Wednesday, 17 June 2015

REVIEW: The Establishment by Mel Deverell

Bookish Details:
Pages: 249 Paperback
Release Date: April 7th 2015
Buy it From: Amazon UK

Fourteen-year-old Cassie is different from most people, and The Establishment wants her eliminated. Her brother Dan has been sent on a desert expedition and is already missing, presumed dead. Her dad is acting strangely and her mum has told Cassie that they must escape to 'the outside'. Travelling separately to avoid detection, Cassie has to cope alone.

But she doesn't understand why this is all happening to her. She doesn't know where to go, how to get there, or who to trust.

As Cassie makes her way towards the outside, she is pursued by members of The Establishment. Fighting for survival she discovers that the world is not as it seems...

My Review:
This story follows siblings Cassie and Dan on the start of separate journeys. Cassie has been separated from her mother, and she believes that Dan is dead. Dan is part of an expedition team who are searching for a water source, and none of the team members are yet aware of the fact that The Establishment has informed their families that they're dead.

We follow Cassie's journey in first person, and Dan's in third. I'm usually not a huge fan of books that have split narratives/tenses, but it worked brilliantly for this story and keeps us readers toes. I much preferred having two different locations and plots to follow.

Cassie is searching for her mum, and on her journey she meets a wonderful variety of characters who help her on her way. Because we don't learn much about them, I'd love to hear from them again in further instalments of the series. Throughout the story, Cassie has recurring dreams about a girl who's face she doesn't yet know, and it adds an element of mystery until the end.

Dan is on an expedition with four other team members, including Chloe, who's boyfriend died on a previous expedition. Because of the loss she has suffered, she is protective of her team and acts almost like a mother to them in order to avoid a repeat experience. I really enjoyed the bond that started to form between her and Dan as they shared more scenes together. The team have only ever known the ways of The Establishment, so it's exciting when they finally start to discover the truth.

The relationship between Cassie and Dan is touching to see when they finally get reunited. I can't wait to see the pair of the them getting to work together in the future of the series, because I just know they'll make a fantastic team.

I found most of the secondary characters highly intriguing, especially Peter., one of Dan's fellow teammates. I have no idea which direction his personal story is taking him, but I am keen to find out. I'd also love to find out more about Mack and Sam, the two remaining members of The Expedition. 

What I really wanted to learn more about was The Establishment itself. I felt like this book only gave a basic knowledge of how they came to be. Although I knew that the characters had reason to fear them, I wanted to see more of that threat, so I'd definitely like to learn more about the leaders and their plans, and see more of the atrocities that take place behind closed doors. The pills that are mentioned throughout the story were fascinating and showed exactly what The Establishment is capable of, so I'd love to see more of that in this series.

Deverell sets up her world strongly from the start, giving you a clear picture of the Zones and the way things are run. This book is perfect for anyone who loves dystopia, and it's always great to see a good UKYA dystopian novel. With an exciting plot and well-developed characters, this is a thrilling world to lose yourself in.

Royal Rating:

Friday, 5 June 2015

REVIEW: P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Bookish Details:
Series: To All The Boys I've Loved Before #2
Pages: 368  Paperback
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: June 5th 2015
Buy it From: Amazon - Amazon UK - Waterstones

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I've Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.

My Review:
Lara Jean is back, and her love life is filled with drama once again. P. S. I Still Love You follows on a little while after the events of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. Her relationship with Peter Kavinsky is in jeopardy and she desperately wants to fix things.

The first book in this series was super fun and this second installment is just as entertaining. It perfectly captures the drama-filled lives of teenagers in love. It’s complicated, things don’t run smoothly, and heartbreak is bound to happen along the way. It paints a perfect picture of what relationships are like during high school.

Lara Jean is a perfectly relatable character. I like that she is still a little naïve and clumsy when it comes to dealing with her love life. It makes her even more endearing. Her and Peter’s relationship can be all over the place at times, but it’s touching to see them bond during their genuinely heartfelt moments.

