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.

My5 YALC 2019 Book Recommendations

My 5 YALC 2019 Book Recommendations

YALC is fast becoming one of my favourite events of the year a whole convention of bookish people. My kind of people. Last year I had such a great time I had to split my post into 2, part 1 was about the day itself and part 2 was my huge haul. This year I’ll only be going on the Saturday but with 3 days of amazing authors I wish I was going for all 3, maybe next year I’ll treat myself.

Here are 5 books and authors that will be appearing this year who I highly recommend checking out.

Heartstopper Volume 1 & 2 – Alice Oseman (appearing Friday)

Alice Oseman is an incredible writer with three novels under her belt, one amazing graphic novel and her second graphic novel out in July she is killing it. Aslo after following her on social media for the past year she seems like a lovely person too.

Heartstopper is a sweet story of two guys falling for each other and is one of the most wonderful graphic novels I’ve ever read, review here. It has all the heart and feels you need and as I write I have volume 2 staring at me to devour once I’ve finished writing this (see, always thinking of you guys first). Also her novel, Radio Silence is one of my favourite YA novels.

The Paper & Hearts Society – Lucy Powrie (appearing Saturday)

The lovely Lucy Powrie announced her first novel and the promise was a novel about books and friendships. I was gifted a copy by the publisher to give a review after requesting it.

If you like to read about bookish love, friendships and tackling anxieties. You can read my full review here.

The Exact Opposite of Okay & A Girl Called Shameless – Laura Steven (appearing Friday)

Ok I might have slipped 2 in here but they are part of a series and I love them equally. Laura Steven is one of my favourite YA authors and these two novels are absolutely hilarious. Fun, feminist and fiesty I don’t think I could recommend this more.

You can read my review of the first book The Exact Opposite of Okay here.

One of Us Is Lying – Karen M McManus (appearing Saturday)

This was an excellent thriller that I read back in 2017, think The Breakfast Club with added murder. I absolutely loved it, I haven’t gotten to her latest release Two Can Keep A Secret.

If you’re looking for a good thriller I’d recommend picking this up before the next in the series comes out. My review is here.

The Year I Didn’t Eat – Samuel Pollen (appearing Sunday)

I was asked earlier in the year if I’d like to be sent a copy of Samuels debut novel about a young boy with an eating disorder. This is a really important book that I hope does well because it truly deserves to.

We’re really lacking in YA books with male protagonists who have eating disorders, I can only think of two I have ever read. You can read my full review here.

What are you looking excited forward to at YALC this year? Have you read any of the above? Let me know in the comments below!

YALC 2018 Part Two – The Book Haul!

Well, I promised you a book haul, I just didn’t think it would be this big. I managed to pick up 20 books at YALC. Yep, Two-Zero. I’d saved some money so that I could go and not feel any guilt about buying a stack of books and I sure as hell did. I mean almost all of the books were discounted, so why wouldn’t I make the most of it!

As many of my regular readers know I loved Sarah J Maas’s ACOTAR series, so I decided to pick up the start of another of her series’ Throne of Glass, there are assassins and I’m told it’s loosely based on Cinderella. Sounds good to me. Next up was a hardcover copy of This Is Where It Ends, a novel about a school shooting by Marieke Nijkamp which I’ve wanted to read forever. Next is Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt which I’m currently reading and it’s already breaking my heart.

 

Who Runs the World by Virginia Bergin is about a distant future where a virus almost completely wiped out men. I’m not 100% sure but I’m going to give this a go. I then picked up Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee by Mary G Thompson two girls are kidnapped, one returns. Sounds chilling. I finally got hold of Trans Mission by Alex Bertie which I’ve heard really great things about, this is Alex looking back at his F to M transition. Suicide Club by Rachel Heng has been all over booktube recently. Set when humans have the secret to becoming immortal, but only if you deserve it, what could go wrong? I also picked up the A Court of Thorns and Roses colouring book, because I have no chill.

I picked up Royals by Rachel Hawkins as it just seems fun, a girl thrust into the spotlight because her sister is getting married to a Prince? Not my normal read but why not give it a chance! What Happened That Night by Sandra Block is a novel I was given for free. It’s about a woman who was assaulted at a party, years later a video of her assualt surfaces, but what will she do? Only one word needed to be said to be aboue The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton was witches. I also picked up the latest novel by Holly Bourne Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? This is the only novel I bought full price, but it is Holly Bourne.

The first stand I went to was to HarperCollins to get a copy of Vox by Christina Dalcher. This has some The Handmaids Tale vibes, where women are only allowed to speak 100 words a day. I’m both terrified and excited. Leila Sales’s novel If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say is a tale of saying the wrong thing on the internet and the consequences it can have. It helps that the cover is gorgeous. I found Night of The Party by Tracey Mathias and this one is a little too close to home, I have high expectations. It’s political and it looks like it might be pretty dark. Get excited. I don’t even know how to explain Never World Wake by Merisha Pessl. There’s a shocking death, past friends and a mysterious man. I’m hoping it’s good.

