Friday, 18 August 2017

Tell It To The Moon by Siobhan Curham

Tell it to the MoonTo make a dream come true, tell it to the moon! Tell It to the Moon continues the story of Moonlight Dreamers Amber, Maali, Sky and Rose, who are not like everyone else and don't want to be: becoming friends gives them the courage to be themselves. After failing to find her surrogate mother, Amber is left unsure of who she is and what she wants to do; Maali's spiritual faith is tested when her father becomes ill; Sky, previously home-schooled, struggles to adapt to the pressures of the school system; and after having found the courage to come out, Rose begins to pursue her dream of becoming a patissier. Once again the four girls band together to help one another overcome their individual challenges and fulfill their dreams in this fabulous and heart-warming celebration of friendship.

This takes place a few months after book one and each of the Moonlight Dreamers have something new to overcome. Amber is feeling unsure of her identity after her surrogate mother doesn't want to see her; Sky is going to school for the first time in years and understandably cannot deal with the rigidity of her day; Maali's dad is ill and her faith is failing her; and Rose has realised something about her sexuality

The girls have come back a bit more mature and grown than last time we saw them - as they get older and have to start thinking about the future, they are all realising new dreams to aim for, whether that be to understand where they came from, like Amber, or work hard towards their career, like Rose.

Like the first book, I loved and greatly appreciated the message of friendship and supporting each other in your dreams. For example, when Rose is worried how the girls will take her coming out news, they surprise her by being loving and opening and happy that she can be true to herself. And they all support Maali when her dad's in the hospital, Sky even battling her fear as she hasn't been in a hospital since her mum died.

I adored this story as much as the first one, it was just so uplifting. Even though all of the girls have been through a little bit of hell, in one way or another, they all support and take care of each other and come out the other end better than ever. 

Published 3rd August 2017 by Walker. Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The Gender Games by Juno Dawson

The Gender Games: The Problem with Men and Women, from Someone Who Has Been Both'It's a boy!' or 'It's a girl!' are the first words almost all of us hear when we enter the world. Before our names, before we have likes and dislikes - before we, or anyone else, has any idea who we are. And two years ago, as Juno Dawson went to tell her mother she was (and actually, always had been) a woman, she started to realise just how wrong we've been getting it.

Gender isn't just screwing over trans people, it's messing with everyone. From little girls who think they can't be doctors to teenagers who come to expect street harassment. From exclusionist feminists to 'alt-right' young men. From men who can't cry to the women who think they shouldn't. As her body gets in line with her mind, Juno tells not only her own story, but the story of everyone who is shaped by society's expectations of gender - and what we can do about it.

Featuring insights from well-known gender, feminist and trans activists including Rebecca Root, Laura Bates, Gemma Cairney, Anthony Anaxagorou, Hannah Witton, Alaska Thunderfuck and many more, The Gender Games is a frank, witty and powerful manifesto for a world where what's in your head is more important than what's between your legs.

Part autobiography, part social commentary, Juno writes like we're having a chat over a cup of tea - frank, funny and rude. She looks at all aspects of gender at all stages of life, from first toys through to puberty and experimenting at university, and shows how it screws us up at every turn - limiting our choices, making us victims for bullies, and making us doubt ourselves.

Juno spends a lot of book analysing the media, especially the token female in TV shows and the "strong female character" that is only popular because of physical strength, a typically male attribute. Having grown up in the 90's, Juno had different role models, namely the Spice Girls (as she mentions often). But now, teenagers have a worrying amount of pressure online, from instagram-famous people looking polished and perfect. Many, Juno included, would think that these filtered and cropped photos are something to aspire to, no matter what, and that can be a source to great mental and physical upheaval. Alongside to social commentary of the lack of diverse role models, Juno links all this to her teenage ambition to be famous, for no other reason than "it looked like a lot of fun". 

One of my favourite chapters was where Juno discusses sex and the promiscuity of gay men, having been one and definitely living up to the stereotype! Juno also talks about the concept of virginity and the social construct that is "slut"; as men can sleep around but women apparently can't, this is another way that gender messes with our perceptions of self-worth and sexuality. As a feminist, but also a cis-woman, this chapter, along with "why men need feminism too", meant a lot and also explained a lot about gender stereotypes and different perspectives of how assumptions can harm all genders.

I completely loved this book. Parts might have been a bit uncomfortable or crude, but it was a very funny and clever dissection of how modern society's gender notions whether consciously or not - and how it damages us. Things like male entitlement, segregation in PE lessons (and apparently gendered sport, like rugby and netball) to feminism and diversity in the media, Juno tackled a lot while still remaining funny, clear, a little self-deprecating, and non-judgemental. She makes it clear she can only speak from her own experiences and many others might have different ones, but everyone can learn a little something from her (even if it's just how much she loves the Spice Girls!).