During this story, their relationship is tested more than they expected. Along with Peter’s ex-girlfriend, Genevieve, there is the extra complication of John Ambrose McLaren. He is part of Lara Jean’s childhood, and she believes that the feelings she once had for him are in the past, but as always, things aren’t that simple. When he arrives back in her life, there is an added strain between her and Peter.

I enjoyed John being added to the story. It definitely brought an uncertain edge to things, and it was interesting to watch Lara Jean question her feelings for him. I felt like we got to learn a lot about him and his past throughout the story, which I really enjoyed. Knowing more about him made me root for him.

What I adored about this story was the scenes that took place in the nursing home. Stormy was a delightful character and I much enjoyed her chats with Lara Jean. She had a wickedly entertaining life to talk about, and I loved getting to know her just as much as Lara Jean did.

As with the first book, family is an important part of the story. I love Lara Jean’s relationship with her sisters and her father. Kitty is so wonderfully sassy. I adore all of her scenes and I love how she is sometimes the character that speaks the most sense, even though she’s the youngest.

I loved returning to Lara Jean’s world and seeing more dramas unfold. The story is packed with touching scenes between characters and plenty of fun filled moments. I can’t wait to see where Lara Jean’s journey takes her next, and what decisions she’ll make.

Royal Rating:

Thursday, 28 May 2015

10 Reasons Why You Should Read The Princess Diaries

The Princess Diaries found me at the perfect time. I was fourteen, and as someone who kept a diary during my teens, I found myself drawn to a book that was written in a diary-style. I wasn't a huge reader at the time, but I gave it a try anyway. And then I didn’t stop. I faithfully followed the entire series right up until the last book was released. It sculpted my reading tastes, encouraged me to pick up more books, and gave me a genre to love. Since then, I haven’t stopped reading YA.

So The Princess Diaries holds a special place in my heart, and when Meg announced that she would be releasing an adult sequel, I was beyond excited. With Royal Wedding being released this June, (or July for us in the UK) I hope even more people will find their way to the series. I have so many reasons why you should fall into Mia’s world, but I’ve narrowed it down to ten.

10. The movie is good, but the books are way better.
I, like most of you, love The Princess Diaries movie. It’s cute, it’s heart-warming, and it’s perfect sleepover viewing (it also contains both Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews, and that’s really awesome). But the books offer SO MUCH MORE. 

Seriously, you miss out on a lot. For example, if you have only ever watched the movie, and never read the books, you do not get to meet the wonderful gem on this earth that Tina Hakim Baba. And you also believe that Mia’s father is dead. But you are wrong. Very, very wrong.

9. The secondary characters are equally awesome
Like Boris, for example. Boris is that adorable, geeky guy that every good YA book series needs. He also provided one of my favourite scenes. It includes a world globe. That’s all I’ll say.

8. Grandmere is fierce
The Dowager Princess Clarisse Marie Grimaldi Renaldo is a spectacular character. When you think of grandmothers, you think of crinkled eyes and smiles, stories of the good old days, and baking cookies on a Sunday. Not this grandmother. She is intimidating, she is feisty, and if she doesn’t like you, she will tear you apart. She’s brilliant.

7. Lana Weinberger is more than just the cliché ‘bitch’ character
Lana is a cheerleader, she’s blonde, she dates the guys that every girl wants, and she is the girl that everybody wants to be. And, naturally, she’s Mia’s nemesis. But she becomes so much more than just the stereotypical, bitchy character that you first assume she is.

6. Mia may be a princess, but you can still relate to her
No, you can’t relate to her problem of having her every move followed by the world’s media, and you can’t possibly understand what it’s like to have the weight of an entire country on your shoulders, but you can relate to her as a person. She’s shy, awkward, and she messes up in front of the guys she likes. She's believable. 

5. Family and friendship are important themes
There are arguments and dramas between friends and relatives, but this series shows how important the people closest to you are, and how, in the end, they will always be there to support you. A particular aspect of the series that I like is how much Mia’s friendship with Lilly is tested. It’s no secret that high school can be a challenging time for best friends, and Mia being a princess changes things. It causes strains on the pair of them. But it shows that whatever you’re faced with, your best friends mean the world to you, and you can overcome anything together.

