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! 

Monday, 5 January 2015

What I Want To Read In 2015

As a book reviewer, I receive plenty of review requests throughout the year, and I’m always honoured whenever an author wants me to read their work. In the requests, I can usually spot a few common themes, and I get a lot of requests for genres that are going through a popular phase. For instance, over the past two years, I’ve seen a huge rise in the amount of dystopian books in my inbox. Don’t get me wrong, I love dystopia, but sometimes I like a change. Here’s a list of things I’d love to be able to read about this year:

5. Contemporary Stories.
I rarely received review requests for contemporary romance stories last year. Because of how much I read paranormal and fantasy stories, my love of contemporary usually goes ignored. I’m a huge fan of Sarah Dessen and Meg Cabot, so any books of a similar writing style would definitely catch my eye.

4. Books set in the 1920’s.
I adore the Flapper Girl era, and I would love more YA books set during this time. It’s such an exciting part of history, why aren’t there more stories?

3. British YA.
Last year I got to see some wonderful British YA debuts, such as Banished by Liz de Jager, and Minty by Christina Banach. I’d really like to see some more amazing YA from Britain, because there really isn’t enough.

2. Female Lead…With Glasses!
Okay, so as a glasses wearer, I’m biased here. But I really want a female protagonist with glasses! Yes, we have Harry Potter, but there’s only so many times you dress as the boy wizard for Halloween. Give me a new character to cosplay!

1. A YA book that has an Ancient Egyptian theme.
This is something that I really, really need in my life. I’ve been waiting for this for years. We have so many YA stories about Greek Gods and myths, yet barely any revolving around Egyptians. Their history is fascinating! Come on, authors, I'm begging you here!

So, that's what I’d like to be reading over the next twelve months. If there are any authors out there who happen to be reading this and have stories that tick any of the points above, PLEASE THROW YOUR BOOK AT ME. I will gladly read any book that is about any of those points.

What’s on your reading list this year? Let me know!

Sunday, 4 January 2015

REVIEW: Never by Shay Lynam

Bookish Details:
Pages: 304 (Paperback)
Publisher: Indie World Publishing and Author Services
Release Date: November 4th 2014
Source: This book was provided for free by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Buy it From: Amazon - Amazon UK


Wynn Harper spends her days trying to blend into the background. This isn't very easy, especially being the great granddaughter of the late Wendy Darling. Wynn used to love Great Gran's stories about her adventures in Neverland with Peter Pan and his lost boys, but that's all they were. Just stories, right? That's what Wynn keeps telling herself.

But then she meets Peter, the beautiful boy with a voice to match, and when he whisks her off to Neverland, Wynn knows this is no fairy tale. The lost boys are a group of rebellious ex-pirates, young Hook has a soft side, and Peter Pan isn't as innocent as you might think.

My Review:
I love modern retellings of classic stories, so Never was definitely a story that caught my attention. Never is a modern retelling of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, and it follows Wynn Harper, the great granddaughter of Wendy Darling.

The book starts soon after Wendy’s death, and we see Wynn struggling to cope. At a night out with her best friend, she meets Peter and realises Wendy’s ‘crazy’ stories of Neverland were real. The events of the story all seemed to unfold quite quickly to me. I would’ve liked to have seen a little more of Wynn’s life in LA before she was flown off to Neverland.

As we follow the pair to Neverland, we meet the Lost Boys. I adored the Lost Boys. They were definitely one of my favourite things about the story. I especially liked Pal, because his story had a little more depth to it. From there, we get the all the sights and people that Neverland has to offer: the mermaids, the fairies, Tiger Lily, etc.

Who I really liked was Captain Hook. He was probably one of my favourite characters in the story. I just wish we’d gotten to know more about him. I felt like there was a lot more to his character that we could’ve learnt. The same goes for Russ. His story was definitely one that could’ve been expanded, but wasn’t.

I wanted to like Peter and Wynn more than I did. Peter made a statement at the start of the story as to how Wynn shouldn’t judge him by the Disney movie, but he then went on to act almost the same. I would’ve preferred it if maybe he was a little different, just something to make him less cliché.

I had conflicting emotions about the ending. *SPOILERS AHEAD* Now, I love happy ending. I really do. But I didn’t want Peter to go with Wynn back to LA and for the two of them to have a simple, happy ending. What I felt it lacked was some sort of explanation as to why Peter was in Neverland. Was it like the original story? Was he there because he didn’t what to grow up? And if he was, then why wasn’t there a conversation about it? I wanted a moment in the book where Peter faces why he doesn’t want to grow up, and why that’s changed because of Wynn.

