Tuesday, 17 October 2017

BLOG TOUR: Review of No Shame by Anne Cassidy

Hello bookworms! Today is my stop on the blog tour for No Shame by the wonderful Anne Cassidy. You can check out my review of the story below, and be sure to keep an eye out on the other blogs taking part in the tour!

Pages: 192
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Release Date: October 19th 2017
Buy The Book: Amazon

The powerful companion to NO VIRGIN.

From the author of the critically acclaimed, LOOKING FOR JJ, shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize in 2004 and the Carnegie Medal in 2005.

Stacey Woods has been raped and now she has to go through a different ordeal - the court trial. But nothing in life it seems is black and white and life is not always fair or just. Suddenly it seems that she may not be believed and that the man who attacked her may be found not guilty . . . if so Stacey will ned to find a way to rebuild her life again . . .

A tautly told and important book, perfect for readers of Asking for It by Louise O'Neill.

My Thoughts:
Note: This review touches upon the rape of the main character, Stacey.

After reading No Virgin last year, I was moved by Stacey's story, but I was also a little saddened by the way things had ended. Although we hear how Stacey, a seventeen-year-old girl, was raped by a much older man whose brother had earned her trust and lulled her into a sense of false security, we never got to see the fallout from Stacey deciding to come forward. But then I discovered that there was going to be a sequel that dealt with the court case and the long battle that is trying to get justice.

I'd been looking forward to reading this one because it's topic I don't see much of in YA, and it's something that needs to be discussed openly to provide encouragement to the girls and women who have to face these horrible situations in reality. What I loved about this book is how true the title of No Shame really is. Cassidy gave us the journey of a young woman realising that she was not in the wrong and, whilst she might have been naive, she was in no way to blame for what had happened to her. Not only that, but we were also given characters who didn't want to come forward about rape for their own reasons, and we were allowed to understand why they didn't speak up. This book showed a lot of respect for the personal decisions of victims.

The court case and the process of Stacey trying to get justice was the main focus of this book, and it was written openly and truthfully, without sugar-coating any part of it. And god, did it make me furious at times. To see what levels people stoop to in order to get out of something they're guilty of doing. Was this system fair to Stacey? No it wasn't. But it's the harsh reality that people in her situation can face and I'm grateful that No Shame provided an in-depth look at how that process can go, both good and bad.

Whilst this book was tough to read at times, it's an exceptionally important one. Stacey's emotions were so honest, and her story was powerful. I couldn't help but feel proud of how she managed to deal with everything that was thrown in front of her. She had moments of doubt, but she fought through them and came out stronger. I love that YA stories like this one are out there and, whilst the ending was bittersweet for me, I'm happy that Cassidy told Stacey's story in the way that she did. 

Quick Note: I absolutely loved that this book included useful links and contact details for helplines in the back!
 
Royal Rating:






Wednesday, 20 September 2017

THE HARRY POTTER TAG

Huge thank you to the wonderful Paige at Books and Belle for tagging me to do the Harry Potter tag! Also Rachel at Rachel's Really Random Reviews who tagged me as well! Let's get started with these questions then...

1. What house are you in?
Story time: Pottermore gave me an identity crisis. The first time I took the Sorting Hat test, I was a Ravenclaw. Finally I had my House. So I became a proud Ravenclaw. My mum knitted me a scarf and everything. But then Pottermore allowed us all to retake the test, which I did. So now I'm a Hufflepuff. It's been a difficult transition because my heart stayed in Ravenclaw for a long time, but I've finally accepted my new Hufflepuff identity. 

 

2. What is your patronus?
A Marsh Harrier. (I know, I had to Google it too.)

3. What is your wand?
10 inch Pear Wood with Unicorn hair. With a Slightly Springy flexibility, apparently.

4. What would your boggart be?
*opens filling cabinet filled with piles of notebooks full of fears* There are too many things it could be.

5. What position would you play in Quidditch?
None because I'm terrible at any form of sport. Maybe a beater?

6. Would you be a pure blood, half blood or muggle born?
Muggle born, probably.

7. What job would you want after to have after graduating Hogwarts?
Honestly, I wouldn't ever want to leave Hogwarts, so it's going to have to be a professor.

