Monday, 23 May 2016

REVIEW: Caramel Hearts by E. R. Murray

Pages: 339
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Alma Books
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Release Date: May 22nd 2016
Buy The Book: Amazon

Liv Bloom’s life is even more complicated than that of your average fourteen-year-old: her father walked out on the family when she was young, her mother is in a recovery centre for alcoholics, and her older sister is struggling to step into Mum’s shoes. The only person she can turn to is her best friend Sarah, who gets out of scrapes at school and is a constant source of advice and companionship. One day Liv discovers a book of recipes written in her mum’s handwriting, which sets her off on a journey towards self-discovery and reconciliation – but a theft, a love rivalry and a school bully are just some of the many obstacles on the way.

Structured around real cake recipes, Caramel Hearts is a coming-of-age novel about love, disappointment and hope, and discovering the true value of friends and family, no matter how dysfunctional they are.

My Thoughts:
Warning: this book will make you HUNGRY. Seriously, the recipes in this story sound delicious. I’m no baker, and generally I’m a disaster in any kitchen, but this book made me want to go out, grab some ingredients, and get making some sweet treats. 

Caramel Hearts follows fourteen-year-old Liv as she discovers her mother’s old recipe book filled with recipes from when her mother had aspirations to open a bakery. Enjoying finding a connection to her mother that separated her from her addiction to alcohol, Liv decides to work on some of the recipes and discovers that baking is a hobby she loves.  

Liv is currently being looked after by her older sister, Hatty, who has taken time out of university whilst their mother is treated for her addiction at a recovery centre. This prevents Liv from being taken in to foster care, but also means that Hatty has to try and keep up with her studies whilst single-handedly being Liv’s guardian with only her student loan to financially support them both. This puts a huge strain on Hatty and leads to high tensions between the sisters. 

The sibling relationship was beautifully told in this book, and as someone who has a younger sister myself, I couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like to be in Hatty’s incredibly difficult situation. Although they care for each other, they both end up saying things they don’t really mean under the stress of everything. I felt like a lot of the time Liv didn’t fully understand Hatty’s emotions, and jumped to conclusions about her sister’s actions. I loved that the story showed this because it reminds us that Liv is a teenager and she still has so much to learn about the world, whilst also seeing a really tough side of it so far in her life. This is a book that doesn’t present its main characters as perfect, it shows their flaws and their mistakes, which gave it real raw emotion and believability.  

There might be sweet treats dotted throughout this book, but Caramel Hearts doesn’t sugar coat any of the issues within its pages. I adored that this story was told in the realist possible way, with low and gritty moments for the characters. Addiction is an evil demon to do battle with, and these characters are faced with every angle of it. But what’s important is that it’s also a story of hope, and the bonds of family. 

Bullying is also featured in this book, along with a little slice of first romance and heartbreak. It perfectly deals with a lot of issues that teens are faced with, and I think that readers will definitely be able to relate to at least a little of Liv’s story. I also have to mention what a great UKYA novel this is. I’m constantly talking about how much I love YA books that realistically present Britain, and this is one them. 

Caramel Hearts is filled with wonderfully written characters and a plot that ticks all the boxes. It’s also a great coming-of-age novel that can be enjoyed by readers of any age. Once I picked it up, it was very hard to put down again, and I flew through it in a matter of days! I’m so glad that I got to read Liv’s story and although it broke my heart a little at times, it left me with a smile on my face.  

Royal Rating:


Friday, 20 May 2016

The Brains Behind The Blogs


So I want to do a thing, and I need your help. I want to interview you lovely people behind the fabulous blogs that create this wonderful community. Sometimes we can find that we spend so much time reading many reviews and bookish posts on blogs we love, and then realise that we don’t really know much about the person writing those posts. I’d love to learn what inspires you other bloggers to keep doing what you do, what encouraged you to blog in the first place, and who you are as a person! 

What I’d like to do is run a monthly feature right here on my own blog that highlights you and your blog. So whether you’re a new kid on the block trying to navigate the community for the first time, or whether you were reviewing books for your dinosaur friends approximately 231.4 million years ago, I want to chat to you. Mostly because I want to share your awesomeness with the blogging world, and partly because I’m generally very nosey. 

