Thursday, 28 May 2015

10 Reasons Why You Should Read The Princess Diaries


The Princess Diaries found me at the perfect time. I was fourteen, and as someone who kept a diary during my teens, I found myself drawn to a book that was written in a diary-style. I wasn't a huge reader at the time, but I gave it a try anyway. And then I didn’t stop. I faithfully followed the entire series right up until the last book was released. It sculpted my reading tastes, encouraged me to pick up more books, and gave me a genre to love. Since then, I haven’t stopped reading YA.

So The Princess Diaries holds a special place in my heart, and when Meg announced that she would be releasing an adult sequel, I was beyond excited. With Royal Wedding being released this June, (or July for us in the UK) I hope even more people will find their way to the series. I have so many reasons why you should fall into Mia’s world, but I’ve narrowed it down to ten.


10. The movie is good, but the books are way better.
I, like most of you, love The Princess Diaries movie. It’s cute, it’s heart-warming, and it’s perfect sleepover viewing (it also contains both Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews, and that’s really awesome). But the books offer SO MUCH MORE. 


Seriously, you miss out on a lot. For example, if you have only ever watched the movie, and never read the books, you do not get to meet the wonderful gem on this earth that Tina Hakim Baba. And you also believe that Mia’s father is dead. But you are wrong. Very, very wrong.

9. The secondary characters are equally awesome
Like Boris, for example. Boris is that adorable, geeky guy that every good YA book series needs. He also provided one of my favourite scenes. It includes a world globe. That’s all I’ll say.

8. Grandmere is fierce
The Dowager Princess Clarisse Marie Grimaldi Renaldo is a spectacular character. When you think of grandmothers, you think of crinkled eyes and smiles, stories of the good old days, and baking cookies on a Sunday. Not this grandmother. She is intimidating, she is feisty, and if she doesn’t like you, she will tear you apart. She’s brilliant.

7. Lana Weinberger is more than just the cliché ‘bitch’ character
Lana is a cheerleader, she’s blonde, she dates the guys that every girl wants, and she is the girl that everybody wants to be. And, naturally, she’s Mia’s nemesis. But she becomes so much more than just the stereotypical, bitchy character that you first assume she is.

6. Mia may be a princess, but you can still relate to her
No, you can’t relate to her problem of having her every move followed by the world’s media, and you can’t possibly understand what it’s like to have the weight of an entire country on your shoulders, but you can relate to her as a person. She’s shy, awkward, and she messes up in front of the guys she likes. She's believable. 

5. Family and friendship are important themes
There are arguments and dramas between friends and relatives, but this series shows how important the people closest to you are, and how, in the end, they will always be there to support you. A particular aspect of the series that I like is how much Mia’s friendship with Lilly is tested. It’s no secret that high school can be a challenging time for best friends, and Mia being a princess changes things. It causes strains on the pair of them. But it shows that whatever you’re faced with, your best friends mean the world to you, and you can overcome anything together.

4. The writing is seriously funny
Meg effortlessly puts humor into her stories, and The Princess Diaries is full of funny moments. You will laugh until you cry, and you will have a smile on your face whenever you join Mia in her forever chaotic world.

3. Genovia
I like that Meg created her own fictional country for this series. The place sounds so absolutely gorgeous that I almost want it to be real. It’s exciting to watch Mia fall in love with the country she is princess of, and win its people over.

2. You WILL fall in love with Michael Moscovitz.
What is there not to love about Michael Moscovitz? He’s cute, he’s caring, and he has some seriously adorable romantic gestures up his sleeve. The love story between him and Mia is an epic one. But it’s not without its ups and downs, which only makes their relationship all the more believable. And most importantly, he adored Mia before he found out she had a crown. He’s dreamy and…wait, what do you mean he’s not real?

1. Princess Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo
Of course, she is the number one reason why you need to immerse yourself in her diaries. She’s always entertaining, she’s a great friend, she’s brave, she’s fierce, and she’s basically everything you want in a character. But she isn’t faultless. I don’t know about you, but I’m always irritated whenever I read a YA book that has a seemingly ‘perfect’ protagonist. A girl that can do no wrong and is always selfless and positive. We all know life doesn’t work that way. We don’t always make the right decisions, and we’d be lying if we said we’ve never been selfish before. Mia has her flawed moments, especially when it comes to her relationship with Michael. She doesn’t always do or say the right things, but that’s okay. Part of why she’s a great character is because we get to see her learn and grow along the way. I loved joining her on her journey. 


