Princess in Practice: The Rosewood Chronicles review

Building on the success of Undercover Princess, author Connie Glynn smashes it out of the park with a sequel fit for a princess.

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Although, I am very tempted to make this a very spoiler heavy review; I am going to make this as a spoiler free as possible (but it won’t be spoiler free in regards to events which occurred in the first book) because it’s only my own excitement and need to talk about the book, which is making me want to go spoiler heavy!

If you haven’t read the first book in this series Undercover Princess then I’ll be honest this review and Princess in Practice won’t make a whole lot of sense. If you’ve just read the first book and you want to recap a little or if you are thinking of starting this series you can read my review of Undercover Princess here.

I’ll start by initially saying that although the first book in this series has a special part in my heart (partly because I’ve been a fan of Connie Glynn for a few years now); this book definitely took it to the next level with me and I am now fully invested in this series.

Without further ado though let’s proceed with this review…

Blurb 

Lottie and Ellie are back! 

Head back to Rosewood Hall with your two favourite princesses in the sequel to Undercover Princess!

———-

As they return to Rosewood after the dramatic events of their first year, Lottie and Ellie are hoping for a peaceful term.

But strange things are happening at Rosewood. Pupils are being poisoned. 

Is the threat of secret organisation Leviathan growing closer? 

Lottie and Ellie are determined to find the culprit; but danger could be closer than they think…

Credit: Penguin

Judging a book by its cover (cover review) 

Princess in Practice

For anyone who is even just mildly obsessed with pastels or princesses then this cover is a dream come true. I love that it keeps up the same colour palette as the cover for Undercover Princess and I personally love that the beautiful shade of pink is the main focus. The gold writing for both the series name The Rosewood Chronicles and the author gives an instant regal flair to the cover, demonstrating that, yes,  this is a book highly concerned with royalty. The title itself (and I may be reading too much into this) Princess in Practice not only is very demonstrative of the theme of this book – this is definitely Lottie’s story about settling into her new role as Portman and through trial and error realising where she belongs and truly becoming a princess; but the two different writing styles remind me a lot of Ellie and Lottie. Ellie is a bit more bold like the font for the word princess whereas the word practice is in a fancier, more elegant script more characteristic of Lottie.

Based on her physical descriptions in the series, I believe the girl on the cover of the novel is Lottie with her tiara glistening on her head with Rosewood Hall visible right on her heart. And I can’t think of a more fitting image to sum up this novel to be honest.

Review 

To prepare for this review I went back and read my review of the first book in the series, which did not help me with keeping this review spoiler free, as I just want to yell in this review about which of my assumptions are true. Instead, I’ll say this, if you are looking for a novel targeted at children and young adults that explores a wide range of different sexualities in a matter of fact way then this is for you.

It is refreshing to see the characters not be tormented over their sexualities and reacting well to finding out other characters sexualities  – for the audience this is aimed at this is definitely a decision I agree with and helps them to negotiate how they should handle such situations. However, I think it might also be valuable to show a character not react well and then learn and grow from their mistake, but honestly this is something that could be easily explored in other parts of the series and I don’t expect this series to cover everything (that’s too much of a burden for any series to bear).

I’m glad as well that Lottie’s relationship with Ollie is explored further in this book and I hope to see more of Ollie in the future. Binah, one of my favourite characters from the first book, makes more of an appearance, which I was delighted about. Essentially, the second instalment does what a sequel should do and expand upon the world it’s created.  Princess in Practice does this brilliantly, building on the momentum of the first book, instead of suffering from sequel syndrome. I think a large way the book gets away with this is making the journey of certain characters trying to find themselves a central part of the book.

I wish to the bottom of my heart this series would have existed for me growing up (before I over analysed everything) and the representation in this book made my heart burst, especially as it’s targeted to a younger audience. It’s that charm that means I can forgive the momentum of the book being slightly too rapid at points, and some things not being as fleshed out as I would like. I would though love to have a series that shows events entirely from Binah or Anastasia’s perspective throughout the books.

Overall, Connie grows on the first book, not only going from strength to strength with her writing, but further creating a magical land of royalty, intrigue and mystery that I couldn’t help but to lose myself in. I will definitely continue to read this series and can’t wait to see the future that is in store for its characters.

Also, for anyone wondering I did the official online quiz and I got Ivy house though in a version online I got Conch (there’s also helpfully an information page at the back of Princess in Practice with information about each house).

Rating

4/5 – ‘Building on the success of Undercover Princess, author Connie Glynn smashes it out of the park with a sequel fit for a princess.’

4 star review

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Eve of Man by Giovanna Fletcher and Tom Fletcher: Book Review

Hi everyone, I just wanted to write a quick preface to this review because I wanted to try something a little different and make these reviews a bit more structured. That way I think it will make it easier for people to skip to the information they’d like to know about and it will make sure I’m not missing anything out! Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments.

