Friday, 27 March 2015

The Magic of Harry Potter

Like many people in my generation, magic was brought into my life through the words of J. K. Rowling. Before I discovered Harry Potter, reading was not the huge part of my life that it is now. In fact, reading anything was pretty much a chore for me. I’d dread the hour-long library session in school, when I’d have to select a new book to read every few weeks. I didn’t want to read a book. I never had the desire to finish a book. Until the day I picked up Harry Potter.

Something about the wizarding world made me desperate to read my way to the end of a story for the first time. And since then, literature has changed my life. It’s changed the way I think. I often find myself wondering exactly what is was about Harry Potter that managed to connect with me in a way no other story had before. What is it about words on the page that keeps us reading late into the night?  

Hogwarts providing a home for Harry when he felt like he had nowhere else is one of the touching aspects of the story. To me, it sends out a message that there is always a place you can belong, even when it seems impossible. The entire series’ reminds us to have hope when there is none. Without even knowing it, Harry Potter and many other children’s books like it can send messages of courage and strength without us even realising, shaping the minds of our younger selves.

There’s no doubt that stories are a powerful force, and authors have the ability to get messages across through the power of the written word, and language plays a vital part in sharing literature with the world.

Harry Potter is a story that is lucky enough to have been translated beautifully into over sixty different languages. Good translation is the key to sharing stories accurately. With the millions of fans all over the world, it’s clear that the magic of Harry Potter wasn’t lost in translation. I’m willing to bet there are some stories that weren’t as lucky.

This is a prime example of why good translation is important. There are so many widely popular YA series’, such as The Hunger Games and The Mortal Instruments, that have become a global success by being translated into so many languages. Stories are no longer limited to their place of original publication, and it helps residents in countries all over the world feel like they are truly able to immerse themselves in those stories.

As a blogger, I love getting to see readers from all corners of the globe have a chance to bond over the same books. We get to learn so much from reading stories set in other parts of the world. Even though Harry Potter is fictional, and the character lives’ are highly different to our own, it still manages to share British culture with the rest if the world.

Translation helps everyone feel a part of something collectively by stopping the limitations of location. It’s why translation software is important, helping to spread information globally. It’s exciting to think that we are getting closer to living in a world which isn’t limited by language barriers, because magical stories demand to be shared with as many different people as possible.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

REVIEW: A Boy Like Me by Jennie Wood

Bookish Details:
Pages: 267 (Paperback)
Publisher: 215 Ink
Release Date: September 4th 2014
Source: Received by publisher in exchange for honest review
Buy it From: Amazon - Amazon UK

Born a girl, Peyton Honeycutt meets Tara Parks in the eighth grade bathroom shortly after he gets his first period. It is the best and worst day of his life. Determined to impress Tara, Peyton sets out to win her love by mastering the drums and basketball. He takes on Tara’s small-minded mother, the bully at school, and the prejudices within his conservative hometown. In the end, Peyton must accept and stand up for who he is or lose the woman he loves.

My Review:
This story was everything I wanted it to be and more. Heart-breaking, heart-warming, and completely beautiful, I know Peyton’s journey will stay with me for a long time.

I was immediately interested in reading this book. It’s not often that I come across a story in YA that follows a transgender protagonist. I hope that in the future, it won’t be uncommon to find these stories. This book comes at such a prominent time after heart-breaking stories of real-life transgender teens have been in the media.  

A Boy Like Me follows Peyton’s journey through high school as a boy trapped inside a growing woman’s body. He is confused and frustrated by emotions he can’t explain to himself. His mother wants the perfect daughter that he will never be, and their relationship falls more and more apart as the story progresses.

The relationship between Peyton and his mother is an important one. Reading it, you can’t help but feel desperate for him to get the acceptance he deserves from her, but it’s also a good way to show that he can be stronger and overcome it.

The scenes Peyton shared with his uncle RB added some well-needed warmth to the story. He was so supportive throughout and was one of the few characters that made sure Peyton knew he was loved regardless. 

The relationship with Tara was beautifully written. This was also a new and confusing journey for her, and I loved how believable she was. She truly cared about Peyton and wanted him to be happy, and she was willing to learn how to make that happen.

The scene in which Peyton first learns about the term ‘transgender’ was both beautiful and heart-wrenching to read. It helps us to understand a little bit about what going through that sort of situation must be like, knowing that after feeling so much isolation he’s not alone and there are other people out there just like him.

