Tuesday, 17 October 2017

BLOG TOUR: Review of No Shame by Anne Cassidy

Hello bookworms! Today is my stop on the blog tour for No Shame by the wonderful Anne Cassidy. You can check out my review of the story below, and be sure to keep an eye out on the other blogs taking part in the tour!

Pages: 192
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Release Date: October 19th 2017
Buy The Book: Amazon

The powerful companion to NO VIRGIN.

From the author of the critically acclaimed, LOOKING FOR JJ, shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize in 2004 and the Carnegie Medal in 2005.

Stacey Woods has been raped and now she has to go through a different ordeal - the court trial. But nothing in life it seems is black and white and life is not always fair or just. Suddenly it seems that she may not be believed and that the man who attacked her may be found not guilty . . . if so Stacey will ned to find a way to rebuild her life again . . .

A tautly told and important book, perfect for readers of Asking for It by Louise O'Neill.

My Thoughts:
Note: This review touches upon the rape of the main character, Stacey.

After reading No Virgin last year, I was moved by Stacey's story, but I was also a little saddened by the way things had ended. Although we hear how Stacey, a seventeen-year-old girl, was raped by a much older man whose brother had earned her trust and lulled her into a sense of false security, we never got to see the fallout from Stacey deciding to come forward. But then I discovered that there was going to be a sequel that dealt with the court case and the long battle that is trying to get justice.

I'd been looking forward to reading this one because it's topic I don't see much of in YA, and it's something that needs to be discussed openly to provide encouragement to the girls and women who have to face these horrible situations in reality. What I loved about this book is how true the title of No Shame really is. Cassidy gave us the journey of a young woman realising that she was not in the wrong and, whilst she might have been naive, she was in no way to blame for what had happened to her. Not only that, but we were also given characters who didn't want to come forward about rape for their own reasons, and we were allowed to understand why they didn't speak up. This book showed a lot of respect for the personal decisions of victims.

The court case and the process of Stacey trying to get justice was the main focus of this book, and it was written openly and truthfully, without sugar-coating any part of it. And god, did it make me furious at times. To see what levels people stoop to in order to get out of something they're guilty of doing. Was this system fair to Stacey? No it wasn't. But it's the harsh reality that people in her situation can face and I'm grateful that No Shame provided an in-depth look at how that process can go, both good and bad.

Whilst this book was tough to read at times, it's an exceptionally important one. Stacey's emotions were so honest, and her story was powerful. I couldn't help but feel proud of how she managed to deal with everything that was thrown in front of her. She had moments of doubt, but she fought through them and came out stronger. I love that YA stories like this one are out there and, whilst the ending was bittersweet for me, I'm happy that Cassidy told Stacey's story in the way that she did. 

Quick Note: I absolutely loved that this book included useful links and contact details for helplines in the back!
 
Royal Rating:






Wednesday, 20 September 2017

THE HARRY POTTER TAG

Huge thank you to the wonderful Paige at Books and Belle for tagging me to do the Harry Potter tag! Also Rachel at Rachel's Really Random Reviews who tagged me as well! Let's get started with these questions then...

1. What house are you in?
Story time: Pottermore gave me an identity crisis. The first time I took the Sorting Hat test, I was a Ravenclaw. Finally I had my House. So I became a proud Ravenclaw. My mum knitted me a scarf and everything. But then Pottermore allowed us all to retake the test, which I did. So now I'm a Hufflepuff. It's been a difficult transition because my heart stayed in Ravenclaw for a long time, but I've finally accepted my new Hufflepuff identity. 

 

2. What is your patronus?
A Marsh Harrier. (I know, I had to Google it too.)

3. What is your wand?
10 inch Pear Wood with Unicorn hair. With a Slightly Springy flexibility, apparently.

4. What would your boggart be?
*opens filling cabinet filled with piles of notebooks full of fears* There are too many things it could be.

5. What position would you play in Quidditch?
None because I'm terrible at any form of sport. Maybe a beater?

6. Would you be a pure blood, half blood or muggle born?
Muggle born, probably.

7. What job would you want after to have after graduating Hogwarts?
Honestly, I wouldn't ever want to leave Hogwarts, so it's going to have to be a professor.

8. Which of the deathly hallows would you choose?
The Cloak.

9. Favourite book?
Prisoner of Azkaban

10. Least favourite book?
I CAN'T BELIEVE ANYONE WOULD ASK ME TO CHOOSE A LEAST FAVOURITE CHILD. If I have to, then I'll go with Chamber of Secrets.

11. Favourite film?
Goblet of Fire or Half Blood Prince

12. Least favourite film?
Chamber of Secrets? (I DO LOVE CHAMBER OF SECRETS, OKAY, I'M JUST TRYING TO PRIORITISE)

13. Favourite character?
Hermione, or Harry, or Ron, or Sirius, or Lupin, or-

14. Least favourite/most hated character?
U M B R I D G E
(Except in A Very Potter Musical, obviously)


15. Favourite teacher at Hogwarts?
McGonagall or Lupin.

16. Least favorite teacher at Hogwarts?
U M B R I D G E

17. Do you have any unpopular opinions about the series?
I don't think I do? A lot of the opinions I have, I've seen shared online plenty of times before. What I will say is that I have A LOT of opinions on The Cursed Child. One of the big ones being that I really disliked Rose and thought she was a completely wasted character. Another one being that if we were going to go back in time and speak to characters who had died, could we not have spent time with someone other than Snape?

18. If you could save one character from the finale battle who would you save?
FRED FRED FRED FRED FRED FRED F R E D FRED
F
R
E
D

I'm tagging Christi J. Whitney and anyone else who wants to give this tag a go! Here are the questions:
  1. What house are you in?
  2. What is your patronus?
  3. What is your wand?
  4. What would your boggart be?
  5. What position would you play in Quidditch?
  6. Would you be a pure blood, half blood or muggle born?
  7. What job would you want after to have after graduating Hogwarts?
  8. Which of the deathly hallows would you choose?
  9. Favourite book?
  10. Least favourite book?
  11. Favourite film?
  12. Least favourite film?
  13. Favourite character?
  14. Least favourite/most hated character?
  15. Favourite teacher at Hogwarts?
  16. Least favorite teacher at Hogwarts?
  17. Do you have any unpopular opinions about the series?
  18. If you could save one character from the finale battle who would you save?