Published 1st June 2017 by Two Roads.

Friday, 11 August 2017

All About Mia by Lisa Williamson

All About MiaOne family, three sisters.
GRACE, the oldest: straight-A student.
AUDREY, the youngest: future Olympic swimming champion.
And MIA, the mess in the middle.

Mia is wild and daring, great with hair and selfies, and the undisputed leader of her friends – not attributes appreciated by her parents or teachers.
When Grace makes a shock announcement, Mia hopes that her now-not-so-perfect sister will get into the trouble she deserves.
But instead, it is Mia whose life spirals out of control – boozing, boys and bad behaviour – and she starts to realise that her attempts to make it All About Mia might put at risk the very things she loves the most.

Mia is the middle child and used to being ignored for her sisters' much better accomplishments - Grace, the eldest, is perfect in every way and A-plus student and set to go to Oxford; Audrey is a champion swimmer and is training for the Olympics. But when Grace comes home suddenly, and pregnant, Mia (and I) find it hilarious and a serious upset to the the natural order.

Mia was such a refreshing character - surprisingly unlikable and yet relatable. I can clearly remember feeling like she did when I was in sixth form, like you had no idea where you wanted to go in life, having no plan and no passion to guide you. She also likes to take the stereotype of teenage angst and turns it up to 11 - when she acts out, she really acts out! 

The shock of Grace acting less than perfect changes their family dynamic and Mia is quick to fill in the void with insane behaviour. Although the Campbell-Richardson's were anything but normal, they were a great family. The parents were trying their hardest to do right by all of their girls and might have struggled with Mia but as it turns out, all three of them sometimes feel excluded from "happy families". 

I adored this story; it was funny and embarrassing and sometimes awful but so very real as Mia crashes through life and learns what her next steps should be as well as finding her true place in the family.  

Published 2nd February 2017 by David Fickling Books.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

A Change Is Gonna Come by Mary Bello, et al

A Change Is Gonna ComeFeaturing top Young Adult authors alongside a host of exciting new talent, this anthology of stories and poetry from BAME writers on the theme of change is a long-overdue addition to the YA scene. Contributors include Tanya Byrne, Inua Ellams, Catherine Johnson, Patrice Lawrence, Ayisha Malik, Irfan Master, Musa Okwonga and Nikesh Shukla.

Plus introducing four fresh new voices in YA fiction: Mary Bello, Aisha Bushby, Yasmin Rahman and Phoebe Roy.

I always find it difficult to review an anthology, because there are lots of little stories in these pages and all of them were incredible. 

Not only did this introduce me to lots of great new authors, it also spanned a range of very different types of stories, from fantasy to contemporary, romance to poems and everything in between. I really enjoyed all of them, with girls learning about refugees, finding first love and acceptance, overcoming anxiety and battling friends about racism, all the stories covered change and how scary it is sometimes.

Like I said, there were lots of different topics discussed, not just race and diversity - things like OCD and anxiety, empathy, love and being true to yourself. I think this whole anthology is incredibly important to see different stories, different experiences in print, and what it means to want change, whatever scale it's in. 

Published 10th August 2017 by Stripes Publishing. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Weekly Highlights: the 'August TBR' edition

Weekly Highlights is a feature borrowed from Faye of A Daydreamer's Thoughts, where I get to highlight my posts of the week, show you my new books and talk about bookish things!

God, August already? That means summer's half way over! It's been a pretty amazing summer so far, with days out and of course comic con last weekend! Coming up for August is more of the same as I get ready for the new term at work. 

On The Blog
Review of When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon 
Review of The Crash by Lisa Drakeford
Review of City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C Anderson
Review of Freshers by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison
Review of The Girls Guide to Summer by Sarah Mlynowski
Interview with Siobhan Curham
Review of The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas

Currently Reading
At time of writing, I'm reading Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race, which was recommended by Alyce. Although a difficult subject, especially the history section, I'm really enjoying it.

On My Bookshelf
Tell it to the MoonTell It to the Moon by Siobhan Curham
To make a dream come true, tell it to the moon! Tell It to the Moon continues the story of Moonlight Dreamers Amber, Maali, Sky and Rose, who are not like everyone else and don't want to be: becoming friends gives them the courage to be themselves. After failing to find her surrogate mother, Amber is left unsure of who she is and what she wants to do; Maali's spiritual faith is tested when her father becomes ill; Sky, previously home-schooled, struggles to adapt to the pressures of the school system; and after having found the courage to come out, Rose begins to pursue her dream of becoming a patissier. Once again the four girls band together to help one another overcome their individual challenges and fulfill their dreams in this fabulous and heart-warming celebration of friendship.