So there you have it. That is why you need to read The Princess Diaries (if you haven’t already). No matter how old you are, this series is timeless, and it’s just as entertaining to me now as it was when I was a teenager.

For other posts from this year’s Meg-a-Readers, check out the weekly roundup posts over on The Romance Bookie



Tuesday, 26 May 2015

REVIEW: Stunned by Sarah Noffke

Bookish Details:
Series: The Lucidites #2
Pages: 312
Publisher: One-Twenty-Six Press
Release Date: 21st November 2014
Buy it From: Amazon - Amazon UK

Synopsis:

Roya desperately wishes she was above ground, on a sunny patio, watching the lake lap up on the shore. Instead, she finds herself trapped with the Lucidites. Her brother is mysteriously wasting away, and at every turn she finds a new betrayal. Just when she thinks she’s finally escaping the Institute, a new danger unveils itself. A secret society of Dream Travelers has declared war on the Lucidites by abducting a head official. It’s up to Roya to figure out who’s behind it and how to save everyone she cares about most. More action packed than its predecessor, Stunned is captivating and will leave audiences squirming from the tension and also begging for more.

My Review:
Stunned picks up after the events of Awoken. Zhuang has been defeated, and the Lucidites are attempting to get things back to how they were. Roya’s friends and her brother, Joseph, have all been given assignments to work on over summer and are settling in at the institute. Roya, however, doesn’t quite know what to do. She has nothing to work on, and left feeling like a spare part

Her feelings for Aiden are complicated and she finds it difficult to accept that anything between the two of them must be kept secret to protect Aiden’s career. Her strained relationship with George isn’t making her situation any easier. This leads to her deciding that she wants to leave and move in with her faux parents, Bob and Steve. 

The plot, just like in the first book, was exciting from start to finish. Just when you think you have things figured out, another new twist is thrown into the mix to keep the characters constantly on their toes.

As always, the characters were fantastic. I loved Roya’s strength and her natural wit. I was pleased to see some more interaction between her, Bob, and Steve. It’s great that she has their constant reassurance and support. They are like the calm amongst the raging storm.

I felt sorry for poor Joseph. He gets messed up in something he shouldn’t, and takes it out on the people around him. But seeing Roya’s determination to help him overcome whatever he’s working on is touching and shows the development between the two of them.

I was happy to get to know George a little better this time. In the first book, his relationship with Roya wasn’t appealing to me, but now I understand the connection between the two of them a little better. I’d like to learn more about him away from his relationship with Roya.

With that being said, I still prefer Roya with Aiden. I adore Aiden. He’s geeky, and cute, and can sometimes be a little foolish. And that’s what makes him a great character. I wanted to give him a good talking to myself at certain points in the story because of the poor way he was handling certain situations. But he learns from his mistakes and grows from them. Again, he is a character whose backstory I would love to learn more about. 

The secondary characters in this story are just as fantastic. Trent shared a wonderful little moment with Roya towards the end that I really enjoyed, and it left me curious to see how his story unfolds in the last instalment. I also love Ren. I seem to have a particular interest in angry, snarky, pessimistic characters, and he definitely fits that bill. 

The Grotte was a creepy addition to this series, and one I highly enjoyed getting to read about. The new characters we meet through the Grotte are disturbing and a dangerous threat. I’m so curious to see what the overall plan is.

I need to mention the end of this book because holy mother of plot twists. I did not see the twist coming, so when it happened, it was glorious. I had one of those ‘oh, snap’ moments, and then wanted to go back through the books to see if I’d missed the clues. It was a fantastic ending that definitely left me desperate to read the fallout.

This series is always full of action and excitement. I’m eager to see what wild adventures the characters will be sent on in the final book, and how they’ll face whatever situations are thrown at them next.  

Royal Rating:



Thursday, 21 May 2015

REVIEW: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Bookish Details:
Pages: 437 Hardcover
Publisher: Macmillan
Release Date: 21st May 2015
Buy it From: Amazon - Amazon UK - Waterstones

Synopsis:
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, ambitious wizard, known only as the Dragon, to keep the wood's powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman must be handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as being lost to the wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows - everyone knows - that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia - all the things Agnieszka isn't - and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But no one can predict how or why the Dragon chooses a girl. And when he comes, it is not Kasia he will take with him.

From the author of the Temeraire series comes this hugely imaginative, engrossing and vivid fantasy novel, inspired by folk and fairy tales. It is perfect reading for fans of Robin Hobb and Trudi Canavan.

