Thursday, 31 March 2016

COVER REVEAL: Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor

The cover for Laini Taylor's new novel Strange The Dreamer has been revealed, and it is gorgeous! Check it out!

Isn't it stunning? The image on the right is the US cover. Which do you prefer? I can't choose! You can read the prologue for the book below:

On the second sabbat of Twelfthmoon, in the city of Weep, a girl fell from the sky.
Her skin was blue, her blood was red. 

She broke over an iron gate, crimping it on impact, and there she hung, impossibly arched, graceful as a temple dancer swooning on a lover’s arm. One slick finial anchored her in place. Its point, protruding from her sternum, glittered like a brooch. She fluttered briefly as her ghost shook loose, and then her hands relaxed, shedding fistfuls of freshly picked torch ginger buds. 

Later, they would say these had been hummingbird hearts and not blossoms at all. 

They would say she hadn’t shed blood but wept it. That she was lewd, tonguing her teeth at them, upside down and dying, that she vomited a serpent that turned to smoke when it hit the ground. They would say a flock of moths had come, frantic, and tried to lift her away. 

That was true. Only that. 

They hadn’t a prayer, though. The moths were no bigger than the startled mouths of children, and even dozens together could only pluck at the strands of her darkening hair until their wings sagged, sodden with her blood. They were purled away with the blossoms as a grit-choked gust came blasting down the street. The earth heaved underfoot. The sky spun on its axis. A queer brilliance lanced through billowing smoke, and the people of Weep had to squint against it. Blowing grit and hot light and the stink of saltpeter. There had been an explosion. They might have died, all and easily, but only this girl had, shaken from some pocket of the sky. 

Her feet were bare, her mouth stained damson. Her pockets were all full of plums. She was young and lovely and surprised and dead. 

She was also blue. 

Blue as opals, pale blue. Blue as cornflowers, or dragonfly wings, or a spring—not summer—sky.
Someone screamed. The scream drew others. The others screamed, too, not because a girl was dead, but because the girl was blue, and this meant something in the city of Weep. Even after the sky stopped reeling, and the earth settled, and the last fume spluttered from the blast site and dispersed, the screams went on, feeding themselves from voice to voice, a virus of the air. 

The blue girl’s ghost gathered itself and perched, bereft, upon the spearpoint-tip of the projecting finial, just an inch above her own still chest. Gasping in shock, she tilted back her invisible head and gazed, mournfully, up. 

The screams went on and on. 

And across the city, atop a monolithic wedge of seamless, mirror-smooth metal, a statue stirred, as though awakened by the tumult, and slowly lifted its great horned head. 

The book comes out this September, and it sounds awesome. Be sure to check out Laini on Twitter to keep updated. 

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

INTERVIEW: Christi J. Whitney

Hey, everyone! Today I'm excited to share with you all this awesome interview with Christi J. Whitney, author of The Romany Outcasts series!

Hi Christi! Can you tell us a little bit about your YA series, The Romany Outcasts?
I’d love to! The Romany Outcasts is a fantasy / urban fantasy series published by HarperCollins/HarperVoyagerUK.

Sebastian Grey thought he was a normal teenager – until Romany Gypsies arrive in town. Suddenly, he finds himself drawn into a world of secrets, shadowy creatures, and a destiny he cannot escape.

What was the inspiration behind the series? 
Well, my inspiration came from several places, actually. I’ve always been fond of fairy tales, and my favorite is Beauty and the Beast. I liked the idea of taking some of those themes and weaving them into my story. My second inspiration came from the type of characters I fall in love with in books and films – in particular, the atypical, underdog hero. I’ve always been more drawn to the slightly offbeat sidekick character with a loyal personality and a good heart. And my third inspiration came from my former students.

What sort of research did you do whilst writing book one, GREY?
I delved into the culture of the Romani people all over the world while working on my book. I wanted to create my own, fictional group of Roma, loosely based on American Gypsies we see here in the Southern US. I wanted the freedom to write characters that could be unique and not bound by the real world, but I also wanted to be respectful to the rich heritage of the Roma.