What I really love about this story is how genuine it is. It doesn’t feel like the author is simply force-feeding information about transgender issues to the reader. It takes you on a boy’s personal journey and allows you to feel as though you are living alongside it, being a part of it and observing everything. It gives us a glimpse into what life must be like for someone who feels they don’t belong in the clothes they’re expected to wear, someone who feels like their own reflection is a stranger. Most importantly, it teaches us to accept who we are, and not to judge others for how they see themselves.  

Royal Rating:

Sunday, 22 March 2015

INTERVIEW: Sarah Noffke

Today I'm happy to share with you an interview with Sarah Noffke, author of The Lucidites series! 

Can you tell us a little bit about your book, Awoken?
Awoken is the story of a young girl named Roya Stark, who has just discovered she’s a part of special race of humans and that her fate is tied to that of a dangerous man’s, Zhuang. Roya is a Dream Traveler, which allows her to use her dreams to go anywhere in space and time. She’s also clairvoyant. Zhuang has taken her family’s consciousness hostage and Roya knows the only way to save them, and the world at large, is to fight him. The Lucidites, a seemingly good society of Dream Travelers, swoop in and offer to assist Roya. However, upon arriving at their headquarters, she learns she hasn’t been told the whole truth. Still Roya remains reluctantly committed to the mission she must lead. And there is some hope for her, since she’ll have the aid of five talented Dream Travelers who all have their own special ability. Roya has plunged into a dynamic and dangerous new world, but what keeps her awake at night is the fact that the fate of humanity’s dreams rest of her shoulders.

Awoken is the first in The Lucidites series, in which all three books were released at the same time. What made you decide to release the whole series all at once?
I did make the conscious decision to release all three books in the series at once, and have since learned this is considered an edgy approach. The reason I did this was to cater to the reader’s needs. Releasing one book at a time stirs up a lot of media and marketing attention. But readers, from my experience, don’t want to wait. Why make them? I’m a reader and I loathe when I have to wait six months for the next book to come out. And all too often, by the time the book is released I’m off reading something else and can’t get back to it for a long time. I’m not sure that I’ll always release all my books in a series at once, but if it’s what the reader wants then I will. I serve readers, not a hungry publisher.

What inspired you to write about people who can dream travel?
I’ve always been obsessed with dreams. They’re this enigma, which seem to carry so much power. How many times have you dreamed something that came true the next day? Or dreamed about a friend and then they called out of the blue? Or had the strangest déjà vu? Dreams hold so much richness and also a ton of mystery. I have always wondered how I could use them more fully in my own life by lucid dreaming. All these fascinations of mine with dreams led to the idea of a special race who transcend time and space when asleep. And from there the rest of the story slowly unraveled.

How did you come up with the villain of the story, Zhuang?
The idea for an ancient villain came to me when I was reading about Zhuangzi, who was a Taoist philosopher. He said, “Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was myself. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.” Once I read this I quickly latched onto the idea of a villain who was once good, but became corrupt through greed. And so Zhuang was born, but he dreamt himself as things much more threatening than a butterfly. Maybe most writer’s start with creating the hero, but in my case I started with the antagonist. From there the idea of stealing consciousness through dreams took shape and everything fell into place.

Did you relate to Roya at all, or any of the other characters whilst writing the story?
I relate to all of my characters in one way or another. Roya is in many ways a lot like me, and in other ways we’re complete opposites. She’s quiet and antisocial, which I’m not at all. She’s also very brave and a badass, and I can’t say I’ve ever been either of those. However, we both share a love for classic literature, use sarcasm way too much in conversation, and truly believe the world is innately good. Besides from Roya, I think the character I relate to the most is Aiden, or at least I highly admire him. He’s a very focused individual, who also doesn’t take himself too seriously. I love how much life he interjects into his scenes. Is it wrong that I want to be a nerdy scientist in my next life?

What made you decide to write the series for young adults?
YA is my genre of choice when reading. For young adults, nothing is fixed. For the most part they don’t know who they are, who’ll they marry, who they’ll become or where they’re life is going. All of these uncertainties make for a lot of adventure and tension. Also, young adults have a hunger for life that dissipates to a certain extent for adults. As adults, we’re bogged down by the day-to-day. Young adults have a fresher perspective. I also love interacting with my young adult audience for this reason. They are so inquisitive and passionate.

