Book Review: The Eve Illusion – Giovanna and Tom Fletcher

As we’re thrown back into the world of Eve, the first girl born in 50 years things are about to get dark. This will contain spoilers for the first book (review here) so if you haven’t read it yet pop back later! 

It might just be that I haven’t read the first book in a long time but this definitely felt darker and earned its place as a dystopian book in my opinion. With new technology, a few big twists and a plot that meant I could not put the book down for the life of me. 

When starting the book I was a little lost, but thankfully the end of book one is recapped in an interesting way, from a different perspective which allowed me to remember where we left off and who was who. I didn’t realise that the first book came out 2 years ago – no wonder I felt like it had been a while. 

That said once I’d caught up that was it. It was also great to find out more about the world that Eve had been shielded from and what the reality was outside her own paradise. I had chills while reading this. 

While I can’t say much about it, because I wouldn’t ruin a book like that, the ending is incredible. I did wonder about it a little earlier on but once it happened I was full of intrigue and excitement. That is how you write a cliff hanger, the Fletcher’s have got it spot on. 

This is easily my favourite sequel of the year so far and deserves all the praise. A 5 star read and I’ll be eagerly anticipating book 3, which according to the internet is supposed to come out in 2021 – I will be keeping everything crossed. 

Thank you to the publisher, authors and Netgalley for a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

Book Review: The Gravity Of Us - Phil Stamper

Book Review: The Gravity Of Us – Phil Stamper

As a successful social media journalist with half a million followers, seventeen-year-old Cal is used to sharing his life online. But when his pilot father is selected for a highly publicized NASA mission to Mars, Cal and his family relocate from Brooklyn to Houston and are thrust into a media circus.

Amidst the chaos, Cal meets sensitive and mysterious Leon, another “Astrokid,” and finds himself falling head over heels—fast. As the frenzy around the mission grows, so does their connection. But when secrets about the program are uncovered, Cal must find a way to reveal the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.

I requested this on NetGalley because I was SO excited about it. I’m lucky enough to have met Phil when we were both studying at Kingston University and we’ve stayed in touch a little. To see this all over the internet (mostly in the USA at this point) is amazing and there’s a reason there is such a buzz behind it.

Combining the idea of a new space project, young love and family tensions The Gravity of Us was an interesting concept. I’ll admit that I’ve never had that fascination with space like a lot of kids did. I think it’s cool and I’m down to read Sci-Fi and have a Star Wars marathon but it’s never been a big thing for me. The good thing is any worries I didn’t need to be!

This book is about astronauts and space missions but not in such a way that I felt like I was dumb or didn’t understand. In fact, after reading I really wanted to find out more about NASA and the work that they do.

I was really impressed by how social media is used within the book too, it’s really central to the plot and Cal as a person. While Cal is a kind of YouTuber type personality it was really refreshing to see this as a step to reach a bigger goal of being a journalist.

Also can we talk about the crushing and the romance? GUYS it put me in such a good mood and I loved the fact that the fact there were gay characters wasn’t used as a plot point at all. There was no shocking revelation that they were gay or big coming out moment. We need more of this in books.

I gave this book 4.5 stars, I really enjoyed the plot, the romance and Cal himself. This is clearly a book that has had a lot of heart put into it but also a great deal of research to back up the space element. This book deserves all of the hype it gets and of course I recommend it.

Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and Phil for this copy in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Break The Fall - Jennifer Iacopelli

Book Review: Break The Fall – Jennifer Iacopelli

Audrey Lee is going to the Olympics. A year ago, she could barely do a push up as she recovered from spine surgery, one that could have paralyzed her. And now? She’s made the United States’ gymnastics team with her best friend, Emma, just like they both dreamed about since they were kids. She’s on top of the world.

The pressure for perfection is higher than ever when horrifying news rips the team apart. Audrey is desperate to advocate for her teammate who has been hurt by the one person they trusted most–but not all the gymnasts are as supportive.

The stories of abuse that came from the USA gymnastics team were horrible, young women had put their trust into people to help them achieve their dreams only to be mistreated. Of course, if you do struggle with abuse narratives think about that before reading, however, this is not graphic.