Which of your characters do you relate to the most?
Oh, hands down, I relate to Sebastian the most. I totally get his awkward moments, his humor, and his struggles with his own insecurities. A good bit of YA is written from the female character’s perspective; so writing for Sebastian was a fantastic experience for me. It was so much fun, writing from his point of view and seeing things through his eyes.

Why did you decide to write for a YA audience?
It wasn’t really an active decision for me to write young adult fiction. It just felt natural. I was a high school teacher for many years, and I spent far more time with teenagers than I did anyone else. Plus, there’s just something completely unique about YA that we can all relate to, no matter what age we are.

The second book in the series, SHADOW, is releasing later this year. Can you give us any hints as to what to expect?
Absolutely! I just turned in my structural edits for SHADOW to my editor, so everything’s starting to feel real. SHADOW comes out the 2nd of June – first as a digital release, and then followed by a print run a bit later.

SHADOW continues Sebastian and Josephine’s story, picking up just a few months after the end of GREY. Without giving too much away for those that haven’t read the first book yet…SHADOW takes place in the Circe de Romany. Dangerous creatures have threatened the clan, and Sebastian’s decision to help will take him down a terrifying path of transformation and discovery.

What do you hope readers will take away from your work?
I write fantasy for the same reason that I read it: I like to be taken away from my normal, everyday life for a little while. I hope readers will enjoy this journey and fall in love with these characters as I have.

Finally, what were your favourite books as a teen?
Well, I’m a total geek, so science fiction and fantasy books are always at the top of my list. As a teen, I read a lot of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. I was also pretty addicted to the Dragonlance Chronicles and the Shannara series. (I was so thrilled when I found out they were making the Elfstones of Shannara into a television show). But, aside from fantasy, I also really loved classic literature as a teenager. Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe were favorites of mine.

Huge thank you to Christi for stopping by! You can discover more about her exciting series over on her website

Social Media Links for Christi J. Whitney:
Twitter: ChristiWhitney
Instagram: christijwhitney

Book links for GREY:
AmazonUK –

Waterstones –

HarperCollinsUK -

Monday, 28 March 2016

REVIEW: Paralyzed by Sarah Noffke

Format: Kindle
Publisher: Createspace
Series: The Vagabond Circus #2
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: February 15th 2016
Buy The Book: Amazon - Amazon UK

When the worst case scenario befalls the Vagabond Circus, Zuma knows she must ensure it doesn’t fall to doom. Titus’s job is to guarantee the show goes on, while the acrobats seek to avenge and rescue. Jack has no idea that he’s about to levitate himself into a deadly situation, and only Zuma and Finley can save him from a threat unlike what most have ever encountered. In this second whimsical and dark installment of the Vagabond Circus tale, the reader learns just how the ringmaster, Dr. Dave Raydon, rescued everyone in his troupe and also brought love and treasures into their lives. The unveiling of this history only brings more mystery as the true enemy to Vagabond Circus is unveiled. Charles Knight isn’t an evil man with a deadly agenda. He’s the worst kind of human being and he won’t stop until he’s ruined everyone and everything that the ringmaster loves. Paralyzed is an episodic ride that unravels the pieces of this fantasy circus one act at a time. 

My Thoughts:
*Please note: this review will contain spoilers for the previous book in this series. If you have yet to read it, you may want to avoid this post!

Paralyzed is the second book in The Vagabond Circus series, and it picks up where we left off in book one, Suspended. Ringmaster Dave Raydon is dead and the rest of the circus has to try to pick up the pieces and continue on. Meanwhile Jack has left to track down Charles Knight, the man responsible for Dave’s death, so Zuma and Finley are rushing to save him from the dangers that Knight possesses. 

I want to start by talking about the characters. My review for Suspended mentioned how much I adored the wide variety of characters that we come across in this series, and once again I continued to adore them in this latest story. Particularly, Jack. I’ll admit that in the previous book, I wasn’t a huge fan of him. But this time around, his story is heart-breaking but also captivating. Without spoiling anything, his character goes through a life-changing event that shows the strength and determination of his character. 