I’d also like to take a second to apologise for the lack of posts the last few weeks. Honestly, I’ve been really struggling with writing content that I’ve felt engaged with recently and alongside having a bit of a dip myself mentally I just needed a little break. I also had a little Instagram break as well to see if that helped boost me up a little. I’m not sure how exactly it made me feel but it did make me delve a little deeper into how social media can affect me.

I’ve been appalled at the lack of books I’ve been reading recently so made it my mission to read something this month and a few people recommended to me Eve of Man. I actually received some great suggestions, which I want to get to in the coming months but it made me determined to try and write at least one book review or book related post a month. I’d also like to focus on finishing some of my writing projects (aka a novel) outside of this blog so I may not be able to post as often as I like sometimes.

But for now let’s just get on with this review…

Blurb

This is actually the preface to the book but it is freely available from the Penguin website so I’ve copied it here.

On the first day no one really noticed. Perhaps there was a chuckle among the midwives at the sight of all those babies wrapped in blue blankets, not a pink one in sight. Individual hospitals would’ve thought nothing of it. They wouldn’t have known that this day of blue was only the beginning.

On the second day they frowned, confused, at another twenty-four hours of blue.

Just boys.

How baffling. Still, they assumed it was nothing more than coincidence. The Y chromosome was just making more of an appearance than usual.

On the third day, the media made light of it ‒ It Really Is A Man’s World. That brought the situation to everyone’s notice. Doctors and nurses realized theirs wasn’t the only hospital to go blue. Blue was taking over. Not just entire hospitals, not just entire countries, but the entire world.

Where had the pink gone?

With approximately two and a half million babies born each week, half of whom were usually girls, the sudden imbalance couldn’t be ignored. World leaders were called together with the most respected scientists to try to understand what was happening and discuss measures they could take to monitor the situation. They had to find an ethical way of working– they didn’t want to strip people of their human rights. That was what they said.

Initially.

At first it was a phenomenon, but soon it was threatening the survival of humanity, leaving us all on the brink of extinction. That was when governments stopped being nice. When women became more controlled and oppressed than ever before.

Compulsory tests were carried out. To start with, pregnant women were screened to identify the sex of their unborn children. Then, as more time passed with no females born, all women under the age of fifty were examined in an attempt to determine the cause of the blue generation.

Sex was encouraged – those in power wanted lots of babies in the hope that the odds would eventually favour girls. And there were girls – they were spotted in utero, bouncing around in the amniotic fluid and nudging their mummies with their flailing arms and legs.

Not one survived.

Eventually those cases disappeared. There was no pink to be seen . . . or lost.

Science battled for years. And years. And years. No cause was found. There was no breakthrough. Without a cause there could be no cure. The future of humanity was ticking away with the biological clocks of any remaining fertile women.

They would never give up, the world was told. They would save the human race. Somehow.

And the people played their part. They prayed. Prayed to many gods to grant them rebirth of their kind. For a long time it seemed no one was listening. The people prayed harder, for longer, calling on different all-powerful beings with urgency. They unearthed old religions, forged new ones, and muttered their worshipful chants with longing.

Then, after a fifty-year female drought, a miracle happened – and it didn’t occur in a sterile science lab.

Corinne and Ernie Warren had been married for twenty-five years. They’d always wanted children but it seemed Mother Nature wasn’t on their side. Corinne suffered miscarriage after miscarriage until eventually the couple gave up their dream to become parents. She was struck off as a potential carrier when she was forty-three. They accepted the failure with much sadness and a hint of relief. They’d been beaten down by grief so many times. They were broken, but at least they had each other to cling to.

At fifty-one, eight years later, Corinne unexpectedly fell pregnant. Naturally. She and Ernie were thrilled, but full of fear. What if this baby was taken from them like all the others? They couldn’t face another miscarriage.

Like every woman, Corinne was screened – but, unlike other women, she and Ernie welcomed the tests. They wanted to be sure their baby was fit and healthy ‒ they wanted to do all they could to ensure the safe arrival of the little being they already loved so much and for whom they would do anything.

Their hearts leapt when they saw their creation stretching on the ultrasound. Their baby. Their joy. For the midwife dealing with Corinne, the screening process had become routine – a monotonous series of tests with invariably the same outcome. She didn’t expect to see anything but blue.

But there it was.

Pink.

And her appearance made quite an impact.

It caused a panic. The result in that examination room sent shockwaves of hysteria rippling around the globe. People couldn’t believe that good news had come at last. They were longing to be told more about the couple who offered them a glimmer of light.

But Corinne’s medical history of miscarriages, her age and the fact that no girls had survived in utero for decades was a cause for concern. Corinne and Ernie were moved into a specialized medical facility to maximize the chances of the pregnancy going full-term. Other than daily scans, no tests were carried out. This time Mother Nature was allowed to take her course – at least until there was any reason to interfere. Perhaps it was time to trust the human body again.