I actually got a copy of this over Christmas while I was working in a bookshop as it was sent from the publisher. Since reading it I haven’t shut up because it is an excellent novel. I couldn’t put this book down and when I had to I was still thinking about it.

I have to admit that this had a personal connection for me. I haven’t read a YA book that tackled spinal injuries before and I was sure that the author had experienced spinal trauma. The description of the pain, the complicated feelings about your body etc. I actually reached out to Jennifer and she was lovely and had written those parts based on research which just impressed me even more.

The character of Audrey is easy to connect with and you really do feel for her and the rest of her teammates as your reading. Additionally, there is a real sense of the pressure these young women face, the fact that they have trained their whole lives for something only for it to be derailed at the last minute.

I think it also helps that the author has first-hand experience of gymnastics after reporting on the Olympics previously and you can tell that she understands the competition and what can happen in competition. I was completely gripped during the competition chapters, racing towards the end because I needed to know what happened.

This is going to be an important novel for 2020, we’re seeing non-fiction about the Me Too and Times Up era, this is the start of a new wave of fiction based on the aftermath. I’m pleased to see novels like this opening up the conversation and giving another dimension to it as well.

Is it any wonder that I gave this 5 stars? It absolutely incredible and so well written. In fact I’ve been recommending it to so many people. Also, just for me, it was nice to see representation post injury because it’s just something that I don’t see ever. Also, I’m definitely going to be watching the Gymnastics at Tokyo!

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.

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: Birthday – Meredith Russo

Two kids, Morgan and Eric, are bonded for life after being born on the same day at the same time. We meet them once a year on their shared birthday as they grow and change: as Eric figures out who he is and how he fits into the world, and as Morgan makes the difficult choice to live as her true self. Over the years, they will drift apart, come together, fight, make up, and break up—and ultimately, realize how inextricably they are a part of each other. 

After reading Meredith Russo’s first novel and absolutely adoring it I knew I had to pick up this one as soon as I could get my hands on it. And, as I hoped, the book did not disappoint.

The fact this book is spread out across 5 years just adds to how impressed I was by it. It’s not easy to have characters show growth in such a short space of time and it was pulled off really well. Both Eric and Morgan evolve throughout the novel but also keep the essence of who they are when we meet them in the first chapter.

I think the book could have been double the length and I’d still have loved it. I can understand why it wasn’t but the issues within are so complex I wanted to know even more. In particular, I wanted to know more about the relationship between them both when they were small, more about Morgan’s mother and their relationship.

It’s undeniable that this is an incredibly tough read at times, I fought back tears while reading and wanted to reach through the book and hug both of the characters. That said, most of my love went to Morgan, I can’t imagine what it’s like to live in a body that isn’t mine and have to pretend around the people you love. It also made me consider the fact that we really don’t know what’s going on in a someones head and the need to be kind to people.

Meredith Russo herself is a trans women and I think this only adds to what we can learn as a reader. Russo is writing Morgan’s struggle with her body through the lense of someone who has been through it. We definitely need more own voices novels and Russo is one to watch.

I don’t think it’s going to be any surprise that I gave this 5 stars. This was incredibly well written and I felt very emotional reading. While I am not trans, I can appreciate that as Russo writes, she is writing from the heart. I’ve recommended this to so many friends already as soon as I finished it.

My YALC 2019 Haul Part 2

My YALC 2019 Haul Part 2

Yesterday I shared with you the first part of my YALC Haul and some of the 25 (!!) books that came back home with me. Are you ready for part 2? I definitely am!

The blurb of All The Invisible Things says that this is great for ‘fans of Laura Steven and Holly Bourne’ with strong feminist feels. Yes please!

Towards the end of the day I also picked up an exclusive copy of This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura. I’ve heard a lot about this on Booktube from those across the pond – it focuses on family and finding something to fight for.

I also found a poetry book at YALC! I hope there will be more to come in the future. I picked up There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé by Morgan Parker which I’ve seen around for a while. I’m interested to see what it’s about.

Another popular Booktube novel I’ve seen constantly in the past few months is Frankly in Love by David Yoon, I picked this up free when I bought another book on the Penguin stand. My copy also has a YALC exclusive cover, yay! It’s all about love, family and tradition. I can’t wait to read this one.