If you’d like to be asked a few questions about blogging, bookish things, and your fabulous self, please drop me an email to say hey with your blog URL included. I’m hoping to get the first interview posted next Friday, on May 27th, so if you want to be featured first, please get in touch by Monday 23rd to leave me enough time to chose a blog, send over the questions, and for you to answer them. However, since I’m hoping to make this a monthly feature, you can get in touch any time after that for future posts!   

Interested, maybe? Get in touch via email:

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

REVIEW: The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood

Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Genre: Sci-Fi, Romance 
Release Date: May 5th 2016
Buy The Book: Book Depository

My heart is a kaleidoscope, and when we kiss it makes my world unravel . . .

Last summer, Gottie's life fell apart. Her beloved grandfather Grey died and Jason left her - the boy to whom she lost her virginity (and her heart) - and he wouldn't even hold her hand at the funeral! This summer, still reeling from twin heartbreaks, Gottie is lost and alone and burying herself in equations. Until, after five years absence, Thomas comes home: former boy next door. Former best friend. Former everything. And as life turns upside down again she starts to experience strange blips in time - back to last summer, back to what she should have seen then . . .

During one long, hazy summer, Gottie navigates grief, world-stopping kisses and rips in the space-time continuum, as she tries to reconcile her first heartbreak with her last.

The Square Root of Summer is an astounding and moving debut from Harriet Reuter Hapgood.

My Thoughts: 
Well this story was wild from start to finish. An incredible mixture of time-travel and breath-taking romance, The Square Root of Summer is a unique and interesting mash up of Sci-fi and contemporary. This book follows seventeen-year-old Gottie in the summer after her grandfather’s death. Grey was an important part of her life and her connection to her mother who died just after Gottie’s birth. Whilst still coming to terms with life after Grey, her ex-secret-boyfriend (and also her brother’s best friend) Jason returns for the summer, and so does her childhood best friend Thomas. With her emotions running high, Gottie finds herself faced with wormholes that suck her back through time to witness again the memories of last summer. 

So our main characters here are Gottie and Thomas, and they were both adorable. Despite her intelligence, I still found Gottie to be a little na├»ve at times, but it made her character all the more endearing. Seeing the friendship between her and Thomas reform after their years apart was cute and filled with those special moments that can only be shared by two friends as close as they are. Gottie learning to move on from Jason was also as important part of the story and it was developed well. 

The other characters in this book, oh my gosh I love them so much. NED AND SOF. I WANT TO BE THEIR FRIEND SO BAD. I adored Ned and his glittering rock star ways, and Sof in all her feminist glory and Judy Blume references. The friendship between Sof and Gottie was an important one because it highlighted how much friendships can change at that age, and I loved how Gottie accepted that they might not remain friends forever, but they’re there for each other right now, and that’s what matters. Ned is Gottie’s brother and although we don’t get many scenes simply between the two of them, they do have their touching moments. Also, Ned provides some truly hilarious scenes (particularly when he’s vomiting in bushes after a night out). 

Grief and heartbreak is a strong theme throughout this book, and one of the main reasons why Gottie believes that time is fraying around her. Grey is a character we never actually get to meet whilst he’s alive, but we do get to know him and why he was so loved through the wormhole flashbacks, and through notes in his diary. The scenes in which Gottie learns things about her grandfather that she never knew towards the end of the story were heartbreaking, but also beautiful to see how Grey had cared so much for the happiness and contentment of his family. 

Honestly, I didn’t quite know what to expect when starting this novel, but it truly delivered a little bit of everything I look for in a story. There were a few moments when the wormhole situation could get a little confusing, but it was always explained well in the end, and I adored the little diagrams dotted throughout the book. With a cleverly intriguing plot and a bunch of fun characters, this is a strong debut from Harriet Reuter Hapgood, and I’m definitely excited for what she has in store next. 