Friday, 1 September 2017

REVIEW: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Pages: 303
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: April 7th 2015
Buy The Book: Book Depository

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.
 

My Thoughts:
THIS BOOK, GUYS. THIS BOOK. I'm always wary of going into books with a lot of hype surrounding them because it's so easy to end up disappointed. I can't count how many times I've seen this book praised on my Twitter feed, so I was very curious to start reading. And let me tell you, it did not let me down.

The story follows Simon, a high school pupil who has started talking to a fellow gay student at the same school online. But Simon doesn't know who the other boy is. They both communicate via false names, Jacques and Blue. Through all of their emails, Simon has gotten to know Blue without actually meeting him in person, and as the story progresses, he is desperate to find out Blue's true identity. Reading this book so late after it's publication, I'm pretty proud of myself that I was still able to go into it without having Blue's character spoiled! It drove me insane in the best kind of way. That element of mystery, the constant search for clues, it all helped make this book such an excited read.

Another thing that makes this book so great is the characters. Simon himself has just the right amount of wit and edge to him that makes him interesting to follow. His thoughts and feelings are written well enough to put the reader in his shoes and see things from his point-of-view. I appreciated the scenes with his friends and the way Simon viewed the difference in his friendships. A character who had me torn throughout this book was Martin. His way of treating Simon made me angry, but the way his story is resolved is an important one.

The relationship between Simon and Blue was just adorable. Honestly, I didn't know how I'd feel about the relationship being built purely through email, but because of the way their emails were written, it worked so perfectly. I couldn't help but root for them. The way they slowly revealed more about their lives and their feelings through their messages was beautiful. I was about as nervous as Simon was when it came to finding out Blue's identity! I did figure who he really was a few chapters before the end thanks to the clues throughout the book, so I had my little moment of triumph when it was revealed.

This story is just full of fun moments and exciting characters, but it also touches upon some more serious and relatable topics as well. There was some particularly great commentary from Simon when he realised that straight and white shouldn't be the default, and I really appreciated little moments like that. I'm so glad I finally got a chance to read this one, and I'm beyond excited for the upcoming movie!

Royal Rating:

 

Monday, 14 August 2017

BLOG TOUR: Guest Post from Chloe Seager and Review of Editing Emma!

Hello my fellow booknerds! Today is my stop on the blog tour for Editing Emma. I'm super excited to share this hilarious guest post from Chloe Seager, and my thoughts on her new novel!

Embarrassing Teen Moments

Growing up, I had so many embarrassing moments that sometimes, when people ask me, it’s hard to think of just one. My teenage life was basically just one huge blur of embarrassment. But after having a skim through my diaries, I’ve got what is hopefully a cringeworthy enough selection for you to laugh at, and for me to relive the pain.

1) The Pen That Wasn’t
I’ve already spoken about this in public, so, might as well immortalise it on the internet. I’d been partnered with the boy I fancied for a project, and I was So. Excited. Having an excuse to actually meet up with him after school and be within three feet of him was pretty much all I could think about for days. Finally, the moment came… After school one day, we got together. Just me and him, alone, in a dark, dingy classroom. I was convinced this was going to be the moment. He was finally going to see me in a different light, and the exciting, secret after-school kissing sessions were bound to commence immediately. I got my pen and pad out, ready to dazzle with my intellect, wit and thoughtful insights on the project.

But after about ten minutes or so, I started to get the feeling we weren’t going to be kissing any time soon. He seemed a bit awkward for one thing, and wouldn’t look me in the eye. Not so uncommon with teenage boys in general, but this guy was usually quite confident and friendly. I started to think, what is it? What’s wrong? Do I have something on my face? And then I clocked it, the ‘pen’ that I’d got out of my bag was not a pen at all.

It was a tampon.

I bet I looked super intellectual, witty and ready to dazzle with thoughtful insights, poised with that in my hand. I went a deep shade of red and put it away IMMEDIATELY, and he pretended not to see. We both never mentioned it and, quelle surprise, whether it was because of the tampon or not, we never ended up having exciting, secret after-school kissing sessions.

2) Photogate
NB - I’d forgotten about this story, and it’s definitely going in Book 2…

My friend and I were bored one Saturday and so started taking photos, posing in our underwear (as you do). We uploaded them to the computer and had lots of fun editing them, being generally narcissistic and not yet realising how stupid we looked etc etc. The next day, my Mum was having a big printer meltdown - she’d accidentally printed out tons of stuff hanging about on our computer, and was screeching about paper wastage. I, of course, superior and bored with her technical issues, said to just turn everything around and put it back in the printer the other way, if she was so worried.

I also had to print out an essay that day. (Do you see where this story is going…?)

Three days later, my (male) teacher handed me back my essay, blushing and not looking me in the eye. My friend was like, ‘Why is he being so weird?’ Then from across the room, another boy in class shouted, ‘Chloe, what’s that on the back of your essay?’

It was, obviously, a picture of me in my underwear. FML.

3) House Music Spotlight
Each year, our school had a ‘house music’ competition, and I somehow got persuaded by my friends that it would be really fun to get involved. God knows how, because I can’t sing, dance or even really move without falling over. That, combined with my apathy towards rehearsals, made it a pretty big disaster. The night of the show rolled up and I remember thinking, can I back out now? But my friends, once again, convinced me that no one would even pay attention to me… I was only part of the chorus, standing at the back, basically in darkness. So I went through with it, and it went fine (or so I thought). Sure, I made lots of mistakes and didn’t know what I was doing AT ALL, but my friends were right… I was at the back, and theoretically should have been in total darkness.

