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

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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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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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Halloween Recommendations 2016

I’m always that friend who gets overly excited for Halloween; pumpkins will litter my bedroom throughout the month of October, every detail of my costume will be planned for, and I’ll have a precise template for my pumpkin ready to carve! So I couldn’t wait to share some of my favourite halloween reads and watches.

If you’re looking for some spooky books then check out my video, if you want some ghoulish films and shows to watch then keep on 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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Delving into… Crime

Delving into… is a new series I wanted to start here on my blog to give book recommendations for people wanting to start a new genre!

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You may know that I am currently studying the genre of Crime at school – we’ve read Brighton Rock by Graham Greene, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by S.Coleridge and  When Will There Be Good News by Kate Atkinson. Before I started this course I really wasn’t a huge fan of crime novels myself; I’d pick them up from time to time and I did enjoy them but they weren’t the books I would naturally gravitate towards. However I decided to read some more before I started the school year and now it’s safe to say I’m hooked! (Last year around 10 of the 50 books I read were crime!) Before I came a crime-fiction-addict (Crifidict? No? Okay then…) I remember feeling this dread, “Which author do I begin with? What type of crime do I want? WHERE DO I START?!” This genre is so wide and so can definitely be pretty daunting. If you feel like this then fear not, I’m going to give you 5 recommendations to help guide you into this weird and dark world of crime!

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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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Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany

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“Harry, there is never a perfect answer in this messy, emotional world. Perfection is beyond the reach of humankind, beyond the reach of magic. In every shining moment of happiness is that drop of poison: the knowledge that pain will come again. Be honest to those you love, show your pain. To suffer is as human as to breathe.”

When J.K Rowling announced that there was going to be a stage production of the 8th Harry Potter story focusing on Albus Severus Potter I was absolutely ecstatic – as any Potterhead would be. However when she later announced that there was also going to be a script of this production published I was in two-minds about it; a part of me was happy to see that people who couldn’t see the show for whatever reason weren’t going to be excluded from the magic and that the story would always live on even if the show were to close. Whilst another was worried that this was just an attempt to exploit the love of the fans and this fire was further fanned when I saw that some places were selling the book for pre-order as a ‘story’ rather than a ‘script’, something that a number of people have spoken about since the books’ release. But that magical world has no place for negativity or cynicism, so putting that aside my intrigue got the better of me and I decided to buy it from a little bookshop in Ottawa. I finished it two days later in the car on the road to Québec and wow, how I’ve missed Hogwarts.

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Taking into account that this was a script and so is predominantly focused on the dialogue (Well obviously Ally…) the setting of this book is incredible:

“Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. Which is covered in thick steam pouring from the HOGWARTS EXPRESS. And which is also busy- but instead of people in sharp suits going about their day- it’s now wizards and witches in robes mostlu trying to work out how to say good-bye to their beloved progeny”

You can just see the places, the stages. Maybe the fact that the books and films have helped us get to know these places so well already helped in this, maybe they didn’t. All I know is that this book felt alive. The descriptions of spells and potions also aided in creating the realism of the story; scripts are written to aid the director and actors and generally anybody involved to know what should be happening, when it should be, where it should be and how it should be. So it’s not surprising that this worked specifically well regarding the magic.

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The characters were on the whole brilliantly written; the characters we know and love – Harry, Hermione, Ron, Ginny and many many more – stick true despite their older ages, with exception of Ron who became a sort of caricature only there to provide comic relief.  Other than that the developments that the characters have made in the twenty-two years in which we’ve not seen them feel so natural, almost as if you subconsciously expected them. I also loved the character of Albus, I just wanted to give him a hug pretty much all the way through. There’s a specific scene, which I won’t divulge the details of because SPOILERS!, where you’re given a real insight into Albus at what defines his character and I just thought that was incredible. The one issue I had with the characterisation was in regards to Scorpius – who was actually my favourite character and is just the cutest little thing in the world. I adored his character but there was very little development of it with the majority of it occurring very late in the story which I thought was a shame as he was such a strong character.