Although I never judge a book by the cover, and the cover for this book is very beautiful, it doesn’t really reflect the story. It made me feel like the story should have been darker than it was, more a twisted retelling, where Neverland isn’t what it seems. But it was actually rather calm, and I didn’t feel like there was any big threat throughout the story. Even the scenes with Hook didn’t seem as dangerous as they should have.

Never is a pleasant story to read and anyone who loves fairy tales will definitely want to give it try. There were parts of the story I enjoyed, and parts that I felt let the story down. But overall, I’m glad I took the time to read it, and Lynam has a beautifully descriptive writing style.  

Royal Rating:

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

A Year In Review

So, another year has been and gone, and it has flown by, am I right? And once again, I’ve had the chance to read and review some of the most incredible stories, and I’ve also had some fantastic and exciting opportunities. On this final day of 2014, I want to take a look back over the past twelve months, and tell you what bookish things I loved and loathed about it.

Okay, so I watch my fellow book bloggers go to so many exciting events in London, and I stare sadly out of the Twitter window, always being left out because I live too far away to join in. This year, I was invited to several blogger events and book launch parties for books I’ve read, reviewed, and adored. But I couldn’t go to any of them. Note to self: teleportation would be a good skill to learn. But it wasn’t all bad, because I did, at least, get to go to the one launch party that meant the most to me. City of Heavenly Fire! My bestie, and fellow book blogger Rachel, won tickets to the launch party of the final ever Mortal Instruments book, and as you know, I’m a huge fan of the series. So getting to go to the launch, see my fellow fans adorning their runes, and getting the book a day early, was definitely one of my blogging highlights. (You can see my post from the day here.)

Another highlight was getting to meet the fabulous RainbowRowell! I’m a huge fan of her stories, so to get the chance to meet her this year was amazing. Plus, we discussed Johnlock, and she said my outfit was totally cute. Life = complete.

Just some of the amazing books I've had the chance to review this year.
I also connected with so many fabulous authors and publishers this year, and I’ve been lucky enough to interview some fantastic people, including Moira Young (whose books I adore). And as every year, one of the best parts about blogging is discovering stories I probably wouldn’t get a chance to read otherwise. Some of the highlights have been to read the first two books in The Go Girls Chronicles by Leigh Hutton, and a delightful debut novel, Minty, by Christina Banach.

So thank you, blogging community, for another fantastic year. And thank you to all the authors and publishers that take the time to get in touch. It’s an honour to be able to be among the first to read and review your wonderful stories!

A very happy new year to you all!

Monday, 8 December 2014

Festive Reads!

Not in the festive spirit yet? Well, there’s nothing like a cute Christmas story to stop that pesky bah, humbug feeling. Here’s a few of the stories I like to cosy up with before the big day.

Let It Snow by Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Lauren Myracle
Amazon - Amazon UK

Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. Thanks to three of today’s bestselling teen authors—John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle—the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses.

Ex-Mas by Kate Brian
Two Exes. One holiday adventure. Merry Ex-Mas?

Seventeen-year-old Lila Beckwith's parents just left for vacation, and Lila's all set to throw the holiday party of the season. But when her Christmas-obsessed little brother, Cooper, discovers that global warming is melting the North Pole, he and his best friend, Tyler, take off on a runaway mission to save Santa.

Lila has to get Cooper safely home before her parents get back on Christmas Eve. But the only person who can help her is Tyler's older brother, Beau — a.k.a. Lila's musician, anti-everything ex-boyfriend.
 It'll take more than a Christmas miracle for Lila and Beau to overcome their differences and find their fugitive brothers. But could a journey destined for disaster help these polar opposites fall in love...all over again?

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
Amazon - Amazon UK

When Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy took their first steps into the world behind the magic wardrobe, little do they realise what adventures are about to unfold. And as the story of Narnia begins to unfold, so to does a classic tale that has enchanted readers of all ages for over half a century.

This stunning version of the classic The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, illustrated by Christian Burningham, comes with a special recording of the story which features a full production and specially composed music which transports the listener straight to the heart of Narnia. An absolute must for Narnia fans, and an excellent way of introducing the magical story to a new generation of readers.

Clara Claus by Alexandra Lanc

Jack Frost is about to lose everything. After attempting to again destroy Christmas, the Holiday that he hates more than anything, he is threatened with losing his job, and his Immortality. But, he is given one last chance at redemption.