The relationship between Zuma and Finley continues to develop in this second story, but I was more invested in the plot going on around them than I was the romance. Although I enjoy the scenes they share, their romantic relationship doesn’t define them. They work well as a strong team together and I’m excited to see how the end of the second book will change things for them in the future. 

We get introduced to both Zuma and Jack’s families in this book and it was interesting to see the stark contrast between them. Whilst Zuma’s family are friendly, welcoming and supportive, Jack’s family broke my heart with how they treated their son. 

Characters back in the circus are going through a difficult adjustment period after Dave’s death and it was interesting to see how they coped. Whilst I enjoyed that this book focused more on Zuma and Finley’s important rescue mission, I would have liked to have seen more scenes take place in the circus, simply because the characters working there are so wonderfully written and I want to learn more about them. I’m very keen to see what secret Fanny knows with regards to Finley’s heritage! 

The plot throughout Paralyzed was well-paced and exciting. The scenes in which Zuma and Finley finally reach Knight’s compound were chilling to read, and I’m looking forward to discovering more about this creepy villain. There is a fantastic cliff-hanger at the end of the novel that definitely has me nervous for the final chapter in this thrilling series!

Royal Rating:


Thursday, 24 March 2016

REVIEW: I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

Pages: 429
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Walker Books
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: April 2nd 2015 (This Edition)
Buy The Book: Amazon UK

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

My Thoughts:
I’ll Give You The Sun introduces us to twins Noah and Jude, who are torn apart by the death of their mother. The book tells us Jude’s story in present day, whilst she is sixteen, and follows Noah’s story a few years previously, whilst he is thirteen. This change in time is one of the reasons why this story was so compelling for me. As readers, we already know bits and pieces about the events that have taken place, and it makes us eager to learn how it all unfolds. 

This is a story that is all about the characters. They’re beautifully complex. Both Jude and Noah have flaws, they’ve both made decisions that weren’t very sensible, they’ve both contributed to the wedge that’s between them, and watching them try to fix everything is as touching as it is heart-breaking. Jandy has a way of making her characters so perfectly believable. 

There are many themes explored within this novel, grief and how it affects people in different ways being one of them. The changes in both of the characters are evident in the switching of time-periods, and it’s both sad and fascinating to see the difference in them. Jude and Noah at sixteen are almost the complete opposite of Jude and Noah at thirteen. The twins deal with their grief in separate ways and I loved seeing how that grief pulled them apart and brought them together again. 

The relationships in this book are wonderfully presented, not just the bond between Noah and Jude, but everyone else they connect with as well, such as Brian and Oscar. I absolutely adored the build-up to the romance between Noah and Brian, but the difficulties they faced tore at my heartstrings. 

Emotions and learning to deal with them are also huge part of this novel, and it’s written in a way that allows you to connect with the character’s situations, whether you can personally relate to them or not. I’m sure there are plenty of readers who will be able to find comfort in the words of this story.
I’ll Give You The Sun is utterly gorgeous. It’s that simple. Everything about it is beautifully crafted; the characters, the build-up of the plot, the jumping back and forth between present and past. Even the pages were visually stunning in this edition of the book. 

I flew through this in a matter of days and was completely sucked into the artistic and glorious world of these twins. Their unique personalities are ones I certainly won’t be forgetting anytime soon. Jandy is such a wonderful storyteller and I adore her writing style. Her books are pure art, a magical mix of prose and poetry. If you have yet to read her glorious novels, I highly suggest you give them a try! 

Royal Rating:


Friday, 18 March 2016

REVIEW: Annabeth Neverending by Leyla Kader Dahm

Pages: 238
Format: Kindle
Publisher: CreateSpace
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: December 15th 2015
Buy The Book: Amazon - Amazon UK

At first, teenager Annabeth Prescott thinks she’s found quite a deal when she talks down the price of an ankh pendant she discovers at a flea market. She soon wonders if the bauble is more than she's bargained for when she faints and glimpses images from a past life in ancient Egypt.

The discovery coincides with another new find: Gabriel, a handsome young man who takes an interest in her. When she meets his twin brother C. J. at a Halloween party, she realizes they look exactly like two boys who figure prominently into her memories.

