Monday, 13 March 2017

February! Harry Potter Night, Ally Carter Interview and Reading Wrap up!

In February, Waterstones proved why they're the highlight of my life by organising a range of author events and signings, beginning with the 'Strong Girls' panel. Four brilliant voices in the YA genre spoke about what makes female characters great protagonists and it was particularly interesting how each author interpreted character strengths. Melinda Salisbury, for example, highlighted that her protagonist struggles with confidence and that not every character has to begin as a strong and skilled fighter.

Coincidentally, it also happened to be Harry Potter book day and so there was a lot of Harry Potter trivia, I vlogged the highlights with special appearances by Catherine Doyle and Katherine Webber!

CARAVAL TIME! That's right. Stephenie Garber the Queen was on her UK tour in March and she came to Waterstones for an event to discuss her writing. Caraval shot straight up to the top of my tbr after hearing about the story, which is a magical mystery and is right up my alley!

Now this next event I can't believe even happened. Ready? Well, I did a thing and interviewed ALLY CARTER! *gasps, faints and hyperventilates* That rhyme was totally accidental but it perfectly captures how excited I am to talk about this.

 Ally's Gallagher Girls series was the first series I read religiously and have been reading every single one of her books since, so when I heard she was coming to promote her latest Embassy Row series, I packed up 8 (yes 8!) books that I have not had signed yet and off I went to what I thought would be a normal signing. Well, Ally's incredible publicist allowed for me to film a video with one of my favourite authors ever in life. Check out our Q and A below, there's also a signed giveaway for All Fall Down, Book one in the Embassy Row series.

I read so many incredible books in February, a total of 5 so let's just say I stepped up my game after only reading two in January. 

First was the Sin Eaters Daughter by Melinda Salisbury, a very engaging fantasy about a girl who is betrothed to the prince and acts as the Queens executioner. I gave this 4/5 stars and reviewed it on my channel with a special make up look based on the book.

Next, I read an ebook, Trapped In Silver by Emily Sowden. The book follows a girl that gets involved in a centuries old war between the Demons and Bersekers. I found this was a very unique fantasy and would highly recommend! 4/5 stars, see my full review here.
Audiobooks were the highlight of the month as I listened to both the Half Blood Prince and the Deathly Hallows, they are hands down my favourite installments of the Harry Potter series. A fun story does arise from this and a lesson in what not to do. NEVER read/listen to Harry Potter in public, I received all sorts of glances as I walked down the street whilst having an emotional breakdown. Moral of the story is I can't control my feels. 5 stars to both books of course.

My last book of February was Wing Jones by Katherine Webber, which was a beautiful debut. If you need a very good heartfelt and empowering book then this is the one. It follows a dual heritage protagonist that discovers her love for running after a tragedy strikes her family. Most deserved 5 stars ever. My full thoughts can be found in my sports themed video or a written post for which I had a photoshoot with the book!

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Wednesday, 8 March 2017

January! Gilded Cage Launch and Reading Wrap Up

January was the release month of probably my most anticipated book of the year, Gilded Cage by Vic James and I was so very lucky to attend the launch, which had the most glamorous cake in the history of earth, themed around the book. If there's one book I could make everyone in the world read, it would be this one.

It is an urban fantasy, centered around an alternate Britain where not gifted citizens have to give up 10 years of their life for the Equals who rule the country. I was totally floored by this novel and being able to celebrate its release was EPIC. Check out my full review here

I am always in awe of how supportive the YA community is, the amount of authors that came to support the launch was incredible. Chatting to them and discussing books was just the highlight of the night and I got to meet Katherine Webber and Alwyn Hamilton for the first time!

I read two books in the month of January, Inferno and Mafiosa by Catherine Doyle. I seriously questioned my sanity after finishing this trilogy, it is a criminal underworld romance story and a series has never gripped me so much! This series perfectly balances a range of themes, in particular friendship, which is often overlooked and it was so satisfying to read about such a strong relationship between best friends. Check out my review below, with both a spoiler free part and a gushy freak out section for those that have read it!