My Review:
There are four major issues I have with this book:

1. When I sat down to start reading the other morning, I only intended to read for a little while. I had other things I needed to be doing. However, when I next looked at the clock, I realised that the ‘little while’ had turned into hours. It left me wanting to scold my bladder for needing a toilet break, and glare down at my growling stomach for needing me to put the book down for lunch.

2. My heart says I love this book, but my eyes, stinging from lack of sleep, would hugely disagree. They really didn’t appreciate being forced to stay open until 3am when they needed to reopen at 7am that morning.  

3. I am now suffering from the nightmare we call ‘book hangover’. Do I have other books in my ‘to-read’ pile? Yes. Do I want to pick them up right now? No. Why is that, you ask? Because their pages do not contain the beautiful world within Uprooted, and Agnieszka and the Dragon are nowhere to be seen. AND I MISS THEM SO MUCH ALREADY.

4. This book is one of those books. You know the ones, a book that is so awesome you actually struggle to summarise the awesomeness into a review. Now I have to try and find something to say that’s a little more informative than just ASDFGHJKL;

But I’ll try.

This is enchanting fantasy at its best. It takes fairy-tale elements that we know, and twists them into something new and exciting. The writing  is truly gorgeous. The characters emotions are demonstrated beautifully and the action scenes are captivating. There is a creepy darkness to this story in the form of the Wood. I was completely sucked into the horror within it, desperate to know why it was there, and what it was doing.

What I also loved was the fact that it’s a stand-alone novel. Fantasy so often comes in the shape of a trilogy or more, so it was refreshing to read a book that gives a complete story with a satisfying conclusion.

What else do I need to mention? THE CHARACTERS. Seriously, the characters in this book are just so brilliant. Agnieszka was feisty when she needed to be, and I loved her coming-of-age journey. Her friendship with Kasia is touching, and the scenes that the pair shared were packed with emotion.

The Dragon was a fascinating character. The idea of him coming to the valley every ten years to take a young girl away intrigued me from the start. I loved how mysterious and cold-hearted he was in the beginning. He made me want to reach into the book and shout at him myself a lot of the time. But then I enjoyed getting to know more about his life, and understanding why he acts in the way that he does. I also loved how Agnieszka comes to challenge him rather than fear him. There was humour in the way he clearly didn’t know how to react to her attitudes and stubbornness.

The relationship between Agnieszka and the Dragon was well developed. Sometimes I find myself a little disappointed in the romantic elements of fantasy, because it can easily take away from the story itself. But the romance in this book adds to the story beautifully. There were no cringe-worthy moments. The tension between the two of them was unbearable at times, leaving you eager for further scenes between them. And there was just the right amount of *ahem* steaminess.

Everything from the Prince, the politics, the Wood, and the corruption is compelling to read about. It's a world that is well built for getting completely drawn in to. This is no Disney-style fairy-tale. It’s dark, it’s violent, and it will drag you through the wars within it. But it’s also beautiful, and magical, and thought-provoking, and everything you want from a fantasy story.

It is so difficult to not spoil anything here because I’m desperate to talk about all of it. It consumed my life for the couple of days I was reading, and by the end it felt like I had returned home from the same epic journey as the characters. I just hope I've said enough to ensure that you read this book for yourself, so you can fall in love with it as I have. 

*gently nudges you in the direction of the bookstore*

Royal Rating:



Tuesday, 19 May 2015

REVIEW: Notebooks of a Middle-School Princess by Meg Cabot

Bookish Details:
Pages: 192 Paperback
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Release Date: May 21st 2015
Source: NetGalley
Buy it From: Amazon - Waterstones

Synopsis:
The first in a brand-new, funny, heart-warming illustrated Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot.

Olivia Grace is completely average. Or so she thinks . . . until Her Royal Highness, Princess Mia Thermopolis turns up at her school one day and whisks Olivia away to New York City! In a limo, no less! Where you can eat all the cookies you want and the ceiling lights up pink and purple - like a disco! But discovering that your father is actually the Prince of Genovia is quite a shock. Especially since it means you're a descendent of the Kingdom of Genovia, and a princess. Olivia's got a lot to learn about her long-lost family - and everyone's got a lot to learn about her!

Olivia chronicles her transformation from ordinary girl to princess in her notebook, with illustrations from Meg Cabot, who studied Fine Arts as an undergraduate.

My Review:
I usually only post reviews for books that are specifically YA, but of course, Meg Cabot is always an exception.

This story follows Olivia as she discovers that she is the half-sister of Princess Mia, and is a Princess of Genovia herself. After living with her aunt’s family since her mother’s death, she feels like she doesn’t have a true family of her own to be a part of.