Theoretically.

But for some bizarre, unknown reason, people in the audience later told me that there was a strange spotlight, shining on one spot at the back… Juuuuust where I was standing. People kept coming over later and congratulating me on my ‘comedic performance,’ and I was all, ‘what???! What are you talking about?’ And they’d be all, ‘oh, weren’t you meant to be lit up, doing it wrong?’ It turns out that EVERYONE could see me, really, really clearly, in my strange little spotlight of humiliation.

Here is a picture so you can see what I mean… That is me, at the back there. (Facing the wrong way, obviously).


Thankfully, age twenty-five, I now realise that none of these things were actually a massive deal. So I can’t dance and everyone saw, so what? And if a tampon actually bothered that guy, then would I have wanted to date him anyway? (Categorically no.) But at the time I was convinced these moments were the worst things that could have ever happened. I think that’s what I hoped Emma would give some other teenage readers - knowledge that they’re not alone in their awkwardness, and the message that ultimately, these things really aren’t worth losing sleep over.

Huge thank you to Chloe for the fabulous guest post! Be sure to check out the other blogs taking part in the tour this week, and scroll down for my thoughts on Editing Emma!


Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Contemporary, Humour
Release Date: August 10th 2017
Buy The Book: Book Depository - A Great Read

When sixteen-year-old Emma Nash is ‘ghosted’ by the love of her life Leon Naylor, she does what any normal teenage girl would do…

Emma spends the summer lurking in her bedroom, avoiding all human contact (and the shower), surrounded by the collection of chewit wrappers she saved from packs Leon gave her, back when he actually acknowledged her existence…

But seeing Leon suddenly ‘In a relationship’ on Facebook with the perfect Anna, spurs Emma into action and she embarks on a mission to make positive changes to her life (or ‘edits,’ if you will) and vows to use the internet for more than obsessively stalking Leon’s activities! Instead, she will use it for good and noble causes like finding someone who will actually be nice to her, and recording her findings for the rest of the world to see (i.e. BFF Steph and her mum) on her new Editing Emma blog.

But Emma soon discovers her ‘habit’ is harder to break than she first thought – turns out she’s not the only one ‘editing’ herself online (thank you Tinder for finding her mum’s profile, age 35, really?) and that life through an Instagram filter isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. But it could be worse, she could have outed her best friend, accidentally chatted up a 12 year old boy and revealed to the world why Leon Naylor is worth no girl’s time or virginity… oh no wait, that’s exactly what happened…

My Thoughts:
Emma really can't catch a break. This story follows her after Leon, her former unconfirmed boyfriend, decides to start completely ignoring her, and then enters a Facebook official relationship with another girl at their school. To stop the constant thoughts of Leon, Emma decides to use her private blog and the online world to recreate herself. She wants to become the ideal Emma. What follows is a whirlwind of dating disasters and wonderfully cringe-worthy moments.

The reason why I really connected with this book is because it reminded me so much of the stories I used to devour throughout my school years. I adored anything written in a chatty, diary-style way with funny and relatable characters. As I've gotten older, I seem to have discovered less stories like this. Instead I seem to constantly be reading either fantasy or more serious stories. Not that books that deal with serious issues aren't super important because they are, but sometimes you really need a good, funny story in your life. A charming bit of escapism. And that's exactly what Editing Emma is. But it's also a little more grown up that some of the former books written in this sort of style. It's on top of the game when it comes to modern issues and situations that teens go through.

For me, Emma is just one of those characters that you can't help but love. She's a little more than questionable at times, but everything that she does just adds to her overall charm. The story starts with her explaining her relationship with Leon and the heartbreak she's currently suffering because of him. I'll admit, with her moping about after losing Leon, especially when I didn't like his attitude from what we learn about him, I didn't take to her straight away. But this story had me in fits of giggles in no time. Honestly, I had one of those rare moments where I almost laughed on a train. In public. In front of actual people. During the early morning rush hour. This book is dangerous.

Emma has a group of friends, Steph, Faith, and Gracie, and we get to know more about them as the story unfolds. Their conversations and the moments between them are brilliant. We even get their tweets and texts included, which add another interesting element to the story and it breaks up the blog writing. Whilst the story is told by Emma, I enjoyed getting to learn about her friends through her, especially Faith who, among all of the witty moments, had some important and heartfelt moments that I'm so glad were included.

The various dating disasters that Emma has to face are hilarious. She has some serious guts to go ahead with some of the things that she does, I'll give her that! I don't want to say anything about how it turned out in the end, obviously, but I will say that I was so proud of the final blog post that Emma writes in this book. With such an interesting bunch of characters and so many laugh-out-loud moments, Editing Emma is perfect when you need a story to make you smile

Royal Rating:
 





Thursday, 3 August 2017

REVIEW: Release by Patrick Ness

Pages: 287
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Walker Books
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: May 4th 2017
Buy The Book: Book Depository - A Great Read
Inspired by Mrs Dalloway and Judy Blume's Forever, Release is one day in the life of Adam Thorn, 17. It's a big day. Things go wrong. It's intense, and all the while, weirdness approaches...

Adam Thorn is having what will turn out to be the most unsettling, difficult day of his life, with relationships fracturing, a harrowing incident at work, and a showdown between this gay teen and his preacher father that changes everything. It's a day of confrontation, running, sex, love, heartbreak, and maybe, just maybe, hope. He won't come out of it unchanged. And all the while, lurking at the edges of the story, something extraordinary and unsettling is on a collision course.

My Thoughts:
From the moment this book was announced, I was looking forward to it. A modern retelling of Mrs Dalloway? With elements of Forever by Judy Blume? Sign me up. So it's safe to say I was pathetically excited when the proof arrived at my doorstep from the wonderful people at Walker Books. It was one of my most anticipated reads of 2017, and it really didn't disappoint.