That last chance lands Jack in the North Pole the week before Christmas, in order to help Santa Claus prepare for his busiest night of the year. There, Jack is tasked with the job of “Tour Guide”, in order to show Santa’s granddaughter, Clara, the sights of the Pole.

As Christmas draws nearer, and Jack’s time begins to run out, he finds himself becoming fond of Clara, who attempts to show him the real meaning of Christmas, all while shocking him with her unique view of the world.

But, the past proves hard to reconcile, and soon, Jack hatches one last plan to destroy Christmas, a plan involving Clara, which may prove fatal not only for the Pole, but for her, as well -- unless Clara can melt his icy heart in time.

The first book in the fan-favorite series, the Snowflake Triplet, Clara Claus is a fantastical adventure that reminds us of the importance of hope, and the real meaning of Christmas.

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
“I’ve left some clues for you.If you want them, turn the page.If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

This one is probably one of my favourite books to read at Christmas time. There was even talk of a movie adaptation possibly being made, which I hope works out because I think it would make a wonderful film! 

So, I hope you've now found a new book to read this December. If you don’t have time for a full-length novel this holiday season, last year I wrote my very own short Christmas story, and I’ve just uploaded it to Wattpad! You can check it out here

Have a fantastic Christmas, everyone!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Review: JUMP GIRL by Leigh Hutton

Bookish Details:
Series: The Go Girl Chronicles #2
Pages: 333 Paperback
Release Date: November 22nd 2014
Buy It From: Amazon - UK - AU - CA



Imagine being dumped by your mother as a newborn and shifted between foster homes your entire childhood. Imagine being taken in and offered hope for your future by a kind, loving show jumping socialite.

Imagine falling in love with some of the most gorgeous horses in the world, and making a life in the thrilling and glamorous sport of international show jumping.

Now imagine it all being taken away.

Ebony Scott Harris is painfully close to making her dreams a reality when the only mother she has ever known mysteriously dies. She’s forced from their home to live with the gold-digging aunt, who takes her in only to ride the prized show jumpers she claims are now hers.

Teetering on the edge of a hopeless depression, Ebony is saved by the discovery of a forgotten horse nearly starved to death, and an unlikely partnership with a handsome stranger, whom she must learn to trust if she is to uncover the truth about her mother’s death and reclaim her home.

But with the evil aunt selling her best and beloved horse, a maniacal ex-coach out for revenge and more savage competitors than she can count, Ebony has a lot more at stake than proving the truth, saving her horses and jumping for gold at the World Equestrian Games . . .

The highly anticipated second book in The Go Girls Chronicles - stories of gutsy girls in action sports.

My Review:

Okay, so I’m torn here. On one hand, I want to discuss every aspect of this novel so I can gush about everything, but on the other hand, I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone because I want you all to go and read this book. So I’m going to keep things as spoiler-free as possible for now.

During the four years I’ve been reviewing books, I’ve not once encountered a story based around show jumping. So, needless to say, I was intrigued and excited by getting to reading something completely new to me. And after reading Rev Girl, I had high hopes for another fantastic story.

What can I say about Ebony Scott Harris, our fabulous protagonist of Jump Girl? She’s pretty much everything you want in a lead character. She’s feisty, has attitude, she’s courageous, and she has a fierce passion for her horses. The emotion she showed throughout the story, especially during the high and lows of competing, was honest and believable. I adored every scene between Ebony and her horses. The love she had for them and the lengths she’d go to protect them was truly heart-warming. I felt the strong bond she had with her horse, Monster, and it gave me a new appreciation for the special relationship that forms between a horse and their rider.

The story also gave me an insight into a world I knew very little about. As with any sport, there are lies and manipulation around every corner. Some parts of this story truly broke my heart because it forces you to think about the similar situations that actually do occur in real life. But of course, there were also plenty of happy and light-hearted times. Ebony gets to meet some wonderful people and make such great friends. As competitive as the sport may be, it also proves that life-long bonds can, and often do, come from it also.

I loved having some of the characters from Rev Girl play a bigger part in this book, especially Dallas. I didn’t really warm to him in the first story, and I wasn’t bothered about what happened to him in the end. But this time around, he had wonderful character development and I got to see a whole different side of him.  Ebony was definitely a better match for him than Clover had been. I also adored Clover’s sister, Jazz, being added to this story. All of the new characters we get to meet are also brilliantly written, even the not-so-nice ones, like Annika.

What I expected in this story was drama and action, which I got plenty of, but what I didn’t expect was the mystery element. And it worked brilliantly. This really is one of those rare books that manage to scratch upon every genre: action, adventure, romance, drama, and even a thrilling mystery.