I've already read this, it came out this week and I couldn't wait! The sequel to The Moonlight Dreamers, we follow the four girls as they encounter more drama and need each other to lean on. Thank you Walker, my review will be up soon!

The Fandom by Anna Day
The FandomCosplay ready, Violet and her friends are at Comic-Con.

They can’t wait to meet the fandom of mega movie, The Gallows Dance. What they’re not expecting is to be catapulted by freak accident into their favourite world – for real. Fuelled by love, guilt and fear, can the friends put the plot back on track and get out? The fate of the story is in their hands ...

A fast-paced, genre-flipping YA fantasy adventure from a brand new author, writing in homage to the best YA fiction.

Ahh, I am beyond excited for this! Cosplay, nerdy things and sudden magical lands - yes please! Thank you Chicken House!

There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins
There's Someone Inside Your HouseOne-by-one, the students of Osborne High are dying in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, the dark secrets among them must finally be confronted.
International bestselling author Stephanie Perkins returns with a fresh take on the classic teen slasher story that’s fun, quick-witted, and completely impossible to put down.

Although so different from her other books, I'm really looking forward to this creepy thriller - thank you Macmillan and Netgalley!

I also got The House of Secrets by Sarra Manning and The One We Fell In Love With by Paige Toon, because they were on offer and sounded awesome. Links to Goodreads.

And then: behold my yalc haul! I think I did pretty well: I didn't go overboard (learning from my mistake last year when I broke my shoulder muscles!) and I also got some great books! I've already read The Loneliest Girl, sped through it actually, and am planning on reading the rest sooner rather than later.

August TBR
At time of writing, I don't have any review books to read urgently, so my TBR is pretty open - which I am very happy with! As I said, I am very excited for the books I got at yalc so those are probably going to be first up. Any ideas of what I should read next?

Friday, 4 August 2017

The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas

The State of Grace

Sometimes I feel like everyone else was handed a copy of the rules for life and mine got lost.

Grace has Asperger's and her own way of looking at the world. She's got a horse and a best friend who understand her, and that's pretty much all she needs. But when Grace kisses Gabe and things start to change at home, the world doesn't make much sense to her any more. 

Suddenly everything threatens to fall apart, and it's up to Grace to fix it on her own.

Grace has had to learn on her feet, struggling through life and its ever-changing rules, when her autism means she sees and is affected by things very differently. She also can't pick up social cues, which is a typical autistic trait, so when things happened (like her mum's sudden need to have a life outside of home, her little sister acting weird with her best friend), they seemed to happen with no warning and Grace struggled to deal with it. 

Personally, I think this was very apt; from my experience dating someone with autism, they don't think about anyone outside their little bubble - my fiancé once explained it to me that once I'm not in the vicinity of him anymore, it's as if I cease to exist, he just doesn't think about me (that was years ago, so I'm not longer insulted!). 

Grace was such an amazing character - she was used to being defined by her autism and just desperately wanted to fit in, to be ignored by the mean girls that tease her. She also had an incredible friendship with Anna, who used to her quirks and knew not to push her. Anna was a calming and steady influence when everything else seemed to be falling around her, and for that Grace was very grateful. 

Now, the romance. I really liked them, it was real and endearing. Gabe was her first crush, it's adorable and new, but he just seemed a bit meh. Maybe because they were all 15 and nothing happened to them yet... But it was sweet and a little bit funny to see how Grace dealt with having someone new in her life. 

I had a lovely chat with Rachael at YALC about communicating with autistic people, as I've had 10 years with one of them and I'm still learning! What I loved and especially appreciated about this story, and I told Rachael this, was how realistic the autistic voice seemed to me. This is exactly how my fiancé acted when we were teenagers, still does a bit now, and having a protagonist with autism will explain the spectrum to a much larger audience.

Published 6th April 2017 by Macmillan Children's. 

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Q and A with Siobhan Curham

Tell it to the MoonToday I have a very special guest: Siohban Curham is here to answer a few questions about her books The Moonlight Dreamers and its sequel Tell It To The Moon, which is out today! You can check out my review for The Moonlight Dreamers here.

Take it away Siobhan!