This story follows Adam over the course of a day. Adam is a gay teenager who has grown up in a strictly Christian household, a harsh reality that is true for many young people. Adam's journey over the course of this one day is incredible. Rooting for him to realise certain things, I felt a sense of pride when he started to decide to take control of certain situations in his life. This story sees him hit a breaking point after holding a lot of emotions in for a long time, and the pay-off is perfect.

Adam is currently in a relationship with Linus, but on the day the story is set, he is preparing to attend the goodbye party of Enzo, a guy he used to think he was in a relationship with, despite Enzo not wanting anyone to know about the two of them. Whilst Adam loves Linus, he is still torn over Enzo and the lack of conclusion from their relationship. Seeing Adam learn about himself and his feelings over the course of the story made for many brilliant moments. I was more than happy with the way things were left by the end of it.

The friendship between Adam and his best friend Angela was everything. So many of the stories I read throw drama between friends to create tension, but even though something threatens to shake up Adam and Angela's relationship, they have nothing but mutual support and understanding for each other instead. There's nothing I love more than reading about friends who are there for one another no matter what happens.

The connections to Mrs Dalloway were super clever, having the book start with Adam in a flower shop, and having him prepare for a big party that evening. There was also the story of Katherine van Leuwen, who was the Septimus of this story. Her ghost has a story told between the chapters, and it adds an interesting fantasy element to the story. Ness did a fantastic job of doing a modern twist on a much loved classic tale. I'm thrilled that one of my most anticipated reads of the year delivered in the best way possible, and Adam is a character I certainly won't be forgetting any time soon. 

Royal Rating:





Sunday, 16 July 2017

REVIEW: The Circus by Olivia Levez

Pages: 288
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Rock The Boat
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Release Date: June 13th 2017
Buy The Book: Book Depository
Willow has everything: a rich daddy, a pony and a place at a prestigious boarding school. Everything except the one thing she really wants—a father who cares enough to find her when she runs away from home.

On the eve of her father’s wedding, Willow runs again into the unknown. Her mother was a circus performer and Willow longs to follow in her footsteps. But when all of her money is stolen and her only friend, a street performer called Suz, betrays her, Willow is left penniless and alone. So begins a journey. Will Willow ever make it to the big top and find a place she can truly call home?

My Thoughts:
The Island was one of my favourite books of 2016, and was the story that made me fall utterly in love with the writing style of Olivia Levez. So it's safe to say that I was super excited to read her second book, The Circus.

This story starts with teenager Willow running away from home on the day of her father's wedding to a much younger woman. We quickly learn that it's not the first time she's fled from her old life, but this time she gets further than she's ever done before. With only one picture of her mother, who left her as a child, dressed as a circus performer, she decides to follow in her mother's footsteps and join the circus. Willow makes it to Hastings and reinvents herself as Frog, a circus performer ready to start her new life, but things go from bad to worse for her.

What I love about Olivia's characters is that they're always so real. There's nothing sugar-coated about the problems that they face and the world around them. They're not perfect, they're not always nice, but that's what makes them so believable. Frog's flaws make for a much more interesting story, and it made me root for her to get the things she wanted in life, even when she didn't fully realise what that was.

Whilst trying to navigate the streets of Hastings alone, Frog ends up becoming friends with Suz, a homeless girl who starts to teach her how to perform fire ticks, despite the two of them not getting off to a great start. Their relationship was one of the most interesting aspects of this story for me because as a reader, I never knew where I stood. I didn't know what would become of them from one chapter to the next. Even though they needed each other to get by, there was a tension between them that could break at any time.

The circus that we eventually get to see in the story was fascinating and I loved the mix of characters who were performers. I only wish we'd had more time with them and gotten to know more about their daily life at the circus.

One thing that really stood out to me about this book was that as a reader, I never felt safe. Frog's life was so uncertain from chapter to chapter that I never knew how her day was going to end, and I appreciated that level of tension because it made for an exciting but nerve-wracking read. The ending was written beautifully and as with The Island, there are still things left for the reader to wonder about. The Circus was such a thrilling and raw read, and it's only made me even more excited for whatever Olivia Levez works on next! 

Royal Rating:

 
 

Friday, 7 July 2017

REVIEW: Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

Series: The Dark Artifices
Pages: 720
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: May 23rd 2017
Buy The Book: A Great Read - Book Depository

Sunny Los Angeles can be a dark place indeed in Cassandra Clare’s Lord of Shadows, the sequel to the #1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling Lady Midnight. Lord of Shadows is a Shadowhunters novel.

Emma Carstairs has finally avenged her parents. She thought she’d be at peace. But she is anything but calm. Torn between her desire for her parabatai Julian and her desire to protect him from the brutal consequences of parabatai relationships, she has begun dating his brother, Mark. But Mark has spent the past five years trapped in Faerie; can he ever truly be a Shadowhunter again?

And the faerie courts are not silent. The Unseelie King is tired of the Cold Peace, and will no longer concede to the Shadowhunters’ demands. Caught between the demands of faerie and the laws of the Clave, Emma, Julian, and Mark must find a way to come together to defend everything they hold dear—before it’s too late.

My Thoughts:
*trying to write coherent review through my stream of tears*

Actual footage of me after this book
Every book by Cassandra Clare, every single book, ruins me emotionally. And Lord of Shadows is no exception. So as difficult as it might be, I'm going to keep this review spoiler free, but I will have a video on my channel at some point to discuss everything in-depth because OH BOY THERE'S A LOT TO DISCUSS. For now though, no spoilers.

Lord of Shadows picks up shortly after the events in Lady Midnight. The Blackthorns are trying to come to terms with everything that has happened with Malcolm, and his death hasn't solved their problems. A high number of sea demons are appearing and the Shadowhunters have to work alongside the Centurions to find out what's causing them to show. Along with the growing threat, the characters each have their own personal demons to battle.

Emma and Julian continue to struggle with their forbidden feelings throughout this book. Emma is trying her best to make her parabatai fall out of love with her, as much as it pains her to do so. These poor characters, honestly. I felt for them so much. What I love about The Dark Artifices is how it's exploring a love story between parabatai. It's new territory for readers, so it's interesting to discover new facts we didn't previously know about the Shadow world. With Emma and Julian, I appreciate the history between them. I enjoyed having the main romance be between two people who've known each other since childhood, so instead of focusing on building their relationship, we're witnessing how it's changing.