Just a fair warning to you all, you may not want to read this book whilst on public transport. One time, I very almost missed my stop because I got too hooked into the story. Then I had the misfortune of reading a certain scene towards the end whilst I was on an extremely busy train, and I had to stop reading so that I wouldn’t end up crying in public.  

Despite the lows that Ebony has faced throughout her life, her story is definitely one of hope. Fictional it may be, but there are real situations like hers, and more than anything, this book proves that you can make your own success with enough determination.

I could talk on for hours about everything I haven’t already spoken of, but like I said earlier, I’d rather not spoil anything! Instead, you should just make sure you add this book to your reading pile so you can discover Ebony’s story for yourself. This book will take you on an emotional roller-coaster. You’ll fall in love, you’ll have your heart ripped out, and then you’ll have it mended again. And stories like that stay with you for a long time.

I’d just like to say a special thanks to Leigh for once again giving me the fantastic opportunity to read and review her wonderful story, and thank you so much for mentioning me and my blog in the acknowledgements. It’s a pleasure to help share Jump Girl with the world!

Royal Rating:

You can read my interview with Leigh here, and check out my review of the first book in The Go Girls Chronicles, REV GIRL, here.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

JUMP GIRL Book Blitz: Interview with the fabulous Leigh Hutton!

Hello, everyone! Today I'm honored to be taking part in the book blitz for the release day of JUMP GIRL, the second book in The Go Girls Chronicles! Since the books follow some amazingly strong, young adult characters, Leigh recently took the time to answer a few questions about her own time as a teenager. 

When I was a teenager, my…

Favourite movie was:
Everafter, Clueless, Black Beauty, Crusty Demons, The Candy Man - sorry, I guess that's a few, lol.

Favourite singer/band was:
Hmmm, I had so many favourites! I loved Disturbed, Nirvana, Eminem, AFI, Dixie Chicks, and in my late teens, P!NK (still do).

Favourite place to go was:
My husband's going to laugh at this one, as he's always called me a "mall rat", but I reckon that's a toss up between the local motocross park and the mall.

Dream job was:
Working at a motorcycle dealership as an accessories/clothing salesperson, which I did from the age of 16.

Most treasured possession was:
My Chevy truck and my dirt bike.

Worst habit was:
Chewing nails.

Celebrity crush was:
Josh Hartnett and Heath Ledger!

Favourite book was:
The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank.

Most embarrassing moment was:
Crashing multiple times at a stadium motocross in front of several of the most popular guys from my school. Never lived that one down.

Thank you, Leigh, for the great answers! 

You can read my review of Jump Girl here. Scroll down for more information on the book, Leigh, and a super awesome giveaway!

Show jumping is an extreme sport with a dress code, one this girl doesn't follow... Imagine being dumped by your mother as a newborn and shifted between foster homes your entire childhood. Imagine being taken in and offered hope for your future by a kind, loving show jumping socialite. Imagine falling in love with some of the most gorgeous horses in the world, and making a life in the thrilling and glamorous sport of international show jumping. 

Now imagine it all being taken away.  Ebony Scott Harris is painfully close to making her dreams a reality when the only mother she has ever known mysteriously dies. She’s forced from their home to live with the gold-digging aunt, who takes her in only to ride the prized show jumpers she claims are now hers.
Teetering on the edge of a hopeless depression, Ebony is saved by the discovery of a forgotten horse nearly starved to death, and an unlikely partnership with a handsome stranger, whom she must learn to trust if she is to uncover the truth about her mother’s death and reclaim her home.

But with the evil aunt selling her best and beloved horse, a maniacal ex-coach out for revenge and more savage competitors than she can count, Ebony has a lot more at stake than proving the truth, saving her horses and jumping for gold at the World Equestrian Games...

The highly anticipated second book in The Go Girls Chronicles - stories of gutsy girls in action sports, by Leigh Hutton.

