Saturday, 27 February 2016

REVIEW: When Everything Feels Like The Movies by Raziel Reid

Pages: 178
Format: Kindle
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Realistic Fiction, LGBT+
Publisher: Atom
Release Date: February 14th 2016
Buy The Book: Amazon UK

Everyone wanted to break me. But stars aren' t broken, they explode. And I was the ultimate supernova.

My name was Jude. They called me Judy. I was beautiful either way.

School was basically a movie set. We were all just playing our parts. The Crew, the Extras, the Movie Stars. No one was ever real . . . especially me. I didn't fit any category.

All the girls watched me - I could walk so much better than them in heels, and my make-up was always flawless.

All the boys wanted to, well, you know . . . even if they didn't admit it.

They loved me, they hated me, but they could never ignore me.

I only had eyes for Luke. A red carpet rolled out from my heart towards him and this year, on Valentine'sDay, I was going to walk that carpet and find my mark next to him. It would be like a dream.

But my dream was going to turn into a nightmare.

This is my story.

My Thoughts:
This was a really difficult book for me to rate, and I still haven’t fully made up my mind on it, which is why it’s taken me a while to put my thoughts into words since reading it. Whilst there were some areas of the book that I didn’t connect with, there were also aspects of it that I completely fell in love with. For once, I’ve found a book that has left me stumped for words. 

Firstly, what I’m thankful for is the real events that this book is raising awareness of. The genuine story of Lawrence Fobes Kings is utterly heart-breaking, and I’m glad that Raziel Reid was inspired to write this book because of it. Regardless of what I thought about the book as a whole, there is no denying that it’s an important story.

When Everything Feels Like The Movies follows teenager Jude through his difficult times at school. He is open about his sexuality and his identity, he is proud of who he is, acting and dressing however he wants to. But not everyone is accepting of Jude, and the people around him can be devastatingly cruel. Instead of letting this ruin him, Jude views his life as a movie, and everything around him is part of it. The locations are the sets, the people are the extras and the crew. It’s constant lights, camera, action. 

Whilst the idea of the story definitely interested me, the first few chapters failed to draw me in. Straight away, the overall tone of the novel didn’t appeal me. I wasn’t enjoying the dialogue, and I wasn’t connecting with the characters. There were some funny moments, especially between Jude and his best friend, Angela, but they alone weren’t enough to make me desperate to keep reading. I was also left feeling confused about the age of the characters, because as far as I’m aware, it was never made clear in the story. The real life people that these characters were based on were around 14-15, however the characters in this book read much older. They felt more like seniors in high school. 

The language and actions in this book are quite vulgar, but that won’t shock the audience that it’s written for. These troupes are becoming familiar in the YA genre. At times though, it felt a little too much. It was written to come across as realistic, but it actually felt overdone to me. 

Whilst I wasn’t overly keen on the first half of the book, the second half really stepped up the game. The more I got to read about Jude’s home life, the care he had for his brother, and the relationship between his mother and her boyfriend, Ray, the more the story drew me in. This was the side of the story that I utterly fell in love with. The second half had way more interesting storytelling and I felt like I was finally connecting with the characters. I also enjoyed the scenes between Jude and Angela’s brother, Abel. Though it was far from a fluffy romance, the moments they shared were touching, well-written, and painfully realistic. 

Considering I hadn’t enjoyed the first part of the book, I completely didn’t expect to end up adoring the second half of it. Once I hit that half way point, I was compelled to keep reading. So this is where I get confused with my overall thoughts! The ending of this book was incredible and heart-breaking, and it was so much better than anything in the first half of the novel. I just wish that it’d been this strong a story from the very start, because I could’ve easily given up on the book. Obviously, after reading the later chapters, I’m glad I didn’t. 

So, I’m still torn. Did I love it? Did I not?? Who knows. What I know for certain is that I’m happy I kept with it and read to the end. This is definitely a book that might not be to everyone’s taste, but there is some fantastic storytelling in the later parts, and as I keep saying, it really is an important story. 

Royal Rating:
*I don't usually give .5 ratings, however I would give this a 3.5 overall.*

Thursday, 18 February 2016

REVIEW: Suspended (Vagabond Circus #1) by Sarah Noffke

Pages: 250
Format: Kindle
Series: Vagabond Circus #1
Genre: Fantasy 
Publisher: One-Twenty-Six
Release Date: January 15th 2016
Buy The Book: Amazon - Amazon UK

When a stranger joins the cast of Vagabond Circus—a circus that is run by Dream Travelers and features real magic—mysterious events start happening. The once orderly grounds of the circus become riddled with hidden threats. And the ringmaster realizes not only are his circus and its magic at risk, but also his very life.