4. The writing is seriously funny
Meg effortlessly puts humor into her stories, and The Princess Diaries is full of funny moments. You will laugh until you cry, and you will have a smile on your face whenever you join Mia in her forever chaotic world.

3. Genovia
I like that Meg created her own fictional country for this series. The place sounds so absolutely gorgeous that I almost want it to be real. It’s exciting to watch Mia fall in love with the country she is princess of, and win its people over.

2. You WILL fall in love with Michael Moscovitz.
What is there not to love about Michael Moscovitz? He’s cute, he’s caring, and he has some seriously adorable romantic gestures up his sleeve. The love story between him and Mia is an epic one. But it’s not without its ups and downs, which only makes their relationship all the more believable. And most importantly, he adored Mia before he found out she had a crown. He’s dreamy and…wait, what do you mean he’s not real?

1. Princess Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo
Of course, she is the number one reason why you need to immerse yourself in her diaries. She’s always entertaining, she’s a great friend, she’s brave, she’s fierce, and she’s basically everything you want in a character. But she isn’t faultless. I don’t know about you, but I’m always irritated whenever I read a YA book that has a seemingly ‘perfect’ protagonist. A girl that can do no wrong and is always selfless and positive. We all know life doesn’t work that way. We don’t always make the right decisions, and we’d be lying if we said we’ve never been selfish before. Mia has her flawed moments, especially when it comes to her relationship with Michael. She doesn’t always do or say the right things, but that’s okay. Part of why she’s a great character is because we get to see her learn and grow along the way. I loved joining her on her journey. 

So there you have it. That is why you need to read The Princess Diaries (if you haven’t already). No matter how old you are, this series is timeless, and it’s just as entertaining to me now as it was when I was a teenager.

For other posts from this year’s Meg-a-Readers, check out the weekly roundup posts over on The Romance Bookie

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

REVIEW: Stunned by Sarah Noffke

Bookish Details:
Series: The Lucidites #2
Pages: 312
Publisher: One-Twenty-Six Press
Release Date: 21st November 2014
Buy it From: Amazon - Amazon UK


Roya desperately wishes she was above ground, on a sunny patio, watching the lake lap up on the shore. Instead, she finds herself trapped with the Lucidites. Her brother is mysteriously wasting away, and at every turn she finds a new betrayal. Just when she thinks she’s finally escaping the Institute, a new danger unveils itself. A secret society of Dream Travelers has declared war on the Lucidites by abducting a head official. It’s up to Roya to figure out who’s behind it and how to save everyone she cares about most. More action packed than its predecessor, Stunned is captivating and will leave audiences squirming from the tension and also begging for more.

My Review:
Stunned picks up after the events of Awoken. Zhuang has been defeated, and the Lucidites are attempting to get things back to how they were. Roya’s friends and her brother, Joseph, have all been given assignments to work on over summer and are settling in at the institute. Roya, however, doesn’t quite know what to do. She has nothing to work on, and left feeling like a spare part

Her feelings for Aiden are complicated and she finds it difficult to accept that anything between the two of them must be kept secret to protect Aiden’s career. Her strained relationship with George isn’t making her situation any easier. This leads to her deciding that she wants to leave and move in with her faux parents, Bob and Steve. 

The plot, just like in the first book, was exciting from start to finish. Just when you think you have things figured out, another new twist is thrown into the mix to keep the characters constantly on their toes.

As always, the characters were fantastic. I loved Roya’s strength and her natural wit. I was pleased to see some more interaction between her, Bob, and Steve. It’s great that she has their constant reassurance and support. They are like the calm amongst the raging storm.

I felt sorry for poor Joseph. He gets messed up in something he shouldn’t, and takes it out on the people around him. But seeing Roya’s determination to help him overcome whatever he’s working on is touching and shows the development between the two of them.

I was happy to get to know George a little better this time. In the first book, his relationship with Roya wasn’t appealing to me, but now I understand the connection between the two of them a little better. I’d like to learn more about him away from his relationship with Roya.