In case you missed it, there was a #ThisIsWhoIAm campaign running on Twitter to celebrate the release of the book, and I wrote up a post on what I'd include in a time capsule, which you can read here! And whilst I'm in the spirit of declaring #ThisIsWhoIAm, here are the five things that represent me the most right now:

Royal Rating:


Saturday, 14 May 2016

REVIEW: Ren: God's Little Monster by Sarah Noffke

Format: eBook
Release Date: May 15th 2016
Genre: New Adult, Fantasy 
Buy The Book: Amazon
Ren Lewis has the life he’s always wanted: the perfect woman and the perfect job as an agent for the Lucidites, fixing problems before they happen. And yet, he’s still miserable. He blames the monster buried inside of him for his problems. But what this redheaded Brit doesn’t realize is his life is about to be intensely transformed. Problems that he never could have fathomed begin to surface one at a time until his life quickly spirals out of control. Ren, who has never considered himself quite human, is about to learn just how flawed and vulnerable he really is. There just might be problems he doesn’t have answers for, villains he can’t defeat alone, and a heart in his chest that is actually capable of breaking. Readers witness a new side to this man, a side that will make him, if for only an instant, appear human. This powerful genius will meet his match. And she has the ability to do something special. She can break Ren Lewis.

My Thoughts:
Ren is back! And I’m excited! If you have yet to meet Ren Lewis in one of Sarah’s novels, then you’re highly missing out. He’s appeared in several of her past stories and finally got his own series focusing purely on his favourite thing, himself, last year when Sarah release Ren: The Man Behind The Monster. How does one even begin to explain Ren Lewis to those who have not met him? Well, generally, he’s a snarky, moody man with a massive catalogue of highly offensive insults and is mostly selfish, but He. Is. Amazing.
This second book in Ren’s own trilogy picks up a little while after the events that took place in The Man Behind The Monster. He’s actually managed to remain in a relationship with Dahlia and is pretty settled. But the head of the Lucidite institute, Trey, is only putting him on small cases, forcing him to do tasks such as saving middlings from tripping over. However, Ren being typical Ren wants the big challenges, and tries to convince Trey to put him back on a higher level case that the Lucidites are struggling to figure out. 

Meanwhile in his personal life, he’s about to be faced with another huge problem that he definitely didn’t plan for, something that will turn his whole world upside down. Obviously I’m not going to talk about what that is (because you know, spoilers) but oh boy, I was about as surprised as Ren was. Round of applause, Sarah, for the fantastic plot twist. 

The plot of this story was exciting but not too fast paced, which I enjoyed. I loved Ren’s reaction to the situations he was faced with and seeing how he adapted to the changes that happened in his life over the course of the book. It was wonderful to see more of his relationships with others, particularly his friendship with Trey. As for new characters, we get to meet Adelaide, who I absolutely adore. She was such a fantastic addition to the story and I’m keen to read more about her! 

Another aspect of this story that really made me smile was Ren going back to the institute. It was so great be back there and to see some of my favourite characters from The Lucidites Series again! It’s always fun when characters from other series get the chance to reappear. 

I adored getting to revisit Ren’s world again, and this is a sequel that lived up to the awesomeness of the first book. There were some beautifully touching moments between characters and it gave us a chance to see a side of Ren we’d not really seen before. I’m excited to see how these events change him in the final book in the trilogy, and I’m definitely wondering what’s going to happen after that cliff-hanger ending! Thanks once again to Sarah for another fabulous book filled with great storytelling and fantastic characters.

Royal Rating:


Monday, 9 May 2016

REVIEW: Broken Sky by L. A. Weatherly

Pages: 500
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Usborne
Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopia
Release Date: March 1st 2016
Buy The Book: Book Depository

Welcome to a ‘perfect’ world.

Where war is illegal, where harmony rules.

And where your date of birth marks your destiny.

But nothing is perfect.

And in a world this broken, who can Amity trust?

From the bestselling author of the Angel trilogy comes Broken Sky – an exhilarating epic set in a daring and distorted echo of 1940s America and first in a new trilogy.

My Thoughts:
Broken Sky follows seventeen-year-old Amity, a pilot for the World for Peace, an organisation set up by the government to handle all quarrels instead of having to go to war. Whenever there is a decision to be made with regards to land, oil rights, and so on, the WfP sends two pilots to the skies to battle it out. Although it is supposed to be a safe alternative to war, there are still causalities amongst the pilots. The fights are tiered according to importance, and the pilots aren’t aware of what it is they’re fighting for when they take off. 

Politician John Gunnison has started to grow in popularity, and so have his wild ways for governing based on astrology. He makes his people wear badges to display their star sign, and if the stars show that a person could potentially be trouble based on their traits, they’re labelled discordant. Whilst his visions have mostly been contained to where he governs, his rule is slowly starting to seep further across the country.