Who else read Sarah Dessen as a teen? I certainly did. So I picked up her latest novel with her new publisher. The Rest Of The Story is about Emma connecting and learning about her mother’s family, who she hasn’t spent much time with since she died. This is going to hit me in the feels isn’t it?

I hadn’t heard of A Good Hiding before YALC it features a teenage pregnancy, a friendship and I *think* it has some LGBT rep too, I’ll keep you posted.

So, Olivia Twist, a gender swap Oliver Twist – do I need to say any more? GENDER SWAP OLIVER TWIST. I hope we get a male Nancy equivalent.

Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan has been on my radar for a while. There’s feminism, friendship and teenage activism. That’s all I know but that is all I need to know.

I was a big fan of Meredith Russo’s first novel and she’s back with another one that looks to be incredible. This follows two friends throughout their lives and had LGBTQ rep! Yessss! I’m excited.

Lily’s Just Fine is another book that I didn’t know about but I found it on a stall for the steal price of £4 and got it signed by the author. This is a contemporary romance with ‘Scotland’s most determined teenager’. Sounded like a bit of light fun to read so of course I picked it up.

And again, I hadn’t heard of Battle Ground BUT it’s set in a post Brexit dystopian world and I got chatting to the author who also signed it for me. I’m curious to see what literature comes out of Brexit and this is the first YA book about it I’ve come across.

Romanov is a reimagining of Anastasia with magic, that’s all I know but I loved the film Anastasia as a kid so why not pick this one up?

And last but not least I picked up Misfit by Charli Howard, I picked this up so that I could get my free copy of Frankly in Love and it was the first YALC purchase I read! It was an ok read for me, it’s Charli’s memoir of her life as a model and dealing with eating disorders. It was a 3 star read for me.

Now, how about a BONUS! I know this was meant to be about the books but I did pick up these from Fable and Black and look how cute these are! Look!

Are you looking to pick up any of these books? Were you at YALC? Let me know in the comments below!

Book Review: Prince Charming (Royals) – Rachel Hawkins

It isn’t every day that your older sister is set to marry a member of the royal family, but that’s the position that Daisy and her family find themselves in – and she wants no part of it. She’s happy with her florida life, her mermaid red hair and staying out of the paparazzi’s way. But, when a whiff of scandal comes for Daisy she’s shipped off the Scotland…and it’s just the beginning of a royal rollercoaster.

I picked this up at YALC last year, but didn’t get around to it until earlier this year and I’m kicking myself for waiting that long! This is a light story but one that is a lot of fun and has a healthy dose of romance. When I bought my copy the novel was called Royals, this has been update this year to Prince Charming, with a new cover to die for.

First things first, our protagonist, Daisy, is an absolute delight. She’s hilarious but also glaringly normal – which is why you relate to her so much. There’s no rule book on what to do if you become in laws to the royal family or how to get on with the aristocracy when it’s a whole different world – I know I would struggle!

When Daisy meets the younger royals and their friends, Prince Seb, Monty and the rest of the ‘Royal Wreckers’ is when the fun really begins. As Monty is instructed to teach Daisy the royal ropes, he finds his work cut out for him. Daisy doesn’t fit the role of the traditional lady, but it’s because of that she can teach them a thing or two.

I really enjoyed seeing the relationship between Daisy and her older sister Ellie evolve throughout the book. It’s clear at the start they are very different people with different priorities but they need each other – even if they don’t always see it. I wish we saw more of the sister relationship in YA, this is part of the reason the novel really stood out for me.

I gave this 5 stars, this was an absolute joy to read. It had the perfect amount of romance, comedy and royalty for me to enjoy. I’ve recommended this to a lot of people and I will continue to. Keep an eye out for my review of the next book in the series (!!) following the roommate of Princess Flora.

Book Review: The Paper and Hearts Society – Lucy Powrie

Tabby Brown is tired of trying to fit in. She doesn’t want to go to parties – in fact, she would much rather snuggle up on the sofa with her favourite book. It’s like she hasn’t found her people …

Then Tabby joins a club that promises to celebrate books. What could go wrong? EVERYTHING – especially when making new friends brings out an AWKWARD BUZZING feeling all over her body.