With that being said, I still prefer Roya with Aiden. I adore Aiden. He’s geeky, and cute, and can sometimes be a little foolish. And that’s what makes him a great character. I wanted to give him a good talking to myself at certain points in the story because of the poor way he was handling certain situations. But he learns from his mistakes and grows from them. Again, he is a character whose backstory I would love to learn more about. 

The secondary characters in this story are just as fantastic. Trent shared a wonderful little moment with Roya towards the end that I really enjoyed, and it left me curious to see how his story unfolds in the last instalment. I also love Ren. I seem to have a particular interest in angry, snarky, pessimistic characters, and he definitely fits that bill. 

The Grotte was a creepy addition to this series, and one I highly enjoyed getting to read about. The new characters we meet through the Grotte are disturbing and a dangerous threat. I’m so curious to see what the overall plan is.

I need to mention the end of this book because holy mother of plot twists. I did not see the twist coming, so when it happened, it was glorious. I had one of those ‘oh, snap’ moments, and then wanted to go back through the books to see if I’d missed the clues. It was a fantastic ending that definitely left me desperate to read the fallout.

This series is always full of action and excitement. I’m eager to see what wild adventures the characters will be sent on in the final book, and how they’ll face whatever situations are thrown at them next.  

Royal Rating:

Thursday, 21 May 2015

REVIEW: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Bookish Details:
Pages: 437 Hardcover
Publisher: Macmillan
Release Date: 21st May 2015
Buy it From: Amazon - Amazon UK - Waterstones

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, ambitious wizard, known only as the Dragon, to keep the wood's powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman must be handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as being lost to the wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows - everyone knows - that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia - all the things Agnieszka isn't - and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But no one can predict how or why the Dragon chooses a girl. And when he comes, it is not Kasia he will take with him.

From the author of the Temeraire series comes this hugely imaginative, engrossing and vivid fantasy novel, inspired by folk and fairy tales. It is perfect reading for fans of Robin Hobb and Trudi Canavan.

My Review:
There are four major issues I have with this book:

1. When I sat down to start reading the other morning, I only intended to read for a little while. I had other things I needed to be doing. However, when I next looked at the clock, I realised that the ‘little while’ had turned into hours. It left me wanting to scold my bladder for needing a toilet break, and glare down at my growling stomach for needing me to put the book down for lunch.

2. My heart says I love this book, but my eyes, stinging from lack of sleep, would hugely disagree. They really didn’t appreciate being forced to stay open until 3am when they needed to reopen at 7am that morning.  

3. I am now suffering from the nightmare we call ‘book hangover’. Do I have other books in my ‘to-read’ pile? Yes. Do I want to pick them up right now? No. Why is that, you ask? Because their pages do not contain the beautiful world within Uprooted, and Agnieszka and the Dragon are nowhere to be seen. AND I MISS THEM SO MUCH ALREADY.

4. This book is one of those books. You know the ones, a book that is so awesome you actually struggle to summarise the awesomeness into a review. Now I have to try and find something to say that’s a little more informative than just ASDFGHJKL;

But I’ll try.

This is enchanting fantasy at its best. It takes fairy-tale elements that we know, and twists them into something new and exciting. The writing  is truly gorgeous. The characters emotions are demonstrated beautifully and the action scenes are captivating. There is a creepy darkness to this story in the form of the Wood. I was completely sucked into the horror within it, desperate to know why it was there, and what it was doing.

What I also loved was the fact that it’s a stand-alone novel. Fantasy so often comes in the shape of a trilogy or more, so it was refreshing to read a book that gives a complete story with a satisfying conclusion.

What else do I need to mention? THE CHARACTERS. Seriously, the characters in this book are just so brilliant. Agnieszka was feisty when she needed to be, and I loved her coming-of-age journey. Her friendship with Kasia is touching, and the scenes that the pair shared were packed with emotion.

The Dragon was a fascinating character. The idea of him coming to the valley every ten years to take a young girl away intrigued me from the start. I loved how mysterious and cold-hearted he was in the beginning. He made me want to reach into the book and shout at him myself a lot of the time. But then I enjoyed getting to know more about his life, and understanding why he acts in the way that he does. I also loved how Agnieszka comes to challenge him rather than fear him. There was humour in the way he clearly didn’t know how to react to her attitudes and stubbornness.

