Monday, 30 May 2016

BLOG TOUR: The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder Review!

Today I'm excited to be the first stop on the blog tour for The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder! Check out my thoughts on the story below!

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

In this ode to all the things we gain and lose and gain again, seventeen-year-old Penelope Marx curates her own mini-museum to deal with all the heartbreaks of love, friendship, and growing up.

Welcome to the Museum of Heartbreak.

Well, actually, to Penelope Marx’s personal museum. The one she creates after coming face to face with the devastating, lonely-making butt-kicking phenomenon known as heartbreak.

Heartbreak comes in all forms: There’s Keats, the charmingly handsome new guy who couldn’t be more perfect for her. There’s possibly the worst person in the world, Cherisse, whose mission in life is to make Penelope miserable. There’s Penelope’s increasingly distant best friend Audrey. And then there’s Penelope’s other best friend, the equal-parts-infuriating-and-yet-somehow-amazing Eph, who has been all kinds of confusing lately.

But sometimes the biggest heartbreak of all is learning to let go of that wondrous time before you ever knew things could be broken.

My Thoughts:
We’re always given contemporary stories that show the protagonist finally getting that cute person they’ve been crushing on. But what happens when you get your crush, and they’re not what you built them up to be in your head? That’s exactly the issue Penelope is faced with in The Museum of Heartbreak.

Penelope meets new guy Keats and is immediately attracted to him. After going to his party and surprisingly managing to connect with him, the pair start to date. However, Penelope’s relationships with her best friends are changing drastically. There’s Ephraim, who she’s known since she was little, who’s been her closest friend since then, who’s now started acting strange when he’s with her, complicating her feelings. And then there’s Audrey, who’s increasingly becoming closer friends with Cherisse, Penelope’s archenemies and Keats’ childhood friend. 

The plot of this story is featured around Penelope collecting items that have brought her to where she is in her life now, to form what becomes her own Museum. At the start of each chapter, there is a cute little sketch of the item and a bit of information about it. I really enjoyed the way the story was built upon this idea and these items. 

So the characters in this book, I love them. A lot. We’re treated to a range of different personalities that collide in the best possible way throughout the story. Penelope herself is full of wit, and her narration of the story had me giggling a lot. She has been best friends with Ephraim and Audrey for a long time, but as their social trio begins to change, we get to see her meet new friends. Grace and Miles are different to the others, but Penelope feels instantly drawn to them and I adored watching their friendship develop. The two of them made a fantastic addition to the story! 

We also get to see how Penelope grows and develops over the course of the story. We witness her realisations with her and can’t help but root for her to find the happiness she deserves. The changing of her relationship with Ephraim is believable and filled with emotion, and even though us readers can see what is happening between them, Penelope is blind to it for a while, so it’s great when she finally starts to see that their friendship could be more. 

I also thought her friendship with Audrey was an important one, showing that yes, we change and drift apart from friends we were once inseparable with, but that’s okay. What matters is making the most out of the here and now, and it was touching to see Penelope and Audrey work that out together. 

The story has great pacing throughout and there was never a dull moment. The way the writing demonstrates the changing of relationships at a crucial time in a young person’s life is honest and relatable. Not to mention there’s some brilliant humour and well-built chemistry between the characters. I utterly adored visiting Penelope’s very own Museum of Heartbreak!

Royal Rating:





  

Be sure to check out the other awesome blogs taking part in the tour this week!

  

Friday, 27 May 2016

The Brain Behind The Blog #1: The Bookish Beauty


Hey everyone! This is the first post in a new monthly feature I'm going to be doing, The Brain Behind The Blog! The aim of this feature is to highlight the awesome book bloggers out there who dedicate their time to writing bookish content, and to discover more about them. This month I'm pleased to welcome Brittany from The Bookish Beauty!

You and Your Blog
How long have you been blogging, and what was it that inspired you to get started?
I had been writing on a personal blog sporadically for a few years before starting Bookish Beauty. I was inspired to start my Bookish Beauty blog because I wanted a place to share my hobbies and have great conversations with others!

What is the best part about blogging for you?
The best part for me is making connections with others who have similar interests and geeking out about all of our favorite things.

Have you had any blogging disasters?
Nothing that I would call a disaster...just little mishaps here and there. I will sometimes re-read old posts and realize that I wrote them too quickly and didn't put enough of my personality in them, but I'm learning!

What has been your favourite blogging memory?
Just knowing others are interested in what I have to say is so great, I feel like I'm not just talking to myself! Every time I make an internet friend through my blog is my favorite!