Vagabond Circus caters to the skeptics. Without skeptics, it would close its doors. This is because Vagabond Circus runs for two reasons and only two reasons: first and foremost to provide the lost and lonely Dream Travelers a place to be illustrious. And secondly, to show the nonbelievers that there’s still magic in the world. If they believe, then they care, and if they care, then they don’t destroy. They stop the small abuse that day-by-day breaks down humanity’s spirit. If Vagabond Circus makes one skeptic believe in magic, then they halt the cycle, just a little bit. They allow a little more love into this world. That’s Dr. Dave Raydon’s mission. And that’s why this ringmaster recruits. That’s why he directs. That’s why he puts on a show that makes people question their beliefs. He wants the world to believe in magic once again.
  

My Thoughts:
Straight away I was excited to read this series. Not just because I’ve adored Sarah’s other stories, but also because it revolves around a traveling circus, something which has always fascinated me and is usually an exciting location for a book. 

Like with Sarah’s previous series’, this book is set within the Dream Traveler world. However, it is completely different to anything Sarah has written before. Told in third person, Suspended tends not to stay focused on one particular character, and instead gives us an insight into the various people and roles within Vagabond Circus.

Suspended starts when Finley joins the circus as its latest act. The other characters are wary about a newcomer appearing so suddenly and shaking things up, but ringmaster Dave Raydon assures them that this is what the circus needs. Profits are down and excitement is dwindling, and Dave believes that Finley can bring them the answer. 

Finley is paired with Zuma, one of the circus’ top performers, and their act together is like nothing anyone has seen before. I’ll admit, it took me a little while to connect to Zuma, but I grew more attached to her as we learned more about her. I did enjoy the relationship that formed between her and Finley. Also, the ending changed things between them dramatically, and I’m highly anticipating what this means for both of these characters in the future. 

Vagabond Circus was a fantastic setting for this story, and I adored learning all about it! Every character within the circus had an interesting and unique personality, and it's great that Sarah dedicated time to each of them. I loved Jasmine so much! Her attitude was awesome and I really hope we get to see more of her as this series progresses. The ringmaster himself, Dave Raydon, was also an intriguing character who I enjoyed getting to know.

Finley is interesting, but I feel like I want to know more about him and his time before the circus before I make my mind up on his character. However, I did sympathize with him not knowing much about his past and not really having his own identity. The scene in which he chooses his own last name was touching, and I adored the little reference to George Anders, a character from Sarah’s The Lucidites series. 

There are definitely questions I’d like answers to in the next book, and there are characters I want to see more of, but overall this was a hugely strong start to this exciting new series and I can’t wait to see what’s next. It’s a change from Sarah’s usual style, but it’s one I highly approve of! 

P.S. This was my 300th post on this blog! Yay! *throws confetti*

Royal Rating:



Monday, 15 February 2016

REVIEW: Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

Pages: 464
Format: Paperback
Source: ARC
Publisher: Orion
Release Date: February 11th 2016
Genre: Dystopia, Fantasy
Buy The Book: Amazon - Amazon UK


Mare's blood is red - the colour of common folk - but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from the prince and friend who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by the Silver king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red and Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat. Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

My Thoughts:
I have a really mixed relationship with this book, and I’ll be honest, I really expected (and wanted) to enjoy it more than I did. There is no denying that Victoria Aveyard is a great writer. Her descriptions and world building are wonderful. But this story just isn’t drawing me in the way I want it to. Whilst I had a few issues with Red Queen, I enjoyed it overall and was excited for more. But this sequel let me down a little. 

Glass Sword follows Mare on her new mission, finding new bloods, and giving them the choice to join her. Along with Farley, Shade, Kilorn, and Cal, she travels to the various addresses of these new bloods and attempts to recruit them before Maven gets there first. Whilst I expected the recruitment stage to take up some of the plot, it actually ended up being the majority of it. Once I was over halfway into the story, I was tired of the team turning up in a new city, finding more new characters. The recruits themselves were interesting, but the introductions to them and their abilities were quite fleeting, so I felt as though I didn’t really get to know them. 

As I expected, there was tension between Kilorn and Mare in this book. Reading Red Queen, I predicted that he’d be the cliché ‘best friend who’s actually in love with protagonist’, and I’m pretty disappointed he turned out to be exactly that. I didn’t really enjoy his scenes and I found him to be a little too bitter and whiny throughout the book, exactly like Mare herself. 