Does C. J. share the heroic qualities held by his past incarnation Sethe, her bodyguard when she was Princess Ana? Does Gabriel possess the same evil powers he wielded as Kha, the black sorcerer who sought her affection?

Love meets the supernatural in this gripping young adult paranormal romance. Readers with an interest in reincarnation, as well as ancient Egypt, will be drawn to its mystical mixture of history and hesitation as Annabeth sways between the two brothers.

Will her reincarnated soulmate win out? Or will Kha finally find the way to her heart?

My Thoughts:
I am a huge fan of all things ancient Egypt, I have been ever since I was little, and I’m always on the lookout for YA stories that weave Egyptian history into the story. So I was excited to receive a review request for a book that featured a teenage girl discovering her ancient Egyptian past life.

This book follows Annabeth after she comes across a necklace at a flea market that shows her visions of her past life whenever she touches it. From there, she meets brothers Gabe and C.J., who she soon discovers are also people in her life back in Egypt. Annabeth finds herself torn between the two brothers, and fighting to figure out who to trust. 

The relationships were the first things I found myself disappointed in with this story. I knew Annabeth felt a strong connection to the brothers because of her past life, but I failed to feel that connection and that chemistry with either of them. The cliché of it also put me off a little because there was nothing that set the romance in this book apart from the other teen romances in YA. 

Whilst the plot had huge potential and was a very intriguing idea, it failed to deliver. The story seemed to jump all over the place, making it hard to follow, and at times I found it a little too fast-paced. What I did enjoy was the scenes in ancient Egypt. Annabeth’s past life as the daughter of Ramses was interesting and well researched, and I found it such a shame that the rest of the story set in modern day didn’t live up to those scenes. I also found Annabeth herself to be way more likeable back in ancient Egypt, making difficult choices and filled with determination. Whereas I found modern day Annabeth quite irritating and whiny. 

One of the biggest things that put me off this novel was the dialogue between the characters. When reading YA, I like to see strong female relationships, girls that support and empower each other. I didn’t get that from this story, which really disappointed me. Whilst Annabeth has female friends, their attitudes towards each other appeared too bitchy, like a typical high school movie. I honestly believe this story may have worked better if the protagonist had strong friendships, not just complicated relationships with guys. 

I wanted to like this book so much more than I actually did, and as I said earlier, I do believe it had a lot of potential. Reincarnation is always an interesting subject and this plot could have been fascinating if it had maybe been written in a slightly different way. Whilst there were aspects of it that I enjoyed, unfortunately they were few and far between.

Royal Rating: 


Thursday, 17 March 2016

EVENT RECAP: Be True To Yourself, with Jandy Nelson, Lisa Williamson, and Sara Barnard

Last night I was lucky enough to attend the Be True To Yourself event in Waterstones, Liverpool with Jandy Nelson, Lisa Williamson, and Sara Barnard. The minute I heard that this event would be coming to my nearest city, I had to book a ticket immediately. A talk with three fabulous authors whose books I adore? Yes, please! 

Like the eager beaver that I am, I arrived super early and nabbed myself a seat on the front row. (This is something you do regularly when you’re are as tiny as me and know that your chances of seeing anything from a few rows back are slim.) The talk got underway, chaired by the awesome Cathy Cassidy who asked various questions to the authors about their books and the YA genre. 

The talk touched upon plenty of interesting topics, including the issues teenagers face today as opposed to a decade ago, such as the constant pressures of social media changing how young people interact. There was also a discussion on a topic that I bring up a lot in my book reviews; female friendships in the YA genre. As Sara and Lisa both pointed out, friendships are so important at a young age, and can have a much bigger impact on your life than romantic relationships. Lisa made a great point by saying that whilst she still has friends from her teen years, she can barely remember the faces of her crushes, and that’s so very true! This is why we need more books written around the power of platonic love between friends. 

All three of the authors did a reading from their books. Jandy even had Lisa provide the voice of the ‘hot British guy’ when reading an extract from I’ll Give You The Sun! 

