Book Review: Her Royal Highness – Rachel Hawkins

Millie Quint is devastated when she discovers that her sort-of-best friend/sort-of-girlfriend has been kissing someone else. And because Millie cannot stand the thought of confronting her ex every day, she decides to apply for scholarships to boarding schools . . . the farther from Houston the better.

The only problem: Mille’s roommate Flora is a total princess.

She’s also an actual princess. Of Scotland.

I’ve been on a bit of a royalty kick this year with my reads starting with Rachel Hawkins first novel in this series Royals (now known as Prince Charming) and one of my favourites of the year Red White and Royal Blue. So I pre-ordered this as soon as I heard it was coming out and get ready to fall in love with this royal family all over again.

A female female hate to love romance about a princess and a boarding school, umm where have you been! I was just a little bit hyped up about reading this one and it definitely lived up to it.

While we first met Flora in Prince Charming as the spoilt sister of the future King of Scotland this is where we really get to know her but she’s not our main girl. Millie is an american in Scotland learning the ropes and trying to deal with the Princess, who does not want to be there.

This is absolutely adorable and it was good to see more depth to characters from the previous book, although you will understand this novel if you haven’t read Prince Charming. Hawkins has a talent for making her characters very real and complex.

Also it’s great to see some more bisexuality rep where the plot is not coming out as bisexual – more of this please! I’m hoping this is something we start seeing more in all fiction, not just YA.

Also, no spoilers but the ending – THE ENDING. My heart couldn’t cope.

I adored this book and gave it 5 stars – this is a binge read and I cannot recommend it enough. I will definitely be keeping an eye on Rachel Hawkins and checking out some of her other books.

The Hidden Power of Fucking Up - The Try Guys

Book Review – The Hidden Power of F*cking Up – The Try Guys

The past year has been incredible for The Try Guys a US tour, a new business that blew up and a best selling book. From a group of guys from Buzzfeed to YouTube legends I’m proud to have been a fan for a long time now so of course I pre ordered this book as soon as it was announced.

Zach, Keith, Ned and Eugene are used to sharing their shenanigans with us on their YouTube channel but they decided to go to the next level. This book isn’t just a fluffy YouTube book – each of the guys took on a challenge to write about something that would be tough for each of them – and it worked.

With new Dad Ned tackling his fashion fears, Keith attempting to go vegan and give up his beloved fried chicken , Zach ‘the single one’ being in a loving relationship and mysterious Eugene opening up about his family relationships.

It was great to read a book that isn’t just focused on success, the guys are very honest about when things didn’t go right for them, about their insecurities. I love their ‘failosophy’ and the fact they poke fun at the idea that the only way to be a successful CEO is to get up at stupid o’clock. It was everything I love about the channel in reading form. Perfect.

I would say that if you watch the channel and have done for years like me there will be repeated parts and information you already know, but I think that’s true of any book released by a public figure because they are public. Kinda goes with the territory.

This was a really highly anticipated book for me, I’ve watched the guys grow as people and as a channel. I gave this book 4.5 stars it was a solid read where the guys really lay themselves bare. If you’re a Try Guys fan I’d definitely pick this up.

Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid

Is this one of my favourite books of the year? Yes. Is it in some of my top books of all time? Also yes. While I read Daisy Jones & The Six first I fell in love with Evelyn and her story to a point of obsession. I needed to know the answers to my questions. Why Monique? Who was Evelyn’s true love? Why does she want to writer her biography now?! I needed to know.

This is set in the golden age of Hollywood and once again Jenkins Reid has created a cast of characters that feel so real you forget that it’s fiction. I wanted to watch Evelyn’s movies, read the book they’re working on. In my mind she’s a mix of Marilyn Monroe, Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor – and isn’t that incredible?

Personally, I listened to the audiobook and it was an incredible experience. Of course, I’m going to be picking up a physical copy because I need it represented on my shelves but the audiobook really made it come alive. Listening to ‘Evelyn’ and ‘Monique’ was a real treat and I was plugged in at every opportunity – so much so I made my fiance listen to it while I put it on through my speaker on the evening so I could relax.

While you might not expect it this novel has great LGBTQ rep and what it meant to hide who you truly were in this era when all of your success depends on your outward persona. There is also violence, lies and deceit but it really works within the world it is set in.

Evelyn isn’t always a likeable character but that definitely adds to the novel because despite the fact she does some questionable things I still loved and cared deeply for her as a character. This is also added to when you see Evelyn through Moniques eyes.

There’s no doubt that Taylor Jenkins Reid is incredible at researching and writing about past time periods in a way that transports you into that setting so much so you feel like you are there.

