Sunday, 31 July 2016

The Brain Behind The Blog #3: Drinking Books

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

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

Little Book Owl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where can readers find you?
The Book Club:

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

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

Saturday, 30 July 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Royal Rating:


Wednesday, 27 July 2016

REVIEW: Songs About a Girl by Chris Russell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Royal Rating:

Thursday, 21 July 2016

REVIEW: Tell Us Something True by Dana Reinhardt

Pages: 208
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Rock The Boat
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Release Date: July 20th 2016
Buy The Book: Book Depository

Seventeen-year-old River doesn’t know what to do with himself when Penny, the girl he adores, breaks up with him. He lives in LA, where nobody walks anywhere, and Penny was his ride; he never bothered getting a license. He’s stuck. He’s desperate. Okay . . . he’s got to learn to drive.

But first, he does the unthinkable—he starts walking. He stumbles upon a support group for teens with various addictions. He fakes his way into the meetings, and begins to connect with the other kids, especially an amazing girl. River wants to tell the truth, but he can’t stop lying, and his tangle of deception may unravel before he learns how to handle the most potent drug of all: true love.

My Thoughts:
Tell Us Something True starts with River taking his girlfriend, Penny, on what is supposed to be a romantic date in a pedal boat, but then Penny tells him that she wants to break up, and River is left utterly confused. Refusing to be driven home by her, River decides to walk back and stumbles upon a group for people who need a second chance. When he realises that the teens in the group are all trying to overcome a variety of serious problems from stealing to drugs, River panics and fakes an addiction to marijuana. 

I really, really wanted to like this book more than I did. The blurb made the plot and River sound super interesting, but the plot fell flat and I failed to find anything likeable about River. The main problems I had with this book stemmed from River himself. There were a lot of issues about his character that didn’t sit right with me, starting with the fact that he was constantly showing up at Penny’s house after she’d broken up with him, determined to win her back even though she wasn’t comfortable with it. Break ups are difficult and upsetting, yes, but River didn’t come across as being genuinely hurt to me. It just felt like he was being whiny and selfish. He also made various comments throughout the book that made me cringe. Characters are meant to be flawed, they wouldn’t be interesting or believable if they were perfect. But you’re meant to root for them to get their redemption. I didn’t root for River, and by the end of the book I still didn’t feel like he’d redeemed himself.

Also, the issues River had over his father not being in his life felt forced, as though it had just been written in to give him more of an excuse for his behaviour. It had no real impact in the story and I didn’t feel River’s emotions over the situation. However, I did enjoy the scenes he shared with his step-father and also his younger sister. Those scenes made River feel more believable and showed a softer side to him that I wished we’d been able to see more of. 

What I did love about this story was how it showed teens getting genuine help for their problems instead of romanticising them to seem edgy. Some of the characters who went to the meetings, Daphne, Christopher and Mason, were really fascinating and I would have loved the chance to learn more about them, but they faded into the background as the book mostly focused on River wanting to jump straight into a new romance with Daphne. 

There was so much potential for this book to expand on the story beyond River’s broken heart. Whilst I knew going into it that the story was about a break-up, I didn’t expect so much of the book to be about River pining after Penny. There were some funny moments and the minor characters were great, but overall I don’t think this story was for me. 

Royal Rating:


Tuesday, 12 July 2016

REVIEW: Surface Tension by S. R. Atkinson

Series: Siren Anthology #2
Pages: 269
Format: eBook
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: July 17th 2016
Buy The Book: Amazon

Santiago escaped kidnapping, torture, and near death last time she was in the ocean. Now back on the safety of land she resumes life as normal, but finds she is plagued with lingering effects of the Sirens’ brutality and thoughts about the world under the surface. When she finds shocking information in her abuela’s journals, Santi must make a choice that will decide not only her fate, but also that of millions of others.

Will Santi choose to follow her destiny and return to the ocean to face the demons of her past? And what of her budding feelings for her long-time best friend Rogan? The only thing certain is that Santi's decisions will change the course of her life forever.

My Thoughts:
This is the second book in the Siren Anthology, and it picks up a little while after the events that happened in Breathing Water, which I reviewed on my blog here. Santiago is back on land and spending time with her mother. After the Siren attack, Santiago’s hearing hasn’t been the same on land and the damage may be permanent. 

As with the first book, Surface Tension splits the story into two parts. It follows Santiago as she continues to decide where she wants to spend her life, on land or in the water, and it also follows a character named Carmen a few decades earlier than Santi’s story. Carmen is a character we’ve never met before but she turns out to be a hugely important part of the story. 