What I love about the Cassandra Clare's books is that no matter how many stories she writes that are set in Shadow World, there is always something new to learn about, or a new area to focus on, so it doesn't feel repetitive. In Lord of Shadows, we got to explore a little more about the attitudes that Shadowhunters have towards mental health and mundane treatment, which is something we've barely touched upon in previous stories but it's something I've been interested in. Can I also take a moment to talk about Ty and his autism because I'm so happy that this is a fantasy series that has an autistic boy as one of the main characters. I loved the way Kit thought about Ty's autism in the story, and how showing his reactions to Ty reminded us just how little the Shadowhunters understand about these things. THESE CHARACTERS ARE JUST SO GREAT.

I need to take a moment to talk about the romantic relationships in this book because OH BOY. I'm always complaining about love triangles and how they aren't necessary, but I almost missed the simplicity of them whilst reading this book because it completely throws triangles out of the window. THERE ARE SO MANY CHARACTERS WITH SO MANY FEELINGS FOR OTHER CHARACTERS AND I'M EMOTIONALLY RUINED. I don't want to say too much or I'll risk running into Spoiler Zone, but I don't envy Cristina's situation in this book and I honestly have no idea where her love life is going to go.

Okay, so the ending. Haha. I never want to read an ending like that ever again. It's been weeks and I'm still traumatised. The writing throughout the final couple of chapters is incredible at building the tension and showing emotions. Also the action scenes, as always, are vividly described. I honestly can't believe I have to wait (I don't know how long) to find out what happens next!

Royal Rating:

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

#ReadWithPride Mini Reviews!


Throughout June, Scholastic have been running a #ReadwithPride campaign to celebrate three of their diverse reads in honour Pride Month. If you haven't been able to check out any of these books yet, I've written some mini-reviews to help you decide if you want to give them a try...

Noah Can't Even by Simon James Green
  • I love this book.
  • Like, a lot.
  • So Noah believes he's totally Straight™ and thinks that dating the cute, unique girl at his school, Sophie, will help him ditch his nerdy/loser image.
  • But then his best friend, Harry, kisses him at a party and obviously that wasn't part of Noah's perfect little plan.
  • So everything goes to hell.
  • He doesn't realise how much he actually likes Harry and still thinks he can romantically pursue Sophie. Bless him.
  • This story is so funny. Honestly, I'm glad I was reading it at home and not on public transport because I would have received so many side-eyes from my fellow commuters.
  • It's beautifully British.
  • Noah is a precious, adorable little bean and his journey to coming to terms with his sexuality is cute, honest, and relatable.
  • His commentary on everything is A+.
  • Harry and Sophie are both brilliant characters and also Noah's mum, who takes a little while to get used to but is desperately funny. She's a Beyonce tribute act, naturally.
  • Did I mention I love this book?

George by Alex Gino
  • *throws this books at you*
  • So everyone needs to read this book.
  • E V E R Y O N E
  • If books had a middle name, Important would belong to this one.
  • A story with a transgender kid as the main character, learning how to embrace herself for who she is.
  • Do I need to say more?
  • Adorable friendships, wonderfully written characters, heart-warming moments, as well as some darker issues being addressed.
  • This books is informative as well as being fun, so it's perfect for anyone of any age.
  • It also deals with bullying, showing what kids who are different have to face.
  • It's just wonderful storytelling.
  • And I appreciate it a lot.

Girl Hearts Girl by Lucy Sutcliffe
  • So this one is a memoir.
  • And I'm so happy that Lucy decided to write about her life.
  • Because this book shows us a real young woman's journey to accepting her sexuality.
  • It shows her turning herself from someone who is shy and feels isolated, to someone who is open and proud and encourages others to be the same.
  • It discusses coming out to friends and family, and other people you cross paths with in your daily life.
  • It also explores first love and long distance relationships.
  • Uplifting is the perfect word to describe this book.
  • Lucy's love for Hermione is everything.
  • Lucy's love for her friends is also everything.
  • Her friends will immediately become your Squad Goals.
  • Seriously, where can I make friends like this??
  • This is a quick and cute read, and will leave you with a goofy little smile on your face because LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE IS ENOUGH TO MAKE ANYONE SMILE.

Make sure to check the #readwithpride tag on Twitter for more of the posts that have been shared this month!

Friday, 23 June 2017

8 Pride Inspired Reads

Has Pride gotten you in the mood to read some diverse books? I'm always looking for diverse reads, and nothing gets me wanting to find more LGBTQ+ characters like Pride Month. Here's a list of some awesome stories you might want to check out if you haven't already!


George by Alex Gino



I can't praise this book enough, I really can't. George is a story with a young transgender main character in the fourth grade. The fact that this book can be read by both children and adults alike means it has the chance to not only provide a relatable character for other transgender kids, but it can also be an important tool in educating parents about what their child might be going through. It's a book that I think needs to be easily available in every school.

Noah Can't Even by Simon James Green



I've already listed this as one of my favourite reads from 2017 because this book was just so much fun. This story follows Noah as his relationship with his best friend begins to change. If you're looking for a more light-hearted story about a teenage boy coming to terms with his sexuality, then this is the perfect book. I dare you not to adore Noah! 

You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan



This is a book that truly embraces the spirit of Pride! A collaboration between two fantastic authors, this story follows characters Kate and Mark as their lives collide during Pride events in San Francisco. The two of them quickly build a strong friendship and we get to see how the two of them support each other during their romantic woes. With adorable and witty characters, and an ending that truly made my heart smile, I'd definitely suggest this one for a feel-good read!