Afterwards, some of the guests had a chance to ask questions, and we got a clue from each author about the project they’re working on next. Once the talk was finished, we had the chance to go and get our books signed! 

I had such a lovely time at the event and it was super inspiring to hear the authors talk about the topics they touch upon in their books. These are three very important stories, and I can’t recommend them enough to anyone who hasn’t read them yet! Hopefully, authors like Jandy, Sara, and Lisa will pave the way for more stories about embracing your true self. Thank you to Sara, Jandy, and Lisa for being wonderful - it was great to meet you all! 

Monday, 14 March 2016

REVIEW: 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

Pages: 418
Format: ARC Paperback
Publisher: Gollancz
Genre: Thriller/Crime
Release Date: February 18th 2016
Buy The Book: Amazon UK
I was dead for 13 minutes.

I don't remember how I ended up in the icy water but I do know this - it wasn't an accident and I wasn't suicidal.

They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you're a teenage girl, it's hard to tell them apart. My friends love me, I'm sure of it. But that doesn't mean they didn't try to kill me. Does it?

My Thoughts:
This thriller of a story begins after the events that follow the death of sixth form student Natasha. She is pulled out of a freezing cold river one morning and resuscitated after being dead for thirteen minutes. As Tasha tries to figure out how she ended up in the river, she gets back in touch with her ex-best friend Becca, who came to visit her at the hospital out of concern for her former friend. As the pair try to solve the mystery of what happened, there are new twists and turns to be discovered at every chapter. 

It’s not often that I read YA thrillers, so I wasn’t sure how much I was going to enjoy this book, but it left me promising myself to pick up more stories like it in the future. I was completely gripped from the first couple of chapters. The characters are all interesting, and sometimes chilling, but I highly enjoyed getting to know more about their individual stories. Becca was such a believable character. She wasn’t perfect and her flaws were evident, but that made her all the more realistic. The writing of teenage female friendships in this novel was great in showing how toxic they can quickly turn.  

What I really adored about this story was the way that it was told. It wasn’t presented in a single narrative. Whilst a large part is told in third person, the book changes it’s style throughout, telling the reader what happened through police reports, transcripts of counselling sessions, diary entries, and sometimes even texts. It’s not a style I’d usually enjoy reading, but it worked brilliantly for this particular story and added to the overall tone. 

There’s always more to figure out in this book. The minute I thought I knew what was going on, something else was thrown into the mix that made me wonder where the plot was heading next. The final few chapters, when it’s clear what had really happened, were tense to read, throwing the characters into a thrilling race against time. And the ending was spectacular. Utterly creepy, but amazing. 

Whilst 13 Minutes is being marketed as a YA novel and follows teenage characters, this is definitely a book that can draw in adults just as much. It’s a beautifully crafted story, telling a sinister tale that grips you from the very start. Like I mentioned before, it’s definitely encouraged me to pick up more thriller and crime YA books in the future!

Royal Rating:

Saturday, 12 March 2016

REVIEW: North Face by Matt Dickinson

Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Vertebrate Publishing 
Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: March 10th 2016
Buy The Book: Amazon UK

The Everest Files story continues in North Face ...

Ryan Hart is an 18-year-old adventurer on a mission. To get himself to Mount Everest and check out the truth about the world's highest peak. Friends have told him dark stories about the mountain, outrageous things that he wants to see for himself.

Just a few hours after Ryan arrives at Everest Base Camp a lethal earthquake strikes. Avalanches pound the glacier, burying Ryan's climbing buddy and killing many others. A desperate rescue saves Ryan's friend, but only after a local Tibetan girl Tashi helps with the search.

Stress levels are running high among the climbing teams. The mountain is shut for the season because it is judged too dangerous.

Then a flashlight reveals a clue. Someone is alive, high on Everest's treacherous north face!
Tashi is convinced it is her 15-year-old brother.

Ryan is prepared to risk everything to help.

Storm clouds gather as they set out on their illegal climb, a do-or-die mission which the local militia will do anything to stop.