Now, Look Closer by Stewart Lewis doesn’t come out until February 2019. Yep, and I got this beauty for FREE. I think this one is going to make me cry as Tegan comes to terms with her father’s death and tries to help others. Next up, My (Secret) YouTube Life. This novel looks really interesting, the first like on the blurb is ‘What if your favourite Youtuber’s life was a lie?’ So here for it. I know, I know how could I have not read THUG yet? This is my change with a beautiful new cover to get into what people are calling Angie Thomas’ masterpiece. And FINALLY, congrats if you made it this far, Moonrise by Sarah Crossan. A novel written in verse about a family dealing with the impending execution of a man who claims he is innocent. I’ve already read it and it was incredible.

So, what do you like the look of, what should I read next? Let me know in the comments below!

YALC 2018 – Part One

It finally happened! I finally went to YALC after watching from afar for a few years. My bestie Abbie and I got a train and bus to Olympia. I had a small suitcase to transport the books I knew I’d end up buying, a rucksack and snacks. The game was on.

If you haven’t heard of YALC, it is the Young Adult Literature Convention it’s hosted in London. Basically, it is a book nerd’s dream there are panels, there are signings of your favourite YA authors, bookish merch, discounted books, competitions, advance copies. The best thing? Everyone was SO NICE! There was so much excitement you have not just one but two blog posts to look forward to.

Let’s get cracking.

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Tote Bags, T-Shirts and MORE!

I came home with two tote bags and a new T-Shirt, why? Because I bought books. These actually came in handy throughout the day to throw swag in, there was so much swag.

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Samplers

I brought home 20 samplers of up and coming YA releases. I’m really looking forward to skipping through these and getting excited for what’s coming up. I’m particularly excited to get a peak of Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (And Other Lies) and Oh My Gods. We shall see!

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A mix of stuff

Postcards for new releases, stickers, a ton of bookmarks, pencils. Basically, if you like this kind of stuff then YALC is a dream. I want to make a really cute display of stuff like this but where I’m going to put it I don’t know.

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A Court of Thorns and Roses Bookmarks 

C’mon was I really going to walk away from these beauties? Not a chance.

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All the badges 

I became a bit of a talking point when I walked up to stands because I started decorating my dungarees with badges. The more I got, the more stall holders gave them to me, took pictures and just generally chatted to me. I also got two beautiful shiny pins, one for buying a novel and another for posting a picture on Instagram. My favourite one has to be the #TeamBoobs one from CoppaFeel .

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The Curses Sampler – SIGNED 

I got to meet Laure Eve. I fangirled, really hard because I loved her first novel, and first in the series, The Graces so much. I really hope I didn’t scare her… I was really excited.

 

So that’s the swag, but what about the books? You’ll have to pop back tomorrow because I may have had 20 books when I got home…maybe. Oops!

Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher

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‘You can’t stop the future. 

You can’t rewind the past.

The only way to learn the secret…is to press play’

Clay is an ordinary guy, like a lot of other people in the school when he hears about Hannah Baker’s death he feels something, but what he doesn’t know is that Hannah has plans for him. After a box of tapes arrive addressed to him he can’t quite believe it when Hannah’s voice comes through the speakers, explaining that if he listens long enough he’ll know why he is one of the thirteen reasons.

This book has been on my to read list for a really long time, I finally got around to picking it up and was told after I wouldn’t regret reading it. I don’t, but I also don’t think it deserves all the hype. It’s an intriguing read and a great idea but there were some holes in the plot that just didn’t make it believable. As for the characters, I thought that Clay was just, a bit boring really, we don’t really know anything about him other than he’s a ‘nice guy’, there could have been more background about him and who he was. Hannah was different, while at first I couldn’t really understand her character, she grew on me and got a place in my heart. When I got to the end I wanted to cry, because at some points I knew how she felt, school can be a heartless place.

I think it did highlight the sheer loneliness that can be caused by rumors. Hannah, like Margo from Paper Towns, is a kind of enigma. Nobody really knows her, they just know the idea of her. These tapes, recorded before she killed herself, are the only way to know anything about Hannah, because there was no other way after everything that had happened. It also seemed to me like she could have been saved and maybe that’s the tragedy in all of it, that I’m sure if the right person had noticed she could have lived. That said, it’s easier said than done and I fully appreciate that.

To review this book is to have to make my way through a minefield of potential spoilers and connections that I don’t want to spoil for you, I do think you could have seen some of them coming though just because of the nature of the book.

I’ve given this novel three stars ***, it’s not because it’s bad, it’s a perfectly ok read but for it it really was just ok. I feel like there are better and much deeper stories that can explain what can lead a person to suicide. On the other hand I really appreciate the way Hannah’s loneliness is expressed, she’s a complex character and I definitely think that the book could have been longer. It’s that little bit more detail that I think is lacking in this to make it a great story rather than just a good one.

Review by Chloe Metzger

I just need to say if you are at a low point and considering suicide, please, please speak to someone. Your life is worth it, I promise ❤