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson


I honestly can't talk about my love for this book enough. It's one of my favourites. This story follows two transgender characters, one in the middle of transitioning, and one who is only just coming to terms with being trans, and learning to open up about it. The characters in this story are just so rich and full of life, they're impossible not to like. The Art of Being Normal is informative, believable, and also hilarious at times. If you haven't had a chance to pick this one up yet, then now is the perfect time!

Girl Hearts Girl by Lucy Sutcliffe



I've literally just finished reading this one, so it's fresh it my mind! This is a memoir from Lucy about her life so far, coming to terms with her sexuality and telling the story of how she fell in love. Lucy is wonderfully open and honest about what was going through her mind during her confusing teen years. Young people who are discovering their sexuality will be able to relate to the situations Lucy finds herself in, and the questions that run through her mind.

A Boy Like Me by Jennie Wood



I first read this eBook just over two years ago and it reminded me exactly why I'm still a huge reader of indie stories. It's a touching story that follows the journey of a transgender boy trying to win the heart of the girl he loves. It's gives us an informative look into the feelings of someone coming to terms with the fact that they were born in the wrong body, and the issues that transgender people face in everyday life. A Boy Like Me is such a wonderful hidden gem.

Maurice by E.M.Forster



I had to include my fave classic in this list! Maurice was written in the early 1900's, but due to the story being based around homosexuality, it wasn't released until 1971, after Forster's death. A story way ahead of it's time, Maurice gives an insightful look into being gay in Edwardian England. And despite most stories that included gay characters at the time ending in tragedy, Forster was determined to give this one a happier ending.

I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson



This book follows twins Jude and Noah, jumping between the past and the present, leading up to the death of their mother and the what happened after. Noah is in love with the boy next door, and whilst the book doesn't solely focus on their story, it does demonstrate how self-destructive a person can be whilst trying to deny or hide their sexuality. Noah's journey in this book has a lot of low moments, but he was such a fantastic character to read about. 

!BONUS FANTASY READ!
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell


I've discovered more and more awesome fantasy stories with LGBTQ+ characters in recent years, and I could spend ages writing a list of the ones I like to throw at everyone, but I'll stick with recommending my absolute favourite. PLEASE, IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THIS BOOK YET, JUST GIVE IT A LITTLE TRY.

There's so many more awesome LGBTQ+ reads out there to discover, this is just a list of some of my personal faves. Feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments! (I'm on the hunt for books with asexual characters if anyone can recommend one.) Also, be sure to check out the #ReadwithPride Twitter tag set up by Scholastic to find some awesome posts and reviews that are being published throughout June.

Monday, 19 June 2017

BLOG TOUR: Extract of Shattered Minds by Laura Lam

THREE (cont)

CARINA

The Zealscape, Green Star Lounge, Los Angeles,

California, Pacifica

When she opens her eyes, the body is gone. A benefit of dream worlds: no clean up. No fear of being discovered dumping the body. No fear of discovery at all.

Dealing with the orderly’s accusing eyes is the only judgement she faces, and one she never fears.

She holds onto her sense of self, staying calm and collected. Replete. The mind of the scientist is back. She wanders the imaginary halls of her childhood home, peeking through the doors: the old home gym, her mother’s bedroom, preserved just as it was the last time she left it and never returned. Her teenage room, with its holographic band posters and unmade bed, reeking of a desperate attempt at normalcy.

All too soon, that buzz returns. Her fingers twitch. That delicious expectation of following her victim and their moves: where they’ll be, how she’ll take them and make them hers. Her thoughts turn only to blood and flayed muscles. Of taking out organs and hefting them in her hands, arranging them just so.

Here in the Zealscape, she can lose herself in the hunt as much as she wants. Here, she hurts only herself, as more and more of her body wastes away, strapped in the Chair in the Zeal lounge. Her body warms, thrums with excitement. She whispers Zeal’s newest catchphrase to herself: ‘More real than reality.’

Carina enters another room. In the real Greenview House, it was a guest bedroom and study, but now it is her planning room. One wall is blank, and she can visualize and design her next victim. She decides to go back to her roots: a distorted echo of her first target. Carina builds the man from scratch. Early fifties, a beer gut, hair and beard of greying brown. Hard eyes, an unhappy slash of a mouth. Large hands that make blocky fists. He is different enough that the sight of his face doesn’t make her shudder. She feels awareness sharpening. She’s growing closer. Her fingers twitch.

After creating him, she sends him away. She spends a few minutes programming his background – his job, his friends, sketches of his wife and family. This criminal has a penchant for child porn. She can again pretend it’s vengeance, not pure, selfish pleasure. Most Zealots don’t have such control over their drug-fuelled dreams. Then again, most people don’t have PhDs in neuroprogramming.

She can’t wait any more. Her skin is hot with need.

Carina walks through a door on the far side of the room and steps into a hallway that transitions seamlessly into a street. She follows her prey at a distance, watching the greying head bob as he walks. Her jaw is clenched tight. She barely blinks. The other people on the street are only vaguely humanshaped, with blurred ovals for faces. Nightmares for anyone else, but for her, just stand-ins.
Carina grasps a Stunner she conjured in her pocket. Sometimes she’ll stretch out the hunt – stalk them for longer, make their lives more detailed, lose herself in the fantasy – but she can’t today. Her breath catches in her throat. Her eyes in the Chair, back in reality, dilate behind closed eyelids.

Almost time. Almost time to feel alive again, for a little while.

She’s just taken out the Stunner in a quivering hand when it happens.

The street disappears, along with her quarry. Just gone, as if someone has hit a switch. The whole room turns black. No, darker – that blackness of the space between stars. There have been glitches in the system before, but Carina knows, with a deep certainty, that this is something more.

She’s lost the sense that she has a body. Her mind seems to float in the darker-than-darkness. Then light explodes back into her world.

Numbers, sounds, flashes of brightness, the feel of fingernails against her skin, of bubbles on her tongue. All her senses fragment and blur. Between the overloads is a snapshot of cohesive thought.

I’m dying. This is what dying must feel like.