What do you hope to achieve with your blog in the future? 
I hope to build a great community of people around my blog that feels like family.

You and Books
What appeals to you when searching for new books to read?
I am definitely a sci-fi and fantasy type of gal! Although I am trying to branch out into other genres.

Are there any genres that you avoid?
I typically try to stay away from romances and YA that have prominent love triangles. However, they always seem to creep on to my to-read list.

What book/series would you say has had the biggest impact on your life?
Arena by Karen Hancock is a book that gets be through everything. For some reason this book just feels like home to me and I always re-read it when I'm having a hard time. I highly recommend checking it out, especially if you like sci-fi/fantasy!

What book are you currently anticipating?
I previously said I tend to stay away from romances, but I just started Me Before You and I am so excited to get into it! Especially because the movie comes out on my birthday!

Tell us who your favourite fictional characters are!
I absolutely LOVE Callie Hayes from Arena, she reminds me so much of myself and the kind of person I want to be. Sometimes unsure, but in the end incredibly strong and brave

All About You
What are your hobbies? (Besides books and blogging, of course.)
Makeup is a newer hobby of mine, but I've really been enjoying it! I'm also a big TV and movie junkie, I could talk about my favorites for dayyys.

What are three goals you’d like to achieve in the next few years?
-I currently live in Texas, but I would love to make my way up to Seattle, Washington and settle in there. 
-Advance in my career and be in a position where I have people reporting to me.
-Love life and be happy with where I am! This is a constant goal of mine

If you could travel back in time to chat to a person in history, who would it be? 
Elizabeth I, I have always been fascinated by her life and rule as Queen. I'm not a big history nerd, but there are a few parts of it that I just can't get enough of! 

This or That
Coffee or Tea? 
Tea! Caffeine tends to make me pretty shaky so tea is always my go to! 
Library or Bookshop? 
Bookshop for sure. I love finding tiny book stores and spending hours in them!
Summer or Winter?  
Winter, I love cooler weather. As you can imagine (or maybe you've experienced it for yourself) Texas is just miserable during the summer.
Sunrise or Sunset? 
Sunset, ending a long day on a big porch with a cup of tea in my hand just sounds like heaven.
Cats or Dogs?  
I am 100% a cat person! I keep trying to convince my husband to let me bring one home, but he is super allergic and I don't want him to miserable all the time.

Where can readers find you?
Instagram: @thebookishbeauty

Huge thank you to Brittany for being the first blogger to be interviewed for this feature! Make sure to check out her blog for some fabulous book & beauty content. I'm currently looking for a blogger to be the featured interviewed for August. If you're interested in getting involved, please send me an email with your blog URL to queenofteenfiction@hotmail.co.uk! 

Monday, 23 May 2016

REVIEW: Caramel Hearts by E. R. Murray

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Royal Rating:

 

Friday, 20 May 2016

The Brains Behind The Blogs

BOOK BLOGGERS! HI! I’M LOOKING FOR YOU! YES, YOU! 

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

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

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

Interested, maybe? Get in touch via email: queenofteenfiction@hotmail.co.uk



Tuesday, 17 May 2016

REVIEW: The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Royal Rating:

   

Saturday, 14 May 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Royal Rating:

 

Monday, 9 May 2016

REVIEW: Broken Sky by L. A. Weatherly

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

Welcome to a ‘perfect’ world.

Where war is illegal, where harmony rules.

And where your date of birth marks your destiny.

But nothing is perfect.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Royal Rating:
 

 

Friday, 6 May 2016

REVIEW: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Royal Rating:

 

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

#ThisIsWhoIAm: What Would I Put In A Time Capsule?


Hey bookworms! May 5th marks the release of the fabulous The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood. In honor of the time capsule that Gottie and her best friend Thomas create in the book, I thought I'd photograph some of the items I think I'd include in my own time capsule! So, This Is Who I Am.


Firstly, I'd include a pair of earphones to signify my love of music. My favourite music is a huge part of who I am, so I'd have to represent that in some way! The next thing is my favourite bookmark. This shows two things about me: my love of reading, and my loves of giraffes. Seriously, giraffes are the cutest, don't argue with me on this. The third thing that would go in the capsule is my volunteer badge from the Oxfam store that I've been volunteering at for the past two years. The store has shaped my life in so many ways. 


What next? Well, I'd have to include the cinema ticket for the last film I went to see, Civil War! (No, I'm still not over it.) I'd also add my favourite writing pen that I've had for years. I got it during a school trip to a museum in which I utterly fell in love with all of the ancient Egyptian artifacts. The next thing I'd pop in the box is a picture of my dog, Dilly!