The one character I actually massively preferred this time around was Cal. I didn’t much care for him during the first book, but he really stepped up in Glass Sword. Although there is a love-interest plot between him and Mare, it didn’t impact negatively on his character the way I worried it might. The only complaint about him that I have is that I simply wanted more of him. He’s honest, even when it’s brutal to be so, and a lot of the time, he’s one of the few characters talking and acting rationally. 

There is a conversation at the end of the book, in which Cal tells it like it is to Mare. He finally says the things I’d been thinking about her character throughout the book, and I was so pleased that paragraph was included. I couldn’t help but feel proud of him for being the one to stand up to Mare and point out that her attitude is wrong. 

The ending of this book redeemed it a bit for me and added an extra crown to my final rating. The last few chapters were thrilling, filled with twists, and kept me on edge. I just wish that the rest of the story had managed to capture my attention the way that the ending did. There was a moment that tore my heart out, and the epilogue left my mouth hanging open with a major cliffhanger. Whilst the ending was fantastic, I don’t know if that alone is enough to keep me excited for the next installment in the series. 

Royal Rating:



  

Friday, 12 February 2016

BLOG TOUR: Remembrance by Meg Cabot Review and Giveaway


Today I am thrilled to be taking part in the final day of the blog tour for Remembrance, the 7th book in The Mediator series by the fabulous Meg Cabot, hosted by Me, My Shelf & I. Here are my thoughts on the book, and details on how you can win a copy of Shadowland, the first book in the series.

Series: The Mediator #7
Pages: 400
Source: Edelweiss
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: February 2nd 2016
Genre: Adult Fantasy & Paranormal
Buy The Book: Amazon - B&N
Goodreads

The highly anticipated return of Meg’s bestselling Mediator series featuring fan-favorite ghost whisperer, Susannah Simon.

You can take the boy out of the darkness. But you can’t take the darkness out of the boy.

All Susannah Simon wants is to make a good impression at her first job since graduating from college (and since becoming engaged to Dr. Jesse de Silva). But when she’s hired as a guidance counselor at her alma mater, she stumbles across a decade-old murder, and soon ancient history isn’t all that’s coming back to haunt her. Old ghosts as well as new ones are coming out of the woodwork, some to test her, some to vex her, and it isn’t only because she’s a mediator, gifted with second sight.

What happens when old ghosts come back to haunt you? If you’re a mediator, you might have to kick a little ass.

From a sophomore haunted by the murderous specter of a child, to ghosts of a very different kind-including Paul Slater, Suze’s ex, who shows up to make a bargain Suze is
certain must have come from the Devil himself-Suze isn’t sure she’ll make it through the semester, let alone to her wedding night. Suze is used to striking first and asking questions later. But what happens when ghosts from her past-including one she found nearly impossible to resist-strike first? 

My Thoughts:
Where do I even start? The Mediator series was the love of my life whilst I was in my teens. It was the series that first drew me into the YA genre, a genre which I have remained hugely passionate about since then. I owe a lot to Meg Cabot and her books. I couldn’t believe it when Meg announced she’d be releasing an adult update to the series, and I have been eagerly awaiting it for the past couple of years. Suze and Jesse, all grown up. I was so excited!

Suze is engaged to Jesse, but they are far from being married yet. Jesse is trying to secure a grant to help further his medical career, and Suze is working for free at her old high school just to get some experience. And as if Suze wasn’t stressed enough, Paul Slater reappears in her life with news that he’s planning to demolish her old home, the house in which she and Jesse fell in love. 

First of all, let me start by saying how much I related to Suze in this book. No, I am not engaged to a ridiculously attractive, Spanish former-ghost, nor can I communicated with the dead, but I can totally sympathize with the several spot-on rants about graduate life. Having to work for free because no one is willing to pay you after college? I feel you, sister.  

Suze Simon is back on top form in Remembrance, and I was so happy to have her back in my life! She remains one of my all-time favorite female characters because I can’t get enough of her attitude. With confidence, wit, and plenty of sass, she’s an utter joy to read about, and her dialogue was as hilarious as ever. There really aren't enough characters like her in the literature world.

It was great to see Suze and Jesse working together on a ghostly mission once again, though it took me a little while to adjust to Jesse actually being alive this time around! He was back to being the oh-so-hot Spanish God I remember him being. Seriously, he will forever be my ultimate book-boyfriend. 