What was your favourite part of the writing process?
Falling in love with the characters. When I first start writing a book all of these characters come to me, like I’m meeting the whole gang at a party. Over weeks of outlining and brainstorming, their personalities are revealed. Then I start writing and it’s like we’ve all taken an extended holiday together. Somewhere between the first page of a novel and the last, I find that I’ve attached myself to a few different characters and in some cases, fallen madly in love with them. I’ll tell you this, when I finished the last book in The Lucidites series I cried and cried and cried. I felt like all my friends had gotten on a ship and sailed to a distant land where I would never see them again. Yes, that’s right! I have imaginary friends.

Do you have any advice for other inspiring writers out there?
Every writer has advice on this topic and it’s all worthy. It’s advice from other writers that’s made me who I am. With that being said, I don’t want to repeat what most say, but I’m going to anyway. My promise is that I’ll try to say something new too.

So most will tell an aspiring writer (and they’re correct) to read as much as possible, write every day, and read books on how to write.

Alright, now here’s my something new that I give to only you: Become intimately acquainted with the writer inside you. This is not a person the world outside will know. This is the part inside you that only you know, that tells stories inside your head, and imagines fantastic things when the normal day-to-day is going on around you. You’re the only one who knows this person and the only one who can interpret their stories. Make a habit of closing your eyes once a day and meditating with this person. In time you will be so connected to them that their words will flow from you effortlessly. Most writers I know will agree that their books do not come from them, but rather through them. This happens when you open up this channel.

And if that sounds too metaphysical for you, well then just check out Stephen King’s autobiography, On Writing. He’s a genius.

Finally, are you working on any other novels at the moment?
I’m currently writing a new trilogy. I’ve complete the first two books and hope to start the third by early spring. It another series about Dream Travelers. There’s all new characters. A new society. And it’s WAY more dystopian than The Lucidites. It’s also a lot darker and a little sexier, but still YA. The series is called The Reverians.

Thanks so much to Sarah for stopping by! You can read my review of Awoken here, and look out soon for my review of book two in The Lucidites series, Stunned. 

Friday, 13 March 2015

REVIEW: Awoken by Sarah Noffke

Bookish Details:
Series: The Lucidites #1
Pages: 312 Paperback
Publisher: One-Twenty-Six Press
Release Date: November 24th 2014
Source: Provided by author in exchange for honest review
Buy it From: Amazon - Amazon UK

Around the world humans are hallucinating after sleepless nights.

In a sterile, underground institute the forecasters keep reporting the same events.

And in the backwoods of Texas, a sixteen-year-old girl is about to be caught up in a fierce, ethereal battle.

Meet Roya Stark. She drowns every night in her dreams, spends her hours reading classic literature to avoid her family’s ridicule, and is prone to premonitions—which are becoming more frequent. And now her dreams are filled with strangers offering to reveal what she has always wanted to know: Who is she? That’s the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out. But will Roya live to regret learning the truth?

My Review:
The description of this book immediately intrigued me. It follows the story of Roya Stark, who is trying to come to terms with being a dream traveler. She has been selected as part of a team who will try and rid the world of the man who is stealing people’s consciousness: Zhuang.

As much as I want to discuss every aspect of this awesome story, I’m going to keep this review spoiler free, so you can all go and discover it for yourself.

First of all, the writing throughout this book was beautifully descriptive, and it really helps the reader to understand what’s going on in Roya’s mind. I found the first couple of chapters a little hard to follow, but once Roya got to the Institute, and more was revealed about The Lucidites, I began to ease into the story.

Roya was a fantastic character who developed well throughout. I found her reactions to the situations around her realistic and relatable. And she definitely knew how to kick some ass! Everything happens quite quickly in the first few chapters, so we don’t get to see much of her life with Bob and Steve, the people who take her in after her family are corrupted by Zhuang. They seem like an interesting pair, and I’d love to find out more about them.

All of the other characters were written brilliantly. I loved Joseph from the start. He added a bit of light-hearted humour and genuine warmth to the story. I’m very interested to see how he progresses through the series.

Aiden owned my heart from the minute he was introduced. A guy wearing glasses and a Fall Out Boy t-shirt, of course I was going to love him. How could I not? I liked that he wasn’t perfect, and that he did things that go against what Roya believes in. They challenge each other, and that’s why they work so well together. I’m excited to see how their relationship changes in the future.