Amity’s father was a pilot before he died and now she has followed in his footsteps, helping to provide for her mother and younger brother Hal. Her childhood best friend, Collis, disappeared after her father’s death and she hasn’t heard from him since. Her world is shaken up when suddenly he reappears as a fellow WfP pilot. 

The concept for this story is awesome and offers plenty of exciting content, set in an alternative 40s with badass pilots and creepy astrology. So I loved the idea of the story itself, however I didn’t feel as drawn in by it as I wanted to be, and I don’t know why that was. Maybe I didn’t connect with the characters. Whilst I found the plot unique and interesting, I found Amity to be quite average compared to the rest if the story. There was nothing about her that really set her apart from other characters in YA series’. The plot also became a little predictable at times. 

The villain in Broken Sky, Gunnison, is completely chilling. At first I wondered whether or not he genuinely believed in the astrology he was throwing at his citizens, or if it was simply some ploy for power, but his faith is very real and very terrifying. The story follows Amity in first person, and switches to third person for a character named Kay. She is someone who is trying to get herself into Gunnison’s inner circle of astrologers. Her side of the story was fascinating and she’s a character I’m eager to learn more about. 

Whilst I enjoyed the story enough to keep reading, I found it slow at parts and wasn’t utterly sucked into the story until the final few chapters. The ending was incredible, with a fantastic plot twist that I didn’t suspect until a few pages before it was revealed. It’s that twist ending that has made me excited to read the next instalment in the series, it’s just a shame that it wasn’t until the very end of the book that I really started to get excited about it. 

Royal Rating:


Friday, 6 May 2016

REVIEW: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Pages: 438
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: Fantasy, Magic
Release Date: April 26th 2016
Buy The Book: Amazon UK - Book Depository

The fourth and final installment in the spellbinding series from the irrepressible, #1 New York Times bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater.

All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love's death. She doesn't believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she's not so sure anymore.

My Thoughts:
You know those books that leave you without words? Books that are so utterly beautiful that you’re stunned into silence? This is one of those books. I honestly don’t even know where to begin or what to say that can possibly explain how amazing The Raven King was. This is the final book in The Raven Cycle, and this whole series has been one of the best written YA series that I’ve read. I’m going to keep things spoiler-free in this review, but I will have a discussion video on my channel very soon to talk about everything, and I mean Every. Little. Detail. 

Let’s start with the characters. These characters, oh my god. I love them so much. It’s been a joy to see them develop over the course of the series, and whilst they’ve been faced with many heart-breaking situations, they’ve worked through their difficulties together and remained the strongest of friends. The heart of this series really is the friendship between the boys and Blue, and I’m so happy that it’s stayed that way. 

Ronan Lynch is my favourite in this series (and one of my all-time fave fictional characters) so I was thrilled that a large part of the plot focused on him and his dreaming-abilities. One of the biggest plot twists appears courtesy of him right at the end of chapter 21, and I literally had to put the book down because although it made perfect sense, I hadn’t suspected it at all.

We finally got to see the slow-burning romantic relationships fully develop, and oh boy it was worth the wait. I can’t even begin to describe how much I adore the way Maggie has built the romance throughout this series. There is a huge amount of YA that is marketed on the romantic side of the story, but these books don’t need to rely on that. We’re given little glimpses here and there amongst everything else that’s going on in the plot, so that when the romance finally does happen after all of the tension, it’s completely breath-taking. FYI, I’m still not over chapter 39, and will probably never be over chapter 39. 

The style of writing throughout this book is simply gorgeous. There are so many passages that I adore, particularly with regards to how the characters are feeling. Maggie focuses a lot on their thoughts and it helps us feel more connected to individual characters. 

The final few chapters are packed full of emotion. Without saying too much about what happens, I can tell you that my heart broke repeatedly and I couldn’t see the pages through my tears. However, I am thrilled with the way this series has been wrapped up, and the epilogue was sheer perfection. I can’t help but feel proud of these characters!

As I said at the start, words can’t quite do justice to how I feel about this book, and this series as a whole. Although it’s sold as a quest to find a hidden King, The Raven Cycle is about much more than that. It’s so characters driven and full of magical storytelling, exploring mythology and various different themes. Finally I’d like to thank Maggie Stiefvater for creating this beautiful world and the characters in it. I guess all that’s left to say is, that’s all there is

Royal Rating:

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