My Thoughts:
After loving The Everest Files, the first book in this trilogy, I was highly anticipating North Face. And I wasn’t disappointed. This book picks up with Ryan travelling to Base Camp to get a closer look at Mount Everest for himself. Whilst there, an earthquake causes tragedy on the mountain, and soon enough Ryan finds himself on a rescue mission. 

At Base Camp, Ryan meets Tashi, a Tibetan girl who herds yaks on the mountain with her family. Life for the family has been difficult since Chinese soldiers prevented them from settling at their usual destination. Ryan agrees to help Tashi reach a higher camp that her brother may be trapped at. 

As with the first book in the series, North Face switches from Ryan telling the story in the present, to going back and showing us Tashi’s story. I enjoyed learning how Tashi and her family came to be in their current situation, and the experiences they face are devastating to read. This book manages to shine a light on the difficult and often heart-breaking situations that the Tibetan people face. Whilst the characters in North Face are fictional, their story is all too real for the actual families like theirs out there in Tibet, trying to live the way their people have been for generations.

What I also loved in this book was getting to know more about Ryan. Although a large part of the book is Tashi’s story, we get a lot more scenes from the POV of Ryan. He’s an awesome character with a lot of courage and determination. He and Tashi make an epic team when taking on the problems around them. Tashi was also a wonderfully strong character throughout the story and I warmed to her immediately.

The action scenes during the climb up Everest were fantastically gripping. I loved seeing how Ryan adapted to the challenge after being thrown into it without prior training, but I adored that he was so willing to help. All of the scenes featuring the Chinese soldiers were extremely tense and kept me on edge, particularly those final few chapters! 

North Face makes for such an exciting read. There are heart stopping moments from start to finish, as well as plenty of touching scenes between the characters. There really is a little bit of everything to enjoy, and I love how these books manage to stand out from the other YA series’ out there. I’m very excited to see where Ryan’s journey will take him next!  

Royal Rating:


Tuesday, 8 March 2016

BLOG TOUR: Exclusive Post from Matt Dickinson, Author of 'North Face'



One of the main characters in ‘North Face’ is a Tibetan girl aged 16 called Tashi. She is tough and determined, climbing high on the mountain on a quest to rescue her brother, a mission which will test her to the very limit. As today is International Women’s day I thought it might be interesting to look at the history of the Women of Everest. 

1975. That was when it began. A Japanese climber called Junko Tabei became the first woman in history to reach the summit of Mount Everest. It was an important moment for high altitude climbing which had previously been an almost exclusively male sport. Her climb was extremely tough, her team were pounded by an avalanche on the way up and they were fortunate to survive. It’s interesting to note that Junko’s ascent actually came before the first ascent of a British citizen of either sex---Doug Scott and Dougal Haston didn’t reach the top until six months later!

The first British woman to ‘top out’ was Journalist Rebecca Stephens (17th May 1993). Hers was a gutsy performance to say the least, she got very close to the summit, went back down and then tried again with a positive result. To go back up after the exhaustion of a previous attempt required huge reserves of raw courage and strength. Rebecca wrote a brilliant book about her expedition, ‘On Top of The World’, a great read for anyone who fancies an armchair adventure! Rebecca later went on to become the first British woman to climb the ‘7 summits’, another notable achievement. 

Next up was legendary climber Alison Hargreaves. Not content with doing it the ‘easy’ way, Alison became only the second climber in history to ascend Everest with no supplementary oxygen and building her own camps (ie; totally unsupported). Her 1995 achievement was followed by tragedy when she was killed the same year while attempting K2, the second highest mountain in the world. Media attention was focussed on criticism of the fact that she had left her children at home with her husband while going off to do these adventures---a curiously sexist attitude given that male climbers do the same and never come in for such nasty jibes. 

Four years later another woman climber scored a great Everest ‘first’. South African Cathy O’Dowd managed to summit from BOTH sides of the mountain. Her book ‘Just for the Love of It’ is another classic Everest read.

Finally, in 2015, Malavath Purna from India became the youngest girl ever to ascend Mt Everest at the age of 13. Her plucky climb was on the North Face, one of the coldest and hardest routes.  

What will be next? Is there an eleven year old girl out there with dreams of the ultimate summit?
A nine year old with attitude ready to try her luck? 