Next I'd include a camera lens cap. Photography is a huge part of my life and has meant a lot to me since taking it up a few years ago. Now I couldn't imagine not being behind a camera lens, capturing photographs! I'd also include the rocks I collected from the summit of Mount Snowdon when I climbed it in 2014, to remind future me that I kept on climbing, even when things got tough! 


As for books, I'd include two of my most important ones. The first being Harry Potter because it quite literally changed my life and inspired me to read! The second being an anthology that two of my own short stories are actually published in!



I'd also include tokens to signify two of my favorite books series: The Mortal Instruments and The Hunger Games. Along with a quote postcard from another one of my all time favourite books, Carry On by Rainbow Rowell! 


I think I'd also throw in a couple of paintbrushes to signify the new hobby that I've taken up over the past year: watercolour! 


Lastly, I'd include a picture of my bestie, my sister, and myself!

What would you include in your time capsule? What would represent the person you are today? Let me know in the comments! Also, be sure to share your ideas on Twitter using #ThisIsWhoIAm. I'll be a sharing a few more time capsule related posts on my Twitter and Instagram this week!

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

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

During one long, hazy summer, Gottie navigates grief, world-stopping kisses and rips in the space-time continuum, as she tries to reconcile her first heartbreak with her last. The Square Root of Summer is an astounding and moving debut from Harriet Reuter Hapgood.

GUEST POST: Sarah Mussi Shares Her Tips For Writing About Local Legends!

Today I'm excited to share with you this awesome guest post from author Sarah Mussi - enjoy!

Myth and local legend are a positive gold mine for creative writing - packed with mystery, magic, romance and danger, what better ingredients for a true teen novel!

Better still, every area in the world has its share of local spooky tales and mythical monsters!

Sarah Mussi, multi-award winning author of HERE BE DRAGONS – BOOK ONE IN THE SNOWDONIA CHRONICLES, and a wealth of other topical teen and Y.A. titles, gives her top ten tips to help aspiring young writers use their local legends to create terrifying tales.

1) Create your protagonists: give them heroic qualities.
Who is going to be the hero of your story? And what qualities will they have? Nobody loves a hero who cries and whines a lot, so your protagonist needs to be strong and just the kind of person you would like to be, when you are in a good mood! Take time to think about those qualities, and be very strict about not allowing reality to get in the way of a good story!

2) Your protagonist needs a truly awe-inspiring goal to work towards.
All strong narratives are driven by the need of the central character to achieve a goal. The journey that this person makes may be filled with conflict, tension and obstacles, but as long as they have a strong goal, that they are determined to reach, your protagonist will find the necessary strength to overcome the obstacles and find solutions to all the problems life throws at them.

3) Now you need to do local research.
Every square mile of the UK is filled with tales of the unexpected - local legends of wizards and witches; terrifying accounts of big cats on the loose; myths about hills and valleys, wells, stones and rivers. Your local museum, or ordinance survey map, or tourist souvenir shop, will often have details of these types of stories. Take time to do your research. Talk to residents whose families have grown up in the area. And of course there is always the Internet! Failing all of that, go for a long walk through your nearby countryside, and start imagining the kinds of stories the features of the local landscape might suggest to you.

4) Now serve up your local legends with a twist.
Imagine that your protagonist meets one of the characters from the legends you have learnt about. Perhaps on the way home from school, they face a horrifying encounter with the Beast of Bodmin Moor! (Or whichever truly terrifying monster is rumoured to live in your area.) If you live on the shores of Loch Ness, you have a ready-made monster to work with! Start to believe the myths and legends you have researched into, then imagine how they will impact the life of your protagonist. Will the character/monsters become obstacles, or solutions to your protagonist’s quest to achieve their heart’s desire?

5) Create an antagonist.
All conflict and tension in truly gripping stories is created by the machinations of a villain! If possible borrow one of the many villains that exist in mythology. This gives your villain a second and important layer of terrifying-ness. It makes them genuine and real! Also most villains in myth and legend have supernatural powers too. SHIVER! They also have an archetypal presence, which makes them truly scary.