Corinne and Ernie understood the need for monitoring their baby’s development and the desire to keep their daughter safe. They welcomed the medical advice. They were happy their child was as special to others as she was to them. She had to be kept safe. They didn’t resent the restrictions placed on them. Or that they were allowed no visitors at all. They agreed they’d do whatever it took to bring their baby safely into the world.

There were complications in the delivery room. Mother and daughter were left fighting for their lives. Corinne died soon after giving birth, having fulfilled her life’s ambition to become a mother.

Ernie was grief-stricken, unable to deal with the loss of his wife. Incapable of being a father.

He never held his daughter.

Never kissed her.

Never told her he loved her.

And what of the baby girl?

The world had waited for her arrival with bated breath, longing for the news that their hopes had been realized, that their girl had been born.

She had.

Against all odds, she survived.

She was the first girl born in fifty years.

They called her Eve.

She represented the rebirth of the human race. She was the answer to their prayers. She was all they cared about, their final hope.

Eve was the saviour of humanity.

I am Eve.

Judging a book by its cover (cover review)

The cover for me screamed that this was a futuristic story from the simplistic but punchy design to the dark colours used in the background. However, the lines just at the bottom that read ‘How do you choose between love and the future of the human race?’ show this is a story that isn’t content with just letting the cover do the talking and felt more needed to be said. The circular design in the middle remained me of the cover of Florence Welch’s new book which also has a cut out section with a design underneath though that is a square. I’m not sure if this is a trend I’ve missed or a new trend but I thought it interesting to note. The ‘e’ on this cover also is intriguing for those who don’t what the story is about because of the use of the symbol used to represent femininity.

This honestly, isn’t my favourite type of cover simply because the colour palette or style doesn’t draw me in. I think however after reading the novel that the cover does a good job of being symbolic of the writing style and the novel’s contents.

Eve of Man

Review (not spoiler free)

I had high hopes for this novel after receiving lots of positive reviews from my friends and I’ll preface that for the most part I enjoyed this. I’ll also by picking up the other two books in this trilogy when they’re released (if you’re not a aware this book is the first in a trilogy). The writing style was easy to follow and I loved having the dual perspectives of Eve and Bram throughout the story. Sometimes, having multiple viewpoints in a novel can be redundant or even confusing but this never felt unnecessary to me and really helped fuel the romantic elements of the story. My friend actually said she preferred Eve’s chapters due to liking Giovanna’s writing style more. In fact, I preferred Bram’s chapters because I found that part of the story more interesting because you get to see a lot of possible future plot points.

I think the main issues I had with the novel was personal preference to be honest. The idea was so interesting that I just wanted more but from a slightly more adult view. Though, some things I think would have still have a place in a Young Adult novel, like, for example if it was more freeing to be homosexual in this society or if a desire for female offspring in fact made it worse. The novel does in fact feature men kissing when they’re out of the tower and in the real world but no further detail is gone into.

I hope in future novels as well that they delve into the narrative and show that they men they portray as sexually frustrated and are just expected to assault Eve is a product of  values they’ve been taught and conditioned (and how that’s not acceptable).

I also think the story would have more interesting if Eve was not your stereotypical Young Adult heroine. What would have happened to the story if she was homosexual? Transsexual? Or simply not conventionally attractive? Imagine all that expectation being the youngest female on the planet (and regarded as essentially the only female) and you don’t meet the physical expectations of the masses.

However, this is a love story through and through. Hence, why each chapter is penned by one half of a married couple and each character resembles their real life counterpart. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s relatable to a lot of people but to me it just reminded me a little of all the parts of Young Adult fiction I could never relate to.

Serious issues are however brought up. How could they not considering the subject matter? The whole novel in a way toys on the edge of whether IVF itself is natural considering the fact that it appears to be ‘love’ and ‘mother nature’ that brought Eve into the world, which I’m sure is not what the authors intended and might need to be clarified a little bit into future novels.

Eve’s name is of course biblical in origin but I also wonder if Bram is referring to Abraham, a key figure in the bible. Please correct me if I’m wrong here but from what I’ve read Abraham is guided by God to leave the house of his father and settle in a new land. Perhaps, there is some reflections to be made then considering the content of the novel.

Overall, like I’ve mentioned a lot of criticisms I have my be a little unfair for the novel’s category as it’s aimed at a younger readership. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t tackle complex ideas or big themes – I just wish it had pushed the envelope that tiny bit further.

This novel is also just got too interesting a concept for me to put it down. However, I keep wondering all the way through; if she’s the only female are the rest of the human race to be born out of incest? That I’m still not sure of so if you can clarify please go ahead!

Rating 

3/5 – ‘enjoyable, gripping but I was hoping for a bit more’

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Book review: Ready to Fall by Marcella Pixley

I am more than a little bit late with my review of this book (this book was published in the UK on March 15th) but my life has been very hectic recently so I didn’t have time to properly sit down and finish this book till now.  I also just want to quickly mention at the start before I start this review that I was very kindly set my copy of the book by the book’s publishers*.

