malfoy 
  • Albus Potter 
  • Scorpius Malfoy 
  • Will Herondale 
  • Rose Tyler 
  • Gwen Cooper 
  • Cress 
  • Captain Thorne 
The list could go on and on and on.

All About You
What are your hobbies? (Besides books and blogging, of course.)
Writing books! I also love playing with my dogs, watching Supernatural/Doctor Who/Torchwood again, the list for shows could go on. I also paint and draw. But one of my main interests is acting, I love acting!! I’m an aspiring actor and hope to one day reach my dreams of acting whether it be for stage or screen.

What are three goals you’d like to achieve in the next few years?
Become an actor Get down my TBR to like 100 books Learn to drive

If you could travel back in time to chat to a person in history, who would it be?
Agatha Christie. Either her or William Shakespeare. Two people who mean a lot to me and have brought such wonderful works of prose to this world. Agatha with her crime, William with his plays and sonnets. Their work are pure unique genius and it would be an honour to meet them. 

This or That
Coffee or Tea?
TEA TEA TEA
(although Starbucks do a great Peppermint Latte shush don’t tell the tea)
Library or Bookshop?
Bookshop
Summer or Winter?
Winter
Sunrise or Sunset?
Sunset
Cats or Dogs?
Dogs
Facebook or Twitter?
Twitter

Where can readers find you?
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jemimajosborne
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jemimajosborne/
The Book Club: https://twitter.com/TheBookClubs

Below is my current pic that I love/use for all my profiles. Taken with the guys who play Albus and Scorpius; hence why they are included in my favourite characters.


Huge thank you to Jemima for the awesome interview! If you're interested in being the featured blogger for August, don't hesitate to send an email my way: queenofteenfiction@hotmail.co.uk

Saturday, 30 July 2016

BOOK CLUB REVIEW: Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne

Series: Normal Series #1
Pages: 448
Format: Kindle
Publisher: Usborne
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic, Mental Health
Release Date: August 1st 2015
Buy The Book: Book Depository

All Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…

But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love?

My Thoughts:
This is a book that I’ve been meaning to pick up for a long time, but just hadn’t managed to get around to. But this month I joined a fabulous group of ladies who formed The Book Club, and our pick for July’s read was Am I Normal Yet? So finally I was persuaded to check it out of the library and get it read. And oh boy, did I wish I’d picked it up sooner. 

This book follows sixteen-year-old Evie who suffers from OCD. She’s finally making progress and is lessening her medication, and all she wants is to be normal. When she goes on a date with a cute guy from college, the night doesn’t exactly go as she’d hoped. Instead she finds herself talking to her childhood friend Lottie, and her friend Amber. The girls bond instantly and together they end up forming The Spinster Club so that they can reclaim the word ‘spinster’ and get together for feminist discussions. 

I am so grateful that this book exists. I can’t thank Holly Bourne enough for writing it. And I desperately wish this book had been around when I was sixteen. The discussions that these amazing girls have are A+ and had my feminist-self cheering. Their meeting about periods especially, oh my goodness, it made me so happy to see periods openly discussed in a YA novel. Everything the girls talked about was so unbelievably on point. It’s also great way to introduce young people to feminism and what it truly means. 
 
Evie’s struggle with OCD is such an important part of the story. It’s written openly and honestly, and doesn't shy away from the harsh realities of mental illness. This is something I’m always looking for more of in YA because unfortunately I have read books that have glamourized anxiety, and I’m thrilled that this book did everything right. Evie was a character who I could relate to in some instances, especially with her concerns over illness and disease. I was also able to learn a lot from her. One of the things this book is great at doing is explaining mental health in a way that doesn’t feel preachy. 

The characters are great throughout this book and their dialogue is authentic for the YA genre. I adored watching Evie’s friendship with Amber and Lottie grow, and seeing her learn to trust them by the end of it. Like I said before, their discussions were brilliant, but I also loved their everyday scenes where we got to see them react to college and parties. Evie also has a few dating disasters throughout the story. Whilst the events with Ethan made me giggle, her experiences with Guy were a little darker. Oli was an interesting character and I was keen to get to know him better. I felt sorry for him for how Evie treated him, but I can also understand her reasoning behind her decision, even if I didn’t agree with it. 