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Sunday, 5 March 2017

The British Book Challenge

Well it's March. And I'm a little late to the party but I hereby announce that I am joining the British Book Challenge. It's hosted by Chelle from Tales of Yesterday and it is all about promoting UKYA, which is something I just had to get behind. Click this link to find out all about the challenge and how to participate, there will be giveaways running throughout the year for those that join!

British authors have had a huge impact on developing the genre and most of my top 2016 books were by those brilliant UKYA voices. Check out my favorite books of last year video below!

I will be updating this page with links to all my reviews of books I've read by British authors, along with the ratings as I read them!

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Ally Carter Signed Book Giveaway!

February was a crazy month for YA literature, with so many bookish events, from author panels to signings, I thought it was time for another giveaway to spread the word of the incredible authors we have in this genre. I had the greatest chance to interview one of my favorite authors, Ally Carter, who was on her UK tour. THIS. WAS. EPIC. We filmed a Q and A and I found out some awesome insights into her writing and some hints as to when we will find out more about her secret book!

It was the perfect opportunity for me to bring an extra book for her to sign so I could do a giveaway of her latest series, Embassy Row. The plot for this trilogy is so very exciting and Ally herself gives the perfect summary as to what the main character Grace gets up in 'All Fall Down'- the book I am giving away plus some merch pictured above! Watch our interview below to learn more about this series and of course enter to win this book...rules are in the description of the video and at the end of this post!

Rules for the giveaway:
-Europe only
-18+ (or have parents permission)
-Like the video
-Subscribe to my channel
-Comment on the video that you'd like to enter
-Share the post/video

ALSO this isn't an official rule but I would be mega grateful for a follow on the blog as I run signed giveaways on here too! Sign up below for the mailing list.
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Ends 31st March

Friday, 24 February 2017

Wing Jones by Katherine Webber

Wing Jones is a debut novel, following 15 year old Wing as she discovers herself in a world where it's hard to find your own place. After an unexpected tragedy strikes the Jones family, Wing finds her love and skill for running. Often overshadowed by her sports star brother Marcus, she never thought it possible to be capable of such ability herself. A heartfelt and diverse read with a perfect blend of romance, friendship and family, a unique novel that the Young Adult genre desperately needed.

Genre: Contemporary

This is a very important book for the YA genre, exploring themes of family tensions, friendship and discovering what it means to believe in yourself. I have never felt so empowered after reading a book and Wing is a perfect role model to be inspired by, I am sure I was not the only one wanting to go for a run as soon as I put the book down! It is interesting that, in the beginning she uses her running as a distraction to the new chaotic atmosphere at home, which is a perfect example of how people deal with tragedy in different ways.

Even though sport was the main concept of this book, due to Wing's continuous training, the book was carefully balanced by never forgetting about the supporting characters and their respective plot lines. A key example is the tension that flows throughout between Wing's grandmothers. Coming from different cultures, one from Ghana and another from China, they often disagree, yet this book perfectly shows how important family can be and how deep down they are willing to do anything for each other. This made their dynamic so interesting to read, the story would not be the same without them.

This review wouldn't be complete without commenting on the romance, it was pleasantly age appropriate but still consumed my soul and gave me all sort of #goals. I find that YA books are prone to dramatising teenage relationships, often giving readers a sense of unrealistic hope but Wings' reaction to her first crush was totally me at her age, it was hilarious and heartwarming to read about!

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Trapped In Silver By Emily Sowden

Trapped in Silver is an eerie fantasy that follows seventeen year old Ava as she becomes tangled in a centuries long war between creatures she believed to be merely myths and legends. After a dangerous encounter with the Berserkers, their leader develops an obsession with her and vows to hunt her down as Ava's ability to trust is put to the test and she forms an unlikely alliance with the Demons. After news spreads of her brother's disappearance, Ava becomes even more determined to learn more about these strange lands and monsters as she fights for her life. 