The plot of the book is as follows:

Following the death of his mother, Max Friedman comes to believe that he is sharing his brain with a tumour. As he becomes focused on controlling the malignant tenant, he starts to lose touch with his friends and family, and with reality itself – so Max’s father sends him off to the artsy Baldwin School to regain his footing.

Soon, Max has joined a group of theatre misfits in a steam-punk production of Hamlet. He befriends Fish, a girl with pink hair and a troubled past, and The Monk, a boy who refuses to let go of the things he loves. Max starts to feel happy, and the ghosts of his past seem to be gone for ever.

But the tumour is always lurking in the wings – until one night it knocks him down, and Max is forced to face the truth.

-Mild spoilers ahead. There are no big plot spoilers here but I usually keep my reviews almost spoiler free so I wanted to flag-

I’ll start by saying that it took a bit of warming up too but I did enjoy parts of this novel. It reminds me a lot of books I would devour as a teenager. After all, who doesn’t dream of going to an artsy school where the teachers are cool and there are loads of quirky characters. I think this is also my main issue with the book, it feels very much like what you expect a novel for teenagers to read like – it’s basically screaming no one understands you if you’re quirky! This isn’t a bad thing, and there is books I love that apply the same techniques (*cough, cough, John Green*); however, there is still a uniqueness to the writing style that this lacks.

Don’t get me wrong there is real heart within the novel. The bits of the writing that truly resonated with me and managed to cut through the teen novel stereotypes where the parts where Max discusses his relationship with his mother, father or grandfather. The way Max’s grief is depicted felt raw and honest and kept me going with the novel, even when other parts grated with me a little.

I also loved the advice in the creative writing class about use of the 3rd person instead of 1st in certain instances, as it pinpointed an issue I’d had when reading my own writing and others in the past but couldn’t quite put my finger on. It even has influenced the direction I want to go in terms of my own novel, highlighting why I will always love reading – there is also something new to be discovered.

The characters in the novel I may not wholeheartedly love as much, but I was not completely uninvested in them – I just thought they could be a little more. Fish, the main love interest of the novel for example, very easily falls under the ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ stereotype. However, I have always felt two-fold about these characters. Yes, they are often used almost as a prop for the male characters to project all the angst onto and ultimately to ‘save’ them, but they are often the best, more empowered and memorable characters. Fish is somewhere in-between, she is strong and resilient in the way she strives to confront her own emotions and helps others too as well; however she doesn’t completely shake the idea that she exists purely to help Max through his pain.

In regards, to Fish, her past relationship with Monk also wasn’t really explained enough for me to invest in it. I could understand why Max didn’t seem that fazed by getting in the middle of it. However, at the same time I’ve witnessed relationships like that where you’re always aware of a small spark between two people existing, but deep down they both needed to just let each other go because they just don’t work (it would have been nice for more detail of the ways Monk and Fish didn’t work).

Another part of the novel that didn’t sit right with me was the way in which Max was repeatedly drawn to Fish’s self harm scars. Self harm scars are not something anyone should be ashamed of or feel they have to hide; but it felt like the novel was implying that was something almost romantic about them. Especially by the way Max obsessively went back to them again and again.

Overall, while I definitely had issues with this novel; something about it made me not want to stop reading. The novel had sparks of greatness in the way it treated grief and mental illness; I just wanted that little bit more from the characters.

*To be clear I was not paid for this review, which I think may be obvious may be its content.

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P.S. SPOILER AHEAD

Max’s creative writing teacher, Dr Cage was completely in the wrong in regards to what happened at the restaurant. You shouldn’t drink in front of a pupil full stop, especially not to the extent where you’re a bit too drunk to notice that said pupil is taking massive gulps from your drink.

Book Review: How To Stop Time by Matt Haig

I’ll start by saying that it feels like forever since I’ve written anything for this blog, and while forever is a bit of a stretch; I have not been sticking to my regular once a week programming (you know if we actually pretend I ever have). This is to be honest due to my regular scheduled bouts of ennui (which are regular even if nothing in my life is).

However, I’m back, ready to write, review, take awful blog pictures and keep pretending I’ll have the courage to put my face on YouTube one day.

This week’s quality content is a review of How To Stop Time by Matt Haig. I know this is not a new release by any means but I borrowed it to read for a book club at work so thought I’d do a little review about it. The book follows Tom Hazard, who looks about 41 years old but has been alive for centuries. He’s seen it all from Elizabethan England to Jazz-Age Paris, to New York to the South Seas. To avoid being caught he is constantly changing his identity to stay alive. We follow Tom as he starts to teach history at a London comprehensive (delightfully of course pulling on his experiences to teach) and is searching for why he still keeps going after all the centuries he’s lived.