She is a Serra with a mission to bring the heir of King Tullus, who we read about in the previous book, down under the water as only his heir has the power to kill Zitja and end her Siren reign of terror. But when she meets the heir, her feelings for him develop and she finds herself torn between her two worlds. As with Nephira’s story in the first book, I found myself anticipating Carmen’s story a lot more than I did Santiago’s. Carmen’s side of the story was utterly captivating and I admired her courage and determination. 

What I did enjoy about Santi’s story this time around was that we got to see her spend more time with her mother, and I loved the bond between the two of them. I also enjoyed reading about Santiago deal with her hearing loss after the Siren attack, and how she was comping with her life afterwards. But once again, I didn’t enjoy the romance between her and Rogan as much as I wanted to. I’m failing to feel that spark between them. However, I was interested in learning more about the Bonding of Serras and further discovering how their Ku feels. 

Rogan is a character I feel we’ve only gotten to half know. We only know about his life through the eyes of Santiago and so his story seems to constantly revolve around her. He also comes across as quite serious most of the time, and what I’d love more than anything is to see him and Santi have some more light-hearted and maybe fun moments amongst everything that goes on. Then maybe I’d feel a little more connected to them and their relationship. What I did love was the flashbacks we got to see of their younger years under the water, showing us why these two characters feel the way about each other that they do. 

As with Breathing Water, there were parts of the story I couldn’t quite connect to, but other parts that I really adored. The world building in the series really is fantastic and very cleverly thought out. I enjoyed getting to learn more about the mythology of the Serras and their underwater world, and I’m interested to see how the characters move on from the shocking events at the end of Surface Tension.

Royal Rating:
I don't have a graphic for three and a half crowns, but that's my overall rating for this book!


Thursday, 7 July 2016

BLOG TOUR: Two Summers by Aimee Friedman Review

I'm super excited to be the fourth stop on the blog tour for Two Summers by Aimee Friedman, which is out TODAY! Be sure to check out my thoughts on the book below.

Pages: 256
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: July 7th 2016
Buy The Book: Book Depository

This summer, Summer's saying goodbye to her best friend, her secret crush and her single mom and is off on a trip of a lifetime to visit her estranged artist father in France.

But right before she's about to board, her phone rings. Should she answer it? Either way, it's going to be a summer Summer will never forget.

My Thoughts:
Two Summers is a clever contemporary that asks the big ‘what if?’ question. It’s about what different scenarios could happen from one split-second decision. When we meet Summer Everett, she’s at the airport, ready to board a plane to France to spend the summer with her dad. But then she gets a phone call and from that point on, the book splits between the two scenarios that could occur: the one in which she picks up the phone, and the one in which she ignores it and boards the plane. So Summer’s summer is literally split into two, and we get to read what could happen throughout each of them. 

In France, Summer has to live with Vivienne and her daughter Eloise, who are living at her father’s house. She also gets to meet Jacque, the gorgeous French guy of her dreams. Meanwhile back at home, Summer enrols on her aunt’s photography course and ends up finally getting to know her long-time crush, Hugh Tyson, who is an absolute sweetheart. 

Despite two different love interests in the two separate summers, romance isn’t the main focus of this book, which was a pleasant surprise and extremely refreshing! This story dealt a lot with Summer’s changing relationship with her best friend Ruby, who had made her summer plans based around the fact that Summer wouldn’t be at home. It shows how friends who have been so close for so long sometimes need to take a step back to truly appreciate what they have. 
Another main focus of this story is family. Summer learns some things about her parents’ split that she previously had no clue about, and I loved how the book showed Summer learning how deal with that. Her relationship with her mother and her aunt was touching, and I loved the scenes between them. 

Summer was a really fun character and I loved her narration of the story, especially when she got nervous in front of Hugh. I also have to mention how much I adored Hugh himself. He was so shy! I love shy guys in YA, there really aren’t enough of them. It was sweet to see the two of them finally work through their nerves and get to know each other properly. 

Another thing I loved about this book was Summer discovering her passion for photography. As someone who is rarely apart from her own camera, I adored how Summer learned that she had her own style when it came to taking pictures, and that this could be more than just a hobby for her. 

Two Summers really is a perfect summer read. With gorgeous settings and glorious characters, it’s a cute contemporary that will definitely leave you with a smile on your face!

Royal Rating:

Be sure to check out the rest of the blogs taking part in the tour this week:

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