1 – Might be an obvious start but why focus on female friendship in The Moonlight Dreamers?
Mainly because I’m such a fan of female friendship and I wanted to create a series that celebrated the great things that can be achieved when women or girls come together to support each other in being true to themselves and pursuing their dreams. I also wanted to create something that challenged the culture of bitchiness and comparison that’s encouraged in certain parts of the press and media. That being said, I didn’t want to paint some rosy-tinted world where nothing bad ever happens. In both The Moonlight Dreamers and Tell it to the Moon certain friendships are tested and challenges need to be overcome.

2 – Were there any inspirations, real or fictional, for the girls’ characters?
I was inspired to create Rose’s character by observing the way the kids of celebrities are flung into their parents’ spotlight. It can be hard enough growing up in the relative privacy of a non-celebrity world, but when your parents are famous and you end up becoming famous as an extension it must be really hard. Through Rose I wanted to show the negative side of the celebrity bubble. I was inspired to create Maali for two reasons, firstly, to try and offer some ethnic and spiritual diversity – there seem to be very few religious characters in YA fiction – but I was also drawing upon some of my own personal experiences as a hopeless romantic! With Amber I wanted to create someone who doesn’t want to squeeze herself to fit into any of society’s so-called norms. Someone who likes dressing in vintage men’s clothing and is pretty much asexual. But it was equally important to me to not make too big of a deal of this – as I don’t think it is a big deal. I wish everyone was free to live and dress exactly as they wish, without being judged. And Sky is probably the most like me, with her hippy lifestyle and love of writing.

3 – Other than Oscar Wilde, what books do you think the girls should or do take inspiration from?
I would say that they’d take inspiration from Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clariss Pinkola Estees. And any books that celebrate female friendship, like The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

4 – Was there a book that made you want to write?
As a child the first book that made me realise how powerful words and stories can be was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – I cried my eyes out when I thought Aslan had died. As a teen, reading The Catcher in the Rye made me realise how powerful a character’s voice can be. And, as an adult, I was really inspired to finally begin writing by an author called Lisa Jewell because I loved the characters she created and how the worlds of her books are so vividly drawn they’re almost characters in their own right.

5 – Finally, what did you dream about as a teenager?
Apart from a brief spell when I wanted to be a forensic scientist – after becoming hooked on a TV show called Quincy – I’ve always dreamed of being a writer. Sadly, when I got to university to study English Literature and Screen-writing as part of that dream, I had a crisis of confidence and dropped out. Coming from a poor background on a council estate I didn’t think I had what it took to be a part of the middle class world of writing. Thankfully, I proved myself wrong and I’ve now written twenty-three books – under my own name and as a ghost-writer. This is why I feel so passionately about encouraging young people to dare to dream – I don’t want them to make the same mistake I did.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

The Girl's Guide to Summer by Sarah Mlynowksi

The Girl's Guide to SummerSydney Aarons is leaving her Manhattan townhouse for a summer backpacking around Europe with her best friend, Leela. They're visiting London, France, Italy, Switzerland and everywhere in between - it's going to be the trip of a lifetime.

BUT... The trip gets off to a bad start when Leela's ex-boyfriend shows up on their flight out of JFK. When they touch down in London, Leela Instagrams their every move in the hope Matt will come and find them... Which he does, along with the most gorgeous guy Sydney has ever seen.

Will Sydney's summer fling last the distance? And what will happen when they all head home?

Sydney is used to looking after her mother, who suffers from anxiety and agoraphobia, but she is assured that her trip to Europe with her best friend will go ahead as planned. It doesn't stop Syd worrying about her mum though, or her younger sister who should be looking after her.

Then of course there's the added drama of finding out that Leela's ex Matt is on their plane and planning the same trip (as it was supposed to be Leela and Matt's holiday before they broke up). So Leela is both angry and desperate to rub his face in her being over him, even though she isn't, and drags Syd through a lot of emotional turmoil. And then there's Matt's friend Jackson, apparently renowned man-whore, who is often left with Syd when Matt and Leela go off and fight/have make-up sex. Whichever. 

I can always count on Sarah for a very funny and memorable story, usually involving lots of kissing and leaning on friends. The girls (and sometimes the boys) take us across Europe, all the good and major cities, hitting the tourist traps and enjoying local fun - Amsterdam needs no explanation! It was lovely seeing all the different places, how the atmosphere and the character's enjoyment depended on where they were and who they were with. 

It was also a great mix of  road trip fun and mental health awareness, as Syd worries over her family, has a panic attack climbing the stairs in the Eiffel Tower, and has a huge row with Leela over the guys. All in all, a fantastic story - classic road trip fun, with hot boys, good friends and life lessons learned.