You can kind of tell from the premise that the book is going to be a page turner and the prose aids this beautifully – it’s relatable in that way that has often been sometimes caused books to be dismissed as ‘beach reads’; but in fact just gives you breathing room to think. I also ferociously belong to the camp that believe that something doesn’t need to be long-winded to feel like a classic.

How To Stop Time however does not belong to the classic camp (in my humble opinion).  Don’t get me wrong it’s a lovely read and it will force you to enjoy life a little bit more, especially if you’re like me and have a tendency to get trapped in your own head a lot. It also will make you remember why you love history (or get you at least a bit excited about it if it wasn’t your subject at school), as this is definitely written by someone who fiercely loves history. Unsurprisingly, when I looked up Matt Haig I found that he studied English and History at Hull University.

Flaw wise (without trying to give anything away) the novel suffers from the trait I’ve been noticing in a few of my reads recently; the tying up of all plot holes as speedily as possible in the last chapter or so. Maybe, I just don’t like novels to end and maybe I would wrongly draw things out too much. But something about the thoughtful nature of the book makes me want it to be less rushed; after all the book does exude the theme that we have to learn to live in the present.

Some people will probably criticise the amount of famous cameos but really considering the amount of time this character is supposed to have lived; I don’t feel it’s too dramatic. I also feel like the people who are constantly open to new things and wait to see where life takes them are always the ones who find themselves drawn to people like that – like moths to a flame. Also, if you’re going to do any sort of narrative with time travel or travelling through different periods of time; your audience is going to expect the obligatory celebrity cameo.

The treatment of colonialism within the book is also a little bit fleeting and probably could of done with a bit more development than the two pages I saw. Especially, considering the way the novel reflects on casting someone as ‘other’ and witchcraft.

Overall, I did like this novel and would recommend it, especially if you’re a lover of any piece of fiction that looks at different time periods like me. Don’t go in thinking this is all guns blazing however. It is after all a story of an Englishman (well French, but shh –  and there is an argument to be had for that at least a little by the way in which the character sees themselves at being at home within London). If you need a bit of optimism and want a well written tale; you can’t go wrong with this one.

April (April is the Cruellest Month)

Turtles All the Way Down: Review

Turtles All the Way Down centres on 16 year old Aza Holmes who suffers from multiple anxiety disorders including obsessive-compulsive disorder. The plot covers friendship, loss, living with mental health issues and a bunch of other random bits that make the book great.

Turtles all the way down

As I don’t suffer with obsessive compulsive disorder, I found the look into the mind of someone who is living with the disorder insightful. The way I have always obsessed over a event feels more like a dark cloud coming over me, which is then all I can loop back to for that day. The next day though a lot of the time the feelings are gone. Sometimes, it can only be for 5 minutes, like every time I see a new email subscriber (I’ve seen a lot recently for some odd reason) and for some reason I’ve decided that instead of it being a totally normal thing, it’s some sort of conspiracy where people laugh at my blog (even though that makes like zero sense). So basically if you’re an email subscriber please comment below and reassure me that’s not that case! I can’t imagine what it would be like being constantly trapped in that kind of thought cycle.

I loved the characters in this novel, particularly the fan-fiction loving, hilarious Daisy who reminds me both of me and a few of my friends at times, which is probably why I love her. There is though refreshingly not too many characters to stress over, as most of the plot is centred around a core group of characters- I’ll admit I’m awful at remembering names if there starts to be too many characters in something.

Maybe the small ‘cast’ is linked to the fact that John Green has described this novel, as his most personal:

“This is my first attempt to write directly about the kind of mental illness that has affected my life since childhood, so while the story is fictional, it is also quite personal.”
Source: Penguin.co.uk 

I think this really shows. I feel much more like I am in Aza’s mind then I have felt with characters in other John Green novels though maybe that is also because Aza’s experiences in life are a lot more close to home for me than say Hazel’s experience in The Fault in Our Stars.

Image: The postcard that came along with my copy of the novel.

The novel however is not without faults. Like, all John Green books the characters are a little bit too philosophical for their own good. I’m not saying people that age can’t have those sort of debates because they most certainly can (and I think social media has brought an immense amount of pressure to have everything all figured out even younger nowadays) but in my experience this was something largely internalised or restricted to things like blogs (which, one of the characters does have).

I think this is probably my only criticism of John Green novels- I remember talking about  the topics that are discussed but always in a roundabout way. Everyone does not also always have amazing vocabulary. But as an English Literature graduate I’ll admit I don’t hate it though I can understand why people might think it might come across as pretentious.

My other not really a criticism because I loved the book regardless, but perhaps instead then a little quibble, is that the mystery that makes up the plot, for me (it’s on the blurb so I really don’t think this is a spoiler!) is a bit anti-climatic. It felt like it was there to tie characters together but this could have been done in another way- the bit where everything was revealed was also just a little bit rushed as well.