"I am excited for the Jump Girl book because it will be something that riders can actually relate too. It’s nice that there is a book that reveals the excitement of the sport while showing there can still be problems and a lot of times things won’t go as planned!"
Shelby Edwards
Real Life Jump Girl

"Leigh has a talent for making the reader be captured in their imagination. I was able to imagine scenes, accents, and how people looked. It was different and refreshing."
[review of Rev Girl]
Angel Reads
Book Blogger

"[Jump Girl] gives us a look into the fierce yet glamorous world that is Show Jumping, as well as; Love & Romance, Action & Adventure, Murder & Mystery, Redemption & Self Discovery, all woven together beautifully in this fast paced coming of age novel. I have been lucky enough to read Jump Girl before its release and let me say it is brilliant. Awesome job Leigh. It made me yearn to have a Monster or Gallant of my own. I immediately fell for Ebony. Her life felt so real and I was drawn into it heart first. I could not put the book down. I practically read it in one sitting... Five of five stars for Jump Girl."
Sarah Fairbairn
Author and Goodreads Reviewer
Also available on iBooks and Nook from Barnes and Noble

Paperback available from The Book Depository

The paperback edition will be available via Amazon, and check out Leigh's Blog for more
information where to purchase Jump Girl.  

A portion of every JUMP GIRL book sold goes to the Make-A-Wish Foundation to help grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.

Leigh Hutton is a former News Ltd journalist and champion dirt bike racer and horse show jumper. She was born and raised in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains near Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and now lives with her husband and three young children in southeast Queensland, Australia. When she isn't wrangling the kids, swilling coffee, or writing, she loves to read, watch good TV and movies, shop, hit the beach, ride her motorbike and daydream about gorgeous horses.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Review: Amazon Burning by Victoria Griffith

Bookish Details:
Pages: 279
Publisher: Astor & Blue
Release Date: November 7th 2014 (Paperback)
Buy it From: Amazon - B&N


When 22-year-old aspiring journalist, Emma Cohen, is forced to flee the comforts of her NYU student life, she maneuvers an internship from her father at his newspaper in Rio de Janeiro. There, Emma is immediately swept into a major news story--and a life-threatening situation--when a famous jungle environmentalist, Milton Silva, is mysteriously murdered. Emma must now enter the Amazon rainforest with her father to investigate; both awed by the enormity and beauty of the Amazon, and appalled by its reckless destruction. Not only will Emma have to brave the primal world of the Amazon, she must fight to survive the kidnappers, villains, corrupt activists, and indigenous tribes that lay in wait along the ever-twisting trail of the murder case. Stretched to the brink, it s up to Emma, her father and the dreamy news photographer, Jimmy, to unravel the mystery and live to tell the tale. Amazon Burning by Victoria Griffith is a spectacular debut Young Adult novel. Griffith's powerful rendering of the Amazon rainforest forms the perfect, wildly exotic backdrop for this extraordinary tale of a young urban woman coming of age in the midst of intense conflict.

My Review:
First things first, I love the Amazon Jungle. I’ve even written a few essays about Indigenous people. And of all the years I’ve been reviewing books, I’ve never once been asked to review one set in the Amazon Jungle. So needless to say, I was really happy when this arrived in my inbox.

The plot for this story is unique and intriguing. And, of course, the setting was one of the highlights for me. There’s a murder mystery going on amongst a ton of action and romance, so there's plenty to keep readers entertained. There are also quite a few darker elements to this story, which I really enjoyed.

The characters were fantastic. I do wish we’d seen a little more of Emma’s father though, because I found him interesting and thought he had more potential. Emma herself was a wonderfully strong character. I loved her view of the Amazon and her passion to tell the world her stories from her time there. Jimmy was equally as great. He struck me as kind-hearted and streetwise. You'd feel safer travelling with him!

My favourite parts of this book had to be the scenes set within the Amazon itself. The culture was utterly compelling. The descriptions of the tribes and their way of life were fascinating and well researched. I like a book that lets you learn something from it, and I think this story will definitely get its readers thinking.

The mystery element to the story is also super exciting! It keeps you guessing throughout each chapter, adding in plenty of twists and turns, building to a shock-worthy ending.

What didn’t work for me in this book was the romance. I liked both Emma and Jimmy, but the romance, for me, just didn’t have that spark that I felt it would. I wasn’t drawn in by it, and I wasn’t rooting for them to finally be together. I don’t know why, but it wasn’t as exciting for me as I’d hoped.  But as I said, I liked both of the characters.

I must admit, Jimmy’s story felt a little unresolved at the end of the book. Since his past as a doctor was brought up quite a few times, I expected some sort of conclusion from it. I know he explained why he gave up working as a doctor, but I still felt like it was all building up to something else, like maybe he’d put it behind him and try and get back into it?

As I see this blog as a place purely for YA reviews, I do feel the need to point out that this book feels more like a New Adult novel to me, rather than YA. The themes are more mature and the romance scenes are quite full-on. Just a heads up to any younger readers!