The only small problem I had with the story was George. I really liked getting to know more about him as the story went on, but I didn’t feel the love interest connection that sparked up between him and Roya. I think it would have felt a little more believable if it had been built up longer. I do, however, think George has wonderful potential, and I can’t wait to find out more about him. 

I’d love to find out more about Zhuang, and how he came to be the way he is. I’d also love the story to explore more of the time traveling side of the dreamscape. The fact that The Lucidites can travel to any point in time is fascinating, and I hope that’s something we get to see more of in the series.

There was a fantastic twist that happened in the second half of the book which I was really pleased about. I felt like it was needed and I can’t wait to see how that effects the characters in the next story.

This book is a prime example of why people need to be reading the work of indie authors. This story has been more way exciting and captivating than some of the widely published books I’ve read in the past. Anyone who loves a good fantasy and sci-fi story should definitely be checking this one out. 

Royal Rating:

Sunday, 1 March 2015

REVIEW: Dealing With Devils by Pembroke Sinclair

Bookish Details:
Series: The Road to Salvation #2
Publisher: Booktrope
Release Date: January 16th 2015
Source: Received by author is exchange for honest review
Buy it From: Amazon - Amazon UK

Dating a demon has its advantages, like helping deliver souls to Hell. Wait...what? 

Katie’s world has been turned upside down. She's fallen for Josh—despite the fact that he’s a demon from Hell. Wes is finally out of her system and her life. Convinced she can change Josh, she sets out to make him a better person, only to find out things aren’t as simple as she’d originally thought. For one thing, Josh has Katie help him deliver souls to Hell, and she kind of likes it. And to top it off, other more powerful demons are battling for her soul, and revelations from the past could change the course of her life forever.

My Review:
Dealing With Devils picks up where the story left off in The Appeal of Evil, and it’s straight away more engaging than the first book. It might be because I already knew the characters this time around and had a basic understanding of the story, but it was much easier to follow this time around.

Wes is now out of Katie’s life, and she’s coming to terms with her situation. As she spends more time harvesting souls with Josh, we get to see more about him and his life. I loved that we get to know Josh a little better in this book because throughout The Appeal of Evil, I couldn’t understand at all what Katie saw in him. Although I still think he and Katie needed a few more bonding scenes together, I can see why she is drawn to him now.

I felt like the plot was a lot more in-depth and exciting in this book. What I liked most was the reveal regarding Katie about two-thirds of the way into the story. I definitely perked up when I found out the truth about her, and I think that particular plot has a lot of potential that I’m excited to see explored. Bringing the myths into it really added some much needed thrill and danger to the story, because although Josh is a demon, and has taken Katie to Hell, it still didn’t have an edge-of-the-seat atmosphere to me before then.

There are still parts of the story that focus too much on Katie’s thoughts and feelings about the guys in her life, and I sometimes found myself wanting to skim over big chunks of descriptions about Katie’s ever-changing feelings towards Josh.

In my review of the first book, I mentioned that I’d really like to see Katie get an ally in the sequel, preferably a girl, because I thought she lacked a friendship and bond without romance thrown into it. I still haven’t gotten that in this second book, and I still feel like it’s needed. A lot of the people Katie meets are romantically perusing her in some way or another, and it just doesn’t feel that believable to me for some reason.

Also, poor Deb had a really hard time in this story, and I feel that she’s been overlooked once again. She has potential to be a fantastic character, but it’s just not working out so far. I’m really hoping we get to learn more about her family’s connection to Praesuls in the next book.

The ending was great, and although I was expecting the cliff-hanger that occurred, I loved reading it. I’m curious to see what Katie’s reaction will be in the next book, and how it will shake things up. 

Royal Rating:

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

Bookish Details:
Series: Rithmatist #1
Pages: 372 Paperback
Publisher: Tor UK
Release Date: 26th February 2015 (first published in 2013)
Source: Received from publisher in exchange for honest review
Buy it From: Amazon - Amazon UK - Waterstones

The Rithmatist, Brandon Sanderson's New York Times bestselling epic teen adventure is now available in paperback.

More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.

As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students learn the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing—kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery—one that will change Rithmatics—and their world—forever.

My Review:
You have no idea how much I’ve wanted a book like this to appear in my life. I’ve been searching for something new, something exciting, something awesome, and this book gave me all that and more.