The relationship between Agnieszka and the Dragon was well developed. Sometimes I find myself a little disappointed in the romantic elements of fantasy, because it can easily take away from the story itself. But the romance in this book adds to the story beautifully. There were no cringe-worthy moments. The tension between the two of them was unbearable at times, leaving you eager for further scenes between them. And there was just the right amount of *ahem* steaminess.

Everything from the Prince, the politics, the Wood, and the corruption is compelling to read about. It's a world that is well built for getting completely drawn in to. This is no Disney-style fairy-tale. It’s dark, it’s violent, and it will drag you through the wars within it. But it’s also beautiful, and magical, and thought-provoking, and everything you want from a fantasy story.

It is so difficult to not spoil anything here because I’m desperate to talk about all of it. It consumed my life for the couple of days I was reading, and by the end it felt like I had returned home from the same epic journey as the characters. I just hope I've said enough to ensure that you read this book for yourself, so you can fall in love with it as I have. 

*gently nudges you in the direction of the bookstore*

Royal Rating:

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

REVIEW: Notebooks of a Middle-School Princess by Meg Cabot

Bookish Details:
Pages: 192 Paperback
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Release Date: May 21st 2015
Source: NetGalley
Buy it From: Amazon - Waterstones

The first in a brand-new, funny, heart-warming illustrated Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot.

Olivia Grace is completely average. Or so she thinks . . . until Her Royal Highness, Princess Mia Thermopolis turns up at her school one day and whisks Olivia away to New York City! In a limo, no less! Where you can eat all the cookies you want and the ceiling lights up pink and purple - like a disco! But discovering that your father is actually the Prince of Genovia is quite a shock. Especially since it means you're a descendent of the Kingdom of Genovia, and a princess. Olivia's got a lot to learn about her long-lost family - and everyone's got a lot to learn about her!

Olivia chronicles her transformation from ordinary girl to princess in her notebook, with illustrations from Meg Cabot, who studied Fine Arts as an undergraduate.

My Review:
I usually only post reviews for books that are specifically YA, but of course, Meg Cabot is always an exception.

This story follows Olivia as she discovers that she is the half-sister of Princess Mia, and is a Princess of Genovia herself. After living with her aunt’s family since her mother’s death, she feels like she doesn’t have a true family of her own to be a part of.

After word gets out about her being a princess, courtesy of her jealous classmate, the infuriating Annabelle Jenkins, she discovers the truth about her life. After years of having only letters as her source of communication with him, Olivia finally gets to meet her father, Prince Phillippe.

This is a spinoff series of The Princess Diaries for the younger generation, and it will hopefully introduce a whole new batch of readers to Meg Cabot’s wonderful work. Since I spent my own teenage years reading The Princess Diaries, I adored getting to hear from some of my favourite characters again in this new series. The tone of the book and Olivia's voice reminded me why I fell in love with the original series.

It was also great to see the discovery of being a princess from a twelve-year-old’s perspective. Everything is exciting and dramatic. I loved the texts between Olivia and her best friend, Nishi. They are realistic voices for children growing up in the smartphone generation. That’s another reason why kids are going to adore this story, it’s filled with modern references that they’ll be able to recognise and relate to.

Olivia is such a cute protagonist, and her journey throughout this story is one filled with innocence and the beauty of finally finding a place to belong. Her narration of the story is believable and captures attention from the very beginning. And the sketches throughout the book are also super adorable!

This is a fast paced read that’s filled with fun, and I think younger readers are really going to love Olivia. Fans of The Princess Diaries will also enjoy getting the chance to have a little catch-up with Princess Mia before the release of the first adult addition to the original series. I look forward to what the future has in store for Genovia’s latest little princess.  

Royal Rating:

Thursday, 14 May 2015

REVIEW: The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson

Bookish Details:
Series: Shades of London #3
Pages: 374 Paperback
Publisher: Hot Key Books (UK)
Release Date: February 5th 2015

Grieving, shaken, and feeling very much alone, Rory's life as a member of the Shades of London has changed irrevocably. It's only been a matter of hours since Stephen was taken from her, possibly for ever. Her classmate Charlotte is still missing, kidnapped by the same people who tried to take Rory. Rory is no longer a schoolgirl haplessly involved in the dealings of a secret government unit. She is their weapon in a matter of life and death.