The noise and the chaos begins to crystallize. Five images, over and over: A bee, buzzing, its wings flapping frantically, its antennae twitching. A rose, in full bloom; brilliantly, impossibly red, a drop of dew on one petal. A thorn, from the rose, its point curved and wicked. A drop of blood, welling on a fingertip. And eyes, staring right at her, wide and fathomless. Heterochromic – one green, one blue.

They play, over and over and over again, telling a narrative she cannot hope to understand.

And then they stop, though she can still sense them, as though the images are flashing just out of sight.

The last image, the mismatched eyes, takes over her entire vision. It zooms out, until Carina sees the rest of the face, and then a body on a Chair in that lab she recognizes all too well. The last vision had been through the girl’s viewpoint, but Carina is sure this is her. She’s young – fifteen, sixteen at a push. She’s all doe-eyed innocence, spindly, coltish legs, her hair half an inch long. She reminds Carina a little too much of herself as a teenager. The girl is dead.

Part of her short hair has been shaved away. Dr Roz Elliot has opened up her skull, poked about in the contents, and sewn it back up, yet dead flesh does not knit. Her tanned skin is pale and chalky, legs akimbo.

‘What did you do, Roz?’ Carina asks the darkness.

The dead girl does not answer. Her eyes are open and staring. One blue, one green.

As if Carina blinks, the image is gone, and all is darker than black once again.

Carina awakens again into the grimy Zealot room, her mouth dry. An alarm again blares through the room.

There’s no attendant. Carina twists her real, hurting body on the Chair, the wires tugging at her skin.

The beeping doesn’t stop, pulsing with the throbbing of her temples. Far away, she hears frantic footsteps and concerned voices calling out to each other.

‘Where’s the fucking orderly?’ Carina yells. Her head still spins with the images.

The orderly who put her back in the dream enters the room. Stops, stares.

‘You’re not dead,’ he says.

‘Should I be?’

‘Everyone else is.’

SHATTERED MINDS by Laura Lam is published by Pan Macmillan, 15 June, £12.99 Hardback. Visit www.talesofyesterday.co.uk tomorrow to read the next instalment…



Laura Lam was raised near San Francisco, California, by two former Haight-Ashbury hippies. Both of them encouraged her to finger-paint to her heart's desire, colour outside the lines, and consider the library a second home. This led to an overabundance of daydreams. She relocated to Scotland to be with her husband, whom she met on the internet when he insulted her taste in books. She almost blocked him but is glad she didn't. At times she misses the sunshine.




Monday, 5 June 2017

GUEST POST: Favourite Childhood Books and Their Hidden Meanings by Aliah Beatrice

Children’s books can be rather silly, colourful, and funny, written specifically to draw in children with the intention of getting a certain message across. The obvious lessons usually focus on morals and are hidden within the storylines. Others, on the other hand, feature much deeper meanings that provide a commentary about real-world issues.

Image credit: Flickr
Curious George 
While Curious George is now more commonly identified by its various products that feature the cute little monkey, his roots actually trace back to the book, Curious George, written by H.A. and Margret Rey, which features him undertaking several misadventures. Behind these adventures is a sobering bit of information. Romper said that according to curator Claudia Nahson, those narrow escapes are actually a loose depiction of the couple’s escape from the Nazis. The two, who were German Jews living in Paris, managed to escape the city on their bikes just a couple of days before it was invaded by Germans.

Paddington Bear 
Paddington Bear is now better known as a television character. Before his small screen appearances, however, he was first known via a children’s book series by Michael Bond, the first of which showed the cute, little bear arriving on the platform of Paddington Station with a suitcase and a note attached to his coat saying, “Please look after this bear. Thank you.” Tablet revealed that this scene came about because the author remembered seeing Jewish children refugees that had nothing but a small label around their neck with their name and address on. His later books would serve as a reflection of how refugees acclimatised to different environments, including dealing with xenophobia. 

Dr. Seuss’s works 
No children’s books list is complete without the works of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. While kids love his books for the seemingly nonsensical rhymes and the colourful pictures, a closer look will reveal that the stories reveal much deeper issues.

For example, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is actually a commentary on consumerism, specifically, how people now see the holiday as a means of purchasing things instead of the real meaning of that day. Another example is The Lorax, which tackles issues about corporate greed and how the environment suffers as a result of this. The deeper meaning of his other works are reviewed in an article on Popsugar.

It’s no wonder that Dr. Seuss’s works remain popular among kids and adults alike, years after he began publishing, the first of which came out in 1931. His legacy lives on not only in the new copies of his books, but also in other products, such as these children’s clothing ranges from Tootsa which were inspired by his works and were launched to celebrate Dr. Seuss’s 111th birthday.

James and the Giant Peach 
James and the Giant Peach is a fantastical story written by Roald Dahl featuring anthropomorphic insects, magical worms, and yes, a giant peach. Behind the magical tale, however, is a lesson to stop fearing the unknown and to look deeper beyond the surface, according to Hello Giggles.

Written by Aliah Beatrice 
Exclusive for queenofteenfiction.co.uk

Friday, 2 June 2017

REVIEW: Show Stopper by Hayley Barker

Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: Dystopian
Release Date: June 1st 2017
Buy The Book: Book Depository - A Great Read

Set in a near-future England where the poorest people in the land are forced to sell their children to a travelling circus - to perform at the mercy of hungry lions, sabotaged high wires and a demonic ringmaster. The ruling class visit the circus as an escape from their structured, high-achieving lives - pure entertainment with a bloodthirsty edge. Ben, the teenage son of a draconian government minister, visits the circus for the first time and falls instantly in love with Hoshiko, a young performer. They come from harshly different worlds - but must join together to escape the circus and put an end to its brutal sport.

My Thoughts: 
Show Stopper is told from the POV of both Ben and Hoshiko, two very different characters in a dystopian world where people are split into Pures and Dregs. The Pures consist of those who are considered 'Pure English' whilst the Dregs are immigrants. Ben is a Pure, privileged from birth and living better off than most due to his mother's high position in the government. Hoshi is a Dreg who was taken away from her family in the slums and made to perform in the circus, a deadly show that doesn't shy away from killing Dregs for the entertainment of the Pures.

