Book Review: The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

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Image from Walker Books

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“It’s hard to focus on the future when the past is so distracting” 

Although I am always reading there are surprisingly few authors whom I follow religiously; stopping my mindless scrolling to check out their latest Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube posts. But, as you might have guessed by now, Lauren James is one of those people. When I was offered her latest book, The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, I snatched it up before you could say “YA SCI-FI”. Once it had slid into my letterbox I began reading it straight away, immediately falling for the main (and almost only) character Romy. I finished the rest of it off on one train journey to London: this is testament to the brilliance of the book since I was suffering from motion sickness but refused to give up and put the book down!

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The Shakespeare Series || As You Like It

* The Shakespeare Series is a series where I look at a different Shakespeare play, tell you why you might like to read said play, and then briefly review it! I hope you enjoy 😊 *

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As You Like It

What’s it about?
After the Dukedom of the father of the play’s headstrong heroine, Rosalind, is usurped by her Uncle, she soon finds herself fleeing to the Forest of Arden disguised as Ganymede, a handsome young man, accompanied by her loving cousin Celia, in the guise of shepherdess Aliena. There she finds not only safety but love, in the form of the brave Orlando.

Why should you read it?
○ It features one of Shakespeare’s most famous speeches and other now common phrases – Even those who aren’t Shakespeare fans will have heard of the speech made by Jaques: ‘All the world’s a stage’ and the following ‘Seven ages of man’. It’s so wonderful to read the speech in its entirety and is brilliant in every sense of the word. Not only that but the phrase ‘too much of a good thing’ and many others were coined by Shakespeare in As You Like It. They’re certainly some fun easter eggs to find while reading!

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts

– Jaques 2.7

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The Shakespeare Series || The Tempest

* The Shakespeare Series is a new series I’ll be doing here on Reading in the Rain and will involve my good self looking at Shakespeare plays, telling you why you might like to read said play, and then briefly reviewing them! I hope you enjoy 😊 *

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The Tempest

What’s it about?
Prospero – the magician, rightful Duke of Milan, and father to Miranda – employs his spirit Ariel to bring on a tempest in order to gather the men who betrayed him onto his island, to seek revenge for himself and a love for his daughter.  We follow the character’s as they set out on their respective journeys of punishment, love, forgiveness and the fantastical.

Why should you read it?
○ It is beautifully lyrical – Not only does Shakespeare create a vivid image of the island through reported speech but also the recurring references to the environment, the metaphysical, and the mythological are wonderful to read.

The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked,
I cried to dream again.      

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Book Review: Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash

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“I could tell I was standing too still and breathing too silently. I prayed she didn’t notice, but she must have, she was so close to me.”

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I was sent this book by Walker Books a couple of months ago and I was immediately intrigued by the the idea of it as a ‘Graphic Memoir’. I know that this isn’t the first graphic memoir, in fact there are many that I’d love to get my hands on, but this is actually the first one I have ever read and boy did I enjoy it! If I had read this a while ago it most certainly would be on my list of Top 5 Graphic Novels. It has everything you would want from a graphic memoir; a compelling and moving story, beautiful artwork, and hilarious writing. Let’s briefly sum up the story:

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Book Review: Truth or Dare by Non Pratt

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“Judge people on what they have control over. Judge them on the way they treat their friends, or whether they persevere when they can’t do something… Be careful not to confuse a beautiful face with a beautiful heart”. 

This book was kindly sent to me by Walker Books, but this has no impact on my review!

When ‘Truth or Dare’ slid through my letterbox and into my hands I have to admit I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t really know anything about the plot and I’ve never actually read any of Non Pratt’s other works (much to the dismay of my friend Jasmine who convinced me to buy Trouble, which I have only read one chapter of!) So seeing as I had some free time and a new book I thought I’d dive in blind – and boy, was it worth it! I read it in just a handful of days because it was so addictive; never was there a moment of boredom and I just thoroughly enjoyed it!

‘Truth or Dare’ is a contemporary YA novel that deals with family, friendship, and love – but really that doesn’t even scratch the surface.

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Current Reads

Easter is finally here, after what seems like an awfully long Winter period, but all I can think about are my exams. I can hear families walking their bouncing dogs outside and can see the river glistening, whenever it isn’t raining, and yet I’m just sat inside making notes and doing past papers over and over again. I generally love revision. For me there’s something really satisfying about it; but when you add in the pressure of having to work hard enough to achieve the right grades to get into the university of your dreams you never really become satisfied. My mind goes: “Yes, you finished off your notes and did a Latin translation, but you could’ve done two translations and maybe even started another English essay”.

However, I’ve tried not to let that get in the way of reading. My reading habits always tend to slip when I have exams (or anything that makes me stressed really!) but I’ve been trying to make a conscience effort to keep up with it this time. Of course with a tired brain there’s only so many pages I can flick through before I give up and switch over to the TV or Netflix (my current recommendations definitely being Clique on BBC Three, Line of Duty BBC One, and the new season of iZombie on Netflix!!). So I thought I’d talk a little bit about what books I’m currently reading – however slowly my pace might be!

Let me know what books and and TV shows you’ve been enjoying recently, I always love getting new recommendations!

Five Fantastic Non-Fictions

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nɒnˈfɪkʃ(ə)n/

noun: nonfiction

noun

1. prose writing that is informative or factual rather than fictional.

 2 . the genre that is most like marmite; either you love it, you hate it, or you’re too scared to give it a real taste.