8. Which of the deathly hallows would you choose?
The Cloak.

9. Favourite book?
Prisoner of Azkaban

10. Least favourite book?
I CAN'T BELIEVE ANYONE WOULD ASK ME TO CHOOSE A LEAST FAVOURITE CHILD. If I have to, then I'll go with Chamber of Secrets.

11. Favourite film?
Goblet of Fire or Half Blood Prince

12. Least favourite film?
Chamber of Secrets? (I DO LOVE CHAMBER OF SECRETS, OKAY, I'M JUST TRYING TO PRIORITISE)

13. Favourite character?
Hermione, or Harry, or Ron, or Sirius, or Lupin, or-

14. Least favourite/most hated character?
U M B R I D G E
(Except in A Very Potter Musical, obviously)


15. Favourite teacher at Hogwarts?
McGonagall or Lupin.

16. Least favorite teacher at Hogwarts?
U M B R I D G E

17. Do you have any unpopular opinions about the series?
I don't think I do? A lot of the opinions I have, I've seen shared online plenty of times before. What I will say is that I have A LOT of opinions on The Cursed Child. One of the big ones being that I really disliked Rose and thought she was a completely wasted character. Another one being that if we were going to go back in time and speak to characters who had died, could we not have spent time with someone other than Snape?

18. If you could save one character from the finale battle who would you save?
FRED FRED FRED FRED FRED FRED F R E D FRED
F
R
E
D

I'm tagging Christi J. Whitney and anyone else who wants to give this tag a go! Here are the questions:
  1. What house are you in?
  2. What is your patronus?
  3. What is your wand?
  4. What would your boggart be?
  5. What position would you play in Quidditch?
  6. Would you be a pure blood, half blood or muggle born?
  7. What job would you want after to have after graduating Hogwarts?
  8. Which of the deathly hallows would you choose?
  9. Favourite book?
  10. Least favourite book?
  11. Favourite film?
  12. Least favourite film?
  13. Favourite character?
  14. Least favourite/most hated character?
  15. Favourite teacher at Hogwarts?
  16. Least favorite teacher at Hogwarts?
  17. Do you have any unpopular opinions about the series?
  18. If you could save one character from the finale battle who would you save?

Friday, 1 September 2017

REVIEW: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Pages: 303
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: April 7th 2015
Buy The Book: Book Depository

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.
 

My Thoughts:
THIS BOOK, GUYS. THIS BOOK. I'm always wary of going into books with a lot of hype surrounding them because it's so easy to end up disappointed. I can't count how many times I've seen this book praised on my Twitter feed, so I was very curious to start reading. And let me tell you, it did not let me down.

The story follows Simon, a high school pupil who has started talking to a fellow gay student at the same school online. But Simon doesn't know who the other boy is. They both communicate via false names, Jacques and Blue. Through all of their emails, Simon has gotten to know Blue without actually meeting him in person, and as the story progresses, he is desperate to find out Blue's true identity. Reading this book so late after it's publication, I'm pretty proud of myself that I was still able to go into it without having Blue's character spoiled! It drove me insane in the best kind of way. That element of mystery, the constant search for clues, it all helped make this book such an excited read.

Another thing that makes this book so great is the characters. Simon himself has just the right amount of wit and edge to him that makes him interesting to follow. His thoughts and feelings are written well enough to put the reader in his shoes and see things from his point-of-view. I appreciated the scenes with his friends and the way Simon viewed the difference in his friendships. A character who had me torn throughout this book was Martin. His way of treating Simon made me angry, but the way his story is resolved is an important one.

The relationship between Simon and Blue was just adorable. Honestly, I didn't know how I'd feel about the relationship being built purely through email, but because of the way their emails were written, it worked so perfectly. I couldn't help but root for them. The way they slowly revealed more about their lives and their feelings through their messages was beautiful. I was about as nervous as Simon was when it came to finding out Blue's identity! I did figure who he really was a few chapters before the end thanks to the clues throughout the book, so I had my little moment of triumph when it was revealed.

This story is just full of fun moments and exciting characters, but it also touches upon some more serious and relatable topics as well. There was some particularly great commentary from Simon when he realised that straight and white shouldn't be the default, and I really appreciated little moments like that. I'm so glad I finally got a chance to read this one, and I'm beyond excited for the upcoming movie!

Royal Rating:

 

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:

 
 
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