If you’re a big fan of YA in the UK you might join in on UKYA chat hosted by none other than Lucy Powrie so when we found out she was publishing a book of course I preordered it. THEN I got super lucky and was granted an advance reader copy through Netgalley (thank you to Lucy, the publisher and Netgalley) and I’m so glad I did. Welcome to the Paper and Hearts Society.

Since Tabby moved in with her Grandma making friends hasn’t been at the top of her priority list. Who needs friends when you have books, right? It’s only after going to the library she finds a leaflet for a new book club and decides to take the plunge. While fighting with her anxiety and past experiences. Lucy writes about anxiety so well, there are few books that have such good representation.

This is truly a book about friendship and finding your way. Overall it is a sweet read and has a very diverse group of characters, although I have to say it doesn’t seem forced. It simply represents young people today and the lives they may have.

I will say that at first I wasn’t sure if I was the ideal reader at the old age of 24. I could take a guess at some of what was going to happen and I felt a little too old but the more I read the more I fell in love with the book and characters. It didn’t matter I’d work some things out ahead of time I just wanted more.

Also a huge shout out, which I sent Lucy a DM about, to the love for Sylvia Plath throughout the book. I am a HUGE Plath fan, The Bell Jar is one of my top books of all time, her poetry was incredible and it is so rare to see Plath mentioned in YA. So, on a personal note I really enjoyed seeing that and I feel it gave great insight into Tabby and her character.

I gave this 4 out of 5 stars a solid first novel and I’m really looking forward to reading the next books in the series. A huge congratulations to Lucy! Thanks again to Lucy, the publisher and Netgalley for this opportunity.

Book Review: The Year I Didn’t Eat – Samuel Pollen

14-year-old Max has a fight on his hands. Living with Anorexia is tough enough without having to be at school and trying to keep it secret from your closest friends. As Max writes to ‘Ana’ and tries to navigate his illness he has to deal with the new girl at school who won’t stop staring, family drama and seeing his therapist. Can he beat this?

I was asked if I would like to receive a copy of this novel and I was immediately intrigued. There are very few stories of teenage boys going through an eating disorder, so of course, I wanted to read, I’m incredibly glad I did.

Starting and ending on Christmas day, the novel chronicles a year in Max’s life, alongside writing a diary to his disorder – aptly named Ana. This was a particular highlight for me, the writing was emotional but not sad – I actually laughed a fair bit reading this. Pollen isn’t trying to make Max a sympathy figure. The combination of the diary entries and showing some of the obsessive thoughts was incredibly well done –  I could see similarities between Max’s and my own thoughts from our respective mental illnesses.

It is mentioned a few times within the novel the disconnect that Max feels from what is stereotypically viewed as what a with Anorexia looks like – a teenage girl. By confronting this head-on, Pollen shows insight into something incredibly important – anyone can get a mental illness. The fact that Max is a teenage boy, known for being quite geeky with a loving family and great friends and still has these problems reinforces that.

This shows a new level of representation that is rarely seen, in fact, I don’t believe I have ever read a novel featuring a guy with an eating disorder – which is absurd! I’m hopeful that this will start more conversations. The fact that Pollen has drawn on his own experiences makes this even more realistic.

The novel shows not only the impact that eating disorders have on the person with the illness but also the pressure it can put on families. We meet Max’s family and often feel for them as much as him. That said, despite the hardships faced, Max’s relationship with his older brother Robin was probably my favourite part. They truly seem to care for each other and Robin’s encouragement of Geocaching really seems to be a turning point.

Of course, this is a tough read and it does give descriptions of disordered eating and calories – if these are tough for you to read it might be worth picking this up at a later point.

Is it any surprise that I gave this 5 stars?  This is a novel that needed to be written. Showing that eating disorders can affect anyone and that, by talking about it, we have more of a chance of helping those going through it. I absolutely adored this novel – it will truly make its mark. I truly feel that this will make people feel less alone.

Thank you to the author, publisher and Conker communications for the chance to read this in exchange for an open and honest review.