Published 15th July 2017 by Orchard Books. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Freshers by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

FreshersAnother laugh-out-loud dual narrative, Freshers is a YA novel following two protagonists through that tumultuous first year of university. Starring new characters – but featuring some familiar faces from Lobsters – Freshers is a contemporary, authentic story packed full of love, sex and friendship.

This is told in alternating chapters through freshers week and beyond, as Luke and Phoebe start university and tackle the sudden grown up responsibilities that come with it.

We should all know by now that we can go to Lucy and Tom's books when we need a funny and realistic love story, and their latest is no different. This time around the characters are older, in their late teens as they head off to university. This brought back hilarious and fond memories of my own uni life, as well as being glad it wasn't as bad as this!

Like I said, Lucy and Tom's books are always very funny and having characters venture off into the unknown by themselves, failing to navigate adult life, they got themselves in some almost cringe-worthy situations. I had to be careful where I was reading; I snorted with laughter in a quiet coach on the train, and had to leave the living room because I was distracting mum's TV watching.

Behind the fun and frivolous life of a fresher, there were real fears and issues tackled, such as mental health (especially relating to men's perceived masculinity), new relationships and leaving home for the first time. It was really well balanced between the mad/scary stuff and the randomly funny stuff. I will be recommending this to every teenager, as it shows a real-life depiction of how you don't have to grow up all at once, everyone messes up, and it's ok to talk to someone when you're feeling crappy. A brilliant and hilarious book with really important messages but also just shows how unexpectedly amazing and terrifying uni life can be.

Published 3rd August 2017 by Chicken House.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C Anderson

City of Saints & ThievesStreet-thief Tina breaks in to the luxurious house where her mother was killed to steal from Mr. Greyhill and nail him for her mother’s murder. She is caught red-handed.

Saved by Mr. Greyhill’s gorgeous son, Michael, the pair set in motion a cascade of dangerous events that lead them deeper into the mystery, and reveal dark and shocking secrets from Tina’s past.

Tina and her mother fled the Congo years ago as refugees, trading the uncertain danger of their besieged village for a new, safer life in the bustling Kenyan metropolis. The corruption and politics of the Congo, and the gangster world of Sangui City, are behind Tina’s mother’s downfall. Is Tina tough enough to find the truth and bring the killer to justice?

Tina and her mother escaped the gang wars in the Congo to live in Kenya, where they worked and lived at the Greyhills. Tina grew up with the Greyhill's son Michael and then her little sister came along, a product of Tina's mum's affair with the master of the household. But when she is found murdered, Tina is sure that Mr Greyhill did it, and spends years working her way up in a street gang until she is strong and talented enough to break in and find the evidence she needs. 

I don't think I've read a book set in Africa before and that made this thriller very interesting. Along with the metropolitan cityscape, there was a much darker underbelly, with gangs, racism, gun trade and large class gaps between rich and poor. 

When Tina breaks into Mr Greyhill's office, she is surprised by Michael and he convinces her to let him help and prove his father's innocence. Thus begins a very uneasy partnership, as they search badly written police reports, old photographs and newspaper clippings for anything about Tina's mum's old life and who might have wanted her dead. Their search takes them, and Tina's friend BoyBoy, a hacker expert, back to Tina's home town. 

This book was not at all what I expected and so much better. It was part crime thriller, part social commentary with lots of issues and discussions about race, civil unrest, the dangers for women in wartime (and out of wartime, while we're at it) and gang life. I honestly couldn't bear to put this book down, I desperately wanted to know the truth, for Tina and for Michael. A surprising new favourite that I've already recommended to my family, and a great story that shows the world a little differently.  

Published 6th July 2017 by OneWorld. Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 21 July 2017

The Crash by Lisa Drakeford

The Crash

Best friends Sophie and Tye are watching TV when a car crashes through the living room wall. The driver and passenger are twins, Harry and Gemma. Next door neighbour, eleven-year-old Issy, witnesses the accident. In the aftermath, Tye is thrown into a coma, Gemma’s dark past begins to haunt the present, and Sophie starts to fall for Harry – but how can she, when he was the driver who nearly killed her best friend? And Issy, meanwhile, hides a terrible secret... 

Having a car crash through your living room is sure to ruin any moment between best friends. One moment, it was fine and funny, if slightly awkward when Sophie kisses Tye, then the next, there's a car where the wall should be. Everything happens so suddenly, I could feel my ears ringing.