This book is very dark, and very terrifying. The attitude that the Pures have with regrads to anyone who is different to them is honestly horrific to read, and the worst part is that there are genuinely people out there in our world today who would share some of those opinions. This story's commentary on racial diversion is so important because whilst it may seem out there and exaggerated, there is a dark reality behind it. The way that this split is explained makes a situation like this feel so believable, and it makes you shudder just thinking about it.

Whilst I expected this story to be creepy, I wasn't prepared for just how grim it got. The way the Dregs are treated, even by the circus ringmaster who is also a Dreg, is stomach-turning. It's such a horrible world to read about, and yet I couldn't stop reading. I was completely sucked into Hoshi's struggle, and Ben's realisation that his life as a Pure is nothing like he thought.

Ben's side of the story was interesting because the world and the lifestyle he knew was crumbling down around him. Seeing him come to his senses and finally open his eyes to the horror that was going on around him was one of the few points of triumph in this story. Whilst I enjoyed his narration, it was Hoshi's side of the story that made Show Stopper such a compelling read for me. She had a huge amount of determination and strength that made it impossible not to root for her. The relationship she had with Greta and Amina, others in the circus, was touching and provided some of the more lighthearted scenes in the story.

There was romance between Ben and Hoshi, which I expected, but it develops very quickly over the course of a few days. Instalove is something that I really don't enjoy in YA, but when it comes to this story, I understood the need for things to move as fast as they did because no one has the benefit of taking their time with anything. 

I have to mention that this book is very dark to the point that it felt emotionally draining at times because of how many negative events occur. But it was necessary for the plot and to show us all what the world within this book is truly like. It's definitely not for the lighthearted! I'm interested to learn more about this world, and the steps the society within it took to get to the point they're at now. There's so much more to learn and I'm excited to find out what happens next.  

Royal Rating:

 

Monday, 29 May 2017

BLOG TOUR: The Space Between The Stars by Anne Corlett Extract

Today I'm excited to share with you an extract from The Space Between The Stars by Anne Corlett, which is out on June 1st!

From Chapter One 


Survival was a one in a million chance. The virus was a near-perfect killing machine. Contagious as hell, it had a vicious little sting in its tail. It mutated with every reinfection. A single exposure was survivable – with luck – but it was as though it knew us. As the disease spread, people did what people always do. They clung and grabbed and mauled one another. They queued at the hospitals. They died in the waiting rooms. They clutched at their lovers and held on to their children. And the disease rampaged joyously, burning through thought and will, then flesh, and, at the very last, through bone – until there was nothing but dust, and no one left to mourn over it.

Dust to dust, Jamie thought, rising slowly onto one elbow. The sun was slanting under the top edge of the window, illuminating the interior of the single-roomed croft that had been her home for the last three months. It was a standard settler’s dwelling, flat-packed as part of some colonist family’s baggage allowance when the first ships made their way through the void.

Jamie’s head was aching, and her mouth was so dry that she might as well have been dust herself.
Had she breathed them in? The dead? Were they inside her now, clinging to her throat, hoping for some chance word that might carry them back to an echo of life?

Ninety-nine point nine nine nine nine per cent.

She yanked herself back from the fall that lay beyond that thought. It might be different here. They’d had some warning. And they didn’t live crushed up close against each other, like on the central worlds.

But . . . the silence.

Something snagged in her throat, and she coughed, and then retched, doubling over.

Water.

The thought instantly became an urgent need, with enough force to tip her over the edge of the bed and into a sprawled half-crouch on the stone floor. She pushed herself upright, leaning hard on the bed, and then crossed the floor, moving with a club-footed awkwardness. When she reached the sink, she clung to it with both hands. The mirror in front of her was clouded and warped. The distortion had always unsettled her, with the way it caught her features and twisted them if she turned too quickly. But today the clouded surface was a relief. She didn’t need a reflection to know how reduced she was. She felt shrunken, stretched too tight over her bones, her dark hair hanging lank and lifeless on her shoulders, her olive skin bleached to a sallow hue.

The tap sputtered, kicking out a little spurt that grew into a steady stream. She splashed at her face, the cold water forcing the shadows back to the edges of her mind, leaving nothing to hide that pitiless statistic.

Ninety-nine point nine nine nine nine per cent dead.

Ten billion people scattered across space.

Nought point nought nought nought one per cent of ten billion.

Ten thousand people should have survived.

Spread across how many populated worlds? Three hundred, or thereabouts. Thirty-three survivors per world. And a few left over.

She had a nagging sense that her maths was wrong. But then she was weak, reduced by her illness. It was making it hard to think clearly.

When the answer struck her, she initially felt only a little snick of satisfaction at figuring it out. All worlds were not created equal. Almost half the total human population lived on Earth and the capital planet cluster. There must be a couple of billion people on Alegria alone.

That meant two thousand survivors. Set against the ominous silence outside the croft, that seemed like a vast number, and she felt a flicker of relief.

But then there were all the fledgling colonies, right out on the edges of civilisation, some of them numbering only a few hundred people.

Soltaire fell somewhere between those two extremes. Its single land mass was sizeable enough – about the size of Russia, she’d been told – but settlement had been slow. There were ten thousand people, or thereabouts, most of them clustered around the port, or over in Laketown. Then a few smaller towns, and a clutch of smallholdings, as well as the two main cattle-breeding centres, at Gratton Ridge and here at Talgarth.

Ten thousand people.

All the heat seemed to drain out of her body.


The Space Between The Stars by Anne Corlett is published by Pan Macmillan, 1 June 2017, £12.99 hardback.

Anne Corlett has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University and has won a number of awards for her short stories, including the H. E. Bates Award. She works as a criminal solicitor and freelance writer, and lives with her partner and three young boys in Somerset. The Space Between The Stars is her first novel.



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