When it comes to non-fiction I was the one “too scared to give it a real taste” for such a long time; the only non-fiction you would see me paying any attention to would be my school text books. However (you all knew it was coming) about a year or so ago I decided I had to give it a try and it’s safe to say, when I find a non-fic book on a topic I really love, I will plough my way through it! So I wanted to share some of my favourite non-fiction books, as well as a couple that I am desperate to start reading!

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Book Review: The Last Beginning + Chat with Lauren James

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As Clove watched a petal slowly fall from the flower, she made herself a promise. When she was older, she was going to work here with the machine – even if it meant spending all her free time between now and then studying. Then one day, when she’d helped to get the machine working, she was going to be the first person to travel through time.

I was trying to think of a way to briefly describe The Last Beginning, the sequel and final book in The Next Together duology, but with the amount of plot twists, interesting new characters and jumps through time and space (all that wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey…stuff) I couldn’t figure out what to say! Thankfully Lauren James, author of the fabulous book, managed to sum it up in precisely five words:

Lesbian romance with MANY JOKES.

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Book Review: One – Sarah Crossan

Here’s a quick review of One by Sarah Crossan; a Contemporary YA novel written in verse! I really enjoyed reading this book despite the intensity of the plot. Crossan takes on a really interesting subject matter and presents it in a unique and stylish way. Have you read One? Let me know what you thought of it in the comments!

I wanted to take a bit of a spin on my usual Book Reviews and I have to admit I’ve really enjoyed being a bit more creative with my videos here and on my YouTube Channel.          Be sure to let me know what you think of it and if I should do more like!

5 Reasons Why You Need to Read The Raven Cycle RIGHT NOW

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I recently finished The Raven King, the final book in The Raven Cycle Series by Maggie Stiefvater and I smiled and cried and laughed and cried some more until the very last page. When I sat down to write a review for it I found that I couldn’t. I have so much love for this book and this entire series that my review turned into:

“ The writing was incredible, with a magical feel to match that of Harry Potter.

  The characters were incredible, I want them all to be my best friends.

  The  story was incredible, so intense and emotional.

  EVERYTHING WAS INCREDIBLE! ”

So instead I thought I’d summarise what makes The Raven Cycle so wonderful and in doing so persuade anybody who hasn’t already begun this gem of a series to go and get started straight away.

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The Raven Boys / The Court

I very rarely read books in which I really love every main character there is but for some bizarre reason I found myself caring for practically each and every one in the series. I even enjoyed the antagonists, especially Greenmantle and Piper! But above all The Raven Boys – Blue, Gansey, Ronan, Adam, Noah and one late addition who shall remain nameless – were just phenomenal! Their characters were all so three-dimensional and no single one of them seemed more important than another, just like in their friendship. I wouldn’t be able to pick which one was my favourite and I wouldn’t want to, they felt so real each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Is it weird that I do think of them as my friends?

The Ladies of 300 Fox Way

Consisting of Blue -when not at school, serving pizza, or out hunting Glendower- Maura, Calla, Orla, Jimi, Persephone and more, the ladies of 300 Fox Way were always hilarious to read about. They, like The Raven Boys, all had a very distinct personality and their skills and flaws balanced each other out making them a perfect psychic team! Including the shenanigans of Fox Way added a complete other aspect to the series and I’d give anything to have a cup of tea with them and let them predict my own future!

The Magic

Fantasy novels can often get a bit same-y in regards to the Magic used but Maggie managed to discover her own unique style of it and presented it in an equally unique way! The little details of it were the parts that had the most power, I mean trees that speak Latin?! ( On a more personal note I would always get incredible excited when I was able to translate the Latin before one of the Raven Boys did!) Over the course of the four books the magic develops quite substantially and comparing it in The Raven Boys and in The Raven King you can see how naturally it progresses, never becoming unbelievable! Sometimes you forget that it is a fantasy series because it seems so unusually normal.

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The Writing

Maggie is such a talented writer. To be able to write characters that are incredibly alive, magic that is so unique, and settings and images that are almost cinematic is astounding. She knows how to balance a modern YA style with a folk-lore style. There’s not much I can say that will justify the magnificence of the writing in this series. Also, thinking about it, these books are oddly feminist. All the ladies are absolutely bad-ass; I mean Blue can always hold her own with the Raven Boys and despite the fact we rarely see her in a friendship with another girl we have all the Ladies of Fox Way to make up for that! That mis-matched homemade family cares deeply for one another and although they know how to get on one another’s nerves they really just want the best for each other.

The Quest / Story

I don’t want to say too much about the story as I’m so worried about giving away any spoilers. ( Fun fact: The Raven Cycle is one of two series which I was not spoiled for by the Internet! )   There is one overarching plot that carries the series on and that’s their quest for Glendower; the team is constantly trying to find clues as to his whereabouts in both time and place. In doing so they create a lot of trouble and so there are also a number of sub-plots, some of which only last the length of one book, other more emotional ones, last a number of books. This only makes their resolutions that much more satisfying! The story is much like the magic in the sense that it progresses very naturally and logically. Even though there is a large aspect of fate and destiny in this series it seems that the characters are what really drive the story on!

This series is one that will stick with me for a very very long time; I expect to be re-reading it multiple times in the future! But having heard there may be a Spin-off series focused on Ronan’s character I am more excited than ever! I wouldn’t want to leave Cabeswater and that magic behind!    

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