The Rithmatist follows Joel during one of his school years at Armedius, a school that teaches both average and Rithmatist students. The Rithmatists are a group of people who are trained from the age of eight to be sent to battle on the frontline of Nebrask. They have the ability to bring chalk drawings to life, and use them to fight and defend.

Quite the unique concept for a story, isn’t it?

Let me start by saying that the characters are brilliant. I adored Joel from the first chapter. It’s been a while since I’ve read a book from the POV of a male character, and it’s something I always want to read more of in YA, so I was excited to read all about Joel and his life. What I loved about him was that he wasn’t a Rithmatist. Usually, if there is an ‘elite’ group of people in a story, the protagonist is usually one of them. Whereas Joel’s story was more about being on the outside, looking in. He was a delightful character to read about.

The people he meets in the story are all as equally wonderful. I loved the relationship he had with Professor Fitch, and it was always enjoyable to read scenes between the two of them. I also thought that his friendship with Melody worked beautifully. The bond that forms between the two of them over the course of the story was perfectly developed. I was definitely attached to the characters by the time I closed the book, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they grow throughout the series.

The plot was genius. I had no idea chalk could make for such an epic story. Rithmatics and chalklings were so unique and fascinating, and I loved learning about this new and exciting world. There are even illustrations on some of the pages to help show you more about the chalklings and Rithmatic lines. The history and details were well thought out, and explained brilliantly. I sometimes find that fantasy novels have a lot of backstory and world-building that is too intricate to follow, but this had the perfect balance.

One of the things I loved the most about this book was that it didn’t need romance. I can’t remember the last time I read a good YA story that didn’t focus heavily on a love interest. A lot of the time, the romance can take away from the actual storylines in fantasy and sci-fi. It was extremely refreshing to read an entire story without the presence of a love triangle.

There were also plenty of twists in the lead up to the final chapter. Definitely some revealing moments that I didn’t see coming! I love it when a story can keep you guessing right until the very end, and then still leave you wanting more. 

I hate comparing books to others, but I think this is a perfect story for anyone that loves Harry Potter. It has that same magical feeling to it whilst reading. I missed the characters and the school from the moment I put the book down, and I can barely wait for the next installment. 

Royal Rating:

Saturday, 14 February 2015

VIDEO: Favourite Book Relationships

Hello, book lovers!

Happy Valentine's Day! Since it's a day for appreciating love, I wanted to share five of my favourite YA relationships. I thought I'd create this as a YouTube video rather than a post, so I hope you enjoy watching it!

I now have a BookTube channel right here, and I'm a total newbie on the scene so it would be great if you could go and check it out!

Thursday, 12 February 2015

REVIEW: The Appeal of Evil by Pembroke Sinclair

Bookish Details:
Series: The Road to Salvation #1
Pages: 210 Paperback
Publisher: Booktrope Editions
Release Date: January 13th 2014
Source: Received in exchange for honest review
Buy it From: Amazon - Amazon UK

Katie wants to invest her heart and soul in love, but she may lose both to Hell.

Katie, a senior in high school, is torn between loving the "good" guy, her childhood friend Wes who makes promises he doesn't keep and abandons her when she needs him the most, and the "bad" guy, the new kid at school Josh who is also a real demon from Hell. Katie wants someone who pays attention to her and puts her first, but what is she willing to give up to find him?

My Review:
This story follows Katie, a high school student with a seemingly normal life until fellow student Josh suddenly comes to her defense in an argument with her best friend, Wes. Katie then discovers that Josh and Wes aren’t all what they seem, and her world is turned upside down.

The first few chapters throw you straight into the story, but also straight into a love triangle. I felt like I knew nothing about Katie as a character, but I knew all about her past with Wes, and her sudden feelings towards Josh. Although this is a story about Demons and Hell, I felt like it was more to do with Katie’s romantic relationships than anything else.

I really enjoyed Katie’s friendship with Deb, but it happened too late on in the story. We hear mentions of Deb throughout a bunch of chapters before we actually meet her, and I feel like the story would have benefited from her presence from the very start. I liked a certain twist that her character revealed towards the end, but it felt random and too conveniently placed. Maybe if there had been more clues hinting towards it, then it would’ve felt believable.