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So now for the area where I found the most issues; the plot. Before I actually read the book I came across a Tumblr post bullet-pointing all the major events; as I scrolled down I inadvertently read the first couple of bullet points and I was simultaneously horrified and dumfounded. Without any context these things looked absolutely ridiculous, I sat staring at my phone thinking “But..How..WHAT?!”. Now however, having read the book, I can say that these events seem a lot more logical and the reasoning behind some of them are much more natural. But still it felt a little over-complicated and just a bit…far-fetched. There are even places where things happen which break the rules established in the other books. It’s quite difficult to explain without giving away any spoilers! I’m just glad that all the characters were strong and so they didn’t have to rely completely on the plot. If you’ve read the script already and agree with me somewhat leave me a comment down below (but please just put “SPOILERS” at the top so we can keep the magic!).

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Overall I really enjoyed reading this script! No it wasn’t perfect but it’s Harry Potter and that pretty much is as close as you can get. I’m now going to try and nab myself some tickets for the show as I am so intrigued as to how they do some of the Special Effects / Magic!

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Canada Wrap-Up

Recently I was lucky enough to go on a Road Trip around Canada with my parents; we visited a whole load of incredible places including Niagara and their famous falls, the French speaking province Québec, and the quaint rural town of Huntsville. But what comes with holiday-ing is reading and so, even though this was a very busy holiday, I ended up reading quite a few books!

So I thought I’d do a little holiday wrap-up video, all about what I thought of all the books I read whilst travelling. Enjoy!

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Booktube-a-thon TBR || 2016

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(It feels so weird to be typing out a blog post again, it’s been way too long!)

The Booktube-a-thon is something that I’ve watched take place many times, never daring to actually take part myself. Often I was a little daunted by all the challenges and the sheer number of people who actually participated it; and other times I just happened to be really busy or on holiday or at school. It was never the right time…until this year! (I know, that was predictable, but sh..!)

This year the BookTube-a-thon is taking place during the first week of my holidays and all my friends happen to be away doing D of E (they’re mad I tell you!). So it felt rather apt, almost as if it were meant to be! I’m so excited about this week: reading, filming, Instagram-ing and Twittering. But, as I said, due to the fact I’ve been at school up till now I haven’t managed to upload a TBR video and so that is what I’m doing now. Better late than never, right?

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Challenge 1: Read a book with yellow on the cover.

For this I chose Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll as it’s got a fair bit of yellow on it and it’s a crime novel with a very mysterious plot!

Challenge 2: Read a book only after sunset.

I haven’t actually decided on a book for this yet, I’m planning on going into town and picking up an anthology of poetry or a new graphic novel. Let me know if you have any recommendations in the comments!

Challenge 3: Read a book you discovered through booktube.

I decided to go with a Jandy Nelson book for this as I heard about her through booktube. Sadly I don’t have a copy of I’ll Give you the Sun which was very popular on booktube but instead I’m going with The Sky is Everywhere!

Challenge 4: Read a book by one of your favourite authors.

This was easy to pick: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater. Need I say more?

Challenge 5 & 6: Read a book that’s older than you and read and watch a book-to-movie adaptation. 

So I’ve cheated a little here as I don’t really think I’ll be able to read 7 books in 7 days. The book The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge was originally published in 1946 and in 2008 it was made into a film called The Secret of Moonacre which, despite it’s awful reviews, is one of my favourite films and I’m looking forward to watching it again after having read the novel.

Challenge 7: Read 7 books.

As I said I don’t think I’ll be able to complete this challenge but I’m going to try anyway. I’ve had to choose two books for this one as I merged challenge 5 and 6 together; the first being On the Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher, which I have already finished! The second  has yet to be decided. It will likely depend on how I’m going with time and how I feel. Again leave me any recommendations in the comments!

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And there you have it! I’ll be uploading my first Video Challenge a little later tonight so keep an eye out for that, and let me know if you too are taking part!