There are though elements of this book that are specular. As mentioned the novel does an amazing job at demonstrating what it’s like in Aza’s mind. At the same time though the novel is able to show and explain what it’s like for both the people who suffer from mental health and their friends and family. There is a scene in the book (which, I am going to try my best not to spoil) in which the lead character, Aza has to confront the effect her mental illness has had on her friends and family. Of course, the book stresses this is not something that Aza has deliberately maliciously done but I think it is refreshing to see the effect that mental health issues do have on someone’s family and friends. Without making the person at the centre feel incredibly guilty or selfish- just making them realise what is going around them and come out of the bubble that their mental illness has on them.

What is important to me is that we also get to see Aza’s mum and friend’s opinions- we see the importance of having an open dialogue, as it helps stop a cycle of both parties acting in a certain way because they don’t know how to do anything else.

In fact, for me one of the most powerful scenes of the novel (mild spoiler alert, maybe?) is when Aza demonstrates exactly what it feels like to think like she does. Sometimes, it does take a metaphor to help people to understand.

I’ll admit I thought one of the characters was being overly harsh at first but after a lot of thinking about it (mostly on my bus to work) I realised that it was a totally justifiable reaction. Yes, they could have brought it up beforehand but I’m not immune from letting such feelings bubble up myself and then all come tumbling out.

It also leads to some truly beautiful scenes between the two characters afterwards (and demonstrates something I’m trying to do more and more, take the time to see what your friends are doing and show some love towards it- especially in terms of things they create). In one of the scenes one of the characters says it feels like they are actually in the moment and not “watching a movie of our conversation”- something that I can definitely relate to (the feeling like I’m not quite ‘there’ in a particular moment).

Another amazing point about this book is that it talks about fanfiction. And it’s not making fun of it but celebrating it and from what I know about John Green I would only expect as much (though to be honest that is not a whole lot- I really need to go on a binge of his content). Most importantly, fanfiction is praised as being something that should have fans and does showcase really great writers and to be honest it reminded me of how I need to read more fanfiction again!

Before reading this novel my favourite John Green novel was Looking for Alaska. Since, this is the book I’ve read the most recently it is now Turtles All The Way Down but I think if I read Looking for Alaska again there might be a bit of a war going on there.

This also counts as reviewing a Youtuber’s book (though I don’t think a lot of people counts John Green’s novel as ‘Youtuber books’ even though he is very well known on Youtube) so I’ve put it under that tab. I’m hoping to try to have different tabs on my blog soon where you can click for book reviews, fashion stuff, etc. but my theme is making it a bit difficult.

I think the phrase ‘Life goes on’ has perhaps been used too much so maybe instead what you can take from the novel is ‘Life happens’. Your mental health problems are not something to be magically fixed, sometimes there will be bad, sometimes good but amongst all that life just goes on- so capture the good moments whenever you can.

April

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Undercover Princess: Rosewood Chronicles Review

A book review of Connie Glynn (aka Noodlerella)’s debut novel, Undercover Princess (part of the Rosewood Chronicles series).

Yes I am as upset as you the book is crumpled in the main image. Welcome to my life. 

Lottie Pumpkin is an ordinary girl who longs to be a princess, attending Rosewood Hall on a scholarship.

Ellie Wolf is a princess who longs to be ordinary, attending Rosewood Hall to avoid her royal duties in the kingdom of Maradova.

When fate puts the two fourteen-year-olds in the same dorm, it seems like a natural solution to swap identities: after all, everyone mistakenly believes Lottie to be the princess anyway.

But someone’s on to their secret, and at Rosewood nothing is ever as it seems…

Warning some spoiler throughout but no major plot spoilers. 

Connie Glynn aka Noodlerella was probably one of the first Youtubers I started watching. First of all, she has mad cosplay skills, and second of all she did amazing impressions. Plus, I had serious envy over her travelling and Disney trip hauls. I’ve even met her at MCM London Comic Con but I was so nervous that I just blushed, attempted to make conversation, bought on of her prints, and then regretted not getting a photograph (also, if you’re wondering she was very nice).

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Hello I want to say a little word about the book tour 🌹 This weekend saw my very first book tour and the first, for me, of any kind of venture of that sort. Firstly I'm utterly thrilled that my very first tour was for Undercover Princess, a book I've poured my soul into and cannot wait for everyone to read. Yet what really made this tour so special was how utterly wonderful you all were who came along. You were all so enthusiastic and asked such wonderful and intelligent questions, I was so proud of you all. The launch of Undercover Princess has been so positive and the feedback I've received so very heartwarming. Thank you not only to everyone who came along to the tour but everyone who sent a word of encouragement or enthusiasm. One final thank you to my incredible team at penguin and my amazing manager who have made this a really joyful time for not only me, but hopefully all of you as well. Thank you thank you thank you, from the bottom of my heart and I hope you enjoy the book. I can't wait to share more with you soon 🌹🌹

A post shared by Connie Glynn (@connieglynn) on

The book appears to be mainly targeted for teenagers, as I’m assuming that is Connie’s main audience. On Amazon the age range suggested for the book is between 10-17 years old. I’d argue that for me at least the novel definitely hits more towards the lower range of that age scale in terms of tone. In fact, it has been the longest time since I’ve read anything that was not conclusively marketed at adults, so it was quite refreshing and made me want to get back into reading YA (Young Adult) fiction again.