Genre: Fantasy

Such a breath of fresh air in the genre of high fantasy with a lot of suspense and haunting scenes. The writing was great and this may be an odd aspect to point out but I loved the descriptions about fear, they very eerie and well considered. Top favorites being:

  • "I was afraid of the dark once, but it was a fear I could not longer afford" 
  • "Fear made people corruptible"
  • "Fear should motivate you, not rule you
Ava's character is such a great protagonist for two key reasons:

1. She takes crap from nobody and isn't afraid to kick some ass to prove it, which I loved as she wasn't a stereotypical warrior character that can straight away beat everything in her way. No one is a perfect fighter from the get go, so I enjoyed seeing Ava's determination and watching (or rather reading) her grow in strength and ability. I mean she bloody walks around with a knife strapped to herself. Goals.

2. She's SASSY AND I LOVE IT. Speaking as an experienced sass monster, I was impressed. 

I did get frustrated with Ava's decisions sometimes as they came across a bit too reckless, as it's one thing to be determined but another to be unreasonable, which I felt sometimes did overrule.

I adored the classifications of the monsters in this book, as most high fantasies feature too many creatures and it gets hard to follow but here we got just the right amount. The types of Demons were particularly interesting and their different characteristics were so well thought out. Finally a high fantasy series that explored other beings that had very compelling histories, and this matched well with the individual characters' backgrounds. 

This being a first book in a series, I was pleasantly surprised at how intricate the relationships were between all the characters, my favorite interactions being that of Ava and Ethan. Their scenes were very suspenseful and even though they threw shade at each other, which added a lot of comedy, it was nicely balanced. 

Overall, thank you Emily for writing such a unique fantasy, I can't wait to read more of your work!

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Gilded Cage by Vic James

Gilded Cage is set in a world run by magically enhanced aristocrats, known as Equals, and where every citizen of Britain has to complete 10 years of 'Slavedays'. During this time you lose all your rights as a human and get given a job to fulfill for an entire decade. The plot follows a family that decide to do their Slavedays together but not all goes according to plan as they get split up, with one of them going to the most harshest labour camp. The rest get sent to work on the estate owned by the Equals, where they experience a very different life to that of their son. 

Genre: Urban Fantasy

This book is a perfect blend of two genres that do not often get paired together, fantasy and dystopian. I would also go as far as to say that it is a suspense novel due to the numerous plot twists that keep the plot engaging and addictive. What makes this a very unique dystopian is the fact that futuristic worlds are often created with a complete disregard for normalcy, especially when it comes to everyday practices such as hobbies that characters enjoy doing. James seems to keep reminding the reader that albeit this is a different world, the characters are not robots without personalities as small reminders of them talking about music or literature, make them relateable and real. 

In regards to the writing style, I often struggle with reading from multiple points of view, yet this book hits the jackpot by making each characters' perspective different from the others and you can clearly distinguish between all the chapters, which is rare *cough cough Allegiant*. I originally thought this many points of view (there are 7!) would discourage me but on the contrary, it felt like watching episodes of a TV show, filled with cliffhangers, which were answered later on in the story and this gave me time to process plot twists, which had me floored each time. 

This is a highly character driven book and each has a very well developed back story, which is surprising given that this is not a long book at all. Their clashing personalities add a lot of excitement to the plot and so there was never a dull moment, especially when dealing with the Estate, which was my favorite setting. The most interesting characters were the Jardines, the Equal family we follow throughout the story, in particular the three sons of a very power hungry noble. They are very intricate people that repel stereotypes, as I find normally with stories such as this, they would be expected to be disagreeing with their harsh father and following a common book trope that they are good people deep down. This is pleasantly not the case, as even when appearing to be showing a softer side there is always an ulterior motive, it keeps you guessing till the end. 

Throughout the story the main aim is to resolve a controversial proposal that is brought up in Parliament so there is a political aspect to this urban fantasy, which means it isn't overwhelmed by romance, quite rare for a Young Adult book. Essentially, James runs away from cliches and does the opposite by engaging the reader with themes other than stereotypical love triangles. Romance is used as a tiny (yet addictive) backdrop to the plot. 

If you are looking for a completely feels worthy, unforgettable story that plays host to an intriguing cast of characters, then Gilded Cage is a must read. 

No doubt a five star book. 

Check out my spoiler review of it below, if you've read it and wish to discuss!