I also enjoyed getting to catch up with all of the other characters from the series and see how they were getting on now. Meg spared us no details on all the gossip. Seeing Suze’s step-brothers again was great, especially David (he’s still my favorite). Also, if it's possible, I think I love CeeCee more now than I did when I first read the series! Paul, on the other hand, I disliked even more this time around. He's still a complete slime-ball. Will he ever truly redeem himself? I have no idea.

As for the plot itself, it was full of twists and turns. Just when you thought you’d figured something out alongside Suze, a new detail was thrown into the mix. The story was filled with the same thrilling energy that the rest of the series always thrived on. There were also a few emotional scenes with regards to the sensitive subject at the heart of this plot that were handled well.

I’m so thankful to be given the chance to once more delve into the lives of these wonderful characters. There wasn’t one aspect of this novel the left me feeling disappointed, and I am delighted with the ending. Thank you to Meg for a wonderful addition to this series, it was everything I wanted it to be and more!

Royal Rating:










 ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Meg Cabot was born in Bloomington, Indiana. In addition to her adult contemporary fiction she is the author of the bestselling young adult fiction series, The Princess Diaries. Over 25 million copies of her novels for children and adults have sold worldwide. Meg lives in Key West, FL, with her husband. 


GIVEAWAY
One winner will get a physical copy of the first Mediator novel, SHADOWLAND Must be 13+ To Enter | Ships in US only | See Terms & Conditions for full contest rules before entering some restrictions apply

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Monday, 8 February 2016

REVIEW: The Sleeping Prince by Melinda Salisbury

Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: February 4th 2016
Buy The Book: Amazon - Waterstones

Return to the darkly beautiful world of The Sin Eater's Daughter with a sequel that will leave you awed, terrified . . . and desperate for more.

Ever since her brother Lief disappeared, Errin's life has gone from bad to worse. Not only must she care for her sick mother, she has to scrape together rent money by selling illegal herbal cures. But none of that compares to the threat of the vengeful Sleeping Prince whom the Queen just awoke from his enchanted sleep.

When her village is evacuated as part of the war against the Sleeping Prince, Errin is left desperate and homeless. The only person she can turn to is the mysterious Silas, a young man who buys deadly poisons from Errin, but won't reveal why he needs them. Silas promises to help her, but when he vanishes, Errin must journey across a kingdom on the brink of war to seek another way to save her mother and herself. But what she finds shatters everything she believed about her world, and with the Sleeping Prince drawing nearer, Errin must make a heartbreaking choice that could affect the whole kingdom.

My Thoughts:
Melinda Salisbury has done it again; she’s completely consumed my life with another story. When I read The Sin Eater’s Daughter, I couldn’t put it down for two days straight. Now here I am again, trying to bring myself back to reality after another binge on the sequel, The Sleeping Prince

I didn’t know what to expect going into this book, because instead of being told by Twylla, the protagonist of the previous story, this one follows Errin Vastel, the sister of Lief, Twylla’s former love interest. I was a little apprehensive about how the story would work switching narratives, but I had nothing to worry about. This story was brilliant from start to finish. 

The prologue alone tore my heart out. THAT PROLOGUE. Honestly, I’m never going to be over it. If I thought the story would start off lightly, I was highly mistaken. We’re thrown straight into the drama from those first few pages. I had to put the book down for a moment to come to terms with what had just happened.

We meet some new characters in this story. Our current protagonist Errin is feisty and wonderful, and she broke my heart with her level of dedication to protect her mother. And we also meet Silas Kolby. Oh my goodness, did I adore him. Learning more about him throughout the book was a joy. 

The story is fast paced throughout and I adore Melinda’s writing style because whilst she spares no detail, every word is chosen with care. There weren’t any paragraphs that were unnecessary. I also adored how this book linked up with The Sin Eater’s Daughter in a really clever way. The Sleeping Prince himself was an awfully chilling character and the few scenes he was in were utterly creepy. 

THE ENDING. I still haven’t fully processed my thoughts on that ending, and I can’t really say too much for fear of spoiling but OH MY GOD??? Just when I thought this story couldn’t throw another twist at me, it drops the mother of all cliff-hangers. WHEN CAN I GET MY HANDS ON THE NEXT BOOK?

I can’t praise this story enough because there really wasn’t a dull moment to be found. It’s a beautifully written tale that is jam-packed with surprises and strong characters. I’m so excited to see what’s in store next. What will happen to these wonderful characters?? Who knows??? I can’t wait to find out.

P.S. If you haven't read The Sin Eater's Daughter yet, what are you waiting for? Go read the thing.

Royal Rating:



 
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