Overall, I’m happy I had the chance to read a story set outside of the usual locations. The way of life in a different part of the world definitely added the intriguing spark within this book. If you want to try something a little different, this story might just be one for you. 

Royal Rating:

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Trailer Reveal: Whatever Life Throws at You by Julie Cross

6 Days Teaser

We are so excited to bring you the Trailer Reveal for Julie Cross' WHATEVER LIFE THROWS AT YOU! WHATEVER LIFE THROWS AT YOU is a YA contemporary romance published by Entangled Teen, and is releasing on October 7th!!

Whatever Life Throws at You

Life loves a good curveball…

Seventeen-year-old Annie Lucas is too young to remember her dad’s glory days as a pitcher for the Yankees. So when her father is offered a coaching position with the Kansas City Royals, Annie is intrigued to see the baseball side of her dad. Of course, knowing he’ll be a mentor to hot young rookie pitcher, Jason Brody, certainly makes it more enticing.

After an awkward first meeting with “Brody” involving very little clothing and a much-too-personal locker room interview, Annie’s convinced she knows Brody’s type: arrogant, self-involved, bossy. As her dad grows closer to the pitching phenom, the friction between Brody and Annie increases. But when opening day arrives and it looks like both her dad and Brody may lose their dream jobs, Annie steps up and offers support. She and Brody call a truce that grows into friendship—and beyond. Falling for a rising star who’s quickly reaching a level that involves rabid female fans is not what Annie would call smart, except suddenly she’s getting hints that maybe this crush isn’t one-sided after all. Could someone like Brody actually fall for a girl like her?

Julie Cross Author PhotoJulie Cross Bio:

Julie Cross lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three children. She’s a former gymnast and longtime gymnastics fan, coach, and former gymnastics program director with the YMCA. She’s a lover of books, devouring several novels a week, especially in the young adult and new adult genres. Outside of her reading and writing credentials, Julie is a committed—but not talented—long-distance runner, creator of imaginary beach vacations, Midwest bipolar-weather survivor, and expired CPR certification card holder, as well as a ponytail and gym-shoe addict.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Review: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Bookish Details:
Pages: 421
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: January 1st 2011


Sydney is an alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of human and vampires. They protect vampire secrets - and human lives. When Sydney is torn from her bed in the middle of the night, at first she thinks she's still being punished for her complicated alliance with dhampir Rose Hathaway. But what unfolds is far worse. Jill Dragomir - the sister of Moroi Queen Lissa Dragomir - is in mortal danger, and the Moroi must send her into hiding. To avoid a civil war, Sydney is called upon to act as Jill's guardian and protector, posing as her roommate in the last place anyone would think to look for vampire royalty - a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California. But instead of finding safety at Amberwood Prep, Sydney discovers the drama is only just beginning...

My Review:
I have no idea why it took me so long to read Bloodlines, I really don’t. I adored Vampire Academy, and one of the things I loved most about the series was Adrian, so I should have jumped on this series straight away, but I didn’t. It had been lying on my bookshelf, looking up at me with puppy dog eyes for so long that I finally took pity and picked it up. And God, I wish I’d done it sooner.

Even though I already loved Adrian and Sydney, I had a sinking feeling that I just wasn’t going to like Bloodlines as much, and it was only going to make me want to go back and re-read Vampire Academy again. It didn’t. Sydney is a much stronger character in a series of her own. I had doubts about whether she’d be interesting enough for me to continue with the series, but I was totally surprised.

What’s also great is that romance isn’t the main plot in this first book. It’s very much about Sydney being taken out of her comfort zone and her reactions to it all. I have no doubt that a romantic plot will feature later in this series, but for the first book, I love that we’re simply getting the chance to get to know the characters separately without them being thrown into relationships. I think it’s pretty obvious as to whom the romance will eventually revolve around, but we’re being treated to a better build up towards it. You’ll find no ‘love at first sight’ stories here.

I liked having a new and interesting plot, but with the familiarity of the wonderful world that Mead created in Vampire Academy.  I also loved Jill and Eddie being included in the story. I really liked the two of them in the original series, so I was glad to see the again. I love how the secondary characters from the VA books have been given a chance to shine on their own in this series.

The plot was really intriguing. It started out quite slowly at first, with little hints of something more sinister being at work. I liked the build up towards the bigger problems in the story. It kept me guessing. There are also plenty of questions left to be further explored in the series. And then there was the last line. That really made me excited to read the second book.

So overall, I’m excited to continue with this series, and I am definitely kicking myself for not picking it up much sooner. 

Royal Rating:


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