The characters I liked the most were Randy and Wes. I wanted to know more about them and their lives. I felt like I didn’t get to see enough of Wes, and I think he and his father have huge potential to be really interesting characters. I also want to know more about Josh, because right now, I can’t see his appeal. Katie’s feelings towards him are quite confusing and it seems like she keeps changing her mind over him. He’s untrustworthy and dangerous, yet she feels safe with him. I want to know what it is about him that she trusts, because I don’t think he’s done that much to prove he’s worth choosing.

There were some funny moments in the story that I enjoyed, and definitely some realistic scenes. For example, I like that when Katie told her mother the truth about Randy and Wes, her mother thought she was suffering with rabies. A lot of the time in fantasy, I find that shocking revelations are calmly accepted by characters, when in reality, they’d completely freak out. So I liked that this story showed a few more obvious and realistic reactions. Katie’s relationship with her mother is an aspect of the story I especially liked. I wish we’d gotten to see a bit more of their home life, and learnt about the family’s past.

The disappointing side for me was the love triangle. I prefer romance being a subplot to the fantasy and action in YA stories, but with this book, it felt a little like the fantasy was a subplot to the romance. Everything in this story revolved around the two boys. Even Katie’s thoughts were dominated mostly by the guys, and which one’s side she should choose. It made it extremely difficult for me to like Katie. I wanted to know more about her, and I wanted her to be stronger and make choices that didn’t revolve around the boys.

I know this is the first book in a series, so in the second book, I’m hoping we get to see more of Hell, and get to know more about Josh. I also think that Katie needs more of a plot away from the two guys. Maybe meeting a new friend, or taking off on her own for once. I’m rooting for her to become a stronger character. I look forward to seeing what the second book has to offer, because I still think this is a story with good potential, but it simply hasn’t delivered it yet.

Royal Rating:

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

REVIEW: The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

Bookish Details:
Pages: 336 Paperback
Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: February 5th 2015
Source: Received from publisher
Buy it From: Amazon - Waterstones

Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court.

She’s the executioner.

As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company.

But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen.

However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?

My Review:
10AM on a Sunday morning. I decided to have a few minutes of reading time with my coffee. Just a few minutes. The next time I looked at the clock, it was 3:15 in the afternoon. How on earth did that happen?

There is nothing dull about this story. Set in the wonderfully created land of Lormere, it’s a tale of Kings and Queens, of killings and curses, and of love and betrayal. It has everything to offer, and delivers it all.

Our protagonist is Twylla; a girl blessed by the Gods, and can kill a person by mere touch. She is known and feared by everyone as the embodiment of Daunen, daughter of the Gods. Because of her ‘gift’, she is to marry the prince, because he can survive her deadly touch.

I liked Twylla pretty much straight away. I loved her narration of the story, and the descriptions of her emotions were written beautifully. I was rooting for her from start to finish. She wasn’t perfect, she made mistakes, and her judgement wasn’t always on point, but that only made her more endearing as a character. I was happy to see her develop and grow stronger as she learnt more about herself and the people around her.

The two guys in the story, Prince Merek and Lief, are both fantastic characters. I sympathised with Merek’s situation, and I desperately wanted things to work out for him. I get very easily fed up of love triangles in YA, and I usually have to fight the urge to roll my eyes whenever I inevitably read about it. But for some reason, I was totally okay with this one. It worked really well, and I liked the contrasting characters. The one small downer I had was that I thought there were a few too many kisses. I wish they’d been held back a little more, because they would have felt extra special if they were limited. But that’s probably just me.

The story telling in this book is enchanting. I’m a total history geek, so even if it’s fictional history, I want to know about it. And this book gave it. I love how in-depth the story goes into the history of Lormere. Sometimes, chunks of backstory can be quite confusing, but this was explained beautifully. And I absolutely adored the whole Sleeping Prince story. I really liked how the characters kept going back to that simple tale, and I was so excited to see if there was something more to it than just a wild fairy-tale.

I pride myself on being able to spot plot twists and figure out mysteries quite easily. I usually have those triumphant ‘I TOLD YOU SO!’ moments when reading most books. But not with this one, oh no. It was more a case of ‘WAIT, WHAT???’

The final few chapters were completely unputdownable. There are some wonderful twists and turns to compel you into keeping the book open. It pulled me out of the reading slump I’d been in since Christmas, and I don’t even want to admit how much caffeine I needed after a night of binge-reading this book. One thing’s for certain, I cannot wait to read more.