Obviously I gave this 5 stars. I adore this book and after finishing it I went and got other TJR books to get through. I’m a big fan of her style and completely understand the hype behind Evelyn Hugo.

Books I Read In August 2019!

And we are back on a roll people! August saw me read 10 books – that is totally down to all the wonderful books I picked up at YALC being on my now pretty full shelves. I got through 10 (!!) books this month and I’m super pleased. Here they are in their full glory.

First up I finished the audiobook of Eat, Drink, Run – How I Got Fit Without Going Too Mad by Bryony Gordon. I’ve really enjoyed Bryony’s other books looking at her life with mental illness. You can read all my thoughts in my review here. This is a 5 star read for me.

Next up was another YALC read – The Disconnect by Keren David is a short book that centers around a group of teenagers asked to give up their phones for 6 weeks in the name of research and a cash prize. This was a gifted book and more to come! I gave with 4 stars.

Next up was Birthday by Meredith Russo, I’ve been looking forward to this, I loved Meredith’s previous book If I Was Your Girl so this was highly anticipated. This was an incredible read, so incredibly well written and such an emotional read. I would definitely recommend, a 5 star read from me.

The Truth About Alice is by Jennifer Mathieu who also wrote the amazing Moxie, which was my reason for picking this novel up. This tackles the impact of rumours and slut shaming and it’s another strong book by Mathieu. I gave this 4 stars, a strong read.

I received an ARC from the publisher of American Royals by Katherine McGee and wow, wow, wow! American royalty, a bit of scandal? I adored this book and gave it 4.5 stars – you can read my full review here.

Next up way another YALC purchase, I know I hit it hard in August. This novel was set in post WW2 Germany and looks at the secrets left behind after an international war. I learnt a lot from this novel and highly recommend it – you can read my full review here.

I picked up Can Everyone Please Calm Down? A Guide to 21st Century Sexuality by comedian Mae Martin and it was an interesting and informative read probably aimed at teenage readers but I gave it 4 stars and would recommend.

I was sent an ARC of Aphrodite Made Me Do It by Trista Mateer, a poetry collection that had some promise but overall wasn’t for me. That said I would you like to read more to get a better opinion.

My last 2 books were both audiobooks and thank goodness because I was a so busy with work I barely had the option to pick up a physical book! First up was The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla – I wanted to read this a while back and finally got to it, this was worth the wait. Listening to these stories of what it means to be a BAME person in UK today was something I think everyone should read/listen to. A 4.5 star read for me.

My final read of the month was another audiobook, this time narrated by Carrie Hope Fletcher who’s voice I love! The Flat Share blew me away, it’s not something I would normally pick up but I was intrigued by the premise. Tiffy and Leon share a bed but they have never met. I couldn’t stop listening and absolutely adored it. I won’t spoil the plot but I was trying not to cry happy tears at the end.

A super strong month in terms of reading, more so at the beginning but I’ll take it. I read some excellent books and while September might not have as many reads I hope that I get to some good ones!

Book Review: The Stolen Ones - Vanessa Curtis

Book Review: The Stolen Ones – Vanessa Curtis

My name is Inge. I am sixteen. I live in Munich. Food is rationed, though the war ended years ago. My boyfriend is Jewish. My parents would not approve, so I hide this from them. I think they are hiding something from me, too. Letters arrive on my birthday, but they are not addressed to me. They are for a girl named Kasia. This is her story.

After picking this up at YALC I thought I knew what this book would be about and I was pleasantly proved wrong while reading The Stolen One. This has a lot of twists and turns throughout which I didn’t expect – it’s kind of part historical fiction, part mystery. Different, but I like it.

What stood out for me about this book is that it focused on the wider Nazi horrors and what they did to a large number of communities as well as the Jewish population. A lot of WW2 and post war fiction focuses on the Holocaust – and rightfully so! But, it means that I haven’t read much about others who were impacted by the Nazi regime.

I really liked Inge, I found her to be intelligent and headstrong but also realistic for a 16 year old who’s surrounded by secrets. It shows both the good and bad in people and that just because a war ends, doesn’t mean that things go back to normal. There is a lot of confusion, hurt and pain after such an event.

The relationships Inge have are vital to the plot and it was clear there was both planning and care that went into writing them. At times I felt the her conflict and confusion. The novel did a great job of capturing that age where you realise the adults around you are humans with their own flaws, thoughts and feelings that might not match yours.

I do wish that the book had been longer, I felt that there could have been even more to the novel and get into some more depth – I can’t pinpoint where I would have liked it because it would be a massive spoiler!

Last but not least, I learned a great deal from this book about parts of the war I knew nothing about and after reading I definitely want to do some of my own research. This was so well told – I really want to have a read of other novels by Vanessa Curtis at some point.