After word gets out about her being a princess, courtesy of her jealous classmate, the infuriating Annabelle Jenkins, she discovers the truth about her life. After years of having only letters as her source of communication with him, Olivia finally gets to meet her father, Prince Phillippe.

This is a spinoff series of The Princess Diaries for the younger generation, and it will hopefully introduce a whole new batch of readers to Meg Cabot’s wonderful work. Since I spent my own teenage years reading The Princess Diaries, I adored getting to hear from some of my favourite characters again in this new series. The tone of the book and Olivia's voice reminded me why I fell in love with the original series.

It was also great to see the discovery of being a princess from a twelve-year-old’s perspective. Everything is exciting and dramatic. I loved the texts between Olivia and her best friend, Nishi. They are realistic voices for children growing up in the smartphone generation. That’s another reason why kids are going to adore this story, it’s filled with modern references that they’ll be able to recognise and relate to.

Olivia is such a cute protagonist, and her journey throughout this story is one filled with innocence and the beauty of finally finding a place to belong. Her narration of the story is believable and captures attention from the very beginning. And the sketches throughout the book are also super adorable!

This is a fast paced read that’s filled with fun, and I think younger readers are really going to love Olivia. Fans of The Princess Diaries will also enjoy getting the chance to have a little catch-up with Princess Mia before the release of the first adult addition to the original series. I look forward to what the future has in store for Genovia’s latest little princess.  

Royal Rating:




Thursday, 14 May 2015

REVIEW: The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson

Bookish Details:
Series: Shades of London #3
Pages: 374 Paperback
Publisher: Hot Key Books (UK)
Release Date: February 5th 2015

Synopsis:
Grieving, shaken, and feeling very much alone, Rory's life as a member of the Shades of London has changed irrevocably. It's only been a matter of hours since Stephen was taken from her, possibly for ever. Her classmate Charlotte is still missing, kidnapped by the same people who tried to take Rory. Rory is no longer a schoolgirl haplessly involved in the dealings of a secret government unit. She is their weapon in a matter of life and death.

With hardly a moment to think for herself, Rory is back to work. Charlotte must be found -- as must Stephen, if he is even out there. Lines must be drawn and forces rallied. Something is brewing under London, something bigger and much more dangerous than what has come before. The Shadow Cabinet holds the key to everything, and it is up to Rory to unravel its mysteries before time runs out...

My Review:
*This review contains spoilers for the previous book in this series. Do not read on if you haven’t yet read them*

After the torturous cliff-hanger that occurred at the end of The Madness Underneath, it has been an extremely long and even more torturous wait for this sequel.

The Shadow Cabinet picks up immediately where the last book left us. Rory is still in the hospital after Stephen’s death, and is struggling to come to terms with the events that have happened. A grieving Rory is immediately faced with the task of tracking down Stephen’s ghost, whilst also searching for her missing classmate, Charlotte.

Charlotte has been taken by Jane, and while the team try to find her, they uncover facts about a disturbing cult dating back forty years. I highly enjoyed getting to learn about events of the past, and it certainly made putting the book down extremely difficult.

The story is fast paced from the start, and the second half of the book is nail-bitingly tense. Some of the scenes were downright creepy, especially the ones that looked back on the cult. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but when Jane finally catches up with Rory, I could not stop reading.

Sid and Sadie are chilling characters. Everything from their mannerisms to their appearance is disturbing. I get the feeling they are going to become a central part of this series, and I’m eager to find out whatever is it that they’re plotting. They’ve definitely added a much higher element of danger to Rory’s overall story.  

Once again, I loved the relationship between Rory and Stephen. We’re shown just the right amount of it to keep us wanting more. I like stories that don’t throw romance in your face from the very beginning, because that often leads to that aspect of the story getting pretty boring, pretty quickly. With this series, Johnson has paced out the development of the relationship between the two characters perfectly, making us keep on rooting for them.

I enjoyed this book being set outside of the school for the first time. It shows the dramatic changes that have happened in Rory’s life. Her being a student in the school seems like a whole different world away from the life she has now.

I adore this series. The characters are fantastic, the plot is always full of twists, and there is never a dull moment to be found. Once again, the ending has me begging for more, and it looks like I’m going to have yet another torturous wait.

Royal Rating:






Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Adaptation talk: Shadowhunters

You probably already know this, but I'm a huge fan of The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. And you may or may not already know that there is going to be a TV show, Shadowhunters, based on the books. I filmed a video about my thoughts on the upcoming show and it's new cast members!



So, what are your thoughts on the cast? Let me know!



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