With hardly a moment to think for herself, Rory is back to work. Charlotte must be found -- as must Stephen, if he is even out there. Lines must be drawn and forces rallied. Something is brewing under London, something bigger and much more dangerous than what has come before. The Shadow Cabinet holds the key to everything, and it is up to Rory to unravel its mysteries before time runs out...

My Review:
*This review contains spoilers for the previous book in this series. Do not read on if you haven’t yet read them*

After the torturous cliff-hanger that occurred at the end of The Madness Underneath, it has been an extremely long and even more torturous wait for this sequel.

The Shadow Cabinet picks up immediately where the last book left us. Rory is still in the hospital after Stephen’s death, and is struggling to come to terms with the events that have happened. A grieving Rory is immediately faced with the task of tracking down Stephen’s ghost, whilst also searching for her missing classmate, Charlotte.

Charlotte has been taken by Jane, and while the team try to find her, they uncover facts about a disturbing cult dating back forty years. I highly enjoyed getting to learn about events of the past, and it certainly made putting the book down extremely difficult.

The story is fast paced from the start, and the second half of the book is nail-bitingly tense. Some of the scenes were downright creepy, especially the ones that looked back on the cult. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but when Jane finally catches up with Rory, I could not stop reading.

Sid and Sadie are chilling characters. Everything from their mannerisms to their appearance is disturbing. I get the feeling they are going to become a central part of this series, and I’m eager to find out whatever is it that they’re plotting. They’ve definitely added a much higher element of danger to Rory’s overall story.  

Once again, I loved the relationship between Rory and Stephen. We’re shown just the right amount of it to keep us wanting more. I like stories that don’t throw romance in your face from the very beginning, because that often leads to that aspect of the story getting pretty boring, pretty quickly. With this series, Johnson has paced out the development of the relationship between the two characters perfectly, making us keep on rooting for them.

I enjoyed this book being set outside of the school for the first time. It shows the dramatic changes that have happened in Rory’s life. Her being a student in the school seems like a whole different world away from the life she has now.

I adore this series. The characters are fantastic, the plot is always full of twists, and there is never a dull moment to be found. Once again, the ending has me begging for more, and it looks like I’m going to have yet another torturous wait.

Royal Rating:

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Adaptation talk: Shadowhunters

You probably already know this, but I'm a huge fan of The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. And you may or may not already know that there is going to be a TV show, Shadowhunters, based on the books. I filmed a video about my thoughts on the upcoming show and it's new cast members!

So, what are your thoughts on the cast? Let me know!

Thursday, 23 April 2015

REVIEW: Starborn by Lucy Hounsom

Bookish Details:
Series: The Worldmaker Trilogy #1
Pages: 400 Hardcover
Publisher: Tor UK
Release Date: April 23rd 2015
Buy it From: Amazon - Amazon UK - Waterstones

Death and destruction will bar her way...

Kyndra's fate holds betrayal and salvation, but the journey starts in her small village. On the day she comes of age, she accidentally disrupts an ancient ceremony, ending centuries of tradition. So when an unnatural storm targets her superstitious community, Kyndra is blamed. She fears for her life until two strangers save her, by wielding powers not seen for an age - powers fuelled by the sun and the moon.

Together, they flee to the hidden citadel of Naris. And here, Kyndra experiences disturbing visions of the past, showing war and one man's terrifying response. She'll learn more in the city's subterranean chambers, amongst fanatics and rebels. But first Kyndra will be brutally tested in a bid to unlock her own magic.

If she survives the ordeal, she'll discover a force greater than she could ever have imagined. But could it create as well as destroy? And can she control it, to right an ancient wrong?

My Review:
Starborn follows Kyndra as she is taken away after the Breaking destroys her hometown. On her journey, Kyndra is left questioning her what is happening to her, where she is going, and who the strangers whom have taken her might be.