While the book I admit started a bit slow for me; once I got into the book it was very much a page turner. Lottie and Ellie’s friendship was the driving force of the novel, and if I was not mistaken (mild, maybe spoiler alert) there was hints that the spark between them might be on the romantic side. There are at least hints if Ellie’s furious remarks about not liking boys or being into them are anything to go on that maybe her sexual preferences lay elsewhere. To be honest, if Lottie does turn out to be a bisexual protagonist (it has made conclusive she likes men at least in the first novel) that would be amazing and would really make the series stand out for me.

Another thing that really concreted the novel was the beautiful descriptions of Rosewood Hall or any surrounding for that matter. Everything was just magical, and you can really feel yourself in the surroundings and part of the action. The same could be said for the writing. For me though I definitely could see how it was written by someone in our generation by the numerous references to other things, such as evil Stepmothers, numerous explicit Cinderella references, references to Harry Potter by that the school houses (though this is common within British schools, especially Boarding Schools so I don’t really think Harry Potter has complete domain of that), as well as the way the boarding school is depicted.

Although, when I was younger I would have been completely taken in by the romance of the boarding school, now that I’m older and a bit more cynical- I see some of the more flaws in the system, such as the elitism of the subjects chosen, and the overwhelming pressure to perform.

Nevertheless, I want to make it clear that the story has definite charm, and I will be reading the next book in the series. I love the different Houses and would love to know what house I would be in (I also love that there is a quiz to determine what house students are in before arriving, a bit less magical than a Sorting Hat but brilliant).

The houses for those of you who don’t know are as follows:

There is the Ivy House (colour purple) who stand for the Righteous part of the school motto. The other houses are the Conch House (colour red) who stand for the Resolute part of the school motto. Finally, there is the Stratus house who stand for the Resourceful part of the school motto.

 

Stratus pin badge!!! Really hope these go up for sale at some point. 

I’m not really sure which house I would be put into but I suspect probably either Ivy  or Stratus depending on my mood. As I either like to observe everything or try to do what is right (even if I don’t always succeed). I’m waiting for someone to make up a Rosewood Hall house quiz, so I can know for sure (I would do it but it would be ridiculously bad).

I am also excited to see where some of the unresolved plot points are going to go with this novel. Especially, in regards to a certain friendship Lottie has been neglecting. There was also a scene that I think was brushed off to easily within the novel, but was actually depicted as something really quite predatory (though they did get a good smack), and should have been exposed as such a bit more. I don’t really want to say anymore and give the plot away, but if you have read the novel let me know your thoughts.

If you’re looking for a book for someone around 10-14 they’ll probably love this as a Christmas present, and bonus it has no idolisation of any particular body types, like a lot of teenage romances I read growing up seemed to have (you know what I mean, they think they’re bodies just ‘normal’, but it’s revealed they are incredibly attractive, etc.).

Overall, this is a charming little read, and Connie can certainly write. Here’s hoping that the next instalment carries on the mystery, pumps up the romance, and ties up the plot points mentioned in the first novel. Like, the cover of the novel, it is a story firmly rooted in being a magical, beautiful getaway. This novel is definitely one for when you want to drift away from reality for a little bit.

P.S. Apologises for not mentioning a lot about the other characters; I’m trying really hard to avoid spoilers. 

April

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Reviewing Youtuber books: Emma Blackery ‘Feel Good 101’

For those of you who don’t know already, I’m still what I would describe as fairly new to Youtube. I remember my sisters when they were younger (and still today to a certain extent) enthusing over their favourite Youtubers, and they even went to Summer in the City (while my mum and I strolled around London doing touristy things). But, I just never really got into the Youtube phenomenon in the same way they did. I only went to Youtube to listen to music and watch music videos- I also had seen the occasional viral video from there (but still far less than anyone else). A year or so ago however I decided to actually start to check out some more channels, as Youtube was now everywhere. To be honest, I’m not really sure who I first subscribed to but I think one of the first Youtubers I watched was grav3yardgirl through a recommendation from a friend, along with Zoella (if you’re British you just cannot not watch Zoella or escape her- don’t worry Zoella lovers I’m not slating her).

It did not take long before I became completely obsessed. As not only is there some amazing content out there but Youtubers and the way fans interact with them is something I also find fascinating from an academic perspective. We also live in a place now where people’s careers can be Youtube, and consequently recently there has been more and more controversy about sponsorship, affiliate codes and how much Youtubers earn. At the same time revenue from videos has decreased, and videos are becoming monetised less and less (and disturbingly a lot of videos with LGBTQ+ also became restricted). It’s not surprising then that a lot of youtubers have also brought out their own collaborations or products not only as a source of extra revenue, but because it’s something their passionate about and because their supporters want it.