6) Take time with your setting.
The setting of your story may be one of the single most important features that you have direct control over. Setting can offer all kinds of conflicts and tensions. I chose to set to my teenage romantic, adventure, mythical-fantasy on Mount Snowdon. This meant there was lots of potential to get lost, be put in danger, freeze, or fall off huge cliffs! This all added to the tension and sense of jeopardy in the story. So where is your story set? Can you go there and take notes about what it is like? Notice details of the landscape. The kind of things you hear. Note down bird song, wind activity, sounds far away in the distance, maybe aeroplanes? What about traffic? Or maybe the sound of the sea? Think about what you can smell as well. Every place has a slightly different smell. Unfortunately in the English language, we have a very limited vocabulary for the sense of smell. Things either smell good or bad or putrid or sour or sweet. However, you can add to this by creating metaphors and similes to help the reader imagine what the place smells like.

7) Now begin your story in medias res.
In the medias res is the term authors use for starting a story in the middle of the action. Experienced writers start a story in the middle of things, because this is what engages the readers’ attention the most quickly. Because - don’t forget you are writing a story to entertain a reader! Although you may enjoy it for yourself, you need to keep the reader on your side and totally engaged in the twists and turns your protagonist faces. So your first job is to get the reader to be on your protagonist’s side. This means creating reader empathy with your main character. The best way to do this is to have your readers see the hero in the middle of an action scene, using all their heroic qualities to do something truly great. If your main character has to sacrifice and be hurt in order to do this, it is all the better! Your reader will love them all the more. Once you have your reader on the same side as your main character, you can then tell more about the background to the story.

8) Roughly plot out the journey your story will take. 
Once you have your main character, their goal, a villain, the setting, the local legends and myths with its monsters and problems, you can start to map the journey your protagonist will need to take to meet their goal. This is lots of fun. You can heap obstacles and difficulties in the path of your protagonist. You can use your inventive powers to help them overcome the conflicts. Don’t forget to make it action packed and full of jeopardy, this will keep your reader firmly on the page.

9) Get inside the skin on your character and starts to think like them.
Once you have mapped out the main plot of your story. You need to write it from the viewpoint of your main character. This may be through a first person delivery, or you may use a limited third person point of view. These are the two most common points of view used to promote a narrative about one character’s adventures and journey towards their goal. Using this form of viewpoint enables the reader to closely experience all the thoughts and feelings of the character. This helps the reader to imagine themselves in the role of the main character and experience the events, as if they were happening to themselves.

10) Write the Obligatory Scene.
Nearly all exciting narrative ends with a climax. This is called the obligatory scene. It is when the hero must face their darkest hour, overcome their deepest fears, and go forth to meet the villain in a final confrontation. The main push of the narrative has been bearing down to this collision. The goals of the protagonists and the antagonist will clash during this last important scene. There may be bloodshed! It is useful to have as many characters as you can - from the story - onstage in this scene. This is the shootout at the O.K. Corral! High Noon has come and there can be only one victor! Make the scene as full of action as you can.

Circular endings? After all the dust has settled and every character has received their just deserts. The brave have been rewarded, the wicked punished. After the hero has returned home, triumphant with their goal achieved, it is time for you to go back to the beginning of the story and do your editing. During this second draft, you will see much more clearly the story points that need to stay and the ones that need to be cut or changed. This is very important work for a writer. It tightens the story up and makes it unbeatable!

Sarah Mussi’s latest book HERE BE DRAGONS: Book One of THE SNOWDONIA CHRONICLES (Vertebrate Publishing) is already out. BOOK TWO: HERE BE WICHES is coming OCT 2016.





Ellie Morgan wants a boy who's all hers. Just for once, it would be nice to meet someone that Sheila (the cow) hadn't got her claws in to.

A remote farmhouse on Mount Snowdon is hardly the ideal setting for meeting anyone unless, of course, you count her best friend George or creepy Darren (which Ellie doesn't). But when a boy, glimpsed through the mist and snow, lures her up to the Devil's Bridge, Ellie realises the place she knows so well still has its secrets...

The stronger her feelings for this strange boy become, the more she is in danger: a battle as old as Snowdon itself has been raging for centuries and now Ellie's caught in the middle.

Something has left its lair.

It's out there stalking her.

Who ever said true love was easy? 

SARAH MUSSI (author of over eight children’s books)
Winner of the Glen Dimplex & Irish Writers' Award for Best Children's Book
Shortlisted for Branford Boase Award
Nominated for the Carnegie Medal
RIOT ~ Winner of the 2015 Lancashire Book Award
SIEGE - WINNER OF THE CONTEMPORARY BBUKYA AWARD ~ shortlisted~ Oldham Book Award, Leeds, Catalyst Book Award ~ Listed for UKLA, Hampshire Independent Book Awards
BOMB ~ shortlisted for the Lancashire Book Award 2016
HERE BE DRAGONS out now
@sarahmussi

Here Be Dragons: showcased in The People’s Book Prize! 

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