If you’re looking for a new thrilling adventure, then make sure this is the book you pick up next.

Also: Shoutout to Melinda for having the most entertaining acknowledgments. 

Royal Rating:

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

I've Been Blogging How Long?!

Four years ago today, I made my very first post on this blog! I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for four whole years already. I’d love to be able to do something exciting, like host a giveaway, or something creative, but I’m too broke and too unimaginative! I still feel like I should give you something back, something to thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I can offer you this completely unrelated graphic of an owl that I designed, if you’d like. Click here to download a full quality image. You never know, you might require an owl graphic in the future!

My blog idea was born during the Christmas period of 2010. I was accepted as a reviewer by a teen girl magazine, and they sent me a book in exchange for a paragraph of my thoughts on it. I had no control over which type of book I’d receive. It turned out to be a book called Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. It was her debut novel, and I received it a few months before its release in the UK.

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously--and at great risk--documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

I’ll admit, at first I was pretty disappointed. At the time, it wasn’t the type of book I wanted to read. As much as I enjoyed learning about history, my taste in books was girly romances, anything by Meg Cabot, Harry Potter, and fantasy. I had no interest in reading a book set during the second World War. But I had no choice. I had to read it. And boy, am I glad I did. The book still remains one of my all-time favourites to this day, and it inspired me to learn more about that lesser-known part of history. It was such an incredible story, and I wanted to talk about it. None of my friends at the time were big readers, so I didn’t really have anyone to discuss books with apart from my mum. That was how I found the book blogging community, and I decided to set up my blog.

My first ever logo for the blog
I had no idea what I was doing. I knew very little about blogs, my writing was atrocious, and I didn’t have a clue how to promote my site. All I knew for certain was that I wanted to tell people about awesome stories, so that’s what I did.

Since then, I’ve learnt a lot about blogging, and I’ve connected with some fantastic readers and fellow bloggers. I’ve also learnt a great deal about design! I’ve always tried to design my blog myself, because as a poor little student, I could never afford to buy professional designs. But in a way, I’m glad. Even though it frustrates the life out of me sometimes, I know more about graphics and basic HTML, and it’s helped me a lot outside of my blogging!  

How my logo has changed through the years
My blogiversary also got me thinking about why I’m still blogging. I do it for the same reason why I first set up this blog: I love talking about books. But what is it that’s kept me motivated to write reviews over the years? The main reason is that I love sharing my passion for certain stories. And through this blog, I’ve discovered some wonderful hidden gems by debut and independent authors, and I love having the chance to encourage other people to pick up their work.

Another reason I’ve managed to stay a happy blogger is by keeping this site to what I always intended it to be. A hobby. I never force myself into strict schedules like many other awesome and hardworking bloggers. Instead, I simply read and review at my leisure. Otherwise, my blog would feel like a chore to me, and I never want it to come to that. I don’t make money from what I do, so I don’t treat it like a business. It’s simply my own little world of all things bookish. I’m also not the most formal person in the world with my reviews. I try to keep it casual. I’m no professional when it comes to writing, but that doesn’t stop me from sharing my opinions.

I have, over the years, had some fantastic opportunities because of my blog. I’ve interviewed some wonderful authors, I’ve been invited to take part in virtual blog tours, I’ve had tweets from some of my favourite authors of all time, and I’ve been lucky enough to receive some fabulous books and merchandise. I still get pathetically excited whenever I get an ARC, because I’m still astounded that I’m getting such an amazing opportunity!

I honestly can’t even begin to describe what this blog has done for me over the years. It’s sounds cheesy as hell, but in a way, I guess it really has changed my life. There have been too many highlights for me to condense them down into one post. It’s done so much more for me than just being a place to post my opinions. It’s encouraged me to do my own writing, and tell my own stories. It’s built my confidence in talking with new people. I’m painfully shy, but as a blogger, I have to communicate with a wide variety of people, and it’s made me more comfortable striking up conversations and conducting interviews. I never imagined how much it would do for me when I decided to write that first post four years ago.

Most of all, I have to thank YOU. The awesome people who take the time to read my reviews (which, let’s face it, aren’t the most professional reviews in the world!). And you authors and publishers who take the time to get in touch, and ask me to read your work. I’m so lucky to have the chance to do that. I can’t thank you enough for helping me to continue doing what I love.

So here’s to the next year of The Queen of Teen Fiction! 


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