When brands saw these ranges go well, suddenly they were everywhere. But with popularity becomes controversy. Zoella’s debut novel may have been the bestselling debut novel ever, but it has been accused of affecting literacy levels, and more famously there was a massive controversy about the book being ghost written. Emma Blackery then in reaction to the outpour of Youtuber books initially hated the idea. However, with time she changed her mind, and felt that if those books made people happy, how could she get angry about that?

For those of you who don’t know Emma Blackery is a Youtuber and musician, who rose to fame initially for a series on her Youtube channel when she read out pieces from 50 shades of grey and critiqued the novel. Although, those videos eventually got taken down due to copyright claims; Blackery continued to make comedy videos and again went viral with her video ‘My Thoughts on Google +’. Recently, she released this book I’m about to talk about, and the artwork for her EP Magnetised was featured on Apple’s Keynote for the iPhone 8 and X.

However, let’s get onto the book. From the get go it’s obvious this book’s target audience is teenagers, which since that is generally considered to be the largest viewership group for Youtubers that’s hardly a shock. Plus, I picked it up in the teenage fiction section in Waterstones so if that doesn’t clue you in I don’t know what will.

Emma Blackery

Therefore, if you’re in your early twenties some of the advice and stories in this book, although they may help you reflect; are going to come a bit late for you. ‘The Brain Stuff’ section however is relevant whatever your age. We all need reminding sometimes to take better care of ourselves and look after our mental health- this book then is something that can be there when you’re feeling down and need that motivational reminder (without feeling like you’re being lectured to).

Also, for fans of Blackery there is no denying she wrote this book. It sounds and feels like she talks, which you’ll know if you’ve ever seen any of her videos. I can already predict how the audio book will sound in my head just from reading it. Prose wise this is not supposed to be something that is hard to follow, so it isn’t, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

The section ‘Sex Talk’ is another highlight, especially for teenagers considering how sexuality and consent (at least when I had sex education) were not talked about properly in schools. I also like the way in which she talked about being able to categorise her feelings with the label ‘squish’  (a crush but without sexual desire) helped. I know a lot of people argue now that sexuality labels have ‘gone too far’ and are ‘redundant’, but when you live in a society that is so quick to categorise and define you, not having that definition available for you, for many people makes them think there is something wrong with them. Yes, in an ideal world it wouldn’t matter, and it’s nice that you don’t see gender (I’m going to be honest I think there are very few people who think this way just because the effect from society is so strong), but does that mean you should slate on something that helps other people? No, surprisingly, it doesn’t.

I also appreciated how Blackery made sure not to leave anyone out from the sexuality spectrum, including those who are assexual. While there was no talk about questioning your gender (from what I can remember, apologises if there is); Blackery cannot be expected to talk about everything (though I will admit maybe she should have explicitly stated this). She made it clear she was just talking about her experiences, and what she knew (that’s why in the back of the book there is helplines for people more specialised in that subject area).

I have always as well felt like honest experiences help more than well meant, but often misleading advice. Although, in one way I wish I could have read this in my teenage years; there was some chapters such as ‘Sex Talk’ that would not have applied, as Emma’s problems came from problems with crushes, and that would have involved me actually becoming involved in that area of my life.

The ‘Education (and making the most of it)’ section of the book is going to be painful for anyone who has gone to university. I don’t mean this as a disservice to Blackery, I mean it in the sense that the job market nowadays is hard (see my post Post University Panic for more) though I do think some of Emma’s CV tips are well worth taking a look at.

Overall, the book is half memoir, half advice. A quick guide to help you along in your teenage years by someone who can actually remember them. Not to say that’s its not still useful if you’re past twenty. The mental health section is definitely a must read (and as I mentioned there are also helplines at the back of the book to help with a variety of different issues). The book shows that Emma cares about her fans, and wanted to write something they could appreciate but would also hopefully be useful for them. That is something I can definitely respect.

So will I be reading sections of this again? Definitely. Do I regret buying this Youtuber’s book? No. And I think if you take anything from this review those two statements are definitely a good start.

The book is available to purchase from Waterstones, and Amazon (and I’m sure a variety of other places but those two are my favourite book buying sites). You can also get a audiobook of the novel from Audible.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and my future reading plans at the moment include ‘Secrets for the Mad: Obsessions, Confessions and Life Lessons’ by the Youtube sensation Dodie Clark (due out the 2nd November) and ‘The Rosewood Chronicles: Undercover Princess’ by Connie Glynn aka Youtuber, and cosplayer, Noodlerella (also out the 2nd November).

Let me know if there are any other Youtuber books (or products!) that you’d like me to review. I’d love to also do a Youtuber music series to accompany this as well, so drop me a line if that’s something you’d find interesting.

🍂April🍂

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