After that moment of truth, as it were, things are very different. Tye is in a coma, Sophie and her family is without a home, and Harry is in the hospital and facing a criminal charge for reckless driving. This was such a good story, having this one fatal event change so many lives so drastically. There are obvious ones, like Tye and Harry's injuries, and Sophie's home, but also Issy doesn't have her friendly neighbour there to help anymore; Sophie develops feelings for the boy who ruined her and Tye's lives; and Gemma is more determined than ever to escape her current life. 

Told between alternating chapters between characters, you see the aftermath of the crash and how everyone picks up the pieces. Gemma's chapters are in the past, in the couple of years before the crash, where you see a dangerous relationship brewing. And poor Issy, the 13 year old neighbour, is a victim of domestic abuse, along with her mother. With no kind neighbours to check on them and chat to, Issy and her mum fall deeper into the dark.

I adored this, it was incredibly dramatic but also real. Sure, it's not every day a car drives through a house but the problems that arrive after, and what the story mostly focuses on, such as new relationships, horrible home lives and family stress, were all, if not normal then at least very realistic. I flew through this, desperate to understand how the crash happened, for a happy ending for Issy, and for Sophie and Harry, and most of all for Tye. A great story that will leave you breathless and frantically checking the front windows!

Published 6th July 2017 by Chicken House. Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff

Maresi (The Red Abbey Chronicles #1)Maresi came to the Red Abbey when she was thirteen, in the Hunger Winter. Before then, she had only heard rumours of its existence in secret folk tales. In a world where girls aren't allowed to learn or do as they please, an island inhabited solely by women sounded like a fantasy. But now Maresi is here, and she knows it is real. She is safe.

Then one day Jai tangled fair hair, clothes stiff with dirt, scars on her back arrives on a ship. She has fled to the island to escape terrible danger and unimaginable cruelty. And the men who hurt her will stop at nothing to find her.

Now the women and girls of the Red Abbey must use all their powers and ancient knowledge to combat the forces that wish to destroy them. And Maresi, haunted by her own nightmares, must confront her very deepest, darkest fears.

A story of friendship and survival, magic and wonder, beauty and terror, Maresi will grip you and hold you spellbound.

The Red Abbey is proud to be a refuge for girls and women the world over, offering sanctuary and an education to those who come to then leave and make the world a better place. Maresi has been there for years and now considers it home. She and the other girls learn about the world, how to farm and build, and read and write, and their belief system of the Mother goddess. 

It was such a quiet, almost quaint, setting for a fantasy world, and I loved it. Fantasies rarely bother with small-town sort of problems and just getting to know the abbey, known the world over but having no real part in it, was fascinating. 

As it was all women, no men allowed, it really felt like a feminist story; the girls were aware that men can be dangerous but weren't taught to fear them necessarily, just be wary of different cultures. 

Things at the Abbey changed when Jai comes and Maresi tells the story of her arrival and her transition to life in the Abbey. It was an interesting concept, as the story is told as if from memory. It meant that some details were so obviously huge but we got a very clear picture of life and then how that drastically changed when Jai's nightmare comes true.

I was really late to the party with this book but I'm glad I finally got round to it, as I really enjoyed it. The mix of magical fantasy and cruel realism was jarring and dramatic but it really was a story about friendship and girl power, and I loved that. 

Published 14th January 2016 by Puskin. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Blog Tour: The Crash

The CrashToday we have a brilliant guest post from Lisa Drakeford, author of The Baby and The Crash. I adored both of her books, and they are so very different but gripping. Review of The Crash to come soon but right now, I'll hand it over to Lisa.

My Dream Movie Cast for The Crash

Ok, so I’m now the most powerful casting director in the world, because I can currently conjure up actors from any era. It’s a hard life, but somebody’s got to do it. I’m about to find actors who will play the five main characters in The Crash. Obviously they’re available!
Please mop my brow and feed me grapes as I make my decisions ...

Gemma: She’s snippy and prickly but gorgeous. She’s damaged and hard to love, but actually, strangely loving.
And the lucky actress is … Cara Delevingne from Paper Towns.

Tye: He’s strong, he’s funny and he’s a good best friend. He has a few secrets but he’s gradually dealing with them.
This time I’m going for Nathan Stewart Jarrett. He played the delightful Curtis in Misfits; perfect for the part.

Harry: Reliable but guilt ridden. Loyal and artistic. The best brother in the whole wide world and totally submersed in love.
A no-brainer here … Dylan Minnette, the actor who played Clay in Thirteen Reasons Why.

Sophie: A fab best friend but also riddled with guilt. She’s on a mission but gets somewhat distracted. Gets on with life despite some hard knocks.
I’m going for Katelyn Nacon who plays Enid in The Walking Dead. (Obviously she’ll have to change her accent.)