The strangers in question are Brégenne and Nediah, two Wielders from Naris. We learn more about them and the land they come from as the story progresses. They were the most fascinating characters for me throughout the story.

I adored learning more about Brégenne. At the beginning, she seemed so cold and I was unsure whether to trust her or not, but the more I read of her, the more I began to appreciate her. I think the relationship between her and Nediah is complex and well written. There was a scene between the two of them that occurred at the very end of the book that shocked me, and I’m eager to find out what the repercussions will be. I’d also like to discover more of Nediah’s backstory further in the trilogy.

Kyndra was character who became stronger throughout the story, and I admired her determination. I still think she has a lot more to offer, so I’m excited to see how she develops because I think she could totally kick some ass in the future.

There’s a great variety of characters from start to finish, and they’re all interesting, whether they’re good or bad. However, one character that left me confused was Gareth. When Gareth is first introduced, the only word I can use to describe him is vile. He treats Kyndra horribly. However, later on in the book, Kyndra seems to befriend him and he is shown as a completely different person. That may be because of the world he lives in and his upbringing, but because the reader doesn’t know anything about that, it is very hard to forgive his initial actions. I’m still interested to see what part he plays in the future of this series.

The plot was exciting and fast paced. I’ll admit, I was confused during the first couple of chapters because I didn’t really understand what was happening, but I was still completely drawn into the story.

The final couple of chapters are intense and make for a fantastic ending. There are actions that will definitely have repercussions in the future, and I can’t wait to see how the characters handle the situations in the next book.

Hounsom is fantastic at world building, and the world within this story is like nothing I’ve read before. It has a unique edge to it that sets it apart from other fantasy novels. I’m eager to see more of what this world has in store for its characters.

This is a very high fantasy story, and lovers of the fantasy genre will definitely want to give this book a read. It’s a promising start to a series that has huge potential. 

Royal Rating:

Monday, 20 April 2015


I'm excited to share with you this awesome interview with author Jo Ramsey!

What made you want to write for a YA audience?
I've been writing stories for and about teenagers since I was one. About 30 years now. I sometimes say I never really outgrew my own teen years, and some of my stories are written to give myself a do-over on things that happened when I was in high school.

I've also worked with teenagers as a teacher or teacher's aide, and I've known many who were discouraged, or who were making poor choices because they didn't know any other choices to make. I met a lot of teens who didn't believe in themselves, but encouragement and support went a long way. I write for the teens who wonder if they're "okay", or who think they aren't anything special, or who don't believe they'll ever do anything important. That's why my tagline is "Anyone can be a hero."

What were some of your own favourite stories to read as a teenager?
As a teen, I was really into fantasy. Susan Cooper and Madeleine L'Engle were two of my favorite authors. Pretty much anything that involved a "normal" teen being pulled into a fantastic world where they were able to save people/the universe/whatever, I would read and love.

Where do you find inspiration for the stories you write?
All over the place. My kids are teenagers right now (though the older one disputes that, since she'll be 20 this summer), and they and their friends have inspired a lot of my recent projects. Some of my older, now out-of-print, books were inspired by my own experiences as a teen.

Have you ever related to any of the characters in your books?
Very much so. My Reality Shift series (which is unfortunately among the books that are now out of print) was somewhat autobiographical, in that many of Shanna Bailey's experiences, fears, and other issues were mine, either when I was a teen or when I was an adult. I took some of my adult experiences, including my journey of healing and recovery from abuse, and aged them down to reach teenagers.

What have been the best and worst parts of the writing process for you?
The best part is seeing the finished product available to readers. The worst part is revising my first draft. Though sometimes writing the first draft isn't completely fun...I love having written, but actually writing isn't always the best.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers out there?
Write for yourself above all. If you write a story you aren't really interested in because you think other people will read it, they won't read it, because your lack of interest will show in the writing. Write what calls to YOU.

Which novel are you working on at the moment?
I just submitted the fifth novel in my Deep Secrets and Hope series, so I'm taking a bit of a break before I start writing anything else.

Thanks to Jo for taking the time to answer these questions! Be sure to read more about her stories on her website, and you check out her twitter page here.


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