I’m so thankful that I finally got the chance to read this amazing and insightful book, especially with my fellow book club members, and I’m officially hooked on this series! We’re hosting a Twitter discussion tonight between 6-7pm GMT, so if you want to get involved, feel free to join us @TheBookClubs with the hashtag #BCChat.

Royal Rating:

 

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

REVIEW: Songs About a Girl by Chris Russell

Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Genre: Music, Romance
Release Date: July 28th 2016
Buy The Book: Book Depository

When sixteen-year-old aspiring photographer Charlie Bloom receives the invitation of her dreams - to take backstage photos for chart-topping boyband Fire&Lights - it's an offer she can't refuse. Overnight she is launched into a world of bloggers, paparazzi and backstage bickering and soon becomes caught between the dark charms of the band's lead singer and songwriter, Gabriel West, and his boy-next-door bandmate Olly Samson.

Charlie's growing notoriety makes her a daily target for bitchy bully Aimee Watts and her clique, and though she seeks comfort in her best friend, Melissa, her life spirals ever further out of control.

As her connection with Gabriel deepens, Charlie stumbles upon a spine-tingling truth: all the songs he has written for Fire&Lights' debut album are, impossibly, linked to her and her past. How can this be? What dark secrets has he uncovered? Why is Melissa acting so strangely all the time? And will this rivalry between Gabriel and Olly eventually tear the band apart?
 

My Thoughts:
Boyband lit. I’ve read a few books that fall into this genre before, and honestly? I’ve not really enjoyed them. I often find the plot quite predictable and the band too cliché and cheesy, and I was worried that I’d never find a book that would get me into this genre. But then I read Songs About a Girl, got utterly sucked into the plot, and fell in love with a fictional boyband. 

This story follows Charlie after she gets a Facebook message from Olly Samson, a former pupil at her high school who also happens to be one quarter of the world’s hottest boyband, Fire&Lights. He’s seen some of Charlie’s photography from a gig and invites her to take some backstage pictures of the boys for their fan club’s website. Charlie, however, has approximately zero interest in Fire&Lights, despite everyone in her school being head over heels for them, including her best friend Melissa. Although she originally declines the offer, fearing she’s not a good enough photographer, Melissa accepts the invitation for her and soon Charlie finds herself thrown into the world of Fire&Lights. 

I’m honestly shocked at how much I ended up adoring this fictional band. Olly, Yuki, Aiden, and the mysterious Gabriel make up the four members of Fire&Lights, and they were written beautifully. I adored their fun interactions and their backstage antics, and it made me feel like I was sitting right alongside Charlie, behind the camera, observing every minute of it. You’re not asking me to choose a fave, but I’m going to anyway: YUKI IS EVERYTHING. His personality was perfect and his humour was entertaining throughout the story.   

Although I’d usually find Charlie’s story completely unbelievable, a seemingly average teen being taken under the wings of a world famous boyband, this story is written in a way that makes you believe that it’s completely possible. What was also great was the way Charlie discovered a connection between her own life and Gabriel’s. There’s so much more to the story than you originally think when starting this book. 

Whilst the story is a lot of fun, I was pleasantly surprised to see some darker themes included. When Charlie’s identity is discovered, the hate and abuse she receives from fans are vile and awful to read, and the worst part is that this genuinely happens in real life. I’m glad the book didn’t shy away from the harsh realities of being in the spotlight and dealing with everyone knowing who you are. 

Once I started reading, I honestly couldn’t stop and managed to fly through the book in three days. The pacing was perfect and there was never a dull moment. The dialogue was also spot on, especially Melissa’s fangirling sessions. Any fangirl or fanboy reading this book will smile at Melissa’s reactions to everything! The ending was a fantastic cliff-hanger and definitely has me eager for more – WHEN WILL THE SEQUEL BE IN MY LIFE? I’m much looking forward to reading more about Charlie Bloom and my new favourite fictional band. 

Royal Rating:

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