My character Tashi is of course a fictional invention but I like to think she would be inspired by the above stories of the real life Women of Everest. 

Good luck! The mountain is waiting!

Thanks so much to Matt for stopping by with this epic post! My review of North Face will be published on the blog later this week, and you can read more about The Everest Files on the official website.

REVIEW: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Series: The Dark Artifices #1
Pages: 720
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: Amazon - Amazon UK

The Shadowhunters of Los Angeles star in the first novel in Cassandra Clare’s newest series, The Dark Artifices, a sequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series. Lady Midnight is a Shadowhunters novel.

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?

Glitz, glamours, and Shadowhunters abound in this heartrending opening to Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series.

My Thoughts:
So, I was super lucky enough to win an early copy of Lady Midnight from the wonderful Amber at The Mile Long Bookshelf! Since the book has only just been released, obviously I’m keeping this review spoiler free. But you should know that I want to discuss all the things SO MUCH. Hopefully I’ll be able to upload a discussion video at a later date to talk about everything! In the meantime, prepare for this review to be a fangirlish mess. I have a feeling I might ramble a little bit here, so you may want to grab a cup of tea. I’m not joking. 

Guys, you don’t need me to tell you how much I love Cassandra Clare’s books. The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices are two of my favourite series’ of all time, so I had high hopes for Lady Midnight, the first book in The Dark Artifices series, and oh boy, did it deliver. 

This book picks up five years after the end of the Dark War, and it follows parabatai Emma and Julian, as Emma continues her quest to discover the truth about the murder of her parents. The Clave believes that Sebastian Morgenstern was responsible for their deaths, but she does not. When more murder victims show up in the same state as that of her parents, Emma and the Blackthorn family make a bargain to investigate and find the killer. 

The characters in this book are amazing, there’s no doubt about it. I was worried that they might not live up to the awesomeness of the characters in the previous series’, but I had nothing to fear. As always, Cassie Clare delivered a fantastic array of well-developed, brilliantly intriguing, and diverse characters. I loved getting to know each of them, and I can’t wait to continue learning more about them as the series continues. 

I’ll be honest, when I first met these characters in City of Heavenly Fire, I wasn’t hugely interested at the time. That’s because I busy worrying about the main characters in the current series! But I knew I’d get more of a chance to know them in The Dark Artifices, and as I predicted, I liked them much more in their own series. Personally, I think I might actually prefer Emma to Clary, which is something I couldn’t predict happening! But Emma has so much wit and sarcasm, she really is like a female Jace. So I utterly adored her. I also loved the tension between her and Julian as their relationship began to change. I’m very excited to see where this goes because of laws against parabatai relationships. My heart actually ached for them at times. 

The rest of the Blackthorn family are just as interesting. Tiberius is great and I can’t wait to read more about him. I have a feeling he’ll get a bigger plot in the next book. Also, Mark Blackthorn is fascinating. His was the story that stood out for me in City of Heavenly Fire when he was taken by the Wild Hunt. Learning more about him and his time there was one of my favourite aspects of this book. I could probably sit and talk about each of the characters in this book all day, but none of us have time for that, unfortunately. 

Moving on from the characters, THE PLOT IN THIS BOOK. OH MY GOODNESS. When a book keeps making your jaw drop until the very end, you know it’s special. Those twists in the final few chapters, I was not expecting one bit. I really wasn’t. I pride myself on being able to predict plot twists before they happen, but not with Lady Midnight. Nope. It’s a credit to how great a writer Cassie Clare is that I literally did not see the twists coming from a mile off. Also, a little warning, chapter 22 will utterly rip your heart out. Good luck reading that one, guys. 

As expected, there were some references to the previous stories set in the Shadow World, and we got to catch up with some of the characters, which was beyond amazing. Jem and Tessa appear briefly, but I expect they’ll be featuring a lot more in this series, which I’m very excited about because I love Jem. Like, a LOT. Also, there is a short story at the end of this book which is AMAZING. 