I gave this 4 stars, I thought this book was interesting and there were quite a few twists that I didn’t see coming which was really appreciated. If you enjoy fiction about WW2 this will be a good read for you even though it is set after the end of the war. I’d really love to know more about what happens to the characters after the end of the novel as well which is a sign they were well written.

Book Review: American Royals – Katharine McGee

“HRH Princess Samantha has always been a royal rebel. She’s the spare not the heir, so no one minds too much who she dates or how hard she parties.

It helps that her sister, Princess Beatrice, is literally perfect. She’s demure, sweet and beautiful, and she knows that the crown always comes first – no matter what her heart might really want.

But they’re not the only ones with their eye on the throne. Daphne Deighton might be ‘newly noble’ but she won Prince Jefferson’s heart once, and she’ll do anything to get back into the court’s favour – and his bed.

If only she knew that her competition was a common nobody – plain little Nina Gonzalez, the daughter of the king’s secretary.

Together these four young women must navigate the drama, gossip, scheming and sizzling romance of the most glorious court in the world. There’s everything to play for – but there can only be one queen.”

Wow, welcome to your next fun royal read. This year I’ve really found myself loving books about fictional royalty and this has been a great addition. Set in an alternative United States, the Washington family have been ruling for generations Princess Beatrice is next in line with worries about heart vs head, Princess Samantha, on the other hand, can’t live up to her older sister and future Queen. Royal life is pretty complicated when you’re young.

Each of the women that narrated the novel has their own quirks and viewpoints. Personally, I loved Nina and Sam the most and found them the easiest to relate to. That said, I had a real soft spot for Beatrice because her life was set out for her – she reminded me a lot of depictions of a young Queen Elizabeth II and what it must have been like for her. The only character I could not stand (and I’m pretty sure that’s intentional) was Daphne but I kind of loved to hate her too.

There were points that I feel we’re very similar to The Crown and tales of the royalty we have here in the UK. While I can’t go into too much detail without getting into spoiler territory I could kind of work out bits and pieces of the novel ahead of time. While I completely get it – there isn’t a royal family in the US to base this on, it was a sticking point for me.

I would love for Jefferson’s point of view to be included in a later book – as the only male heir I wanted to know his thoughts, his motivations. We only see him through the eyes of his sisters, ex-girlfriend and love interest and I definitely think it would add to the narrative of the story.

I gave this 4 stars, for a while I was set on 3.5 for a while but the last few chapters cemented a higher rating for me and we end on a cliff-hanger and I need to know what happens next. Who will clean up the mess of the American royal family? Who will end up with who? I need to know and I will definitely be pre-ordering a copy of the second book in the series…even though the first hasn’t come out yet. Definitely a recommended read!

Book Review: Eat, Drink, Run How I Got Fit Without Going Too Mad – Bryony Gordon

Bryony Gordon was not a runner. A loafer, a dawdler, a drinker, a smoker, yes. A runner, no. In April 2017, less than a year after she had weighed herself at over 16 stone but stepped off the scales and started training anyway, Bryony Gordon ran all 26 and 3/4 miles of the London Marathon.

If you’re friends with me on Goodreads you’ll know that I’ve adored every book I have read by Bryony Gordon – she’s funny, intelligent and just gets it. Although, this is the one I took longest to pick up. It was about running, something I can’t stand at all – would I really enjoy it? Read on friend, but I think you’ll work out pretty early on what the answer is.

One of the things I like most about Bryony is that she doesn’t take herself too seriously. She knows how to laugh at herself and it’s a relief, you feel like you can laugh along too. Calling Prince Harry Hazza? Classic Bryony. Signing up the London Marathon without knowing how long it was? I laughed a lot while reading this and I think most people will.

This is more than a story of just running a marathon, it’s about battling your mental health, finding comfort in others and not giving up. Bryony started something called Mental Health Mates (more about it here) where a bunch of ‘mad’ people could have a get together and walk which is a bloody brilliant idea.

Again, Bryony covers another section of her life and health with unflinching honesty. She talks about the toll that writing Mad Girl had on her mental health and how walking and running gave her a little bit of sanity. Also, if you’re a fan of her other books, there are plenty of Harry’s brilliant reactions to Bryony’s shenanigans too.

If you’re worried this will be a prechy and self righteous book about the power of exercise, don’t be. Yes, Bryony found a love for running but she doesn’t try and force it on the reader at all, she simply writes about the joy and the many challenges she faced.

I found this to be funny, relatable and because of that I gave it 5 stars. Another excellent and honest book by Bryony – she truly is a wonderful human and I can’t wait to see what she gets up to next. Also, I listened to this as an audiobook and can highly recommend!