And finally, young Issy: The shyest, quietest member of the cast with the biggest, darkest secret. There’s a depth to Issy which nobody knows about. But eventually the truth has to come out and that’s when she finds her courage.
It’s obviously … Milly Bobby Brown – Eleven from Stranger Things, of course.

So, that was fun. Casting Direction could well be the dreamiest job ever. Is it too late to switch career?

Lisa Drakeford is the acclaimed author of The Baby, which was shortlisted for the 2014 Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition. Her new novel, The Crash, is out now priced £7.99.

Friday, 7 July 2017

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met RishiMeet Dimple.

Her main aim in life is to escape her traditional parents, get to university and begin her plan for tech world domination.

Meet Rishi.

He's rich, good-looking and a hopeless romantic. His parents think Dimple is the perfect match for him, but she's got other plans...

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works even harder to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

As joyfully refreshing as Rainbow Rowell, Jenny Han and Nicola Yoon, When Dimple Met Rishi is a frothy, funny contemporary romance told from the dual perspectives of two Indian American protagonists. While Dimple is fighting her family traditions, Rishi couldn't be happier to follow in the footsteps of his parents - could sparks fly between this odd couple, or is this matchmaking attempt doomed to fail?

The blogosphere practically blew up when this started making the rounds, everyone loved it and I'm happy to say I did too! Therefore this will be quite a short review as I'm sure you've already heard how amazing and cute and romantic it is.

Dimple and Rishi weren't supposed to meet, but their parents conspired and pushed them together. Rishi went to the same summer programme as Dimple just to meet her but she only wanted to learn. 

There was an overall great perspective of traditional Indian relationships. It was clear that Dimple identified as American but her parents desperately wanted her to be the perfect little Indian daughter. On the other hand, Rishi was more than happy to live up to his parents standards and was proud to carry on their ideals. 

The progress of their relationship, especially after they agree to not go along with the arranged marriage, felt natural and equal. Even though Rishi wanted to settle down and expected Dimple to move her life around his, when they got to know each other, they both realised that they wanted something different. Dimple might have been all about her coding and her career but when she started to care for Rishi, she was willing to give things a try and I was really proud of her. Of both of them, actually, as they changed their dreams when someone new came into their lives. 

As you can probably tell, I loved every second; it was so completely sweet I wanted to hug it! The story was brilliant, the romance was spot on and realistic and so easy to ship, and the characters, the diversity across races and sexualities and backgrounds, were all amazing to read about. One of my new favourite books, easy. 

Published 1st June 2017 by Hodder and Stoughton. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Weekly Highlights: the 'July TBR' edition

Weekly Highlights is a feature borrowed from Faye of A Daydreamer's Thoughts, where I get to highlight my posts of the week, show you my new books and talk about bookish things!

It's the summer! One of my jobs has finished for the summer holiday so I have lots more time off to (hopefully) read and actually do stuff! Well, when I can go outside without pollen attacking my face. 

P.S - I know I am a little late, I usually post these on a Sunday but this week I did a whoopsie and completely forgot! Better late then never, yeah?

On The Blog
Review of Remembrance by Meg Cabot
Review of The Flight of a Starling by Lisa Heathfield
Review of Truth or Dare by Non Pratt
Review of Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Currently Reading
A Girls Guide to Summer by Sarah Mlynowski - I bought myself a physical copy for my collection, even though I had an e-proof so I did have to wait for that to arrive before I could crack on but it is very good so far!

On My Bookshelf
As you can see, I went a little bit mad when I went up to London with my friend Alyce; we found some great books in a couple of charity shops and then went to Non Pratt's event in Waterstones and bought Tom and Lucy's new book Freshers! I read it in two days, it was brilliant, as expected, but be warned about reading it in public - I laughed out loud in the quiet coach on a train and got some funny looks!

I also got this month: Hidden Among Us by Katy Moran (bought off Faye - thanks Faye!) and Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, which I am beyond excited for.

True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop (Lonely Hearts Bookshop #2)True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop by Annie Darling
Verity Love – Jane Austen fangirl, manager of London’s first romance-only bookshop Happy Ever, and an introvert in a world of extroverts – is perfectly happy on her own (thank you very much), and quite happy hiding in the office and lying to her friends about her fictional boyfriend Peter, whose presence is very useful for getting her out of social events.

But when a case of mistaken identity forces her to introduce a perfect stranger as her boyfriend, Verity’s life suddenly becomes much more complicated.