I know this is only the first book in this trilogy, and there’s so much more to come, but I can’t fault it so far. There isn’t one aspect of this book that I didn’t enjoy. There were a few plot points that made me frustrated, but that’s exactly what they were supposed to do. Lady Midnight takes you on a journey through a jungle of emotions, and I adored every second of it. I’m very much anticipating the next book, AND THE WAIT FOR IT IS GOING TO BE TORTUROUS. Thank you, Cassandra Clare, for sharing yet another story that completely consumed my heart. 

Royal Rating:


Thursday, 3 March 2016

REVIEW: The Island by Olivia Levez

Pages: 288
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Rock The Boat
Release Date: March 3rd 2016
Buy The Book: Amazon UK
Frances is alone on a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. She has to find water and food. She has to survive. And when she is there she also thinks about the past. The things that she did before. The things that made her a monster. Nothing is easy. Survival is hard and so is being honest about the past. Frances is a survivor however, and with the help of the only other crash survivor, she sees that the future is worth fighting for.

The Island is a gripping and thoughtful story about a girl who didn’t ask to be the person she is but is also determined to make herself the person she wants to be.

My Thoughts:
This book is everything I’ve been searching for in a story. It truly is. I could not stop reading. Already I’m finding it difficult to put my thoughts into a review because I JUST WANT TO WRITE EVERYTHING IN CAPITALS, THAT’S HOW EXCITED I AM ABOUT THIS BOOK.

The Island starts with Frances on a plane journey to work abroad as part of a scheme she is required to take part in after committing a crime. When the journey goes terribly wrong, Frances never reaches her intended destination. Instead she ends up deserted on an island and struggling to survive. 

I’ll be totally honest; at first, I wasn’t too sure whether this book was for me. The writing style was quite different to what I’m used to, and I wasn’t really connecting with Frances. But that quickly changed. Before I knew it, I couldn’t put it down. This book is seriously addictive. 

It didn't take long for me to start adoring Frances. She’s feisty, she has an attitude, and she’s at war with her own past. The book tells her story by switching from present day to the events that already have happened, showing us what led to Fran being in her current situation. The author is wonderful at writing from the perspective of a troubled teenager, and it allowed me to sympathise with Fran’s difficulties, to understand why she took the actions that she did. 

The details of Fran’s home life were heart-breaking to read, especially the relationship between her and her younger brother, Johnny. I loved how the book let us know that these characters had faced troubled times, but slowly revealed it little by little as Fran had to deal with her memories whilst alone on the island. 

What I especially love about this book is that it doesn’t romanticise being trapped on a desert island. This is about real survival skills and a genuine fight for life. Fran’s journey throughout this book is a tremendously difficult one, and it’s not cute. The author brilliantly demonstrates exactly how rough and dangerous life on the island is. I loved Fran getting stronger and learning to do more to help her chances of survival. At first, she wallowed in self-pity and wasted resources, so seeing her change and start to fight for herself was empowering. 

Now I’m not going to name the other plane survivor (because spoilers), but they were utterly perfect. When they were introduced, the story took a little more of a light-hearted turn, which I felt was a much needed breather from Fran’s constantly desperate struggle. Obviously, it’s not all easy-living from there. It’s still two people trapped on a desert island and fighting to survive, but there is more humour and some exceptionally touching scenes, and I adored every moment that the two of them shared. From initially disliking each other, their bond of friendship grows beautifully strong, and it was great to see them finally open up to each other about their lives back home. 

The ending of this book, THE ENDING. Gosh, I’m still not over it. It’s an ending that leaves you wondering beyond that final page. Whilst in a perfect world, I’d be handed a firm conclusion about the fate of the characters and I’d get some closure, but the actual ending forces you to think about possible outcomes for yourself. 

Seriously, I can’t praise this book enough. It truly was a breath of fresh air. The Island is so different to a lot of the books I usually read and I’m thrilled that I got the chance to read it. This is a YA book that doesn’t rely on romance and typical teen clichés. This is a book about strength, determination, about finding courage when all hope is lost and facing up to the past. This is a truly beautiful debut from Olivia Levez, and it’s made me extremely excited for whatever she shares with us next. 

Royal Rating:

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