Because ‘Peter’ is actually Johnny, and he too could use a fictional girlfriend. So against her better judgement and because she can't stand sitting on the sad singles table, Verity and Johnny decide to partner up for a summer season of weddings, big number birthdays and garden parties, culminating in her sister’s Big Fat Wedding.

And by the end of the summer, there’s a bad case of heartache that even Verity’s beloved Pride And Prejudice might not be able to cure…

I adored Annie's first book The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts and am really excited about getting back into this book lovers world. Thank you Harper and Netgalley!

A Change is Gonna Come by et al
A Change Is Gonna ComeFeaturing top Young Adult authors alongside a host of exciting new talent, this anthology of stories and poetry from BAME writers on the theme of change is a long-overdue addition to the YA scene. Contributors include Tanya Byrne, Inua Ellams, Catherine Johnson, Patrice Lawrence, Ayisha Malik, Irfan Master, Musa Okwonga and Nikesh Shukla.

Plus introducing four fresh new voices in YA fiction: Mary Bello, Aisha Bushby, Yasmin Rahman and Phoebe Roy.

I've just been approved for this so I am very excited! I don't really know what the stories are going to be about but with names like these, I'm looking forward to finding out! Thank you Stripes and Netgalley!

July TBR
I'm going to be slowly making my way through the new books I bought myself, but as usual my review books take priority as they are both coming out in August. Let me know what you're planning on reading this month and if you have any summer holiday plans!

Friday, 30 June 2017

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

GeekerellaPart romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom. Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

Elle has inherited her love of cult classic TV show Starfield from her dad - her parents met at a con, they cosplayed the main couple from the show, and then Elle used to watch it with her dad after her mum died. But when her dad then died, her step-mother bans it from the house, makes all of their memorabilia disappear and insults Elle and her dad for enjoying that stupid show. 

I thought with a nerdy Cinderella re-telling, the fairy tale elements would be stretched or unlikely. But right from the off, you could see the recognisable traits in a modern and believable setting. Elle just wants to enjoy her favourite show and hope that the reboot movie doesn't crush her soul, or that Darien would ruin her beloved Starfield. Darien, meanwhile, desperately wants to do Carmindor justice, having been a huge fan all his life too. 

I could tell this was going to be good because there were references to Doctor Who, Star Trek and Firefly in first few pages! It really was a love letter to nerd life - there was no fan-bashing (although some great comments about excessive fans, ambushing or stalking their - for want of a better word - prize), it was all about the community of cons and how you meet and recognise familiar faces and make a family in those who love something you do. 

I adored this whole story, from Elle and her desperate need to escape but also do her dad proud, to Darien and his catapult to fame and fortune. It was funny and quirky and so damn sweet, especially seeing not just Elle but one of her step-sisters stand up to the "evil step-mother". It really was a story about being true to you and not letting fear or someone else's expectations get in your way.

Published 4th April 2017 by Quirk Books.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Top Ten Books of the Year So Far!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish.

There is no way I could put these in any actual order of favourites so they are in order I read them. I've also kept it exclusive to 2017 releases, just to keep from going mental.

Unconventional1 - Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt
What can I say about this book that I haven't already gushed over? It was a brilliant love letter to cons and nerd life and falling in love with someone exceptional.

2 - Wing Jones by Katherine Webber
There was so many amazing things about this book, but what I look back on is two main things: the adorable romance and the incredible diversity.

3 - The Scarecrow Queen by Melinda Salisbury
The epic finale to Mel's Sin Eater's Daughter trilogy took my breath away and scared me beyond belief! Which I'm sure was her desired effect.

4 - The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Again, great love story - actually a few of them - and great diversity. Just all around smooshiness in this book, which is my favourite thing ever.

Doing It!: Let's Talk About Sex5 - Doing It! by Hannah Witton
I adore Hannah's YouTube videos and her voice is funny and refreshing and sometimes embarrassingly honest. Chock full of information that sex-ed just didn't get to or bother with.

6 - Truth of Dare by Non Pratt
I just wrote my review for this book last week and I still can't find the words for how incredible Non's teenage characters are. Both were just brilliant and so funny and lifelike that I wanted to smack and hug them both at various intervals. 

7 - Geekerella by Ashley Poston
When Dimple Met RishiAnother love letter to geek life! I'm sensing a theme here... This one was a Cinderella retelling, which I thought might be a stretch but actually worked perfectly. So cute and can definitely see myself re-reading every year.

8 - When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
This is everyone's favourite book of the year and I am no exception! Funny, cute and all kinds of adorkable.

Ok, so my list is only 8 books long - I'm still happy with that! My reading has been really weird this year so these 8 amazing books from the 50-odd I've read so far, I'm counting that as a win.